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News & Features Discussion  » EverQuest: The Making of a Classic

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Associate Editor - News Manager

Joined: 6/28/10
Posts: 16302

OP  1/03/12 4:22:28 PM#1

It's EverQuest Day today at and we have a pair of features that should bring a starry tear of remembrance to our readers' eyes. In this first feature, we take a look at how the classic game came to be. It's a great historical piece that you'll enjoy. Read on and remember!

When I did finally get to play EverQuest, it was as if someone had brought to life the essence of fantasy; like a portal into another realm had opened, you could find yourself living, breathing, and adventuring in a virtual world of wonderment. EverQuest defined the genre when it launched, and yet its beginnings were haphazard rather than masterful - a charmed mix of plucky newcomers and unaware bravery. Now more than ten years since its release, and with another batch of inspired-MMOs about to hit the market in 2012, is looking back at the creation of EverQuest, and a landmark moment of the online world.

Read more of Adam Tingle's EverQuest: The Making of a Classic.

Associate Editor:
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom


Novice Member

Joined: 6/22/07
Posts: 52

1/04/12 8:21:37 AM#2

I still have to see another MMORPG creating so many memorable moments, at least I can tell for myself. Was a different time and a different approach to gaming.

I can still enjoy today's modern MMOs, but nothing could even come close to what EQ was for me personally. I am aware that I am sort of glorifying the past here, but well...

There should be no doubt that this game was the reference title of its time.



Elite Member

Joined: 3/28/06
Posts: 1489

1/04/12 8:28:34 AM#3

I agree that M59 and UO came first, and that they set the groundwork... but the reality is that EQ is the game that launched the industry. Just like Doom was the game that launched the FPS genre (despite other games coming first), EQ launched the MMORPG genre. It is the game that really changed everything, as it put the pieces together for a graphical 3d enviornment and online world.

I remember those days fondly. There was a lot of excitment in both the game, as well as in the gaming industry. Everyone realized that something had changed, and that we were seeing something new and innovative. You dont get that in todays games. They lack the excitement (but have plenty of hype).



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Joined: 7/20/04
Posts: 32

Past&Current addictions:
Diablo 1&2 :),
AC, AC2,

1/04/12 8:57:44 AM#4

Hmm  ...  I know it's EQ day at MMORPG now ...  


but almost sad - how in the shadow of EQ people forget Turbines  Asheron's Call, that came out the same year (1999) and IMO in many ways was superior to EQ  (world w/o zoning, etc.)


Hard Core Member

Joined: 10/01/10
Posts: 940

I tend to get discontent when I run out of content.

1/04/12 9:41:47 AM#5
Originally posted by Litestep

Hmm  ...  I know it's EQ day at MMORPG now ...  


but almost sad - how in the shadow of EQ people forget Turbines  Asheron's Call, that came out the same year (1999) and IMO in many ways was superior to EQ  (world w/o zoning, etc.)

Thing is, asheron's call and everquest had practically NOTHING in common.  Everquest as it was originally released was a class based game where it took quite a long time to take down your average monster, zoned, set loot tables, multiple races, everything IDed for you, quests all over, text entry for quests.  Harsh death system with lost corpses after a matter of minutes(I think it was 5 minutes per level back then).  Summed generic armor class number.

Asherons call had fast paced combat, and was far more twitchy, no world zones but did have portals, random loot and loot tables, just humans, Levels were cosmetic and there were no actual classes.  Everything had to be IDed, spells that had to be learned via trial and error and educated guesses, few quests with no text entry.  No trade system initially.  Monsters that levelled when you died.  Vitae death system with a couple of death item drops.  Hit locations and resistances for every item slot -- 0 modifier for fire damage on boots + fire gromnie = one shot.

Never in the history of MMOs were the two most popular games more different from each other.


Novice Member

Joined: 8/09/03
Posts: 1192

1/04/12 10:15:54 AM#6

Great read, I enjoy hearing the "making of" stories like this for my beloved games of yesteryear. +1

"They essentially want to say 'Correlation proves Causation' when it's just not true." - Sovrath


Advanced Member

Joined: 5/25/09
Posts: 199

1/04/12 10:23:23 AM#7

I enjoy writing them : )


Elite Member

Joined: 7/22/11
Posts: 897

1/04/12 10:27:16 AM#8

As someone who had to build a new computer to play, I was always entranced by EQ.  I think the biggest evolution over the prior MUDs and MUSHs was the dimensionality to the 'rooms'.  MUDs had an area, and you were in that area and experienced anything (and everything) that happened in that area.  It felt confined, like little boxes.   EQ changed this.  The tiny box-like areas became huge places to roam.  East Karana was huge,  with dozens of places to hunt, and supporting 40-50 people at a time.  It was easy to get pick-up groups, and people even developed favorite places to play within a single area.  The bandit camps, the stone pile camp, the ogre camps (for those rare higher levels, and a genera hazard to navigation).  The giant spiders, bears and lions roaming the vast farmlands, just looking for a stray adventurer to eat, only to find themselves lured back to a motley group of friends ready to jump the poor critter.

Congratulations to the author of this article, too.  Adam Tingle's historical look at the development of EQ was easily the most informative and interesting article I have read on in some while.  The history of the development process was fascinating.  I only wish there were some financial information to help illustrate the cost of building an MMORPG, even a dozen years ago.   MMORPG needs more articles of this caliber.

