EverQuest Next - Why We Need Corpse Runs

Updated Tue, May 14, 2013 by Dalmarus

Last week, new readers found out I loved EverQuest in a too-close-for-comfort bro-mance, if not in an actual illegal-in-17-states sort of way... but close. What those readers may not know is that Vanguard was one of my babies as well, and I loved playing the game many dubbed "the true spiritual successor to EverQuest" for many years. One thing both of those games had in common is a fiercely contested aspect of older MMORPGs, the corpse run. What is this mythical beast of which you speak, Dalmarus? Grab a drink, scoot your chair closer, and I'll be happy to tell you. I'll also tell you why I desperately pray we see their return in EverQuest Next.

In the ancient days of MMOs (all of 14 years ago or so), when your character died, it stayed where it fell. Not only did it stay put, but so did every piece of equipment you had on. "Uh... wait a second, Dalmarus,” you say. “Are you trying to tell me when you died, you woke up naked in the middle of town like some horrible fraternity prank?" Yes. Yes, I am.

Was it a brutal shock to the system? Did it make you nearly break your monitor in frustration? Yep. Did it also make you come up with the most incredibly creative means of getting your corpse back? You betcha. That was the point.

EverQuest Next - Why We Need Corpse Runs

"Clean up on aisle 5!"

There are two things this admittedly harsh mechanic did effectively. First, it made players fear dying. So much, in fact, that they would go to extreme lengths to learn how to play their classes well. You fought hard in every battle because death was such a cruel mistress.

Your half-assing, semi-paying-attention EverQuest player still had 50 times the level of concentration as your average World of Warcraft player today. Leroy Jenkins would have had to beg SOE to grant him an unheard-of character name change because he would have found himself exiled from every group in the game for pulling a stunt like aggroing an entire dungeon floor. Back then, it was nearly impossible to escape the consequences of your actions because voluntary name changes didn’t exist.

This leads me to the second thing corpse runs forced people to do - work together while grouping. And by “working together” I don't mean being casually pleasant to each other, I mean players genuinely looked out for everyone in the party, because not only could the death of one member often result in a complete wipe, but there was an honor code among players, which dictated that you didn’t leave anyone behind. If you were at the bottom of the Warrens and a member of your party died, guess what you were doing for the next 2 hours? Battling your way out of there to escort your fallen (and now nekid) comrade back to their corpse. This wasn't viewed as a chore either - it's just what you did for your fellow player.

If you were an ass in the group however, or were just known as an ass on the server in general, well... that was an entirely different story. Many is the fighter who found themselves running after their own corpse because the cleric warned them more than once not to get out of range of their heals. The wizard that didn't hold off going DPS crazy and pulled a mob off a party's fighter? Yep - his corpse is rotting too. You quickly learned not only to be polite, but to also take advice on how to play your class effectively because others depended on you.

If you didn't have friends in EQ, reclaiming your stuff could mean a long, lonely desert trek.

Along with all of this, it also taught you to learn the lay of the land and remember where your corpse was. Die in the Desert of Northern Ro? You'd better know where, because that’s a lot of sand to be trudging over in an attempt to find your poor body. Fortunately, there was one alternative to this, and it goes back to players being helpful to each other as a result of corpse runs. High-level Necromancers had the ability to not only locate your body, but also to resurrect you. Considering the fact that you had 7 days in-game to get your corpse or lose everything (I’m not kidding), everyone needed their services at one point or another. It paid to be friendly and polite.

No matter what I’d like to see brought back into the gaming world when EverQuest Next eventually goes live, no one system can elicit the changes we need in player communities without other sanctions existing either. Corpse runs don't mean anything if death itself doesn't have any other hazards, but that's a tale for next week. Can you say Kithicor Forest? MWUAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA. Until next time!

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I played a necro in EQ for a long time, and to this day still think there was a lot of genius behind the death mechanic in that game. What's now considered to be a hindrance to gameplay - or a slap on the wrist at best - actually *created* gameplay. Sure, recovering from something on the scale of a full raid wipe could be a very slow, painful process, but that was also a time when MMOGs had an actual risk vs. reward component for attempting that kind of content. Now it's more like you pay for item repairs, shrug it off, and go do something else because obviously your game sucks if everything isn't about instant gratification or moving a progress bar with every action.

