Most people who know me, should know that I met my husband in Everquest 2 in July 2005 and moved to the USA to marry him on June 1st 2007.
What you don’t know – is how much MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online RolePlaying Games) have influenced who I am as a person and a writer.
Everquest, as envisioned by Brad McQuaid, was released in 1999. I was perfectly happy with Myst and Zork type games, and pen and paper RPGs. I never had any intention to play the game. I bought the PC so my then boyfriend could play. One night I was bored, so I thought I’d give it a go.
Looking back, Everquest graphics by today’s standards aren’t very much. But back then? They were amazing. The whole world that opened in front of me on my old monitor was amazing. Rich with colour, vibrant with virtual life – Everquest out the front of Felewithe (The High Elf City) was beautiful. Roaming hills, winding paths, deadly giant wasps and those pesky orc pawns that pathed and seemed to know when a newbie was most in need of a death…
Everquest reinforced my love for fantasy. It had an amazing Pantheon, immersive story lines behind every god and race. True racial conflict where some couldn’t set foot in other towns unless and until they worked hard at their faction. Where storming the Orc Citadel meant you needed to rely on people you didn’t know to support you and hopefully make it out alive.
With every step through the world, you built your own adventure. Forget choose your own adventure books – this – THIS was experiencing fantasy. This made me want to write even more, to create worlds like this for people to lose themselves in.
It took HOURS to cross from one side of the world to another. Kithicor Forest was harmless enough during the day, but woe betide anyone who set foot in it after 8pm or before 8am game time. You’d better stick to the wall and hope the undead didn’t crawl out and maul you.
Guild raids were an amazingly complex operation with 72 people in groups of six, and usually outside help from ‘recruits’ in another couple of groups. Keep in mind, in the beginning, there was no voice chat. I have Everquest to thank for my typing speed 😉
You wanted to make friends, to seek out fellow players/adventurers and fight with them. And you sure as hell remembered people who left their keyboards, or ran off with loot from a monster. It was an amazing community, an enjoyable experience, and in many cases a test of player skill.
These days, however, there is something missing. The worlds in games are beautiful and vibrant, but the immersion ends abruptly. You have all the eggs to satisfy everyone, and it leaves a sense of camaraderie lacking. Today’s games have dungeon finders that teleport you to and from dungeons where you might never again meet the people you grouped with. There’s no need to get to know people because many of the encounters are fleeting. Quick ins and outs.
While these games can be fun, and defeating big boss fights exciting – there’s an essence that today’s games lack. Community, and the need to rely on other people to get through tough challenges including leveling.
I’m guilty of racing to 50 in new games in a 72 hour period, because for me, that’s one of the only challenges left. Waltzing in and killing everything with a group of aoe (Area of Effect) spells and abilities, can be fun, but after a while, it gets dull.
When I played Everquest, dividing my attention could kill my group or raid. In newer games? I can watch a whole TV series over the nights I raid and still excel. There was real danger to dying, you could actually lose your corpse. The whole world was so vivid, almost tangible.
Let’s not forget that without Everquest, I’d not have played Everquest 2, I wouldn’t have met my husband and I would never have had my beautiful baby girl. For me Pantheon signifies an immersion sorely lacking in other games today.
While it might be a niche game – I know there are people out there who want to play this sort of game, want to experience this type of camaraderie again. We miss it. We need it. We want it.
With Brad & Co at the helm, I believe we have the right team.
Pantheon needs to be made.