It took nearly three years of my life, and to this day still hasn’t given them back. Every time I thought I was out, it dragged me back in again. I fed it my money, blood, sweat, tears, sleep and social life, and I have nothing to show for it. Except fond memories and a spot on my 2006 Winter-een-mas Video Game Tribute list.

The original Everquest was my introduction to MMORPG’s. I caught wind of its development a few months before release, and the concept absolutely blew me away.

When the game came out, I was all over it. I prepared a sympathetic and yet rational, intelligent begging speech to coerce my parents into allowing me use of their credit card to pay the monthly subscription fee. They agreed and the world of Norrath opened up before me.

My very first character was a Barbarian warrior named Judan. Everfrost, with it’s winding canyons and frosty tundras was my home. I won’t get into details, but the launch of Everquest was a magical time, one that we’ll never again experience in MMO’s.

Everything was new. To all of us. It took me weeks to reach level nine, and I was one of the highest levels in the area. I even had a store-bought chainmail helmet, while everyone else was still in their polar bear caps. Because back then we didn’t know about “powerleveling” or the mechanics of class balance or experience or any of that. Nowadays, getting to level 9 in the original EQ could take you a couple of hours. Tops. Things have changed.

Remember the clunky user interface the game started with? “Hell” levels? “Train to zone!”? How Wizards and Druids used to run taxi services for plat? When a Short Sword of the Ykesha sold for 1500plat? Times have changed.

But I can look back at my MMO roots with great fondness. In comparison to today’s games, Everquest was bare. Hardly anything more than a leveling treadmill with a pretty cover. But it was addictive. It was fun, and we were right there every day, in our non-instanced dungeons shouting “LFG” or hoping some group wiped so we could move into their camp.

Eventually the innocence, that “new car smell” would wear off. The forums, once full of wonderment and excitment at discovering new things would soon degenerate into whining and bickering about class balance, and downtime, and every other grip under the sun.

The game is what drew you in, the friends you made was what kept you there. I played Everquest for three years, four servers,half a dozen accounts and nearly ten main characters, and as flawed as the game may have been, I wouldn’t trade any of those memories for anything.

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