SOE Fan Faire 2011: A look at Free Realms with Sr. Producer Harvey Burgess

Karen Bryan
K. Bryan|07.11.11

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SOE Fan Faire 2011: A look at Free Realms with Sr. Producer Harvey Burgess
During this weekend's SOE Fan Faire, Massively had the opportunity to talk with Senior Producer Harvey Burgess about the future of Free Realms. Burgess has been with the team since launch, and has recently taken the helm to bring lots of new content and items to the world of Free Realms.

Read on for all the details, including Ranching, sports jerseys, Sunset Valley, and a new mount!

Burgess began by talking about the new content updates coming to Free Realms. Farming has been such a success with players that they will be expanding the system, allowing players to purchase new farmlands, seeds, and tools. In addition, they will be adding Ranching, which lets players purchase baby pets like unicorns or a pegasus and raise them. Players will be able to clean them, feed them, and teach them tricks. It's a nice replacement to the Pet Trainer job, which players missed when it was removed from game. Some pets will be given out free in game, while others will be offered on the marketplace. It's a different system from the pets that are currently in game, since the process of raising the new pets is a bit different, plus the new ones will be customizable as you collect certain items that will change their color and look.

Later down the road, there will be a third new job, where players will be able to run their own restaurant. Given the fact that players can level up a Chef in game already, Burgess said they're looking at ways to allow high level chefs to have an advantage in the new restaurant game, but stressed that they're still working all of the details out.

Burgess revealed some exciting news about a whole new area that will be available soon to players. Fans will be happy to learn that Sunset Valley will finally be open, and it comes complete with overland quests, combat instances, and some exciting new mini-games.

Next, he talked about in-game mounts. Here at Fan Faire, there was a Free Realms panel that solicited ideas from attendees about what the next in-game mount should be. Last year, it inspired the beach ball mount. This year, suggestions ranged from a UFO, to an octopus, to a kangaroo, complete with a comfy pouch for players to sit inside. But in the near term, the big news is that the sitting animation will be added to Free Realms, and one of the first items that will come out is a chair, allowing players to place chairs down and sit together in game. Later down the road, they're considering adding mounts that will use that sitting animation, such as cars or trains.

There are also plans to expand upon the things that Free Realms fans love the most. There will be more house items to give players the ability to construct amazing obstacle courses and race tracks.

As for the VIP program, which allowed longer players to level up and receive unique rewards, he said they're looking at expanding on it, but it might change into a system that works better for players. And they are also talking about future plans for the Treasure Wars card game. Burgess said there are lots of things about the game that people don't understand, so they're hoping to make it more intuitive for players.

Recently, they had basketball jerseys on the marketplace, and he said you can expect to see more sports jerseys available in the future. There will also be more promotional items coming that tie in with popular movies and shows, similar to what players have seen in the past.

All of this content will be available for both the PS3 and PC versions of Free Realms, and players can currently purchase a summer pass for $9.99 that allows full membership and access to the game during the summer months.
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