Tag Archives: Nostalgia

MegaWars Dawn of the Third Age

In order to talk about MegaWars – Dawn of the Third Age I feel I need to delve into the well of ancient games from which I drew the title of this blog.  It is been a while since I’ve gone here, so a refresher might be due.

Back in the early-to-mid 1980s personal computers were becoming common, modems were increasingly becoming an option for the, and online services like CompuServe and GEnie began to flourish.  This was the pre-web era, when even having a GUI beyond a command prompt was considered.  (There is a whole “pre-web online services” category on Wikipedia.)

And while special interest forums, online encyclopedias, and services were often bullet points used to get people to sign up, it wasn’t long before online games came into being.  Kesmai was an early leader in online games and its Island of Kesmai on CompuServe was very much a precursor to today’s fantasy MMORPGs.

Also on CompuServe was a game called MegaWars III.  If Island of Kesmai foretold the fantasy side of the MMORPG genre, then MegaWars III was very much a hint as to what the future might bring when it came to internet spaceships in EVE Online.  Launched on CompuServe in January 1984, it gained a following even at the expensive hourly connect rates that online services charged back in the day.  $15 a month seems like a bargain compared to $6 an hour.

MegaWars III did not feature a long term persistent universe.  Instead games were four week long affairs that saw everybody logging on to scout on the first night to find and colonize planets.  There was a fixed amount of numbered star systems, but the planets around them, and the quality thereof, changed with each game.

Players would colonize and manage their planets, build up defenses, try to take planets from each other, and attempt to blow up each other’s ships.  At the end of the four weeks scores were tallied up and winners declared.  The leader of the highest scoring team was declared Emperor while the highest individual score was named President of the Imperial Senate.  The top 20 scoring players were made senators.

When GEnie arrived on the scene, they wanted online games too and got Kesmai to make a simplified version of MegaWars III which was called Stellar Warrior.  A fun game in its own right, and following the four week campaign model, it did not have the depth of MegaWars III with its planetary management module.  GEnie eventually got a straight up copy of MegaWars III a bit later in the form of Stellar Emperor.

And that is where I came in.  During the fourth four week Stellar Emperor campaign during the summer of 1986 I logged into GEnie via the modem I bought from Potshot for my Apple //e and started fumbling around with online games.

It was then that I first used the handle Wilhelm Arcturus.  I had been recruited by a team called the Arcturan Empire (-AE-) and learned the ways of the game sufficiently to become both Emperor of the Galaxy and President of the Imperial Senate.  You actually got physical trophies for that back then.

Pewter Cups Awarded for Emperor and President titles

The names are probably easier to read on the paper certificates that were also mailed out to winners, including those senators in the top 20.

Wilhelm d’Arcturus Emperor of the Galaxy

Wilhelm d’Arcturus – President on the Imperial Senate

Later I dropped the “d” from the last name to become simply Wilhelm Arcturus.  My tales from those days can be found here:

And so it went.  For most of the balance of the 1980s MegaWars III and Stellar Emperor ran along as identical twins.  As the 90s approached GEnie and Kesmai began to work on improving Stellar Emperor, giving it a GUI eventually, while MegaWars III remained as it was.  If you played them both after 1989 or so you’ll probably say they were different, but before then they were essentially identical.

Into the 90s the internet and the web became a thing and online services started to fade away.  CompuServe was bought by AOL in 1997 and faded away into the background while GEnie shut down in 1999.  Kesmai ran its own online service, GameStorm, through the 90s until the company was sold to EA.  EA did what it always does with studios it buys; shut it down, never to be seen again.  And so all of the Kesmai titles, including MegaWars III, disappeared.

Like all closed online games, somebody out there decided to go ahead and recreate the originals.  I have written previously about Crimson Leaf Games and their resurrection of the original MegaWars III as well as Cosmic Ray Games and their recreation of a 90s version of Stellar Emperor.

But some time has passed since then; seven years in the case of the former and four years for the latter.

