The Dark Side of Nostalgia

I’ve been spending time on a nostalgia trip in Everquest, reliving my origins as a high-elf enchanter from Felwithe with red hair. The hair, I have to say, isn’t fabulous yet. It’s barely hair at all, and only sort of red. it was the best I could do with the 1999-vintage character models which allow for zero customization, just about 6-8 choices of face.

But up until Monday, mostly the nostalgia was good. Sunday there was one thing: Someone at the orc hill in Greater Faydark advertised in OOC (out of character) chat as needing more. I responded with a tell with my level and class (I think it was 5 chanter at the time). I get an invite and accept. I arrive at their camp about 10 to 15 seconds later only to find that I’ve been kicked from the group. A couple of tells asking what was up get no reply.

This is the dark side of nostalgia. I didn’t make muster for some reason, or there was a conflict, or a favorite, and I’m on the outs.

I eventually got into another group in the same area, and after a chaotic start things settled down and I dinged 6.

Then came Monday. Groups didn’t seem forthcoming in GFay, so I got a sow from a friendly shammy got a mail quest from Kelethin for Freeport and set off for the Butcherblock Docks.

By the way, Chuck Norris doesn’t take the boat from Butcherblock to Freeport, he walks.

I just though you should know that.

I am not Chuck Norris, so I took the boat. Of course, while waiting for it, I broke out the fishing pole and fished up several seaweedy sandals. Fun times. Then when the boat showed, I promptly fell off the dock and in consequence, missed the boat.

The good news it the boats run very frequently now. There’s no hour long wait for the next one. It’s 15 minutes. I am careful to not fall off the next time, and we zone into the Ocean of Tears and begin waterskiing.

Really, the boat is that fast now. it seems like a hydroplane, not a sailing ship. But the slow boat was not exactly tolerable.

This creates a visual curiousity. The game sends my client updates on the positions of other toons in my area (in this case on the boat) roughly once every two seconds. In between these times, the client tries to figure out where the other avatars are by applying inertia and gravity – the toon will stay where it is, or continue on its course, and will fall when appropriate.

What the client doesn’t do is apply the motion of the ship to the passengers on it. Let that sink in a minute.

******

Yes, the other passengers of the ship keep sliding off the back of the ship and falling into the water, as far as my view of them is concerned. They then reset to the deck of the ship and slide off again. And again. And again.

They are spraying out the backside of the ship like some sort of Soylent Green rocket fuel.

Ok, that part wasn’t nostalgia. I’ve never seen that before.

*****

I got to Freeport and everything is different. This zone, The Commonlands, and the Desert of Ro have all been redone. In NRo and EC, the plan has stayed the same, more or less, but the look updated. Not so in Freeport. There are only two zones now, East and West Freeport, with North Freeport apparently mostly merged into West Freeport. All the elements are there, but they seem to me to have been somewhat rearranged. There’s the Ashen Order, but it’s nowhere near the Stage that somehow was associated with Quellious the Tranquil. However, I didn’t find this just yet. Instead, it was lunch time and I logged out.

When I came back from lunch I found the mail delivery guy, and I also found that the mail pouches were NORENT, and had evaporated during my offtime. Uhh, I remember that now….

So off I go into NRo and find a group. We start at the edge of the desert proper, but that’s a bit too easy so we push forward a bit. Things get hairy when a monk trains a few madmen through us. Oh, yes, I remember that. Hostile, competetive behavior. If anything, the years have increased this, since all the carebears have gone off to other games that prevent this sort of things. Games such as, well, almost any other game, except for EVE Online. Another game I’ve been playing a lot of lately.

Just what does that say about me?

Well, I run to the EF zone and escape death. I come back and things go well for a while. Then a pull of one snake turns into a pull of 6 snakes, and I don’t have enough mana to mez them all. We wipe. And I have another jolt of memory. I have forgotten to bind in Freeport, and now I’m being asked to revive in Greater Faydark. Wow, I’ve just committed a classic EQ blunder. More nostalgia, but it isn’t the good kind.

I assuage the pain by first running a bunch of mail quests: Akanon, Felwithe, Kaladim and BB docks all to Felwithe for a nice bit of change and modest experience. I also stop in Kaladim to turn in a bunch of Crushbone belts for more items (I can use them but they are good money) and experience.

I turn them in in Kelethin and get the mail for Freeport again. Go to the docks, don’t fall off, laugh at the boats human-jet-propulsion, get off the boat, BIND RIGHT NOW, deliver the mail and go look for a group.

There is no group forthcoming. While I’m soloing, a world-wide announcement comes up: the guild Twisted Legion has defeated Nagafen. On the seventh day after the server has started.

I begin to remember why I stopped playing Everquest.

There following was an interesting discussion on global chat. Nobody from Twisted Legion participates. There are a variety of claims. First, that this was the sort of thing that killed the previous progression servers. Next, that this is a voting server, and one can frustrate “them” by simply leveling to 30 within 90 days and voting against progression. Furthermore, the claim is made that Vox and Naggy aren’t hard, and that a few players should be able to ninja in and get a kill.

I really would like to understand that last statement better. I have faced one of these dragons exactly once, on my monk, whom Lady Vox used as a sort of human yo-yo, alternately summoning him and fearing him to run away. And then we wiped.

I don’t really think that we knew what we were doing at the time, and I would very much like to know better. How is this possible? What sort of gear and tactics are used? How can I solo Vox?

Because, it must be admitted, I’m kind of jealous. I’d like to do something that is outrageously cool, though I tend to the creative rather than the insomniac no-life kind of coolness. But throwing down with my posse in the attempt accomplish something is an experience I treasure. Like what we did to buy the high-level guildhall with Shards of Glory a smallish and somewhat casual guild.

Since I took that screenshot, Vox, Phinney and Inny have fallen also. There is a claim on the forums that TL leapfrogged another guild that was killing its way through the giants defending Vox, and trained them. Did I say something about hyper-competitive behavior?

Further research indicates that mage pets seem to be the key to this whole thing, buffing them up, and giving them better weapons, etc., they can tank much better than any player character. This is the game we are playing.

I log off, have dinner and play Eve for a while afterwards. When reds show up and ruin my ratting, I log off and go back to Everquest. I try in EC and trigger some more unpleasant memories. This time the memories of just how much swarming and social aggro there is among the wild animals of the Commonlands. I’ve got the bruises and deaths to show it. I group with a wizard for a little while, but instead of just sitting down at Orc 2 and killing stuff, he keeps running off, checking on other camps. He doesn’t say for what, and while he’s gone I’m steamrollered by two kodiaks and a spider, I think it was. He disbands me when I say I was killed. Apparently I’m incompetent.

No other groups are to be had. It’s late, I’m tired, and I’m pressing. Due to a strange interaction between XFire and Everquest, I have to either have no voice chat with Karaya, or have my mike always on. I choose the latter, and Karaya seems quite amused by my, erm, forceful exhalations. I think I died five times last night. But I still have level 7.

So that’s the dark side of Everquest – hyper-competitiveness in the form of kill and camp-stealing. Bad groups, and poor communication skills. The sense that one wrong move and the game slaps you, and so do the other players. Feeling like you are behind the curve one week after launch. I’ve paid for a subscription though, at least for a while.

I really, really want a piece of Vox. I’m going to have to find a guild, though.

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