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15 Years of EverQuest

everquest-15-year-infographic

Fifteen years ago my friend asked if I would be interested in seeing something no one has ever seen before.  “I am a tester for this game that’s not really a game… it’s like a world that I live in.  I’m a Paladin of Freeport and I’ve met other real people who also live here.  It’s like The Realm but in first person.  It’s like I’m in the game!”  That was the first and only time I have ever experienced a paradigm shift in real-time.  Everything I knew about video games felt like a grain of sand compared to what was unfolding in front of my eyes.

Suffice it to say, you all know the rest.  EverQuest changed the world.  It changed my world.  I was 14 years old when EverQuest launched.  I think I ditched half of high school to level my Dark Elf Necromancer.  I’ve shared #MyEQStory and many other fond memories over the years of my in-game adventures.  I’ve compared games to EverQuest and used it as the benchmark for just about everything since.

EverQuest 15 Year InfographicThis infographic brings back some intense memories of EverQuest beyond just the game.

I remember standing in the East Commonlands tunnel on New Year’s Eve.  We were all wondering what would happen with the Y2K bug.  Most of us were kids.  I remember the same question was asked in OOC chat 100 times: “Does anyone think we’ll lose our characters at midnight?”

Back in 1999 almost no one at my high school had a computer of their own.  A few had computers in their home.  Maybe half of the kids had the internet.  My family was always online from the moment it was able to be in a home for personal use.  I think my dad’s work got it for him.  In fact, I remember when our internet company contacted us threatening to shut us down for using our connection with them to run our own ISP.  They told us no one could use the internet this much.  My dad had to tell them, “You don’t understand.  My son plays this online game called EverQuest.”

I remember having to beg for a graphics card to play on our home computer.  My dad took me out to Babbages in the Mall and we picked up some Voodoo 3D extreme card or something.  I clutched it to my chest the whole ride home, knowing only  how precious the magic inside this box was — it would unlock the gates to EverQuest.

I may not have been an adult at the time and found my wife or gotten a job from EverQuest, but I was part of that group of kids just old enough to realize what was happening.  I’m almost 30 years old now. I grew up on EverQuest.  To this very day I am still testing EverQuest.  I’m still playing EverQuest. I’m still planning on playing EverQuest.  That really is pretty cool.

Friday Ramblings

Today I’m going to catch up on a lot of random things I haven’t commented on throughout the week.

EverQuest Next Landmark

SOE is having their huge Year of EverQuest kickoff event in San Diego.  Smedley just tweeted that Trailblazers should stay tuned for the next five hours.  Whether that’s more cryptic hype or legit I really have no clue.  I’m going to pretend it means that when I get home from work today I’ll have an awesome game to play.  By the way, if you are a Trailblazer and want to join the best gaming community out there you needn’t look further than right here!

A bunch of us have huuuuuuge (read: gigantinormous) plans for Landmark.  I’m excited to jump in and blow up their feedback system with all of my opinions.  When the NDA drops, I’ll give you all the unfiltered details.

EQ2

I played briefly last night because a bunch of people in the KG Community are playing.  I logged in to my 52 Sarnak SK and 32 Ratonga Brigand and immediately remembered why EQ2 is still one of the best MMOs out there.  The world is awesome, the races are awesome, the classes are diverse, and there’s so much substance (always has been) to everything.   I was totally lost by the 4 hotbars full of abilities, though.  I don’t think I’ll devote much time to EQ2, but it’s nice to see it still thriving — lots of people were online running around and chatting.

ESO & WildStar

Random thought for the day about these titles: I think they are being overshadowed by indie games and other companies giving the players more of a voice.  My excitement is dwindling.  I have more to say on both but I’ll save it for full posts.

Cross-Promotion between Pantheon and Shroud of the Avatar

I thought it was interesting to read in a press release that McQuaid and Garriott are giving cloaks in each other’s games for people who back both games.  I think both the relationship between the two devs and the idea of linking two unrelated MMOs was something worth mulling over.

Mythic makes mobile games…

The studio once responsible for Dark Age of Camelot now makes F2P time-waster games.  Dungeon Keeper sounds good on paper.  A F2P game about carving a dungeon out of rock, building traps, and defending it against other players is pretty cool sounding.  Look deeper and it’s full of pay-to-win and screams money-grab.  I guess that’s Mythic: 2, Beloved IPs: 0.

I’ll add more in the comments as I try and make it through the day.

Only In EverQuest

In order to pass the time before Landmark comes out, a couple of friends and I decided to once again return to playing the classic/original EverQuest. It happens every year, and we always have fun.  While playing these past three days I had the impression that I should take notes on all of the things I was experiencing that I can or have only experienced in EverQuest.  Obviously you can find some of these things in other games, but all of them help paint the picture of the entire experience you can find only in EverQuest.

Missing the boat three times in a row.  One of my friends was trying to get from Odus to Qeynos and ended up missing the boat three times.  Once because he didn’t reliaze the raft was the boat, another because he alt tabbed and got stuck floating above him, and the third time because he thought the island the raft docked at was Qeynos and didn’t realize he had to get on a second boat.  All we  could hear was this, “GWAAAAAAAAARGH!” on vent and we all chuckled.

Pulling out a map to figure out how to get out of a city.  Yep, we were lost in Qeynos for 15 minutes before I alt tabbed and brought up EQ Atlas.  Even then I had to figure out where I was and how to get out of that blasted city.

Binding.  Here’s a long-lost mechanic.  When you die you return to the last spot you ‘bound’.  Only casters can bind, and if you can’t bind yourself you ahve to get someone else to bind you.  If someone else binds you, it can only be done in a city.  If you bind yourself it can be done just about anywhere.

