EverQuest Finally Starts to Roleplay.

… or so I thought.

Verant finally decided to put up a “Roleplaying Perferred” server. Its got a few rules over and above the regular server and a semi-complicated alignment system with exp penalties for grouping with the wrong sort of people and of course the infamous “Trivial Loot Code”. Most of these rules are well and good, and I think outline a roleplaying system quite nicely. However…

Arguably, one of the best roleplaying game systems ever created came out of TSR in the form of its many versions of Dungeons and Dragons. Over the years, I’ve played a few of these and one thing remained constant: TSR would put out book after book outlining spells, equipment, lands, history, classes and all the nit-picky goodness, but never in any of its myriad of books does it tell you HOW to roleplay, it leaves that to the player.

The difference between EQ and D&D? Never in D&D would you create a character named “Mystik Al`dude” and sit in one place killing a single monster over and over. Not once while playing D&D did anyone ever say “Explore? Why don’t we just wait for this kobold to respawn and gang rape him? Its easier.”

I logged onto the Firiona Vie server after having let it sit a couple of days live. Partly this was because I didn’t want to run into the first day issues of 300 people trying to kill the same 12 moss snakes. I sat at the character creation screen for a long time (you only get one character on this server) trying to decide who I wanted to play and why. I quickly bypassed all the characters I regularly play on other servers. I wanted this to be new. So finally I ended on a Dark Elf Shadowknight named Dvain.

My first impression? Too many people running. When you go into town in your normal life, or even in a D&D session, you don’t run at top speed. I put on walk and began to stroll. People zinging by me at a full run, flailing weapons about. Don’t these people have any manners? Put the swords away when there is nothing to fight, no danger. After about 5 minutes of horrible talk and worse names, I had to turn off OOC, Shout, and Auction, and PC Names (so they don’t show over people’s heads). Ahhh… much better.

I wandered around and spoke with my guildmasters, they don’t respect me, and I am humbled by their willingness to openly hate me as a tribute to our dark god. They gave me some chores to do, so I spent time cleaning the floors and other such things until they decided I was worthy to begin my path as a shadowknight. I gladly accepted these new duties and headed out into the city proper.

I met quite a number of other adventurers, a few talkative fishermen, but also about ten times as many people zinging by at full speed in a hurry to do something. Finally I made my way out in Nektulos Forest. I stretched for a bit, then drew my sword and began looking for the beasts who held the items I sought.. fire beetles!

I’m as curious as any lad, and after finding a few of my prey, I realized I was further from town that I had ever been. And I liked it. I had heard stories from some others about a human city, I even saw the guards of Neriak killing a few of them. So I decided to seek it out.

After that I had quite a few adventures. I met some other roaming dark elves and some humans, and a few other odd races. I found the city of Freeport where they tolerate my kind, and even a brother guild of shadowknights who were willing to assist me in my dark ways.

Mostly I was disappointed. Not in the game. After two years I still find it fun to play this game in almost any form. I’m disappointed in many of the players. It seems, from my experience so far, that about 90% of dark elves have chosen to roleplay as the brooding silent type who seeks power and wealth. Many of the humans seemed to be that way as well. With so many ways to roleplay a character, its odd that so many choose the exact same way to play.

At the end of the night, after being trained in much of the ways of adventure and entrusted to advance to the 5th level of skill, I returned to Neriak, pulled up a stool in the Blind Fish, popped a few silver on the bar to start a tab, and began to share my tales with the other patrons… no one. Well, not entirely. I had two people come in and ask me what the hell I was doing justing sitting around and not “playing”. They seemed frustrated when I asked them, “Playing what?” And one guy, bless his soul, who actually sat and listened as I told him the story of my adventure to Freeport.

As I told him I was turning in for the night, he jumped out of his seat, looked at me with a gleem in his eye and whispered, “I’ve got to see this Freeport.” He smiled, and walked out of the pub.

There may be hope yet.

The Next Game.

Currently I play Everquest. I used to play Ultima Online. I tried to play Asheron’s Call. I beta tested Anarchy Online. I never considered World War II Online. And I’m currently beta testing Dark Age of Camelot.

But what has me really excited these days is City of Heroes.

