Player Designed Constructs : By Necessity

Yes, still playing Project 1999 pretty much exclusively. Yes, still completely bonkers. Thank you.

I wanted to explore the concept a bit of how players substitute missing game features by using what is available to them, and particularly, how this builds social bonds. Specifically the entire guild in Project 1999 called “Dial A Port”.

Realizing there is no real competition and that P1999 is typically a “Safe space” (no more patches, stuck in time) a guild has arisen – and they far, far outdate me – whose sole purpose of existing is to help players move from point A to point B around Norrath. In P1999 you learn very quickly that if you need to get somewhere you do a ‘”/who all Dial” and see a list of players who are there to help you out.

The service is not free, but there is no standard charge. The simplicity of it is “pay what you can” and the guideline is 1 plat per level (if you can). Other guidelines are simple, such as all CR ports are free (at all levels) and it solves the challenging issue of travel in game. People of made their in game lives of this, happily taking people place to place, meeting new members of the server, and (quite frankly) making really good money in the process. Hell, somne high level players tip amazing items instead of plat that they may have looted along the way that is better for a Druid than their class.

I know this, because I made an alt and put it in the Guild. I did this because I had used the service so many times – especially on Corpse Recoveries – and found it to be such a comforting feeling to know that while I had died, lost xp and progression, I could get back to my body and play with a simple wave of the “\who all Dial”. The times I often play there are not enough people to move people around the world so I am working my way up to be able to help out while also enjoying a class I had never played before.

This is gone in almost all other games as travel – instant preferably, but very, very fast at bare minimum is in every game (including EQ Live). I remember when I made an EQ 2 character I did a druid and was excited to level one for the first time in the EQ universe – only to learn, that when I became of porting level that all druid rings have a clicky that everyone can use as an instant transport anyway, thereby negating one of the reasons why I chose the class. Of course none of that matters in a game like EQ2 (or EQ Live for that matter) where group mates are purchased and rented (Mercs) and it’s largely a solo experience. There wouldn’t be anyone to shuffle around. In games where it’s not solely a solo experience the capability to instantly group and complete desired tasks with no effort or talking is already in place.

This is why we can’t have worlds in our online games, at least not ones meant to be explored together. I know people will come here and respond that the new methods of travel are just so convenient for the time starved and/or disinterested that moving backwards is not advised. And while I have written in the past about how non-flying in WoW expansions is just silly this is not the same argument as the games are vastly different.

Having to plan for an area of the world you want to play in, and be rooted there for a time period has it’s benefits as well.

A bit of a side bar there, but it’s good to see players support and create services in games where there is a need It does strengthen bonds between players and makes the world feel just a bit bigger. It works very well in Project 1999 – but perhaps that is the only kind of place it would.

8 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Druid/Wizard porting is one of the things i strongly disliked about EQ back in the day. I played a druid and getting tels asking for ports was a bloody nuisance. It’s why most druids and wizards went /anon. I did occasionally take advantage of the option and sell my services and I did indeed get some nice tips but mostly I met grumpy players who begrudged having to ask and didn’t want to pay.

    I sympathized with them entirely because when i was playing any of my non-porting classes I absolutely hated being reduced to paying for a port. I found it demeaning and annoying, a really bad emotional tone for a game that was supposed to be entertainment. I never knew how much to tip and often the druid/wizard didn’t either which led to some touchy exchanges. Also there were players who specialized in taking your money and then prting you somewhere other than where youwanted to go – preferably, from their perspective, somewhere they could get you killed.

    All in all I always thought it was a terrible idea. Buying buffs, that I liked. There was a well-established ratecard for the well-known ones, buffers would usually say what the fee was in their /ooc, and you always got what you paid for. Porting, though, was the Wild West. I guess if we’d had a guild that was established and trusted and effective like you describe it might have been different but I played on many servers for many years and never heard of one.