Corpse Runs.  Now that you understand binding, you can see why a corpse run can be a very, very, harsh experience.  Toss in missing the boat three times and needing maps, and you have the experience.  Death isn’t just about losing 10% or more of your level.  You leave your body with all your gear.  You do not want to die in EverQuest.

Doing nothing yet feeling like your’e doing something.  I had this feeling many times this week.  While waiting 45 minutes in Qeynos for my friend, buffing them while they leveled up to catch up to me, exploring Qeynos, practicing my charm-and-release technique, and figuring out which spells I should use.  Doing these things I made no actual progression on my character — in fact I died once and lost 10% of my level.

Trains.  CHOO CHOO!  I think we shouted this four times last night and laughed ourselves to tears as we felt awful knowing the guy sitting AFK at the zone line was doomed.  To be fair, none of the trains were our fault (they were trained on us) but it was still an absolutely blood-chilling experience every time.  Mobs in EQ do not stop following you until you kill them or zone, and if a mob passes you while chasing someone else it will probably come back and kill you.  Love ‘em and hate ‘em, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

Needing to sit for a while and regain mana.  I forgot what it meant to actually be good at managing one’s mana pool.  This really is a skill that separates the good from the great.  I realized casting one or two spells at most per fight was enough.  I forgot how used to spamming abilities I was, and realized in EQ it’s more about utilizing the few actions you take to their fullest.

Trading mana regen (breeze) for a heal.  I was in Unrest last night duoing with my Monk friend and ended up being at 30% HP after a huge pull where we mez’d 5 mobs and cleaned them up one at a time.  I shouted to the zone that I would give mana regen for a heal.  Within 30 seconds this big ogre comes lumbering over and heals me to full.  My friend and I laughed and laughed at how awesome it was to see such an exchange.

Ogres sliding around on their bellies to get through doors.  The ogre I just mentioned above could barely fit in the house!  I was beside myself watching him crouch and squeeze around just to cast.  He had to actually exit the house, open the door, and heal me through it because he couldn’t cast while crouched.  Such a classic and unique feature to have characters be so big.

Only in EverQuest.

Bringing players back to older MMOs

Today I want to pose a question to our readers: What would it take to get you to go back and play a MMO?

I was thinking about this when I read a statement from the GW2 devs saying something like, “Don’t count us out yet.”  My personality tends to feel sympathy for others and I put myself in their position.  A year and a half ago they were at the top of the world.  Their beta was going strong and all the hype was focused squarely on their game as the next big thing.  Their team was probably larger, their spirits high, and their future bright.  Now you won’t find GW2 being talked about because it’s last year’s news, it’s no longer the game everyone plays.  The general consensus may even be that GW2 is a good game, but the fact remains it has slipped.

What about games that are even older?  EverQuest 2 and Vanguard are still being updated with content, still making the news (maybe even more than GW2) yet I know their populations are smaller.  They are 6… 7 + years old?  Yet I personally believe they are both good games; arguably some of the best.

What would it take for a game like that to bring people back — to bring YOU back?  I’m genuinely interested in your opinions.  Is it even possible for an older MMO to get people to play?  I think about solutions like the Station Pass where you pay one subscription and get access to every game a company makes.  That works when a company like SOE has a large portfolio.   Veteran rewards are often used to keep people playing but rarely to bring them back.  Going F2P works short term (SWTOR) but doesn’t really work long-term.  Maybe an active game constantly developing new content and truly showing progress?  Even then, why would I go back and play something like GW2 when I can just wait for EQN, WildStar, or ESO?

If you’re someone who goes back to older games I am interested in hearing why.  I think there’s a door here waiting to be unlocked that will really help a lot of companies keep people interested in their games. I’d love to see the industry stop transitioning together to every new title.

I really do want every game and studio to see success.  The more real options we all have the better off the entire industry becomes as competition increases quality and the entire industry flourishes.

One Subscription. All Games.

SoE (or I guess Smed) took to Reddit and Twitter yesterday to test the waters with a new idea they are kicking around for the Station Pass.  Basically, you pay $14.99 and become a “subscriber” to all of SoE’s games.  The Station Pass has existed for like a decade — it’s nothing new.  The lower price, however, is nice.  The idea of feeling like I subscribe to lots of SoE titles is also something that will inevitable persuade me to more freely play other SoE games.

Despite the argument that “subscribing” to F2P games is a little goofy, there’s another more pressing issue.  Originally, the new offering included the ability to buy any one item each month up to 2000 station cash (their F2P currency) but removed the 500 sc monthly stipend.   On one hand this was awesome — I could choose any one item up to a $20 value and buy what would normally take me 4 months to save for — AND I could do that in EVERY SoE game each month!  There were some restrictions like no bundles or something but it was an AWESOME value for everyone but that Planetside 2 players who raised a hellstorm on Reddit.

The absolute tantrum thrown by the Planetside 2 community caused Smed to remove the 2000 sc item offer and put back the 500 sc monthly stipend.  Congrats.  You get a $5 discount.

Some people were throwing around statements like the 2000 sc offer reduced buying power to which I counter by saying they could have spent $5 on the store, brought their price back up to $20/m for the sub, and had a 2k free item every month in every game netting a minimum $15 virtual gain.

I’d be tempted to vote with my wallet and not buy a subscription, just play EQN, and never spend more than $10/m in the cash shop if I thought it would do anything.   Alas, the SoE community at large loses because the PS2 community wants to buy pistol ammo on sale.  C’est la vie.

Thanks Planetside 2 players — all 200 of you.  Here’s hoping Smed and his team won’t use your vocal minority for all their decisions in the future.

(Despite the poor handling of the SC stuff I do like the $14.99 all games offer.  Thanks for that.)