ZAM Interviews New EQ2 Producer, Dave Georgeson

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?

  Yes, I like the way you put that.

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# Apr 20 2010 at 9:05 PM Rating: Decent
How did you make the leap to............
I don't think it was in the best interest of the new Lead Producer of EQII to basically tell the world if you want to actually play around other people, play on AB...
I wanted to be around people so I was on AB......

Dunno, but all I take from that statement is that he wanted to be around some players and AB was the server he happened to choose. Anyway, the guy has a solid background in RPG's. I especially like that he was on some of the early D&D projects which were the cobblestones that paved the way for games like this one.
Likes and Dislikes
# Apr 20 2010 at 1:29 PM Rating: Good
32 posts
I like this guy's approach. He seems level-headed and reasonable. I like that he left that one company because they weren't actually interested in making a good game. I don't like that he has only stayed 2-3 years at any given project. But maybe that's just the nature of most of those projects, I dunno.

I do NOT like his focus on micro-transactions. I paid an up-front cost plus I pay a recurring monthly fee. I should get the whole game. I begrudge the existing micro-transaction system (SC) and the similar indirect model of LoN loot cards. I have at least been assuaged by the free monthly LoN packs (for a chance at items that have a non-appearance game-play impact like void portals and repair cloaks) and the various promotions giving out free station cash (I have 1500 SC and never bought any) plus the only items that are not already in game in some form are the appearance ones (e.g. xp potions as vet rewards). I don't mind things like character transfer on SC as that was a fee-based service anyway, and it's a "meta-game" service, if you will. I would like to see the prices on those meta-game services come down further, however, since they are automated now.

The Station Exchange servers are another matter. I hate that they were ever created in the first place, but I'm fine with them being separate and characters not being transferrable between them and normal servers. I'd be curious to see the player turnover statistics on the exchange servers. I bet it's high (indicating that attachment to the game is low), because there's little sense of accomplishment with gear that you just buy. It would also seem like a big hassle if you have to "keep up with the Joneses" to compete for group / raid slots. Maybe that's just me though.

Edited, Apr 20th 2010 3:32pm by Xaritus
We should all play on AB ?
# Apr 20 2010 at 11:45 AM Rating: Default
I don't think it was in the best interest of the new Lead Producer of EQII to basically tell the world if you want to actually play around other people, play on AB...

EQ2 server populations are in a bad state. This comment just solidifies that fact.
We should all play on AB ?
# Apr 20 2010 at 12:56 PM Rating: Good
32 posts
Spinning his words to promote your own agenda: Check.
We should all play on AB ?
# Apr 20 2010 at 2:36 PM Rating: Decent
Yes, my agenda for world domination...

There is no spinning of his words. "I wanted to be around people so I was on AB." His exact words.

I am not saying I don't like the guy. In fact I liked his interview. I like is approach. I don't agree with everything said in the interview but after reading it I think the game will be in good hands.
We should all play on AB ?
# Apr 21 2010 at 1:32 PM Rating: Good
32 posts
You turned his personal choice magically into a suggestion to the player base. Plus, if you actually read the context of his statement, a better paraphrase would be that he wanted to observe player interactions, so he went to the highest population server.

I don't deny that the population issue is an important one for some servers; just calling out the obvious spin. I mean, I've done it before too when I was upset over something important to me. Just sayin'.
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