Old School Everquest Server. How Far Will It Go And Will Anyone Like It?

Everquest - The Overthere

One of the things I loved about Everquest was its beautiful and varied landscapes

A great little article by Tipa over at West Karana alerted me to the fact that SOE are launching a new Everquest server in March. Coinciding with the games 12th birthday (interesting fact: EQ is now actually older than the average age of a WoW player) the new server is going old school and will be a reincarnation of the game at the time of launch in 1999. No expansions, no add-ons, no 12 years of content, just good old fashioned nostalgia in a digitally downloadable box.

Although EQ has launched progression servers before in the past (isn’t it kinda interesting how people seem more keen to play the archaic 20th century version than the current incarnation?) I’m pretty excited about this one probably because it’s hit me at a good time, right as I’m gagging for a bit of nostalgia. I was 17, a horny Star Wars obsessed boy child, when I first played Everquest yet now I’m a fully grown sexually repressed Mad Men obsessed adult who’s just champing at the bit to be whisked back to simpler times when things like mortgages, gas bills and online security were figments of my imagination.

So how far is this new server gonna go? I’m secretly hoping SOE will have the guts to make it fully retro to the point of forcing us to use the original UI, stare at the darn freaking spell book when we meditate, spam Sense Heading constantly and make standing in Western Commonlands for seven hours the only viable equivalent to an auction house. Plus who could forget the trial of playing a Human and being so blind at night time you had to whack your gamma setting all the way to 100% just so you could find your way out of Surefall Glade (tip from a pro: Firebeatle eyes are your friend).

It’s not that I’m masochist and want to put myself through the pain of all of those things again but rather I’m just curious to transport myself back to a MMO of 1999 and truly see what it was like again. Will I love the community as much as I remember? Will I roleplay and find it rewarding like I used to? Or will I just get frustrated by the lack of giant, throbbing neon exclamation marks floating above quest givers head’s?

It’s going to be fun experiment for sure and one that I’m looking forward to undertaking. Even though Everquest is available now, it’s a very different beast to how it was at launch and I think it will be incredibly interesting to see if it still stands up, in terms of gameplay, to the MMOs of today.

And I’d be curious to find out if anyone else likes it too, especially if you’ve never played it before. Whether it opens up your eyes to the old school wonders of ancient MMOs or throws you back into the loving embrace of your current MMO, I’d definitely urge you to give the new EQ server a shot. Maybe we could all start a guild and go camp some spawn points together? Nothing bonds a team of players like splitting the spawn of a bandit camp in Lesser Faydark and then camping it for four hours just to gain 10% of a level.

Oh and if you do join me, you’ll probably need this.

-Gordon

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58 Comments

  1. stargrace says:

    I played on the previous specialty server that they opened which was a 50/51 server (start at level 50 with 51 aa) and it was a lot of fun, a good amount of people. Even on my regular server Drinal there are too many people in the guild lobby to do a /who and there are 2 general channels running in the evenings typically which means 300+ people (not counting those who turn off channels). Despite the fact that there is no new blood entering the game, there is steady population of current players. Problem is most of them are high level now and catching up is really daunting. Mercenaries make it less so at least.

    I’m looking forward to the latest progression server opening, and hopefully I’ll be able to wiggle some time in to play there. I’m already trying to find the time to play on my main server once a week. Just too many games!

    • Gordon says:

      I’m not sure how long I will stick at EQ for but I think it will be really fun to go back and try it out again for nostalgias sake especially because it will likely be busy and everyone else will be in the same boat as me with no twinking or anything to help them.

  2. Stabs says:

    I think the tourist factor will be huge but I doubt it will keep many players for long. Even so it might be one of the surprise financial hits of 2011, Sony are very good at extracting money from impulse buyers and that combines powerfully with nostalgia.

  3. Bhagpuss says:

    I played on the first Progression server and I would play on this one if the launch didn’t clash so badly with Rift. I may still make time at least to take a look.

