The work of EQII Tradeskill Designer (Emily “Domino” Taylor) has long been admired by players. Our French Community Rep, Soffrina, had a chance to ask Emily some questions regarding the source of her inspirations, favorite creations, Sentinel’s Fate tradeskill quests, plus learn about her second favorite activity outside of designing.

What influenced you to become a Tradeskill Designer? Is there one game in particular that influenced your career decisions?

The original EverQuest was certainly the biggest influence in my decision to move into a career in game design.  I had enjoyed computer games for most of my life, and virtual communities have fascinated me since the days of Bulletin Board Systems.  However, EverQuest combined both interests in a way that hadn’t existed previously, and after a few years of playing EverQuest I became highly interested in working with MMOs.  I wasn't specifically determined to become a Tradeskill Designer, but I had become strongly involved in tradeskills once EverQuest II launched, and when the Tradeskill Design position became open, I applied right away.

What does your job as a Tradeskill Designer involve, on a day-to-day basis?

It's extremely varied.  The busiest time is when we’re preparing for a new expansion: for example, for Sentinel's Fate, I needed to add 10 new levels worth of items and recipes to all 9 tradeskill classes (plus tinkering and transmuting); I also needed to add new tradeskill quests and factions for tradeskillers to work for.  That alone took months and months of work and planning.  When an expansion or a level cap raise isn't immediately ahead, then I may do any number of other things:  revising older tradeskill content, adding additional tradeskill quests for lower levels, assisting with live events or with general content design, anything that needs doing, really!  Although I do primarily focus on tradeskills, I try to help out in other areas when there's an opportunity, because it's helpful and interesting, and also because it's a great opportunity to learn other skills - some of which I can then use to make more interesting tradeskill content later on.


What are the tools of your trade and what is your relationship to these tools?

We use a wide number of tools depending on what's needed, from Microsoft Office to custom tools that are developed and maintained in-house.  As is probably true in any business, the relationship with our tools can be a love/hate affair at times!

Where do you get your inspirations? Who are your mentors?

I don't think I have any one source of inspiration; anything that I come across might spark an idea for a quest or other item in game.  Sometimes I look back to the original EverQuest for ideas; sometimes I get ideas from what people have posted on our forums; sometimes things I have read or seen or even things I studied in school give me ideas.  Occasionally random ideas for quests or events just come to me while I’m sitting around thinking about something else entirely.  I don’t know if you’d call them mentors exactly, but I’m greatly indebted to many of the wonderful people currently or formerly at SOE for teaching me all sorts of things, giving me good advice, giving me encouragement, or just plain putting up with me.  There are too many to name!

Your work as an EQII tradeskill designer has been admired by the EQII Community.  We have no doubt that you are proud of your achievements, but what are some favorite creations that you are most proud of?

I’m particularly pleased with the number of tradeskill quests that I have added since joining the team.  Before I joined, there were almost no tradeskill quests at all; in the Sentinel’s Fate expansion I added more tradeskill quests than had previously existed in the entire game.  The tradeskill epic was my first attempt at a large-scale quest with an important story and significance.  I learned a huge amount while I made it (and owe thanks to many people who helped teach me all the things it needed). I think it turned out really well and is still enjoyed by people who do it.  I’m also pretty happy with the Sentinel’s Fate signature quest “Shadows of the Betrayed”, which I tried so hard to keep a surprise during beta, and which gets tradeskillers a bit involved in some of the current lore storyline (the Ethernauts).


How do you come up with a decision to add a new thing to the game? Do you listen to the community’s needs, is it a development decision depending on its importance or is it a combination of both? In other words, how do you initiate a project?

It is certainly a combination of things.  When I play, I’m always watching for things that might be needed or that would improve tradeskills (or indeed the game in general) and I have a list of things I want to do when time permits.  The community is also very proactive about suggesting things that they would like, and often these agree with the things I already want to do, or are appropriate to add to the list.  And sometimes there are changes “behind the scenes” that make it appropriate to include tradeskill content of a particular type.  For an example of the latter, when the Lavastorm zone was revised, it made sense to take advantage of the changes and put in a tradeskill quest line in Lavastorm at the same time.  Once I know what I want to do next, I just figure out about how long it will take and run it past the team leads to ensure they agree, then off to work I go.  It’s not a very formal process.

What is the most challenging aspect of working on a new tradeskill design?

That entirely depends on what I’m working on.  If it’s an item, then it can be challenging to balance the stats on the item so it is desirable, without being too overpowered relative to items that are quested or looted.  If it’s a quest, it can be challenging to think up fun and interesting story lines that don’t make people feel they’re just running around for the sake of running around. For tradeskill quests, I can’t ask people to kill things and I have to assume they could be any adventure level, so it can be challenging thinking of interesting things to have them do that aren’t just crafting lots of items or talking to endless people.  I think that wherever possible, quests should have a meaning, and make you feel as if you’re really helping, but that can sometimes be difficult to maintain through a large number of quests.

Will there be musical instruments coming soon to EQ2 for players housing?

There are already a reasonable number of carpenter-made musical instruments that can be placed in houses.  There aren’t any current plans to add more.

Which of the Sentinel’s Fate tradeskill quests are your favorites and which one took the longest to finish?

The signature quest “Shadows of the Betrayed” is my favorite, because it gets players involved in the history and lore of Norrath as well as rewarding a pretty cool item. This was done in a real hurry in order to complete it in time and took about a week, plus some additional days for polishing up the details and bug fixing.  I like the Hua Mein quests too though, the way you discover their existence and help them remain hidden.  Each of the quest lines in Sentinel’s Fate took approximately a week, not counting the repeatable daily missions.  So Far Seas + Craftkeepers + Kerra Isle + Hua Mein + Quel’ule = 5 weeks right there, plus the signature, plus another week or two to do all the daily missions… that’s a couple months of solid work before even starting on the tradeskill items and recipes!


Will it be possible one day to have outdoor areas in houses so fans of decoration will finally be able to create a real garden?

It’s something that would be decided by our art team, in particular Haohmaru.  We know it’s something that many people would like, but I don’t know if there are any specific plans currently.

Are there any plans of creating brand new quests, like the epic crafting quest?

I am always hoping to add more tradeskill quests.  There are no current plans for another epic quest, but I’m sure there will be more quests of other types.

How do you decide which items and what kind of look you are creating when designing housing items for carpenters?

Carpenter items are generally items that are available from the zones of an expansion, so I will look at what items the artists have created for the new zones and see what looks appropriate for carpenters to make.  Sometimes there are obvious choices like pretty tables or sofas, but sometimes less obvious choices are also popular.  For example, the big stone benches and tables you can get in Grobb are used by a lot of players for building rock walls and floors, but aren’t extremely attractive items on their own.  I try and pick out items (like the stone benches) that I think people will find useful for building things, but I’m still always surprised at all the many things they manage to create out of them.

What is your second favorite activity outside of designing?

Well, I quite like playing EverQuest II as well as designing it, since it’s a great game!  I also like writing, and I write for SOE’s GIRL blog as well as keeping a personal blog of my own.  I like to read a lot, and I enjoy cooking.  Now and then I bring in home made cookies for the design team, which always seem to vanish quickly!