jump to navigation

When is it Nostalgia Anyway? September 6, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest, World of Warcraft.
Tags: , , ,

Nostalgia is part of the basic premise of this blog.  A look at older games is called out in my introduction post for the blog, and the very next day I was on about what I called the EverQuest Nostalgia Tour, a semi-regular event for me in the last seven years.

Cube Ahoy!

Nostalgia in cube form

I have spent time on the way things were.  In addition to EverQuest, TorilMUD has gotten its share of posts. (I recommend the Leuthilspar Tales for real nostalgia.)  I have delved back into various Kesmai games from the GEnie days, such as Air Warrior, Stellar Warrior, and Stellar Emperor.  I stopped to recall things like the first game I played, the invasion from space, the amazing Spaceship Warlock, the influential Total Annihilation, the old shooter Delta Force, and even a game played with real cars.

I have attempted to define the essence of what it means to be a Wizardry game, at least from the perspective of 1983.  And I have gone back to my first gaming console and my first computer, as well as trying to chart out my own gaming timeline.

Nostalgia is definitely on the menu here at Cafe Wilhelm.

So I am sure it was no big surprise to long time readers that, as the turning of the season approached and school started back up, I headed out on my regular autumnal nostalgia run.  This year EverQuest was set aside (for now) because my daughter wanted to go back and play World of Warcraft.  Azeroth was declared the nostalgia destination this year.

And then Bhagpuss asked a question in a comment which made me start to consider when something was really nostalgia and when it was not.

Going back to EverQuest, for me, is clearly nostalgia.  I stopped playing the game in any serious way about a decade back and have only returned now and again to help revive my memories of that time.  My intention for those efforts is always to review and remind.  I do not think I have ever seriously entertained the idea that EverQuest would become my main gaming focus again.

I feel about the same way about EverQuest II.  I have many fond memories from playing the game in 2004 and 2005.  But the game has grown beyond that and has become something I tend to like less and less each time I visit.  I do not think it will ever be my main game ever again.  It has been relegated to the nostalgia pile.

But for MMO tagged games that I started playing after that, things get a bit sticky.

I do not think that Lord of the Rings Online is on the nostalgia pile as yet.  I have a fondness for it, and enjoy going back and playing through the Lone Lands and Evendim to a degree that seems a bit odd even to me.  But I also played the game seriously all summer and went on to see new things as I made my way through Moria.  I am still making progress in the game, not just revisiting old haunts to rekindle memories.  Playing LOTRO is not yet about nostalgia to my mind.

EVE Online, which I started playing about seven years back, is still a main focus game.  I am nostalgic for some of my naivete I suppose, but listening to Below the Asteroids in a dark room makes me feel like it is 2006 all over again.  I see trails and old graphic models in my mind’s eye.

And green nebulae

I get a tinge of nostalgia every so often for Warhammer Online.  There were some good bits there.  Fun was had, for a time.  I sometimes want to go back and just look at the landscapes.  But that tinge is never enough to overcome the memory of not wanting to log in after about the 10th week or the idea of giving EA money.  My embargo on EA is not absolute.  I still play some Need for Speed World once in a while.  But the company and its reputation adds an additional barrier between me and their games.  And Origin might as well be the Berlin Wall.  Anything that requires that is off the table.

Pirates of the Burning Sea whispers in my ear every so often.  I liked the ship battles.  But it seems like too much effort for just that.  The rest of the game was uninspiring.

Rift is still too new for me to be nostalgic.  Neverwinter is barely a thing for me yet.  Vanguard was never a thing for me.  World of Tanks is there whenever I want it.  Star Trek Online lost me, though I was in denial for a long time on that one.  Runes of Magic became all that I hated about F2P games at the time… greedy, spammy, ugly, and unpolished… and don’t get me started on their patcher.  I have no desire to return.  Star Wars Galaxies, which I could experience through emulation, was just me on the outside looking in.  I never bought the box.

Which brings us around to WoW.

