I Love Blocky Terrain, Simple Spell Animations, and Cube-Headed Character Models

Posting something new is easier than figuring out all the intricacies that will make the blog look nicer, and give people links to the blogs I try to keep current with- and so here I go with what is currently on my mind so I feel like I’m keeping the blog fresh.

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EverQuest. I probably mention it in at least half of my comments, and I often find myself wistfully looking back to my memories of playing it while it was in its prime. I’m now in complete burnout mode in LOTRO. I’ve let my subscription run dry and the only thing tempting me to take my subscription back up is my kinship (guild) because at this point I’ve just disappeared. That may not be enough to get me to go back though, as much as I’ve enjoyed playing the game with them, because I would NOT be going back to play the game.

There’s a final all-powerful set of armor in the game that I’ve essentially almost completely acquired (I have five pieces out of six, but one of them (and the one I’m missing) have superior versions only available from a raid that I don’t plan on doing). My other gear is only good, definitely not great, (I have a full raiment of the second-highest rarity rating, which is basically everything but the rarest drops) and I almost have enough reputation to finally get a mount that can get around in Moria. I made it to level 60 (from 50) and did all this over the last two months and I’m left feeling like my game has ended!!! That’s not so bad I guess, but I’m in full on jaded mode now. (Someone mentioned this on Ysharros’ Blog just today (or maybe yesterday by the time I’m done with this)).

Nothing is new, surprising, or even remotely interesting. I do not like the crafting system a whole lot- Vanguard was the closest thing to an enjoyable crafting system I’ve managed to find and that was a grind that might as well have been its own separate game! I think I’m supposed to be talking about EverQuest here, I did enjoy EQ’s crafting system *pauses for groans* because I felt that it fit in well with the game.

Before I get going on this though I feel that I need to point out that when I say EverQuest “was” I AM talking in the past tense. To be unnecessarily specific the first two expansions and earlier- maybe throw in three, but I wasn’t too thrilled with four (although it was in my humble opinion a hardcore raiders paradise the likes of which we have yet to see since).

Now I could bore you all (all of the three people that read the blog so far ;))  with an endless description of what I loved about EverQuest, in fact that is precisely what I intended to do as I began to write, but it all really boils down to one idea; The game, by design, refused to let me look at it as a game.  Because that might not be as clear as I’d like it to be, I’ll do my best to explain- although I worry that I will fail. This is what my first few days were like playing the game.

Purchase: I saw a game with a hot elf chick on the box in the store, no joke- that’s why I picked it up (oh and am I ever so glad that I did! ^^), and the strategy guide next to it (for Ruins of Kunark (Expansion #1)).  I browsed through, looking at the Races and Classes, and was overcome with some arcane feeling of wonder. I was instantly enchanted by everything about the game.

Day 1: I created a Wood Elf. I can’t remember if my gamma was too low or not but I was on a platform in the tree city of Kelethin and I couldn’t see ANYTHING. The platform was circular and the only light was a fire by some houses, so I guess I could see those, and I wandered around a bit slowly nearing the edges. I couldn’t find a ramp so I jumped. Died. Respawned. I couldn’t find my way around in the darkness of the forest floor so I camped and quit. Time to sleep. Not a great first impression, but at least nighttime was REAL! Cool!

Day 2: Enter the Barbarian Warrior! I wish I could remember the name, I remember thinking it was an amazing name but I deleted the character and promptly forgot 😦 Before he met his end, though, I appeared in the town of Halas. It was fun walking around. In first person everything seemed pretty real. Single click to open doors. I’ve got a note of summons to my class trainer in town. I set off wandering around- completely lost, this is a town i’ve never been to before! -and I eventually find her. I give her the note and she says some words of welcome and I recieve my first tunic! Somewhere along the way I learned to hit ‘H’ to hail NPC’s and see if they have any quests. Naturally I want to know what everyone wants/needs done so I go around talking to everyone. I find out there is a bounty on gnoll fangs from Blackburrow, the home of the gnolls that separates the near human town of Qeynos and the city of my homeland, in Everfrost peaks.

I ran around in this game without a map. I got hopelessly lost more times than I can remember, but I learned the landscape. I became intimately familiar with each fork in the valley-passages of Everfrost! I hunted goblins for their beads (oops! another bounty!) and bears for pelts that I could turn into my first set of armor! The skill requirement was so low you had a reasonably good chance of succeeding on the combine, just take a Ruined Bear Pelt (most common drop off of bears, maybe 1 in 5 or 6 kills sounds about right, sometimes much better than that) and go buy the pattern for the slot you want, put ’em in your kit and hit combine! Before I knew it I was sporting my own handmade gear. Yes it was bad. Really bad. But it was all there was! The world didn’t give you full sets of plate/chain right off the bat, but you didn’t need it.

