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IRC Chat Q&A with Dan Steamer, who goes into detail about the design of Gloamwood and then zone design in general.


  • Abigale: Hello, All :)
  • Abigale: I'm sorry.... I asked about getting that screenshot. I suck at taking screenshots myself. I'll try to keep working on that


  • Abigale: Ok, folks.... Daniel is about to pop in. Thanks for being here :)
  • Dan_Steamer: hey there everyone!
  • Dan_Steamer: So I figured I've giver eveyone a quick intro since I actually haven't introduced myself on the forums yet *hides from cindy*
  • RIRCGuest761 asks: ...you're not bald, are you?
  • Dan_Steamer: I'm one of the senior game designers at Trion, and the pod lead for one of our content pods - and no, I have lots of hair
  • Dan_Steamer: I've been with trion since late 2008 and have been in charge of the creation of 3 of our fantastic zones - one of which I'm here to talk about
  • Dan_Steamer: so let's get to the meat of why everyone's here though - GLOAMWOOD!
  • Abigale: I have to say I LOVE Gloamwood. Such a cool zone


  • Draegan asks: How many people did it take to build it?
  • Dan_Steamer: so gloamwood was made with myself and 4 other designers, that's the typical size of our pods (5 people)


  • Draegan asks: How long did it take to build?
  • Dan_Steamer: The first pass on gloamwood took ~10 weeks. That's enough time for us to put in all the content and playtest it a few times.
  • Dan_Steamer: Since then we've had a few revists to clean it up and update it - it's one of our first zones made.
  • Dan_Steamer: we're actually back in their now adding some extra little pieces of evil


  • Draegan asks: How big is the zone? How many different parts does it have?
  • Dan_Steamer: zone size is a hard thing to measure in our game - we try to measure in hours, but we have roughly 12 unique locations in there with about an hour of play each (do the math)
  • Dan_Steamer: I think some of those locations you can see in the video - like the undead area


  • Draegan asks: How many other zones connect to Gloamwood?
  • Dan_Steamer: gloamwood connects to 4 other zones - one of them being silverwood. You'll have to hang around longer to find out what the other 3 are


  • Draegan asks: What is a content pod?
  • Dan_Steamer: ah, industry jargon. A pod is a group of people of various talents that work on a piece of content. For design our pods are all designers.
  • Dan_Steamer: usually there's different strenghts, like quest scripting, population crafting, text writing.
  • Dan_Steamer: hint - text writing is not my role on the pod


  • Kara asks: Are the zones all the same shape like Vanguard's square chunks or are they more organic?
  • Dan_Steamer: every one of our zones is a unique snowflake crafted by our awesome artists. They come in all shapes and sizes
  • Dan_Steamer: oh, and elevations


  • Massabik asks: Have you ever worked on a zone that's ended up just being thrown out?
  • Dan_Steamer: i have not, and too my knowledge nobody has - we've made everyone of our zones work. Some have gone through verying overhauls with lore and IP changes
  • Dan_Steamer: but there's always been awesome stuff worth keeping any time that happens


  • Dorro asks: Will zones like Gloamwood(Guardian) have quest for Defiant to complete in it? Vice Versa.. thus creating some kind of interaction between the 2 factions.
  • Dan_Steamer: Like some other popular MMOs we do have safe zones to protect our new players as they return to the world of Telara - it will be a familiar experience for most people
  • Dan_Steamer: but Gloamwood as it stands is a Guardian friendly zone


  • Thekk_HD asks: The new zone, Gloamwood, looks awesome. How difficult was it, from your standpoint, to create a zone that looked that good but would be friendly for folks that have older PC's?
  • Dan_Steamer: Gloamwood DOES look amazing - but wait till you see the rest of our world.
  • Dan_Steamer: In GW we have the advantage of fox and trees to block views - but our tech and art team are doing a great job making it work
  • Dan_Steamer: fog*
  • Abigale: hehe... I was trying to remember if I had seen any foxes there ;)


