The long anticipated follow-up to Everquest isn't looking to plough the same furrow as previous MMOs. In fact, SOE threw away two prototypes because they weren't radical enough (possibly making the character shot above woefully out of date). Now recently unveiled internally to SOE staff, the redesigned game hopes to “define the next generation of MMOs” - such is the claim by SOE president John Smedley during our lengthy interview - which is to be posted in full later.
“Everybody has been making the same game since Everquest, really,” says Smedley. “If you look back, Ultima Online was out before us and really, all the current crop of MMOs are a lot like Everquest – they're in that style. They're great because the quality level has really improved, but nobody has really changed the game. the previous designs we had for the next Everquest were cookie-cutter, they were 'me too'. We had some great, innovative things in there and they'd have been great games in themselves, but they wouldn't have been enough to keep an audience. We've had people playing Everquest for 13 years and we kept that in our mind as the main goal when making Everquest Next.”
Bold words! But, in any case, the game seems to have gone down well with SOE staff at its internal unveiling.
“I was really nervous about [showing SOE staff the game],” says Smedley. “We showed it to them on Monday, and I couldn't sleep on Sunday night because I was scared. We've thrown out two previous designs of the game to go with something pretty crazy and… well, it's awesome. When the team saw it I could barely breathe when they were watching it. But when I'd finished they were clapping and cheering – and these guys are gamers, so they're not afraid to call bullshit when they see us make a mistake. It's happened before. We've made mistakes, and the guys internally will call us on it every time. But they loved this, and we really felt vindicated that the way we're going with Everquest Next is the right way. I feel good about it. We're not trying to make WOW2 or Everquest 2.5 – we're making something that we think will define the next generation of MMOs.”