    They haven’t announced the full ruleset yet and it will be very interesting to see how much of a rollback they can do. They did a pretty good job last time, but things like the changed zone architecture and updated graphics, textures and models couldn’t be changed last time, which was a fairly significant nostalgia-breaker.

    Since the Bazaar wasn’t introduced until the Luclin expansion (and didn;t work until several months after that) it’s pretty much guaranteed that the ECTunnel bartermart will be back, though.

    For my money, much though I absolutely loved EQ from the day I bought it as a birthday present to myself in 1999, I actually prefer EQ as it is now. I think this progression server’s a great idea and I’m sure it will be popular, but I’ll keep my mercenaries, thanks!

  4. I’m considering giving it a try. I’ve never, ever played the original Everquest (downloaded a trial once, got to character creation and then…I logged out) but I do have a code for it from a Steam sale. It would be worth spending it just to go back and spend a few hours in Norrath and see what it was really like for you poor sods back then.

    Then I’ll probably go running screaming back to my modern MMOs. But it will be an interesting experiment, for sure!

  5. kaozz says:

    I’m sure I will pop in there at some point. I’m actually wanting to play on my home server some too though, the nostalgia bug has bitten me.

    I highly doubt you’ll see the original UI and you’ll probably have to turn ON the old models if you want to see them. But it should be fun and a real blast from the past. What I like about this one is it is time locked, in the past these servers were not always done this way so it’s a nice way of keeping everyone on level ground, for awhile at least.

  6. The Necromancer says:

    I’ve never played the original Everquest but after a look at this I really want to play it know. Is it on Mac or is it just for Windows? I feel like buying it and giving it a try.

    • Gordon says:

      There is/was a Mac client but it was a sever separate serverr and didn’t have all of the up to date expansions so they may have cancelled it.

      • The Necromancer says:

        I have a Macbook, so does that mean I have to buy myself a Windows computer in order to experience Everquest?

        That seems a bit unfair doesn’t it?

        But can you tell me if Everquest 2 has a Mac version, cause I would really like to try it but not so much as to buy a new computer for it. As for the original Everquest, I’m still not sure if I will be playing after hearing what you just said.

  7. Nymawaw says:

    I played EQ from release and I have to say share some fabulous memories of the early days in Norrath.

    I’m sure this re release will do well for old timers who remember EQ eqrly days and are fascinated to go and see the places they spent so much time all over again. Unfortunately I suspect it will be a short lived success. A lot of the charm and “Wow” factor for us was that no one knew anything.. Zoning into a new area was genuinely an adventure based on overhearing other player mention areas. You explored, and more often died as you really didn’t know how to get from one end of the zone to the other, what was there, or what was even dangerous. Players would go for days in a zone not realising there were shops tucked away or other areas of interest.

    One of my fondest memories was the first time we undertook the long journey from Freeport to Qeynos on foot I guess we were low teens in terms of levels and people actually banded together in the commons to form a part to travel together for safety. We weren’t even sure where we were going other than to the west.

    This sense of adventure, wonder and constant surprise was what counterbalanced things like having to learn to swim, sense heading, carry food and water(remembering to eat or drink it), having to rest whist staring at the book and all the other bit’s that seem to have died out from MMOs now.

    People brand new to EQ I fear will now reject those elements as tedious along with the basic UI and lack of being able to macro or script everything (a personal hate of mine, I know they are useful but add ons and scripts with very few exceptions just seem to take away from the game). I wonder how many player whose first experience was WoW would have the patience to have to run across a continent and won’t rage quit the first time they die, find they forgot to bind on the way and are now miles away from their corpse, naked.

    On the other hand old timers who are aware of those aspects will have lost to a great degree the wonder of seeing a zone for the first time and having to work out what to do, instead other than looking around for nostalger most will be well aware of which zones to level in by grinding which mobs in which camps meaning some of the zones that are slightly less “optimised” for loot and XP get by passed completely.

