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EverQuest: What You Really Get From an Online Game 1134

Posted by michael
from the step-one-is-admitting-you're-an-addict dept.
dsanfte writes "If you're reading this, you may be considering picking up EverQuest. Most likely you've heard from friends how great this "addictive" game is, how in-depth it can become, and how much fun you'll have playing it. As usual, however, you aren't getting the straight deal. So before you pick up that EverQuest box, let me tell you the other side of that euphoric story." The rest of Sanftenberg's excellent article is below.

Everquest is a game centered on rewarding you for how much time you put into it. This is the core design philosophy behind the game, since they charge you by the month and make more money the longer you stick around. What they don't tell you is that taking your money is about all they're interested in. They care little for player complaints, and less about player suggestions and requests. They're in this to milk you for all you're worth, and that's the first thing you have to know.

The second thing you have to know is that the game stops being fun. By that time though, you're so "addicted" to the game, you don't realize it. The game becomes a source of frustration and anger instead of a source of entertainment and fun. It becomes a chore. It becomes a job. You plod away at the keyboard, obsessed and consumed with getting that new item, or finishing that last quest, and while so consumed you begin to hate the game. Vehemently. It's a game that goes on forever, and one that you can never win.

After playing the game for a while, you'll start conversing with other players, and you'll see the one thing all players have in common is that they all hate Sony - the designers of Everquest. (It should be noted that Verant, the original development company, has been absorbed into Sony Online Entertainment -- so will be referred to as Sony for simplicity) This is baffling at first glance, because they send Sony $12.95 every month for a form of supposedly voluntary entertainment, which they enjoy, and yet they despise them! Look a little deeper though, and you'll see that most people who dislike Sony are the ones who no longer have fun playing Everquest. They aren't getting what they want out of the game anymore, and they look to Sony, being the source of all changes and improvements/breakdowns in the game, as the cause. Right or wrong, this is the state of affairs; the consumers hate the company providing them with a service that they think they enjoy.

Let's go back to the part about Sony not caring about their customers. Recently, they changed their GM (Game Master) Customer Service system such that, instead of one GM being assigned to each game server permanently to handle problems, there would instead be a smaller pool of GMs roaming all the servers infrequently. When enough player problems on a server requiring GM help cropped up (around 30), a GM would be sent to handle the petitions (problems) one at a time until finished, and move on to the next server. This had the effect of increasing wait times on getting petitions answered from a few hours to many hours, or even several days by many accounts. This was introduced supposedly as a cost-cutting measure, which would improve efficiency. They'd have to hire less GMs if they pooled them up into a roving band, instead of assigning one for each server. In actuality, while this may have made things more efficient on Sony's side, the players were left waiting for days until that magic number was reached where a GM would log on to the server to help them out.

On Sony's website, there is a link to a feature called Developer's Corner. Over the two years this has been up and running, the person in charge of Customer Relations at Sony, Alan "Absor" VanCouvering, has turned it from a section dedicated to answering player questions, into a simple Press Release box with little useful information. Where there would be several updates per day, now there are perhaps one or two per week. Answers to player questions are few, and replies to player emails are fewer. Since most answers to customer questions are now handled on specific, "class" (ranger, paladin, monk, etc) message boards by the developers themselves (once in a blue moon of course), one is left wondering what Absor is paid to do. Twiddle his thumbs perhaps? The world may never know.

This leads up to a lack of will at Sony to address their customers with any sort of respect. Often, sudden "game-changing" features will be added or removed in a patch, with little or no explanation given to the players, and no recourse for the players themselves other than to submit comments to the black hole at the Dev Corner. Other changes can render a class' or items' abilities weaker, slower, or even drastically altered or removed from the game. Again, the players have no say in the matter officially, and rarely get these changes reversed through massive online signature petitions. It is quite common now for these sorts of changes to come completely unannounced and unexplained, leaving the players themselves to bug test, figure out what happened, what is wrong, and leaving them again to wander off to the Dev Board asking what the purpose of the change was. Far too often in this process, the sheer discoordination and incompetence at Sony is revealed, as the changes happened accidentally or were not intended to occur in the manner they did. The bottom line being, you can go to bed one night with a great character and items, and wake up in the morning to find all that has changed; leaving you holding your member and your opinions mattering less than a pig's squeals in a slaughterhouse.

The final aspect of the will at Sony to disassociate from the customers is how they handle disputes between players. In the Everquest game world, you can find yourself in competition with other players for the ability to play the game. Yes, in EQ, you compete with other players for the right to kill the monsters. It's massive artificial scarcity. If you aren't online early enough, or if you don't move fast enough, you lose. MOBs (as monsters are known) spawn at predictable intervals; and the design of the game itself, added onto the times that Sony resets its servers for patches, means that if you don't live in Europe or on the east coast, you and your guild (an organization of players) are provided with less game content than any other time zone or area. You get to have "fun" as another guild of players in another part of the world kills a mob required to advance in the game while you're in bed, or at work, and nothing can be done about it. Often, players will do this purposefully to keep you from killing other, stronger mobs, so they can keep that part of the game to themselves. The GMs will not help you, the Guides (volunteer player GMs) will tell you they can't do anything (and that's true, they are impotent for the most part), and you and the 60 people in your guild are left holding your collective members for six months while you wait for said east-coast unemployed or European guild to take pity on you and let you have the mob. Fat chance.

Sony of course doesn't mind these situations in the slightest; because you see, this is their high-end game. Where in the lower levels you'll spend your time getting great items by fighting mobs that take seconds to prepare for and a minute to kill, at the high end you are required to spend multiple hours (sometimes up to twelve hours) with a "raid force" of 60 or more people just killing useless, annoying mobs (which drop little or no loot) put there as obstacles. Finally, when you reach the boss mob, the fight may last perhaps 30 minutes or more. This 30 minutes of combat is certainly not fun, as all you do is point your character at a mob and press a single button to auto-attack. Many melee-classes go watch TV for the duration of the fight. Your clerics (usually eight or more) cast the same healing spell in a long healing chain to keep your warrior alive, and your wizards all cast the same damaging spells for the 30 minutes of the fight. This is to kill a single mob (in this case, named Aten Ha Ra), which drops four items for your guild.

These situations are 'lovingly' referred to by the players as timesinks; gameplay traps intended to waste your time and keep you playing longer. There are hundreds of them; others incredibly longer than simply getting to a mob. Several quests required to advance in the game require you to spend 100+ hours sitting in single locations, killing hundreds of mobs in 12-hour stretches for a "rare drop", such as ore in the ssraeshza mines, which you use to create "bane" weapons; or the shissar commanders for key pieces; with which to fight the boss mob of the zone. Unlike the other parts of the game, these timesinks are required for advancement, and there is no getting around them unless you wish to stop playing. This is of course not fun at all, but as said above, by this time you'll have long stopped having fun with EQ. You'll do it anyway though, as thousands of others have, because you, like them, are addicted. The quest to kill the shissar Emperor of Ssraeshza is one of the most vicious timesinks in the entire game, but it is merely one example among dozens. To even reach this area of the game requires months of non-stop raiding with your guild; sometimes up to a year of raiding. Only then will you be powerful enough to enter.

Expansions to the game are put out about once per year. These cost around $30 to buy when released, and are required to visit new zones, gain new levels, and so forth. For anyone just entering the game now to be on equal footing with others, they will need to buy the original game and all four expansions at retail price. Of course, no expansion yet released by Sony has been complete when it hit the shelves. Often the final zone in the expansion would be left unfinished, or in such a state of bugginess that it was unplayable. Other zones will be incomplete or have bad pathing for the mobs. Items and monsters will not be "balanced" for difficulty, and players will sometimes stumble onto great equipment for their characters, only to have Sony later decide it is too powerful, and "nerf" it. When an item is nerfed, it's reduced in effectiveness or power, often to the point of absurdity, or it simply stops entering the game world. This rewards players who gun through the new expansion as fast as possible to get the upper hand over their competition on the server, and punishes anyone who cannot put 12+ hours of EQing in per day. The problems with expansions highlight another aspect of Sony which is decidedly underwhelming: their playtesting (or lack thereof). Many bugs in the new expansions are left for players to discover themselves and work around; fixes are often delayed by as much as a week while Sony tries to find a solution. In Everquest, you pay to be a bug tester, and receive no feedback or acknowledgement that any bugs you report are fixed, or even looked at, unless its fix shows up in a terse (bi-) weekly patch message. Most bugs are left unfixed due to their overwhelming numbers.

Class balancing is an on-going project of Sony to try to make sure each class (warrior, cleric, wizard, ranger, etc) has its own niche, and feels useful and meaningful in the game world. They seem oblivious to the fact that items are just as much a part of the game as classes though, and it seems they let their zone (game area) developers run wild with items, creating more work for the developers. If you're keeping a tally, the Mrylokar's Dagger in NToV was one of them. The Mistwalker from Lady Vox was another. These weapons were both nerfed because they were too powerful, and made the classes who could use them much too strong versus the mobs of the time. There is no feedback to the players on what the "visions" for the classes are supposed to be (beyond the vague three-line descriptions in the manual), and no way to for the players to venture a guess of what might be "too powerful" and in line to be nerfed next. Playing EQ is a lot like playing in a casino; you can see your winnings vanish in the blink of an eye out of sheer bad luck. It is not a game where you can ever feel secure.

All this pales in comparison to player harassment, of course. From sexual-orientation insults to other players spamming your chat bar, EQ has it all. There are other forms of harassment too: Often when in competition with other guilds (as you will find yourself quite often if you play long enough), you will see them employ tactics such as "training" mobs onto you to keep you away from the contested mob encounter or zone. A "train" is typically a large number of powerful mobs (10-20), which the other guild will gather up from the zone and dump onto your raid in order to kill you. The GMs will again do nothing about this, nor will the Guides, unless they are there to witness it. Being that there are typically only a half-dozen GM/Guides on a server of 2500+ players at any given time, and that trains are completely unpredictable and random, there is of course almost no way for them to witness these events. While server logs exist that can prove this malicious player harassment occurred, they will usually refuse to even take a look, because it constitutes work, and simply dismiss the problem outright. Your guild is then left holding their collective members once again. Do you see the pattern forming here?

