– Est. 1981

Hail, Fippy Darkpaw’s corpse. The State of MMORPG; Part 1

It's no secret to those that know me well that I enjoy my video games. It's also no secret that I enjoy a good MMORPG from time to time, and that I played EverQuest for a number of years. No secret, but certainly not something I talk about much these days. I'm ready to talk about it now.

I recently had an itch (bolstered by a healthy dose of nostalgia) to get back into MMO's again. I have a group of friends that play World of Warcraft, and so I reinstated my account and started playing with them. I also installed my old EverQuest client and for purely nostalgic purposes started to play a little EQ as well. There are a few things I have noticed about these two games that I could not properly identify when I played them years ago because I was playing them one at a time. Now that I have both installed I think I can properly articulate why certain players still yearn for an EQ type game over a WoW type game.


When I quit EverQuest it was a difficult decision, which is why I came and went so many times. (To the dismay of one of my really close friends that helped me every time I decided to make a come back just for me to quit again soon after. This a shout out to Jim/Fazin) It was not difficult because I missed meditating, or spawn camping for hours for a single drop I needed to complete a quest. It was because I had made friends with a group of people. When I installed EQ last week and made it to the Qeynos newbie area from Erudin, I spent some time looking for someone to bind me at the gate. For those of you unaware, in EQ you had to bind yourself in a safe area because when you die this is where you'll pop up. Naked. You must then run from this bound location, naked, to retrieve your corpse and all of your equipment. Binding is not an ability everyone has, only select classes and so I had to be social to find someone to bind me. I had a few conversations with people during this process, which made the time spent meditating between battles bearable.

Combat is also much slower, as is leveling. This is a huge reason why so many people knew each other on any given EQ server. If you're a casual player you'll spend a couple of days in the newbie area, and then possibly a week or more in the intermediate area. During this time you'll see familiar people. You'll have an opportunity to talk to the same people several days in a row, group with them (out of necessity). You must rest between battles, this time is spent chatting with your party or your guild further building on your relationships. In a starck contrast to all of this there is World of Warcraft.

When my friends and I started playing WoW again recently, I had already played EQ for a couple of days, and so I was of the "cautious" mentality when approaching combat. I quickly remembered that this was a completely unnecessary tactic in most cases and moved on to the "I'm a Level 3 Demigod" mentality and pillaged everything in the path of my warlock. My friends and I ran through areas that were meant for players of our level and simply killed everything in a 5 square mile radius in a matter of minutes without rest, without the need to actually be grouped, but we did anyway. If we had not been in Ventrilo we would not have spoken a single word because there is no time when you're constantly running around junk punching hapless Quilboars in the testicles. During our sprint through the newbie zone I ran into a couple of other players who asked to join our group, not because they needed to but because we were killing everything like a plague and they wanted in. The sad part is we just ignored them. Because they would just slow us down and we wouldn't be in that area long anyway. In EQ if someone wanted to join your group, or god forbid someone asked you to join theirs you would jump at the opportunity because without them you were doomed to a night of meditating and killing things one at a time. "One at a time?! WHAT?!"

I'm not saying EQ is better than WoW. I'm also not saying WoW is better than EQ. They are from a completely different era of gaming. EQ is from a time where the game is a journey, it's an epic journey of risk and reward. When you achieved a milestone it was such a sense of accomplishment because you worked for it. You perservered and overcame obstacles and you came out on top fist pumping like a frat boy in a New Jersey night club. Now we have games like WoW where the mentality is that things must happen quickly. The game is not about the journey, the game is about reaching a destination, the end. When you get to the end it is only then that you can start playing the game or raiding. Everything between the newbie zone and the end game raid content is just filler, a vehicle in which you must ride in order to get you to the end.

It's sad, really. I'm a grown man now, and I don't have 16 hours a day to play a video game in order to accomplish mundane tasks. But I really miss the community that games like EverQuest brought. Maybe one day a developer will come along that can make that happen again.

Note: It has just become apparent to me that this will need to be done in multiple parts.

NEXT: Skill

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