    I have a felling EQ original ranks as a “first love” for many and I wonder if actually going back and playing could shatter those fond memories of our first steps with friends in a virtual world with an unwelcome dose of reality…

  8. Nils says:

    Make it have 2011 graphics/UI and I’d pay 10x times the €.
    This way .. I am too young to have played EQ and the graphics look worse than a roguelike ;)

  9. Yetian says:

    Tempting, very tempting. :)

    I let a friend have my disks a few years ago so I’d have to find somewhere cheap to get the game from again. :)

  10. Fumbles says:

    I played on the progressive servers a bit when they launched, the problem with them was the powerleveling crews that were pushing to unlock the expansions, not that I can blame them, but it really broke the nostalgia too fast. This server so far sounds like they are implementing it with more control. We’ll see when they provide more details.

  11. Daria says:

    I played on the 50/51 server as well (Mayong I think?) where they started you out at lvl 50. It had all the current expansions though so not quite the same thing as this 1999 server. I managed to play consistently for about a month. But honestly so many small things that we take for granted today were so frustrating. The UI alone needs a major overhaul. Not being able to just mouse over someone to be able to tell what their class and level were for example. You can find out the information anyway by typing in commands, so why not make it easier?

    The plan was to level a cleric and do some old style raiding. I got her epic 1.0, and while it is certainly a lot easier with the gear they started you out with on that server, all those old timesinks were still there. Like camping that spot waiting for an NPC to spawn so I could do a turn in ( I can’t remember the name of the zone now, it was a cave with lava). The only way I was able to accomplish that was to stay logged in for like 2 days straight, not moving from that spot and had my husband check every few minutes since he works from home. If I had logged out or tried to switch characters I would have lost my place to another cleric. How totally insane is that?

    Anyway the old camping and grinding on mobs for experience eventually lost its charm.
    I did play EQ in 2003 for a year and it was my first MMO. I’ll always have great memories of it, but I realize now that I’m completely spoiled by modern UIs, the ease of getting around and having detailed maps, and quests that don’t ask you to do inhuman things like not sleep for 2 days or rely your random luck.

  12. Mojeaux says:

    I’m so there! I just recently re-opened my SOE account for the first time since 2004 and am giving EQ, my “first love” so to speak, another go. It’s been strange to be sure, having leveled an enchanter up to level 5 so far. The quest getting mechanism (re-typing key words from the npc’s dialogue) is by far probably the most archaic. The lack of a bunch of things that one takes for granted in today’s mmo’s is at once both frustrating and something to make you smile. I like the addition of mercenaries now, but am sure I would have hated it back “in the day” as too “WoW-like”. Anyway, as soon as I saw the news up on the forums, I marked my calendar and started looking at downloading and printing maps for all of the old zones. This is going to be fun!

  13. Epiny says:

    Interesting. I may consider this if I am burnt out on WoW. I’d more than likely roll and Enchanter again. As for the graphics, yes they are bad, but I like them better than the ones released with Luclin.

  14. Genda says:

    Wow, were you in Nyaa? On Stromm? I was in Nyaa for a bit with my DE Enchanter.

  15. Epiny says:

    I played or Bertoxxolous, or something of that spelling. I was in Red Sky, then Dragon Council and then Prophecy for a bit and I raided with Phatom Raiders when they were short handed.

    I was in Dragon Council for the longest. We had a guy who had another character in Fires of Heaven so we got pretty good insight into raids. My favorite thing was that Dragon Council was primarly European people but we raided on East Coast US time, and I lived in US West Coast. Phantom Raiders raided on Euro time so I joined them some nights and Prophecy raided West Coast time, so I would join them too.

    Enchanters were sort of hard to come by so as long as I played my public relations right I could raid with every guild.