  • Massabik asks: How many passes does a zone usually go through from concept to release and what is the usual process?
  • Dan_Steamer: that's really up to the pods - since there's a strong drive for personal ownership
  • Dan_Steamer: each zone goes through it's initial pass from concept/pitch to first playable - from there the pods juggle their zones and spend time polishing where they think it's needed


  • Ciovala asks: Does the use of dynamic content complicate your zone design in any way?
  • Dan_Steamer: the big question for Telara - I can't get into specifics of what our dynamic content is just yet. But for zone design it's we think of it as addative
  • Dan_Steamer: you need to make a nice static cake to put all the icing on
  • Dan_Steamer: does that static content stay the same every minute of every day - not necessarily.
  • Dan_Steamer: There have been some cool things thrown into gloamwood that hopefully players aren't even sure if what they saw was dynamic - but then there's the things you're going to know about right away
  • Dan_Steamer: good question and hard to answer - but dynmaic specifics are planned for a future unveil


  • Dorro asks: In Gloamwood what type of quest in content will be there besides the usual.. This many ghouls and skeletons! Anything unique?
  • Dan_Steamer: what? ghouls and skeletons are no good?
  • Dan_Steamer: so the name of the game is "Rift" - and these things are everywhere (dynamic?)
  • Dan_Steamer: but the Rifts have have a lasting impact on Telara - sculpting the creatures you see and forming our cults. The drivers of our conflicts
  • Dan_Steamer: you're going to find the cults in various forms through out the zones
  • Dan_Steamer: in Gloamwood we mentioned the Gedlo - the goblin avatars of the fire cults. And you've also got the endless court, the worshipers of Regulos - the dragon of Death.
  • Dan_Steamer: so right there you've got some creepy stuff that's not your typical skeleton haunt zone.
  • Dan_Steamer: we've also go the Hag - the twisted forest guardian (not to be confused with the faction) who was corrupted during the Shade. Think the witch from your fairy tales
  • Dan_Steamer: and then of course there's this thing that's been killing people in the town - but i'll leave that one a mystery


  • Kaelestis asks: Will Gloamwood have any instances within it and if so, How many?
  • Dan_Steamer: so not sure what we've said about instances - but yes. There is an instance for Gloamwood - afterall goblins have to live somewhere


  • Dorro asks: How many player towns are located in Gloamwood?
  • Dan_Steamer: Gloamwood is a scary forest - the shade really messed it up. So civilization has condensened into the large town of Gloamwood Pines - which you can see in the video.
  • Dan_Steamer: I think you can see more of it in our teaser trailer too - when the 2 guys are riding on horses over that rope bridge
  • Dan_Steamer: everything else "safe" is a little hub of either Guardians who aren't scared of the superstitions or waykeepers (the local guards) who guard the roads


  • Ciovala asks: Do zones come from lore, or does zone creation drive lore creation?
  • Dan_Steamer: it's a give and take. Our lore guys have been great coming up with unique settings and interesting stories about which cults and dragons are working against which good guys
  • Dan_Steamer: from there the pods a few days to break that into high level stories for players, then refine that into a couple quests (like 100 - no biggy)
  • Dan_Steamer: then we refine with lore to make sure we're telling the stories or if we came up with something even cooler and we should update the lore
  • Dan_Steamer: then we work with art to get it working - then it's a mad dash to get it all in before we decide on something even cooler


  • charlionfire asks: What kind of enviromental features is in Gloamwood (moving tree branches, grass, critters)?
  • Dan_Steamer: so this is something that doesn't come across in our videos or stills. We've got D) all of the above
  • Dan_Steamer: snakes and coyotes walking around
  • Dan_Steamer: trees and grass that move in the wind
  • Dan_Steamer: sun that moves in the sky AND makes the shadows cast by the trees and objects move
  • Dan_Steamer: fog and other FX
  • Abigale: Yeah, the shadows are amazing
  • Dan_Steamer: and of course the great sound and music to go with it all


