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Community News - June 2012

Get to Know a Dev Presents: Associate Game Designer David “Elegist” Stewart


get to know a dev

This month's Get to Know a Dev is all about Associate Game Designer David "Elegist" Stewart!

EverQuest casts Shade, Rk. III against the hot, cruel orb of burning.

Here goes my anonymity! I have never enjoyed talking about myself. Ask me to talk about concepts, ideas, or stories, and I will go on for pages. Ask me about myself, and I will struggle to tell you anything that does not seem mundane in comparison. To me, the ideas and the works they produce are the most interesting. I value a book, movie, song, or game in and of itself, regardless of the personalities attached. That being said, I ask a few questions:

Do you know who created the Slip 'n Slide, Risk, or Monopoly? I doubt most people do. I didn't. Most of us were too busy having fun with these toys and games to think about the people who created them. What mattered was the experience, the way the games made you think, feel, and interact. Do you know who created Super Mario Brothers, Final Fantasy, or even EverQuest? You might rattle off Miyamoto, Sakaguchi, and McQuaid, but how many other nameless people labored in the construction of these visionary monuments? I am one of the nameless, and I like it that way.

I do my job: I create digital entertainment. A donut tastes just as sweet whether or not you know who baked it. Your favorite webpage displays the same content whether or not you know who designed it. At times, it is easy to disassociate the object from its creator, particularly in this age of mass manufacturing and digital replication, where a box of food, a digital device, or a streaming song can be delivered to your doorstep or desktop. The same holds true for games, and magnifies the experience. I want you to become so engrossed in EverQuest that you forget that it was created by people. I want the world of Norrath to become a living place to you, a place wherein the physical world ceases to exist, and you give yourself over to the experience. If I have succeeded in my job, you will not think of me. The game, my work, will be my representative to you, and I will remain nameless.

But I do not begrudge curiosity. If you want to know the collection of thoughts and experiences that produced the games you play, that is certainly valid, and occasionally interesting. What life paths culminated in the game you play? For me, it began with Atari: six-year-old Elegist taking turns blasting huge alien pixels at his best friend's vacation lake house. Then, after a long-distance move, eight-year-old Elegist made friends by showing off his new Sega Master System. In junior high, he discovered BASIC programming on the classroom's Apple IIe. In high school, he began building his own computers and teaching himself C++. In college, he found a passion for literature, receiving a BA in English and History. The intervening years he spent reconciling his desire to write and his childhood dream to create video games. He held jobs he thought might clarify his goals, and pay the bills: report writing and video editing for a surveillance company, tech support, audio book editing. He also spent a year as a delivery driver, ascending and descending the snow-laden pass to Lake Tahoe, where he would spend hours each day sitting by the lake, writing poetry and laying out a dramatized depiction of the world as it might look in 10,000 years. But he could not forget the wonder instilled by that first flickering screen of the Atari all those years ago.

He returned to the past to find the future. Four years ago he left it all behind: With only a suitcase and laptop, adult Elegist returned to Los Angeles and reconnected with six-year-old Elegist's best friend. In the vacation lake house, where Atari first kindled the passion for video games, Elegist began his search for a job creating what he loved. He began work at SOE as a QA tester, became a design apprentice, and was eventually hired as a full-time employee. Now he does what he always wanted to do: combine his enthusiasm for writing and programming with his lifelong gaming experience.

Now Elegist spends his days as a jack of all trades, having a hand in many areas of content creation: quests, missions, raids, zone creation, lore writing, mercenary tuning, and game patching, to name a few. He has also begun working with Code, writing UI changes and designer-facing script functions. If there is something in the game you enjoyed, he might have had something to do with it. If there is something in the game that you hated, he might have had something to do with it -- but he disavows it! He may or may not have created the House of Thule raids with Terris, Cazic, and the puppet master, or the Triune God raid from Veil of Alaris. And he certainly didn't create the airship mission in Argath! That was rubbish!

Goodbye, anonymity. I hope, players, that you will not enjoy EverQuest any less when you pull back the curtain and shine light upon the nameless toiling to give you a world in which you can forget the pedestrian act of creation and instead marvel in the created. Just close the curtain when you're done; it's bright in here, and the light, it burns!

So now that you know a (little) bit more about him, let's get started with the questions! Please post your questions for Associate Game Designer David "Elegist" Stewart to the discussion thread. Submissions will be open until Monday, July 2, 2012, at which point we will select the best questions and have Associate Game Designer David "Elegist" Stewart answer them! The results will be posted on the forum and website.

Let the questioning begin!