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EverQuest II's senior producer on SOE's Living Legacy

Michael Zenke

Bruce Ferguson is both new to the EverQuest II team, and an old hand as well. Bruce was with the team back when the game first launched, and just a few months after his return we sat down to chat about the intriguing new Living Legacy program. Overlapping between the sequel and the original EverQuest, this ambitious recall program may be even more meaningful for EQ2 than the original game.

Many players were thrown by the launch game's strange approach to design. Locked encounters, a confusing class system, and numerous idiosyncrasies plagued early EQ2 players. The EverQuest 2 of today, in contrast, is a study in listening to the needs of the players. Join us as Mr. Ferguson explains a bit of that philosophy, talks about the numerous bonus XP weekends coming up, and hints at the many live events that will tie the past into the future with the next EQ2 expansion.

We wanted to touch base with you, quickly: how are you fitting back into the EverQuest 2 team?

Actually I think it's going pretty well. The team is going gangbusters, we're having a good time. Just as normal there are always challenges. As a group, though, I think we're doing a good bit of work and having fun doing it.

You've returned to the team after quite some time away. How do you feel about the game now vs. when you left it?

There certainly have been a number of changes since I left. They've introduced a ton of new content, but I think it's a great game. I definitely recognize the underlying lore, the underlying ideas, and it's still a tremendously fun game. It's nice to see that the ideas we started with were able to be built on and modified to be more engaging and fun for the players.

How do you feel about the Living Legacy program as a whole? What does it mean for EQ2?

I'm quite excited. The opportunity for people who first tried our game some time ago, when it first launched ... the game is significantly different now. We've been listening to our customers, we've been making the changes we think they'd like us to make. We listen on our boards, we listen on other peoples' boards, we listen at Fan Faires, we get emails from people like you folks that post on various websites. We try to incorporate that feedback and modify, tweak, for the better.

The game is very different than it was when I left the team in a number of very positive ways. I think that players who haven't been in the game in the last six months will come back and find it to be significantly more enjoyable than when they left. They'll find a lot of great activities, a lot of great content, and a lot of great people still playing. Guilds to join, groups to pick up with ... if it's an experience they haven't seen in a while, I definitely think they should take the chance to come back and take a look at it. I'm really excited by the program itself, to give people a chance to come back and relook at something that seems to be a new and engaging game.

Let's just work down the list, here. You have bonus xp weekends planned?

Yes. We have one bonus xp weekend planned for the middle of June, and another at the end of the month. I think we have a couple scheduled for July and August as well, we really want to welcome back the people that decide to play.

And you have some live events in the works as well?

Yes the Prophet Returns event! It's really kind of a pre-cursor event that we're looking at running, that will lead into a big culmination at the end of the summer. Right now it's the appearance of Fear, and we're going to be building up more and more bits of lore as the Summer goes on. At the end of the Summer there will a final large event that will lead into some pretty exciting content we think.

So just to clarify when you're talking about live events here, you're talking about overarching plot events, new patch content, like the Shard of Hate was?

That's right. Like the Shard of Hate we're looking to add a lot of new content to the game, with a big payoff at the end of the Summer. They're all precursors to a big new content update.

New zones? That's pretty interesting. What's that about?

It all ties in to this unraveling lore, these events. We're adding new content, new zones, the zones are part of the new content at the end of the Summer. You're going to see tidbits of them, but not all of them upfront. We're doing a sort of classic tease. At the end of the run we'll give players the full look.

Is this an unlocking sort of event?

It's an unlocking of information, but I don't believe any of them are being specifically driven in that manner. We're giving you access to some new areas, new places you've never seen before, and we're redoing areas as well. Feedback that we've gotten from our customers put us on that path, so you'll be seeing some of that. And at the end of this there will be some heavy clouds on the horizon that will make a big difference in the world and the lore. That'll be the big event at the end.

These revamped zones: we'd guess they're from the launch product, from at-launch EverQuest 2?

Some are from launch, and some of them are later areas. Based on feedback from our customers they're places not utilized as much as they should be. We're going to do a little bit of tweaking, thinking about how to make them more enjoyable. We're always trying to think about how to make experiences that are more enjoyable for people.

And just to clarify, all of this we're talking about is separate from the next expansion?

That's correct. All of this is content coming in game updates. Obviously this is all leading to that particular event, but it's not restricted by that event. Really what we're trying to do is make the game inviting for people that left, where their leaving might not have had anything to do with the game.

Or not, whichever. Certainly when I stopped playing it was just because I didn't have the time. We want people to come back, see that the things they used to like about the game are still there, and know that we've improved things quite a bit in the last four years.

Interesting stuff. Thanks very much for your time, sir.

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