While we did attempt to contact SOE for an interview to see if we could find out anything new -- or even old -- about EQOA, it failed to materialize. As a wonderful consolation prize, however, this week we'll hear from three players who have extensive experience in the game. So let's hit this column running and equip our +2 Ears of Paying Attention!
I started online gaming way back in the dark ages of the early '90s, back when 2400 baud modems were fast. In those ancient days, the only games were called MUDs (or MUSH or MOO). I played those for several years. I never had a PC capable of running EverQuest or similar titles from the late '90s and '00s. What I did have was a PlayStation and then PlayStation 2.
When I first heard about EQOA, I immediately signed up for the beta program. To my surprise, I was eventually let in, and SOE sent us all a disk. At this point, I had to go find a network adapter. It took a little bit, but one was acquired and into the world of EQOA I went. The beta was interesting and where I started to meet a few online friends that I still chat with daily through IM. We reached only the level of 20 during beta due to limitations in time. I can remember running in camps killing skeletal dogs that conned yellow and goblins that were yellow or red.
Skip forward just a month or two and EQOA released to the general public. I immediately picked up a copy along with a USB keyboard and started on my adventure on the Diren Hold server. I met back up with a buddy from the beta. We eventually formed a guild called The Order of the Sleepless Knights. There were many weekend nights with groups at various camps around the world of EQOA.
One of us, Dambro, had the brilliant idea to start an alt guild of all shorties. I believe this was during Frontiers when CMs came out. We named the guild Vertically Challenged and it took off! We set a few limits on the guild: You had to be a short race (Gnome, Dwarf or Halfling) and couldn't be above level 20. We were a fearless bunch of shorties that would take on areas designed for level 30+ groups, and we would win. It was always quite a sight seeing 20 or more shorties running through dungeons and destroying the inhabitants.
Over the course of a month of so, several of our members even put together our own quest line. They staged characters throughout the world that we would interact with. The story progressed over time, and eventually the bad, evil Shadow Knight was revealed (I think level 30). Every member of the guild would challenge him to a duel one after the other. The SK did not heal between fights. Slowly, the shorties whittled him down, one at a time, and prevailed.
There were a lot of great memories from that game. Since moving on from EQOA, I have had the great pleasure of maintaining friendships with many members of the two guilds I belonged to. We have had adventures in various other MMOs together since our days in EQOA. Every one of us still fondly looks back at EQOA and wishes some company would attempt to re-capture what EQOA found years ago.
First off I just want to say that you made a very interesting article on EQOA! As I read through it, a lot of memories popped up in my head that to this day put a smile on my face. I believe you managed to sum up alot of the highlights EQOA has been through on its timeline. I am also impressed that you brought up the fact that the PAL (European) servers were closed in 2006.
I myself was an old-school player. I started playing EQOA on the European server Stonewatcher a couple of weeks after it came out on the PS2 in 2003. In my journey through EQOA, I made a lot of friends; I stayed up many late nights just to help people out. I had so many fun times, and I truly fell in love with the game. I had never seen this kind of design in a game before. The dedication the EQOA developers and gamemasters put into this game is really inspiring!
To date, I have never seen a game with the same "spirit" as EQOA had. In my opinion, the most special thing about EQOA is the community. Playing EQOA is like living in a small town; people know each other well, and sometimes you can log in to the game to have a nice chat, do some quests, or just hang out.
But as population slowly died out due to lack of support, the game was put down. I stayed true till the end and had to watch all my hard work and effort and a lot of very nice people get lost in time with the servers. It was a real hit in the face to be honest.
However, I pressed on and ordered a NTSC PS2 from the U.S. to join the community on the Hodstock server. As I live in Norway, I had to work my way between the technical differences between PAL and NTSC.
I tried to get some of my beloved friends to do the same -- some did, some did not. Coming from a very low populated server, I was amazed at the numbers on the U.S. servers. I could go back to a fresh start, and I met so many new friends.
I also volunteered to be a guide on the U.S. servers. I was a guide for about one year and met a lot of people on all servers, ran fun events, and shared exclusive in-game items. I believe I made alot of people happy during my time as a "mini-gamemaster!"
Untill recently, my account was no longer active. The numbers are dropping on the U.S. servers, and they have been for a while. I can see the same symptoms on the U.S. servers as in EU. Still, the last time I was logged in (about a month and a half ago), there were still people playing actively on a daily basis.
I am so glad you took the time to write about EQOA. It is nice to see some attention being drawn to the game again.
The blog How Not To Game recently posted a fascinating recap of one of the most notorious EQOA griefers in the business. His (her?) name was Door, and he became a legend for his terrifying tactics:
That wraps it up for our time with EverQuest Online Adventures! Tune in next week for a very special interview about one of this column's previous titles!
Door trained. And he trained well.
If you're not familiar with the term, in EQOA at least, training was the art of getting a mob's attention without using any abilities on it, dragging it toward a group of players, and causing it to have a severe change of heart near that group's healer (read: suddenly beating the magical snot out of said healer).
If you checked the Who window and saw Door was in the vicinity, your breath caught in your chest. You'd tell your tank to wait while you scanned the horizon looking for the scoundrel and his incredible train of mobs that he was sure to be dragging toward some poor unsuspecting group (which could, of course, be your own group). It usually ended much more unfortunately if you only noticed Door as you saw him running past your group moments before the sand worm would come and wallop you to death.
When not clawing his eyes out at the atrocious state of general chat channels, Justin "Syp" Olivetti pulls out his history textbook for a lecture or two on the good ol' days of MMOs in The Game Archaeologist. You can contact him via email at email@example.com or through his gaming blog, Bio Break.