Thursday, April 4, 2024

EQ II Origins server: looking forward to a look back

 So in the latest producer's letter, Jen Chan at Daybreak/ Darkpaw games mentions that some time this year EQ II will be releasing an Origins server.  While the details aren't completely nailed down, the idea seems to be a server that mimics the launch era game in all of it's clunky glory.**  I definitely plan to stick my head in just to see how much of what I think I recall from that era was real versus a fever dream created by the fog of memory.

The main thing I remember is how much more insanely complicated crafting was.  You couldn't just craft an item, heck no!  I remember having to craft a sheet of paper, ink and a pen before I could craft so much as a single low quality spell scroll.  Heck, I even have a really vague memory of perhaps having to buy crafted metal nibs to even be able to make a pen, but surely I am mistaken?  I assume that's just something conjured by my brain filling in details based on what the crafting felt like, rather than how it actually worked.  I mean crafting more than three subcombines to make a single spell scroll would just be absurd, wouldn't it?

Regardless, to this day the part of EQ II that gives me the biggest hit of nostalgia is the sound and animations that come up when you are crafting.  When I played the launch era game, 90% of my time was spent crafting spell scrolls.  I was flabbergasted by the depth of it compared to anything else I had played by that point.  I also got quite wealthy selling them on the auction house, at least by launch era standards.   Half of the classes desperately needed them, and the crafting was so absurdly time consuming and repetitive that relatively few players made it past the lowest levels of scribe.

I also recall the combat parts of the game skewing very heavily towards group content.  Even back then I was a devoted soloist.  It didn't take me long to hit a soft wall where I had done all the solo quests I knew how to find, and the only method of progression left to me was heading out to grind random mobs.  I didn't find the prospect very attractive, and so once I got tired of "Scribe: the MMO" I bounced.  

However, the game did have an interesting feel to it that the modern game doesn't quite recapture.  A feeling that the crappy little neighborhood I was in was a real place, that I was in very real danger when I went outside the city, and that I really was a burgeoning craftsman slowly learning a trade and plying my wares.   Despite the modern game being superior in nearly every way that matters to me, I still find my self looking really forward to stepping back in time for a weekend or three.   Heck, maybe older more patient me will even like that clunky slow-paced relic more than younger me did.   

[Edit: Update]

**According to Bhagpuss it will actually be 2006 era Everquest II, by which time at least some of the rough edges of the launch game had been rounded down, including the crafting being much more straightforward than what I recall.  I bounced some time in 2005, and so didn't realize how much the game changed in the first year.  I don't think I played it again until maybe 2008-2009.  

However, I am still looking forward to it. For me personally a lot of what I actually vaguely miss was a random neighborhood of one of the two cities feeling like such an important place.  Each city had three or four neighborhoods that you might start in depending on your race.  They functioned sort of halfway between an older game like EQ where members of a different race might start on a completely different continent,  and a more modern game where everyone, or at least everyone in the same faction, has the same initial starting area.  Either way, I will be checking it out.  If they bring back that weird system where you didn't even pick your final class until level ten or something, so much the better.  Not that late 2004 or 2006 EQ II is a game I would ever be likely to get as heavily invested in as the modern game.