Most people who are willing to look beyond the minor inconveniences of most games will tell you they play them because they like the fantasy setting. They wanted to hurl a fireball, or draw sword on a dragon. Me, I always wanted to fight crime.

I’ve been reading comic books since before I could even understand the words. I’ve got 15 long boxes of comics (soon to appear on Ebay) of what I have collected over the years. With every page I read, I dreamed myself into Batman’s cowl, I wore the Green Lantern’s ring, I fired bullets while wearing the Punisher’s boots, and every now and then I’d save the world all while wearing a silly looking costume and proud to be wearing it.

There are lots of games on the market. And lots more slowly heading towards it. Of all of them, this is the one I hope for most. This is the game I drool at the thought of playing.

Yesterday they released a “gameplay” demo. Not really much of gameplay, but it does show the in game graphics and some of the interface, and character creation. I am in awe.

This is the game I want to play. I just hope I can survive until Summer of 2002 to do it.

I fear Hate, but I hate Fear.

Last night I lead my first “break” of the zone known as the Plane of Fear in EverQuest. And now I understand the above quote from an old friend.

It refers to two alternate planes in EverQuest: Hate and Fear.

Hate is, by far, a cakewalk. You zone in to a spot that is somewhat safe and, most importantly, defendable. In the days before people thought up all the different strategies for Hate, they used to zone in, and huddle together waiting for something to notice you. Then if you survived the first onslaught, you started slowly bringing the rest of the zone to you in a somewhat orderly fashion. However, since the plane has existed for quite some time, people now zone in, run along the walls to a safer camp and pretty much do as they please. Its almost smooth as clockwork.

Fear, on the other hand, is a bitch. You don’t zone into a somewhat safe spot, you zone into a shitstorm. You don’t sit and wait for something to notice you, it hits you on the way in. Now, to offset this incredibly annoying way to be greeted into the zone, Verant did make it so any schmuck level 46 and above can just walk right in, whereas Hate requires a wizard to teleport groups up. Sadly, this doesn’t make things easier. Because if one member of your raid party forgets to go into Anonymous or Roleplay mode, which hides your location from others in player queries, the word will get out that a Fear raid is happening, and all the schmucks level 46 and up will start heading over.

After almost 4 hours last night we had managed only to kill one denizen of the Plane of Fear. One. About 20 of us had died, and in the end, a few of them lost their experience permanently since we didn’t get to their corpses in time to resurrect them.

I fear Hate, but I hate Fear.

Those are words to live by.

19 March 2001

Just Talking
Sometimes it just feels good to put things on paper, so to speak.
When I write here, even though I am fairly sure that no one is reading it, it still feels better once I put things here. Get them said, in a manner of speaking.
It’s almost 8 AM here in the city of Atlanta.. Nope, not up early.. up late. 🙂
Finally reached a goal last night that I have had for a long time. Over a year in fact. I made 50th level in EverQuest with my first character.
Of course, its largely meaningless now since Verant made the level cap 60 a while back.
On a good note though, I just sent out an email for a job that I would like to have. Not going to jinx it by talking too much about it. Just, if you read this page, think good thoughts for me.