Remember back in the day when cars were really unreliable and broke down alot? People had to help each other to get their cars back up and running. Nowadays, cars are 1,000 times more reliable. People don't need the car community like they used to.... Please bring back the days of unreliable cars, huge inconveniences, inability for casual drivers to participate in the driving experience, huge time sinks just to go to the store, and the real potential that every couple months you could lose your cars engine, wheels, and chasis if you didn't fix it in time.... Yeah, please go back in time so we can have a better car user community. It will be just 10 guys v.s the thousands per city now, but yeah, how cool will that be!

Investment in the community of a MMOG is what makes or breaks the game. WoW changed that, slowly and over time, but is the MMOG community better for it? I'd argue that it is larger, but it isn't better.

A more appropriate argument than cars would be "screen doors". Before screen doors existed, everyone sat on their porch and talked to their neighbours. Once we could keep the bugs out and let the cool air in, we as a society isolated ourselves indoors. Would I give up screen doors? No, but we were probably better off when everyone knew their neighbours.

In EQ you knew your neighbours. In WoW you don't.

MMOG players are like water; they will follow the path of least resistance. Just like water, they don't always flow down the past that is best for the people around them.

I know that I and many MMOG veterans prefer much of what EQ offered, even the downtime. I appreciate that players who want more convenience don't share my opinion. That's OK. We don't play the same games anyway.

Great read, love talking about good Ole EQ. Brought me out of hiding lol

I was an Iksar Monk and prided myself for being able to FD myself into and out of anyplace to drag a corpse to safety. I have done Corpse drags that took hours for people to safely loot their corpse. Build great REP and people really appreciate the time and dedication.

The challenge was a thrill and I miss it.

Ah, good ole FD What is best in FD (life) to train your enemies, to drag friends corpse to safety and to pull/separate the mother of all agro's.

Good times

I forgot about good ole Fain Death!!

Holy crap that is my corpse from over 10 years ago! I just happened to stumble upon this article looking for more info on EQ Next and instantly recognized that picture. Here is the site from the guild I was in back then and the picture of my corpse.

Great article BTW... I totally agree! Everything seemed to have more purpose in EQ. I really hope EQ Next brings back a lot of that same aspect.

What utter garbage.

"First, it made players fear dying. So much, in fact, that they would go to extreme lengths to learn how to play their classes well."

No it didn't.

"Your half-assing, semi-paying-attention EverQuest player still had 50 times the level of concentration as your average World of Warcraft player today."

No, they didn't.

It's nice to put on the nostalgia glasses every so often and ignore everything bad about the old games to focus on the things we liked. But let's not pretend that alot of the old ways died out for good reason, and bringing them back doesn't mean that the game will magically encompass the feeling of another era, another community, another generation.

duggold pretty much hit the nail on the head.

Alot of things change when the world gets bigger. Some things for the worse, sure; but mostly for the better. EQ was fun in it's day, but there is a reason I don't play EQ now.

Of course you are welcome to claim your own opinions as blatant fact, and call someone else's view "garbage," but I'm one of those people who left WoW because it just became too pointless and impersonal, and I totally agree with this article.

"Of course you are welcome to claim your own opinions as blatant fact"

Like the article did in insisting that there is a correlation between an outdated mechanic and both the skill and maturity of the playerbase?

Pure genius.

It's something difficult to take seriously, being one that played and very well remembers those days.

Everquest were better MMO players, sorry. I've played wow, I've played all sorts of other MMO's and the playerbases in every one of them sucked compared to EQ.

Here's an example of one high end raid.

