I like EverQuest’s Instancing

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Instancing has so many different connotations these days. I usually hate all of them, but for some reason I’m really enjoying their implementation in EverQuest.

The instancing in EverQuest is done through the “/pick” system. When a zone reaches a certain threshold of players the game generates a new instance. Players can freely move between these instances once every 5 minutes (when out of combat) by typing “/pick” and then choosing which instance (Example: Commonlands 1, Commonlands 2, etc) they would like to enter.

This type of instancing or redundant zoning system exists in several MMOs, but for the first time it feels like it works. I was thinking about why that might be the case, and I came to these conclusions.

No Phasing. Each zone is a full version of that zone. Nothing about the zone is individualized. Contrast this to SWTOR which has a similar instancing system, but then takes it a step further and phases players within each instance of the zone. The result takes a truncated world and further isolates players. I never feel alone even when there are six versions of my zone.

Group-centric. Everything in EverQuest is still about grouping. Yes, you can solo. Yes, you can do things by yourself and still succeed — even more so with the /pick system — but having such a group-centric focus makes the instances work because people are still moving from pick to pick (we call them “picks” not instances in-game) looking for people to group with.

Item Camping. Much of my time in EQ is spent looking for items to better my character or my alts. Since items can be traded freely (most of the time) that means I can camp a level 40 sword and pass it to my level 1 alt. Having multiple versions of zones means I’m not out of luck when the spawn I want is camped… though somehow they always are!

No Quests. There aren’t quests. People aren’t constantly running around leaving zones. In EverQuest, players tend to spend their entire play sessions in one zone. I’ll stay in Lower Guk for hours grouping and may not return to town for days. If I do, it’s to sell and gate right back.

No PvP. EverQuest is a PvE game. There aren’t instances of battlegrounds or people running around fighting each other. I felt this was important to mention as perhaps it alters people’s mindset.

Shared Dungeons. I want to make sure those reading this realize that all dungeons are “open-world” dungeons. You do not ever get your own version of any zone. Players are always sharing the world and even without changing it they are contributing to a social dynamic. We constrain ourselves to rules such as waiting in line for spawns, respecting someone who has a camp (9/10) and lending aid when needed.

The world of Norrath is huge. There are maybe 3,000 to 4,000 players on at a time max. Somehow the world feels packed full of people, and everywhere I go I’m rubbing shoulders with other adventurers looking to advance. Somehow these things have all come together in EverQuest and made instancing of this particular variation work.

  • Although not ideal, I think it serves its purpose well, which is primarily to relieve congestion in high traffic areas. I can’t imagine what Crushbone or Unrest would be like right now on Ragefire, much less during the first week, if they were not in the game. It’s probably the best solution and I agree that the way it works in EQ is one of the better implementations of instancing.

  • I finally started up on the server, got a monk to 10 last night, having a lot of fun. Hope to run into team K&G at some point!

    I agree the instancing is great. It’s necessary because of the overpopulation, Ragefire is sporting 2-3x the concurrent players any peak launch server had. I hope they instance raid content as well, the drama is already underway with only a tiny fraction of the playerbase at level 50. I wouldn’t mind raiding in EQ again, but I have no intention of going up against the guys who still play EQ like 17 year old me did. The only reason not to instance raids is to preserve e-peen.

  • I ABSOLUTELY want them to instance the raid content, and have lockout timers so that one group can’t raid multiple instances.

  • My current biggest gripe right now, which was the reason I quit EQ back in the day in the first place.

    Its very difficult to find groups or it takes forever, I spend anywhere from 30 mins to an hour trying to find a group for something.

  • Finding a group can take a long time, or it can happen quickly. You have to train yourself to rethink how you view playing and progressing in a MMORPG, especially one like EverQuest. MMOs designed to lead you around by the nose and have you go here, do this, find this, turn this in, level up, rinse and repeat ad nauseam judge us by how much we accomplish in as short a period of time as possible. In EverQuest, progress might be earning some platinum, gaining ANY experience at all, or even simply traveling to the next hunting area for tomorrow’ play session.

    In the end, all that matters to you is how much fun you’re having. If you’re needing quick groups to have fun, you’re probably going to want to play the classes that get you the fastest groups: Cleric, Enchanter, Bard (maybe later), etc.

    I like having a group, finding that spot, and gaining experience. That’s fun for me. I like the progress. So when it took me an hour to get a group the other night I was a little distraught. I only had 2 hours that night to play. I spent 1 hour finding the group, 15 minutes getting to them, and 45 minutes killing. I still gained half a level (level 35-36) and in the end felt like I had made progress that night. I had fun.

  • In EverQuest the simple act of making friends is progress. Adding new friends to your friends list (and being added to theirs) progresses your character. You set yourself up to be able to find a group quicker in the future.