EverQuest winds back the clock and Laura finds out what to expect
My biggest gamer regret is that I never had the chance to play EverQuest. I remember picking it up once, years ago, and scoffing when I read the package. Who would pay a monthly fee to play a game? Oh, how wrong I was.
Luckily, the EverQuest team is giving gamers another chance to play EverQuest. Starting sometime in late June, the EverQuest progression server will be opening up. Today I spoke with EverQuest lead designer Travis McGeathy about the progression server, as well as some other updates coming to the regular EverQuest.
The progression server has been getting a lot of support from players, even though SoE hasn’t really started advertising it yet. McGeathy said that they expected some excitement but nothing near the support they are receiving. McGeathy said that the players are being really helpful, and submitting instances of new quests and changes in old zones.
McGeathy also acknowledges that players have an amazing talent at exceeding developers’ expectations. While he’s guessing that the progression server will take at least a year to work through (and yes, there will probably be a betting pool on it at the SoE office), there will always be McGeathy’s team is not taking any chances; they plan to put in some stopgaps, so that if new content is unlocked too quickly, the unlocking players will receive a message that they have completed the necessary task but the new content won’t arrive until the set date. McGeathy doesn’t think that these stopgaps will be needed, but he isn’t taking chances.
As for what raids and tasks will unlock new content, SoE isn’t telling. Players must work together to discover the new content. Guilds are already banding together and bragging on the forums about who will unlock what content first.
As I said above, McGeathy points out that there are changes between the progression server and the original EQ. There are some graphical changes left in the game, some items deemed overpowered still left out, and some tedious game features removed. For instance, in the original EverQuest, sorcerers had to open their spellbook to regenerate their mana. When the spellbook was open it would take up the whole screen, and players would have to stare at that while regenerating for 20+ minutes. The spellbook requirement was removed in a past update, and will remain gone for the progression server. The planes will be in eventually, but the players must unlock them just like all other content.
One of the big challenges for the server is that a lot of the old content wasn’t preserved very well. In recent years, copies were made before the live servers were updated, but the oldest content must be recreated from memory. McGeathy said that players have been really helpful with this as well.
I asked McGeathy if he was worried about the secondary market having a detrimental effect on the server. He relied that he doesn’t see it as a bigger problem than the other servers, but the team will definently be keeping their eye out. “Just getting one person geared up is not going to help you,” he pointed out. EverQuest is a very group-oriented game, and one guy buying gold isn’t going to have too large of an effect on the progression of the server.
With the overwhelming popularity of the upcoming server, I asked McGeathy if SoE planned to have multiple servers. For now, McGeathy said, they only planned for one, but if it’s overloaded they might amend that decision. The one server will likely be no transfer, and PvE only. Once the server catches up to modern EverQuest, SoE might start a new progression server.
Coming soon to all of EverQuest, progression server included, is a new expansion (the expansion name is not yet released). Included in the expansion will be a huge amount of content, including ten new levels, a new starting city and new content from level one to eighty. Also in the update are some much needed alleviations to the grind. Previously, characters would have to spend 20 to 45 minutes regaining health and mana between battles. In the next update, rest times will be much, much lower when out of combat. Devs are also looking at ways to modify death to make it less stressful. For example, instead of zoning out of your body right away, you can hover over your corpse and wait for a resurrect, thus cutting out some zoning time.
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