Line 13 clerics up on the wall, every cleric writes a macro saying Cleric X go where the next cleric in the chain is the X. The tank picks up the main boss mob, and you commence what is called a complete heal chain. Every cleric must pay close attention, and hit their heal exactly 3 seconds after the last cleric calls for them to go, if you are 5 seconds your whole raid wipes, and you spend an hour recovering corpses. Mages drop rods that convert health points to mana at the feet of the line of clerics nonstop, if they miss a cleric then there is a good chance the whole raid wipes due to out of mana issues. The monk class has to pull a single boss out of a herd of other monsters, if you get more than one your raid probably wipes.

Everyone had to do their job perfectly in EQ. My best friend was a Warrior and is still my best friend to this day, and he can still remember almost ever time I got distracted and let him die.

The problem with almost every other MMO is that you can solo just about anything, and a corpse run is just a matter of paying a few silver, or floating your ghost to your corpse. The problem with this mechanic of course is that why would you need a monk, or need a necro to get your corpse if it's easy to get? By making the game easier and less class dependent you lose the granularity of needs for certain classes. One of the least needed classes in my opinion in EQ was the Ranger specifically because there just wasn't a good utilitarian need for them in most circumstances. Also the uncrowd-controllable mobs also negated the need for more than one enchanter in the late game which was essentially a buffbot.

I played WOW vanilla, but couldn't bring myself to buy an expansion because the game was shallow. Factions meant nothing, there was nothing I needed past the walls of the enemy encampments, and they guarded no lands that I needed to traverse. Corpse runs were easy, deaths were penalty free. There were no hell levels, so nobody really gave a crap if you leveled or not. I remember in EQ you would get tells from tons of people congratulating you for getting through hell levels. Hell levels were probably one of the greatest things unintentionally ever put in a video game. By putting hell levels in you created a plateau that people got to and there were usually large amounts of players at those levels to group with also on the same plateau.

When I hit a level where I could start doing real dungeons in WOW I didn't know one person that wasn't a real life friend. I had 0 social structure to rely on in the game. By the time I hit 50 in EQ I had proven myself a competent player to hundreds of people.

Simply stated if you are going to have different classes, you need to create dependencies among the classes on each other, and corpse runs are just one way of doing that out of many.

"Everquest were better MMO players, sorry."

This determined from your limited sample off WoW's massive base versus your nostalgia sample of the dwarfed EQ base. Yeah, good one.

"Everyone had to do their job perfectly in EQ."

In very specific instances, for a small fraction of the content. The reason why raid access was expanded in WoW is because they ran the numbers and realized but a fraction of the base was even attempting it. The end-tier raiding STILL requires high coordination in large groups. It's simply mundane now because processes have been developed to facilitate it - It's just less of a novelty than in the EQ days.

"The problem with almost every other MMO is that you can solo just about anything."

You can solo the content that isn't group-gated, and group-gates aren't obstructing access to core content. That's a step forward.

"By making the game easier and less class dependent you lose the granularity of needs for certain classes."

The problem comes when the sole worth of those classes is dependent upon a single gimmick and funneled into a specific role. Then it's simply a matter of not needing extraneous classes when functions can be integrated into the core or specialized mechanics of existing ones. Ranger and Necro were perfect examples of this.

"I played WOW vanilla"

Alot of people did, and for all of the issues it had, the best you've managed is a vague, non-specific, vapid criticism that people could throw at any MMO without severe death penalty.

In Ragnarok online, people would brag and congratulate each other on making small percentages of progress toward their final levels - the grind was so bad. That doesn't make grinding until your eyes bleed a good mechanic, it's just a testament to the persistence of those who were willing to suffer through it anyways.

"When I hit a level where I could start doing real dungeons in WOW I didn't know one person that wasn't a real life friend. I had 0 social structure to rely on in the game."

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"Simply stated if you are going to have different classes, you need to create dependencies among the classes on each other, and corpse runs are just one way of doing that out of many."

This actually approaches something of a valid point. Yes, when considering multiple classes, it is important to consider the relationship between each and ensure that there is both balance and good synergy.

Rewarding group play is one thing. Forcing group play is another. The former is a good approach, the latter is just lazy and is one of the known forms of fake difficulty.

