In honor of Everquest‘s tenth anniversary, WarCry will be featuring several days’ worth of interviews and a screenshot retrospective.

Today, WarCry begins with an interview with Lydia Pope, who has been with Everquest from the beginning. In her role as Community Manager, she has the inside track for great anecdotes. Lydia will be featured prominently in this week’s celebration.

We’ve heard it said that you are the ‘grand old dame’ of SOE and EverQuest. First off, what do you think of the title?

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Is that what someone called me? I’m not sure I want any title referring to me as being an old dame, though I suppose it’s true in some regard. There are others that have considered me the SOE Historian – that title I think I’m more comfortable with. 🙂

Secondly, give us what you suspect are the reasons behind the glorious title.

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Well, I guess people might give me that title because I have been around EQ and the company since back in the day when it was still Verant. It became SOE in 2000. I first was connected with the company during the days of Tanarus, being in beta in 1998. I got into EverQuest in the first phase of the original beta back in 1998, and, I started working on EQ in May of 1999. There are many people in the company that have been here longer than I have though. I know most people in the company and who to talk to for what. I also know the history of projects and even when I don’t know the exact answer someone is looking for, I usually know where to find it. Just the other day someone told me that they use to tell people, “Just call Lydia I’m sure she knows…” and I did! I have my own archives of various projects, lore, and random information. I never throw anything away; keeping most of my email, old documents, old pictures, etc. I also have a really good memory!

Tell us a bit about your background with the EverQuest community and SOE. How have your duties changed over the years?

Over the past 10 years, I have worked in various positions in the company including, Game Master, Senior Game Master, Lead Game Master, Quest & Events Master, and Game Designer and Community Relations Manager. I have worked on many of our games including EverQuest, EverQuest II, EverQuest Online Adventures, PlanetSide, Tanarus and a little bit for Star Wars Galaxies and Vanguard. As a community manager, I have helped out in some aspects on all of our games, as does everyone in our department.

How involved are you with the website and its continually changing content?

See all the content over there changing? That’s me doing the changing! Getting back to that historian title, I’ve also been referred to as a lore guru. While I won’t pretend to know everything there is to know about the lore of the huge world that is Norrath, I do know a lot. I also collect every resource I can possibly get my hands on. Having worked as a designer on the game in the past, I have oodles upon oodles of documentation. I actually created the Player Nexus on the EQPlayers website so that I can have a place to start storing all the information that I have in folders and in my head!

So you’ve been there from the start hmmm? What do you think of the game today as compared to 10 years ago?

I think the game world of EverQuest (across all the games) has become so vast; it has become more of a lifestyle rather than a game. Each year as the world grows with new areas and new content, the world expands into something that cannot be compared to. The community for each of the EverQuest worlds grows stronger and closer together. The lore of the game gets even deeper and more intriguing each day. I think the “game” is like one of those bunnies that just keeps going, and going, and will continue to go for quite some time.

Any favorite in-game memories?

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My favorite in-game memory for my play characters was acquiring my Flowing Black Robe for my wizard back in beta. I drooled over them for so long and the day I finally got one, I was nearly in tears! In general, I think my favorite memory was the Bloody Kithicor battle. I was GM on The Rathe at the time and Alan “Brenlo” Crosby was a guide on the server. The whole series itself was very complex and lore-driven. It was great portraying some of the characters and watching the players enjoy the series. The final battle took place in the Kithicor Forest. I got to portray Innoruuk! In this event, Innoruuk cast spells that basically killed everyone. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen reasons, it also killed the server! The funny thing is when people returned to the game, they created roleplay reasons of why the server crashed. Behind the scenes, we were cleaning up things for a few days. I’m just glad that the community was able to enjoy the event. It’s one of those events that if you were there, you’ll never forget it.

Any favorite ‘forum moments’?

*smiles with an evil grin* Shortly after I took over as Community Manager for EQ, I created my special area on the forums called The Torture Chamber, but I didn’t make a post right away. Community members started creating threads in the there with all sorts of conspiracy theories and display of fear. The torture had commenced!

In your estimation, what have been the best community events over the years?

Actually, one of my favorite events was back when I was a GM on The Rathe. The server population there was full of role-players, to my delight! This was back in 1999. A series of role-play events ended in a Guild War between dark and light. Several people left their guilds to choose a side and then one of the biggest battles in EverQuest history took place in the Commonlands with Zatozia the Torturess right there in the middle there to enjoy the bloodshed.

What is the most satisfying part of your job?

What makes me feel good at the end of the day is seeing people enjoy content, activities or news I provided for them in-game or out-of-game. I must admit, it’s also fun having people bow down to me at Fan Faires!

What’s the best prank that an SOE-ite has played on another?

During people’s birthday’s people like to fill up each others cubes or offices with various toys, balloons, streamers, etc. However, Jason “Pex” Ryan and I once baby-proofed Aimee “Ashlanne” Rekoske’s cubicle one time. We cut up those long pool noodles and fastened them to the edges of her desk and walls. She left it like that for days. The funny thing is, she actually bumped into one of the walls of her cubed that same day. No fret though, the pool noodles came to the rescue! She kept the noodles on her desk for a while. Even though she doesn’t have them there anymore, they still linger around the office. Ashlanne has a bit of a problem with standing and walking correctly. *ducks from a pool noodle*

Can we get a description or a photo of your office/cubicle?

