I have been playing MMOs for about 16 years now since Everquest 1 was in its earlier stages. I played Everquest for about 5-6 years before quitting and switching over to World of Warcraft.
When I first started playing Everquest 1 I quit several times because it was too hard. I remember one occasion we got out to high hold keep to level, died out there, couldn’t get a resurrection, and spent the next 11 hours trying to recover our corpses and gear while running naked through Kithicor Forest at night surrounded by enemies probably 30 levels higher than me.
When I first started playing World of Warcraft pre-beta, I quit because it was too easy but played when it was released for 7 years because it was popular. Right now I have 16 level 90s, one of every class and some the same across both factions.
Here we have two different modes of thinking by the developers for each of the games they created.
We have Everquest 1 that’s intent was to create a very challenging and realistic environment and we have World of Warcraft which I refer to as MMO 101, the beginner class to MMOs because it’s so easy that anyone can play it.
In Everquest 1, you were required to consume food and water so that you wouldn’t starve or go thirsty which caused you to not be able to regenerate at all, in World of Warcraft you don’t need food except as a way to give yourself a buff.
In Everquest 1, you had a 24 hour clock and the world switched from day to light and the environment switched with it, IE different NPCs were only available at certain times or awful things came out in Kithicor Forest at night that would kill the low players crossing the woods.
Realistic attempt by Sony.
In World of Warcraft you have everything trying to be equalized, normalized, and made fair for everyone so that no matter how much time you put in other players can get pretty much the same stuff as you and catch up.
In Everquest, no such balance existed and every class was not only unique, but everyone of the same class was uniquely different from each other, no two Shadowknights were the same.
In World of Warcraft every expansion made the out dated content no longer worth doing unless you were leveling or seeking achievements because of the level and gear advancements.
In Everquest, guilds had to raid 1-3 expansion backwards to farm certain items and through this compilation of gear they would be able to beat the new raid content but the enhancement in items and levels was very gradual so that doing old content was always necessary to get ready for new content. Most guilds farmed the end bosses of the old content as well as the new bosses in the new content.
In fact, some guilds could beat the lower end raid bosses in the new expansion to acquire gear to go backwards to the older expansions and finally kill the end game raid bosses of that expansion.
Could you imagine farming Molten Core to help prepare for Kiljaedan?
In World of Warcraft we have spirit ressers and ghost form for corpse run. In Everquest you would spawn wherever you were bound naked and have to find a way back to your corpse to collect all your gear and if you didn’t in 7 days your body would decay, expire, and you would lose all your gear…oh yeah you also lost experience when you died.
Realistic, do you get my drift?
In World of Warcraft if you run passed an enemy it will only attack you till a certain point and then turn around, in Everquest enemies will chase you all the way across the zone until you die or leave the zone, no tethering, this was referred to as a train, some people were able to pull over a hundred mobs chasing them in a single line.
Obviously, World of Warcraft became more popular because of how friendly it was to users and how easy it was too play. There aren’t many things you’ll find challenging in World of Warcraft except the major time sink they’ve created with dailies etc.
Most people shy away from Everquest because you have to spend time and conquer challenges to get anywhere worthwhile, to date there are still thousands of Everquest quests that have never been found or completed, 16 years later. They don’t nerf bosses or make it easier for players, only a handful of coordinated guilds who put in the time get to do the end game boss raids.
Each class has an epic quest line that continues across every piece of content and can take months to complete with the help of friends and guildmates.
So here we are 2013 and Everquest Next is on the Horizon, the Everquest developers are back at it again working on creating a game and a world that is actually realistic.
As I’m sitting here playing World of Warcraft I began to consider what realistic means. Here I am doing a quest and I’m attacking an Orc, about 50 feet behind that Orc is another Orc, I can see him and he should be able to see me, but he’s just standing there walking around on this preset path oblivious to me killing his Orc ally.