Everquest is a game full of people who want to "win" and "be the best" at any cost. This includes griefing you and your guild, making your gameplay miserable. Why not simply quit then, you ask? If the game isn't fun and sucks this badly, why would anyone play it? Well, because they are addicted. They are addicted to the mobs, to the loot, and to the social atmosphere with other people in their guilds. They have invested so much time in these characters (often hundreds of days of play time, sometimes more time than they spend at their jobs), that they can't will themselves to give it up. They play on instead, hoping things will get better, and nursing a great and deep hatred for Sony and the game itself. If you play long enough, you will see this as the universal truth. People who quit are viewed as giving up on their guilds; they are ridiculed, denounced, and hated. There is massive peer pressure to keep playing. Often people you thought were your friends in the game were simply using you to advance, or improve their characters. Online relationships between people in EQ are fickle, and are only good as long as everyone's getting a good dose of the drug (loot, advancement in the game, and good social relations with their guild).

Perhaps now you've begun to see the other side of EQ: The buggier side, the darker side; the side of despair and anger, fear and frustration. The game will absorb your life if you let it, while the days and weeks melt away into oblivion. I have barely touched on the repetitive gameplay you must endure to reach the top levels of the game: killing mob after mob, hundreds upon hundreds in an endless non-challenging stream to gain experience. I have not said anything about linkdeath (losing your connection) from Sony network problems, or server crashes where you lose any experience or items recently attained (and for which you are not compensated by customer service). I have not said anything about the Legends(TM) subscriptions, where you get to pay $40/month to get the customer service that you should be receiving anyway. There are many other problems with this game that I did not go into here. Before you get into EQ, realize what you're jumping into. Look before you leap.

David Sanftenberg
aka Dolalin Bonewielder
62 Necromancer of Lanys T`Vyl

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EverQuest: What You Really Get From an Online Game

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  • Gotta say it... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xerithane (13482) <xerithane@@@nerdfarm...org> on Friday December 27, 2002 @01:32PM (#4967533) Homepage Journal
    Everquest is a game full of people who want to "win" and "be the best" at any cost.

    Because they can't be in real life. Yay for delusions of grandeur!
  • by Faggot (614416) <choadsNO@SPAMgay.com> on Friday December 27, 2002 @01:34PM (#4967549) Homepage
    Gaming addiction is not a behavior of gamers... it's a behavior of addicts. The games just happen to be there for the addict's mind to latch onto.

    Blaming particular games (particularly in a manner which reeks of personal bitterness) for addictions is like blaming alcohol for alcoholism, or blaming heroin for junkies: it's a foil. The real ones to blame are the ones who are addicted.
  • Everquest (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mut3 (634239) on Friday December 27, 2002 @01:36PM (#4967570)
    This game does have some interesting ideas, but still, 12.95 a month for a game that would require 1000+ hrs to make it even some what fun, is a waste of people's time.
  • by Jonny 290 (260890) <brojames.ductape@net> on Friday December 27, 2002 @01:36PM (#4967571) Homepage
    You signed up for a monthly-subscription massively multiplayer online RPG with thousands upon thousands of 50-hour-a-week players, and you expected it to be anything BESIDES a level treadmill and venue for inter-class bitching?
  • It's a game. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by antis0c (133550) on Friday December 27, 2002 @01:38PM (#4967589)
    I'm not going to try and lecture you or come up with some kind of witty retort.

    Simply stated:

    It's a video game. If it pisses you off, turn off the computer, go outside and take a walk.
  • by HBI (604924) <kparadine&gmail,com> on Friday December 27, 2002 @01:40PM (#4967612) Homepage Journal
    ...all have this in common. You are at the mercy of whomever develops it. MMORPGs run by large commercial outfits are particularly able to lose sight of the target, which is player satisfaction.

    Still, one cannot blame Sony entirely. Players have unreasonable expectations based upon their unique point of view. They want a 'fun' game. The makers of the game are concerned about bottom line, and game balance, in that order.

    I run a free mud so i have a bit of perspective on this. I used to play muds, but it's like crack. So I just code lightly for those who are still addicted and try to run a sort of 'halfway house'.
  • by Maxwell_E (16977) on Friday December 27, 2002 @01:42PM (#4967634)
    Have been the sort of, if you don't like it, don't play it!
    I think it's this sort of defensive vitriolic reply that defeats the point of the article. That being, if you are considering playing EQ than you should probably save your money for something else. Albeit an obvious point. I myself found the game to be unfun after about 6 months running into many of the same problems. What did I do? Quit. I mean really, you EQ fan boys should just move along from this thread, it's not intended for you as I see it.
  • Skinner Box Theory (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aggrazel (13616) <aggrazel@gmail.com> on Friday December 27, 2002 @01:44PM (#4967648) Journal
    The most startling fact about EverQuest is how well it conforms to the Skinner Box model, making one believe that Verant specifically designed their product around principles to make it more addictive than it would be otherwise.

    Here [nickyee.com] is an interesting read on that subject.

    Honestly, if the company is exploiting psychological theory in order to make their game addictive on purpose, its not much different from cigarette companies using nicotine or cola companies using caffiene IMO.

    Bad? Maybe... I've heard of a lot of otherwise well adjusted people playing EQ to thier own detriment. But then, ultimately it is the responsibility of the individual to take care of themselves.
  • by Cirrius (304487) on Friday December 27, 2002 @01:46PM (#4967671)
    And that's the market the original game designers targeted. Addicts keep the money coming in! Maybe Verant's ceo came from Philip Morris...
  • by Linux_ho (205887) on Friday December 27, 2002 @01:51PM (#4967724) Homepage
    By the time they've realized the hate for the game, they're addicted. So this is not an "easy" solution.

    Um, did I miss the part where video games can now directly stimulate your pleasure centers? Addiction is not the same as laziness.

    Either you like the game, or you don't. Exert some control over how you spend your time instead of passively absorbing whatever mindless pseudo-entertainment comes your way with the least effort. Turn off Everquest. Turn off the TV while you're at it. Go outside, take a walk. Go hiking, or skiing, make a friend, get some exercise. Get a dog from the pound, and take it for a long walk every day. Do something that gives you something to remember when you get old.
  • by Emmettfish (573105) on Friday December 27, 2002 @01:51PM (#4967729) Homepage
    It's a commercial game, released and maintained by a commercial company in order to make money. Corporations exist to make and process money, in order to return value to their shareholders and/or investors.

    Every commercial game produced is released in order to make money. The reality of this seems to have escaped the author of this review.

    As a consumer, you have a number of choices. You can choose to buy the game and play it, or you can choose to buy the game and not play it. You can also choose not to buy the game, as well.

    The problem that the author is trying to address has nothing to do with Everquest; It has everything to do with the perception of value. He wants you to know what you're getting into, and he obviously feels that EverQuest is not worth the money.

    Some games are addictive; The only difference is that you're not spending $x every month to play Tetris. Saying that 'you can't win' doesn't make a whole lot of sense. There are a lot of games you can't win; I own several of them.

    Spy Hunter (the arcade game) was a great game. It cost twenty-five cents, and there's no way to win. It goes on forever. If you want to play Spy Hunter as long as you want to play EverQuest, it'll cost a hell of a lot more, unless you have crazy-mad Spy Hunter skills.

    EverQuest offers a flat monthly rate. Some people pay something like $10 an hour for this, because they only play a couple hours a month. Some people are logged in sixteen hours a day. From an entertainment point of view, the people who are 'addicted to the game' are actually getting more value for their money. Read that again. Addicted to EverQuest: Hopeless gamer, or thifty shopper?

    Maybe they don't update their site as often as they should. Are site updates part of the cost, or can anyone access them? If you're not paying for it, it does not apply to the 'value for money' problem. Poor updates, inefficient game masters... If you don't want to deal with this, don't buy the game, I suppose. On the other hand, I wouldn't rush out and buy a game that claims 'Kick-Ass Support!' and 'EXTREME GAME-MASTERING.' Game companies in the future will likely feel the same way, and just keep putting hot chicks on the boxes in the store.

    All in all, I do appreciate the honesty of the rant, and I do believe that many people may not understand the value proposition of EverQuest before they buy the game and start playing. On the other hand, caveat emptor, baby!

    Emmett Plant [mailto]
    CEO, Xiph.org Foundation [xiph.org]

  • by Chibi Merrow (226057) <`mrmerrow' `at' `monkeyinfinity.net'> on Friday December 27, 2002 @01:53PM (#4967754) Homepage Journal
    If Sony can get away with anally raping its customers on EQ, what makes you think they won't do the same and worse on a game where thousands will play simply because it's a Star Wars game?
    No, my friend, there will be no happiness in SWG. The same morons that worked on EQ work on SWG... It's silly to expect anything good out of them.
  • Re:What A Joke (Score:4, Insightful)

    by danheskett (178529) <danheskett@NospAM.gmail.com> on Friday December 27, 2002 @01:53PM (#4967755)
    No need to malign our culture.
    I'd like to believe that! Maybe I am overreacting, but you really think this is just an isolated incident? How long until we have a parents group suing because their kids characters got killed - "It hurts their self esteem!", how long until parents sue to shut it down? How long until ex-players sue for the same reasons listed in this article?

    Hopefully you are right. Past experiences though tend to lead me to think this is way larger than Everquest. This article is all about "addiction". Like there is a chemical dependency or something!

    I'd like to follow up on this in +1 year, and see if we have some juicy lawsuits about this kinda of thing - "Sony ruined my life" type of stuff.
  • by Mr Guy (547690) on Friday December 27, 2002 @01:54PM (#4967759) Journal
    It's addictive because it's fun.

    Whether or not the author wants to admit it, it is VERY MUCH like the BEST parts of a casino, without the chance of losing your entire paycheck (well you could, but at 12.95 per account that's alot of accounts!)

    Whether or not he gets 'screwed' by changes he doesn't like, the reason he plays is because he LIKES that moment when you THINK you will all die, but you win in the end.

