Tag Archives: PC Gamer

Covering the EverQuest Anniversary

I was interested to see what sort of coverage the EverQuest 20th anniversary would get.

20 Years Ago last month…

At one time EverQuest was a relatively big deal, bordering on being part of the broader culture.  But its cultural peak was brief, small, and a long time ago.  Now it is practically ancient history as a whole generation of kids have been born and grown into adults since it launched.

Where I was surprised was how the level of coverage seemed to be a bit turned on its head relative to the proximity to the topic a publication was.

That wasn’t wholly true.  PC Gamer did a series of great articles about the game, its history, and its state of play these days.

The had an interview with EverQuest Executive Producer Holly Longdale in that first link that unearthed the following gems of information about the game via quotes:

  • “We have more players now than we did in 2015 and our revenue has gone up.”
  • “I’m not allowed tell you exactly how many people have come through the game over the years, but it’s enough to sustain us.”
  • “So we just have an agreement in place that they [Project 1999] don’t launch stuff around the same time we do.”
  • “Our biggest customer service request is people asking what email they used for their EverQuest account 15 years ago, because they want to log back in and play with their old characters again.”
  • “Every three years we do a level increase, and we have changed the way some things work.”
  • A new expansion, The Burning Lands, was released in December last year, and another is on the way.
  • “But fundamentally, we don’t want to change the game. It’s like when we did the New Game Experience for Star Wars Galaxies and everyone quit.”

On the flip side though there was GameSpot, whose cultural relevance peak mirrors that of EverQuest, who just posted the anniversary trailer… early… without much comment and moved on, while Eurogamer, who is often in the forefront of video game reporting, declined to even mention the anniversary.

Then there was Variety, an unexpected source of any information that isn’t strictly a press release, which uncovered perhaps the biggest scoop about EverQuest Next we’d heard in five years, not to mention shining a bit of light on the factional strife that seemed to be going on behind the scenes… a conflict the traditionalists, with Holly Longdale at their head, looks to have won for now.

Adding on that was a post over a Gamasutra, which wasn’t strictly news coverage, by EverQuest team member Luke Sigmund.  But it did lend further insight into the team there while also throwing out a bit of information about why corpse runs stopped being a thing.  Yes, what you believe was part of the equation, but there was also a technical limitation to it as well that made it desirable to do away with this punishing mechanic.  (You do still lose experience on death though, and can still lose levels, something TorilMUD, the template for EverQuest, got rid of a few years ago.)

There was an article up at Rock Paper Shotgun that elaborated on some of the topics already covered, including more detail on the relationship with Project 1999 for example.

Finally, coming in a bit late was an article over at Polygon which started off down the same path as some of the above, about how EverQuest was pretty much set on mining their installed base rather than trying to seek new fans.  But there was a nugget dropped in the statement that one third of the games profits come from “nostalgia” players, which I would read as those interested in the progression server thing that EverQuest has been so good with.

And that was followed by a statement about the current servers they are using, which have four times the capacity of the originals.  This led to some back of the envelope calculation by Bhagpuss in some email notes we exchanged that led to a possibility that peak concurrent players across all servers, given some assumptions such as when server status shows “full” that a given server is at 50% capacity, might be as high as 60K players some days.  That could explain the initial statement on which I based a post a while back trying to compare how many people play EverQuest versus EVE Online.  And since we know concurrent players peak in the low 30K range in New Eden, perhaps that was the basis of the original premise.

All of which made for some interesting reading last month.  Every anniversary brings out some trivia about the game, bits of nostalgia or some form of infographic.  But this year it feels like we learned a few interesting facts about the state of the game and the team that runs it.

MMOs on the List of Most Important PC Games

Earlier this week, over at PC Gamer, which I think still actually has a print magazine version, publishes a list of what they felt were The 50 most important PC games of all time.

