Playing EverQuest always brings the same thoughts to my mind about why I can find so much enjoyment in a game that is 17 years old. I just keep going back. I seemingly never tire of the adventure, even when I start over only months into a server. I had this continual thought going through my head last night: This is simple. This is pure.
EverQuest is straight forward. You make a character, kill monsters, level up, and camp some stuff to get a few neat items. While some of the mechanics can have depth, the true depth is actually in their simplicity and how they are used in their simplicity to do extraordinary things.
I’m playing my Necromancer who practically had to melee monsters from levels 1-4. Levels 1-4 took me like 5 hours — I’m slow, I know. I felt weak. I felt incapable. I felt like I had to fight tooth and nail for every percentage of experience. Some fights had me on the edge of my seat, and I was always darting around looking for mobs that would kill me.
Let’s evaluate the mechanics at play here. All I did was auto attack and occasionally cast a few lifetaps or a dot. I pressed a button, then sat back and watched. Monsters can out run me, never stop chasing until I zone, and higher level monsters are mixed in with lower level ones. Mana and health regen would mean I had to sit often between tougher fights. This meant constantly checking for that Mountain Lion who kept killing me all evening.
Auto attack, downtime, and danger. Simple concepts, but they made the first four levels not only memorable but something I had to engage and focus on overcoming. Modern MMOs are all about just going through the motions and neglect the simple things to the point of introducing so many overcomplicated features and mechanics to the point that we lose sight of the simple things.
There’s enormous depth in simplicity. Just some food for thought.