Tobold's Blog
Monday, March 16, 2009
Happy birthday, Everquest

Today Everquest celebrates it's 10th birthday. When I list all the MMORPGs I ever played, and sort them from longest played to least played, Everquest takes place 2 behind World of Warcraft, as I played it for 19 months (free month plus 3 times 6-month subscription) in 2000/2001. So I have a lot of good memories from that time, especially about the social aspects of the game. In EQ a pickup group wasn't a dirty word, but guild hopping was. How times have changed!

Nevertheless in terms of gameplay and user-friendliness I'm not missing Everquest at all. In fact when I see some of the people in today's MMORPGs complaining, I can't help but think that these people wouldn't have survived a day in EQ. Here are some examples of EQ "features" from the life of my level 42 druid which wouldn't be acceptable any more today:So, nostalgia aside, you can see that not everything was better in the good old days. I'm proudly carrying the flag for the casual players and carebears, because unlike some of those who think they are hardcore now, I played the *real* hardcore MMORPG that was Everquest all those years ago (I think they softened it up a bit since then). I really wouldn't want to go back to those days, and I don't think we'll see many of these features in future games.
I would prefer a world where Ultima Online and SWG style systems would have prevailed. Because what EverCrack and WoW made out of the term "MMORPG" is a sad travesty.
Wow, if I ever played Everquest I probably never would have gone nowhere near WoW.

*A death at my level could easily wipe out a week's worth of leveling.*
Eep! Although if you were as strong as a hunter or DK I assume you didn't have to die for days :)

*Killing 4 mobs that way took 5 to 10 minutes. But then you were out of mana, and regenerating mana back to full took 15 minutes!
So you were /afk 3/4 of the time? Ugh!

Makes me curious: did half the server play druids & necromancers?
Good thing we have Darkfall to live it all over again, except with a dash of UO to make it even more fun!
I miss alot of the things EQ had to offer. The community was amazing compared to the current MMO's. Reputation with your server mattered. I played a Necromancer to level 55 and an Enchanter to 65. I did all the big raids through Plains of Power. The game required you to play 8+ hours a day to acomplish anything in it.

That aside, it developed a strong sense of community in a MMO we will likely never see again. Barrens chat didn't exist back then. We had commons chat which consisted of hundereds of WTS/WTB messages spamming your screen.

I know the game wasn't as user friendly, but that is what made it better imo. Hardship developed a stronger community.
The really funny part is UO was NOTHING like EQ in 1997+. Limited downtime, no skill (xp) loss on death, items were mostly trivial, reaching the 'cap' of 7x GM was somewhat unnecessary, you could travel by teleporting (even to places you never saw before, assuming someone gave you a rune), full housing, etc.

Strange when you compare the two, and look at the popular MMO games of today, and see how little progress has actually been made.
Wizards could quad kite, too (though I suppose not until a bit later...). Other classes could solo as well, but since the game was designed strictly with grouping in mind it was usually very difficult and time consuming.

EQ required a massive time commitment to do basically *anything*. I played while I was in college, and it basically killed my grades (and my social life) for a semester. Only much later did I learn to moderate my playtime.

What a brutal game design this was! So many of WoW's design mistakes can be traced directly to EQ, and even as WoW continues to improve, there are still countless ugly EQ-isms lurking in the corners.
Oh, sweet memories... I played EQ on The Tribunal server from the day the server went online. I played hardcore for 3 years, then took a 2 year's break and came back for another 2 years (with many breaks in between). At the end, my Ranger was the oldest one on the server. I never made it to the level cap(s) either. I think you also had 20 blue bubbles to fill with EP. At 58 it took about 15 hours of straight (non stop!) pulling/killing in the better Sebilis camps to fill one bubble. People were maintaining waiting lists for the camps. If a camp was taken, it was taken. One did not just run by and kill some mobs and leave, very unlike today's egocentric WoW style...

Priests could give rezzes depending on their level, that returned up to 60% (I think?) of the lost EP. Searching for a kind Priest who then sometimes had to run (no mounts!) to the place of your death in order to rez you just out of kindness or for a small amount of Platinum was the harder part sometimes.

The raids were totally different from WoW. It took up to 150 (organized!) people to kill a dragon. I partizipated in the Server first kill of Lord Nagafen. I still start to shiver when I recall the pictures. Imagine your (lvl 60) Ragnaros first kill and multiply the feelings by 10, that's how it felt at that time.

