Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Glory Days

As I mentioned a long time ago, I used to play Everquest.  A lot.  (Way too much.  True.)

I'm still in touch with a couple of people I knew who also played EQ, mostly people I was in guilds with (guilds in Everquest are an organization within the game that lets you communicate in certain ways; the communication infrastructure is used by players in lots of ways, mostly having to do with playing together).  Most of us quit playing EQ years ago now.  In order to do more in the game, you need to play the game more, and a fair bit of that playing is what EQ players call "grinding experience."  You basically do the same thing over and over.  And then your avatar is supposedly better at it, though after the first few iterations, you as a player aren't really improving at all, and then you go up levels, gain spells or other abilities, and so forth.

In EQ, I spent a lot of time as a spellcaster sitting to gain mana to be able to cast spells.  In the early stages of the game, when you were sitting to gain mana (or meditating, or medding), your graphic had to have a spell book open, so you basically couldn't see any of the in-game graphics, though you could see a chat box.  That meant we spent a lot of time chatting, with the non-spellcasters (the hand to hand types who either withstood damage well, tanks, or dealt out damage well, dps, or damage per second classes) standing around impatiently.  Further, classes (basically in game "jobs" such as healing, dps, tanking, and such) were really dependent on each other, especially certain classes.  Clerics, for example, really, really needed someone to deal out damage for them.  Tanks needed someone to heal for them.  Some classes could work alone pretty efficiently using a variety of strategies.  In the early stages of the game, traveling took forever.  Your avatar had to run everywhere, and there were often pretty dangerous areas to run through, or boats you had to take, which seemed risky because the game sometimes seized up and your avatar would end up in the middle of the sea and drown.  And as baby avatars, we had no way to run fast, even.

In contrast, in games such as World of Warcraft, mana came back way more quickly, and characters from a wide variety of classes could solo, or work alone, to gain experience.  And in WoW, avatars gain experience way more quickly (or maybe it just seemed that way), and could gain more experience in quests and such.  And travel is way, way faster, though often at a cost.

So, sometime in the early 2000s, a lot of people left EQ.  Some left to play other games, bored by the gameplay of sitting around waiting for mana, interdependency, and slow experience.  Some got frustrated by political stuff in their guilds or servers.  (The game developers made travel way easier, though.)

I hung around longer than a lot of people, but I finally left, too.

So now, there's much buzz among the people I played with because the game company (which is different than it was, so I think it got sold) is going to start a new server with the game as it was in 2009 or whenever it started, and then open up content (that is, the newer areas of the game world and stuff that got added as additions you paid extra to get access to, which are/were added occasionally, at least once a year, I think?) as avatars get to whatever level that requires and choose to open the content (by vote, I guess?).

And what's amusing to me, is that the folks I played with are waxing nostalgic about the very things that made us leave the game: they want to have time to chat in the game, and they want classes to be interdependent, and they want to run through the world without advanced equipment available now.  They want to do tradeskills and have bronze armor be pretty impressive.

For me, I'm slightly tempted only because some of these people are really fun to play with, and it would be fun to play with them again, especially since we'd find each other as baby avatars, and we'd all understand how the game play worked enough to avoid some of the most frustrating aspects of the game.

On the other hand, the thought of grinding through levels (they call it "grinding" for a reason) to do what I've already done just doesn't sound even the least appealing.  And the huge world would be huge again, but not amazing in the same way it was when everything was new.

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