Everquest Project 1999: EQ’s Retro Server & The Power of Nostalgia
It’s only natural for MMOs to change through the years, mostly for the better. However, despite the improvements, some players can’t help but miss how their favorite games used to be. Or rather, a lot, and that’s why there multiple long-running MMOs that have private servers that feature older versions of their games. Unsurprisingly, Everquest is among them.
Everquest: among the roots
If your first MMO was in the mid-2000s, Everquest might seem unfamiliar to you. Understandable yet sad on Everquest’s part, as it was the MMO that practically defined the subgenre. The game, which features traditional Dungeons and Dragons-esque lore complete with twelve races and fourteen classes, was released in 1999. One of the first, the only well-known titles to precede it include Ultima Online and Lineage. It’s also the first-ever hugely commercialized 3D MMO, and the first to make a profit out of such a format by a huge margin. Thus, Everquest went on to be a success and win multiple awards. Along with Ultima and Asheron’s Call, it went on to form the big three MMOs of the late 90s to early 2000s.
Fast-forward to 2019, Everquest, while not as strong number-wise as it used to be, still has a loyal & dedicated player base that’s enough for the devs to still release new content. But as the game continues to move forward, many players keep looking back to the past. In response to this is a fan-run server called Everquest Project 1999. As the name suggests, it brings the game back to its 1999 version, which only goes as far as the second expansion, The Scars of Velious.
A decade in the Past
This is by no means a sudden onset of nostalgia, as the server has been running half as long as Everquest. On its recent tenth anniversary, its runners even promised a new retro server. While the original one is called Project 1999: Blue, this one is dubbed Project 1999: Green, and it will also be exactly as Everquest was like upon release. It and its updates will follow the same time frame as they did in the official game. It will be released on October 25th, which means the Hellish raid zone Plane of Fear, will come out in January 2020.
All the updates the retro server is meant to have will be completed on July 2021, and once that happens both Blue and Green servers will be merged and the project will start anew. So, while the original intent is to bring back the past, there’s still a certain sense of progress, albeit a very cyclical one that remains at the very beginning.
The Past Won’t Be Erased
Like what’s been said before, Everquest isn’t the only MMO to have a retro server, a project that MMO devs and publishers have been at odds with. Take the case of Blizzard, which has actively sought out and took down private servers, which they believe was costing them what would’ve been paying subscribers. Ironically–or rather, fittingly–they promptly launched their own. Apparently, Blizzard wasn’t wrong about nostalgia servers causing quite the loss.
Another company cashing in on these throwbacks is Jagex, which launched Old School RuneScape, a RuneScape server that is perpetually in its 2007 form. Presumably, this means other privately run retro servers are unofficial and will be dealt with should their existence be discovered.
As for Everquest’s developers, Daybreak Game Company, they don’t share the same sentiment as those two. For now, that is. “What they’re doing doesn’t impact us that much financially really, it’s not predatory, and it’s not like it’s even free for them with the bandwidth costs and GMs,” they said in a statement in RockPaperShotgun.
“They are doing something we could never do with the complications of running a live service game. I would encourage other companies that the passionate players are the right players to work with.” So it looks like they not only let the Project 1999 slide, they also believe it’s a mutual benefit for both involved. The official servers get exposure, while the private retro ones get to continue to operate. Everybody wins!
If there’s a time and place for everything, then it’s only right that there should also be a place for a time that has long gone. For Everquest players, that’s exactly what Project 1999 is, and they’re glad there’s a slice of cyberspace where they can get their nostalgia fix!