    He LIKES the teamwork.

    He LIKES the feeling of progress when you waste 100+ hours but finally get that last brick of whatever.

    He LIKES clicking combine and have an item appear on the end of the cursor or a text message show up saying, "You have gotten better at Tailoring (250)".

    He LIKES talking to friends.

    He LIKES planning things, following through, and tasting victory.

    He LIKES seeing: "You have gained experience! Welcome to level 62"

    He LIKES going back to places he's been and feeling incredibly powerful, like Sauron blowing through the enemy hordes.

    He LIKES see his armor get better, his skills go up, and being able to kill bigger things.

    He LIKES all of that, despite bad timing keeping him from getting certain mobs, bad luck keeping him from getting certain drops, bad planning preventing him from keeping things that are too strong for the game design, bad customer service to explain why his uber sword of necro dick licking had to be taken from him.

    Most of all, he likes all of that despite his bad perspective that convinces him someone OWES him something. It's a game and it's addictive because it lets you set your own goals and work with other people to achieve them.

    Maybe his problem is just that he needs to work on how he sets his goals.
  • by Lumpish Scholar (17107) on Friday December 27, 2002 @01:55PM (#4967765) Homepage Journal
    Some of what you said is EQ specific. Some is coporate greed and indifference.

    At the moment, The Sims Online has just jumped from beta to production, and is "the hot thing" for Electronic Arts. I've got to believe indifference will be minimized at this point; maybe greed, too. The "mob" and "timekiller" stuff doesn't seem to apply.

    Should EQers move from pikes to pizza, from dungeons to decorating, swords to Sims?

    And the big question for Sony, since any individual player has time for at most one online addiction: How many will switch?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 27, 2002 @01:55PM (#4967768)
    Blaming particular games (particularly in a manner which reeks of personal bitterness) for addictions is like blaming alcohol for alcoholism, or blaming heroin for junkies: it's a foil. The real ones to blame are the ones who are addicted.

    As far as i can tell, the story being discussed was not meant to blame Sony for creating an addictive game, it was to blame Sony for creating a poor addiction. It seemed more aimed at convincing current addicts to realize they aren't having fun, and warn new customers away from the game, than to actually alter or condemn the behavior of Sony itself. (Of course, it did seem *very* keen on condemning Sony, but i think that was more meant to be a secondary effect of the article. Altering Sony's behavior, on the other hand, the author appears to have given up on.)

    While, yes, of course, it is addictive personalities and addictive substances that are to *blame* for putting persons like Mr. Sanftenberg into situations like this, it is of note that addictive personalities have a wide variety of addictions to choose from, and there is nothing wrong with attempting to steer potential addicts toward more pleasant things to waste their time and effort on than, say, Everquest, even if said steering is done in something of a rather bitter manner. Semianonymous gay sex [adultfriendfinder.com], as you suggest, is i think a far more rewarding time sinkhole than MMORPGs.

    -- super ugly ultraman
  • Other games (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mestoph (620399) on Friday December 27, 2002 @01:57PM (#4967780)
    The current game on the market is Dark Age of Camelot [camelotherald.com], and at this time (although this may change, but hopefully not) it costs half as much at 6 UKP per month, or 5 UKP if you pay for longer in one go. I have not experienced any abuse to date off players. Mainly because the GM's really do stamp on people and ban the accounts when sent evidence of such activities. Any of the above problems are also stamped on, like dragging monsters to other people etc. Players views are taken into account, they welcome logs of encounters for play balance etc. And hopefully they will continue to do so, and not fall into the problems that EQ did. And To be honest if a company wasn't there to make a profit it wouldn't be a company, but a organization.
  • by Gyorg_Lavode (520114) on Friday December 27, 2002 @02:00PM (#4967808)
    Star Wars Galaxies is another Verant game. It's made by the company who makes Everquest. Star Wars Galaxies will employ the same methods of keeping subscribers, (Requirements for social interaction, no 'end', huge time sinks to progress), as Everquest does.

    And more than likely those who run Star Wars Galaxies will employ more money making schemes. The maintainers of everquest have added pay services such as a premium server, name changes for money, server transfers for money, and such. While there is a strong resistance to this from Everquest players as it goes against the precident of the game, there will be no such precident in Star Wars Galaxies. I think we can expect to see a situation in where, not only haveing more time but also having more money allows you to advance beyond other players.

  • by NetDrain (167337) <slashdot at theblight dot net> on Friday December 27, 2002 @02:00PM (#4967813) Homepage
    Gaming addiction is not a behavior of gamers... it's a behavior of addicts.

    I have to disagree. I'm a engineer at Cal Poly, and I've seen many of my otherwise perfectly healthy and competent fellow classmates spend hours and hours gunning each other down in Counterstrike, and putting off important essays until 5am, when they're due in a few hours. I've even created a rivalry between two of my friends who didn't even know each other, competing for the highest score in Crack Attack [aluminumangel.org]. One's girlfriend threatened me with death because all he did anymore was try to beat the other friend's score.

    What I'm trying to say is that there aren't predefined sets of personality, where you can say "This person will become and addict, and oh, this guy over here, he won't be." Anyone can find themselves taking any activity too seriously, -especially- when there is competition involved. (and especially males, for we can focus single-mindedly on one thing and have the competitive streak to boot ; )

    Anyway, I quit games. I was sick of playing for hours and hours to get nowhere and have done nothing; all my peers lament their lack of lives and wasted hours, but every night they're back at it again.
    ------
  • by Blackwulf (34848) on Friday December 27, 2002 @02:06PM (#4967856) Homepage
    I'm not gonna sit here and "defend" Sony or Verant or Absor or any of them, even though I have had the pleasure of meeting with them personally and sharing beers with them. This article is obviously by a bitter gamer who wants to smear EQ's reputation through the mud, and that's fine. This is the age of the Internet, and it's his right to do that.

    I left the Guide program due to hardware issues about a year ago - after about two years of service. This was back when we had our own GM on the server, but it was difficult to get in touch with him during his work hours. Why? Because of kids. Because he had to clean up after scammers and recover lost items...He was insanely busy for his entire shift, and he wouldn't really be on server all that much.

    When I was a Guide, I can safely say that out of every 20 petitions I fielded, I was able to help about 17 or 18 of them. I was able to help the majority of the players I conversed with during my shift. But you don't hear about them. You don't hear about the people that had the volunteer CS staff help them in a quick and expedient manner. They don't come out and say "Thank you." You only heat about people like the author of this article, who feels he has been wronged. The ones that say that we didn't care.

    And then, there are the people who petition and won't let you help them. Even if you do exactly what they ask, they will still curse you out and and call you incompetent. Or, if you inquire more information about the problem, they demand that you stop asking questions and just fix it. (As if we had access to the source code and could just recompile it on the fly...) Yes, I know. This is reality. This is how I was treated working in Retail, too. But luckily, people like this were very, very, VERY few and far between.

    We did care about every situation, every petition. I was a Guide on one of the two Teams-PvP servers, so not only did we have to deal with training and kill stealing, but we also had corpse campers, bind rushers, and immortal healing. Some of these were no-nos, and some of these (like immortal healing, where someone outside of PvP range would heal someone who's killing you) were deemed "Okay" by Sony. Did I agree with the ruling? Not really, but there's really not much Guides could do. The author of the article is right - we pretty much had our hands and feet tied. We were the eyes and ears of the GM's - nothing more. We could unstick players from walls and document warnings for behavior if they were dumb enough to still do it while we were staring at them. (We could be invisible.)

    I don't know how things are now inside the program, but I can say that when I was in it, we actually were helping many people and people enjoyed their time in EQ because of the ways we helped them. There are far more of those type of people than the type of people like the author of this article. However, everybody that will reply to my message here will be the bitter types that will tell me that I'm just a Sony PR person that believes the kool-aid fed to me by Michelle Butler for two years. (Just you watch, some AC will just cut and paste that exact sentence, or change a word or two.) :>

    I stopped playing EverQuest because all my friends did - and there was no reason to stick around. However, we're all waiting for Star Wars: Galaxies. And you guessed it, it's by the same guys who made EQ.

    For the bitter ones, you might want to stay away from all online games, because it will just be "Wash, Rinse, Repeat" for you.

    If you're still open to an enjoyable experience, we're in for one helluva ride.

    I think the moral of this whole topic is: EQ in moderation is awesome. But don't let yourself get bitter. That only brings you down.
  • by Gyorg_Lavode (520114) on Friday December 27, 2002 @02:08PM (#4967867)
    It's been descussed many times if Everquest is addictive. Whats come out of the discussions is that there are two types of addictiveness, chemical and phychological. Chemical addictiveness is like heroin or caffein. Phychological addictiveness are things such as sex, being liked, or chocolate. While chemical addictions are definately more physical and obvious, phychological addictions can be just as addictive.

    There are many people that cannot do without a certain thing even though they are in no chemical process attached to it. Such is Everquest. To tell someone just to 'stop' is like telling a kleptomaniac to stop stealing or an alcoholic to stop drinking. It can be done but it is not easy and there will always be the draw to go back to it

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 27, 2002 @02:09PM (#4967874)
    I don't think the poster was saying "EVERQUEST = EVIL, it makes people addicted to video games omg" No. He was simply saying that because video gamers are addicted to video games (a truism) they cannot stop playing a shitty game. Simple.
  • by wwest4 (183559) on Friday December 27, 2002 @02:09PM (#4967880)
    People are not always to blame for their own addictions. People can be driven to drink, or accidentally addicted to morphine by a negligent doctor, or have addictive personalities due to existing mental illness.

    Always blaming the victim of an addiction is an example of the fundamental attribution error. [psybox.com]
  • by Mynn (209621) on Friday December 27, 2002 @02:10PM (#4967890)
    Don't forget the expansion coming out, Kingdom of Stone, the phone version coming out, the single player version coming out, EQ2, and of course, EQ for the PS2.

    For someone who has never had to kick a habit, like drugs, drinking, sex, smoking, etc ... it's easy to stand there and laugh at those of us who have been there and tell us simply to "stop" or "don't".

