My wife and I entered the wayback machine this past weekend… After a six-year hiatus we cracked open our dusty copies of Everquest and had fun playing it for the afternoon. Yeah, not WOW, and not the bland-by-comparison Everquest 2, but good ol’ completely-cryptic-interface, 1999-graphics-by-way-of-2001 garden variety Everquest. The Everquest that was a patchwork of every fantasy trapping and mechanic that the staff could think of before ship. The Everquest that was as unforgiving and sometimes infuriating as being kicked in the gut…
Yep, we played that Everquest, thanks to a loan of some updated discs from Dave Webb. After some extensive guesswork, we managed to remember our old accounts and were pleasantly surprised to see most of our characters still hanging around. And we had 21 days of free playtime to boot (no doubt thanks to some “come back to EQ” promotion at some point). Nice. Thanks Sony!
Our experience playing it was very “Everquest”. The very first moment Sandi logged on with her beloved character Celestiel, she was struck dead by a long wandering dark elf guard. We hadn’t left the game six years ago in a completely hot zone, but we had become complacent about the amount of risk that existed in that world.
I remember back in the Raven days spending every Monday night playing EQ with Jersey” Jim Hughes, Rick Johnson, Matt Pinkston, Chris Foster and Jeremy Statz among others… We spent a solid six or more depressing months with this ritual, ultimately barely reaching level 20 for our efforts. We’d get home from work and start playing around 8, struggling to find each other. Sometimes somebody was on the other continent, and we had to wait the 30-40 minutes for them to take the boat over. We’d find our hunting spot and set up camp, and do great for a while… until a wandering monster or a player-led train finally got the drop on us and we perished, losing half the experience we’d gained in the previous hour.
After one fairly successful evening before we finally broke it up, Jersey was heard to say “I actually had fun tonight”. We were amused, then in shock, in the realization that we were paying to play this game when 75% of the time we just walked away angry. But who was listening to us… Everquest was making Ferraris full of loot at the time, and apparently the crazy nutball addicts were happy… Incidentally, we had one of those addicts (who I won’t name) at Raven. I remember when they first released the command that tallied the total number of days played. This dude bragged that he had over a month online. I stopped for a second and pointed out “Dude! The game’s only been out for three months!” Yes, along with work (10+ hour-a-day crunch time even) and sleeping, he was still averaging over eight hours a day playing. That’s probably not that amazing nowadays that “online addiction” is starting to go mainstream, but Jesus, that was insane back then.
Back to Sandi and I. Once we gt our bearings and we figured out the new HUD map that helped us navigate, we did pretty well. And we did have fun. There was something special there that has been diminished with the iterative MMO’s that we had played since, from DAOC, to WOW, to LOTRO. What was it…? Ha! I was going to write it today, but I got too wrapped up telling my war stories, sorry! I’ll hit it up with some meat next post.