EverQuest II: Weekly Developer DiariesEQII: Rise of Kunark - Tradeskills Dev Diary #6EverQuest II: Weekly Developer Diaries - RSS 2.0
We polish off our behind the curtain look at EverQuest II: Rise of Kunark with the final set of four entries from tradeskills game designer Emily "Domino" Taylor. In the final entries she takes us from Halloween to yesterday, the very eve of the expansion's launch.
A special thanks to Emily for her detailed articles.
Article by Emily "Domino" Taylor (Game Designer, EQII Tradeskills)
Wednesday 31 October
Somehow October is entirely over already, although it feels as if it should still be summer. I'm pretty sure it's Wednesday today although I don't really recall what happened to Monday and Tuesday. On Monday the new content lock date was set: this coming Saturday evening. Delayed a week due to the San Diego brush fires (which the radio this morning informed me are still burning in areas, but just about under control now unless the winds suddenly pick up and do bad things). Nobody I know of at the office seems to have lost their home, nor been injured in the fire, and the people who were still evacuated last week are now back home. So all in all we've been very lucky.
Tonight being Hallowe'en, there are a series of children knocking at my door and asking for candy. It's kind of fun; this is the first Hallowe'en I've actually spent in North America for over 10 years, and suddenly it's a Big Deal. There were people at work in costume today, which seemed a bit weird to me to mix childrens' games with a professional work environment, but is apparently normal in this country. Last time I was on this continent for Hallowe'en I was probably still trick-or-treating, or at least going to costume parties at university and not living anywhere that kids would come by. I did actually go to a costume party on Saturday, which was fun, and the first time I've been out past 3am for more years than I can remember. Tonight though I'm just fixing bugs and writing this, in between going to the door.
The new furniture graphics from Kunark objects were finished by the art folks at the start of this week, and so I spent yesterday and part of today making them into house items. Some of them are going to carpenters' recipe books, some of them are being made into house items for the collection quest rewards (I offered to do this at the same time as I was making the carpenter furniture, since I'm probably the most familiar on the design team with making house items), and one's going to be a city merchant purchasable item for level 80 guilds. It's unfortunate, but there's a strict limit on how many new house items can be added with an expansion, simply due to size restrictions. The entire size of the expansion can't be over a certain size, and only a portion of that can be allocated to house items, so that limits the number of new graphics we can have. I never realized before, when I was just a player, the full reason behind why carpenters had been getting so few recipes in the new expansions. No other crafting class takes up that kind of download space but the carpenter stuff just eats it up. Fortunately I'd already prepared a bunch of other nice items from old world zones that will not add to the download size of the expansion, so carpenters should have more furniture in this expansion than they did in the last two.
Now that the remainder of the furniture is in, I'm just working on bugs from now on. I have to try and identify any bugs that actually require adding new content (new files, or new text that might need translating) and get those fixed by Saturday. Then there's a few more days next week for other bugs. But basically, we're supposed to aim to be done and making no more changes by the 7th, which is when they start testing final builds to go live with. That's not a lot of time. It's only 7 days in fact! Somehow I had been thinking I had more time for bug fixing ... but time is flying by fast, and the week of fires ate up a lot of that in the confusion. So, nonessential stuff gets postponed to the next game update after the release. MissDoomCookie helpfully offered to handle any grammar/typo bugs that any of the team had outstanding, since she does regular coverage of the nightly typo reports already, so I passed a couple to her. Syzygy, who is actually on the coding team, came around and very generously offered to help out with any of my more straight forward bugs that wouldn't require a lot of explanation for him to figure out what needed fixing. I had quite a lot left over from the removal of non-pristine products, things like some items not having had their crude qualities removed, or returning the wrong components. So I passed a ton of these on to him, which was a huge help and most wonderful of him to offer. Gallenite saw Syzygy's bug fixes getting checked in tonight and just sent me a message saying "my god, either you have compromising pictures of him, or you've promised him more cookies than I can readily conceptualize". Clearly I do need to do some serious cookie baking once time permits!
My tradeskill apprentice Olihin has taken the remaining quest bugs, since he did most of the quests that have outstanding bugs. He only works with the design team in the mornings, then does a full shift on Customer Service during the afternoon and evening. Even half a day having an extra person on tradeskills is a huge help though, and he's been coming in after his normal Customer Service shift ends too on several occasions. He hopes to become a game designer some day, and I've been trying to give him tasks like planning and creating quests that will help him learn the skills he's most likely to need for that. So he created the introductory faction quests for tradeskillers around Kunark, and is probably a better quest designer than me now since he's done more of that. I've been taking the more boring stuff and stuff that requires writing perl scripts and such.