Where would you go if you could relive your glory days? Were you a head
cheerleader? Captain of the football team? Hardest partier in college?
Or maybe you had friends with whom you would travel to exotic faraway
lands, finding adventure at every corner, developing your friendships
into something that transcended age, race, sex and politics. Maybe you
were one of the hundreds of thousands of people who spent countless
hours living excitement, heartache, euphoric victory, and mortifying
failure in an online world we all came to love called EverQuest
Nostalgia's calming caress has fueled some fantastic accomplishments
fans have been incited to motion for just that. 11 years and 16
expansions after its initial launch players everywhere still enjoy the
game or hearken back to the early years when it played a large role in
their everyday lives. Some of these players have experienced such
ardent longing to relive days past that they have created a time
machine of sorts. One that will take them back to Norrath as it was in
First, let's explore what made EverQuest
so popular that thousands of people have signed up to go back to 1999
to play it all over again.
came onto the scene very near the dawning of MMOGs. To say it was a
different time would be like saying Sean Connery played the best James
Bond--it's both obvious and quite true. Soloing was rarely an option,
death penalties were severe and unforgiving, reputations made the
player, and raids could last all weekend. The flavor of MMOGs has
changed dramatically over the past decade and today the average player
simply doesn't have the patience and/or time for the old-school MMOG.
So what was the hook? Why did so many people live and breathe EverQuest
? I asked
that very question of John Smedley, President of Sony Online
Entertainment, and the creator of the original EverQuest
"I think it was partly the time and the place," Smedley told me. "It
was most people’s first MMO. I would say it had a little bit of an
older crowd. There’s such a feeling of nostalgia for the first
experience. It was the first translation from when you played tabletop
D&D to an online game."
The nostalgia Smedley spoke of certainly rings true. In 2006 SOE opened
up what they dubbed Progression Servers, which allowed players to start
all over again from the beginning. As guilds and alliances defeated
specific content the next expansion would be unlocked. The result was a
certifiable success. Many players new and old jumped at the opportunity
and both progression servers filled to the brim on opening day.
So does SOE plan on opening more similar servers?
"I wouldn’t say 'progression,' " said Smedley, "but we do have other
things planned like that. We did the 50/51 server recently. [A server that allows players to
start new characters at level 50 with 51 Alternate Advancement points.
] We’re planning on more stuff like that that will keep
people interested and maybe offering them a slightly different way
playing. We try to change things up a little."
50/51 or Progression, Live or Classic, the allure of EverQuest
draws many players. Part of the attraction lies in the difficulty level
of the game, which simply isn't seen in many of today's MMOGs.
Cliff 'Nilbog' Gibson, founder of Project 1999 reminisced
fondly about the days of 1999 EverQuest
Project 1999 is an emulated server that attempts to recreate EverQuest
as it was
in 1999, before expansions and back when it was a very different game
from the MMOGs of today. The project is not supported by or affiliated
with Sony Online Entertainment, and playing it requires a breach of the
A Group in Crushbone
"I missed the difficulty of original EverQuest
explained. "The players of all games have always complained about the
death penalties, running naked to retrieve their corpses, and the
unforgiving nature of the game, but I think they desire the challenge."
The challenge of the game was certainly a common theme as I spoke to
more people. I approached two of the top raiding guilds involved in
Project 1999 and asked them what made EverQuest
game of choice.
"There hasn’t been a game like [EverQuest
in difficulty and content matter," said Xzerion, guild leader
of Inglourious Basterds. "You have to be good at playing your class. In
World of Warcraft
you were playing with a bunch of nine year old kids and all they had to
do was to show up, get some levels, and be somewhat useful on a raid.
Here, it is clearly evident if somebody is playing with you and is not
good and could deter whatever group or raid you’re trying to take part
"To be able to progress and meet your full potential as any kind of
class, you have to understand the game mechanics," added Otto, former
guild leader of Inglourious Basterds. "You need to understand the
layout of the zones; you need to understand how your class is
beneficial in group situations. Every other MMOG that I’ve played is
just so easy that the journey to the final level in the game can be
accomplished within a few days, at most. That’s what I liked about EverQuest
time and effort... I think that without the difficulty of the game, you
miss out on the fulfillment factor."
One of the guild's officers, Karsten, agreed, and offered a more
analytical perspective. "I would answer in a much more metaphysical and
psychological way," he began. "That question opens up a large variety
of ways in which you could answer it. The succinct way of answering it
is that I like playing EverQuest
in the same way that I’m attracted to women who are hard to
get. It’s a sad commentary on the psychology of what mankind
is attracted to. I really do think that one of the reasons why EverQuest
popular is that I think they [SOE] put together a game that
specifically plays on those parts of humankind’s personalities. A lot
of us play EverQuest
because of our latent masochist tendencies... We like EverQuest
"I remember that when I started playing World of Warcraft
I couldn’t stop raving about the fact that it didn’t try to punch me in
the face whenever I logged on and tried to XP, and that was refreshing
and nice, but it’s also the reason why I quit playing it."
Stanley Soulcat, guild leader of Transcendence, another top guild on
the server, had a slightly different thought on the classic EverQuest
"MMOGs were a lot less commercialized," he said. "Back in the old days,
there was UO [Ultima
], and then nothing until EverQuest
around. And based upon my opinion, back in the day, people didn’t enjoy
the PvP environment that UO offered, and EverQuest
that PvE environment and allowed them to have a better time and not
constantly be trolled or attacked."
So what exactly is Project 1999 and does it fit the bill for what these
players are looking for?