EverQuest Project1999

Project1999: The View from 2019

August 3, 2019

Project1999 was launched in 2009 and has now lived through ten years of operation. I wanted to pen some thoughts on the current state of play of the project in 2019. This years marks a decade down the track from Project1999’s inception and a full twenty years after the game it is emulating – EverQuest – was launched.

Project 1999 ‘Green’ server – a new experience begins

In April 2019 the Project1999 co-senior admin Rogean posted an image (and only an image) of the official forums (above).

The community heralded this as the announcement of a long-awaited new development in Project1999. A completely new ‘progression’ server that will reap the benefits of all project development since 2009 to create a true classic experience. Players dubbed a potential new server years ago as ‘P99 Green’, a reference to Project1999’s PvE ‘Blue’ server, and PvP ‘Red’ server. The green colours in the image seem to confirm this is the announcement many have waited for.

Project1999 staff have said very little about the Green server apart from the image above. The Project1999 forums have been awash with speculation on what the Green server will be like. Conversations focus on what will happen to the popular Blue server, and what will become of the Green server once the classic timeline has ended. However there has been little official confirmation of the details.

Discussions on the Green server dominate the current Project1999 state of play. When the Project1999 staff release the server in October 2019 I will watch closely. As far as I know, the Green server will represent the first time amateur developers of an emulated MMO experience will declare ‘job done’ and push their project into ‘production’.

The Project1999 staff called their decade-old emulator a ‘project’ for a reason. It is a project founded and still owned by co-senior admin Nilbog, to incrementally create a product that looks and feels like EverQuest circa 1999-2001, with all the content, mechanics and weirdness intact. The Green server will be the culmination of this decade of effort. It will be interesting to see how the MMO community – and not just us diehards who have played Blue for years – reacts to the first true dedicated classic MMO experience.

A wild gorilla scowls at you, ready to attack!

Of course, the Green server will be coming up against the 1200 pound gorilla that is WoW Classic. Granted, this will release two months before the Green server. But WoW Classic has dominated the ‘classic MMO discussion’ for the last twelve months in the same way it has come to dominate the ‘MMO genre discussion’ in the last twelve years.

But Project1999 has done something that not even cash-loaded Blizzard can do. The devs have created a true classic experience from ten years of blood and sweat, not for money but for love and passion for the game. WoW Classic will get expontentially more players, but I personally will find the Green server more interesting. I may be one of few, but I hope to see some of you who have never played EverQuest there.

Let’s leave Green for now and talk about the Blue server, the current popular Project 1999 server. I’m of the view that the true measures of the health of a server is a combination of the new player experience, and the endgame.

The ‘Blue’ New Player Experience in 2019

Freeport Gates: the start of many a player’s journey
(image credit to Bhagpuss at Inventory Full).

I am many years removed from the new player experience. Therefore I decided to ask a few new players who’d joined the server in the last month. Khidash has a family and has joined two others in a similar situation. He may just be the perfect recruit for Project 1999. His opening comment to me was “EverQuest is a game of essentially self-help.” Judging from his comments: that people are friendly, welcoming and helpful, and that he is having a great time, the new player experience seems to be in good shape a full ten years after Project 1999 was launched.

Perhaps the best indicator is that Khidash and his friends are going to continue. When I asked if they see themselves continuing to play Project 1999:

We do! All three of us are fathers with wives and jobs but we’ve managed to get in several hours almost every night after our families have retired. We’d probably be 10 by now but the first few days we spent getting our bearings and working on the UI, etc.

The game has charmed fellow new player Sororos too. However, he admits some assistance from a friend who also plays. He says this was necessary to get across some of the more opaque parts of EverQuest.

“[I]f it wasn’t for him, I’d be a lot more lost and have to interact with the community a lot more… [but] [p]eople on the forums have been helpful when I have had issues, and the wiki has been an enormous help.”

Sororos is already level 12, and by all reports is ‘having a blast’. Interestingly enough, he’s also never played EverQuest before so is a rare ‘brand newbie’

Vsanthos, another new player (but seemingly not new to EverQuest), is more sanguine:

“Everquest itself has never been about being easy for a new player to get rolling in. That point aside, I found myself having little trouble getting up to speed on this server. The community is fantastic.” 

New player interest in Project1999 Green

Interestingly Khidash, Sororos and Vsanthos all expressed little interest in Project1999 Green, and for different reasons. Khidash says that he and his friends don’t have the time to start over again so soon after beginning their journey on Blue. Sororos says he’s concerned that the server will be dominated by hardcore players for the first few months (a view I share). He says he’ll let the dust settle and join in later. Vsanthos isn’t sure he’ll be able to share his time between Project1999 and WoW Classic.

While my direct sample size is small, I lurk the Project1999 forums a great deal. New players – either completely new or returnees – mostly seem to be in agreement that the new players experience on the server is excellent. People are helpful with both advice, assistance and items. The community resources, including the forums and the wikie, are first rate.

If you can enjoy the game’s mechanics and graphics, Project1999’s early levels will be a good experience.

This post is a two-parter, and I will be back to talk about the mid-levels and the endgame next time.

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