EverQuest Next: Everyone Needs a Little Fizzle

Every caster has known the panic of a poorly-timed fizzle. It’s time they came back.
EverQuest Next - Fizzles

Can you believe it? In less than one week, we’ll be flooding you with information about EverQuest Next. I know the wait is killing everyone (trust me, it’s killing me too). Not to fret, though! I’ve got something that can help. And of course, that would be another article about what I’d like to see in EverQuest Next – fizzling.

Any person that has played a caster character in EverQuest knows the curse of the fizzle. Earlier this month, I talked about the need to keep your skills up. Whether you were a melee class or a caster, everyone went through the pain of keeping their skills up or paid the price. Even when a player kept their skills maxed out as they should, there were still a number of ways a spell could fail.

The most common failure was the infamous fizzle. Fizzling was so famous in the game that one of the screen messages that would pop up while you were waiting for a zone to load was, “You have gotten better at Fizzling (47)”. The best part about this “skill” was that it would inevitably happen at the most inopportune moments. When you fizzled, not only did the spell you were attempting to cast not go off, but you also lost a portion of the spell’s mana cost in the process. A fizzle at the wrong time could cause the death of a warrior, wipe an entire party, or mean the difference between your own life and death near the end of a fight. No other regular game mechanic caused so much panic and/or frustration for players.

Yeah, this is probably a bad time for a fizzle.

Another mechanic still available in many games today is the ability for casters to be interrupted when they’re in combat and getting beat on. It’s very rare to see happen in games today compared to how often it happened in EverQuest. If you were getting beat on by a mob, the best thing to do was remain calm and wait to start casting until the moment your opponent swung at you. And I don’t mean when the animation swung, but when the text lines underneath said they had swung and either hit or missed. (To be fair, we are talking technology over a decade old… not everything was in sync). This gave you the best chance of getting your spell off before being struck and possibly interrupted.

There was also a skill called Channeling that was what the system used to determine your chance of continuing to cast after you’d been struck. A maxed out channeling skill was invaluable if you hoped to cast through a fight. How did you get this Channeling skill up? You could do it through normal casting, but the I found the fastest way to get the skill up was by casting spells while getting beat on by an angry mob. Like most things in EverQuest, this doesn’t sound like a big deal, but most caster classes learned early on how to avoid being hit while taking down a mob.

Even if you had your multiple spell skills maxed out, you stood a (not uncommon) chance of fizzling at least once during a few battles. Even if you had your Channeling skill maxed, you still stood a decent chance of having your spell casting interrupted if you were struck by a mob before it went off. As I mentioned, these things always happened at the worst times and periodically caused a lot of frustration.

Come to think of it, in combat there's really no <em>good</em> time for a fizzle.

So, if these systems caused so much anguish, why do I want them back? That’s actually pretty simple for any Dungeons and Dragons players (Shadowrun, Pathfinder, etc – they all work) to understand. Which stories do you and your friends still talk about from the game sessions of your past, the one where there were no surprises in the battle, or the time when the Cleric was rushing over to the Fighter for a touch-based heal, just as the Mage made a critical fumble and failed to take the Ogre out, just as its axe came rushing down on the Thief’s head and nearly took it off in one clean stroke before he made a critical success and dodged out of the way? It’s the added element of random chance that makes the system so exciting.

I miss the days of having that random element in my combat. In today’s games, I know that as long as I stay out of range, I’m virtually guaranteed to get my ability off with no problems and most times instantly. Even the longest spells today only take a second or two to cast, so it’s easy to get done. EverQuest had a large number of spells that took 3, 4, or even higher than 5 seconds to cast. Trying to get one of those off to save the day in the midst of combat took good timing and a touch of luck. The pace of combat in general was also longer, but that’s a topic for 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!

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