Crimson Leaf Games has been hard at work and has produced a new version of MegaWars III, MegaWars: Dawn of the Third Age.  The site for the game is here, and includes a history of MegaWars III worth reading.

The new version has a client and graphics and all sorts of things we associate with more modern online games.

The MegaWars III universe has also expanded from a couple hundred stars to over five million systems to explore.  Space has also changed in a way that might sound a bit familiar to EVE Online players.  Rather than the game being open season for PvP, there are three regions of space.  They are:

  • Empire – no combat and planets cannot be taken
  • Frontier – full combat and planet industries can be bombed but not taken
  • Open – full combat and planets can be taken

The penalty for Empire and Frontier is that you pay taxes that sap your planetary economy, and a hit in score, relative to the wild west of open space.  But in exchange for that you get complete safety in Empire space and some amount of safety in Frontier space.

The game is currently in open Alpha… which seems to be what we would call Early Access if it were on Steam… so you can try it out if you are interested.

So we now have a new take on a game that has its origins in the nearly 40 year old DECWAR, which was, in turn, an attempt to make a multiplayer version of the Star Trek terminal game from the early 70s.

And the beat goes on.

Elf

No, I am not trying to trigger Syp.  Well, not just that anyway.

Any elf will do for our purposes…

Back in high school, a distance through time more easily measured in decades than years at this point, I took German as my foreign language.  I think the primary outcome of three years of the language is that my writing in English improved greatly.  One of those side-effects, you have to examine your own language in order to learn another one.

I think my greatest achievement in German was reading Catch-22 in the language, something that took me most of a summer, a copy in English, and my German-English dictionary.  Other than that, I retain very little of the language.  Enough to annoy my mother-in-law (who is German), catch the occasional bit of dialog in a movie, appreciate The Germans episode of Fawlty Towers slightly more, get that joke about the German novel where the last two chapters are nothing but verbs, and make a poor joke from a post title.

Anyway, the German word for “eleven” is “elf,” something endlessly amusing to a 13 year old boy, an age I have never fully ceased to be.  The title is a joke because I write about fantasy MMORPGs now and again… less lately than before… where the elf is a staple, and yet relevant because this is one of those anniversary posts… my eleventh.

The Annual WP.com achievement

I am clearly out of clever titles and amusing intros at this point.  Remember that anniversary post that was full of Soviet propaganda?  Or the one grounded in Winnie the Pooh?  Now I am hanging my hat on the fact that the German word for eleven is a mythical creature in English.  It’s all I’ve got, and I’m not even going to run with it.  I’m going to just break in the usual statistics for a bit and hope I can come up with something new to say before we get to the end of the post.

For those interested in some of my better attempts at anniversary posts, here is the list:

And from that we might as well get stuck into this.

Base Statistics

In which I attempt to quantify what I have done here in the last twelve months.  The change over last year’s totals are noted in parentheses.

Days since launch: 4,018 (+365)
Posts total: 4,416 (+341)
Average posts per day: 1.097 (-0.013)
Comments: 29,415 (+1,456)
Average comments per post: 6.66  (-0.2)
Average comments per day: 7.32  (-0.33)
Spam comments: 1,376,145 (+63,980)
Comments Rescued from the Spam Filter: 424
Average spam comments per day: 342.5 (-16.7)
Comment signal to noise ratio: 1 to 47.2 (+0.2)
Comments written by me: 3,873 or 13.1%
Images uploaded:  10,416 11,764 (+1,348)
Space used by images: 270MB of my 3 GB allocation (9%, down 69%)
Blog Followers: 1,340
Twitter Followers: 722
US Presidents since launch: 3
British Monarchs since launch: 1
Prime Ministers of Italy since launch: 6 (one twice)

This is the first year of the blog where I wrote less than one post per day, hitting the publish button 24 fewer times in the last year than the year before.  That is about a month of weekday posts I did not do.  See the effect of MMO malaise?  Because, seriously, I didn’t take any long vacations or suffering from debilitating illness over the previous twelve months.  I just wrote less, something that generally happens when I am just not interested in a given topic, which in this case is my MMO hobby.

