By: Aimee “Ashlanne” Rekoske
On November 9th EverQuest II celebrated its 9th birthday; to honor that special occasion, the November Employee Spotlight is a member of the EverQuest II Development Team. Meet Nathan “Kaitheel” McCall, in-game holiday events designer and new dog owner.
What do you do here at SOE? How long have you been working here?
I work on the Everquest II game team. My official title is Senior Game Designer (because wearer-of-many-design-related-hats didn't fit well on a business card). I've been working at SOE since 2003, and started on the EQII team as an apprentice in 2005.
How did you get into the industry?
Through determination and a lot of luck, of course! I graduated from the Art Institute of Seattle with a degree in computer animation and found work soon thereafter with a small multimedia company in Seattle. Unfortunately, that only lasted two years, but it gave me great experience! After a stint of work back in retail, I applied to work at SOE in customer service, knowing that there were more opportunities within the company for movement. To my joy and fright, I was hired to work on a game that had just launched - Everquest Online Adventures. So, I moved to San Diego! After working on EQOA for two years, I was offered the opportunity to be an apprentice on EQII (during the Desert of Flames beta). This meant working my full eight hours in CS and an additional four in Dev. By the time I was offered a full time position on the team in 2007, I had carved out quite a niche for myself in quest design and holiday events. I've been here, enjoying the work ever since!
Tell us what a typical workday is like for you.
Oh, the glorious day to day life of a game designer! You are in for a treat! The day begins with reading forum areas that pertain to my responsibilities and the submitted bug reports from live, followed by at least an hour working on bugs. And if that doesn't sound fun, well let me sit you down for a delightful tale of spreadsheets and scripting! Because that's when I get to dig into my assigned responsibilities, while hoping for as few meetings or other interruptions as possible, and while answering questions, and trying to watch for conflicts in lore. Depending upon which stage of production we are at, those responsibilities can include brainstorming, zone planning, quest flow planning, quest implementation, dialog writing, live event maintaining, or live event content implementation.
It’s November, and that means we are celebrating the 9th anniversary of EverQuest II! Is there a moment (maybe a quest or event you worked on) that will stick with you forever?
Oh, definitely! The Shadow Odyssey prelude events, including the void storms that spawned across all of Norrath, and particularly the guide triggered events in player cities, the D.I.R.T.Y. airship excavation and dock building events in Sinking Sands. I loved developing those and watching everyone work together towards changing the game world.
Which SOE Game is your favorite? In that game, do you have a favorite area? Can you share other things you like about the game?
EQII, though you may think me a little biased. (It's true!) But I should also point out that EQOA still holds a special place for me. There were so many GM events in Freeport that brought the server together, zerging the big threat with so many spell affects that you could hardly make out the mobs. That was fun! As for a favorite place in EQII... Wow, I feel so connected with so many zones, so many storylines. I love the art of Great Divide, Obol Plains, Freeport, Cobalt Scar, and most recently, Highpass Dungeon. Then there are the quest lines that I love, like the Burynai line in Fens of Nathsar, or the Othmir line in Great Divide. So much good stuff!
What is your favorite book? What's the last book you read?
Several years ago I would have answered with Anne Rice's The Mummy or Servant of the Bones, but now I've got to say Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. This book was amazing! Such an original take on magic, with great character development, and a strong female lead. What's not to love!? Oh, and a very special mention for White Plume Mountain by Paul Kidd. This was so fun, and inspired several notable characters and quest series. As for the most recent book I read, that was Ashes of a Black Frost: Book Three of The Iron Elves by Chris Evans. Right now though, I am enjoying the New Teen Titan Omnibus volume 2.
Didn’t your family just get a little bit bigger? Tell us about your new puppies!
Oh, yes it did! My partner and I now have two puppies, which are now 6 months old. Their names are Bear and Barley, and they came from the same litter. Although we don't know much of their lineage, as their mother was rescued from a shelter while pregnant, we describe them as 100% cute. The mother was guessed to be a Chihuahua and Beagle mix, but we have no idea what the father(s) could have been. A good description of Barley (the girl) would be a stretched Chihuahua wrapped in a Beagle pattern, with floppy Beagle ears. Bear (the boy), on the other hand, more resembles a Jack Russell, with a beagle print coat, which compliments his sister quite well. I love the fact that we can bring them in to work with us!
What do you do to unwind after a busy day?
There's time after a busy day!? I do make the time to sleep and eat, and once a week I make sure to go out for dinner and drinks with friends. Lately, the puppies have required some outside walking and training time, too. Turns out puppy time is very good for the blood pressure!
Enjoy this screenshot from EverQuest II, Nathan’s favorite SOE Game!
We hope you enjoyed meeting Nathan and will join us next month for more SOE Employee Spotlights!