A plane raid ("instances", but with the difference of there being only ONE for the whole server) in the earlier days could take a whole weekend and sometimes it took even longer. Dragons and the planes were rotated between the big guilds, so each could get their shot. First the spawns had to be broken, which means, you had to time the kills right, so that the re-spawn occured only in amounts you could cope with. It was common that if one guild could not manage to break the plane by a certain time, the plane was handed over to the next guild in line.

Groups of mobs in dungeons or planes could hardly be killed at once. Mastering crowd control (Enchanters, my second char lvl 53 or something) and pulling (Monks!) in order to split up the mob groups defined progress or wipe. Wiping in a plane could result in a full day of corpse runs, and several lost levels in the worst case. Oh no, the worst case was not recovering your corpse after (how much was it, 24 hours?) which resulted in all equipment lost. :) Respawn was coming relatively soon, which meant that if you wanted to stay in the plane you had to keep the area around the entrance clear and also the way to the next boss, or otherwise everything filled up with monsters again and you had to start breaking the spawns again. That could easily mean 6 hours lost...

The community was great. There were hardly any twinks in the first years. One knew eachother by name, i.e. you gained (and lost) reputation with the whole server by what you did. Kill stealing? Camp stealing? Being rude? That could easily ruin your chances to join a good guild and life without a guild and with a bad reputation was quite a different thing than being on 10 peoples' ignore list nowadays in WoW. :)

What I really really really miss is the class variety of EQ. There was no PvP, which resulted in classes with specific strengths that not had to balanced. Enchanters (my true love :) ) as the masters of crowd control, Monks, the distinction between Wizards (masters of destruction and Mages etc.. By the way, Mages could easily farm green mobs for EP, too, by using their elementals. ;)

Playing EQ was a love and a curse at the same time. It was so addictive, a WoW addiction is a joke in comparison, go figure. I am glad I was able to quit it. But still, sweet sweet memories...
My wife and I played for almost two years, and it pretty much consumed our lives. We would get up at 4 am to play with a friend who couldn't play in the evening... play until I had to go to work (~8 am). I'd come home and we'd immediately start playing, usually eating dinner at our PC's. We didn't see much of our real life friends, didn't talk much to our families. Our friends still joke about the year that we disappeared.

The funny thing is that we had a real love/hate relationship with the game. There was a LOT of frustration and wasted time involved in EQ - traveling from one side of the continent to the other was a major undertaking (back before there were horses, plane of knowledge stones, etc.). Getting a group could be difficult, even a guild, because of the distance/time relationship. We both ended up two-boxing (crazy!) so that we had basically a pre-made group to do instances (when they introduced them in Lost Dungeons of Norrath).

I also spent a LOT of time on message boards - mainly as one of the moderators of the unofficial paladin message boards. I did a lot of parsing and mathematical modeling because (unlike WoW), EQ concealed almost everything and, in some cases, was downright deceptive in the interface.

All that said, I identified with my character in EQ much more than any of my characters in WoW (where I have an alt of every class that's above level 70). I met people with whom I'm still friends.

I will say that EQ earned the "evercrack" nickname - both in terms of its addictiveness and in terms of its possible destructiveness. We learned a lesson from our experience in EQ - it's one of the reasons I do not raid in WoW; I won't let a significant amount of my time be eaten up by a computer game again.
Eyepatch of Plunder.. the spawn guy in Iceclad? Was that it?
That little insta click was the shit.

The sheer number of people it took in Everquest to do anything was amazing.

Full zone war PvP was awesome, 100 people or so fighting for a zone in the elemental planes was just crazy.

I don't think i will ever encounter a MMO quite like that one again, or ever find the companionship in a video game like I found with the people there in my vent.

We didn't spend a few hours here and there today together. We were 8+ hour everyday talking and doing things in game. They become a part of your life totally.
Wow, I never played EQ but it sounds quite a bit like Final Fantasy XI with the exception of the corpse run. I played that game for something like 2 years and never hit the level cap.
The game required you to play 8+ hours a day to accomplish anything in it.

Sounds like a job. No wonder the friends I knew that played this were unemployed and recluse. Joking aside, I respect the nostalgia factor, but I am thankful I avoided this.
That sounds horrible. Why did you play?
I dunno, same reason anyone seriously plays an MMO.

It ain't cause its such a blast.

Nerd friends, goal oriented social environment, relative ease in accomplishing "elite" goals. I.e. a game world where you can hang out with other geeks and be in a high social class by killing some super hard boss or dungeon.

