You asked him questions and he answered! Here are the answers to the questions you and your fellow players posted to Game Designer Ed "Aristo" Hardin.


Shangsung wrote:

What’s your favorite class to play? Least favorite?

Aristo responded:

I've played a cleric, an enchanter, a magician, and a necromancer to high levels.  I probably play a cleric the best out of those, but I tend to jump on a solo class when I'm just playing for fun.  My least favorite class to play is bard, partially because I dislike pulling but mainly because I can't keep track of all the stuff a well-played bard has to keep track of at once.  They are a lot easier to play now that I have a computer that can twist more than three songs at once, though...

Jedis wrote:

What dungeon from older content would you like to do if you had time? What sort of improvements would you make?

Aristo responded:

My favorite classic dungeon was Blackburrow, which I had the chance to redo as part of the Hardcore Heritage events.  If I were to redesign it from the ground up, though, I'd try to expand each of the old camps into larger areas with a bit more variety.  I was very surprised at just how few pieces of loot could drop in the original.


What feature of Veil of Alaris most excites you?

Aristo responded:

As far as spell-related features, it's the ability to place auras/traps via the free-target system.  It's a seemingly simple change, but it offers a whole world of design space for us to use.  It can be as simple as placing an aura where you want it, or as complex as the rogue's Distraction ability which can help them move and explore more safely.

Overall, the hotbar revamp is my favorite feature.  I'm still getting used to not having to drop items in a top-level slot to use them, and it makes me happy each time I don't have to do that.  Besides, the only custom UI element I ever had was a return to the old 2x5 hotbars, and the revamp lets me have whatever arrangement I like.

Giizmo wrote:

What is your favorite raid you’ve been involved in the design of? Which raid was your favorite to help test?

Aristo responded:

I've only made two raids myself, but of them The Brothers Zek is easily my favorite.  I spent far longer on it than I should have, and wound up having to split it in two pieces because of that, but it was a great learning experience and ended up as a tough challenge.  I kept trying to think of new twists to put on it to keep it from being too easy -- I probably could have left one or two of them out!

As for testing, it's a toss-up between Irissa the Seer in Solteris and the Tactical Prototype in Meldrath's Mansion.  Both of them were incredibly difficult to break down into testable chunks, but ended up being really interesting to watch them work once we could figure them out.

Voodoman_BB wrote:

What is your favorite of the races of Norrath?

Aristo responded:

I've got a soft spot for gnomes - about half of my alts wind up being gnomes.  They're a race made up of tiny old people who go around pushing any button they can find, and after all the trouble they've caused they still haven't stopped doing it.  How can you not like that?

Artofnoise wrote:

In today's MMO market (and EQ's current cycle of life) is there a place for the "insanely difficult quest" and if so, how would you inject it into a game like EQ?

Aristo responded:

I'm not sure there's a place for "insane" difficulty any more in today's MMO market.  I think there may be a place for them in the future as the market matures and there's more space for boutique games.  In a food analogy, there's still a place for steak in a world of fast food, but it's a smaller market and it tends to be more costly.  I'd like to be able to have a steakhouse someday.

Artofnoise wrote:

If you had your way, what EQ feature/function would you assign to that Panic Button as a player? How about as a Dev?

Aristo responded:

As a player I'd probably want a PBAE mez/evac combination.  As a developer there's no way I'd allow that. :) If I had a magic button as a Dev, it'd be a giant pause button for the game that would give us the chance to catch our breath once in a while.

Morituus wrote:

Who is the "other guy" and what PS3 game were you working on?

Aristo responded:

That was Joshua Sanchez, another tester who went on to become a designer on Free Realms and Clone Wars.  We were working on a PSP robotron-clone that ended up being on PSN only.  We also did some testing on the Pirates Constructible Strategy Game.

Anayilea wrote:

First part is who is your favorite fellow dev and why? Who is your LEAST favorite former community manager turned assistant lead designer and why? (Editor’s Note, I may have changed the second part a bit…)

Aristo responded:

I get along with Absor mainly because I "get" grumpy and can commiserate.  We also share a lot of the same philosophy as far as design goes, and he doesn't hate me that much when I take too long on my turn in M:tG.  There are also areas where we disagree strongly, which is why he also gets the award in the category "Least favorite former community manager turned assistant lead designer." 

Yaddab wrote:

If you could have one EQ spell, ability, aa or item in RL what would it be and why?

Aristo responded:

Gate.  Hands down.  Teleports in general, but if it's only one spell, it's got to be Gate.

Or improved invisibility.  That could be handy.

Okay, memblur.  Definitely memblur.

Levitation?  Selo's?

Okay, final answer: Improved Perfected Selo's Levitationportblurinvisibility... Gate.