I’ve been reminiscing about EverQuest, back from the Trilogy days (up to Velious, but not past it – what I consider to be the true EverQuest), and I’m remembering details about what made the game enjoyable for me. Yesterday I spoke about the leveling process being my favorite thing in MMORPGs. [Note: Not all leveling processes are created equal – some suck] This led me to start thinking about specific things I did while leveling up in games like The Realm, EverQuest, and DAOC, that are missing from today’s games.
As I mentioned, while reminiscing about EverQuest I remembered the adventures I took to obtain certain items. I remember being a low level druid and hearing about this quest for the Paw of Opolla. It was supposedly this great off-hand item for wisdom casters and to obtain it you had to do a long and involved quest chain. I wanted that item though, and I set my mind on obtaining it. That quest alone took me weeks. I spent time gathering the materials I would need to satisfy the NPC’s and planned out when and where I had to be to camp the rare monsters that would spawn and drop items I needed. I worked at it while I leveled and made it a part of my character’s progression. It was a quest, an undertaking, and an adventure I won’t forget.
Not all items were difficult by the Paw’s standards to obtain. Some simply required you to kill the right mob, yet they were not a guaranteed drop. I remember being on the main continent of Antonica in EQ and hearing about a place where the Elves lived. This place supposedly had a village up in the trees surrounded by a vast forest that bordered the home of an Orc Clan: Crushbone. In Crushbone you could simply kill an Orc Trainer and have a chance at getting the Shiny Brass Shield – I wanted it! I was playing a Human – or perhaps a Halfling… maybe a Dark Elf… I digress… so that meant I was on the wrong side of the world. I decided to make the trip over to Greater Faydark, on the continent of Faydwer, and obtain this shield. The trip took over an hour but I finally arrived, at a lower level, in Gfay and began my adventures. I needed to level up a little bit, find this Crushbone place, and begin hunting there. And so I did. [Side note: Anyone else still hear this in their nightmares: “Ambassador DVinn to zone!”]
Those single items, that one place, and those ideas of achieving something great set the tone for how this particular character would progress. That is simply never seen anymore. Today we’re busy thinking about how best to finish leveling up. Why? Sometimes it’s because the leveling process is expedited to get players to the “end-game” where the “content” begins and other times it’s a part of games that is simply neglected altogether and we get stuck with a quest grind. In general, the focus has shifted away from the journey and focused squarely on the destination. I saw it in the comments of yesterday’s blog entry – that sentiment of “Leveling is a chore that I want to finish to get to the good stuff” – well, what if the leveling up was good stuff too?
Little things matter. It’s from the little things that great heaping amounts of content can be born. A few very, very sought after items can turn into epic quests, journeys across the world, and even create the foundation for a zone themselves. I want to see that emphasis return to MMORPGs where we can stop and plan out our day, our week, maybe more. Everything is planned out for us and we have so few choices. We know that today we’ll be questing in this hub, and tomorrow we’ll be in the next. Where is the sense of world? Where is the sense of accomplishment and achievement? Give me back that adventure and that opportunity to make something of my journey to the end.
[Note: I might turn this into a series of entries. If so, consider this Part 1.]