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.
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.
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?