  • by JanneM (7445) on Friday December 27, 2002 @02:11PM (#4967892) Homepage
    This is _exactly_ how many games work to motivate the player. You do something, get a small reward, do something, get a reward ad infinitum.

    What is more, the frustrations he describes about going through hoards of lower level monsterw with no reward, and frequent boss monsters with little or no reward is exactly in line with it as well. Far from lessening the players motivation, it strengthens it. Other aspects that seem taken straight from classical or instumental conditioning are monsters that only occasionally bear a reward (a variation of the above), periodic resupply of opportunities for rewards (rather than having them there at all times), and the importance of guilds (as social approval is the strongest reward we have available).

    This is not true just for Everquest and its ilk; even the lowly Tetris and Minesweeper uses these mechanisms to hook their players.

    Now, as the writer has found out, motivation does _not_ have to imply happiness (there's even some solid neurophysiological backing for this). And why would Sony care if you are happy, as long as you are motivated anyhow?

    So is this like cigarettes? Well, no. There is a strong motivational component in tobacco addiction, but there is a physiological component as well that is missing here. Also, in the end, cigarrettes do cause cancer and other lung-related diseases, while playing Everquest is no more dangerous than any kind of computer use (obesity and heart condition due to incufficient exercize and so on).
  • by Gondola (189182) on Friday December 27, 2002 @02:15PM (#4967925)
    The original article is a troll. The writer vastly exaggerates the addiction, the problems, and the state of the game.

    I've played the game since three months after release and I still enjoy it. I've gotten good customer service. I don't obsess over it; I take breaks.

    The ones with addiction problems who hate the game yet can't stop -- they have problems that don't stem from EverQuest. EverQuest addiction is merely a symptom of an obsessive personality or other psychological issues.
  • by override11 (516715) <cpeterson@gts.gaineycorp.com> on Friday December 27, 2002 @02:19PM (#4967956) Homepage
    People are not always to blame for their own addictions

    Oh no, every person should be held accountable for their actions. Its the people who believe that they are not to blame that place lawsuits like 'I spilled my coffee on my lap, it burns, I'm going to sue you!'

    BAH!! Come on, buck up to mistakes and take it like a man.

    Dont mod this post down, It wasnt me, it was temporary insanity, really!!
  • by aut0mator (620930) on Friday December 27, 2002 @02:20PM (#4967967)
    As to that, you don't see many, let's say, paper addicts, or pencil addicts, or bread addicts. You get my point. Certain things are /designed/ to be addictive, and EQ is one of them. Granted the addicts are partially to blame, but to say heroin (and EQ) take no blame for the masses of addicts is simply wrong, for such is their inherent design.
  • by Psmylie (169236) on Friday December 27, 2002 @02:21PM (#4967979) Homepage
    While I've never played Everquest, I am familiar with obsessive\compulsive behavior (through my own experiences).
    The problem, I think, is that by the time a game like this stops being fun you have a huge time investment in it. Walking away from the game at that point would be difficult, because then it would feel like all those hours (or weeks, months, years) were wasted. Even if you are not having fun, I imagine that it feels like you have to keep playing simply to justify all the time you've already put into it.
    Of course, the sad thing is that this time is already "wasted", since there can never be a conclusion to these games. Since the only real reward of these games is the fun you have, then if it stops being fun you should stop playing. For a while, at least. Maybe it will be fun to play again if you stop for a few months.
    As an aside, I think Everquest addicts should stop playing EO and maybe start up a D&D (or other pen and paper based rpg) with their friends, to wean themselves away from it (sortof like methadone :). Pen & paper RPG's have several advantages over online, in that the players interact face to face, there is more room for creative input, more options for character development, and ultimately costs less. It still won't get you laid, though :)

  • by neoThoth (125081) on Friday December 27, 2002 @02:21PM (#4967980) Homepage
    I just got an xbox recently as a gift with the live subscription. Gaming has apparently taken on all types of new money making schemes. Microsoft (which has you pay a per year fee for server access) enforces a CC number for all accounts. even if they were a gift like mine was. This is to allow you to 'unlock' features in games. Want the extra outfit for your character ($5) please. There is a setting so that it's not automatic and I have the setting toggled so. I wouldn't be suprised if the 'more you pay' type mentatlity creeps into games more. They are probobly tired of seeing all those scammers on eBay making a mint off selling gold pieces (or whatever the currency for the game is), enhanced characters, etc.

    Once companies realize that adult gamers have little else to dispose their cash on you will probobly be able to start a lvl 80 character for the low low price of $24.99. After you've purchased the game and online subscription of course. Don't forget to get the extra cache of power weapons upgrades... only $4.99 this week...
  • by Quixadhal (45024) on Friday December 27, 2002 @02:24PM (#4967999) Homepage Journal
    You know, my initial thought was to respond to this in detail. I played EQ for some time, and eventually got bored with it and quit. Thus, the *GAME* is not any more addictive than any other recreational activity. Many, many people are far more "addicted" to television, sitting in front of the tube letting the hours melt away with absolutely nothing to show for it (and in fact, paying a monthly subscription to a cable company or satellite provider!).

    Why don't you go on about how these poor people are being mistreated by the television networks? Afterall, THEY have no say in what they get to watch either. Customer service never pays any attention to the television viewer, and certainly diputes amongst family members over what channel will be turned on are ignored. Why some kids will actually set the VCR up to tape a channel just to keep their sibling from watching something else! Artificial scarcity of resources and regular "spawns" of TV shows are commonplace here too.

    It's a game. It's a way to ignore reality for some amount of time so you don't become so depressed/angry at your situation/boss/President/etc, that you go postal. When it starts being more effort than fun, you stop playing it. If you can't do that, you have an addictive personality and need help. Be thankful you're only addicted to a $10/month game instead of crack or trips to the casino!

    Not every game needs to have a "win-state". The point of a mud (and EQ is nothing more than a DikuMUD with a graphics engine replacing the room engine) is to enjoy playing it... there often is no ultimate goal (well, for some it was becoming a builder... but you can't do that with Sony), other than to be more powerful than your neighbor. The main difference is that a graphical mud doesn't let you use your imagination the way a text game does. Try reading a book instead of watching a movie sometime, you might get the idea.
  • Re:What A Joke (Score:4, Insightful)

    by danheskett (178529) <danheskett@NospAM.gmail.com> on Friday December 27, 2002 @02:35PM (#4968103)
    If you want to stop, then stop. You did. And you are fine.

    If you want to play - for any reason - then play.

    Lets be adults though. You aren't a victim. You aren't being forced. You either like it enough to pay $13/mo for it, or not. You got to a point where no, you weren't. Okay, fine.

    I guess I don't see the problem. If you dont like the service, the game, etc then just quit. If you like it enough to put up with the bad, then play. Someone there is a crisis here. And I can't see it!
  • by HBI (604924) <kparadine&gmail,com> on Friday December 27, 2002 @02:47PM (#4968206) Homepage Journal

    I understood the premise you were offering. I am speaking from the perspective of the mud administrator. Let me describe a scenario to explain what I mean:

    Normal character progression is as follows:

    1. Create new character (Level 1, little skill)
    2. Progress quickly at first, then slowly (exponential rise in time required as levels increase)
    3. Achieve maximum (or near-maximum)level, then participate in playerkilling (PK) or guild activities

    Note that with your solution, we jump right to 3. Everyone is going to do that - it's easier. Particularly with a free mud, your only weapon against people who are harming the social strata of the mud is character elimination, and hence loss of all the time invested. If there is no time invested, you have no stick to beat them with. The social environment dissolves under the stress of assholes run amok.

  • by Gyorg_Lavode (520114) on Friday December 27, 2002 @02:49PM (#4968219)
    I think someone needs to point out the challenges facing the developers of Everquest. They have a world of 400,000 players with as many as 100,000+ simultanious spread across 30+ servers each with roughly 175 areas, 10,000+ MOBS, 16,000+ items, 2,000+ quests, 3000+ tradeskill recipes, and 300+ factions. (stats from Allakhazam's [allakhazam.com].) It is a world with an infinite number of complexities built on a framework that was set years ago.

    Any change in any part of the game has a signifigant chance of effecting multiple other parts of the game that no-one could predict. Players beat challenges with a speed that is awe-inspireing and demand more. Infact, the players do nothing but demand. ANY imbalance in the 15 classes causes thousands of complains. People get mad about the time that servers are patched, things spawning to fast and too slow. Things being too easy and too tough. Items entering the too fast or too slow. Players will use any method to win they can find whether legitimate or blatently exploitive. And then get mad when exploitive methods are removed.

    SoE (Sony online Entertainment) is trying to satisfy hundreds of thousands of people of different levels, different classes, different races, different play times, different lengths of play and different goals, and at the same time trying to keep the game sustainable for the future. You can satisfy all the people some of the time, or some of the people all the time, but never all the people all the time. And those unsatisfied will be as loud about it as they possibly can.

    I'm not trying to justify how SoE runs the game. I disagree with a lot that they do. They are by no means saints. But they DO face a daunting task.

  • by Zathrus (232140) on Friday December 27, 2002 @02:55PM (#4968273) Homepage
    I think we can expect to see a situation in where, not only haveing more time but also having more money allows you to advance beyond other players

    Oh no... yet another example of where time == money!

    Why does this perpetually surprise people? Even better, why do people always scream and moan about it? It's a game folks...

    And yes, I say this as someone who has a L60 Enchanter and a L55 Ranger in EQ. Both played by me from L1, not bought. I quit the game 9 months ago though, so I have a bit of perspective on it now.
  • by raehl (609729) <raehl311@nOSPam.yahoo.com> on Friday December 27, 2002 @03:01PM (#4968323) Homepage
    Is to give the players everything they want. Players are, by and large, whiney greedy bastards. They all say they want an environment where they have complete control and the best stuff, but the second you give that to them is the second they get bored out of their mind.
  • by g4dget (579145) on Friday December 27, 2002 @03:04PM (#4968345)
    The games just happen to be there for the addict's mind to latch onto.