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My cubicle, The Torture Chamber, was transformed back in October 2007. After Halloween ended, everyone kept asking me when I was taking down my Halloween decorations. I kept responding, “What’s Halloween?” The Torture Chamber is currently in a state of disarray. I moved to a different location over the winter holiday break and haven’t had time to put it back together the way I prefer it. Normally my cubicle is pretty dark, evil and uncluttered. Currently, its half decorated and half full of stuff that needs to be sorted. Yes Brenlo and Grimwell, I’m going to straighten it up soon!

Explain that mess on your desk. *g*

Oh no, who told? I really have been trying to find the time to clean it up! I have various evil creatures lurking about. I do just happen to already have the story written down for the Portrait of Zatozia the Torturess:
Back in 1999, a great artist from The Rathe Server, Quinne, Order of Polaris guild leader, drew this portrait of my avatar. Thanks again Quinne! The image was based on the screenshot version that was up on the Harpy’s Head Tavern profile when that website was live.

Quinne, along with many other notables from The Rathe community, was deeply into roleplaying and I enjoyed interacting with him. As a ranger of Tunare he was destined to be my enemy, however, he never claimed as such and always tried to convince me not to torture and tried to mediate between me and others, especially during the great dark versus light war that took place. For this, he was spared from being tortured himself.

He sent me the artwork long ago and I printed it out. I didn’t realize how big the actual size would be. I thought it would print out on an 8 ½ by 11 page. The image ended up printing out spread across nine 8 ½ by 11 pages. Oops!

I could have reprinted it using fit on page option but instead, I taped it together carefully and placed it within Jeff Butler’s office, who was the Customer Service Manager at the time. I had planned to take the taped version home to get a frame for it but put it in Jeff’s office temporarily to keep it from getting mashed up around my desk.

Later that day, John Smedley went into Jeff’s office for a meeting of some sort and happened to see the picture. He came out of his office and asked me to send him the electronic version of the image. He then had someone get it printed out on quality poster paper and had it framed! Thanks again John!

Back in the day, it used to hang up on the wall of my office, however, as you can see, I have a cube now! Yes, I got NERFED! I had it hanging up at home for a while but once I came back working on EverQuest, I felt the need to set the mood for torture!

What are you ignoring so you can finish this Q&A?

I’m ignoring Brenlo, who happened to be looking over my shoulders while I was answering the first question. Actually, I have a few web articles that I’m ignoring. But I’m a work-a-holic though so I’ll finish them before I permit myself to leave for the day.

When you look into your personal crystal ball, what do you see in the future for EverQuest?

I see the EverQuest franchise continuing for years to come.

Now for some in-game stuff. Do you still play fairly regularly?

Yes I still play regularly. Not as regularly as I would like to though due to having a busy personal life. I tend to take breaks from playing and then jump back into the game and play in marathon sessions with work breaks in between. It makes it hard to keep up with my guild though.

What class and race is/are your character(s)? What class and race do you prefer overall and why?

My main characters are a human druid and human cleric. Yes I know humans are good aligned character and not evil. Zatozia forgives me for it! I also enjoy playing wizards and warriors. I tend to like healers and classes that can do a lot of damage quickly.

Can we see what your toons look like please?

Sharing a picture of my play characters might give away their identity. However, I am willing to share some of Zatozia.

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Do other players know which characters are you and/or do you have a ‘stealth’ character for when you simply want to play rather than manage?

When I log in to game to work, I usually log in with either Zatozia or a character that is not intended to be my play character. Those characters I don’t mind telling people who they are. When I’m logged in to game to play, I usually log in at home and with my play accounts. Only a small amount of people know my play characters.

Are you in a guild? If so, can you tell us which one?

Yes I’m in a guild. No I will not tell you which one! For the protection of my /tell window and sanity, I don’t like to reveal my guild. My guild has been a successful raiding guild though. Unfortunately, I don’t get a chance to raid with them anymore due to my time constraints.

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What are your favorite quests?

I enjoy all the epic quests because they give the classes a feel that they are following the path for their classes.

What areas in game are your favorites and why?

My favorite zone is Blackburrow because it one of the first dungeons most of my characters experienced. I even like the tree trap. Besides who doesn’t like hearing the gnoll barking and running from trains? I also like the Plane of Earth and the Rathe Council raid from Planes of Power. I think its one of the best raids in the game. I’m sure people handle the encounter differently these days, but at the time it gave everyone a job to do throughout the fight. It made everyone feel equally important.

Which expansion have you enjoyed the most? I mean, we know the answer is, “ALL of them!” but there must be one that holds a special place in your heart. Which one and why?

The Planes of Power was my favorite expansion due to the raid progression. Lore-wise, I think Seeds of Destruction has jumped up amongst my favorite because of the history it unfolded.

What critters do you slay that bring you perverse pleasure at the end of a tough day?

Rats and Snakes! And yes, I mean the ones you find in the newbie yards. Back before changes were made to the model, I use to bounce over rats. Basically, I would run around the newbie yards, bump into a rat and it would force me to bounce over it. Afterwards I would then kill the rat! I like to kill snakes just to hear the sounds they make when they die!

Please add anything else that pleases you!

The EverQuest community is the true secret behind what has kept the game going for all these years. Thank you!

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