I am certainly nostalgic for Azeroth.  Or the 2006-ish version of Azeroth, as my time on the Emerald Dream server indicated.  I wish against all possible hope that Blizzard will give us that sort of thing some day.  (Or at least that I hadn’t forgotten my Emerald Dream password.)

But does that mean returning to World of Warcraft is necessarily an act of nostalgia?

Certainly memories of past times in the game fed the desire to return.  And the plan to roll on a fresh server and start from scratch to experience it all is straight from the MMO nostalgia playbook.

On the flip side though, the plan is not to relive the old but to experience the new.  We have chosen a different path.  We are rolling pandas, going horde, trying pet battles, and generally throwing ourselves into much that is new… or at least as new as post-Cataclysm Azeroth.  And if the regular Saturday night instance group was up for it, I think WoW would become my main non-EVE MMO for the foreseeable future.

So I do not think that playing WoW is not about nostalgia for me.  That is in part because Blizzard foolishly (in my opinion) put a bullet in the head of nostalgia with the Cataclysm expansion.  But mostly because WoW is still a current game for me.  I am there to play, not just there to visit.

Or such is my belief at this time.

How about you?  What is MMO nostalgia for you?

Where is the border between nostalgia runs and just playing the damn game?

Or do you buy into the nostalgia concept at all?

RuneScape Embraces Nostalgia February 22, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest, Misc MMOs.
Tags: , , ,

RuneScape, a popular (200 million accounts created is their claim to fame metric) browser-based fantasy MMORPG, has decided to farm the nostalgia sector by opening up servers aimed at those who want to relive RuneScape’s past.

Officially called “Old School RuneScape,” the setting will be August 2007 version of RuneScape.


Jagex, the game’s developer, has taken an interesting approach to bringing these servers to the community.  They have a poll up to gauge how much interest there is in the servers, with more interest by the player base yielding more focus by the studio itself.

The poll approaches 250K

The poll approaches 250K

Omali has some condensed details over at MMO Fallout about what happens at given result levels. (There is an update to go along with the final results.)  There is also an official FAQ up about the servers.

Interesting to me is that by default… with the likely poll results… is that people interested in playing the classic version of this free-to-play game will have to pay for a subscription.  That seems right to me.  I don’t think people looking to relive a “classic” experience do so because it might be cheaper.

Certainly I did not run off an play on the Emerald Dream server in order to dodge the WoW subscription price, and I doubt Keen or SynCaine were so influenced with the Ultima Online Forever.

And that is how SOE has handled things with the Fippy Darkpaw server in the post free to play EverQuest world, making it available only to subscribers.

So RuneScape joins the rather short list of MMOs offering official “old school” versions of their game.  I only know of two others.  There is SOE with its EverQuest progression servers and Mythic with its past classic Dark Age of Camelot server (and its never to see the light of day Origin server).

And while there will always be arguments about what point in time is the “best” and whether such a server should be stuck in time or move forward, I think this sort of exercise is a good way to reach out and revive interest in your game with a big chunk of your current and former player base.

Of course, this sort of things probably works with some games better than others.  World of Warcraft is an obvious target.  Few expansions and slow improvement over time gives it a series of identifiable eras.  EVE Online, on the other hand… their whole single server approach pretty much precludes such a nostalgia path… plus who wants to go back to the days before “jump to zero?”

What MMOs would you like to see embrace nostalgia?  Or does that even have any appeal for you?

That Didn’t Take 14 Days November 17, 2010

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest II.
Tags: , ,

Not that I thought it would.

That got finished off the quest “The Great Challenge,” which I would put in air quotes if I were saying it aloud, and nabbed me the title “Knight of Bayle.”

Gold coins?  There isn’t anything worth having that costs less than a plat these days, judging from my last peek at the broker.

Okay, time to find my way to New Halas proper already.  The snow is blinding me.

And, for the record, by the time I hit 20, I was outrunning some of the quests in the zone.  A couple went gray before I could complete them.