Still, the average over the full life of the blog is over a post a day.  And even 333 is more than a post every weekday, the goal for which I strive.  That would only net me about 260 posts so, while no Stakhanovite, I have exceeded my posting norm.  Not bad for an eleven year long streak.

With posts down, comments were also down, both overall… simply fewer comments than last year… and as a percentage of posts… people commented less per post.  My comments, as a percentage of the total, was up.  Probably me talking to myself.

One oddity in the stats above is the amount of space used by my uploaded images, which dropped precipitously since last year’s post.  For some reason WordPress.com reset my allocation last year.  Maybe it was a happy anniversary gesture.  Maybe it was a bug.  I suspect that nothing good will come of it and that some day I will log in and find every screen shot from 2006 through 2016 missing, having been deleted by some automated process.  But for now they survive.

Anyway, that is the basic gist of what happened here over the last year.  The remainder of the post is after the cut to keep the long list of mostly meaningless words and statistics from overwhelming the from page.  See you on the other side, should you choose to go there… or if you are looking at this in an RSS reader.

Continue reading

Where I Started Typing

My Aunt moved earlier this year and, in cleaning out her house, came across any number of items that had been stored away for years.  One of them was a typewriter.

Nothing to do with deviled ham

Probably one of the reasons I have done as well as I have in the computer age, or the information age, or whatever we end up calling this era, is that I learned to type at a fairly young age.  And the first place I started was with this typewriter.

A look under the lid, the ‘N’ key is the one sticking up in the bunch… we’ll get to that…

That is a 1937 Underwood Champion portable typewriter that my grandmother hauled off to college when she was 18.  It was portable by virtue of the fact that it came with a hard carrying case with a handle.

Typewrite and case

The typewriter sat in that case in the hallway closet at my grandmother’s house and when I would come over to visit I would often haul it out to bang away on it just for the feel of putting words on paper.  There was something about that action that made words feel more “real” or “official” to young me.

Later I would take typing in school and get my own typewriter, an Olivetti Lettera 32.  It was also a portable, though considerably smaller and lighter than the old Underwood.

The baby blue Lettera 32

(Picture source)

That was probably a fitting choice of brands as the Underwood company was purchased by Olivetti back in 1959.

I do not know where the Olivetti ended up.  With the coming of my first computer I immediately started shopping for a printer and what passed for a word processor back then.  After some fumbling about I got a copy of AppleWorks for my Apple //e and was off to the races.  At that point the typewriters went back into storage, rarely to be heard from again.

And so it goes.

Now I write a blog on much more sophisticated (or bloated… or both) software and share some of my words not on paper but electronically across the world via the internet, but I still put my fingers on the same keyboard layout I started to tinker with back in the early 70s.

And it was the internet that helped me figure out how old this typewriter was.  There is no date of manufacture stamped on it that I could find.  But I could see a serial number stamped into the frame.

Serial number inside the unit

With that number I was able to use Google to find the Typewriter Database site which includes a page of Underwood Champion serial numbers by year.  That pinned down the year, which lined up with my grandmother graduating from high school and heading off to college.

The typewriter itself still looks to be in prime mechanical condition.  “They don’t make them like that any more” might be cliche, but it has some grounding in reality.  And among the other things you can find on the internet are ribbons compatible with it.  I am sure the ribbon in there hasn’t been replaced since the 1950s at the latest.  There is scant print ability left in the dried out husk that is in it currently.

Some words are just visible

Actually typing on it requires quite a firm touch.  I recall how my grandmother used to brutalize the IBM Selectric in the library where she worked, pounding on those keys that would activate with a much lighter touch.  The mechanical operation requires you to push it, and hitting the shift key lifts up the entire platen unit, so not something you can do without a pinky that has been working out at the gym.

