Original Norrath

The big hullabaloo at work ended up going far better than expected… however since the meeting time was at 1 pm I spent most of the morning in an overall sense of dread.  I am a “rip the band-aid off” person, not peel it back slowly… as a result I detest suspense.  I want to get the pain over with so I can get on with my life.  In class I usually volunteered to give my speech or presentation first so I could get it out of the way and relax.  But I survived… and now I am on vacation for awhile.

Original Norrath

eqgame 2013-07-04 09-23-34-47 Thanks to my Everquest 2 account and having station access I have had the ability to play the original Everquest for some time now.  For whatever reason I never really took advantage of this.  From time to time I would boot up a copy of the game playing one my favorite emulator server, but I had no real interest in ever returning to the real thing.  On a whim I decided to fire up the game client and see if the game experience had improved as a while.  A few months back I did the same for Dark Age of Camelot, and was surprised at how well the game actually stood up against modern titles.

The Good

eqgame 2013-06-30 10-55-46-78 Honestly many of the features of the game have been drastically improved since I last played it on an older emulated copy.  Firstly most of the NPC models I encountered had been drastically improved, but honestly I never had an issue with graphics… I play minecraft afterall.  The problems I always had with the game were just how bad the user interface was.  Luckily this has been improved a lot, and they seem to have fixed the horrible mouse look system from the early days.  For the most part it controls out of the box like you would expect any modern MMO to control.

Additionally they have completely gotten rid of the corpse recovery aspect of the game.  This was the biggest sticking point with me, and the cause of lots of marital strife for myself and my friends.  The inability to simply disconnect without dire consequences caused many a fight, and I can still remember getting a call one Sunday afternoon begging me to come home right away and resurrect someone because they got stuck in a bad place and were about to lose all the gear on their corpse.  All in all there was nothing positive about that system.

What happens now is if you die you respawn back in a safe area with all your gear just like modern MMOs.  After level 10 you begin to lose experience just like you used to in the old game.  From my understanding you still can lose levels through death, but this is acceptable I suppose.  Temporarily losing progress on death is something you can deal with, permanently losing everything you have spent years acquiring on your characters… that is not something you can deal with.

Additionally they have added in a return to bindpoint functionality that lets players rapidly get out of an area.  This was another huge problem with the game as a whole, the inability to safely leave the game at a moments notice.  Things happen, and you cannot always plan when you might need to leave a game.  Modern MMOs have taken this into account, but it is nice to see they have gone back through and added this functionality into what was always the most painful game on players.

The Interesting

eqgame 2013-06-30 14-17-20-14 The thing that I find most interesting is all of the ways that they have essentially “hacked” modern features into an extremely old and limiting engine.  The name Everquest used to always be a joke, since for the most part the game itself had very few “quests”.  They have remedied this by adding in a full quest journal system, and through some clever scripting given you an overarching quest for each area that essentially leads you by the hand to the other quest givers.  This way players at least know who to /hail to get the quests in a given area.

Additionally they have incorporated new features, like treasure chests that are commonplace in other games.  They had no real way to do this in the traditional sense… but instead creatively created ground spawn stationary mobs that look like chests but don’t fight back.  So by destroying this “chest” the player can then loot the contents.  I have to applaud the devs for coming up with extremely creative solutions around complex problems and limitations of their game engine.

Additionally I find it interesting that they have come to a point where they expect mudflat ion to occur and that players need certain stats to be able to survive.  Through the tutorial quests you manage to get a really nice set of gear, probably better than I had in my 50s in the original game… and include with it the ever important 10% haste item.  This was a must have item, and I remember hours spent farming various drops for the guild to make sure that every dps player had at least the most basic of haste items.

The Bad

eqgame 2013-06-30 12-56-54-66 Today’s post was essentially spurred on by one of my friends blog post yesterday.  Over on West Karana, my friend Tipa posted an article called “Why I Stopped Playing Everquest”.  Her commentary could almost exactly double for whatever I am about to say, because the same things that do not appeal to her… are what I noticed indulging this whim.  Ultimately it is honestly the same problem I had with Dark Age of Camelot as well.  The game play is to slow and prodding… and quite frankly boring after being used to today’s MMO standards.

I played a Cleric in the original game, and my little circle of healers used to joking refer to the game as AFKquest, in that we spent far more time alt-tabbed or talking than actually doing anything active on our characters.  Unfortunately playing a melee is not much better.  I have reached a point where I just cannot handle passive and slow combat, and literally doing nothing as your character auto attacks down a monster.  The above golem took a good 15 minutes of waiting on my character to slowly chew down its health.  I alt-tabbed and caught up on my news feed, tabbing back between articles to see if it was over yet.

This is not what fun game play looks like anymore for me.  At one time it was, but more so it was because it was the only thing that gave us online character development and progression.  The game holds up on many levels, but the slow pace of the game and the absolute passivity of combat guarantees that it will never be more than a passing novelty for me again.  Sure I got the tingles of nostalgia as I heard the opening theme again, but I have the same nostalgia playing Everquest II, which for me at least is a much better game in every possible way.

I feel like I have always looked at my time playing Everquest through rose colored lenses… but after playing it again for a short period of time… I started to think about all the things I didn’t remember.  All of the hours spent standing around doing nothing, while other players drug mobs back to the party and killed them… somehow never taking enough damage to make it worth casting a heal.  Quite honestly the game involved way more waiting around than I would like to remember.  Waiting to break fear, waiting for everyone to log in and show up for an event, waiting to get enough faction to turn in a specific quest item, waiting for that one magical super rare monster to spawn needed for someone’s epic.  I simply don’t have the patience for that much waiting, or at least I have come to value my time a bit more and I am simply not willing to squander it.

Wrapping Up

Overall I was surprised at just how well Everquest had updated itself to compete with modern games.  However after playing for a very short period of time… I remembered all the bad things about the game and they pretty much toppled the nostalgic good things.  I am going to file the game in the “not for me anymore” category.  I might visit occasionally since it is free for me to do so, out of sheer nostalgia, but it isn’t something I could ever really get into again.  The gameplay overall is just not what I am looking for out of an MMO.

Since this is the big holiday weekend in the United States, I wish all my fellow Americans a happy Independence Day.  For my dear friends in the rest of the world… I apologize… because for the next 24 hours you will hear about nothing but our Fourth of July celebrations.  I still hope you all have a great weekend.  We have a bunch of stuff to do to prepare for our vacation and a bunch of cleaning to do for our house sitter.  Guess I need to get up and be productive.