PCGamerLogo

And, if you know me, you know I love a good list like that.  Those are discussion starters without equal, and I bring them up pretty much whenever I find them.  I’ve even written about a PC Gamer list in the past, when they were writing about the 100 Greatest Games of All Time, (they do that article every year, here is the 2015 version) that being a distinct and separate category from the 50 most important.

The most important games are the ones we could not imagine not having existed in the genre, that inspired people, or that changed the market.

Wisely, PC Gamer decided to not stack rank the lot of them, choosing to list them out chronologically, kicking off with Space War! from 1962, the first thing that actually looks like what we think of when we say “video game.” (I even wrote a bit about Space War! at one point.)

Of course, this being me, I went storming into the article shouting, “Where are the MMOs?  Show me that online massively multiplayer goodness!”

And I was not disappointed.  MMO titles that made the cut were:

  • Ultima Online 1997
  • EverQuest 1999
  • EVE Online 2003
  • Second Life 2003
  • World of Warcraft 2004

Yes, I am admitting Second Life to the fraternity of MMOs I recognize, and not just to pad the list.  It was a thing in its day, even if Massively totally over-covered it for a bit.  I have even played it a few times.

So that is five MMOs on the list… by which I mean persistent world online games in the mold we all know and grudgingly tolerate while complaining about incessantly… or 10% of the list.  Not bad for a genre.

I suppose it says something the “important MMO” era is pretty much 1997-2004.  Has everything after that been simply refinements and derivatives of what has gone before?

Of course, limiting themselves to 50 games meant that anybody is going to find omissions that they feel are important.  Even the editors had to make an Honorable Mentions list because there was no doubt a large number of titles that were so close.

On the MMO front, I am a little disappointed that MUD1 or anything from the 1980s online era was neglected.  Maybe MegaWars III wasn’t that influential, but what about Air WarriorBut the list does feel a little heavy on the more recent end of things, probably a result of the relative youth of some of the contributors and the general feeling we tend to have that nothing is more important than right now.

Still, there are some good games whose presence on the list surprised me, like Starsiege: TribesFor a fleeting moment of time that was the best online shooter ever.  I played the hell out of that

Ultima IV is on the list, which is interesting because I think you have to have at least ONE Lord British game on the list, but which one?  I suppose Ultima IV was a turning point in the series, but I was always a big fan of Ultima III.  I’m shallow like that.  Also, I had that Ultima III editor, so made my own version of the game.

I find it somewhat odd that DotA is on the list by itself as opposed to being paired up with Warcraft III, since then you could have gotten in a side mention about how much Warcraft III influenced WoW.  Ah well.

And, of course, a lot of the list includes the games you would expect… probably demand… should be included; Wizardry, Pinball Construction Set, Civilization, League of Legends, Quake, Tomb Raider, Diablo, Half-Life, SimCity, The Sims, Minecraft, they are all there.

Yes, of course Doom is on the list...

Yes, of course Doom is on the list…

But I still look back at that list of five MMOs and wonder, is that the legacy of the genre?

PC Gamer Says EVE Online is #12

When my wife saw the cover of the September issue of PC Gamer magazine, which I am still getting thanks to the failure of The Official World of Warcraft Magazine (read about that trail of tears), she said she could see a blog post in the making.

She actually reads the blog and knows me better than I imagine.

You see, the cover was taken up with a giant graphic announcing that this issue included PC Gamer’s staff picks for the Top 100 PC Gamed of ALL TIME.

Really, Of All Time

Really, Of All Time

And as any long time reader knows, I love me a good list.  Or a bad list.  Or any sort of arbitrary ranking.

I love when a group decides to pull out some select number of items and declares them the best, most influential, or otherwise notable.  It says so much about the people who make the list, and about myself when I disagree with the choices.

And I always disagree with at least a few of the choices.  Whether it is games that defined the Apple II games or Ten Ton Hammer listing out the Top Ten PvP MMOs, I always find something to complain about.  Such lists are an argument waiting to happen, but in a fun way.  Viewed correctly, such a list at least makes you think and look for the reasoning.