    So? I may also get addicted to mathematics or chess playing. But those don't cost money, they aren't designed by a company with making money in mind, I can enjoy them for many years to come, and they are generally socially acceptable.

    Sanftenberg's point is that EQ has few of those desirable attributes. People seem to stop enjoying it quickly, and, unlike many other things I could choose to get addicted to, EQ was designed with the goal in mind of a steady revenue stream for Sony.

    Sanftenberg's analysis is cogent and relevant. It tells people: "don't get addicted to this particular game, it's not worth it". That's a lot more useful information than the platitudes you are giving us.

    The real ones to blame are the ones who are addicted.

    There is nobody to "blame". "Addiction", meaning compulsion to engage in a particular activity, doubtlessly has served some useful evolutionary purpose. We have other examples of that: obesity is caused by behaviors and physiologies that demonstrably are advantageous in some environments.

    If addiction causes problems, those problems are a product of personality and environment. Placing blame is futile--it won't fix the problem. The solution is to change the environment and/or redirect the addiction towards more useful purposes.

    Until we get more worthwhile MMPORGs, I recommend people redirect their addictions towards, say, Yahoo! multiplayer games [yahoo.com]: chess, word games, etc. It doesn't cost anything and it's socially acceptable. And you can chat, too.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 27, 2002 @03:14PM (#4968408)
    EverQuest is nothing more than a MUD with graphics slapped on. Hell, some of the socials are ripped straight from Merc. (Possibly DIKU. DIKU came a bit too early for me and I'm too lazy to go digging through the codebase at present. ;))

    That said, at least half the customer service complaints you'll hear are nothing more than bullshit. I've never had any problems when I played EverQuest. About the only 'issue' I had was when I lost my corpse inside a mountain because of a bug. It was 3 am on a Saturday morning. I had to log off until around 8 am until a Game Master was on.

    Sure, EverQuest is a pay-by-month game. However, Google for the price increase they had about a year ago. People whined like a small child seeing Ballmer dance. They didn't want to pay a measly dollar more a month, yet then they simultaneously complained when they didn't have a personal administrator to hold their hand and instantly respond whenever anything bad might have happened.

    As for actual game mechanics, I left because it was boring. Sony's determined to squeeze every last dollar out of the game and it shows. Levelling takes ages, tradeskills take ages.. (6+ hours farming no-experience monsters for components to smith, doing ten combines, and getting no skill increase. Repeatedly.)

    The end game is nothing more than a Monty Haul romp, where you attempt to get the 'uberest k-rad gear!' to show off to your friends.

    S'why I switched to Dark Age of Camelot. There, at least when you hit the high end game, you can treat it almost like an FPS. Log on every once in awhile and frag some bloody Hibernians. You can't do that with EQ, simply due to the maintainance time you need to spend on your character.

    EverCrack, though.. Man, you hit 60, and you did nothing but kill dragons and gods and everything else that should be able to step on you, creating a neat little spot on the ground. All for one or two pieces of gear, which'd sit in storage for six months while guilds would argue over who needs it more.

    Not to mention that the graphics, even with Luclin's new engine, are ass ugly. I'm not one to toss a game solely on graphics, but c'mon. EverQuest has nothing that the MUDs of old and present lack, other than graphics. The newer graphical MUDs blow EQ out of the water there. Camelot, for example, has little bits of grass and plants springing up everywhere. Ambient sounds out the arse. Trees that look like trees. It looks better, and is simply more immersive as a result.

    I must say, though, EQ is a great experiment in capitalism. You'd think it was written by a group of Ferengi - the only goal of EQ is, 'Acquire! Acquire!'

    Basically, if you're one of the loons out there who have played through ancient adventure games three hundred times, just so you can say you've collected every single item in a game, you'll have a great time with EverCrack.
  • by bitflip (49188) on Friday December 27, 2002 @03:17PM (#4968427)
    Everquest is a game full of people who want to "win" and "be the best" at any cost.

    Nah, the author is that kind of person. I don't play EQ, but a good chunk of my friends do. They don't seem interested in "winning" and "being the best." They are interested in improving their character, and spend a good chunk of time doing it, but life (for them) comes first.

    When we're all downstairs smoking, I never hear them whining about how tough it is, only happily planning their next session.

    Like so many other people here, I think the author should get a life so that his EQ "life" isn't so important to draw out this sort of vitriol.
  • by DoctorPepper (92269) on Friday December 27, 2002 @03:22PM (#4968477)
    ... With that whine!

    Jeeze! If you hate the game that freakin' much, unintstall it from your computer and go back to playing Frogger or something!
  • by V_drive (522339) on Friday December 27, 2002 @03:22PM (#4968478)
    I frequently see the anti-capitalist rant. "The companies don't care about me. They care only about making money!"

    When was the last time you bought something from Sony and gave them an extra $5 to help them out? No, you paid the minimum amount--just enough so that you could legally acquire what you were purchasing. Must be that you care only about keeping as much money as you possibly can. Your motives are selfish and greedy.

    Sure Sony doesn't love me. I'm okay with that. I don't love Sony. Every now and then, they offer a product or serivce I want for a price i like and we do business. That's where our relationship ends. They provide me no more than I pay for, and I pay for no more than they provide me.

    There are some exceptions--times when I've acted specifically to support a particular company. However, my efforts are primarily greedy because it's always a company I want to survive and grow, or a situation in which the company owner is a friend of mine.

    Love your family and friends and get it in return from them. Business is just business.
  • by Bryce (1842) on Friday December 27, 2002 @03:34PM (#4968543) Homepage

    If you really care about playing a good MMORPG, devote some time to one of the open source MMORPG projects like WorldForge. Or just teach yourself how to make good 3D models of game objects and put those out under the GPL for programmers to use. (The reason there aren't a lot of great high-end open source games out there for you is because there isn't enough great high-end art for the programmers.)

    If 1% of the Everquest addicts had put 1% of their dedication into helping create open source games, the situation today would be much better than it is. It probably seems like a lot more effort to help make a game than to simply play it, but in the end it can be much more rewarding in the sense of being a hobby/craft, instead of just a hobby/game. You still get the sense of seeing things improve, being part of a community, and building up a good reputation.

    The game industry hasn't quite reached the same point as other media, where the *only* way to make it big is to prostitute yourself to the corps - theoretically it should still be possible to make games via grassroots means. But not unless grassroots people (i.e. YOU) put some dedication into solving it.

    Also, computer games are actually *important*. Seriously. Look at the list of reasons why people are still using Windows - up in the #1 or #2 slot will often be seen, "No games". Yet ironically, many open source developers will scoff at game efforts, "The project will never fly", "It'd take too much time", "Open source can't work for games", "They should be coding it in [C|Python|Java|etc.]", et al. The plain fact is that there are not enough creative and skilled people making open source games.

    Open source games are particularly important, because unlike proprietary games, they have "longevity". This is due mostly to the fact that there are so few of them, to begin with, but also because of the intrinsic nature of open source. For examples, look at Hack, NetTrek, FreeCiv, etc. Games that originated a LONG time ago. A single good/big open source game can have a vast and long lasting benefit to the open source community.

    Many of the problems mentioned in the articles can be avoided via open source. Bugs can be fixed by anyone who can read source and has an afternoon or two to kill. If the people running the server aren't providing decent service, find someone else that's running a copy of the game - or set up a copy yourself just for you and your friends. If the game seems too long in the tool art-wise or feature-wise, well grab a copy of the content and/or code and start making patches.

    Anyway, unlike the problems of the RIAA, Globalism, suppression of freedoms in the US, etc. etc., this is a problem that YOU can _directly_ do something about to fix, without risking anything but some freetime.

    If you have a flair for art, create some good 3D meshes. If you can do photography, build a massive library of texture images. If you're good at making or performing music, or have a good voice, or just like to wander around in the wilderness with a microphone, then create sounds for games. If you can do code design, then come up with modules for game logic (like a perl module for simulating vegetation growth, or a C code for making snazzy spell effects, or a library to go with SDL). Design nifty looking GUI interfaces. Make maps of an imaginary world. Scan in your fantasy drawings and post on the web for 3D artists to use as sources.

    If you know none of this, well, at least you can (presumably) write. And it turns out that writing is the 100% MOST needed skill by most open source projects, games in particular. Write a paper summing up good ideas for certain game rules you've seen, and your thoughts on improving them. Invent a new race for a RPG and put in intricate detail into every aspect of it.

    Can't write? Well, likely you can read web pages and make lists. Find some topic of relevance to games and start building a table. Create a spreadsheet of different kinds of real-world flowers, with data about how they grow. Collect a database of riddles, sorted by difficulty. Invent a list of futuristic handguns. Build a solar system with details for each planet.

    The important thing here is to create reusable *components*. Games are *hard* to make. They take more time than you have yourself; more time then you and your clique of friends. (Well, except for dinky little arcade or card games, but of course those aren't what we're talking about here.) In order to make these big games, we need to leverage open source's strength of _modularity_. We as a community need to have lots of really good "bits" that someone can gather together in a year or two and turn into a good game. Or, hopefully, a bunch of people can take and turn into a bunch of different games.

    If you don't like working alone, no prob - there are still a bunch of game development projects/communities out there that you can join for feedback/help/encouragement/friendship/etc.

    Whatever you choose to do, please, PLEASE put it out explicitly under the GPL license (or BSD, or Public Domain). If you do, then open source game developers will be able to make use of it in their game efforts. (There is tons of content out there on the web right now, but most of it is unusable due to license issues.)

    So, next time you feel a sense of frustration over some proprietary, closed source game, that disempowers you from being able to fix it, grab Blender, or emacs, or Sodipodi, or Timidity, or whatever, and create something to help the game developers out there.

  • by schmink182 (540768) <schmink182.yahoo@com> on Friday December 27, 2002 @03:36PM (#4968549) Homepage
    For someone who has never had to kick a habit, like drugs, drinking, sex, smoking, etc ... it's easy to stand there and laugh at those of us who have been there and tell us simply to "stop" or "don't".

