On the last day of January 2014, Sony Online Entertainment opened their doors to the NEXT chapter in the Everquest franchise with Everquest Next Landmark. I had every intention of not playing this "pay-to-test" alpha, but my mind was drastically changed without warning as the testing started. This is my story...
Usually on Fridays I'm at work and on the 31st I was at work, but for the sake of this story I'll lie.
I woke up early last Friday to make my family a balanced, nutritious breakfast before my wife went to her 1950's quilting club and my kids to school. During breakfast we told each other our hopes and dreams for the future while we enjoyed each other's company. Our family bonding over breakfast always brings us closer. After we all finished eating, we held each other's hands and wished everyone an amazing day.
We finished up breakfast and cleaned up together before we went our separate ways for the day. I kissed the kids on the forehead as I gave them their cartoon detailed lunch boxes, filled to the brim with healthy foods, and waved to them as they trotted down the road to the bus stop. Now alone, my wife and I hugged for several minutes so we could feel each other's souls embraces. We were spiritually bonded for the day.
My wife gathered her quilting supplies and headed out the door. I stood in the doorway with tears licking my cheeks as I could feel her warmth leaving my body. As she climbed into the carriage I got a quick glimpse of her ankle and my heart skipped a beat with excitement and lust. I'll have to administer some lashes later to purge my unclean thoughts.
With my heart heavy because of my family dispersed for the day, I went to close the door and finish cleaning the house. Right before the door closed I felt the door reverse direction with the speed of a scared dingo being chased by a wombat. The door slammed against my back at full force throwing me and my sins to the floor. I knew then, I wouldn't have to beat myself anymore. I knew these intruders were going to cleanse me if I wanted it or not.
Dazed and confused I tried to look at my soon to be captors. Unfortunately, they were both wearing black ski masks embroidered with the letters EQNL on the foreheads. I did notice one of the guys was tall with a large belly and the other man was short with a ponytail poking out the bottom of his mask. Scared I tried to lay motionless on the floor. I tried to focus on the thought of my loving family, but a dirty spot on the floor quickly snapped me back into the moment. I slowly licked my index finger and reached for the spot, but right when I finger was about to reach it, the ponytailed man stomped on my hand. It hurt really bad and I peed a little in my undies. The big man spoke, "David, why do you always need to be so aggressive and mean? This poor man was just trying to clean a spot up."
The ponytailed man referred to as David, quickly backhanded the large man and said in a growling whisper, "Damnit John, you used my name. Just shut up and do as you're told," John shook his head and tried to wipe his tears off with his mask. "John I need you to pick him up and drag his tushy to his computer so we can get this started," again John nodded at David and snotted back a runny nose.
John gently grabbed me by the shoulders and hoisted me to my feet. He even brushed me off a bit and gave me a friendly squeeze to reassure me everything was going to be ok. David quickly shoved John out of the way and pushed me up the stairs towards my living room. I was a bit embarrassed because I hadn't had time to fully clean the house after breakfast and the table still needed a heavy dose of Pledge. Today was not going too well for me. I just hope we don't go to the bedroom, I still needed to do laundry.
Scared poopiless, I made my way up the stairs and headed straight for my computer. I glimpsed over my shoulder to see how close my attackers where and just then I saw David pull off his mask in frustration. He saw me see him and I froze in fear. In anger David ripped the other man's mask off. In shock, I realized I knew these two men. The one with the ponytail was David Georgeson and the big man was John Smedley. Both of them are employees of Sony Online Entertainment. Still in a rage, David leapt at me like a squirrel discovering a golden silo of nuts. Before I knew it, his ponytail was lashing my face. He was a master of the ancient Ponytail Cobra Style. My eyes stung as his hair poked at my eyes. Surprisingly, his hair smelt beautiful. He must take great care of it an moisturize it for hours on end. Even though it was really painful getting whipped, his hair was extremely soft and reminded me of the fresh flowers I put on the kitchen table for my wife everyday.
Red, sweaty, and salivating with rage, David looked at my blood shot eyes and said between clinched teeth, "that is only a taste of the pain that will come if you tell a soul what you saw here today. You understand me my little test monkey? " I choked back tears and the urge to tell him he smelt wonderful and nodded. He grabbed me and spoke again, "good, now get your wallet and log into our website.
I sat down at my computer and fumbled to get my wallet out of my pants pocket. I was having a horrible time getting it out because I was sitting on it. I was too scared to ask if I could get up and pull it out, so I struggled to dislodge it. To my surprise John rubbed my head as I was struggling to reassure me everything was going to be ok. What I nice guy! I'm not sure how he got mixed up with David. I eased my wallet out of my pocket with help from John's relaxing touch. My wallet was a little wet from the pee pee that dribbled out and soiled my pants.
Finally I had my moist wallet free and my credit card out. I clicked on the Everquest Next Landmark website and waited for instructions. David was in the kitchen looking at snacks when John whispered in my ear, "just relax and don't worry too much. We just need you to alpha test our game. We don't care which Founder's Pack you pick, just pick one quickly before David gets angry again."
"Thanks John, " I said through scared tears and snot bubbled our my nose," I really appreciate you making me feel safe. "
David stormed back to us with a plate of my chicken piccatta and brown sugar glazed green beans I had made for dinner the night before. Wild-eyed and chewing a generous bite of chicken David spat, " Just pay for the daggum alpha already! We don't have all day!"
Hastily I bought the Explorer's pack for $60. Then John grabbed my mouse hand and helped me navigate to the alpha client. His hands were surprisingly soft and gentle. I had the overwhelming feeling he should work for Allstate because I felt like I was in good hands.
I made the two men some deli sandwiches for lunch and we took a little nap as we waited for the client to download. David was a very light sleeper and he slept with one eye open staring at me. John on the other hand, curled up in the fetal position and snored like a bear.
My computer alerted us when the download was done. We rubbed our sleepies away and I logged into the game. Even though I wasn't following this game at all, it was exciting to log in for the first time. I made my character and launched him into the world. That is when the problems started and David got angry again.
At first he smiled as he watched himself talk about the game in the introduction, but the second my character popped up he was all business. He grabbed my hands and forced me to click this or click that, giving detailed instructions. "Click here. Click there. Open that menu. Mine that copper. Mine the tree. No! Stop clicking that! No! No! Lay claim to land.."
I went on frantically trying to keep up with his directions. I looked back at John to show him I needed help. He just shook his head no and pulled his knees tighter to his tummy. David continued, "YOU need to lay claim. Click it... Click it... DAMNIT click it!"
I couldn't it wasn't working. Tears started streaming down my face as I tried to lay claim to land and I couldn't. It seemed to be all gone. I just started running around in circles trying to claim some land when the game froze up. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up because I knew the wrath that was coming.
David jumped on my computer desk an assumed the T-Rex Stance of Death. His ponytail whipped at the air splitting atoms as it flailed around. Sparks started to form in the air around him and his eyes glowed a bright orange. I knew then he was a Super Saiyan. In a flash he had a cell phone in his hand and he was screaming at customer support. "I don't care what happened! Get the gosh darn game back on line! Fiddle-de-do!" He stomped his feet in rage and his glow grew more intense and I had to shield myself from the heat.
In a fiery blaze he launched off my desk and grabbed John. John looked scared. David wrapped his arms around John, wiggled his nose and bobbed his head. The NDA disappeared in a blink with the two men. I stared at the spot they were just standing, dumbfounded. The air still and no evidence of their existence. I looked back at the table and saw only one plate from lunch, my plate. Next to my plate was a spinning top spinning endlessly. I turned toward the door and saw my family playing outside and I walked towards them...