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This is a transcript of the audio from the video "Devs Talk a Life of Consequence in EverQuest Next [FULL VERSION]". It was published on Youtube by Sony Online Entertainment on September 30th, 2014. You can find the video here: [Link.] Since posts concerning the design and mechanics of the game are currently not allowed on the official forums, this information will be stored here for everyone to see.

Speakers Edit

SD: Steve Danuser- Lead Content Designer for Everquest Next at SOE

SB: Stéphane Bura- Lead Designer at Storybricks

Part I - Introduction and Demonstration of AI Edit

SD: Hi; I'm Steve Danuser, lead content designer for Everquest Next.

SB: Hi, I'm Stephane Vieran, and I'm the lead designer at Storybricks.

SD: And today we are here to talk to you about the content of Everquest Next.

So, in other MMOs NPCs are completely static. So regardless of what peril they are telling you their village is in or what big threat is looming on the horizon, they are doing the same things over and over again. You are on a treadmill and you know the same story is waiting for the next player that comes along.

SB: When you have events that are more complex than just a linear quest, usually they have huge scripts that control them.

SD: Right, some designer has put a lot of work into making it seem like things are going on, but really it's still a very static model.

SB: Yeah.

SD: In EQ Next, you won't walk into an area and see a group of NPCs standing around with question marks over their heads. Instead you will be guided into areas where events are taking place.There will be NPCs gathering, building, fighting, and you as the player can jump into the action and guide it forward, or push it into different directions to see what happens.

These events are happening all the time, all over Norrath. So what you will experience on a moment-to-moment basis in EQ Next is tied into our core principles, the biggest of which is the Life of Consequence. What you do in the world matters in very tangible ways. But everything starts with NPCs and their interactions in the world.

So to demonstrate NPCs in action, we are going to take you to the Dark Elf Citadel that we revealed in the SOE Live Keynote (2014).

Here we see the Teir'Dal have just captured a nature spirit and are siphoning its essence to power their own magic.When their priestesses absorb this power, they take it over to the shadow pit, where the energy is released and changed into shadow magic. Scouts patrol the courtyard looking for enemies and when they encounter a teleportation pad, they know how to use it to give themselves a better vantage point.There are no fixed patrol paths. The scouts are doing this automatically.Warriors draw shadow magic from the pit and take it to the forges, using the magic to imbue their special weapons

You'll see that NPCs have their own lives, even when players are not around, and they each act according to the rules assigned to them. So warriors behave differently from scouts or from priestesses. As priestesses move through the courtyard they encounter scrying stones, which they can use to spy on distant enemies.The scrying stone is a prop that my character can place in the world. When a priestess senses its' presence, she uses it to scry, just like the one that had been placed in the level by an artist or a designer.

Behaviors can also be linked to items. When my character equips a special axe, you can see the NPCs start to follow me, because it has been imbued with that behavior. When I equip the Staff of the Thex Queen, the NPCs bow before me, because the staff radiates authority. Items can be given to NPCs as well. When the high priestess is given the Thex Queen Staff other NPCs bow before her, just as they did to my character. 

Okay, but in thisgame, where NPCs have drives and motivations that move them hroughout the world, how are you going to find the quest-givers?

SB: Hah, please tell me.

SD: Ah, Stephane. So your gateway to content in Everquest Next is your copy of the magical tome “Rohsong”. It's a living bestiary, an atlas, a quest-journal that guides you through the world to places  where interesting events are happening. It's a living record of your travels in Everquest Next. So as you play, Rohsong remembers your journeys, the choices you made along the way. It guides you, it serves as your constant companion throughout these journeys. It weaves together the story of your characters' life in Norrath. This is your world and this is your story.

SB: So we've seen that individual NPCs have complex behaviours, but it is also true of groups. They also have goals and they also have drives. And that's what we are going to talk about.For instance, if we have a tribe of orcs, we are not just talking about them invading a new territory and making the NPCs scared there. Of course NPCs will act scared when orcs attack, but (also) if the orcs ravage their farmlands.

SD: Right, because people act differently when they are starving versus when their needs are satisfied. So you are going to see those reactions in the world.It's not something you are going to have to read. It's a thing you see playing out all around you.

SB: Exactly. And not only will you see the NPCs behaving differently, but also they will  have different drives, because now they want to eat. We are talking about how these groups react to one-another, but the main thing is that it creates opportunities for player interaction.

SD: Really, story is the backbone of everything we are doing in Everquest Next. So we take this world that is full of these races, these kingdoms, these organizations and weave stories around them. We use lore as the backbone that drives these stories forward. So what does the Ashen Order want, what do the Knights of Truth care about? What do the Blackburrow Gnolls want as they are rampaging through the lands?

By dropping these NPCs with opposing drives into the world, it creates endless opportunities for conflict. And players come into the equation and react to these NPC drives and it will be players who push these stories forward in the directions that they choose.

Other Parts of this TranscriptEdit

Life of Consequence Video - Full audio transcript

Life of Consequence Video - Full audio transcript pt.2

Life of Consequence Video - Full audio transcript pt.3

Life of Consequence Video - Full audio transcript pt.4

Life of Consequence Video - Full audio transcript pt.5

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