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Please redo Everquest (et al) as massively SINGLE player games

Posted by on November 5, 2007

Games never die. We bought an Xbox 360 over the weekend and I had a little WTF moment when I saw they wanted to sell me Pacman.

Pacman! That game is twenty five years old!

I’m sure they’ve got Asteroids and Defender in there somewhere if I look for them. Maybe Tetris!

I could be just that lucky.

You know what I would love to see on the thing. EverQuest, the original, as a single player game. The art exists, the code’s all there, all the quests have been written, the moss snakes taught to kick, wood elves smoothed and halflings filled with pie. Yes, Everquest Online Adventures was available for the PS2, but that was the same game — online play, join groups and raids and stuff — and that’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about taking all the assets you already have, crude though they may be to 2007 eyes, and setting that in a massively SINGLE PLAYER world. You’re a warrior? Cool, now you go to the newbie fields and chop fire beetles while chatting up a NPC cleric and a rogue, and you head off to the Commonlands to level. Meet up with more people, form a guild, and while you are leveling, so are they, and eventually, you and the guild you’ve made, raid.

Sure, writing code to make the zones alive with recruitable NPCs wouldn’t be trivial, but you’re not starting from scratch — you have the vast majority of your assets already.

This works for other older games. Dark Age of Camelot? Let’s take our group into enemy frontier and see what we find. Build the engine and then port the assets of older MMOs to it, sell them one expansion at a time. All those people who played EQ2 but not EQ1? Now’s their chance to get an experience they cannot get actually playing EQ Live.

Sync up with your friends and then start racing mobs with your friend’s guild as NPCs.

This is the kind of gameplay that would be impossible online — too many people, too many connections, too much traffic to coordinate. But it’s well within the power of a single player game.

Best thing is, you get to sell each expansion to a whole new group of people, again :)

I would SO play this game. SOE probably wouldn’t do this for the Xbox, but if they announced it for the PS3, that Xbox would be going back to the store and a PS3 coming home.

16 Responses to Please redo Everquest (et al) as massively SINGLE player games

  1. Lars

    I’d like a Final Fantasy XI offline… with something like the FFXII gambit system to control the hirelings. FFXI had a mission system which translates well into a solo game since it provides some sort of overarching goal to the player. But I’d prefer to see MMORPGs simply redone as updated versions of themselves. That is, rewrite EQ or FFXI or whatever, with new art assets and update the game mechanics to better appeal to modern MMO players in a post-WoW world (better soloability, etc.), and to fix lessons learned (more BOA/BOE equipment to reduce mudflation from the offset, etc.). And then give new servers where people can start over, using a brand new graphics and game engine, but with mostly the same content they love.

  2. Tipa

    Well, EQ1 did that with the Progression servers, which started out with no expansions, then, as people completed certain tasks (like killing Naggy and Vox, etc) opening up expansions. So that’s something EQ1 has done, and they had some success at it. It brought back a fair number of people nostalgic for the old EQ experience.

    I want to take that whole game offline, though, but preserve its spirit as much as possible, allowing you to build a group and a guild and eventually a full raid, with the NPCs you meet leveling up with you. Heck, they have eight years of PC data from which to make NPCs so they can just drive a lot of it from some massive table.

    FFXI *came* from the console world — Final Fantasy Tactics has pretty much everything I’d want to see in an offline EQ or DAoC, except for the whole tactical gameplay — I want pulling, mezzing, slowing, etc, just like EQ/DAoC/early WoW.

    FFXI Online is all about perfect execution — the limit breaks, the amount of time you can take between kills to get combo xp — I can’t imagine how to make an offline FFXI Online that would feel like the online experience, since it is such a team game — for all its strengths, EQ1 group play was essentially mindless (and therefore left more time for social stuff), and many people did treat it like a single player game, six-boxing or more.

    Again, I want to point out that EQ1 has done or is doing many of the things you list — they are rolling up art upgrades on older zones as well as stressing their engine to the limit on newer ones, they have reduced or even eliminated downtime (I was a cleric — the times I had to med even in a raid were minimal, and mostly in xp groups I meleed and bashed.)

    That said, do companies really want to put new assets into old games? Though it seems SOE is still putting more development into EQ Live, so I guess they do. My proposal is: Take the assets you already have, distill them into a genuinely great single player experience that preserves the original game as much as possible, and relaunch it. Simpler video games are remade all the time. They STILL SELL.

    MMO companies are missing out on $$$ and we’re missing out on great game experiences. Take EQOA — a game I will never get to try, just because it would take too much money to upgrade my PS2 with keyboard and network connection or whatever, plus a subscription fee, plus being woefully behind the curve of current players — make that into a single player game, and I would play it.