Creating a gimmicky class whose sole purpose is to circumvent another gimmick (corpse running) is not innovative, nor does it add much to the game. Especially if weak, long-winded anecdote is all you really have to run with on this. Other games have tried bringing back these 'old school' experiences you think defined the quality of what you're nostalgic about. They aren't doing as well. For a reason.

Great points here. Nostalgia plays a huge part in people's views on this forum. There is no other game out there that has hooked me as the original EQ (prior to the expansions). The game was virtually the first of it's kind and it was just so new and beautiful compared to the MUD's I was playing. For me, once Verant Interactive released the Kunark expansion and later relinquished command to SOE, the game started a slow spiral down hill for me. Don't get me wrong, I played through Planes of Power but when Gates of Discord came out I officially retired.

Back to your points, I agree with the OP's views on raiding players back in the day. I mean really, 72 player raiding (with lots of players still sitting out) with no commands other than what you are reading on your screen is absurd by today's standards. If you weren't watching your screen (especially as a cleric like me), you would easily miss your call on the CH chain. These days VOIP has made raiding so much easier it's hard to believe you could even function back then. This doesn't mean players "back in the day" were better gamer's, it just meant they utilized what resources they had at the time to the best of their ability. I quit raiding in EQ2 about 3 years ago but with Ventrilo, our little 24 raid groups were almost comical. I was a Troubador, you loaded your buffs you needed for an encounter, I'd set my hot bars with my headset on, set up some macros and watched TV at the same time. Granted, Bards were pretty lame in early EQ2 days but came into their own by the time I finally retired. Most gamers these days are just lazy, myself included. I don't know if I could tolerate a rule set like the original EQ but I'd love to give it a whirl.

As I've said in the past, I would really like to see EQNext offer up only a Warrior, Rogue, Healer, and Mage class. Allow the players to utilize AA's to set their character apart from every other. Make obtaining abilities tough to get (questing, mob drops, or from achievements). I'm sick of cookie cutter classes, using the exact same abilities, where only a player's "skill" sets them apart. EQ2 was horrible for this.... 20+ classes to choose from... really? I guess most players want to appreciate the time they put into their characters and not be spoon fed. I played WoW for one week when I was offered a free one-week trial. I almost reached max level during that time and later uninstalled the game. I hate hearing the phrase, "The game begins at max level", screw that... the game begins when I install it. The journey is what makes the game. You reach max level, you should have completed virtually everything in the game before reaching the max... that's when the game is over for me. At that point, you roll a new character and await the next expansion. That's why playing a game revolving around AA's is what I'd rather see. I would much rather have a level 10 healer in my group that has 200 AA's devoted to improving their healing rate, potency and mana regen than a level 20 healer with 20 AA's devoted to shield bash.

I miss that nostalgic feel like the next person, however, those days are gone. IF EQNext could offer just a bit of it with it's "sandbox" approach, I think most people would be happy.

Lets not forget about bards. Oh never mind, everyone forgot about bards. I did epic corpse retrievals that shouldn't have even been possible with a bard. Lava rescues in Sol A, high speed dragging across the Karanas, even finding corpses at the bottom of Lake Rathe.

And as mentioned, monks feigning death helped a LOT. Always had my monk handy after Vox raids went bad to pull out the piles of bodies.

I agree, dying should be traumatic but not insurmountable.

I am with you 100% I played Asheron's Call for a long time, and corpse runs were such a huge part of the fun. None of that "Daww.. you died. pay a small fee and you're fine!" I'm not sure how they worked in the original EQ, but if it was anything like AC it was a HUGE part of the game play.

I haven't found an MMO to scratch my itch since AC, and am hoping that EQNext will be the next one to get me addicted.

Ahh... the EverQuest corpse run. Unless you personally experienced this during it's day, nobody can or will ever understand how it made you feel when YOU were the one that lost all your gear. If you were in dungeons like lguk or solb and claimed your "camp" spot, you had to put a lot of trust in your fellow party member's abilities. Not only could you "wipe" and lose your camping spot to another group, you could have one helluva time getting back to your corpse for gear recovery. I hated it at the time but looking back it did make dying meaningful by today's standards. You walk up to a mob or raid boss these days you just start zerging the guy until you figure out what works. What's a few plat for armor repair right? You did that back in the day, you might just lose a level or two in the process.