And then there are the quirks of early keyboards.  Each key cost money, so they only included what was necessary.  You will see there is no key for the number one.  The lower case ‘L’ was deemed sufficient for that.  And with no key for the number one, there is also no key for the exclamation point.  To make one you would type a period then backspace and type a single quote over it.  And forget about your angled, square, or curly braces.  Straight up parenthesis is all you better need.

You do, however, get a special key for the fractions 1/2 and 1/4, while some of the other standard punctuation is scattered about the keyboard in places you might not expect to find them.

The keys work… mostly… save for the ‘N’ key, which sticks.  It used to stick occasionally, now it sticks every time you hit it.  The arm of the key is slightly bent so gets stuck as it strikes and you have to reach up and pull the key back every time you used it.  Nobody will be typing the great American novel on this machine… not very quickly anyway.

Also, there is a little bell that rings when you hit the end of a line so you know when to hit the return lever to start on a new line.  I had forgotten about that aspect of manual typewriters.

The case however has seen better days.  The hinges on the back are broken, so you can no longer carry the case by the handle.  You have to carry it like you were carrying a cake in a box lest the typewriter come loose and fall out.

Now I have to figure out what to do with the unit.  This 80 year old typewriter is a minor bit of family history, but not really an heirloom.  My daughter was interested in it momentarily before going back to her iPhone.  I expect I will find some room for it in my office with the rest of the junk I hang onto.

Looking for Nostalgia and a Guild on Fallen Gate

Over the weekend I gave in and re-upped for EverQuest II in order to potter around on the new Fallen Gate server.  That seemed to put me in league with just about every other EverQuest II player out there judging by the server status monitor.

Fallen Gate is #1

I did make one concession to my current play pattern and only opted for a single month Daybreak All Access subscription.  As I documented with Runes of Magic and Guild Wars 2, my interest seems to be wane in about three weeks.

Daybreak was happy enough to take my money and soon I was hooked up as a subscriber.  The first thing I needed to do was roll up a character on Fallen Gate.

But that meant deleting a character.

Through means shrouded by the mists of time I have managed to acquire 18 character slots on my account.  That is about half a dozen more than I think I should have.  I know I didn’t buy that many extra slots.  And, of course, all of them were full.

Fortunately a couple of the slots were taken by filler characters I rolled up back when the Stormhold server launched about two years back and never really used.  I wasn’t sure what class I wanted to play, so rolled up three right away because there was some early start prize or bonus if you did.  What the actual benefit was I have forgotten, but they got it and then never used it, so deleting them was easy.  My other characters, going back as far as November 2004, remain safe.

As usual I wasn’t sure what to roll up, so I went for my default, which is a berserker on the Qeynos side of the world.  And then I clicked the wrong thing and ended up with a guardian.  But, since I don’t think I have ever played a guardian, I ran with it.  I was soon on the boat to the Queen’s Colony on the Isle of Refuge (I got that bit right at least), a rescued bit of flotsam from the sea, and as quickly on the isle itself ready to start my new life.

On the Isle of Refuge

The isle isn’t what it used to be back in the day.  My memory is no doubt faulty to some degree on this topic, but the quests seem different as do some of the mobs.  And the pacing of the quest line seems to be set to accommodate specific rate of advancement not present on Fallen Gate.

Do I know you guys? Were you here in 2004?

On the Fallen Gate server experience gain is supposed to be set close to 2004 pacing than what you would find on a current live server.  For the first 50 levels on a live server you out run the old content pretty quickly.  On the new, while the pacing wasn’t completely hamstrung, I did find myself picking up quests that were marked as high and higher level without leveling up myself.

Well, the isle isn’t the only option.

Back in the day I used to stick around on the Isle of Refuge with a new character until the bitter end, doing all the quests, hitting the max level allowed, banking up some additional experience so at least one more level would pop as soon as I left, and, most importantly of all, I would finish up the two isle-only collection quests.

The feathers quest

Back in the day you could not return to the isle nor could you find the items for those collections in any other place in Norrath.  So you had to find the last item there or pay what was often an extortionary price on the market later on.