    As I remember it, when player-ports were eventually reduced in necessity by various innovations in the game, the only ones complaing were a small minority of druids and wizards who’d been making a mint on it. The rest of the port-capable players who didn’t want to run a taxi service and almost all the other classes who didn’t want to use one were unanimous in their playing of the world’s tiniest violin in sympathy for the lost income.

    1. It’s funny because I often felt the same way about travel in game when I looked back at it. Now that I am fully immersed in it, I do appreciate what it does for the game world and the people in it. OF course the games are different now (many are quest hub to quest hub and players spend most of their time running around on collect and/or kill quests) where EQ was find a camp / dungeon and stay for a while. Weeks sometimes.

      The real beauty is that there still are places you have to get to by boat, which makes them less populated (typically) and that has it’s own rewards.

      Dial A Port solves the problems that you experienced back in the day – there are pretty much always ports available 24/7 and it’s well known it’s “what you can pay” and the server typically takes that to heart. And there are definitely no shenanigans about mis-porting, and in fact, there is a Wuoshi watch on at all times to avoid that even accidentally. So the server found a way to solve the ailments you experienced 20 years ago. That part is kind of neat. The guild itself is wide open too, anyone can invite anyone but if you don’t adhere to the standards you won’t last long. Porters can’t complain about tips or name / shame poor tippers either.

      Anyway, I am starting to think that p1999 drew in the “best of” classic mmo enthusiasts as the community is top notch – at least, from what I have experienced. So far, I hear the raiding scene is a bit more dicey but haven’t experienced that first hand 🙂

  2. People will always applaud when something they see as an annoyance is removed. They see the immediate benefit and don’t think about the long term. In the short term people didn’t have to pay for ports or be asked for ports.

    If you take the long view we took another step towards the soloification of the MMORPG genre – one more step along the pathway of reducing inter-reliance and interaction between players.

    For some people – with the greatest respect, people like you, if your blog posts are anything to go by – this was a step in the right direction. That’s fine. For me, not so much. Even now I like soloing on P99 and won’t play a character that can’t effectively solo, due to my play schedules and need to drop the game at a moment’s notice. But I still appreciate the inter-reliance that exists in P99 and that I still need other players to achieve many of my goals.

    1. I am like you in that regard. My Enchanter did 3 levels in Oggok because I could effectively do it semi-afk or leave on a moments notice. But I DO enjoy grouping when my play schedule permits. As an enchanter, that is relatively easy – I just put in a LFG tag and do my thing, and inevitably I get an ask for Sol B, or The Hole, or whatnot.

      That being said, due to the economy and state of the server I can easily solo with my ShadowKnight, too. Which I have up to level 25 🙂 But that class does shine in a group environment – I just find I have less time for groups as I used to, but the game is still fun – and my point still stands – I believe, either way.

      The only “solo friendly” class I have never played is a Necro, which may be my Green character. Or a Ranger, because track is the greatest thing ever. Haven’t decided yet. THat’s a topic for another day.

  3. This brings me back 30 years to the MUD I used to play. They had a dedicated group called the Newbie Council which also mainly specialized in CRs, beyond answering newbie questions, because well, newbies would be the ones who tend to get their corpses stuck in places they can’t find their way back.

    Like all group related things, it works if there are players still around and dedicated to maintaining the structure. It would eventually get sad if one day, you typed in “who Whatever” and there are 0 players online. I play in awkward non-NA, non-EU timezones, so those kinds of things seem to happen sooner than later. (Oceanic/Asia players tend to be more notoriously player locust-like and move on to the next big thing faster.)

    In the end, the lesson I always end up taking away is, enjoy whatever group features exist, if one happens to have gotten in with a group, during the time they are around, because it’ll come to an end one day. Usually within a couple years, once the leaders, organizers and dedicated players lose focus.

    1. THing is – this server is locked in time, with a very healthy population. I don’t think DAP goes away until the server dies. The server is 10 years old, and by all accounts, the population is the healthiest yet. The introduction of a new server (Green) might hurt that a bit, we will see. It is great though and thoroughly appreciated, and hope it lasts as long as the server does.

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