John Smedley was and still is ahead of the game, he understands MMO's as a business model and has the passion to create unique experiences that are more human and non-linear. I still respect the original Everquest immensely and honestly feel there has been no MMORPG to date to capture the sense, wonder and community of it. It all boiled down to game design which you can go back and play Everquest to this day and it still retains that magic.
Everquest was intelligent because of the roots in text based mud's and it lent to the sense of discovery and wonder and the difficulty made you live the game instead of play it which I think still has a place these days and even more so as people realize that quick play MMORPG's take just as much time and are not as satisfying and overall are very generic.
I'm hoping Everquest Next is going to be just as living and breathing of an MMORPG as the original, if so I will be happy to rest my hat there.
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