That probably sounds a lot harsher than I mean it to. I am one of those geeks.
I remember a couple of years back, I had one weekend when I didn't feel like playing WoW, so I decided to check out EQ. It was free, so I thought "why not?" After I finally finished installing it, I created a character, logged in, walked around the room I started in, explored the interface, realized I had absolutely no idea how to strafe, and then spent the next 10 minutes trying to figure out how to log out so I could look it up online.

Escape did nothing, Control-Q did nothing (as I was on my mac, this would often quit programs) and I couldn't get it to be anything other than full-screen, so I was stuck in the game! I could not find any kind of "quit" or "log out" button anywhere, and trying to type those as commands did nothing.

Finally, after staring at the interface for a while, I remembered something I read once, where someone said they always type /camp to log out in WoW because they were used to typing that to log out of Everquest. Huzzah! It worked! I escaped! Uninstalled the game immediately.
Carra said, "So you were /afk 3/4 of the time? Ugh!"

Only if you were very antisocial. Remember, EQ was less of a game than it was a graphical chat room with a mini-game of leveling and killing stuff. Playing EQ invariably made you a better typist, especially since it predated most voice chat, so all your conversations were done through the keyboard, juggling guild, group, zone and private chats.

Nobs said, "The game required you to play 8+ hours a day to acomplish anything in it."

People always say that, but I probably played 2 or 3 hours a day at most except the occasional weekend, and I managed to get tons of things done (like max leveling a few characters, raiding Time, etc). As for Tobold's comments on Necros and Druids being the only ones who could solo... that's bull. Every class could solo, you just had to know where to go and how to do it. (Instill Doubt was the stupidest skill ever put into the game, but as a monk it meant with the right gear and knowledge there were blue con mobs you could solo.) Besides, EQ was never meant to be a solo game... if you were trying to solo you were "doing it wrong". Grouping always returned better exp, it just required you to cultivate relationships in order to best be able to always find groups to play in.
I played a shaman (monk and necro too but shaman was the better character), I had zero problems solo'ing from the get go. Cannibalize was your friend, I could do about 5x the volume of mobs that a necro/wizard/druid could do in an hour it was outstanding class to play in the downtime between raids.

But the rose tinted specs are always good to old games, especially your first mmo :P. Those who loved UO to start with always complain there is still nothing like it out there (wont mention the fact that's because it failed ...). The best thing was about the camping though, I would get a group and camp a spot, get to know these people ... make friends, you would know the good, bad and the ugly on your server pretty quickly. Trouble makers and ninja looters were branded and hardly ever got groups again. This was all pre-name change / server migrations. Hell, I could name (still) the other lvl 60 shamans that were around the same gear level as me on the server, I don't think I could mention another (outside my guild) shaman on my WoW server. I could still tell you the names of the decent pullers/monks, Enchanters and clerics who I preffered to group with and this is almost 8-9 years ago.

The epic scale of raid encounters, and making them awe inspiring was the first thing that really captured me into the game, raiding Nagafen and vox was really, really difficult in the start but once we had conquered them it was then time to move onto the next expansion (ruins of kunark) where the amount of decent stuff and decent encounters was astounding. The next expansion after that is still my favourite expansion for any game to date, with the three way war going, very good scripted encounters (coldain ring events anyone?) and overall just a fantastic expansion ... it all went down hill from there onwards though.
*waves to Romidar* I thought I was reading your bio there--before I saw who signed it.

I got into EQ right at launch with my main being rolled 3/19/99 (played would give the character creation date too).

There were some amazing thing that were hidden--like a big AC gain going from 74 AGI to 75 or how much damage a weapon did. (HA! Romi and I spent a lot of time on that--I still fondly remember the idea of chucking the idea of figuring out what the damage function was doing and looking at its average output.)

One of the best weapons in the game was a level 30 drop that had 3 damage and a one second swing speed. The damage formula was so hidden that even the devs didn't know it all the time.

Hardcore EVE players may have the sense of community that EQers had--no other game has come close.
@ Jhaer

You may be right. At the time I played EQ I was in the top guild on my server so I assume my perception of time sink is different than the person who played EQ casually.

I still feel that EQ felt more "epic" than WoW or any other MMO since then has felt. In WoW raiding is like following a recipe, as long as I do A, B, and C at the correct times I will win. In EQ the fights never felt that scripted.
I missed out on EQ because I was too busy in Ultima Online equipping my guild with explosion potions to ji-had forum anounced weddings; now if I could only get into Darkfall =/
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