Please note: I am playing on the Project1999 emulated EverQuest server, if you are unfamiliar with this please see my previous post for more information: My Return To An Old Classic also of interest is my original article criticizing modern day MMOs which prompted my return to EverQuest, this piece can be found here: The Failures of Modern Day MMOs
After some encouragement and kind words I have decided to continue telling the tale of my adventures through Norath as I progress through the game. Shortly after my last update I moved on from Crushbone to the infamous Estate of Unrest around level 14ish. This zone was everything I remembered and really helped to continue my trip down nostalgia lane in a positive way. People have been amazing and overall my social encounters have been tremendously positive.
Unrest is the relatively low level undead zone in the world of Norath. The entire zone is essentially a old haunted mansion and its surrounding court yard. One of the magical things about this zone, for me, was that even more than Crushbone it reintroduced the competitive aspects of this game. Trains were common throughout my time in Unrest and at least some of them were certainly intentional. For those unfamiliar, one of the things that sets EverQuest apart from more modern games is the idea of setting up group camps. Essentially, because the creatures are unteathered and their movement limited only by the different zone boundaries one of the best grouping strategies is to set up camp in a relatively safe place and use pulling tactics to bring mobs to the group to fight. This allows time for the casters/healers to regain mana (which regenerates faster when sitting, and thus faster when not moving around all the time)
This strategy can lead to some conflict though. People sometimes fight over camps themselves but it is very common for established groups to fight over mobs to pull. When you have a zone like unrest with 25 people in it there is a lot of competition for mobs.
People often employ different strategies to resolve these conflicts, some more nefarious than others. Unfortunately, I did have one negative encounter with a specific player. I logged into Unrest and just happened to catch the zone relatively empty and a Necromancer and I started up a group. There was a twinked out Rogue in the zone running around killing things solo and they refused to join the group and work together. As more people zoned in we filled out our group and set up a nice camp along the left wall. This player, now upset he was competing with a full group for mobs started his own group and repeatedly tried pulling mobs that were spawning feet from our camp and would try to kill steal if we got a hit off on them before he did. After a bit of arguing back and forth this class act threatened to log onto their main character and kill everything in the zone repeatedly so no one would get experience unless we let him take the mobs he was grabbing from us. Fortunately their group broke up and this person logged off. As a wizard I was able to put a stop to many of his kill stealing attempts by overnuking but when I was low on mana or got resists he would steal our experience and loot.
The other, more common and effective, strategy for evil conflict resolution in EverQuest has always been training. As mentioned earlier, mobs in EQ are unteathered. So unlike other games where you just have to run a short distance from where a mob will spawn to lose it in EverQuest you need to leave the zone completely if you find yourself in a dangerous situation and need to run. This leads to people running high level monsters from deep in the zone right through the lower level camps at times, often resulting in many deaths for all who get in the way of the mob train. 9 times out of 10 this is just because of a bad pull and a group trying to escape with their lives. Often they will shout to the zone to warn everyone to be on the look out for the train. However, at times, someone will intentionally grab a number of monsters and run them right through a group currently fighting something in an attempt to overrun and kill them all, breaking up the group and opening up the camp for use. Fortunately this does not happen often but when it does typically 1 of three things happen. Everyone dies really quickly and it leads to great frustration and sometimes people giving up for the day and logging out, breaking up the group. Sometimes people realize what happened quick enough and everyone runs like crazy to the zone line to try and get away safe. Or finally, the group stays and fights. Sometimes, against all odds, the group will fight it out with 3-5 monsters in the camp attacking everyone. The group pulls together, everyone does their jobs perfectly and everyone survives. These situations are what makes any of the previously described negatives worth it. Without the ability of others to be complete dicks and game mechanics that can be utterly brutal at times these moments of complete triumph could never really happen. It is only because EverQuest is brutal and will kick you when you are down that those times you overcome and work together are so incredibly rewarding.
Further, the other amazing thing about Unrest is that it was the first zone that I spent a prolonged period of time leveling in from around level 14 through level 20. During this time I grouped with dozens of fun and entertaining people who made my time in game amazing. But most important of all, there are a handful of players that I grouped with repeatedly and worked with for hours. We recognize each other now and are beginning to form those in game bonds that follow your character around. People are starting to develop reputations and those reputations mean something. At level 20 I moved over to Castle Mistmoore and waited a while for a slot to open up in an established group. So far I am having a great time in this new zone and one of my friends from Unrest just happened to wander into the zone shortly after I got here. We seem to be leveling at the same pace and this is probably someone I am going to end up seeing over and over again throughout the coming weeks while playing this game.
The social game is just as important as anything else, and that is what makes this game amazing.