[Lan note: Guest post by SH., one of the SCRIBE team]
EverQuest, or Evercrack as I still nostalgically call it, sucked me in over the summer between my 9th and 10th grade years of school. I spent night after night playing my Wood Elf Druid, Ceiroh, and my alt Vah Shir Beastmaster, Vaahrisk. And I mean night after night quite literally. I would wake up around 5pm and sleep around 8am, subsisting mostly on microwavable Kraft Mac & Cheese. I don’t know why my parents put up with it. However, they didn’t really have to fight me on it too hard. At some point I simply got bored. I left EQ for my friends and school. And retrospectively, I vowed never to go back.
I now find myself in an odd position. I’m now taking part in the SCRIBE research team, dedicated to research in games with broad social strokes, like Second Life, and currently World of Warcraft. I remember thinking to myself, “it’s okay, WoW’s cartoony aesthetic doesn’t appeal to you like EQ’s staunch realism. You won’t be interested.” And at first, it worked. I got enough of a feel to get done what I needed to. But this semester I’m taking on a bigger part, and interacting in the actual study.
So I did it. At the suggestion of my employers, I jumped in and created a Gnome (whom I just might’ve named Ceiroh after my EQ main), meeting Gnomish toe to Gnomish toe with a newly minted research assistant and a much more WoW-experienced researcher.
It was surprising, all the little things I had to learn. I bumbled around the first few quests, engaging in my far-too-old EQ knowledge banks to whelming effect. I would be helping my group (oh right, they’re called parties…) with whatever they were doing, not realizing that I hadn’t actually accepted that quest yet. The little things came up a lot for a while: “What button can I press to switch between targets? How do I autofollow?”
But as I got the hang of it, I realized how much Blizzard has really made a game of this. EQ was a very unique flavor of gaming at the time; like comparing schnozberries to oranges. But between my almost decade-old EQ knowledge and my quite robust (if I do say so myself) general gaming knowledge, I was fully in control of my character’s actions within the hour, easily keeping up with my SCRIBE buddies.
The other thing I was impressed with was the quests themselves. In EQ the enemies you fought were quest-independent. But in WoW, you might see an army of Gnomes atop mechanical ostriches. You can’t fight them by merely approaching and attacking. But if you follow the starting quest to them, you’ll find an animated and sometimes voiced scene preceding a truly epic battle. And I was only level 5 or so.
Don’t be mistaken, I have mirage memories of epic giant battles and nostalgic nights spent leveling in EQ. But I get the hype now, fully. As far as “from here on out” goes, here’s to having fun, but keeping some distance, because I’m pretty sure WoW could suck me right back through the looking glass.