(N)EverQuest Scrolls

Classic Everquest

by on Jun.10, 2010, under Uncategorized

This discussion is a bit of a sore one on the EQ boards, so I’ll try to short-circuit it by giving a brief, and totally biased, summary.

Ex-EQ players sometimes come to the forums and demand a Classic server. Classic has a specific meaning in EQ, being the official name for the base game (once some expansions were released, that is). This consisted of Antonica, Faydwer and Odus, all races bar Vah Shir and Frogloks, and all classes apart from beastlord and berserker. Max level was 50. However, most of these posters have their own meaning for “Classic”.

The first discussion point is what does “Classic” consist of. Most people would say the base game, level cap 50, although some would include Kunark and Velious. The Planes (Fear, Hate) and some other zones (the Hole, the Warrens, Paineel) were released mid cycle, prior to Kunark release – so they aren’t strict “Classic”. A minority would accept Luclin and even PoP, but a majority would disagree; I suspect that this gets mentioned by people who think that playing EQMac is an answer – it may well be, for them, but not for SOE – EQMac was a poorly done port (it was Carbon, not Cocoa), and just creates a separate game to support, which is something SOE need to avoid, unless there is a very clear revenue model.

The next is to do with bugs. The more reasonable (minority) of posters would accept that bugs should be fixed, although everything falls apart at this point. Was the original hybrid penalty a bug, or a desirable feature of the game that should be preserved? Should the small exp bonus that halflings get be shifted to humans, or not? Let’s just say that this is a can of worms, and the more foam-flecked lips would insist on no bugs fixes. In theory, they say, SOE could just use the 1999 EQ client that is easily found on Torrents, assuming that they really, truly, have lost the original code.

Then come enhancements. It’s easy to say no to these – like extended bank slots, the map window, corpse rot timers – but what about support for Direct X, and general improved driver support?

When Progression servers were released, Classic nostalgia freaks came along – and reported a lot of things that are changes/modernisations in the game engine, but that they objected to. The addition of potions, augments, charm slot, out of combat regen, “new” spells, changed abilities (like sense heading), new global drops (changed trade skill drops, Defiant armor) are just the tip of the iceberg. At various points over the years mobs had their hp, ac, attack ratings all changed, and even the experience given has changed significantly. Some zones (a LOT of zones) have been overhauled considerably, and the story goes that the original zone files have been lost (back ups and version control for software assets are another discussion to pass on).

I’m going to skip the whole theft/emulator issue, because we are talking about SOE opening up a Classic server.

The people requesting Classic do so in The Newbie Zone, as this is the only place that General status accounts (non-subscribers) can post. It also means that we have no way of telling how many people actually want this, and these people aren’t above making multiple accounts to inflate their sense of self-worth. They also enjoy spamming, trolling and personal abuse – which is why the last poll for a new server came down heavily for the (stupid) 51/50 Mayong rule, and not the expected (by EQ’s producer) Progression rule set; two reasons – one, only subscribers could vote (which is reasonable, when you think about it), and two, the Classic fans don’t make friends easily.

OK, so they point to polls on their own sites, claiming that 500 – 1,000 unique posters would play on a free Classic server. There’s a few problems with that: you can easily find some multiple votes on their polls; being willing to play for free isn’t the same as being willing to re-subscribe; and we’ve been told in the past by EQ devs (Rashere, I think it was) that 5,000 (we presume he meant active accounts, but this could have been anything) is the minimum population required to consider a server viable.

On the positive side, the current Everquest trial is really bad. Don’t get me wrong, as a tutorial zone it is pretty good; but, if the strengths of EQ are content and community, a separate trial won’t show that. It is also a copy of a 2006 client, and has quite a few bugs and omissions (no ooc regen, no berserker tomes/axe components, etc). Now, a level 50 server with the option to move after 50 might be a better trial. Limit the time if you like, but keeping it free to play (FTP) wouldn’t hurt and would make it easier to police, if SOE could accept player GMs of some form (like the old Guides). IMO, this could be done based on the Progression code, possibly strengthened in line with suggestions from the previous Progression servers, but otherwise keeping to the current game engine. Use the modern zones, leave in the PoK books, leave the fixed exp penalties (they were all removed a couple of years ago), even leave in out of combat regen.

There is an argument that people will reach cap (level 50) and have nothing to do. Under 1999 rules, that would take a lot longer (easily 10 days played minimum) than it does now (under 1 day played, even with no help). Then there’s a lot to do at the end game: Nagafen, Vox, Plane of Fear; some of the revised zones, like the Hole or Plane of Hate, would be considerably more challenging at 50. So let them leave, play Guide, or (and this is the good part) subscribe to Everquest.

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