Updated Tue, Jul 16, 2013 by Dalmarus
Excitement continues to build around EverQuest Next for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it’s time for the MMORPG genre to be shaken up a little. It’s become stagnant over the years and needs an injection of cool new ideas, as well as for old ideas to become relevant again. One thing that was common in EverQuest and is no longer the norm in games today was the ability to go dumpster diving.
Let me explain what I mean. Imagine you want to make yourself a suit of leather armor and you need some hides to do it. Now imagine that you and 10 other players are hunting in the same area. The thing is, you’re the only one who actually needs the hides. The other 9 players are just there hunting for experience points or a quest. In most games, once they sell their piles of hides to a merchant (because they had the luck of the drops and you didn’t find squat), those hides are gone. Poof. Presto. Buh-bye! In EverQuest, you could look through the wares of local merchants and find those other players’ discarded hides for sale pretty cheap. The merchant’s price was generated by some magic and uber secret formula hidden in a vault and locked away tighter than the original Coca-Cola formula. Sometimes that formula worked in favor of the player, especially when it came to crafting materials. It was an amazing system.
EverQuest literally had (and has) thousands of items that can be used in crafting. Hunting them for yourself was often a very time consuming process and involved more than a little luck. Fortunately there were plenty of players who not only didn’t need item X for their own crafting needs, there were plenty of players who had no intention of trying to sell them in the East Commons Tunnel (the defacto trading bazaar of the early years). This meant they would sell them to the merchant most conveniently located to their position. Although there were hundreds of merchants scattered over the world, there were 20 to 30 or so that were regularly used by everyone, depending on which popular spot they had just been hunting.
By taking the time to scout out the various merchants, players could often find an extraordinary variety of items, everything from weapons to armor, spells, words of power, crafting materials, spell components and more. A lot of players (including myself) knew the general value of certain items to the open market and would often scour merchants for them trying to make a quick profit. While it wasn’t always a fruitful search, just the fact that those sold materials stayed in the world was awesome.
Along with letting players buy previously sold merchant goods, the game also let you get the weapons you saw in the hands of mobs. In today’s MMO world, you kill an enemy and simply hope that you get some random loot drop. In EverQuest, each specific mob was alike (a plain skeleton was a skeleton, just with various levels). This meant that if you were fighting in an area and a skeleton spawned with a weapon in its hand, guess what… you were going to get that weapon if you beat it in battle. Sure praying for loot is fun, but it’s not remotely as satisfying as prying a weapon you were just getting beat with from the dead hand of your recent foe.
I can hear it now. You’re like, “So freaking what? Oh, you got a sword. Was it magic?” Not always, and in fact, rarely, but there are a couple things to keep in mind. Back then, it could be over a month before you got a magic weapon. So they were rare. Money was also extremely hard to come by, so if you saw a mob with a weapon, you would do whatever it took to get to it because merchants paid top coin for those very weapons. This added yet another layer of gameplay in an already intricately balanced game. You couldn’t just plow through a group of mobs like you could today. It took planning and timing to get a specific mob out of a group, or to fight your way through them in order to get to your real target.
Dumpster diving was not only a great pastime, but also an efficient way to make some money. Getting weapons from your foes was also a thrill. If you had spent the time to level up high enough and were ready for a real challenge though, you went for your individual class weapon. Think taking down the hardest raid in any modern game is difficult? Wait until you hear the extreme steps it took to get an epic weapon back in the day. That, of course, will have to wait until next week!
While you wait for next week’s piece, catch up on any previous EverQuest Next articles you may have missed! If you’ve got questions, old-school aspects you’d like me to cover, or anything in between, shoot me an email or hit me up on Twitter!