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:  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.
SD: Steve Danuser- Lead Content Designer for Everquest Next at SOE
SB: Stéphane Bura- Lead Designer at Storybricks
Part II - First Scenario - The Kobolds in Serpent's Spine Edit
SD: So let's look at an example of how this works within the game. So here we have a map of the main continent of the game as it appears at the time of launch. So we have Antonica on the West and Amaril on the East. And we want to draw your attention to a very particular area of the map. So this red highlight shows an area of the land, where the Serpent's Spine Mountains meet Kithicor Forrest. These names will be familiar with fans of the Everquest-franchise.
But Everquest Next is a re-imagining of what has come before, so the storyline will be a little bit different and I will give you a brief summary of what happened in the world. So way back, thousands of years before the start of the game, Kithicor was the site of this tremendous battle between the Seraphs, who are the gods of EQ Next, and creatures born of pure chaos, called Ravaners. And this was a brutal war that cost lots of lives on both sides.
So many of the Seraphs, the gods, died in this war, including the goddess of nature, Tunare. And her blood seeped into the earth and soaked into it and mingled with the chaos magic and created this kind of dark malevolence that settled over the land - really nasty magic.
Sometime later, the Seraph Erollisi, who took over Tunare's role as protector of nature, planted a colony of Dryads in here to hold that dark magic at bay. And it worked for a really long time. But, as happens in fantasy-games, stuff happens and upsets that balance.
SB: You have told us that story is the backbone of the world, but it is also the backbone of AI, because we take all this story and we transform it into drives, into goals for the NPC groups. And suddenly we have an unfolding chain of events that is intimately tied to the story.
SD: Yeah, so it really is this living world, this life of consequence that you, as a player, are playing a big part in.
SB: What you are going to see is a design-tool that we use to test these stories, and test this system made of drives of NPC groups, but also to simulate how players could affect the world by their choices. So, it is a very high-level AI-demo that is just used internally, you will never see this in the game. And you have to understand that it runs at a much faster pace than what you will actually experience as a player.
SD: Yeah, because these events will play out over days, weeks, perhaps even longer. So we want to be able to test it by compressing time.
SB: Exactly. So let's have a look at our first demo.
SD: So in this first scenario a group of kobolds is moving into the Serpent's Spine Mountains. Now, in the aftermath of the Dragon War, which you may have read about in our Everquest Next novellas, you will see that kobolds are on the move and they are trying to claim territories and trying to build their own stake in the world.
SB: What you see here is our design-tool, and the red area at the bottom of the screen represents the kobolds. They arrive in the Serpent's Spine Mountains and they have a little bit of influence. This influence is represented by this red shading.What this means is that if players enter this territory, they will encounter kobolds. And probably will fight, probably will be ambushed by them, or maybe other kinds of interactions.
SD: Right, because the kobolds are in expansion-mode, so they are going to be aggressive towards players that are coming in.
SB: What you see here is that the goal of the kobolds is to increase their hoard. They are greedy. That is one of the characteristics we can give them, one of the drives we can give them.
And in this instance there are riches in the Serpent's Spine. So they will try to acquire them. So let's run a couple of steps of the simulation. You see that the kobold influence is spreading and when they reach a mine, they will mine the place and collect the gems.
We talked about Rohsong, and how Rohsong would tell you about what is going on in the world. We have been experimenting with, not only how to generate this content procedurally, which you see here, but also to describe it procedurally.
Sou you can see that here, maybe if you look in Rohsong, it can tell you that just recently this territory was filled with all kinds of trinkets and now the wealth mining operations are deserted. There are no resources here, because the kobolds have pillaged everything, or mined everything.
SD: Right, and this is an example of little bits of story that will be woven into Rohsong. It's not something you will need to read in a long description. You are going to come into an area and see what's happening. But if you want that extra lore, you can go into Rohsong and get those added depth-of-story bits.
SB: And also, you may better understand the factions themselves, the groups themselves. So I will show you that the group reacts to the changes in the world. So for instance, if I add back some gems into the world, they will mine it again and increase their horde, because that is what they are looking for. And when there are no more riches in this territory, they will again spread and try to conquer as much as they can, because that is their drive.
Other Parts of this TranscriptEdit
Life of Consequence Video - Full audio transcript pt.2