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 18 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.
We’ve made it. Just a review in case somehow this is the first article you’ve landed on the series…
- Pt 1, where I discover EverQuest and explore what initially hooked me.
- Pt 2, exploring the genre defining designs of EQ as they’re legacy influences design of MMOs, RPGs, and modern gaming still.
- Pt 3, outlining just how great the scope of the online community was both in and out of the game.
- Pt 4, we talk about how personal relationships within your community shaped your experience as much as the design.
- Pt 5, looking at the high end game, explaining your endless progression path, and how well social experience and game mechanics intertwined for the long play.
- Pt 6, I addressed the darker side of a game this good with my personal addiction, depression, and getting out.
There’s been a lot of ground to cover. EverQuest was a landmark of gaming. It essentially created the MMO market as we knew it through the past 18 years as it still fights for life itself. I’ve had a lot of personal stories tied to the game as well as I recollect frequently. Despite how hard things fell apart at the end I’ll always remember it fondly. Yet the whole point of this series was wanting to say goodbye to the game I loved and the memories of it. The influence it had over my life and how it’s shaped me today is something I can’t ignore, but I’m looking to bury it in the past and move on. I’ve always held onto hope of a return. The EQ that’s available to play now doesn’t, nor could it, capture the state that it was back in the early 2000’s for me. The internet isn’t what it was- janky, wild, and lawless. My social life has changed along with my values. Game design has changed. The idea of being able to hole up for 12 hours a day in a virtual world without interruption is both unfeasible and undesirable by most. Smartphones didn’t exist and nobody texted back then. The game was forced to full screen so you couldn’t research or use instant messenging programs. You were locked in distraction free and it was beautiful. Despite how obtuse that all sounds now it’s a world I can never return to, just a dream that became a nightmare that I once visited. It’s shackled to the past though as I knew it.
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.
EverQuest entered my life at a strange time and by a matter of luck. To properly start this story off though we need to go back to the year leading up to my discovery of this anomaly. In 1999’ish I wrapped up eighth grade and was well into the skatepunk / thrash metal scene. It’s when I got my first skateboard and saw Pennywise perform for my first time at my first Warped Tour… Ya know, back when people were throwing shoes at Eminem because he was a nobody rapper performing at a predominately punk festival. It’s was also the first year of dealing with my parents being divorced, being torn between two homes, and trying to make sense of it all. All of that fell to the wayside when I buried myself deep into those hobbies, spending less and less time with video games. Somewhat ironic since the driving force behind my interest in the sport and music came from playing Top Skater at the arcade and Tony Hawk Pro Skater at home. Skateboarding got me out of the house, among friends, doing a physical activity for like three or more hours a day. That first Warped Tour I went to was about two weeks after I started skating. I recall that clearly because after learning the basic trick of how to ollie (jump) I thought I’d try to do that over a parking block. And failed. Miserably. On my face. I was by myself so I’m not sure how long I was down for, but when I picked myself up off the ground and brushed gravel out of the scrapes I just dug into my face, my skateboard had rolled clear across the parking lot some 700 feet away. The next morning was Warped Tour ’99. Looking back on it my injuries somehow remained relatively low despite the careless abandon I flung myself around with back then.
Well eventually that came to an end. My mother moved out of state so I remained with my father. It’s where all my friends were so it made sense to me at the wise age of 15, despite knowing his battle with alcoholism meant it wasn’t the healthiest place for me. That alcoholism lead to us moving away from my friends anyways after my sophomore year of high school ended in the summer of 2000. It put me at a 30 minute drive away from my friends who mostly had no cars or even licenses. Effectively the summer was the last time I really had with them I thought as at that age, 30 minutes might as well be 17 hours. Whenever we could sleep over we did and skated as much as we could… until I jammed my ankle up and couldn’t walk on it for two weeks. Who knew picnic tables weren’t meant for jumping off of with a plank of wood? It was during the following downtime that I was introduced into EverQuest from a friend. I really enjoyed video games up to that point, but really I didn’t play a whole lot of PC games. I had stints with Diablo, the Star Wars Jedi Knight series, and Age of Empires, but it still felt weird sitting down at a desk to play games with a mouse and keyboard. He came over and showed me the ropes of it and explained that it was an account based game with monthly subscription fees, but you can log into your character from anywhere on any computer. Scott booted up his account so he could show me how cool it was. Looking back now I’m sure he was trying to sell me on it so more of us would play together, and possibly just because he was still fresh into it and eagerly wanted to get back to it instead of wasting time on other games. Either way it was the coolest game I had ever experienced at that point. I remember basically staying up all night until we couldn’t function anymore before going to bed. The next weekend he managed to wrangle up the account of another friend that was playing it, let me make my own character to play when she wasn’t logged in for a week or two. It. Was. Bliss.
A peaceful day in the East Commonlands.