    I have a very addictive personality. I avoid drugs because I'm relatively certain I couldn't stop. The only games I play on the computer are ones like Freecell, Tetris, etc, for the same reason. I try not to criticize people who become addicted to things, but I think that if I can foresee an addiction than other people should be able to also.

    As for some advice, I think that the most effective way to kill an addiction is to stop yourself from being able to do it for a while. Cancel your credit card if you're addicted to EQ. Trust your money with someone else if you're addicted to cigarettes, so they can decide what you're allowed to buy. There is always a way to quit.

  • by susano_otter (123650) on Friday December 27, 2002 @03:40PM (#4968570) Homepage
    "Is your thinking irrational? No problem! Just think rationally instead!"

    I'm glad it worked for you, but when it comes to habits and addictions, rest assured that you're in the minority. Coming across all smug and superior only demonstrates a certain callous ignorance WRT alchoholism, or smoking, or EQ, or whatever. Your advice isn't simple, it's simplistic.
  • by martyn s (444964) on Friday December 27, 2002 @03:45PM (#4968595)
    "Even better, why do people always scream and moan about it?"

    First of all, I didn't hear anyone screaming or moaning. It was an intelligent article about the true nature of EQ. And yes, it's no surprise that most people are greedy, but despite most people's greediness, there is still such a thing as a product worth buying. People scream and moan, as you put it, in order to inform people that this game is built from the ground up just to suck time and money out of people, instead of, gasp, crazy idea, to be fun. Yes, games are supposed to be built from the ground up to be fun. The screaming and moaning is to inform people.

    And the difference is, this isn't just a bad game. Sometimes (too often) games are made that just aren't fun. But this game is designed deliberately to not be fun and to suck money out of people. This is why the games as a service business model sucks.
  • I remember this (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Blacklotuz (575879) on Friday December 27, 2002 @03:48PM (#4968611)
    I used to play EQ years ago and every single point made in this article was exactly how I felt every time I tried to quit. I quit and restarted a couple times and now im off the crack :-p tho I still have urges every now and then. I no longer buy MMORPGs until ive played the beta to make sure its not like EQ. Of the people I knew who played with me, some of which I still talk to, every single one of them felt this way too. The game is like a drug, without the part where you enjoy the high. RUN AWAY :-p
  • by techsoldaten (309296) on Friday December 27, 2002 @03:52PM (#4968632) Journal
    You know, between every two sets of beliefs is the truth.

    This response about the day-to-day duties of a Guide do nothing to address the complaints of the original poster. Customer service 101 says that the customer is always right; if you had been waiting days or weeks for someone to come along and fix a problem only to find out your problem may not get fixed right away, you might be combatitive too.

    The problem, more than being one of bugs or features, seems to be one of popularity. The game is designed to scale to accomodate a certain number of users, but there is no process in place to ensure all these people will find the game enjoyable.

    Most application developers have seen the diagram of the evolution of a bug, where it starts off as a tiny little thing and grows to be the size of Godzilla. The same thing, IMHO, is happening here with Everquest, and the problems are going to continue to grow until someone does the hard thing and fixes the prevalent issues that exist amongst high level gamers.

    As with software, there is a limit to how long a problem can remain unfixed before a user will cease using the program. This is a universal, and Sony will have to address the kinds of problems brought up in this thread if EQ is going to be around for the long run. You better bet that the competition is going to get going, and other companies are working on these issues...

    and will be getting them right!

    M

  • Re:Gotta say it... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cyranoVR (518628) <cyranoVR.gmail@com> on Friday December 27, 2002 @04:01PM (#4968694) Homepage Journal
    Well you were lucky. My friends read about gold/treasure equaling experience points and were like "woo! instant level 50 character." The DM would just have them stumble down a cave and happen upon a pile of dragon gold (said reptile already dead or easily dispensed with a wishing ring that happened to be in the loot). According to their reading of the rules, 250k GP in the dragon den would get you an instant lvl 50 cleric/assasin.

    I was never into this sort of thing, so I usually bailed halfway through the session. The kicker is that they never did anything interesting with these characters, things just degenerated and they sat around and giggle about how strong their characters were. No actual Role Playing!

    It was a real disappointment. I had more fun reading the books and imagining what was possible then actually playing. I wonder if anyone under the age of 30 actually plays D&D anymore?

    Fast foward to 2003, and a lot of online games are nothing BUT role playing. Plus you can find others with similar aspirations fairly quickly. The real waste of time is traditional RPGs IMHO.

    Otherwise, a lot of whining in that article. You are playing monthly, not by the hour so his complaints are a joke! THere are a lot of other online games out there (UO, Sims, SWG soon) so the author should just vote with his dollars like everyone else.

    Why does Slashdot keep posting these rants and calling it journalism? Argh, at least link to an article with a study about an EQ psychology/addiction study by a university or something, geez.
  • by Tork (68319) on Friday December 27, 2002 @04:17PM (#4968782)
    I think it's rather hypocritical the masses clustered around a web site devoted to News for Nerds would be so bold as to cast the first stone, saying EQ is the last refugee for misfits, asocial loners, best at "most days not in a gym" or whatever other snide comments that get mysteriously rated +5 Insightful or +5 Funny by the lemming mods so desperate to show they "get it!"

    I play EQ a lot, I'm in one of the more well known guilds [legacyofsteel.net], where I'm fortunate enough to have been vested with a certain notoriety to write publicly about the experience - one of the best perks to my position is discussing the game with a very large segment of the player base on an almost daily basis.

    First off, yes, of course, you do meet the freaks, but by and large, I truly love talking with the players - who quite generally strike me as normal, friendly and interesting. I see a very clear separation between the person at the keyboard and the character on the screen, even if they go by the same handle. I *do* believe elements of EQ are designed to encourage an addictive play style, regardless of what the content producers and Sony VP's state - but the same claim can be made of all RPG's, and as a business practice, those saying "Sony just wants you to play longer and spend more!" - thank you Capt Obvious.

    The overwhelming consensus is that we do hate Sony, VI is out of touch with its fan base and the game needs some major changes in countless areas - well, no shit. Slashdot's community hates the RIAA and MPAA, but enjoy the products they put out and continue to pay for those products on a regular basis - Pot, meet Kettle.

    In fact, replace EQ with LUG's, Perl Poetry, Case Mods, Hacking, Genealogy - you name it the flavor of the month - and any comment close to the misinformed jabs tossed out here would be considered offensive. Just as in those intellectual pursuits, an interest, enjoyment and (extreme) time commitment in playing EQ does not necessarily correspond to a community filled with social/personal defects deserving of scorn and ridicule. Rabid EQ players are also pro football, baseball and NASCAR athletes, some are doctors, lawyers, college professors and writers -extraordinary diversity has been my experience.

    EQ periodically holds Fan Faires across the country, with players gathering to attend a convention - these Fan Faires draw 1000's every year, yet inevitably someone latches in on and attacks attendees who go in costume, those who are over weight, those who aren't Hollywood beautiful - if those same people would set back for a moment, the larger picture emerging from those captured images is a vibrant and involved community. People are smiling, greeting, face to face for the first time, many others people by "just some game" - conversing about an extreme array of subjects, they are shaking hands, hugging, laughing and enjoying each other's company.

    Those same people, the ones having fun and making friends - those are your social misfits?

    -Tork

  • by 0x0d0a (568518) on Friday December 27, 2002 @04:25PM (#4968861) Journal
    ALL Online RPGs are like this.

    There are a couple of reasons to make multiplayer games. First, it's a cheap way to get good AI. Good AI is hard, and it's easy to slap a people in chairs.

    Second, there can be positive interaction, like chatting with friends. That can be good for the player experience.

    Third, and this is not insignificant, it's much easier to stop piracy if the player *must* log into a server to play.

    Okay. That pretty much sums up the pros of multiplayer gaming. Now for the cons.

    First, player interaction can be pretty negative. I think Penny Arcade said [penny-arcade.com]
    it best: "And those you encounter online are, almost as a rule, complete and utter cockmongers." Players will happily cheat, get angry and harass people, attack connections, etc, etc.

    Second, multiplayer games with a central server frequently have monthly fees.

    Third, single player games can be played...well, just about forever. If you loved X-COM, you can still sit down and play a good game of it. Players of the (much more recent) Weapons Factory Quake 2 mod are far more difficult to find.

    Fourth, a computer can lose and lose and lose, and doesn't care. Players generally like to win more than half the time, which doesn't work too well for competitive multiplayer games (and purely cooperative games, while really neat, are *very* rare). So if players are playing an RTS, someone is probably getting unhappy.

    Fifth, multiplayer games are much more open to failures. Firewalling, network problems, a slow connection, traffic from other users...all can contribute to be a real annoyance to the player playing the game.

    Sixth, multiplayer games (with a *few* exceptions, like play-by-email games) must be real-time. To avoid inconveniencing other players, there is no pause feature. You can't get up and stretch or answer the door or do what you want whenever you want.

    Seventh, it's very difficult to do a reasonably good plot-based multiplayer game. I can't think of any multiplayer games that use plot to much advantage.

    I've looked at the shift towards online games with a profound lack of excitement. Sure, it's great for game companies, but it isn't all that great for game players.

    Already, game companies are so eager to get on the game bandwagon that they've thrown a glut of games into every "fad" multiplayer genre that's come out. Three years or so ago, it was multiplayer FPSes. Everyone and their brother had to have a multiplayer FPS. More recently, a glut of "realistic" multiplayer FPSes has come out. There was a *huge* explosion in MMORPGs...and companies kept entering a market that they knew was already saturated.

    Few really good single player games have come out in the past few years. Max Payne -- I didn't play it, but it was so cinematic that I watched a friend play through the entire game. Very impressive piece of work, sold very well...and yet, unlike multiplayer games, it didn't spawn twenty clones the next year.

    The single-player RPG market for the PC is also pretty weak. There's a few, mostly obscure games. Arx Fatalis is pretty impressive. Blade of Darkness.

