EQII's New Producer Brings 20 Years Experience
Monday I was privileged to sit down and chat with SOE's Dave Georgeson, who was introduced last Thursday as the latest EverQuest II Senior Producer. We talked about the future of EverQuest II, the role of microtransactions in the gaming industry, and his production style. Dave's passion for gaming and game production is fun and infectious. While he readily admits he's got a lot to learn about EverQuest II, his production principles are solidly based on maximizing fun. Here's the transcript of our conversation.
ZAM: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? You're a bit of an enigma to a lot of players.
Dave Georgeson: I've been in gaming for a long time. I've been producing and directing games for about 20 years now, with one exception always on the PC side; I made one Playstation game which we won't mention because I was working for 3DO then. A large chunk of my games have been action oriented, games like Tribes II and Planetside, and I worked on a bunch of giant robot games with Activision like Heavy Gear II and some of the MechWarrior 2 stuff. But I've also done a lot of RPG stuff. As a designer I got to work on the very first computer games ever made of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise with SSI. I've done some smaller RPGs. zOMG of course was a big MMO that was Flash-based with no download, and although it was fantasy oriented it wasn't high fantasy oriented like EverQuest is. It's more Japanese animation based so there's a little bit of everything in it. And of course a lot of puns, it was a very humorous kind of game; at least I hope it was humorous, I wrote a lot of it. I've made games for pretty much every genre except sport, and almost every demographic, so I'm pretty well rounded.
ZAM: So you've got this phenomenally diverse background: what are you bringing to EverQuest II?
Dave: The good news is that the team has a lot of very well established high quality talent on it already, so they don't need me to come in and start generating lore ideas and ideas for quests and that sort of thing. What they really want me to do is, first of all, keep the team so it's happy so we keep making great stuff. You know how it is in the industry, morale is everything; if morale isn't high then you're not making a good game.
One of the things I'm really good at is synthesis. For the last several years I've been intentionally focusing on the social gaming stuff, the microtransaction models, different ways of being successful that don't rely on the same old models. The industry as a whole has had some real difficulty in the past few years making more and more hard core games, more and more advanced games, and taking huger and huger risks on stuff. One of my focuses has been on trying to figure out ways for people to actually have just a tremendous amount of fun with very little investment in games, so that they keep wanting to come back to the game. And I'm not exactly sure how that's going to fit into EverQuest II right now, but that's one of my strengths and one of my backgrounds if we can figure out ways for people to immediately have fun as they got into the game, just really enjoy the experience even though there's a lot to learn when you get into this game, well, we'd be better off for it. So that might be one of the things we focus on.
I've designed a lot of games. So everything that we do here I'll probably dabble in here and there. But in general the team is real well established, they have really great talent, and they know exactly what they are doing. So my focus is going to be largely on making us more successful.
ZAM: There has been some concern expressed that, because you came from Gaia and had a short stint on Free Realms, we're going to see more microtransactions sneaking into the Norrathian world. You were just saying you don't know yet? Is this on the table being discussed?
Dave: Well, this is a different critter than those games. When we did zOMG we didn't have a subscription. And on Free Realms the membership is completely voluntary. Whereas with EverQuest II you're already paying $15 a month. So how much more do you want to pay beyond that and how much do we even want to ask you for? On the other hand, I'm a big fan of microtransactions. As a player, I'm a fan of them. And the reason I'm a fan of them is if the content isn't good, then the developer doesn't make any money. If you look at it the right way you're not paying for pixels you're paying for entertainment. It's kind of like when you go to a movie you don't own the movie when you come out of the movie. Does that make sense?
ZAM: Yes, I like the way you put that.