Tag Archives: Everquest

Instant-85s in EQ: But which to choose?

That didn’t come as a huge surprise. After EQ2, SOE is now also rolling out “Heroic” Characters for EQ with the following properties: “level 85 with a full complement of gear, Alternative Advancement Abilities, and a unique mount.”

OK, so the details are still a bit fuzzy: what quality does the gear have, how many AA do you get? Though, truth to be told, I don’t think that matters much to me. EQ was a game that I never get around to playing in its heyday. I’ve tried Project 1999 before, but I think I stopped around level 5. I blame it on being distracted by a squirrel or something.

However, just like with EQ2, for a limited time, you can get your instant level 85 for free. That’s a price I’m willing to accept. It would be nice to have a high-level character. I don’t think I’ll get around to level it much, but I could use it for sightseeing. Run around low-level zones, check out old raids, things like that.

The problem, of course, is: what to choose? There are so many classes! I guess, in the end, it doesn’t matter too much if all I want to do is travel around and look at things. But that has never stopped me from fretting about the choices.

Maybe an enchanter? I like the idea of the class (it was my Project 1999 class, after all), and they get spells to lull/pacify enemies. That might be useful if I screw up.

Or a druid? Traveling spells, like a wizard, but also evac. That’s not only useful for getting out of bad situations. I imagine it might also be great to get out of dungeons fast after I explored them.

What about a magician or necromancer? If I end up wanting to level the character, I’d probably be served best by a certified soloing class. Then again, I don’t think it’s very likely that this will happen. Plus, neither are all that great for groups, or so I heard. And the only reason to level from 85 to cap, solo or not, is to play in groups at some point, right? Besides, they’re both pet classes, and I’m not a huge pet class fan. (On the other hand, high-level enchanters are probably even more extreme pet classes with charms that can break at the worst time.)

I’ve also been thinking about a bard. I tried one on the Fippy Darkpaw time-locked server when it was opened. But other than the fact that I like the concept of bard classes in games, I don’t see anything especially appealing that would make a bard a great explorer. Except run speed, I guess, but with mounts around, I wonder how much that even matters.

Then there are all the other classes I don’t know anything about. Maybe one of those would make a good choice, too.

Hm. Can anybody with EQ experience give some suggestions?

EQ Mac Closes. Surprise!

Well, not really.

The thing is, even though I feel sad for Al’Kabor closing, I really can’t blame SOE. And believe me, I like to blame them for everything they do; it’s the safe choice most of the time!

So what we had was a Mac-only, time-locked Everquest server. Take the small fraction of gamers who use a Mac. That probably already removes 95% of all gamers. Probably more like 99% if you add consoles and all that to it. Hell, by now, I wouldn’t be surprised if Linux gamers had a larger share of the gamer pie. Of those 1%, take the people who would be interested in playing an MMO, but not WoW or EVE, the only other ones I can think of that have a Mac client. (caveat: I didn’t bother to check many games. I have a Macbook, but it’s from and mostly for work.) Instead take those who’d rather play something nostalgic: an Everquest, stuck in late 2002 and the Planes of Power expansion.

That doesn’t leave a lot of people.

Now, granted, SOE has other games in their portfolio that are wildly unsuccessful (Vanguard, I’m looking at you, with a weeping eye thinking of the things that could have been). Will they be in danger of being taken off life support next?

Not necessarily, because Al’Kabor had it even worse with the unfortunate combination of the Mac-Nostalgia-MMO-gamer target group. All the other SOE games I can think of have Windows clients. And as different as the code base is between them, at least they use the same operating system. If you have one tiny Mac game that doesn’t even produce revenue in an otherwise Windows-based shop, you pay an extraordinary amount of money for upkeep. You need Macs for testing, you need Mac programmers, all that stuff. Granted, a game that’s not gotten any content updates for more than 10 years only needs a minimal staff. Nevertheless, you still need to have someone to fix bugs or (when you talk about such a timeframe) keep the software compatible with OS updates. At some point SOE probably just had to cut financial corners somewhere.

Heimweh, Lost Worlds, and First Game Experience

Yes, it’s “learn German words” week in the MMO blogosphere, it seems. At least I’ll just claim that, since Syl started earlier this week with (re-)introducing “Vorfreude” after coming back from a move-induced break (Hi Syl!), and I’m going to continue.

So let’s get the terminology straight first: What is Heimweh? As with Vorfreude, it’s a term that seemingly has an English translation, but one that falls short of the meaning the German term encompasses. The most straightforward translation is “homesickness”, and it certainly also applies to kids going on a summer camp for the first time in their life. But it’s certainly more. It is an intense, inconsolable longing (or “Sensucht”, another hard-to-translate term; C.S. Lewis tried and failed, so I’ll not even try) for a place, but that place doesn’t necessarily have to exist any more. In fact, the most poignant form of Heimweh is “Sehnsucht for a place that never was”. In this respect, it is more related to nostalgia than homesickness. I will stick with Heimweh for this post, though, because it means feelings bound to a place, even if it is unreachable, rather than feelings bound to a time.

Why do I want to talk about this? I’m a quite reactive blogger. Sometimes, I come up with my own ideas from scratch, but most of the time I write because I read about something, and then can’t get stop thinking about it until I write down my thoughts. This time, the trigger was Wilhelm starting to post WoW movies, and a link to an Everquest nostalgia video. When I looked at the EQ video, the Heimweh feeling that was being evoked was obvious to me. Despite the blurry pictures, despite the clipped and sometimes distorted music, and despite the fact that I never even played EQ much. I only very rarely pass through the lands of old Norrath as a tourist, so there is not much connection to these places.

Heimweh for virtual places

It occurred to me that Heimweh for computer games at first sounds silly, but if you look at them in the context of virtual worlds, it is quite a natural thing. We “lived” in many of these places like in a second home, for months or even years, so they grew on us. If these memories and feelings are in our head, does it even matter whether the places we long for exist out in the real world, or in a virtual one? It doesn’t, because we do not only long for a place, but also the feelings, experiences, and memories we tie to it. I think Heimweh is an important factor in the problem of “first game experience”, the fact that many of us can’t find a game to live up to what our first game was like. When we remember those times and places, we remember the awe of doing things for the first time, before they became a daily activity. Other games will have a hard time living up to those memories.

So why don’t people just go back when they feel like it? The problem is, they can’t. They can physically (well, physically as in “with their avatar in the virtual world”), but the places have changed. Bustling trade hubs will be deserted, dungeons overwhelming to enter alone without other people around, cities dead except for a few NPCs. In short, they can’t go back to the place as they remember it. There are two typical outcomes: closure, that is, realizing that things have changed and it is time to move on, or idealized nostalgia for the things that were.

But at least you can go back and see whether that gives you closure? Lucky if you can. If the game closed down, that’s out, too. Or if your game company decides to destroy half a continent and rebuild everything from scratch. Hello Cataclysm! At least for me, that’s one of the reasons I disliked that expansion. The world as I know it is gone, and there is no way to go back. I didn’t realize it at that time, but I think I felt disconnected from the world because it had changed, and I hadn’t.


P.S.: For an MMO company, Heimweh also can drive an interesting business model. Anecdotal evidence has it that EQ’s two time-locked progression servers have the highest population of all servers. And for at least 2 years I’ve heard people asking Blizzard for something similar for WoW. Of course, EQ’s progressions servers are anything but a faithful representation of how things were, but it seems the feelings of nostalgia attracted many many people.

P.P.S.: I just realized I started this post about Heimweh with a mention of a move from an old home to a new one. Oops. Hope that’s not a bad omen…