Posted by: Orcpawn | December 7, 2012

My First Raid

I promised to stay away from nostalgia but I still lack an ISP that allows a connection to the EverQuest servers, for now, please walk with me down memory lane.

By the time I started playing in late-2000, raiding in EverQuest had evolved well beyond the original dragons and planes raids.  My guild, the Free Company, frequently discussed our desire to become a “raiding” guild and just as frequently mourned the loss of higher level players who left the fold to join larger guilds.  Finbarr, an officer of the guild with raiding experience, was certain we would could raid the Plane of Hate using two guild groups and bringing in “pick-up” players as needed.  To enter the Plane of Hate your character had to be at least level 46 and I was nearly there.  At the time there was nothing I wanted more than to hit that magic level and join my guild on their raid!  The Free Company had gathered its strength and I managed to gain level 46 with just a week to spare, it was on!

Free Company Breaks into the Plane of Hate.

Free Company Breaks into the Plane of Hate.

I still remember how exciting it was as we gathered at the wizard spires in South Ro.  The Plane of Hate carried an aura of doom even two years after most guilds had plumbed all of its secrets.  It was still possible for raids to wipe from the many threats in the zone: odd mob pathing, gating mobs, players who climbed too near the ceiling, etc.  Even though I had studied all the material available I was still nervous waiting on the spire for the first groups to port up.  The first two groups made it up and successfully navigated the walls to our gathering point, now it was my turn.  Our wizard ported us up and I followed the map to the “safe” spot in the zone, terrified that I might accidentally train the raid.   I survived the trip and after a buff check the pulling began.

Free Company Clearing out the First Floor.

Free Company Clearing out the First Floor.

My biggest hope was to earn some Indicolite Armor, there was always a good chance that two or three class specific pieces of armor would drop during the clearing.  At the time it would still have been a real upgrade for my character but it was not to be, some pieces dropped but the other warriors rolled higher than I did, sadness.  It was a learning experience for me, every mob had a different trick, whether it was a gravity-flux, an immunity to magic or a seemingly infinite capacity to heal itself.  It was my first time managing all this knowledge as well as attempting to even stay close enough to the mob’s melee hit box to do damage to it.  It must have struck a strong chord as I sought out the raiding experience for many years after!

Posted by: Orcpawn | December 3, 2012

The Joy of Exploration

Years ago an EverQuest guild existed known as the Armigers of Mirth, whose stated goal was the exploration of Norrath’s many bars and taverns.  As part of their charter they required their members to always carry at least two drinks and attempt to become an accomplished brewer.  I discovered this guild from a link that used to lurk in the brewing section of the EQ Traders website and I became fascinated with the idea of doing something similar on my server.  I never managed to carry my dreams as far as creating a website with a guide of each pub even though I spent lots of time taking screen shots in pubs and writing down the types of drinks available from the bartenders.  It really wasn’t necessary because the Armigers had already done it!  Below is an old screen capture of their website which, sadly, no longer exists outside of the Wayback Machine.

A portion of the Armigers of Mirth tavern review

A portion of the Armigers of Mirth tavern review

The point of all this is that once, in EverQuest, it was not uncommon to find guilds that were primarily focused on exploring and enjoying the game world.  It didn’t take long before raiding became the main focus for most guilds, especially the larger ones.  Although I’ve been a raider and truly loved the challenge of it, I’ve always felt that sometimes we were missing the point.  Currently, a guild like the old Armigers in EQ would probably call itself a family-style guild but I’ve found none on my server that make any effort to capture or promote their experiences in such a colorful and enticing way.  In fact, no guild seems to do much website updating of their activities in EQ aside from posts about which raid tier they have recently conquered.  For me, this has lessened my sense of community (even from those who weren’t on my server such as the Armigers of Mirth or the Seekers of Lore).

I make it a point now to always explore both new content and older content that I hadn’t truly experienced.  This blog will be the medium I use to transmit the pleasure I take in this to the world.  EverQuest and MMOs in general are usually so multifaceted that those who focus on just one portion, whether raiding or PvP are missing out on so much more.

If you wish to explore the old Armigers of Mirth EQ website, it can still be found here.  I will finish up with one of the shots I had taken for my planned list of tavern guides, fans of Halas may recognize this one, bonus points if you can name the tavern and double if you can name the famous quest that started here.

One of the many Halas pubs

One of the many Halas pubs

Posted by: Orcpawn | December 1, 2012

Inaugural Post – The Perils of Nostalgia

My goal has always been to provide my perspective of the “current” state of the games I am playing.  Therefore, the level of nostalgia should remain low in these posts but, despite my goal, it is certain to show up.  I guess I am a nostalgic sort of guy.  As a lead off post I decided to discuss my nostalgia and why it is going to come back repeatedly on this blog despite my best intentions.

If you ask any veteran player of EverQuest what they remember about the “old days” they are sure to go on about how wonderful it was.  Even the game features that tortured us at the time do not look bad in the rosy glow of hind-sight.  The constant arguments with other players, having a player train mobs across you, the usual either waiting hours for a group or to reach a planned camp are shrugged off with a smile and a nod.  Losing all your items in a mistaken quest turn in, losing all your items in a forge when you accidentally pressed “combine” with the wrong items (or stack) in the forge or becoming a victim of a player scam in the East Commons tunnel; this was just the way it was.  We all lived it and even though most of us hated it we will all tell you how much we miss it now.

The logical part of my mind reminds me of countless hours spent wasting my time looking for a group, camping for a specific item or farming for some trade skill components.  Despite the stern and rather boring comments from one half of my head, the rest of my brain wants to sing out how wonderful it all was.  There are things you just don’t encounter in modern EQ such as players and guilds running buffing stations near newbie areas, guilds running public “drunken races” or scavenger hunts.  Players could be found dueling in the arena that almost every town and even the original Luclin bazaar contained.  I will reserve more on this for a future post but it must be said, the constant competition of guilds for contested raid mobs was also a very vibrant feature of the game.

The current “live” version of EverQuest is only faintly similar to the one we played almost 14 years ago; I suppose this is why nostalgia creeps in so easily.  Sony has responded to market pressure and player complaints and eliminated many of the old frustrations that, I argue, gave EverQuest its special feel.  The desiccated player-base has probably done the most to remove the feel of EQ.  Despite this, I still consistently enjoy my times online and I wonder if a different type of nostalgia will strike me in future years.

A screenshot of the Everfrost newbie area circa early 2001

A screenshot of the Everfrost newbie area circa early 2001

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