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Five-Minute Interview with the Chiefs of Game Developers
—by Jade Dragon

Have you ever wondered about who the people are behind the games you love? What they look like? What they eat? Well, I came up with 5 questions for my five-minute interview with the leaders of popular game software companies. We will feature one Chief each week. And I've also got a photo of each Chief I've interviewed, so that you can see what they look like. As for what they eat, that's highly classified information.

These are indeed some exciting times when the world’s biggest online gaming title, EverQuest, is coming to the Pocket PC. Even if you are not an RPG gamer, you will surely have heard of this game. On the eve of the EverQuest for Pocket PC release, we chatted with Rob Hill, Producer at Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) which is the home of EverQuest. He sheds some light on the journey of EveryQuest coming to the Pocket PC.

Jade Dragon: EverQuest is the most successful online fantasy game ever and sets the bar for the online gaming world. What inspired you to port this title to the Pocket PC?

Rob Hill: EverQuest for the Pocket PC is not a port. It has been built from the ground-up, designed with the single-player gamer in mind. SOE is always looking for new avenues in which to extend our product lines. The Pocket PC gaming market is a new and exciting platform that we felt could help us extend the EverQuest name to a new group of players.

Jade Dragon: From a development standpoint, you've got the EQ Classic and expansion packs such as The Planes of Power, Shadows of Luclin, Ruins of Kunark and The Scars of Velious. Such massive worlds, levels, items, character classes, etc., how did you decide what to include in the Pocket PC port and what to leave out? Will there be expansion packs for the Pocket PC?

EverQuest logo

Rob Hill: Since the game was intended to be a single player experience from the very beginning, we began by envisioning the kind of story we wanted to convey. We then chose the areas in the EverQuest world that fit that storyline best. There familiar EverQuest locales including Freeport, Oasis and Neriak, and dungeons such as Befallen, the Spectral Isles, and Freeport Tunnels. The fact that we are dealing with memory limitations forced us to only do a portion of the world.

We also took a look at the various classes that provide such a rich multi-player experience in PC EverQuest and decided which we might adapt best to a single player game. In the end we decided on the Warrior, Wizard, Druid and Magician. They turned out to fit quite well.

Jade Dragon: How long did it take to develop the Pocket PC version and how many developers were needed?

Rob Hill: The entire process for the original took about seven months. The team consists of one programmer, two artists, a designer, and a producer. Much of that time was in building the tools we would need to generate the world, monsters, items, and quests. Since those tools have been completed, we should be able to create new content rapidly.

Jade Dragon: Will the Pocket PC version ever have an online or multi-player mode?

Rob Hill: The environment for doing online gaming on these devices doesn't seem to be developed enough yet. We also need to consider penetration of online usage with Pocket PC's when deciding something like this.

So the answer is, not yet.

Jade Dragon: You know that Palm OS 5 devices with ARM processor just came out. Will you port EQ to the new Palm OS 5 machines such as the Sony Clie NX series?

Rob Hill: We are looking into all the different possibilities, but no determination has yet been made.

Jade Dragon: Can we expect other Sony Online Entertainment game titles on the Pocket PC in the future?

Rob Hill: We are most certainly looking into the possibility of developing more titles for the Pocket PC, so stay tuned for future announcements.

Jade Dragon: Anything else you’d like to say to the gamers out there?

Rob Hill: We feel that EverQuest for Pocket PC is at the apex of gaming on these devices. The amount of content and playability we have been able to pack into the game will surprise many players. This is the fun part about making games. Getting your product to the people who are meant to enjoy them. We certainly hope the players do.




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