    • Merder says:

      This is awesome news! def. going back to EQ then! started in 1999 and quit in 2004 – so id love me some old school EQing – back in the days when Vox was a challange and a FBSS was one of the hardest camps. Or when you still could CAMP for JBoots in Najena and didnt have to quest for them….

      mmh makes me wonder what classes ill dual play this time round…

      @Epiny – very cool, played on Bertoxxolous too, been in Phantom Raiders and Prophecy (first Proph then PR) for the better part of my EQ days. Dragon Council also rings a bell somewhere, but i played manly when Proph/PR where the two top dogs of the server…

      • Epiny says:

        Yeah Prophecy was 1st, PR was 2nd and DC was 3rd. Prophecy was around since EQ launched so they had a huge head startover PR/DC. PR and DC came on strong near around the time of Luclin or PoP. The fact that all 3 raided on different schedules was nice but that didn’t mean no one ever trained or stole mobs from each other. :)

        I quit about the same time as you. I played Belianth and typically hung out with Gurk (ogre warrior) or Crystara (female barb warrior).

      • Gordon says:

        Yeah I quite around 2004 too when EQ2 came out. Seemed like a natural progression to me.

    • Gordon says:

      I loved the mix of EU and US players. I played very late at night (midnight – 4am) so mixing with people on EST was perfect for me.

  16. Merder says:

    Aye, i stoped shortly after PR overtook Proph – and boy did we steal from each other! one time we (PR) tried to take the King of the Giants down in their city in Velious and Proph showed up about 10min into us fighting our way through….

    so after a few min we went back to the Zoneline and both guilds pulled there to try and “steal” from the other – that was at that time Cerlics could cast invulnability on other peeps and we started doing that to the other guilds MA…. how fun was that.

    I played as a Bard and after a while i just Read “Merder MA – everyone heal him” and i was like WTF? me Tank? but thank the gods a prophecy Cleric casted that spell on me too and the Giant King went and pretty much raped someone else…. needless to say neither of us got the spawn as a GM came after a while and made sure neither of us got him. But that was fun – PR being the EU guild with better raid times but still weaker than Proph.

    Must have been around that time Raak (guild leader of PR) had about 600 days on /played – seriously sick

    ANd i do think i remeber your name – belintha sounds familiar

    Anyway now i got a serious case of Nostalgia….

    • Epiny says:

      I remember Raak. I remember getting in a training war with PR in the giant city too once over King Tormax, the giant King. I also remember taking turns, civily for once, when we were bothing Trying AoW. You guys got him about a two weeks before us. I remember how hard everyone tried to keep respawns on their time zone. :) I use to turn into a Ogre and run ahead of PR/Prophecy raids and charm giants then buff and give them weapons.

      There was also some ass monk named Maximillious or something in PR.

      Good times. I was playing 18 hours a day at the time, not really healthy, but sort of required as an officer/class leader. Dear god the flash backs are coming!

  17. Merder says:

    that training was was exactly what i recalled! That was just down right horrible, but a lot fun in a cruel kind of way

    and we knew that you guys buffed/gave weapons to the guards horrible – def lost a lot of exp to you then!

    Yes Raak and Maximillious – good monks and those spawn wars and the drama around them was seriously have the fun way back when

    so yeah i def go back and check it out, but i guess it also heavly depends on the rule-set Sony will come up with

  18. [...] ~ Gordon over at We Fly Spitfires wonders How Far Will it Go and Will Anyone Like it? [...]

  19. Epiny says:

    It’s interesting. At the time we played EQ there was less than 200K people. There were alot of servers… and yet I run into someone 6 years later that was in an opposing guild against me. Small world.

  20. factor5 says:

    Disclaimer: Sorry for the long comment :P

    This new old server is interesting, but not surprising news. Ever since Progression came out there were rumours that SOE would make another nostlagia server. I didn’t play Progression myself since I didn’t like the terms they were set upon. Having players unlock expansions based on raiding progression, using the same item database and mechanics as on modern EQ – stuff like that turned me off since the experience would be quite different than back in 1999/2000. Since Progresion, SOE has always stated that those settings were the only viable thing since they wouldn’t jump through a thousand hoops to recreate vanilla-styled code and databases.

