ScarsOfVelious

EverQuest Remembered is a multi-part series in which I look back on a game that meant a great deal to me, partially due to a matter of timing and circumstance. When tasked with the idea of blogging about something that I spent the better part of five years of my life actively playing it was difficult to nail down what to write about. Putting thoughts to paper I’m left with topics ranging from it’s cultural impact to individual relationships, shaping a fledgling genre to bringing out the nature of who we are as players. There’s a lot to cover here in regards to my personal retrospective of this 17 year old game… but if you’ve got the time, I’ve got the stories – and maybe by the end you’ll have a deeper understanding of how lines of codes shaped my world as much as theirs.

Welcome back. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the series up to this point and are still on board as we dig in even further to what exactly made EverQuest so special to so many people, particularly myself. The first of the series covered my introduction and awe to this new unknown experience, and the second addressed a bit more of the design and technical feats accomplished that laid the groundwork for both MMOs and RPGs from that point onward. We have a lot of expectations on what best describes an MMO – The tropes and mechanisms usually found within those games. Really what defines an MMO though shouldn’t be limited by any of those. At its core the defining characteristic is it’s a massively multiplayer game. You can’t have an MMO with it’s people. Today I want to focus on talking about that, more specifically the mass-scale of interacting with others playing the same game as you in real time. The community was large given the requirements and nature of the game back then, boasting over a half million players broken up into clusters of 1500-3500 chunks identified as servers. Each server was named after an important figure within EverQuest’s lore… Primarily deities and primal forces, with the occasional iconic NPC such as Firiona Vie who graces the cover of nearly every release of the game. Those servers would effectively be your home from creation until you quit. Years later I still easily remember my server and it’s history. I started on Saryrn (Goddess of Torment), which was a splinter off of Veeshan (Dragon God) and Bristlebane (God of Mischief) after they became overpopulated in the first year of it’s life. Eventually as the years went by and players left, worlds were collapsed, and my home of Saryrn was swallowed up by Bertoxxulous (God of Disease) sometime around 2012. This may seem like a bunch of random names but I’ll get back to the importance of this a bit later. For now though just known within each server there was it’s own unique community, with it’s own culture, it’s own player heroes, and it’s own list of wicked scoundrels. These all added up to create an identity for each server, which bled out into forums or message boards to further solidify the impression created by the experience of being enraptured in EverQuest.

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It seems obvious when stated with “different people value different things” – Yet for some reason that fact is constantly overlooked when discussing anything; from trivials such as video games up to views on civil rights. No one is wrong, as there is no absolute right. A value system is a collection of beliefs that a person or group has regarding said topic. Whether on an individual basis or in a group setting, usually the value system is determined by past experiences with the subject. IE; you value integrity because we have been burned by disingenuous people before. Sometimes it’s based on others experiences or nothing at all at times of things being superfluous… My neighbor values their grass being 2″ in length exactly and will mow or water at any frequency to maintain that. I see no point in keeping up with that, but I’m not wrong for doing such, nor are they wrong for obsessively keeping their lawn. We just value different things.

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Value systems tie into existentialism; the idea of every person being responsible for finding their own way through life and being directly responsible for who they are. Free will and maturation determining will determine what they value. Without individuality you can follow another’s value system I suppose… but at that point you’re choosing to adopt that system as your own, and at that point exerting your free will to determine how you’ll grow as a person. Once you have values, you have a purpose. You exist to fulfill those values.

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As I see it, gaming as we know it has gone through several eras, or phases if you will. While you can measure gaming by it’s console generation (with PS4/X1/WiiU being the eighth generation), it doesn’t really encapsulate the zeitgeist of the gaming scene. In an hour of boredom I thought out a different way to break down the history of gaming.

I want to focus on the currently emerging era; Identity.

The previous eras I won’t go into too much detail for right now… For the most part they are pretty self-explanatory.

  • Phase 0: Discovery. The proof of concept period. (Phase 0 because it’s really proto-gaming)
  • Phase 1: Spectacle. Arcades, high scores, and enjoying the whiz-bang of realized concepts.
  • Phase 2: Cornerstone. Challenges, narrative, and experiences unrestrained from quarter-gobbling motives.
  • Phase 3: Community. Online, social, and direct competition. The experience is focused on interactions with other players now.
  • Phase 4: Identity. Questioning who you are, your view of the world, your place in it, and your role as a player.

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