SOE Opens Up On Free Realms

Sun, Apr 11, 2010

Casual, Industry

Sony Online Entertainment’s casual-focused MMO Free Realms released last April, and now its developers have opened up on its development, discussing what went right and wrong.

Over at Gamasutra, Free Realms creative director Laralyn Williams discussed a number issues the team faced–chiefly among them being a lack of iteration time.

“It seemed like the right choice to get back-end features out of the way ASAP and focus on player-facing features as much as possible. So although we spent the time and effort to develop the new engine, and then to develop Free Realms’ core features on top of that, we didn’t schedule enough time for those systems to go through test and iteration time before we started using them,” Williams said.

Another large challenge facing the Free Realms team struggled with juggling traditional MMO game design with a more casual focused approach. It’s not surprising, considering SOE is responsible for Everquest, one of the largest traditional MMOs to ever be released.

“SOE is a flagship studio for MMO development. EverQuest is going into its 11th year as a live service. We have an unprecedented depth of experience in online world design and development,” Williams said. “That’s also a lot of history and habit to overcome when you try to make something new. Even with a huge amount of team enthusiasm for the concept, phenomenal support from the entire company, our seasoned leads and directors, we struggled as a company to overcome all our ideas and preconceptions about the way an online game ‘has to work.’”

It’s always interesting to take a peak behind the scenes in game development, and understanding the challenges the creators are going through to ship a satisfying product for everyone to enjoy.

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Art is a Weekend Editor at Frisky Mongoose focusing on video games and the social media that surrounds them.

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