Daily Archives: July 30, 2012

Will Nostalgia Be Solely the Domain of EverQuest?

The discussion of problems in the Progression server area of the EverQuest forums generally falls into two categories; specific issues and general issues.

Specific issues are things you probably expect.  A given NPC isn’t spawning or doesn’t drop the right item.  A specific quest is broken.  (Or in the case of the newbie armor quests, a whole bunch were broken.)  The Station Cash store is selling things that shouldn’t really be available.

These threads are generally not that interesting, unless the issue in question affects your play.

And then there are the general issues, which often boil down to “people are jerks.” (Which, I think is necessary for the authentic EverQuest experience.)  I find these much more interesting.  The topics can range from hacking to player behavior to the rate at which the various expansions are unlocked.  There was a good one started recently.

These threads bring out the various faction, which include those who want a server locked in time at some past expansion (though which expansion is always up for debate), those who see the whole thing as a race to be first to slay the key bosses and get geared up, and those who just want a taste of the “good old days,” along with various views in between.

And in those discussions, one of the points often brought up is what people think SOE should do for the NEXT round of progression servers.  People seem quite confident that there will be a next round.

This is because SOE seems to be quite happy playing the nostalgia card when it comes to EverQuest.

The path to nostalgia is paved with old textures

SOE plays up every anniversary.  They used the “hardcore heritage” as part of their marketing in the Living Legacy campaign.  And they have seen fit to roll up special servers in the past.  Fippy Darkpaw and Vulak are the second round of progression servers, the first being The Combine and The Sleeper, which showed up back in 2006.  And then there was that 51/50 server back in 2009.

Does any other company play the nostalgia card as vigorously as SOE does with EverQuest?

Yes, some games note the passing of anniversaries.  And there is a always a “come back and play” promotion going on for one MMO or another at any given moment of time.  But that seems to pale in comparison to the lengths to which the EverQuest Live team goes.

Then again, I think EverQuest might be in a unique spot when it comes to playing that card, and not just because it is old.  WoW is as old now as when EQ was when the first progression servers were kicked off.

EverQuest has all of those expansions, with 18 to date in its 13 year life.  While the expansion train started off slowly, it took a year to get to Kunark, after that SOE was dropping two expansions a year for quite a stretch, each with its own additions to the world of Norrath.  Every single one of those added zones to the game, and quite a few added levels or classes or races new game mechanics or some other change to the game.

At the time SOE seemed obsessed with getting out two expansions a year whether they worked or not.  Broken content certainly plagued them and caused problems in the community.  It wasn’t until WoW came along with its more stately expansion pace that SOE seemed to get the idea that less quantity and more quality might be a better plan.  And even then the pace was still one expansion a year.

In hindsight though, this crazy pace of expansions set EverQuest up nicely for the whole nostalgia/progression server role.  Each expansion was sold separately and required purchase to access the content.  So the game has 19 built-in layers of content, including classic, that can be opened up, each of which expands the world.

Which makes me wonder if anybody else could even pull off this sort of progression style server.

Is there an MMO out there that should be playing the nostalgia card?

Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot both seem ripe for the nostalgia treatment, if only EA were willing.  Have they done anything along that line?

EVE Online, with its single server and ongoing quality of life improvements, seems to have excluded itself from nostalgia.  Or does somebody really want to go back to the days before “warp to 0?” (I know somebody does.)

Blizzard seems to see World of Warcraft only as a going and growing concern, despite some subscription setbacks, and has no plans for nostalgia.  Plus they went and killed all the original content with Cataclysm, so setting up something like a classic server would take a lot more than just turning off the expansions.

EverQuest II is also getting old enough for nostalgia, but I think SOE will leave that card for its older brother.  EverQuest II’s role in the world seems to be to push the player tolerance envelope for ugly mounts.

Lord of the Rings Online… might be too young yet.  And how different would a server feel with Moria and beyond turned off?  Maybe if I had gotten further in the game I could answer that.

And even if these games rolled a server based on original content, it would likely have to follow constraints similar to those that SOE faced with EverQuest.  You might be able to play in the old world, but you would likely have to do so with class abilities from the current version of the game.

So what do you think about nostalgia focused MMO servers?

Who else should be playing the nostalgia card?

And is anybody in as good a position to do so as SOE is with EverQuest?