The sad thing is, I missed EQ’s actual “anniversary” this past March. The good news is I found an absolutely great write-up on it. As someone who started her hardcore gaming with EverQuest in August of 1999 (notwithstanding weekend-long Killer Instinct parties and an addictive passage through Super Mario Bros. on the SNES when I first started my bachelor degree in 1994 … ) this write up definitly encapsulates the nostalgia I feel when I talk about playing EQ “back in the day” and the sadness I feel when I tell people what I don’t like about World of Warcraft (and why I quit before the first expansion …). While it might not sound like fun, there has yet to be another mmo (imo) that developped such a sense of belonging to something – a community .. a world … in the same way.
Here’s a short excerpt from the article linked above (written by Egon Superb …)
To all but the most hardcore World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online or Age of Conan players, the original EverQuest would have seemed a monstrosity of unforgiving difficulty. There was little or no guidance beyond the original tutorial, and there were literally tens of quests, with no shiny yellow exclamation marks bobbing above NPC’s heads. In fact, most of the game was left up to the imagination and investigation of players, who were given no guidance beyond the knowledge of the name of areas and cryptic clues left by the designers throughout the original world.
In fact, the beauty of “Old World EverQuest” (referring to either the very first release of the game, or said world combined with the Ruins of Kunark and Scars of Velious expansions) was that most of the game – and I really mean almost everything – was left unexplained. After ‘hailing’ an NPC (pressing H or typing “Hail”) players would have to communicate with them – typing in random words and names, or handing over particular items in the hope that it would unlock the next step of the quest. This was at times aided by particular words being in square [brackets], signifying what word to type, but many times it was left up to the whimsy of the player to work out what to say. Much like the average player’s conversation with a woman.
Many of these quests didn’t reward experience, and for the most part you were left to grind – a negative term in the industry nowadays – all the way to level 50, then 60, then 70, then 80. The idea of moving to specific areas and completing quests was an alien concept – players did what they could to score as much experience as possible, and always in a group (as going solo was eventually suicidal). Some classes – for example Druids, Necromancers, and (during the Planes of Power expansion) Enchanters – would ‘kite’ enemies in circles, chipping away at their health bars with damage-over-time spells and keeping themselves as far away as possible, hoping that their prey would die before they got too close.