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Pantheon Development Team Spotlight: Corey LeFever

Posted date / 11.09.16

Nearly everyone in the MMO community knows the name Brad McQuaid, but our team here at Pantheon features many talented individuals. While many in the team may not have the name recognition of our resident rock star, their resumes and skill sets are just as impressive. We want to take the time to let you get to know them, to peel back the curtain a bit, and give you greater insight into the minds that are helping shape our virtual world. For November our Assistant Community Manager Medawky was lucky enough to interview Senior Game Designer, Corey LeFever, during the week of Unite 2016.

First things first, tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Corey LeFever, I am a Senior Game Designer here on Pantheon. As a senior game designer I help work on system design and implementation, encounter design, itemization and anything that has to be with foundational game design and progression. I originally hail from southeast Ohio, but I moved to San Diego at 19 with the dream of either being a game designer or a paleontologist. Those two disciplines had always been the things I was most passionate about. I think I was really inspired by stories about titanic lizards that used to roam the earth and I was really into games like Pitfall and Zelda when I was young. I got involved in game design when I was hired by SoE, first as a game master in Vanguard and then I was able to work my way into the development side. It was an interesting time because I was able to help the team make good on some promises and fixes to things that had really hampered the game’s launch.

What other titles have you worked on?

Professionally I’ve worked on Vanguard and I did a brief stint on a mobile RTS project, it was a startup that unfortunately didn’t end up launching, but it was a nice departure from orcs and elves and allowed to learn some new facets of design.

How did you become involved with Pantheon?

When we were laid off from Vanguard, several of us were looking for something to do and we were all very likeminded in wanting to produce a group oriented game, it’s something that was in our DNA, it’s the stuff that we were not only familiar with, but that we liked to play. Since we were all looking for a home together we decided to create our own with Visionary Realms.

What programs do you use to facilitate your work?

We have primarily worked with the Unity engine, which has been a real asset for us as it’s helped us get up and running much faster than some other development methods. It allows us to prototype things quickly and get them implemented, at the very least as a proof of concept, so we can see how they will function and make changes as needed. We have a lot of proprietary tools as well, some of them are based on past experiences and many have been refined and improved as we take those tools and evolve them to their next logical step.

Can you take us through a bit of of the creative process, what’s an average day like for you?

Being a smaller sized team we don’t have what one would consider an average daily process, some of us wear a lot of hats and that keeps the design process fresh and keeps us very involved. It’s also a remote team, so it may take some time before we can fully flesh something out as we wait for a programmer or other member of the team to do a critical task before we can circle back and make sure we're all on the same page. I guess a average day would be balancing a lot of spinning plates, to use that analogy, I might be drafting a document for NPC body types and at the same time I might be trying to sync up with other members of the team to implement new NPCs into the world and getting them moving and behaving as they should. There is always that element of surprise that really keeps development of Pantheon so much fun.

What has been the most challenging aspect of Pantheon?

As we talked about before, it’s probably that remote aspect, where we have members in different time zones so you have to be flexible enough to be able to pause on a project and then pick it back up quickly when things come together. Also, when you make video games for a living, it’s sometimes hard to convince your spouse that you are indeed working!

What has been the most rewarding?

Getting the opportunity to work on a game like this is really the biggest reward, it’s not something many studios are invested in. It’s fantastic to be really excited about the product that we are working on, it’s such a rare opportunity. Also, being a largely crowdfunded game has given us a level of transparency that is really cool, we can showcase our work and our ideas in a way that you might not be able to under different circumstances. Plus, being able to work with this team is a blessing, the melding of ideas on how to take a classically spirited game and to make it modern has brought out some of the best creativity I’ve ever been a part of.

What feature of the game has you most excited?

Easy answer, it’s crafting. I’ve been a crafting junkie in every game I’ve played, whether it’s been driven by profit or need for items, I love to craft. When I was approached about being on the team for Pantheon, one of the big needs was a champion for crafting, and knowing my love for it, it was a perfect fit for me to take up that banner. The concept of swinging the hammer and creating something has always appealed to me since I usually play a tank and by extension I’m a blacksmith. There is probably even a portion of it that’s rooted in my love for paleontology, at least in so far as extracting something from the environment.

For me, Pantheon will be a success if…?

If we can create a virtual world where people can come in and have that meaningful cooperative group based experience. It becomes so much more than a game when you get to forge those connections that last not only in game, but out of game as well. I think in a large part we’ve already started to do that with our community. I really want to say thanks to this community for their support and for driving us to make the best experience possible. Their passion and enthusiasm is really infectious and keep us focused on our goals.

Our thanks go out to Corey for taking a few moments out of his schedule to chat about his past and Pantheon. If you missed it, you can catch a replay of the Unite 2016 Keynote that Corey and Brad presented here. Until next month, thanks for your continued support and we can’t wait to bring you the next newsletter.

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