15 Years of EverQuest


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.

  • Wow, I can’t believe it has been that long. I have such a love/hate relationship with EQ. But, I still hop on Project 1999 from time to time. I am hoping EQNext can at least bring back some of the magic.

  • You were 14 when you found Everquest. I got it as a 40th birthday present. It changed my life just like it changed yours.

    Just yesterday Mrs Bhagpuss was waxing lyrical about how playing Everquest back then put us all in a world where our real-life age, gender, nationality, race, and physical appearance simply didn’t matter at all. You and I could have grouped in Crushbone or Blackburrow and all that would have mattered was how well we could handle those orcs and gnolls.

    There was a shadowknight we knew for over a year. He was a top-notch tank in a raid guild, very mature in attitude. He used to come tank for us often in the cross-guild chat channel group we ran with for a couple of years around 2002-2004. We’d known him for a year or so when one night he got called away mid-dungeon and had to ask his father to spell for him. That’s when we found out our mature male raid tank was a Spanish schoolgirl living in Madrid.

    All Everquest players of a certain age have dozens of stories like that. It wasn’t so long ago but boy, how different the world was back then….

  • It’s funny how so much of the awe and excitement expressed in your post mirror my own first MMO experience. Except I was 18 and it was with World of Warcraft.

    Just goes to show you how much impact that “first love” moment has on the rest of your time in MMOs. It really does colour how you see everything else, as much as people like to speak “objectively” about who’s mechanics are best. Even though I don’t play WoW as much as I used to, I’ll always have a very soft spot for it.

  • @Bhagpuss: Most of the friends I made in EQ were in their 30s and 40s. I bet they had no clue they were playing with a kid who was skipping classes.

  • I was 13 or 14 when I played, was very thankful for the escape it gave me, it was a nice time to be me too, before voice chat became mandatory and people were sociable.

    Although it was a very sexist time, I played male most the time to stop being harassed and/or gifted

  • ” I clutched it to my chest the whole ride home, knowing only how precious the magic inside this box was”

    WTB time travel machine and be child again! Excellent post Keen, it gaves lot of laughs and memories of my own childhood.

  • Despite never having my own account for EQ this actually brings back memories as well, as EQ is the game that started me into computer gaming. I remember when I was a kid, around 13-14 I would go down to the card shop and hang out there, and I remember that the employee’s and a couple of their friends would all have their computers sat up playing EQ, as well as the store owner and we would sit there and watch them. Then my friend got it on his computer and I would go over and play a bit on his account.

    EQ was actually the main reason I became a PC gamer and that I was interested in WoW. So even without having actually had my own account it did still have a huge impact.

  • I was 30 the first time I logged into EQ in April 99. I’d picked it up in a game shop without even knowing what it was. I was only curious because it said on the front I needed an internet connection to play it. The exact spot outside West Freeport where my first character appeared is still my desktop background. The first few moments of just turning on the spot, seeing all those other characters and realising they were all other people all over the world was utterly memorable and incredibly intense. That was the moment when the future possibilities of online gaming became apparent to me. A total WOW moment. I also knew instantly that I wouldn’t be leaving for a while.
    It ruled my life for the next eight years. It’s just a shame that I think you only get that moment once. I’m glad I had mine but I’d pay anything to feel it again.

  • I was 24 and in college. I found out about EQ because one drill weekend a fellow Marine in my platoon could not stop talking about his brother’s exploits going off with dozens of others and killing dragons and the like in this awesome new game he was playing. I picked it up that week and was immediately engrossed. Before I knew it I had most of my gaming buddies playing with me, including one of my best friends and roommate at the time.

    There were lots of sleepless nights and skipping of early morning classes. I have fond memories of running all over Faydwer, particularly Butcherblock and Kelethin/Crushbone. I really miss the openness of the game, the non-linearity. The combat was maybe a bit too simple for melees, but there was depth there that was not immediately present on the surface. I realized this the first time I played Project 1999 after being away for many years. I don’t miss some of the timesinks and rare spawn camping, etc., but I think there are lots of lessons developers of current MMOs can glean from EQ.

  • I was just out of college when I discovered EQ. Got a few of my friends into it and we have been MMO players since. One of those friends and I recently decided to go back and give EQ a try again. We started this about a month ago. We log on and our first conversation starts off the same as it did 10-15 years ago, “Where do you want to go today?” That is awesome. A world that is big enough that you can explore a different part every day.

    Now to decide which character gets the free level 85.

  • shakespeare in love was best picture in 1999.. wtf acadamy group.. still picking bad films all these years.. nothing changes!!!

    Look how i pick out the most important item from the ad 🙂