SOE’s EverQuest2 is an MMO that takes its name seriously. Very seriously. In fact, InfiniteQuest might be a better name for this game.
The original EverQuest is one of the few MMOs that I have not yet played. When it launched in 1999, the memory of my unpleasant experience with Meridian 59 was still fresh. As friends began to exhort the game’s virtues (it surprised me how fast the term “EverCrack” sprang up), my immediate reaction was, “Oh, hell no!” I imagined battles with my modem that would exceed any in-game combat. I was content to continue enjoying my single player games, where I could be blissfully ignorant of concepts like ‘ping’ and ‘latency’.
Fast-forward 10 years where I’ve played almost every popular MMO in existence except EverQuest and it’s younger sister, EverQuest2. A free trial offer and a download later found me rolling up a Human Swashbuckler and venturing forth into Qeynos.
I was initially beguiled. The extensive use of voice actors lends a unique sense of charm to the game. I found the player community to be mature and friendly, as I was quickly adopted by a helpful guild that was willing to show me the ropes. I completed all the missions in the beginner area and eagerly headed to the mainland.
Here’s where I should mention that there are two different types of people in the world: Those who like lots of options and those who don’t. I fall squarely into the second category. I’ve been known to walk out of restaurants that had too many items on their menu. Give me too many choices and my brain will seize up like an old engine with a bad oil pump.
The EQ2 designers seem to subscribe to the philosophy that more is always better. By the time my character reached level 20 she had a quest journal that resembled the classified ads, four rows of quick bars containing skills I had no idea how to use, and an inventory full of items with dubious levels of importance. In a word, I was OVERWHELMED.
At this year’s Game Developers Conference, I had the opportunity to talk at length with one of the game’s original quest writers. Apparently EQ2’s ‘kitchen sink” approach stemmed, in part, from their lack of understanding of player behavior. They created the content with the expectation that players would pick and choose which quests they wanted to do. They never anticipated that we would attempt to pick up every quest in a given area until our journals were overflowing.
It’s unfortunate that EQ2 lost me in its sea of options and endless possibilities. The game had a lot to offer. But that, in itself, was the problem.
* Desert Bus is a game that involves nothing but driving a bus from Tucson, AZ to Las Vegas, NV – in real time. It is very, VERY boring.