23 February 2001

The Devil’s Advocate
In this world, there lies a place for the devil and his advocate.
In my own life I have often played the part of the devil’s advocate in discussions. Sometimes it is done to point someone at a flaw that they do not see. Other times it is done just to force the person to show that they have actually thought of everything.
There are people who are good at being the devil’s advocate. They know when their job is done, or when they simply just aren’t getting through and further arguing is pointless.
Some, however, are not good at it. They turn simple flaw exposing into nay-saying. They extend the argument and drag it out if only to say “It’s not going to work. Can’t you see that?”, even when they no longer can show exactly why.
My patience for nay-sayers is thin.
I admit that sometimes I can be blinded when someone is telling me, and more importantly showing me where my ideas won’t work. But when someone who doesn’t know me at all, and has not bothered to speak to me about the issue goes out in public shouting at the top of his lungs that I am going to fail, it hurts. And when they refuse to listen to me and keep shouting that I will fail, not that I might fail but that failure is a forgone conclusion, I get angry. And as Dr. Banner said to Mr. McGee, “Don’t make me angry, you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”
The specific case here is with EverQuest, game that I love. I am finally stepping up and leading a raid of one of the Alternate Planes, The Plane of Air (or Sky). I have spoken to a great many people about this zone, and of all the ways to do it. But in the end I decided that while I would keep their advice in mind, I wanted to actually try the zone from front to back and maybe incorporate a little winging it. See, the major thing is, Verant, the game designers, intended this zone to be done with a team of 24 people. this is evident by the fact that when you clear any part of the zone, you get 24 keys to the next part. Now, people have found ways around this, and it is how most people do their raids. I decided that the first rule of my raids would be to limit it to 24 people. One thing I did require was that I wanted 4 clerics, one for each group. Beyond that, I didn’t care who came, I would just build the groups as best I could and we would give it a wack.
One of the people who signed up then proceeded to tell me that we should cancel it, or kick people out and get other people (people who couldn’t be bothered to volunteer and sign up). I told him no, explained my goals with the raid and invited him not to come should he have problems with those goals.
At this point, I would have expected him to either shut up and come along, or shut up and walk away. Instead he continued to explain to me how I would fail if I didn’t listen to him, all the while neither saying if he was still coming, or leaving. He hinted with a “Maybe I won’t go” kind of line but didn’t say he wouldn’t go.
I’ll be the first to admit, my first responce to him was harsh, but only because instead of talking to me in private, he posted all of his doubts in public (I find this to be a cowardly tactic). But the continued nay-saying, insisting that we would fail pushed.
I hate losing my cool.
In the end, all I can say is that people play this game for many reasons. And there are hundreds of ways to achieve even very similar goals. I acknowledge that in others, and I take offence when they refuse to acknowledge that in me.
As for EQ in general. Comments from a good friend today coupled with some feelings of my own have lead me to a long awaited decision…
No, I’m not quitting. As long as its fun, I won’t quit. But the time has come to focus both my time inside EQ and without. I’ll pick a few days a week that will be EQ days, and everything else will be up for grabs.
I leave you with this… This Time of Year by Better Than Ezra.
Well, there’s a feeling in the air
Just like a Friday afternoon.
Yeah, you can go there if you want
Though it fades too soon.
So go on, let it be.
If there’s a feeling coming over me,
Seems like it’s always understood this time of year.
Well, I know there’s a reason to change.
Well, I know there’s a time for us.
You think about the good times
And you live with all the bad.
You can feel it in the air,
Feeling right this time of year.
Well, there’s a football in the air,
Across a leaf blown field.
Yeah, and there’s your first car on the road,
And the girl you’d steal.
So go on with yourself
If there’s a feeling that there’s something else.
Seems like it’s always understood
This time of year.
Well, I know there’s a reason to change.
Well, I know there’s a time for us.
You think about the good times
And you live with all the bad.
You can feel it in the air,
Feeling right this time of year.
Well, there’s a feeling in the air
Just like a Friday afternoon.
Yeah, you can go there if you want
Though it fades too soon.
So go on, let it be.
If there’s a feeling coming over me,
Seems like it’s always understood this time of year.
Well, I know there’s a reason to change.
Well, I know there’s a time for us.
You think about the good times
And you live with all the bad.
You can feel it in the air,
Feeling right this time of year.

25 January 2001

Not The End
Where do I begin?
I no longer work at Norfolk Southern. I got while the gettin’ was good. And good riddance. I will certainly miss the people that I worked with, but I will not miss the work that we were doing. You can only slam your head into a brick wall so many times before people can no longer convince you that its a GOOD idea.
I don’t know what I am doing with my life, but I’m not worried.
Love doesn’t suck. Complete reversal from my last plan update, although I still want out of this city.
And I am still addicted to EverQuest.
I was asked to write again. To write anything. So this is something.
I’ll do more later. I promise.