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Okay I got sidetracked there. My point was, though, that it all felt real. I logged into a world different from this one. I got lost, had to run to stronger people to save me (mobs never stopped following you ’til you left the zone/found a guard to one-shot them), and handcrafted my starting way in the world. I had to learn from another player how to craft my starting gear too, I used absolutely zero internet resources (wasn’t much of a surfer back then) to get stuff done. It was a totally immersive experience. I learned everything first-hand, or second-hand from another denizen of the world. I didn’t go to the other cities for a long time, I had no clue how to get there, but when I did it was a fantastic adventure to a unique and beautiful new place to explore! It didn’t feel like a game like everything does now.

And now that i’m done with LOTRO I feel like returning to my first MMO-love. Does the nostalgia come from it being my first MMO? Maybe a little, as I mentioned earlier I have become quite jaded with the genre, and now they’re all just games again. I want something as genuinely as immersive as EverQuest to be created. Now that i’m ready to be done with this the title seems kind of vague.

EverQuest had blocky terrain, but I loved it. You do NOT need grass and smooth curves to make good terrain. The game was immersive because of its size and your perspective, not because it was on the cutting edge of state-of-the-art graphics.

EverQuest had stiff characters with boxy features, but they looked fine. I tried WAR recently and I could not get past the strange way my guy held his shield and sword while he ran. EQ models at least seemed relatively natural (natural enough for a video game) in the way they moved with weapons in-hand and while standing.

The spell graphics were just  spheres made up of space out twinkling lights sparkling from the casters hands and around the target, which a few different shapes and configurations and colors for different spells, but it worked! As you leveled up your buffs even added more dense particles and sometimes particles of different colors to certain spells! It was cool and did the job well.

*Mental Burp* I understand that we can make everything look pretty now, but that doesn’t mean that we should. EverQuests graphics were functional, simple, and the design made the world incredibly immersive- more than anything I have played since (1st person views do not show the player’s weapon swings in newer games, that’s an immersion-killer for me). *Mental Burp*

I had some reason earlier to link to Muckbeast’s Blog, I think it had to do with the whole Virtual World topic. Check it out!

Bottom line: JediOfTheShire wants an immersive experience first and foremost! Nostalgia is kicking in, and it shouldn’t have to!

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3 Responses to “I Love Blocky Terrain, Simple Spell Animations, and Cube-Headed Character Models”

  1. Longasc Says:

    I somehow love the isometric view of Fallout and Ultima Online… UO was my first MMO, and EverQuest is like Communism to me. It is wrong and evil. 🙂

  2. Ysharros Says:

    Heh, my first day in EQ was almost identical to yours, aside from buying the box for the hot elf chick. 😉 Wandering blind around Kelethin, falling off, going OMGWTFOUCH! It did feel like a world though. (AC did too. Are we more pernickety now, or have games changed? Both?)

    I didn’t stay more than a few weeks though, because all my friends where in Asheron’s Call (where I’d started some months before) and then, as now, we tend to play where our friends are. (I also really liked AC and wasn’t about to pay 2 subs back then.)

  3. jedioftheshire Says:

    @Longasc: EverQuest was my first, and that could be why I prefer the first-person view (*cough* all hail the Elder Scrolls!) but I feel that the way isometric viewpoints transferred into MMOs has been somewhat tragic. My heroic adventurer is now aware of everything happening in a 360 degree radius around him (or the occasional her) and I don’t feel very “in the fray” with people bashing my face in and clobbering me from behind.

    It all breaks down to “whatever suits your fancy,” but I’m very disappointed with the limited viability of first-person viewpoints in games like WoW. I have a huge problem with MMO’s being fast-paced though, I play UT2K4 to get the adrenaline out of my system :D, so maybe I’m just behind the times and don’t have a platform to stand on.

    @Ysharros: When I started MMOs my friends were still glued to their other games so I didn’t have the same issue sticking with EQ that you did, although now the pull to return to WoW is getting stronger… I can’t bring myself to do it at the moment (just thinking about it hurts so much!), but their influence may force me into submission eventually. 😉

    I really do want to see night-blindness again though. It’s the little things like that that really count when you’re trying to achieve an otherworldly feel. Sometimes all a game needs to do to be engaging is stop trying to engage you constantly.

    JediOfTheShire’s self-proclaimed-and-possibly-confusing wisdom of the day: “Devs should be playing God, not the NPCs.”

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