This weekend I went back to the original EverQuest to play around in Kunark as an Iksar Monk for three reasons: 1) I love EverQuest 2) Kunark is the best part of EverQuest for me 3) I had the itch to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. I get slammed with the nostalgia defense by many people who read what I have to say about the old games and refuse to accept any of it as relevant today.
I didn’t do much in-game. I made my character exactly how I had my old character back in 2000. When I entered the game for the first time I was standing in Cabilis at my Monk trainer. I had forgotten what it was that I’m supposed to do. I had to actually ask my friend “hey uh, how do I start again?” He said, “Just go kill stuff”. Tell that to anyone today and they’ll give you a blank stare and then ask you again. But really, in EQ that’s what you did. You enter the world, drop a skill point or two at the trainer for abilities that you want to rank up, then head out and begin your life. I had forgotten that there were some (shocker) quests in EverQuest. Cabilis has three in particular that give players -some- direction: Collect 4 bone chips, collect 4 scorpion pincers, and fill a bag full of Curscale hides. These are all repeatable and some even give a random piece of newbie gear. It started coming back to me like riding a bike.
With a few quests in hand and a general sense of remembrance, I made my way to the Field of Bone (Iksar newbie area) and killed monsters. Before I knew it, two hours had gone by. I had enough fun to log back in the next day and keep going. In the past three days I’ve managed to ding level 8. I’m having fun and all I’ve done is kill skeletons, scorpions, spiders, iksar npc’s, and a few other things within a 3 minute run from the gate of the city. Why then am I having fun when in most games I would immediately label this is worthless gameplay?
The atmosphere and scope of the game are everything. Even in the newbie experience of EQ there are a few readily available facts: The game is a social experience and Norrath is expansive beyond your ability to comprehend in the slightest. In how many games do you see “Level 2 Shaman LFG” or get random people offering you a group when you’ve got nothing but a naked character and a club? In how many games are you running from something and having it chase you all the way back to the guards? How many games do you see with highest levels in the starting areas offering buffs that excessively increase your ability to kill things while still giving you exp? These questions all point back to the experience of EQ being a social one.
How many games offer dozens of starting areas or ways to progress up in levels? How many games are non-linear anymore where each individual has leveled up in a 100% unique way? Even if I am not participating or experiencing ANY of the above, I am still seeing it go on around me. It creates a more ‘lifelike’ experience to immerse oneself in. Something as simple as hunting skeletons at level 4 becomes an opportunity for literally dozens of people to form groups and socialize while working together to grow stronger. People all around me had formed groups to bring down monsters significantly beyond their ability to solo and it took effort for a group of level 4’s to bring enemies down. It actually brought a smile to my face seeing all of the team work and communication happening right from the beginning when today’s demographic is the soloer who wants nothing to do with anyone else until the max level.
This is not extinct folks. This is not nostalgia. I’ve seen it with my own eyes in 2011. My drive to see this industry come full circle is stronger than ever now. We don’t need to wait for the
second third coming of Brad McQuaid for it to happen.