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Everquest Journal One

The Tides of Change

Everquest was UO's sucessor, and because of that, EQ had more baggage than Aaliyah getting on an airplane. MMORPG fanboism began with EQ, it was born out of the ashes of dejected, former UO players. Fanboism is blindly worshipping a game or anyone associated with developing said game. This new breed of fan at the time didn't necessarily believe Everquest was the nectar of the gods, but they desperately needed something to cleanse their palette of UO. You couldn't have a conversation about EQ in those days without a fanboi putting down UO in comparison. The mantra was, "EQ is the MMORPG done right". On top of that, you had the cutthroat EQnews webpage business. UO had its websites, UO Vault and UO stratics. Good sites, but you didn't care who ran them or who got the latest UO news first. With EQ, putting up a webpage meant celebrity status and profit for the webmaster. Basically take the word 'Everquest' and put another word in front of it or behind it, and you can randomly generate a title someone used for their EQ news site. Of course the result is countless arguments and mudslinging in IRC about plagarism and accusations of "you stole my news update!" or "Sony gave me those exclusive screenshots, don't put them on your page!" Basically everything you would expect when you make a CEO out of someone who lives in their parents basement. I would call Everquest pre-beta era as the Attack of the Tin Gods. If you had the ability to lose all dignity and suck at the teet of 989/Verant (whatever they were), you could gain a bit of power over the less zealous fanbois. Why is this at all relevant to my characters? It isn't really, but EQ gets credit for many things, but it also deserves credit for creating, or at least fleshing out, the cottage industry of game news sites.

Enough with the history lesson. I ended up in phase 4 of beta or the cattle call phase. Anyone who signed up and still had a valid email got in this phase. It lasted roughly a month, just enough time to stress test the servers. I had a level 12 dark elf cleric in beta. When I first logged in and started playing, the first thing that struck me was 'boy this game sucks, find fire beetle, target fire beetle, hit 'A' key'. Actually backup about an hour and really the first thing that I thought was 'Neriak sucks, i'm completely lost'. Anyway about 2 levels later I'm thinking 'I want to kill more fire beetles!' I was totally unprepared for how addicting Everquest becomes. Even though at its core, EQ is nothing but auto-attacking fire beetles for 60 levels, it makes you want to play it and play often. So I pre ordered EQ and come march I was anxious to set foot in Norrath. My plan was to play a Dark Elf cleric in release, I liked playing the support class and clerics were highly sought after in EQ. Everyone wants to be loved.

I got my copy of EQ the second day of release. I quickly installed and created my Dark Elf Cleric Zehail on Mith Marr server. Since I had done 1 - 12 in beta, I jumped off to a quick start over all the fledgling dark elves out bashing moss snakes under the twilight sky of Nektulous Forest. I made myself a set of patchwork armor and was level 9 by the end of the day. Easily one of the highest level dark elves on the server. Over the course of the first month I'd remain the highest level dark elf cleric, but thats getting ahead of myself. First off I mentioned in the previous paragraph about stress testing the servers. Well you wouldn't have known Verant did that judging by the up and down status of the servers. I'll cut Verant a bit of slack here. The number of people who bought EQ that first month were more than I think anyone expected, especially Verants bandwidth provider. The shakey debut though didn't deter anyone from playing, but the attitude of the players shifted from adoring fanboi's to pissed off customers. Verants built in IRC program was full of angry player's ranting and raving - it was glorious chaos. The relationship between players and Verant is one thats been played out in every MMORPG to date. Adoring fans pre and during beta, angry customers after release. My analysis is that, during beta, only the fans who want to praise and follow a game are willing to post and show up for developer chats, but they are such a small minority of the playerbase at release that their support is drowned out by the people who buy the game off the shelf at a retail store and want a perfect product for their money.

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