You Cannot Go Home… Yet You Go Anyway September 20, 2010

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest, Lord of the Rings Online, TorilMUD, World of Warcraft.
Tags: ,

I was in Middle-earth last night, finishing up some crafting and generally shuffling things around between characters when I got a whisper…

I just downloaded and installed this today, you mind if I talk to you for a minute?

Oh, that is always a dangerous question.  I’ve gotten that whisper before and it can mean anything from simple directions to the bank to a full on thesis-defense level of dissection of the MMORPG genre as a whole.

Still, I try to be helpful and social, so I said sure.

The question lay somewhere between the two extreme, but was one I knew well enough, at least in spirit.

I’ve been looking for an MMO similar to EverQuest in the sense that it requires grouping for success and promotes reliance on other players.

Would you say that LOTRO is like that?

Of course, I knew exactly what he meant.

He didn’t mean EverQuest today, or even EverQuest five years back.  He wanted to know if this was going to revive the feeling that EverQuest gave back in the early days.

And as much as I am enjoying LOTRO now, I had to say that no, it wasn’t going to give that experience.

There are plenty of group quests and instances and skirmishes, but it is nowhere close to that dread you felt venturing into East Karana and seeing all that stuff between you and where you needed to go and wishing you had brought some friends along.  And then, finally getting some people together and tearing your way through the place… or getting killed and having to coordinate that corpse run.

He also wanted to know if the people in LOTRO were more social.  He’d been playing WoW and was tired of the general playing alone together feeling.

On that front I could be a little more positive.  Certainly, relative to WoW, the social atmosphere is better in LOTRO, even with the influx of new players with the F2P conversion.  In fact, the LFF channel seems to be quite busy with people looking to do things as a group.  And not every question on the Advice channel is about where one can get a horse.  Only most of the questions.

We chatted a little bit more.  We had both played EverQuest on day one.

He was of the opinion that EverQuest started heading down hill with the Velious expansion.

Me, I’ve always felt that maybe Kurnak was a mistake.  That started the change in the center of gravity of the game.

Then again I played TorilMUD on and off for 15 years, and they never had a single increase in the level cap.  They just kept adding on harder zones to keep the higher end players happy.

But they weren’t worried about retaining subscribers.

I wished him luck in finding what he was looking for in Middle-earth.  It is as good a place as any these days, and better than most in my opinion.  It is a place where you feel there is a “there” there.

But it is not EverQuest… not EverQuest as it lives in the hearts and minds of those who played back in the day.

People trot out lists and plans on how to recapture the way things were back in March of 1999, when EverQuest came out.  But I don’t think we can get there again.

The problem is that it wasn’t the game alone that made EverQuest what it was.  It was the point in time at which it arrived on the scene.  It hit at what must have been the exact right moment, and it was successful beyond the dreams of the team that made it.

And anybody who wanted to play a game like that didn’t have too many choices.  EverQuest was the place to be.

Now though… now when autumn comes and I get that urge to revisit old Norrath, to see the sites of past adventures, and I wander through the barren lands that once seemed crowded with adventurers, I know there is really no going back to that sort of game with that sort of budget and support.

The weather is turning… even here in California… the leaves will start to change color… and some weekend when there is a bit of chill in the air I’ll go watch Sayonara Norrath again and get all nostalgic and resubscribe for a month and visit the lands again and wonder where all the adventure went.

Sayonara Norrath April 20, 2008

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest, Sony Online Entertainment, YouTube.

Just because Tipa has the EverQuest Nostalgia ball rolling again with the declaration that “EverQuest is Not Dead!”

Watch this, get all misty eyed, make a new character on Luclin.

Or something like that.

EverQuest Nostalgia Tour – Part I September 12, 2006

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest, Sony Online Entertainment.

About a year ago, when I was playing EverQuest 2 heavily I found a link on the SOE forums to a Flash movie called Sayonara Norrath at this site. (The site is primarily Japanese, but it has some great stuff.)