  3. Tipa

    * addendum, I can in fact think of a way to duplicate the greater part of the FFXI Online experience, as I experienced it. Step 1) Sit in front of your computer doing nothing for three days, looking for a group. Step 2) Try and find a linkshell that hasn’t crunched the numbers and decided a WHM/SMN is a useless combo compared to BLM/WHM or RDM/WHM, no matter how much fun it is to play. Or WHM/MNK, which people just can’t understand :) Or considers Mithra to be poor healers in general, unless they were main job RDM. That wasn’t why I left, though, but that is an entirely different story.

  4. Ryan Henson Creighton

    Pac Man is available on XBox Live Arcade, probably for less $ than the copy he was trying to sell you.

  5. Aktad

    Tipa – I’m right there with you…

    I’d plunk down the bucks for a PS3 so fast if I could get EQ1 as a SMORPG…

    Trying to push the house for a PS3 anyway but my wife claims their “too expensive” and the kids just want a WII like all their friends have

  6. Tipa

    I have a Wii. We only used it for Wii Sports, then we got Hot Shots Tennis for the PS2 and that was that. Wii Sports is pretty fun, and we’ll probably reconnect it when we have company over. The other games we bought for it were pretty depressing and not much fun, and in the end we just had better luck buying PS2 games.

    I would love a real reason to buy a PS3 that I could tell to people and then they would say, yeah, we so need a PS3. Folding@home, LittleBig World and @Home all failed to convince my son.

    When you’re his age, you want the console with the most testosterone in it, and right now, that’s Xbox.

  7. wilhelm2451

    All that lore fading away slowly as the population on EQ diminishes… it makes me sad.

    I hope SOE will do something with it.

    I’ve been feeling the itch to see pre-cataclysm Norrath again. I wish they would do something to let a more casual class of gamer (older me) see the world again. Roll me a double…make that triple… exp server SOE so I can level up and go places again. My old account is gone.

  8. Tipa

    If you log in, you’ll be seeing LFGs all over for some of the oddest zones. These are the monthly high experience zones. Combine those with the daily half hour of double experience veteran rewards (if your account is old enough), and you actually level quite quickly if you’re grouping in the right places.

    Of course, I said “grouping” and “right places”. You won’t get far soloing, or going to the WRONG places. And finding enough people to group with at low levels can be a bother, since nearly everyone powerlevels through them now.

    EQ1 can never be what it once was. But it can become something new that will last forever — sort of a living monument to a wonderful game — as a single player game.

    SOE, if you’re reading this and have any plans to do something like this — HIRE ME TO WORK ON IT!!!! Seriously. I’m a maintenance developer. I figure out other people’s spaghetti code and mystery features and fix ‘em every day.

    Or failing that, just give me a nod and a wink and I’ll understand and wait happily.

  9. rmckee78

    I have often thought about this myself. I would love to see this done with some of the older MMOs. What I would love to see even more would be multiplayer in these games. Not massively multiplayer, but I would love to play EQ1 or FFXI with 2 or 3 friends and be able to take everything on and level 5 times faster.
    Hopefully they will do this sort of thing when they turn off the lights in Norrath and Vanadiel. I would hate to think that no one would ever run in fear from that giant Ram in the Highlands again.
    Heck even if they just turned the assets over to the community it could be done.
    I’d love to see it.

  10. illovich

    That’s hilarious! I just said this to a co-worker this morning (who emailed me and asked if I had written this)

    In my vision, you could make as many characters as you wanted, and there would be a Neverwinter Nights style group interface (but more suited to the EQ game under discussion). The idea would be you could start a character and then fill your party with either “stock” (i.e. pre-rolled) characters or your own alts. Alternatively, you could network up to 5 people via a server (host or separate computer) which would synchronize the zones the different players were in.

    What’s cool about doing it this way is the entire game could be available, but you could play all the different ways that you can play EQ. The main work for the developers would be retuning
    combat mechanics and loot to be more consistent with a single-player game, and maybe some zone touchups like the recent zone updates so it doesn’t look so 1994. (which, aren’t they doing that anyway?)

    Combine the expansion from the 15 to 5, make a “dungeon creator set” (like roll your own LDON instances) and you probably have the best Computer RPG for the next 5 years.

  11. Tipa

    I swear, they’d sell 500,000 copies like *that*.

    The weird part is, there are already people making alternate games using the EQ client. I haven’t had a chance to check them out yet, and of course they risk being shut down by SOE at any time, but a server could be written that would do exactly that. Then it would be a matter of combining the server with the client to make a single game.

  12. rmckee78

    If only they could do all that and get boats working again…for the first time. It would be a perfect single up to 6 player game.

  13. Captain Awful

    It’ll definitely require reworking the leveling system. It’d probably end up being as boring as single-player Diablo though.

  14. Exe

    I love this idea, just needs to have LAN and online coop.

  15. Squeakie

    This is a great idea. Just to be able to virtually visit old locations would be amazing.