Now though the feathers and shells spawn in the other starter areas and you can go back to the isle if you feel you must.  So while the Isle of Refuge has some nostalgia value, I’d been through it a few times since its return a while back, so was ready to move on.

Yes, I get it.

Even the NPCs on the isle were bringing up the idea of getting the hell out of there pretty early on.  Here I am hitting level 3 and being given a prompt to get out of Dodge.

Are you still here?

That meant talking to Captain Varlos to arrange the voyage to the mainland.

What are my options here?

From the Isle of Refuge you can head to Qeynos, which is semi-nostalgic though much changed since 2004, or the Frostfang Sea, which at this point is old enough to have some nostalgia value of its own.  The Frostfang Sea and New Halas also have a more coherent quest line and better housing when the time comes, so I chose the frozen wastes even though I had yet to find shoes.  Gear was an issue.

Alas, Captain Varlos and his ship did not survive the journey.

A quirk of the change from the Isle of Refuge to the newer starting zones is that they operate on the same assumption, that you were fished out of the sea.  So when I arrived I was telling people how orcs attacked the boat I was on.

Relating the tale of Captain Varlos… apparently

Since Captain Varlos and his crew were nowhere to be seen I have to assume they did not survive.

I was dropped into the shallow end of the pool in the Frostfang Sea, where the first low level quests start.  This seems to be at odds with Bhagpuss’s experience, as he ended up in the deep end somehow.  I am not sure why we were in different points, but logic doesn’t always survive the journey to Norrath either.

I kept on running the quest line from there, getting bits of gear.  I did spent a bit of Daybreak Cash to buy a pair of 24 slot bags from the shop.  They were 150DC each, but I got 500DC for subscribing, so I am still ahead on that front I suppose… plus I still had another 13K in DC on my account.

Another quest hub on the Frostfang Sea

This is the usual story, starting out, running through the initial content, getting the first bit of gear.  I suppose the next decision is what trade skill I should go with… I cannot imagine playing EQII and not crafting.  The problem is that EQII trade skills all have their merits, and by picking one I know I will feel the sting of missing out on another.  This is how alts develop.  I am leaning towards armor crafting, since you need to re-up all your gear every ten levels, or alchemy, to boost my skills through the complicated skill level process in the game.  I haven’t committed yet, but I am harvesting along the way in order to be prepared.

And then there is the bigger question.  What should I do to keep myself from tiring in three weeks and wandering off to some other short-lived adventure?

Ideally I should find a guild to join.  There is even a guild recruitment interface in the game so you can find guilds that are looking for players.

Looking for a Guild looking for me

However, I am horrible at picking guilds.  I tend to pick guilds where I know somebody so I have someone to chat with. I tend to be a very quiet person… ever the outsider at the party… so being in a guild of strangers ends up with me playing solo.  Of course, that isn’t all on me.  Guilds looking to simply scoop up players wholesale in order to boost levels tend to be a mass of individuals with a common tag as opposed to a team.  You can’t really be on the team if the team never gets together.

So that is my goal, to find some group or guild to join so I’ll have a reason to stick around.  I don’t mind playing solo 90% of the time, but I like to do some group content now and again.

Of course, part of getting into a guild is being something a guild is looking for, and at level 6 on a server where the great bubble of players looks to have already hit level 20 and beyond makes me feel like I am behind.  So I must grind up to join a guild so that I may be in a guild to grind… or something.  We’ll see how it goes.

Further Mining of Console Nostalgia

One of the nostalgia stories of the year so far has been how deeply Nintendo underestimated the demand for their Classic Nintendo Entertainment System retro console.

NES Nostalgia… for the lucky few

This apparently bottomless pool of demand was bound to spark some sort of reaction.  Nintendo itself plans another jaunt into the retro-console pool with a SNES Classic Edition come the holiday season.

But there has been word of other attempts to cash in on this sort of rosy glasses wish for days more innocent.  And last week a company called AT Games announced two such ventures, one for the Atari 2600 and one for the Sega Genesis.