    Kind of sad, the shift away from single player games. It used to be that you could play a fifteen-year-old game. People did too, and loved the nostalgia. Pac-Man, 1943, Centipede. Four years from now, all of today's games will be dead, because there will be almost no one playing them.
  • by Chyron (304285) on Friday December 27, 2002 @04:27PM (#4968873)
    Most high end players have a better understanding of how the game works (and where its weak points are) than the authors do.

    Heh. I'm a MUD coder, and precisely the same thing applies there, too. Which is why listening very, very carefully to what high-level players tell you is a Good Thing.
  • by jhoffoss (73895) on Friday December 27, 2002 @04:53PM (#4969077) Journal
    I assume someone said it elsewhere, but I'll repeat. Too many people here are saying "you can't be addicted to a game", then someone says it's a psychological addiction, not physical. Well, that may be, but I think that any addiction has both a physical and psychological leg to it. Video games, cigarettes, marijuana, heroin, whatever. It's just that some things are minimal or easier to break (physical addiction to marijuana, for example) but others are not so (physical addiction to heroin, mental addiction to video games).

    It's possible to have a physical addiction to a video game, I had one for a time. (There's a reason EQ is also known as EverCrack.) As lame as it sounds, you can get an adrenaline rush from defeating some new mob, there is chemical activity in the brain when you interact with people over a phone, on IRC or in EQ's chat system.

    Not to say the source of addiction is physical, but it's a factor. And to those of you saying "don't worry, give it a try, it's not that bad" that's only funny until you see what the other person ends up like in some cases. I showed my brother the game, and a year later he had nearly failed the end of high school, failed his first semester and college completely, lost all motivation for anything but the game, got kicked out of his house, etc. Now, this is not all the game's fault, it's his own. But EQ is one of those innocent things that you do think is harmless.

    I dunno...surprised me when I realized I was addicted to the game.

  • Re:What A Joke (Score:4, Insightful)

    by danheskett (178529) <danheskett@NospAM.gmail.com> on Friday December 27, 2002 @04:59PM (#4969118)
    You almost had it figured out, but then:

    However, Dark Age of Camelot ruined all of that
    NO. Its a game. He choose to play it. He ruined all of that, not some bits on a CD, not some big mega-corp.

    The kid was given a life-changing opportunity.
    And he fucked it up. Now he is a victim? It's not his fault?

    games such as EverQuest and Dark Age of Camelot can be horribly addictive and ruins people's lives.
    Its just a vehicle. This kid couldn't deal. He has a mental defect, and he should have it looked at. Seriously. Or alternatively he's just a fuck up. It sucks to see individuals screw off and mess up their lives, but ohh well. That is there choice. The easiest thing in the world to do is to fail at something hard. Do nothing and most times you will fail. This kid did nothing in regards to school and failed out. Frankly, ohh well. Its too bad you knew him, and saw his decline. You make choices and live with them. That's the whole point of life. He choose to fail out of college in order to play a silly video game.
  • Re:Gotta say it... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 27, 2002 @05:05PM (#4969155)
    Usually the person who brings up that topic is someone going for the title.
  • by Morgaine (4316) on Friday December 27, 2002 @05:11PM (#4969201)
    I think the problem is that the author mixed up various issues and ended up with a pretty incoherent argument by attaching repeatedly the label "addictive" to the EverQuest experience, as if the game were a drug with physical withdrawal symptoms like heroin.

    It isn't, it doesn't have any such symptoms at all. It has the addictive properties of a fun day out with friends --- a very appropriate analogy because most of one's time in EQ at the higher levels is spent in a social framework with other guildies. It's as addictive as pizza, in that you can stay away from EQ for a couple of weeks or so, but eventually you want to go back, because "you like it", like pizza. Well, OK, maybe pizza is more addictive, as two weeks without pizza is a long time.

    But I've yet to break out in sweat, tremble in shivers, be any later for appointments than normal (:-), hold up a drugstore to pay for the next "hit", or lose contact with family and friends as a result of enjoying EverQuest. The analogies made with drugs are simply wrong. None of my many work colleagues that also live in EQ seem to suffer from heroin-like symptoms either.

    Maybe some of the misunderstanding stems from considering EQ as an inconsequential game, because if it were inconsequential then there would be no reason other than addiction for staying so many hours per week in the EQ universe. But it's not just a game by any stretch of the imagination, it's more of an online existence. Although it's still early days in this area, EQ provides as fine a framework for socializing in a virtual world as you can get so far.

    So, is EverQuest addictive? Of course it is, just like everything else that we enjoy a lot is addictive. But you've got to be careful when using that label. It's very easy to misuse it.

    Finally, be very careful when condeming virtual worlds for being enjoyable, because we will in due course have our own free and open virtual worlds, outside of the control of money-grabbing corporates and with the kind of "customer service" with which are well accustomed in this community. When that happens, the label of "addictive" will be seen for what it really is --- pure FUD.
  • Re:Pick it up here (Score:3, Insightful)

    by overunderunderdone (521462) on Friday December 27, 2002 @05:20PM (#4969255)
    Do we need a "Sadly Ironic" option?

    Some find the "sadly ironic" to be "mildly amusing"
  • by nobodyman (90587) on Friday December 27, 2002 @05:56PM (#4969473) Homepage

    Actually, no, read the article, in fact, do a google search of your own.
    I did.

    The designers of the game actually designed the delays and risk/reward system to tightly mirror a skinner box model
    You have no proof of this. The article does not make the claim that any designer from Verant specificically cited the Skinner Box model. The gameplay is not terribly different from any other online game (it's a MUD with graphics). You could level the same claim on ANY other MMORPG because they all have similar reward systems.

    If you ever really played everquest you'd know what I say is true, Everquest is designed around addiction, not fun.
    I have played the game. For approximately one week. I didn't like it. Strangely, I didn't experience the heroin-like withdrawl of which you speak.

    Yet, given my involvment in the MMORPG community (I run one of the most successful DAoC guilds gamewide...
    Oh, *now* I get it. You're a zealot. Dark Age of Camelot is a subscription-based role playing game that encourages players to ever-increasing amounts of time on-line in order to receive rewards... but is somehow TOTALLY different than EverQuest. Right. But I'll humor you: explain to me the specific ways in which DAoC differs from EverQuest and therefore is not addictive.

    However, I draw the comparison from cigarettes to everquest for the very reason that it has been proven in court that Cigarette companies specifically designed their products to be more addictive. Everquest has done the same.
    This is just ludicrous. The designers of the game did not purposefully create a trap to ensnare hapless passersby. They endeavored to create a game that people wanted to play. They succeeded. If there are addicts, then they are to blame for their addiction, pure and simple. The harsh fact is that they withdrew from the real world because they *wanted* to. They wanted the escapism. It's more fun to be a fireball-wielding wizard than to be a grocery store clerk. It's more fun to slay a dragon than to solve substantive problems in your *real* life. It's more fun to do these things when you wish you were someone else and are desperately unhappy with your life. It might be easier to swallow the thought that your friend was a victim but it just isn't so.

    Are there people addicted to EverQuest. Sure. Is it Sony's fault? No.
  • by Telastyn (206146) on Friday December 27, 2002 @06:10PM (#4969542)
    ironically similar to the American public school system these days...
  • Re:Gotta say it... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mattsson (105422) on Friday December 27, 2002 @07:58PM (#4970066) Homepage Journal
    Well... In the "encounters with women" and "fewest days in gym" categories 0 must be the lowest possible times.
    There should be plenty of people worldwide at the number 0 and thus noone can be said to hold the record.
    To hold a record you should be the only one, otherwise it isn't really a record, is it? :-)
  • very correct post (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 27, 2002 @08:35PM (#4970202)
    I'd have to say that the mid-low level EQ is fun, even close to wonderful. the highend game is miserable, and people are quite often unwilling to help you because they dont want to spend thier precious time camping (sitting in one place waiting for the game to fall into the right place so you may complete your quest) many hours just for you.

    If i had the choice to play again or not, I would quit. I have never worked so hard to anything. Going to school and playing over 80 hours a week about killed me, and it ruined my GPA.

    I took my untwinked, unpowerleveled, unguilded shaman the slow way (pickup groups) all the way to 60 with 34 days of playtime (816 hours of my life) and after 60, i was guilded and spend another 25 days of my life raiding and "camping" for quest pieces so i could continue raiding and enter certain high level zones. at one point i was on more than anyone else in my guild (second best guild on the server mind you.) and that is when i realized that i needed to quit.

    I would still be playing if it were possible, luckily it is currently not possible for me to play because of bandwidth requirements and the lack of options in my area. Sony was also kind enough to break the feature that allowed dialup users to raid effectively (thanks sony =p) and my account will be run out in the next couple of months. Unless my friends pressure me into playing again (real life ones, forget the guild ppl) I will happily bind my character in a place where he will die, spawn and die again. watch him delevel and then logoff and let all my corpses rot in a public place.

    a very disappointed eq player
  • games (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 27, 2002 @09:07PM (#4970325)
    Games are tricky. When you are born, your first games are not for rewards - you touch things, pick them up and drop them and the action and observation itself is a reward. The first consistent and widespread reward/punishment system is school. Doing is now for grades and to escape stygma of failure. Reward is now artificially divorced from action.

    What you described is suspiciously like any game I played. It gets you to do things you don't enjoy *in themselves* so that you get a reward or escape sure death.

    The trouble is - rewards are vacuous. In any game. There are some games that are more aesthetically pleasant that others - for instance, Fallout 2 has the best, moodiest music I've ever heard in a game, but all of this is on the sidelines, perhaps so that you wouldn't see how empty the quest itself is.

    I always found many things interesting - reading, writing, nature, sciense, drawing, painting, yoga, music, programming, and I always felt games to be so much lower.. But the rub is, you may get million times less but you get it a thousand times easier. There, click a few times and you killed a dozen monsters. If you were reading Brothers Karamazov you'd still be struggling through the first sentence.

    I think one of the best things I ever did was that I quit playing games. And it wasn't that I quit them, per se, but I just stopped enjoying them in the least bit. I mean, I'd kill a monster and I feel not the slightest emotion. I get a new piece of armor and, again, nothing. That sort of thing makes it easy to stop.