How realistic is it that I’m attacking an enemy and another enemy can see me and is fifty feet away yet it’s going to sit there and walk around until I walk very close to it or hit it…not very real at all.
How realistic is it when you join a raid and you are killing stuff in the zone and nothing in the zone is aware you are there nor does it interact with each other until you hit it or get very close. I was on an end-game raid in World of Warcraft and as my raid sat there preparing to fight Lei Shen I realized how retarded and unrealistic World of Warcraft actually is and how non-interactive and reactive the environment is for players.
There are 25 people sitting in front of this Raid boss, maybe 100 yards away, and the Raid boss is just chilling there waiting to be hit I guess, just oblivious that we are even there. In a realistic environment you would think this super powerful boss with all these special abilities would look at us and attack us right away, right?
Not in World of Warcraft, this is all about pre-scripted encounters and we have to make sure everyone is ready. So why are the zone or the boss even there? Why not do a ready check and the enemy spawns wherever and whenever you’d like? What’s the point?
So we do our arbitrary dailies, collect our arbitrary gear, and repeat the process. That’s World of Warcraft. The bosses change, the story line changes, the content changes, but the artificial intelligence and realness of the game gets worse and worse and worse as time goes on.
Introducing Everquest Next, finally an attempt to make a real environment. The Everquest Next team has assigned a kind of artificial intelligence to enemies and NPCs in the game. They have done this by giving them like and dislike preferences.
This means that if you are a Gnoll, you might like dark wet areas so you would travel to those areas and set up your camps and tribes. Yes you’re hearing this right, NPCs that react to their environment. If you as a player go into the woods and kill the gnolls repeatedly they may eventually leave or be wiped out and this may cause the Gnoll King to send an army of invaders to burn your village down and kill you.
Players will have control over the environment from setting up their own camps, maybe cities, etc. There will also be temporary changes to the environment that happen during fights. If an NPC swings a big axe at you and hits a wall the wall will break, bridges can be destroyed, etc, but they will return to normal after some time because they are just encounter changes.
Having reactive NPCs in the game so that you can’t go to places like wowhead.com find out where items drop from which NPCs on the map because they move is a huge change in MMOs, hopefully for the better.
Hopefully this creates a more realistic and challenging environment for players that makes sense. The question remains to be seen, how real can a game get but still be fun? If the game developers create an artificial intelligence higher than the average player intelligence, the game might be too challenging.
But why have a big world with lots of content and zones if everything in the World has less artificial intelligence than a squirrel, if a squirrel saw you or heard you making noise it would run away. It wouldn’t stand there and watch you kill it’s ally from 50 feet away and ignore you like most of the NPCs in the game.
If someone saw you gathering a big army to fight them they would probably try to run or hide or better prepare themselves not just sit there inactive until you hit them and then react.
What if the quests and mission of the game changed based on the behavior of the players and the reaction of the artificial intelligence?
What if every player was taking an NPCs quest to collect ten pieces of wood from the forest and the wood ran out or the NPC had enough wood and the quest disappeared or changed to something else the NPC needed?
What if in addition to likes and dislikes by the NPCs in the environment they also had needs and wants to be filled?
What if they actually used the wood you gathered in a fire pit and had a supply and demand? What if they ran out and no one wanted to collected it so they upped the reward for it?
Think of the possibilities of a live environment using one of the most sophisticated artificial intelligences ever introduced to an MMO.
Let’s face it, we all need food and water to live, so if we were a quest NPC we would say I’ll give you $5 for some food. But we aren’t going to keep paying $5 for food or even want it if 300 people bring it to us, so why should quests etc remain static like they do in World of Warcraft?
I hope now that millions have been introduced to online gaming through World of Warcraft it’s time for an MMO to come out that is once again as challenging as the original Everquest, otherwise everyone might as well go back to watching TV because playing World of Warcraft is probably equivalent to holding the remote and changing the channel with the occasional TiVo recording configuration for shows you might miss.
Check out this Everquest Next interview by Athene below.