I actually owned both of those consoles… which is saying something since I have never really been a console gamer.  As I noted previously, I have no nostalgia for the NES because I already owned a PC before it ever saw the light of day.  But what about these two stand outs from an otherwise console avoiding past?

Let’s talk about the Atari 2600.

Flash Back to This

This was a breakthrough console, a success, and back in 1977 I wanted nothing so much for Christmas as to find one of these under the tree.  And I got one too, despite the steep price for the time of $144.

And I played the hell out of it.  Well, out of some of the games.  The sad but true story though is that a lot of the games for the 2600 really sucked.  And the marketing was shameless, promoting cartridges with 27 games when most of the games represented minor variations on a theme.

I’m looking at you Air-Sea Battle

And that wasn’t even the worst exaggeration.  I think Space Invaders might hold that title.

You lying sack of shit! There is ONE game here!

Not that there were not some good games out there.  We could play Adventure endlessly, and Surround and Raiders of the Lost Ark kept us going.  I even liked Space Invaders.

We could find fun in this!

But I also remember saving up birthday money and my two dollar a week allowance to walk up to Long’s Drugs to buy Slot Racers for $30 in 1978, only to be so horribly disappointed that I feel the shame of it to this day.

I knew that the time that the technology of the 2600 wasn’t up to the standard of the arcades, but there were still some games that were shockingly bad even for the low standards of the medium… and I never even had a copy of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

But the real problem here is that I don’t feel much nostalgia for the games.  Somebody wrote that the internet would eventually kill nostalgia because nothing would ever really go away.  You could always go back and read up about Quisp cereal or popular events or fads or video games any time you wanted.

And the Atari 2600 has been way ahead of the curve on this front.  While the unit was introduced about 40 years ago, it has come back in some new cheap-ass retro console form a few times already.

Furthermore, even if we leave hardware aside, emulated software packages featuring “Atari Classics” have been around for about 20 years on their own as well.  I own a couple of those, so I can play the half dozen games I want to remember any time I want.  And even if I were to lose those somehow, I can wander over to the Internet Archive and play them.

Basically, for me, this aquifer of nostalgia couldn’t have been pumped drier if a California almond grower lived on top of it.  So why would I want more clutter around the house?

Ah well.  So what about Sega then?

More Flashing back

My feeling about this is a bit different.  The Sega Gensis was never a console I sought out, and I have written the tale about how I ended up with one.

The games were not bad at the time.  Playing on the Sega Genesis back in the early 90s didn’t feel like a let down from the arcade, which probably helped speed along the demise of the arcades by the end of the decade.  But they still lacked the depth of what I could play on my PC.  I had friggin’ Civilization to play back then.

There are a couple of titles that might tempt me down nostalgia lane for the Sega Genesys.  NBA Jams or Desert Storm or Populous might fit the bill.  The problem is that none of the titles I would be interested in made the list for inclusion.  Instead the titles available are heavy with Sonic the Whorehog in his various forms, and the problem with Sonic is that Sega has already reproduced any of his titles on every platform possible.

All of which seems to go back to the point I referenced a few paragraphs back, nostalgia requires some absence, and Sonic, like the Atari 2600, never really left.  As an ex-girlfriend of mine used to say, “How can I miss you if you won’t go away!”

So neither of these retro consoles seem ripe for me, as both are attempting to mine nostalgia that just isn’t there.  But then again, I am probably an outlier in that regard.  I am sure there is somebody out there who remembers the 2600 or the Genesis fondly and hasn’t seen or played any of the games from them since back in the day.

StarCraft Remastered Announced

I was hoping to hear something about this at BlizzCon back in November, but everything takes longer than you think it will, and at Blizzard you have to dial that up by another half again.  So while the word first leaked almost a year and a half ago, Blizzard has finally announced the remastered version of StarCraft.

About damn time indeed

The StarCraft site has the current details.  Sort of…  And there is a trailer.