Of course, the first pass through the list was to search for my chosen genre, MMORPGs.  The first thing my wife asked was, “Is World of Warcraft on the list?” followed quickly by, “And what about ‘Jacked up and good to go?'” a reference to the original StarCraft and probably how much I played it back in the day, given that she remembers it more than a decade down the road.

The first MMO on the list was EVE Online in 12th position, which is where the title of this post comes from.

The second was World of Warcraft, close behind in the 15th slot.  Not a bad showing for MMOs in the top 25% of the list I guess.  One fantasy based MMO and one science fiction, which also happen to be, perhaps not accidentally, the two big hold-outs in the subscription versus F2P struggle.

And after that… nothing.  That was it for MMOs.  No EverQuest, no Ultima Online.  The early champions of the genre were left out and nobody else was worthy.

Well, I suppose if you are going to make a list from PC games of ALL TIME and limit it to 100, prime candidates are bound to get left on the cutting room floor.

So I started browsing through the list, checking titles and dates to get something like the flavor of the list, to see if I could spot any sort of trend.

My initial gut reaction was that most of the games on the list were pretty recent in terms of PC games of ALL TIME.  There were some entries from the latter half of the 90s, with a special spot set aside for Doom and Secret of Monkey Island.  But those were the two oldest games on the list, and they stood out because their age.

I compare this to Time Magazine’s attempt at a Top 100 Video Games of All Time list, which wasn’t even limited to the PC, but included consoles and arcade games.  And in that they managed to find room for titles from the 70s and 80s.  But then they left Minecraft off the list.

My first reaction was that the staff was probably much younger than I…  a surprising number of people are these days… and that the prime formative period of their gaming psyche came about in the mid-to-late 90s.  They might never have played Seven Cities of Gold or the original Wasteland.

My second reaction was that perhaps we were working with different definitions.  For me “PC” means personal computer, and it a generalized thing that includes everything in my personal timeline from the Timex Sinclair 1000 to my current 64-bit Win7 box, and quite a few side paths along the way, including a series of Mac OS machines.

But to a lot of people, “PC” probably means Windows box, something that has been reinforced by both Apple and Microsoft in recent history.  So if I read “Top 100 PC Games” as “Top 100 Windows Games,” the list makes a little more sense.  In the timeline of Windows, the less said about things before 1990, the better.

In that context, I suppose the list makes more sense, as Windows games only start coming into their own with Windows 95, which brings us to the late 90s and blah blah blah.

Then again, I could be overthinking this… a common issue for me… and it might be that the team that did the list just thinks newer games are better.  That seemed to be the point of view with Complex Gaming and their Top 50 list, a list which put EVE Online in the #1 spot.  It certainly fits the “complex” side of the equation.

Ah well.

I would like to link to the list so that you could read it yourself, but it appears to be a print edition only feature.  It made for a dramatic cover that no doubt got a few people to pick up a copy.  And I am sure that they would not appreciate it if typed out the list myself.  But I will leave you with their top five games.

  1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  2. Mass Effect 2
  3. Half-Life 2
  4. Team Fortress 2
  5. Deus Ex

I suppose the first choice isn’t a huge surprise.  They justified it well and frankly liked it for all the right reasons; scope, freedom, mods, replayability.  The next three are probably not very controversial.  I haven’t touched any of the Mass Effect games, but you can hardly be any kind of a gamer and have not heard people going on about them.  I have played through Half-Life 2 and spent a bit of time with Team Fortress 2, but they are not really my thing. (And HL2 plus Garry’s Mod made for one of the best video game based comics ever.)

And then there is Deus Ex, which I really have no recollection of at all.  It was apparently quite a thing and I missed it completely.  But it came out when I was still absorbed with EverQuest the first time around, as well as Diablo II, StarCraft, and a few other games I would consider classics.  We can’t get them all.  There are only so many hours in the day.  Heck, just the other day a co-worker admitted to me that he had never seen The Wizard of Oz.  I am not sure our culture makes sense without having seen that.

Anyway, another list examined.  I await the next one.