[I have the movie embedded in a more recent post here since it has disappeared from their site.]

Watching this movie, and some of the others on the site, filled me with nostalgia for the original EverQuest.

I originally played EQ from the date of release in 1999 through until the third expansion pack came out and haven’t really touched it since. My memories are somewhat dimmed by time, but I remember the impressions and feelings of playing EQ on day 1. (for those few moments in time when you could actually get into the game and play on day 1!)

In 1999 EQ was incredibly impressive. I was in awe. I especially remember the first time I saw a Cyclops in west Karana. I stood there until it walked close enough to notice me, then killed me. But it was awesome. It was worth the experience loss and corpse recovery to see it up close at that moment.

I figured that I had a Station Access account (because I apparently liked paying twice as much for EQ2 adventure packs so I could have them a month early and ignore them) that allowed me to play EQ for no additional cost, so what the heck!

Well, almost no additional cost. I had to run down to Fry’s and pick up a copy of EverQuest Platinum ($9.99, what a bargain!) since I could not find my original CD. (I actually found the CD, the manual, the cloth map of Norrath, and the original receipt in a box three weeks ago as we were collecting stuff for a garage sale. I bought the original at Fry’s as well.)

EverQuest Platinum gave me all but the two (now three, soon to be four!) most recent expansions, so I could explore far and wide should I choose.

I rolled up a dwarf on E’ci (now Tunare), my old server, and ran immediately into the game.

Eeep! How primitive it looked! Faydark is really ugly, at least right outside of the dwarf home town. The landscape is so plain that you cannot tell where you are going. It is the same green texture map almost everywhere. I strayed from the wiggly path and ended up running between some hills where I got disoriented to the point that not only couldn’t tell what direction I was going, but had a problem even discerning which direction was up!

Eventually I found the path again and headed to the port. I tried to take the boat to Freeport, but it seems to be gone. Instead, there is an NPC there that will teleport you over to the next zone. Unfortunately, before I could teleport from that zone to Freeport, another NPC ran out and killed me. Fun!

So I changed tack and I rolled up a half elf and started in Freeport. The commonlands are much nicer, but still every piece of terrain is a perfectly flat plane made up of an irregular polygon. Nothing round in that ground! After so much time in EQ II is was very strange. And I had forgotten the trees and how much they look like cardboard cut outs made for a school play!

And it was quiet. What happened to the commonlands bazaar? There used to be stuff for sale there constantly. Now the auction channel is silent. (Okay, I understand that there is a real bazaar now, but I had no idea where it is. It had not come into being by the time I stopped playing.) Here it was, a Saturday afternoon/evening, prime time, on one of the first servers and it was dead. I think I saw five other players over a couple of hours. I expect there will be much more server consolidation.

And the joys of invisible zone boundaries! In EQII they put a door or a bell or some other item at the zone point so you wouldn’t zone by accident. Now it was a complete surprise half the time! I seem to recall that the line between East and West Karana was somewhat irregular and that running a perfect North/South course along it could have you switching zones a few times.

I was happy to see that there is now a rudimentary map system with maps supplied for common areas and an option to find NPCs in your current zone.

And a tutorial! I ran my dwarf out old-school, into the world with a sword, some rations, and not a clue. I went through a bit of the tutorial with my half elf. You get some equipment and some lessons on how to play, which is a lot better than standing in front of Qeynos killing snakes and getting killed by Fippy Darkpaw.

Somewhere along the line the UI got revamped. I found it so ugly I went to the EQ Interface web site and downloaded an alternate. I chose the Diablo 2 theme interface for the evening.

All of this really made me appreciate how good EQ2 really is and how much work Sony and its subsidiaries put into it. I wonder if it will look as primitive in 2010.

I had no plans for a long return career in EQ1, but I still wanted to roll up a character on the Qeynos side and explore a bit over there. And EQ is so undemanding that I can run it on my work-issued laptop!