10 Years of Everquest: The “Old Guy” Speaks

WarCry’s coverage of the 10th anniversary of Everquest continues today with words of wisdom (and fun) from “Old Guy” environment artist Kevin Burns. Readers learned a bit about Mr. Burns and about tomorrow’s ‘n00b’, Jennifer Chang, in yesterday’s introduction of “The Old Guy & the n00b”.

Find out what Burns thinks of the changes since Everquest started lo those many years ago. Read on!

How would you compare the way EQ expansions are developed now as compared to when you first started with SOE?

Expansion and content development is much more streamlined now. When we first started building EQ, we were making it up as we went along, creating the tools we needed to make the game. The game engine and the tools we currently use to create and populate the world, have been through many upgrades and improvements over the last 10 years. With our original dungeon building tool, artists would layout 2D maps, topdown, like drawing on graph paper, then set the heights of the rooms and hallways, and finally export them to make a 3D zone. Now, modeling the 3D environments in MAX and using our latest toolsets makes world building much easier and faster, and with much better looking results.

What type of computer did you begin using when you started on EQ?

Wow, that was a long time ago. We all used desktop PC’s, and I think they were Pentium I’s at first. We were constantly upgrading video cards, and the PC’s when we could.

Let’s see your cubicle. *grins*

Can I just use photos of Zatozia’s cube instead? She’s got the best cubicle on the block! But I’ll add some highlights from my current cube area, which is pretty bland.


I did use to have a lot of swag, books, collectibles, and other “inspirato” decorating my area, but after moving around so much in the last 10 years (5 different buildings, multiple projects, probably a dozen different cubes or offices), most of my “stuff” (see George Carlin’s rant on “stuff”) has made it’s way home to my private collection (tours are free on the 1st Tuesday of every month).

Do you play EQ outside of work? How is that possible to do without getting tired of it?

Honestly, I haven’t “played” EQ at home for a while now, even though I’m in the game quite often at work to test out my new zones. It’s not “getting tired of it”, it’s more that I don’t have the time to devote to serious MMO’ing lately. When I do have time to play games (console or PC), it’s usually in small, bite-sized sessions, which doesn’t get you very far in MMO’s.

What is the best thing you’ve personally worked on and have had implemented in game?

Some of my favorite things I’ve worked on in EQ are the original Freeport and Befallen zones. I really had fun with all the different elements and details we created in Freeport. Befallen was a quickie, last minute zone we were able to squeeze in before EQ launched. For such a quickly made zone, Befallen turned out to be a blast to explore. Of the newer expansions that I’ve worked on, the Kaesora Library dungeon from Seeds of Destruction is my latest favorite.

What have been the biggest changes in EQ and SOE over the years you’ve worked there?

There has been a lot of changes over the years. On EQ, as an artist, we have been continuing to upgrade the tools we work with, making our job easier and faster. The team itself has become very streamlined and refined, like a team of veteran world building Green Berets! The biggest change at SOE as a company has been the massive growth. It’s been a wild ride watching the company grow from a few dozen people focused on making EQ, to hundreds of people, working from multiple studios, creating quite a good catalog of online multiplayer games.

What advice do you give ‘n00bs’ when they come on board the team?

My first bit of advice would normally be to get into the game, play it for awhile, check out the community, and study up on the lore and history of EQ. But most people that join the EQ team now have played or even worked on EQ before. My advice now would be to really get into what you’re creating and always remember who we are creating for, the EQ fans and community.

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