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EverQuest 2 Preview

publisher: Sony Online Entertainment
developer: Sony Online Entertainment
genre: RPG

PIV 1000, 512MB RAM, 64MB video card w/ pixel shader
ESRB rating: T

release date: Nov 08, 04
» All About EverQuest 2 on ActionTrip

Riddle me this. The game has around 420,000 paying subscribers a month, listing such otherworldly goods as fishbone earrings and magic capes from its rich game world on eBay used to garner bids up to $1,400 ... and its fans have their own freaking convention! All of these clues point to one game and one game alone -- SOE's EverQuest.

After many expansions and other content updates to the original game, players will finally be given a chance to see the world of Norrath in an entirely new light. We sat down with Steve Danuser, EverQuest II Community Manager at Sony Online Entertainment to find out more about the upcoming highly anticipated sequel. Will it break the old game's records? That remains to be seen; the market for MMORPGs has changed dramatically since the introduction of EverQuest back in 1999.

Action Trip: There are so many MMORPGs out nowadays, what should make me want to play EQ2 over other MMORPGs?

Steve Danuser: There are a lot of great games out there, many of which we enjoy playing ourselves. But we plan to win folks over with tons of entertaining content and exciting game play that encourages social interaction. We have a design team with a wealth of experience in the MMO arena, and they're creating quests and encounters that will challenge players for years to come. Our game is built firmly on the foundation established by EverQuest, the game that defined this genre.

AT: What is the lowest end system specs people need to ENJOY the game?

SD: The game runs fine on a minimum spec machine, which is a 1 GHz processor, 512 Megs of RAM, and a video card with 64 Megs of RAM and pixel shader and vertex shader hardware. If you want everything to look its best, of course, you'll benefit from having greater horsepower.

AT: I'm guessing monster intelligence will play a big role in the sequel. Can you tell us what steps you have taken to make the monsters smarter and nastier than in the original?

SD: Monsters have combat brains of varying complexity that allow them to react differently to the strategies that players come up with. Go after their healer and they might go after yours, or they might gang up and try to drop your tank in order to weaken your party's defensive capabilities. The same enemies can react differently when you fight them, making encounters feel fresh even when facing familiar opponents.

AT: I was really impressed with how some of the characters move in the game. Tell us in more detail about the animation system used.

SD: Our artists use a combination of motion-captured and hand-designed animations blended together to create movement that is grounded in realism but highly entertaining to watch. They use Maya software as well as a variety of in-house tools to make our character models come to life.

AT: Will you be locked in a fight with every enemy you engage or are there exceptions? I.e. will there be different factions of mobs and can you be friendly with one set due to killing another faction? If so, how far have you taken this?

SD: Your primary allegiance is always to the city in which you are a citizen. We don't employ a faction system in the way that EverQuest does, because you won't be actively trying to gain standing with social structures outside of your city. Many creatures in the world will be neutral or hostile toward you, and there is little you can do to gain their favor. Some, however, may require you to perform services on their behalf before they will entrust you with valuable items or information.

AT: Tell us more about "instanced" powerful foes. How does that work exactly?

SD: Instancing allows us to create multiple copies of a zone that can be accessed by different groups of players without requiring them to race each other or compete for a spawn. As long as your group has done the quest or other requisite work to unlock the event, you can trigger the instance on your schedule.

AT: Do you have plans to break into new markets with EQ2?

SD: We're working on distribution arrangements in a number of markets that we didn't have the chance to really explore with previous games. The interest we've gotten from potential partners is very encouraging, and we can't wait to see people in all corners of the world playing EverQuest II.

AT: What kind of server support will EQ2 have at launch time?

SD: Based on sales of our preorder disc and other data that will be accumulated in the coming months, we plan to have plenty of servers available on launch day. Fortunately, our technology is very adaptable and we can quickly expand to meet any amount of demand. The more, the merrier!

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