Everquest Journal Two
Know Your Role, N00b!
For me up until about level 18, Everquest was pretty traditional Computer Role Playing fare. You formed a party of adventurers and scoured the lands killing baddies. The twist was that the group was made up of other human beings, but the gameplay was similar to single player classics like Daggerfall and Might and Magic. So what happened at level 18? I went to Cazic-Thule.
I reached level 18 about a month or so after EQ came out in March 1999. The game was still wild frontier for the majority of players. Things like camp etiquette and loot rules were arcane lore held by long time beta testers or not even in existence. The word camp for that matter wasn’t even a commonly used term yet. Suddenly I'm introduced to new concepts like ‘camps’, ‘master looting’,‘trains’, ‘lists’, and ‘ninja looter.’ The NPCs in Bard's Tale never rode my ass about kill stealing the Tarjan spawn.
I completed roughly 10 levels in Cazic-Thule. In that time I watched the population grow from just a handful of groups to a cattle call of boorish adventurers. When you logged on and zoned into Cazic your chat window would be assaulted by a litany of shouts and out of character announcements. These messages would typically be inquiring about the state of various camps and what number someone was on the list to join a group. If you want to have some idea what it was like, just pretend you're a Frenchman sipping some wine during your lunch break from making wine, and you see a couple Americans wearing garish hawaiian shirts and shouting out mangled French phrases in a desperate attempt to find 'la petite salle de frenchman's'.
My experience with groups was a mixed bag. When I first got to Cazic, I grouped almost exclusively with my friends Kharza, Linako, Tabin, Gorath, and others. As the days wore on though, the difference in play time among my friends resulted in us all spreading out in levels. One of the benefits of Cazic was that it had a central courtyard from which you could reach all the other areas of interest. Which meant groups could replace group members with new players fairly easily. Group Waiting Lists were invented to make replacing members even easier. If you zoned into Cazic and wanted to find a group you just asked what camps were open and if you could be put on a list to join that camp. While not perfect, I thought it was a pretty good system because it helped facilitate grouping without having to start from scratch every time.
As a cleric though, the lists benefited me the most because every group needed a primary healer. So I rarely had to wait long to join a group. Other classes were considered less vital to group survival and thus had much longer waits. Class discrimination was an obvious problem, but wouldn’t become a hot button issue until a couple months down the road.
Cazic also provided a crash course in group tactics for all of us Everquest newbies. My previous group experiences had been mostly against non aggressive MOBs or just a solo MOB. The lizard men in Cazic always came in groups and provided a whole new challenge, especially to healers. The creature AI in Everquest is designed to recognize who is doing the healing and kill him first. So as soon as a cleric or druid heals the warrior, the other lizards bum rush the poor sod doing the healing. I took many lumps and outright maulings before learning the intricacies of being a successful healer.
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