Daily Archives: April 29, 2011

Explaining EverQuest to my Daughter

“Why are you just sitting there killing those same guys over and over?”

My daughter was there looking over my shoulder as were killing bandits a couple weeks back.

Her view of MMOs is entirely colored by WebKinz, Toon Town, Club Penguin, World of Warcraft, and the Winterfell zone in EverQuest II.  Each of those online games has multiple mechanisms that give you something to do, a variety of pre-defined short term tasks.  Quests are the most common form of task, but there are other things, mini-games, crafting, housing, or an active an easily accessible marketplace for goods.

But here I am in EverQuest, in a form as close to 1999 as SOE could (or dared) make it.  While not exactly a sandbox game (though that Mecca of sandboxdom, EVE Online, has a lot more guided content than 1999 EQ ever dreamed of), the goals are rather more basic.  Level up, equip yourself, make some money, and try not to die.

And, sitting there on the edge of the bandit camp in West Karana, if I had said, “Role Playing,” my daughter probably would have felt she understood and let it be.  Instead, I said “camping.”

Camping!

“Camping?” she asked.

So I explained that we had gotten together a group with the express intent of sitting here on the edge of this bandit camp so we could kill as many bandits as possible.  For the experience and the drops, I added.

“Why?”

Why indeed!  I could read the thought bubble over her head, which indicated that she really wanted to know “Why not something else, like quests or an instance or maybe a battleground?”

So I started in on the history lesson.  EverQuest pre-dates her birth by almost three years and her exposure to online games, in the form of WebKinz, by a good eight years.  EQ had already gotten to The Serpent’s Spine, expansion number 12, by which point EQ, having started off as the fundamental baseline from which Blizzard started in their creation of World of Warcraft, was then being influenced in turn by WoW.

As Darth Vader might say, “The student has become the master.”

So I tried to explain, over my shoulder, how things used to be.  Quests were uncommon, not well marked (no big, yellow !) and tended to be primarily focused on item or maybe some money as a reward, as opposed to simple experience.

So to level up, you spent your time killing things.  And if you were smart, you did your killing in a group as even stuff your own level had a fair chance of killing you or at least beating you down to such a point that you would have to sit and recover for a while.

She walked off for a bit, but came back later as Potshot and I were working together.  She saw Potshot run nearly out of visual range to pull a mob.  As he ran back she said that the mob would never make it to us.  And in WoW, or any number of more current games, she would be correct.  The mob would hit the “boredom radius,” give up, and wander back to its starting point, not bothering anybody else along the way.

In old Norrath, I had to explain, mobs were not so easily discouraged.  A mob will follow you all the way to the end of the zone.  And if it is an aggro mob, like the bandits, that werewolf, or Froon you might be making an unplanned run for the zone line if you got caught unaware.

We talked a bit more about aspects of the game.  She wanted to know about mounts (none on Fippy yet) and travel (mostly walking, at least at our level), and a few other things.  I let her sit down and “drive” for a bit and then play with character creation, which is one of her favorite things.

She asked if the game would run on her iMac, but she asks that about every game I play.  I said it did not, mostly because I am not sure what revisions of hardware and software the Mac version of EverQuest supports these days, and even if it did run on her machine, EverQuest Mac players are banished to their own server and locked in time at the Planes of Power expansion.  That probably makes the Mac server closer to “classic” EQ than the progression servers.

But, oddly, one thing did not come up in our talk.  She never commented on how the game looked or how dated the graphic were.  I was, after all, in the Qeynos/Karanas section of the world, which pretty much retains the 1999 look.

I do not know if this is because the graphic style simply isn’t that important to her or if she just imagined that the designers were going for a certain look.

The only time she has ever mentioned anything about the graphics was when she saw the tiger we fought during our visit to Kerra Island, and she thought that was one excellent looking tiger.