Your Daily McMaster: on an everquest for early access

Title Your Daily McMaster: on an everquest for early access
Author Jason McMaster
Posted in Features
When January 8, 2014

I'm obsessed with early access games. From Minecraft to the new standalone DayZ release, I can't stop paying for half-built games. I usually end up regretting it in the end, but I can't help myself..

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Yars Revenge when I saw the Easter Egg after smashing a swirl in midair. That was a moment....

I wish I'd been able to get that sort of experience out of Everquest. For me it was mostly miserable and grindy.

Glad I'm not the only one who had the same experience with Everquest. No game has since captured that sense of wonder and awe. I think part of it has to do with being relatively young (15-16) when the game came out. I vividly remember running a low level character from Freeport to Qeynos to play with a friend and being terrified of dying the entire time. The age of comprehensive wikis has really taken a lot of the mystery out of MMOs (and most games, for that matter).

"[o]n the hunt for the next experience level"
"I fe[l]l through the world"

EQ was incredible...I played on Bristlebane from launch, still remember the same feelings you described...exploring, the sense of openness and wonder. Trying to cross the world for the first time. Eventually founded one of the high level guilds leading to being one of the first warriors to get a Cloak of Flames....the hunt for ykesha blades....nothing has ever come close it again.

Thanks for this nice piece. The pursuit of that feeling of wonder and discovery is a large aspect of why I play games - years ago, Lord of the Rings Online did for me what it seems EQ did for you. I tried a few months ago to revisit that world, but that was short-lived. I doubt I'll go back.

Last year, I read some diaries on this site about Conquest of Elysium 3, a series and developer I had never heard of before. Just reading about the game got me excited to discover that world for myself. It ended up being my favorite game of the year (and one of my favorites of all time) - I can't remember another game so adept at eliciting that feeling of wonder and discovery.

The run between Freeport and Qeynos was so awesome! It took FOREVER and was super dangerous, but you totally felt like you accomplished something on the other side.

The most recent game that I think I've been completely addicted to (outside of LoL) has been Dwarf Fortress for the same reasons. It's the only world generator that I feel makes an exciting place to explore. Not to say Minecraft, Cube World, etc, don't do a good job, but DF has this crazy lore system and all. I wish another game could create random content like Bay12 stuffed into DF

Fighting for a spot in the dead side of Lower Guk to camp the assassin will always stick in my mind.

Holy crap, Fippy Darkpaw. He and his East Commons counterpart Kizdean Gix were the banes of my newbie existence starting out in Everquest. What great memories.
I totally agree with you Jason. Everquest was not the first computer game I ever played (far from it as I'd been playing games since the days of the Atari 400), nor was it even the first MMORPG (I played in Meridian 59 and UO before EQ), but it was without a doubt the most influential and pivotal moment in my personal history of gaming. In the world of Everquest I found a place that was larger than anything I could have imagined, populated with a myriad of creatures in zones that spanned dozens of themes, each with it's own unique atmosphere. It really FELT like a world, not just a digital representation of one. Mix in the hundreds of other players running around, teaming up and making every login a unique experience, and it was intoxicating. I had never been, nor likely ever will be, as addicted to a computer gaming experience as I was with Everquest. I spent years afterwards in various MMOs chasing that high. The closest I came was LOTRO several years later, but nothing tops EQ in terms of sheer impact relative to what was available at the time.
Over the years I've learned not to expect any game to have that sort of effect on me anymore. In some ways I am saddened by this, as I would love to experience that feeling of losing myself completely in a game world again. But I also recognize that it wasn't really just the game, but the novelty of the experience as a whole, and the only way that novelty could be combined with a game world to the same effect again would be if someone created the first Virtual Reality MMORPG where I could literally enter the game world and lose myself in immersion once again.
Get working on that Blizzard!

I forgot about Merdian 59! I did play a good bit of UO as well, but it didn't really feel any different than Ultima 7 to me.

EQ was incredible. Real danger, actual exploration, and actually meeting and joining up with people day after day. It had a real adventure to it. I think new games have some benefits... like no corpse runs, but they do miss a hint of the magic.

I agree! I think a lot of the reason I loved Demon's Souls so much was the exploration and danger aspect.


IIRC the first real spoiler site was Allakhazam and what information was available in no way compares to the mountains of spoilers in today's wikis.

One thing is you could not mess up your build at all - unless you picked a ranger ;) Since there was no customization other than gear you did not need any spoiler sites. Now, when I start a new MMO I make sure I don't gimp myself out with wasted skill points or what not.

EQ was horribly cruel and exciting (I mostly played release and Kunark.) I don't think you could get the same danger and social cohesion which is considered very gamer-unfriendly these days. I am not sure I could take that level of game hostility these days.

Good memories. For me it was UO and trucking through the woods logging a swath with Howlin Dawg, who was supplying Nixxter Cleareye my GM bowyer with more wood than you could shake a stick at. Many tried to PK Howlin and his train of mules (well, they got the mules, but never Howlin!).

Pssh. Rangers were god mode until Kunark came out :) Then they took a kick to the nads and started the wonderful roller coaster ride of balancing The Vision. (I was helped tremendously by wonderfully supportive friends.)

I wish it was possible to get the same feeling of victory and accomplishment in another game that I got in EQ - without the horrifical grinding and class imbalance.

-Lemminkainen, Ranger of Bristlebane

Oh yea, memories...

Couldn't agree more with these posts, nothing has come close to the EQ high, instances I think were part of the deconstruction of this genre, isolated people more than creating shared opportunities....damn rangers, prima donnas ;) ...those trips to plane of hate and fear... Still gives me chills and a rush.../shout looking for 49+ clerics for Hate...Vinas Solamnus, TUPP, of Bristlebane

What a great article. The quote at the end resonates truer than I can say; for me, this game unleashed my imagination as a D&D vet from the '70s and gave me new ways of seeing a virtual world realized. It was harsh and unforgiving and playing with others was a necessity. I don't know if another game will ever capture me the way EQ did.