  • Ciovala asks: How much interaction is there between pods, to ensure that the various areas 'mesh' together in a seamless fashion?
  • Dan_Steamer: there's a lot. It starts with the lore, making sure don't do something dumb like make your allies in one zone the bad guys in the next
  • Dan_Steamer: then we do a lot give and take with the stories want to make and the events we want to tell
  • Dan_Steamer: of course I'd be lying if I said someone hasn't stolen some of our epicness for an earlier zone *shake fist*, but that just ment we needed to out do them
  • Dan_Steamer: but as part of our revists that's one of the big things we're ironing out is any of the big issues
  • Dan_Steamer: the zone distributions worked out in a way too were the pods got kind of big chunks geogrpahically - I have a large chunk of Guardian content so it was easy to mesh it


  • Hanlo asks: Have you ever competed with another pod to see who could finish a zone the fastest?
  • Dan_Steamer: haha oh boy
  • Dan_Steamer: so what happens when you do that? finished zone that makes no sense. We like to compete on quality


  • Ciovala asks: Shadefallen Keep has been mentioned. Is that an instance in Gloamwood or an open adventuring area?
  • Dan_Steamer: that's an open area. go to :33 in the unveil video for the zone and you can see some of it


  • Dale asks: What gets you fascinated by zone design?
  • Dan_Steamer: the amount of freedom - when we get tossed a zone it's a bullet point of lore points and points of interest for the art team. The pod goes from there.
  • Dan_Steamer: we've made all kinds of stories and styles in our zones


  • Massabik asks: What's your favorite zone that you've worked on so far in Rift?
  • Dan_Steamer: Gloamwood of course!
  • Dan_Steamer: honestly... it's what ever one we're working on because it's getting the latest and greatest. Right now that just also happens to be GW
  • Dan_Steamer: but as much as the mystery beast excites me in GW the big hooks of my other zones are just as squeel inducing


  • Kara asks: Do any zones have any time related features such as undead only coming out at night like in EQ's Kithkor?
  • Dan_Steamer: hmmmm... well you should go ask Alstair Solem in Solemn Outlook when you get into the game. He seems to only tend his families graves when the sun is up


  • Githil-FPI asks: what is your favorite part of GW?
  • Dan_Steamer: that's like asking who your favorite kid is... Darkening Deeps!
  • Dan_Steamer: :19 in the unveil, it's the crack in the earth so to speak from which the Goblin blight is spilling forth
  • Abigale: You'll be hearing more about Darkening Deeps very soon :)


  • Grogy asks: you said the shade messed it up. does the history of GW give us any idea of what it was before?
  • Dan_Steamer: so the Shade (capital S people) messed up a lot of the world. If you poke around enough in the zone you'll get the story of what it used to be before hand


  • Lothair asks: will the cults protect rifts opening? will they work with the creatures coming through the rift?
  • Dan_Steamer: hmmm, anohter question for dymanic - loving the interest. I can't really get into details on that one - but I can say that not all rifts are dynamic.
  • Dan_Steamer: Cults work for the Dragons, Dragons like rifts being open....


  • Sornin asks: Gloamwood seems to be Rift's take on the "haunted woods" zone. What sets it apart from its counterparts in other MMORPGs?
  • Dan_Steamer: kind of got into this a little before - but Gloamwood isn't really the 'haunted woods'. It's the spooky woods. The goal has always been make it the woods of fairy tales
  • Dan_Steamer: "don't go in the woods or the hag will eat you"
  • Dan_Steamer: and she WILL eat you!


  • Ciovala asks: Have you thought tactically when creating zones? By that I mean having ways for players to use the environment to their advantage (or for NPCs, actually)?
  • Dan_Steamer: ahh yes. We are constantly finding ways to screw... err I mean make it fun for players in our zones.
  • Dan_Steamer: But yes, we have been spending a lot of time thinking about placements and aggro distances and all that to make it fun for players to do their quests


  • Dan_Steamer: K guys, it's been great. Love seeing the excitement and look forward to telling you about some of my other zones
  • Abigale: Thanks for taking the time to be with us Dan :)
  • Dan_Steamer: I'll do an intro with Cindy later today
  • Dan_Steamer: just busy with making GW shine :-P
  • Lothair asks: GW shines???
  • Dan_Steamer: it shines in the darkest of gloamy colors
  • Abigale: Thank all of you for being here. We'll be back next week. :)



Original logs on ReplayIRC: here.

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