    Don't feel sorry about the time you wasted - there's like a whole universe in each passing second. More than enough for a lifetime.

    There's tons of people like that out in the world.. I'm so sorry I wasted my time.. drinking beer.. shooting pool.. reading.. eating too much.. TV.. weed. Living is not thinking about that. If you're feeling sorry for the past, you really should feel much more sorry for the present because nothing is lower than that endless whining sound, the one Ian Anderson sang about. You're sorry about wasting time instead of learning to draw? Occupy yourself with drawing now and you won't be sorry.

    Sorry for the preaching, I hate that myself, but maybe this was a little bit different?

  • Perspective (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DiveX (322721) <slashdotcontact@oasisofficepark.com> on Friday December 27, 2002 @09:14PM (#4970355) Homepage
    "that they can't will themselves to give it up. They play on instead, hoping things will get better, and nursing a great and deep hatred for Sony and the game itself."

    Ironic I'm using one fantasy world to describe another fantasy world, but this system sounds much like the 'One Ring' in LOTR. I am not an EQ player and will not be. I certainly know I would enjoy the game, for a while, but then I know I will fall in the same trap as just described. I don't have to be a player or even know an EQ player to realize that what was said would be true. Of course it is a money making venture. For the same reason EA Games won't fix bugs in 'Battlefield 1942' or enable ways to remove team-killers, it just isn't profitable. Why spend resources fixing the problem when it won't really keep new players away and that same time can be put into an expansion pack that just ads a few new maps and weapons (easy to create after the game engine is done) and sell it for nearly the same price as the original (which of course must already be purchased). After going through countless hours in Counter-Strike playing the same damn 4-6 maps over and over, I can understand how bad it is. I will not even try the Star Wars: Galaxies for the same reason. Same idea, just different graphics.

    Every player in EQ, to me, seems to be like Gollum. Reading the article, if I replaced 'Sony' with the 'Ring' or 'Sauron' I would swear I was reading a synopsis of Tolkien's world. The plays both love and hate the game and cannot be rid of it.
  • by ces (119879) <christophePASCAL ... m minus language> on Friday December 27, 2002 @09:25PM (#4970387) Homepage Journal
    Sorry, but addicts bear at least some responsiblity for their addictions. True, blaming the addict isn't going to help them but unless an addict takes responsiblity for their own role in their addiction they are NOT going to recover.
  • Re:What A Joke (Score:3, Insightful)

    by danheskett (178529) <danheskett@NospAM.gmail.com> on Saturday December 28, 2002 @02:05AM (#4971171)
    So stop acting like you know more than everybody else, including the people who are actually studying this issue.
    Okay, I gotta respond.

    I am well aware of how addiction works, but lets establish a few things:

    1. Dependency occurs in two primary ways. First, your body can become chemically dependent on a drug. Cocaine, alcohol, etc. These drugs trigger stuff your brain wants. Your brain demands more of the stuff it wants, and that sets off urges to consume cocaine, alcohol, etc. There is lots of debate on what makes some people more susceptible to this than other people. This is not a solved issue by any means. 2. Dependency also occurs without additional chemicals. This is how people get addicted to pleasurable things - sex, video games, etc. You get happy when doing things you like. Your brain likes to be happy. It demands more of the stuff that makes it happy, and that triggers urges.

    So great. We got that, okay?

    When you withdraw from a chemical you are dependent on your body physically revolts. REVOLTS. Puking, shivers, etc. You are hooked. Resisting is more painful in the short term than filling the hole with more and more chemicals. When you stop doing an activity that you are addicted to (these used to be called "habits"), you do not experience these same characteristics. You might feel aniexty, you might feel pain, but you are not *physically* experiencing withdrawl.

    The jury IS still out. But the bottom line is this: I don't buy into "addiction" as a "disease", and neither should you. If you are an addict to something that is harmful, than you have a defect. You are defective. You are not diseased. You did not get this defect from hanging around dead rats. Somewhere along your life you became mentally defective. There was a time when alcoholics were "drunks" and people did stuff out of "habit". "Break the habit" was a serious medical prescription. If you are addicted to anything (there are so few exclusions they are barely worth mentioning, for example, you are born addicted to crack; for example, you are force fed video games at gun point) it is because you blessed it. Any day you continue to be addicted against your will is further proof of your defect.

    The jury is out, but they can say anything. Because at the end of the day, no matter how compulsed you may think you are it is all about what is in your head. If you can't quit its because you made it so, because you are a weak person.

    My attitude is not what is harmful. YOUR attitude which is pro-actively that of a classic "enabler" is harmful. PROVEN harmful. I will say it clearly again: if you can't break an addiction to something it is your own fault. No matter what. There is no one to blame but yourself. You are defective.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 28, 2002 @02:43AM (#4971262)
    In addition, we cannot forget the original multi-player games aka the MUDs(Multi User Dungeons). Before the graphics came the text muds. Many of the code bases for the text muds(Ex Diku) had licenses to prevent running the games for profit. Mostly the games were played and run by college students. Admittedly the games required more imagination from the players in order for them to play the game, since there weren't graphics.

    But in the games, administrators weren't running the game as a business(mostly). The administrators ran the game for fun. Most truely enjoyed the game and took pride in making their MUD original. They employed imagination to develop a plot. Zones were often well written in terms of both the descriptions as well as interesting puzzles, mazes, traps, and general storylines. The administrators are constantly coding up the game and adding new features because they enjoy it. When players request new features, usually the administrators listen and are happy to oblige. Some administrators aren't too forgiving of network links, but quite a few of them will reimburse equipment or experience because they prize the players. Most administrators don't like to deal with whining players though, and I won't flame EverQuest for ignoring you. Some players are jerks but you should deal with them on your own and not bug the administrators for that(Make alliances with other guilds being repressed by the stronger ones and gang up on the stronger ones).

    The question is what what went wrong? Muds exibited some of the problems of EverQuest, but administrators were more interested in the game, player opinions were often respected(and if they weren't, the mud found itself without many players), imagination and care went into new areas and features. Similar to the way human reliance on technology has weakened some of humanity's innate abilities(ie the prevalence of obesity in our modern remote control society, weaker memory skills, etc.) With the advent of graphical multi-user games like everquest, and the ability to run the game as a business....the administrators have distanced themselves from the players, and the game environment itself has lost imagination. The administrators are not there because they want to build up a really cool game so everyone can have fun, they are there to steal your money. They have you addicted to the game and don't need to add new features so they don't. They don't even seem to want to player test it because they are running a business and more is better and the product suffers. You EQ Players are out of luck until competition pops up. Then the games will compete to lower the prices and to beef up customer service, but until EQ sees some serious competition you are SOL. I recommend you go find some MUDs, while I don't know many with thousands of players online, there are many with hundreds of players online. Everquest itself is a glorified graphical mud. In fact the term Mobiles was coined from the MUD world as was PC/NPC to refer to players and monsters.

    Having said this, there are some graphical muds out there which still have imagination and are better made than EQ, however the graphics quality varies with the bandwidth. Many muds are run by administrators as a hobby and so they cannot afford the bandwidth requirements. The alternative is to have all of the graphics on the local machine downloaded as patches to your local client, however most mud administrators don't have the resources to support installation on various architectures.

    In short, don't forget that while you were all playing Wolfenstein or even Duke Nukem(not 3d), MUDS were around shaping the future of multi-player gaming. Unfortunately it seems that Sony only borrowed some of the ideas and culture of the MUD and not all of it. So I guess you guys are SOL. MUDs have had many of the same problems as EQ and they have been solved in various ways. In fact, even player disputes which seem to be a major concern have been resolved quite well in some MUDs. There have been players who act as judges, and if you are unsatisfied with them you appeal to higher up players and eventually you reach the gods(like the national courts) and eventually you can reach the main administrator of the game himself(aka The Supreme Court). Many solutions have innovative and impressive solutions. So I say instead of taking this crap from EQ, go find a MUD and use your imagination a bit!!!
  • by wal (56225) on Monday December 30, 2002 @08:22PM (#4985370) Homepage Journal
    I think all the people who despise Everquest are people who mainly play games that have that large blinking "GAME OVER" screen at the end.

    I understand that there is no 'end' to the game (it is called Everquest now, isn't it?).

    I don't plan on ever 'finishing' the game. I play because I enjoy the interaction. I have been playing for 3 years and never once have I 'needed' to speak with a GM.

    I can think of one time when my server crashed that I sat in a chat room waiting for my character to be reset.

    Everquest is a game, just like any other game. If you don't enjoy playing, don't play.

    "Doctor, it hurts when I do this..."

    Everquest didn't become a cultural phenomenon by being a boring, repetitive game. Any game has a certain repetitive nature to it. The trick is to bury it into content and make it interesting. Everquest has done that in my opinion.

    If you have been playing so long to ignore that content and only pay attention to the repetition, that is no ones fault but your own.

    That doesn't make it a bad game, it makes you a bad player.

    --wal (many characters at many levels, on many servers)
  • by gr (4059) on Thursday January 09, 2003 @01:41PM (#5048778) Journal
    When was the last time you bought something from Sony and gave them an extra $5 to help them out? No, you paid the minimum amount--just enough so that you could legally acquire what you were purchasing. Must be that you care only about keeping as much money as you possibly can. Your motives are selfish and greedy
    What color is the sky where you live? Can you actually read that aloud with a straight face? You're blaming a consumer for paying market value for something and then having the outrageous gaul to criticize what he purchased?

    I'll agree this whole article smells of sour grapes, but there's a kernel in there somewhere of a legitimate complaint that Sony is not treating their customers in a reasonable manner. I'm a Unix systems administrator. If I make a change to the way in which a system functions and it breaks something for a client, my company almost definitely loses money, and if that happens enough, we lose clients. Sony is in the remarkable position that its clients don't vote with their wallets, but that doesn't mean they're allowed to hold those clients in complete disrespect.

    You're welcome to devolve everything into personal interest (and it's quite easy to do so), but try not to state your belief like it's absolute truth, eh?

There is no opinion so absurd that some philosopher will not express it. -- Marcus Tullius Cicero, "Ad familiares"

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