    This time, I do anticipate the ruleset announcement since I still hope that SOE takes the aforementioned critic seriously and adjust rules accordingly. Until then, I would like to recommend http://www.project1999.org to everyone interested in a true classic server experience. Project 1999 is a communty effort, a privatly run server based on EQEmu.

    Now this might turn some people off BUT hold on! Its a project run by very dedicated people with constant updates and pretty much constant uptime, running on dedicated and very professional servers. The developers are tweaking and updating server code to recreate a true classic experience – or as close as you can get it without changing the client. Classic features include but are not limited to: regional, zone based chat without use of serverwide chat channels, trading happens in EC, pets disappearing on zoning, Hill Giants being the bane of uncareful travellers, druids and wizards porting for donations, Mistmoore trains, manastones being very expensive due to their early removal, classic char models, etc…

    Right now Project 1999 is true vanilla, with Kunark being in open beta at the moment and due to be released somewhen during the next few weeks/months. After that, Velious wont be out before 1 – 2 years, which means you have all the time you need to experience content unlike SOE Progression. Also, the server is supposed to stop its progression at Velious, mimiking a true classic timeline.

    There are over 700 players online during peak time, with guilds covering all kinds of playstyles, which makes up for a very open and helpful community. With the upcoming release of Kunark this number is expected to rise since some players who’ve been there from the beginning took a break until Kunark.
    Honestly, I have tried quite some EQEmu servers over the years and always found them laking – until I discovered Project 1999. Thus, if you – like me – are interested in relieveing nostalgia and Vanilla EQ, hear my faithful recommendation: try Project 1999!

  21. Wasdstomp says:

    It was either 98 or 99 when I first started playing EQ. I believe Kunark had just come out. I look back, and have great memories about the game. I also remember many things I hated about the game.

    Will it make it? I am not sure, but I would think most likely not. Like my post the other day most MMORPG players are lazy now. Who wants to play the first few levels literally in total darkness. I vaguely remember having a torch.

    Who wants to actually train up swimming? How about all the failed crafting where you lose all your mats you worked hard to get? How about dying, and running back from your spawn point naked with no guide on exactly where your body is? How about spending hours at entrances of dungeons waiting for one good run? How about losing levels, and xp when you die?

    There just is no way a mmorpg player these days could even deal with the original EQ.

    • Mojeaux says:

      You’re probably right with your last statement. But I think this server will be more geared towards old players wanting to relive the past rather than towards attracting new players, whom I agree with you, are very spoiled and lazy (I blame WoW).

      That being said, I’m ready for all the nostalgic goodness/badness to come! Bring it on!

    • Gordon says:

      Oddly enough though, modern MMO players do spend forever grinding away at different things. In WoW, for example, you have skills like Archeaology which are essentially mind-numbing grinds yet people still do it. Not a whole lot different from skilling up something in the original EQ.

  22. Ferrel says:

    I will probably pick this up and give it a good couple of months play. I tend to do that with EverQuest. I love going back and experiencing the wild frontier of the MMORPG world!

  23. [...] We Fly Spitfires — Old School EverQuest Server.  How Far Will It Go And Will Anyone Like It? “I’m secretly hoping SOE will have the guts to make it fully retro to the point of forcing us to use the original UI, stare at the darn freaking spell book when we meditate, spam Sense Heading constantly and make standing in Western Commonlands for seven hours the only viable equivalent to an auction house.” [...]

  24. FeralHamster says:

    +1 for project1999, the server is bustling with activity. For all the dated graphics/UI talk, vanilla EQ is leaps and bounds better than most of the games on the market today.

  25. [...] have commented on it; We Fly Spitfires and West Karana both posted about it when the concept was still new enough to be called such.  I, [...]

  26. Gemma says:

    I can’t find a copy of Everquest Titanium on eBay.co.uk or Amazon.co.uk or even Play.com. :( will keep looking but if you’re from the UK and if you know where I can get a copy online then please share! lol

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