23 January 2000

Boy… its been a long long weekend. I finally decided that in EverQuest, as much as I want to roleplay, I realize that some flaws in game design force you not to.
Flaw in question… items. Some items are dropped only by a single creature… and then not dropped every time. And with rougly 100 or so people all wanting the same item, sometimes you have to get there first and camp it. Therefore destroying all roleplaying.
But that is exactly what I did this weekend. Friday/Saturday and Saturday/Sunday I was up into 8am trying to get one item. And I still don’t have it. So I continue to camp.
In other news… nothing is going on. I still work the same job, and still don’t have a girlfriend (hard to believe after I explained how I spent my weekend, eh? ;p ), but with the advent of EverQuest, I have finally found time for one thing… writing. I had been putting off doing any creative writing down to the doodle level (i.e. – I’m in a meeting at work that doesn’t hold my interest so I doodle out lyrics and things), but playing EQ and roleplaying EQ has sparked me. I’ve been working on pages here dedicated to the characters I play.. and now I’m even getting into organizing events for the guild I’m in, and for the server that I play on.
Anyhooble… I’m off to play more of my EverCrack. See ya soon.

12 January 2000

I’m still alive… and still .plan’ing.
Mostly all I do these days is play EverQuest, so that’s really about all I tend to talk about. That’s why I have dedicated 2 pages to it, and am working on a third.
Outside of EQ though, I still do have the random thought, and I’ve jotted a few down. I’ll get to fleshing them out and putting them up here when I get the chance.
Also outside of EQ, I downloaded the Quake source code, and pour over that when I can. Its very interesting actually. John Carmack is a god. He throws out more (and better) code than I’ll probably ever write.
But anyway… off to play more EQ.

2 January 1900

Well.. Y2K came and went like the main page said. I worked a little on friday December 31st for the GMT rollover, then remained on call for the rest of the night. Nothing happened. In fact, they even paged me at 5:30am to tell me not to bother coming in at 7am because everything was fine.
My New Year’s was a little less than I thought it would be. There was a party I was supposed to go to, but I didn’t know exactly where it was. I tried to call and page people there to get directions, but to no avail. I ended up dropping by the apartment of a good friend who was home with the flu and passed the midnight mark with little hoopla.
Perhaps next year, when the millenium really ends, will be better.
I meant to do an update before the big non-event, but never found the time. Too much work and too much EverQuest absorbed all my time.
So what do I think is in store for the world in 2000?
Same old, same old.
I really don’t think much will change in the least.
Unless of course, the world really did end, and this is heaven… or is it hell? Or maybe somewhere in between…

3 December 1999

Many moons ago, I used to play Ultima Online. And it sucked. Unless you cheated in some way shape or form, or were a college student who could play 18 hours a day, you could barely get anywhere.
Which of course means that I cheated, killed other players, and did all the evil stuff to get better characters since I couldn’t play more than a dozen hours a week. Eventually I got so bored of being able to do anything without repercussions that I cancelled the account and moved on.
Last week I finally broke down and bought EverQuest.
Game should be called EverCrack. I’m still trying to find a way to mainline it.
For one, the game is beautiful. Full 3D graphics that rival some of the best shooters on the market… for now. UT and Q3A will blow it away. Second, you can actually play. You can talk to people, do real quests, form parties, the NPCs are cool in that if you help some people other people will hate you, help some people too much and the others will try to kill you on site. Its just cool, cool, cool.
Even cooler when you don’t cheat. Whereas in UO, if you didn’t “cheat” in some way, you ended up making hats for 3 weeks so you could buy a sword only to have a rat kill you when you step outside of town.
With actual classes and races (UO everyone is a human with just about the same chance in every skill as everyone else), EQ provides a rich world to explore and be a part of. Its just… well… cool.
Anyway… I’m been playing EQ alot, this is why there haven’t been many updates. But this weekend, I promise I’ll find a few hours and do more on the web page. I actually have some stuff to post… and since I’ll probably be putting up something dedicated to EQ, I’ll have a reason to update more often.
In other news… I work with computers, so the next whole month is going to suck ass like nobody’s business. Y2K will be the biggest non-event computerwise that has ever been. All the power will remain on, no nukes will fire, but all the grocery stores will still be out of bread and milk… nothing can be done about that. Oh… and there will be stupid people who fight. I predict a large scale riot that begins in Times Square and engulfs New York City.
Anyhooble… I’m off to play EQ now. More tomorrow.