Do I want to see that today? No, not like it was back then. I miss it to extent but one raid night back before EQ's first expansion changed my mind on that. Here I was, a level 50 cleric with full Ethereal Mist armor (second on server to do so) raiding ol' Phinigel Autropos down in Kedge Keep. Back in the good ol' days of dial-up 14.4k internet I lose my connection. It literally took me 5-6 days to get my internet back and i frantically logged on to see if somehow I was still alive. Unfortunately, I had died and with the help of a fellow guildie (Necro). I got my corpse and belongings back that evening. It could have ended much worse and I was never so pissed off at a game mechanic till that day.

While I appreciate the corpse run for the fear it invoked when I almost lost all my cleric's gear (reminds me of old school D&D losing that first character), I can't say I would want to see it again in that regard. Too many things can happen aside from players just not playing their role correctly. The player can lose power, lose internet, child falls down and gets hurt, pizza arrives, wife beats the hell out of you for playing 12 hours straight, etc. There is no reason I personally should suffer because of this and more importantly my group that I just abandoned. Game mechanics back then just didn't exist like they do today. I'm just hoping the dev's can find a happy place somewhere in between then and the crap they call "death" today.

I had a similar experience where I lost my corpse into a wall. I actually had to pay for a coffin, and beg for hours for someone to buy me a coffin, then summon my corpse as I was KOS in neriak as a high elf cleric.

Finally someone helped me. It was a necro by the name of Limper. This guy was a badass, and I ended up becoming a good in game friend of his. Probably the most highly skilled necro I ever met in all of my EQ days. Where most people who played necro's worked on improving their faction places, this guy actually made it a point to become kos in every city he travelled to, made for interesting travel. From that day on I would have done anything that limper asked me to on a moments notice.

When I ended up getting into one of the best guilds on my server, I made sure limper got in too. Without that simple human interaction of him helping me when I needed it at a low level he would have never gotten into that guild.

Was it a shitty experience? Yes, but without it I would have never been pushed to character interaction that ultimately became great.

That was the beauty of those smaller tight knit servers back in the day. You made some very good friends just by texting basically. These days you have all sorts of VOIP servers running but for some reason it felt differently back then but in a good way.

The guildie necro that helped me retrieve my corpse on that raid still talks to me this day. For years, we exchanged account info (shhh don't tell SOE) and we would level each other up while the other was asleep, working, etc. We both had well over 1000 AA's around the time PoP was out. I retired shortly after GoD was released but came back a few expansions later. Game was a lot different but my necro buddy was still there. He wanted to help me catch up on AA's so he would log me in again and let me mooch off him weather I ever logged him in or not. A few hundred AA's later I retired, AGAIN, and never went back.

We both ended up playing EQ2 and multiple other MMO's since. Hard to believe a friendship like that started simply because of a rotting corpse. Go figure!

I've been talking about this with my friends for years. This article pretty much hits the nail on the head but despite all the good points he his missing the one that truly made Everquest special...immersion.

Without fear you have nothing.

There are so many times in my everquest experience where my head was on a swivel trying to get someplace rewarding but dangerous to reach...absolutely terrified of dieing. How patient and careful you had to be with your partners wherever you went.

It didn't matter what zone it was...the equally shared fear of death made every new challenge stand before your group as a mountain to climb CAREFULLY and the rewards that much sweeter. I'll forever have the layout of LGUK firmly planted in my mind. That moment of terror that sets in when the invisibility to undead buff you just got starts blinking and you don't know if you can make it to the safe hall in time.

There really is no comparison for me. I may be part of a small niche of people, but I've longed for an MMO to duplicate that immersion for me while still maintaining all the other elements I love. I've been pulled from P1999 for many of the more promising MMO's over time and I just keep going back to the everquest I love, often disappointed in whatever offering the "next big thing" had. I have high hopes of "Next" if TESO fails to grab me. Until then, my flying kicks continue to fly in seb! God bless eqemu!

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