Logic, my dear, merely enables one to be wrong with great authority.


Advanced Member

Joined: 5/25/09
Posts: 199

1/04/12 10:32:46 AM#9

Hopefully this is this start of many "retrospective" articles for the site. In researching this article, the only financial info I could gleam was that the budget of EverQuest was fairly small, even when development ramped up into the later stages. The biggest cost by all acounts was the technology for hosting the game. In comparison to the 100+ team that worked on a $100 million dollar project that is Old Republic, it seems strange that just ten years ago 10 people managed put the foundations into place with a percent of the cash.


Novice Member

Joined: 1/04/12
Posts: 4

1/04/12 11:24:39 AM#10

Trains in Blackburrow...dying at the bottom of the sea, EverQuest wasn't a game it was a way of life. No MMO has ever come close to it - great article, very interesting stuff.



Joined: 9/18/05
Posts: 1785

"You know what happened to the man that got everything he ever wanted? He lived happily ever after"

1/04/12 11:43:31 AM#11

EQ was my childhood frame age 11 to 15. I started in 2001 and loved every moment. Long live this game.

Hi! My name is paper. Nerf scissors, rock is fine.
MMORPG = Mostly Men Online Roleplaying Girls


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Joined: 3/17/10
Posts: 530

"I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different"

1/04/12 11:44:53 AM#12

I feel like the only MMO fan that has bad memeories of how tedious and horrible EQ1 was........i was 16 when it came out though so maybe i needed to be younger to appreciate it?


Playing: PO, EVE
Waiting for: WoD
Favourite MMOs: VG, EVE, FE and DDO
Any person who expresses rage and loathing for an MMO is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/14/11
Posts: 498

1/04/12 11:50:43 AM#13

Great article

I guess EQ vs Ultima Online is where the whole themepark vs sandbox argument can be traced to. Except EQ seemed to be a very harsh themepark. If I had Internet that didn't cost and arm and a leg to use I might've played EQ but the technology just wasnt there for me.


Novice Member

Joined: 5/10/06
Posts: 31

1/04/12 12:19:56 PM#14

Retrospective views of EQ tend to be through rose-colored glasses.  The game had some good points, but also horrific core design problems.  The problems were more likely from lack of experience, as MMORPG's were just getting started at the time.  Current game designers repeating the same mistakes though, they don't really have an excuse.


Novice Member

Joined: 6/10/11
Posts: 625

1/04/12 1:10:25 PM#15

While EQ definitely had some serious flaws such as massive downtime, content being designed around 3 of something like 15 classes (warrior, cleric, enchanter), too many players fighting over limited resources (especially in classic), horrendous class balancing, etc, I think what truly made the game great was that it was simple, yet challenging and rewarding at the same time.  The classes had a very limited number of spells and abilities to work with when compared to modern games where you need multiple hotbars to load all your abilities.  Combat was much more slow paced which allowed for (gasp) actual socializing while playing.  Bosses didn't require memorizing a two page script to beat.  But at the same time, one simple mistake like someone not using /assist tank properly could cause for major problems.  Quests were limited in number but nearly all were meaningful, from the JBoots to classs quest armor to eventually epic quests.


Novice Member

Joined: 1/03/04
Posts: 46

1/04/12 1:27:54 PM#16

To keep it short:


Original EQ = 4TW!


Hard Core Member

Joined: 12/02/11
Posts: 1225

1/04/12 1:59:00 PM#17

2001 Luclin

The decline

2002 PoP



Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/31/06
Posts: 2115

1/04/12 2:11:25 PM#18

Appreciation of it's success aside, the EQ model has been a scourge on mmo gaming that still hurts the genre through WoW and now SWTOR, with almost every other major release following that mold over AC, SWG, UO, CoH, and other much more creative and less treadmilly mmo's.


Novice Member

Joined: 2/17/04
Posts: 485

1/04/12 2:14:20 PM#19

Super, super article.

I personally liked the sentence, "it was challenging, frustrating, but in the end the camaraderie and team-work made for the most fun I've had playing online games"

I agree.  Making things hard isn't a bad thing.  It keeps you interested, challenged, and promotes teamwork.  Ultimately it keeps you as a long time subscriber.  Today's MMO's seem to have the exact opposite gameplan, which is why in my opinion subscription retention is so poor.

I saw a quote somewhere on these forums which said something like...

"developers used to make good games and made money as a result, now they try to make money and make games as a result"

It went something like that anyway, but very appropriate to how things have become.


Novice Member

Joined: 10/02/04
Posts: 594

1/04/12 2:26:13 PM#20

Originally posted by mrpoepoe

Trains in Blackburrow...dying at the bottom of the sea, EverQuest wasn't a game it was a way of life. No MMO has ever come close to it - great article, very interesting stuff.


Gnoooooooooll Train! I started and was trampled by many in BB. Simple things in EQ made it more realistic and memorable. Real Death penalties, forced grouping (some can argue against it, but does create community), travel times (and danger/fear/wonder of travelling in new zones or dangerous areas-aggroing all kinds of baddies), at night it was really dark (had to have a torch or light source or you couldn't see more than a few feet around you-causing you to get lost or run into mobs), had to have food/water when out adventuring or stats/hp would lower, and many other things that make the world more real and people have to rely on each other to survive and thrive.

I'm not saying it was all perfect-it did have it's annoying flaws, but for it's time it was an incredible experience and very immersive. And addictive-earning the nickname EverCrack.

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