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EverQuest: Free to Play


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So the Grande Dame has gone the free to play route and I just wanted to encourage (new players) and warn (previous players) before it got too far along.



First, some background. EQ was my first love. It was what got me hooked on MMOs and showed me the genre's potential. When I started (Thanksgiving Day 1999), it was a daunting experience but I was grateful that at least I didn't have to deal with being ganked every 10 minutes (hi UO!). Some friends (from previous online games like Gemstone and Kesmai) got me into it and that's part of what hooked me. I didn't struggle as much as a person would've if they didn't have a support system in place. But I also got to see how much better my friends' gear and spells looked, which made me want to get to that point. The pace of leveling (glacial, by today's standards) meant you really had a lot of time to converse and get to know the people you grouped with regularly. And you did wind up grouping with the same people regularly because you'd see them in the level appropriate zones all the time.


Anyway, this game has been good and bad for me. It showed me the social side of the genre but it also showed me the effects of population. When the game was hopping, there were tons of people spread over all level ranges. As time progressed, the low levels became a tumbleweed colony and the high levels required such a time commitment (raids) that you couldn't afford to waste too much time not progressing. To that end, an hour of looking for a group was right out. That was what got me into multiboxing (multiple characters/accounts, played together). At the height of my EQ fever, I had 34 accounts active (many of them given to me by guildmates who left for "greener pastures" - EQ2/WoW), rotating characters in and out to develop them. Yeah, do the math on that. That meant I was never looking for a group for longer than 3 minutes (the time it took to log in six accounts) but the side effect was, it made me a lot more insular. When people know you can do "hard" content all by yourself, all the requests come in ("Can you help me with this mob?" "I need you to....", etc).


Anyhow, free to play is a bit of a misnomer and I'll explain why.


If you've never played EQ before, it's great. It's basically an extended trial type of thing. You're locked out of some features and limited on others but it's totally playable.


If you've played EQ in the last 5-8 years (or later), you're in for quite a surprise. First, you're a Silver member (which sounds better than it is). Augmentations (except those from hot zones) are considered 'prestige' items, which means you need to be Gold (a subscriber) to have access to them. Anyone who has played from say 2005 on, will likely have LOTS of augmented items. People raided for augs as much as real gear, after all (hi Anguish!). For casters, your spells are all busted down to Rank 1. Again, there were people (me among them) who raided for the top level (Rank 3) spells and bringing it down to Rank 1 represents, in some cases, a 50% drop in effectiveness.


If we break down the Membership Matrix:


1) Access to all expansions is great, but having access to pretty much every expansion past the Buried Sea (so Secrets of Faydwer, Seeds of Destruction, Underfoot, and House of Thule) is a red herring. Unless you have access to augments and prestige items (read: are a Gold member), that content will eat you alive.


#2-4 is genius. You pick the three human based races (Human, Erudite, Barbarian) and the 'cute' race (Gnome) and give them access to the core classes (Warrior, Cleric, Rogue, Wizard) which allows them to (in theory) get to max level. Only your vet players will know that that's only half true (max level is actually 95, House of Thule only allows you to get to 90 so that means you can get to max level for HoT but not the real max level which requires the purchase of the Veil of Alaris expansion)


Character slots aren't really that important. For the most part, EQ is still time intensive enough that you're unlikely to get the altitis itch until you've taken one character a good distance. I'm speaking from experience here as a notorious alter.


The alternate ability limitation can be huge. Longtime players returning are going to find themselves unable to earn AA if they're over 1000 already (which, to be honest, was a pretty easy barrier to break if you played regularly). However, for new players, it's great (better if you're silver). The first 250 AA points is usually laying groundwork. By the time you get to 1000, you should have all of the 'key' abilities for your class plus a handful of 'fun' or 'utility' based ones (for Wizards and Druids, things like Teleport Bind and Secondary Recall, as an example. For Paladins and Shadowknights, the class mounts are 'fun' things to have). From that point on, you're strengthening what you do well or adding things you can do decently. Again, awesome for new players, not so good for folks who might've played extensively in the past.


Bag slots aren't that big a deal (though initially I thought differently). Many veteran players run around with bags full of rarely used items (potions, clickies, masks, etc) for "just in case" purposes. Heck, I have a warrior who's a Wood Elf and she carries a Cobalt bracer (effect: shrink). She has little to no use for it (Wood Elves are small enough as it is) but 'just in case' there's no Shaman (I don't group with Beastlords so they don't count) available and someone needs a shrink (and didn't camp the shrink wand or doesn't have shrink potions), she can do it. My rogues and bards run around with a 10-slot bag full of illusion masks and potions. Streamlining things makes the bag restriction not restricting at all. Wouldn't be a problem at all for a new player.


The plat cap isn't a big deal unless you happen to sell something for a lot. EQ's voice service is still a bug ridden mess so them giving it away isn't a 'deal'. All in all, it seems they designed their free to play model in an attempt to attract new people to the game while locking the old people who might return out. I don't think that's a good idea and it doesn't make good business sense to exclude the people who might be the most heavily invested in your game. Give them a taste of the spark that got them to play (and keep playing) so long ago, and they'd be natural converts. Lock them out and exclude them from the spark and you just get lookie loos who can point out all the game's flaws in all of its periods (things that new players wouldn't really notice).



Anyhow, if anyone is looking to play, send me a pm. My characters are all on the Cazic Thule server and you can find us (if we're on) with this command: /who all "rendition" (just like that, quotation marks and all)


It's still a great game and you can see exactly how much WoW took from it (that's fact, not opinion) to refine and streamline and what EQ took from WoW and tried to hamfist into their game. :p

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i loved eq when i first started playing *they didn't call it evercrack for no reason* but i gave it up to play wow.....Now that its f2p i might give it a shot again.....i play starwars also so don't want to pay for a third one but eq always had a place in my heart as my first mmorpg
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<blockquote data-ipsquote="" class="ipsQuote" data-ipsquote-username="alden" data-cite="alden" data-ipsquote-contentapp="forums" data-ipsquote-contenttype="forums" data-ipsquote-contentid="33550" data-ipsquote-contentclass="forums_Topic"><div>i loved eq when i first started playing *they didn't call it evercrack for no reason* but i gave it up to play wow.....Now that its f2p i might give it a shot again.....i play starwars also so don't want to pay for a third one but eq always had a place in my heart as my first mmorpg</div></blockquote><p> </p><p> Yeah, the main reason I went back too. EQ was my third MMO (Meridian59 and UO were the first two) but the only one that really got its hooks in me. I'm seeing a lot of folks that I haven't seen in 10 years too! I'm sorely tempted to go gold on a few accounts and just go romp somewhere with folks who are the same level as my LOWEST level primary characters (65).</p>
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