The key bullet points for the remaster are:

  • Remastered Graphics
  • Revised Dialogue and Audio
  • Blizzard Friends and Matchmaking
  • Classic StarCraft Gameplay

The graphics will be 4K HD, which is quite a step up from the 640×480 the game has run on for the last 19 years.  The whole thing will still be 2D perspective, it will just finally look good on your widescreen monitor.

The revised dialog and audio… well, I guess if you are in there and changing stuff, higher quality audio might be something you want to change, but I worry a bit about that one.  A lot of StarCraft to me is the way it sounds.  If the marines don’t say, “Jacked up and good to go!” it might be an issue for me.

Blizzard “friends” and matchmaking are fine as far as it goes.  But the important/traditional aspect of the game, the LAN connection, remains which seems to indicate that it won’t be converted into another Blizzard game that requires and internet connection in order to play.  For a stretch back in the day StarCraft was our after hours game at the office thanks to LAN play.

And then there is “classic” StarCraft game play.  This is, after all, the game that was an esport before people were talking about esports, the game that pretty much became the national video game of South Korea.  So while remastering is good, I do wonder how it will impact game play with more data on screen and the whole “zoom out” view.  Part of the challenge of StarCraft was dealing with limited view of the terrain that you were given.  If you didn’t have scouts out and your eyes on the mini-map, your foe could surprise you.

The target date for the release of StarCraft Remastered is this summer.

As part of this, the original standard definition version of the game is getting an update and will be free, which certainly implies that the remastered version will cost you something.  I wonder what a price tag will do to enthusiasm for the project.  Of course, I was happy enough to shell out for Age of Empires II: Age of Kings when the HD remaster of that came out, so maybe that won’t be a barrier.

Of course, the other question that springs to mind is what does this mean for StarCraft II?  I haven’t heard anything bad about the successor title aside from the gripe that, in an effort to not screw up a good thing, Blizzard did not stray very far from the original, so that it did not stand out on its own.  But at least it had up-to-date graphics and supported modern screen resolutions.

What happens to StarCraft II now that the original is coming back in a remastered format that should “fix” the key barriers to playing it?

And, finally, I wonder where things stand on the other two remaster projects, Warcraft III and Diablo II?  The trio being remastered represent the greats of the pre-World of Warcraft era for Blizzard.  What happens when they return fit to be played on modern machines?

Nostalgia for a Virtual Spaceship

lt is interesting how certain images from old video games can cause a swell of emotion.  Just the other day Bhagpuss opened a post with a screen shot from EverQuest showing the bridge in North Karana that connets the zone to South Karana that launched within me a nostalgic reverie.

I spent a lot of time back in the day… and more recently during the early Fippy Darkpaw progression server era… in and around that bridge and its big block building.

There is, no doubt, some imagery from any game that I spent a lot of time playing that would bring on a nostalgic reaction.  When it comes to EVE Online, there is a ship… and some images… which do that for me.  The ship in question is the Caldari Cormorant.

Cormorant Classic

I even wrote a post… more than five years back now… about how I think of my early days in New Eden, when everything was fresh and new and I was figuring out the basics… at least things more basic than the basic things I am still trying to figure out now… and just undocking and flying about in space was a marvel, as the Age of the Cormorant.  It was my first real successful mission running ship.

Guns Blazing! Missile on the way!

One of the benefits of it were that destroyers were a later addition to the game, so their models looked pretty good.  At the time there were some original ships that looked awkward and shiny and positively low resolution.

What the Megathron looked like back then

And since it was one of the newer models at the time, it has soldiered on as is for years without update.  Its look has changed a bit with various graphic engine updates, the textures on it have changed a bit, and you can apply SKINs to it now, but for the most part the Cormorant I flew back in 2006 looks pretty much like the Cormorant I was still flying now and again up into last year.

Guristas Cormorant Skin

Meanwhile, the graphics of the game around the Cormorant have changed drastically.  Space has been transformed, nebulae are bright and colorful, stations have been updated, and asteroids no longer look like space potatoes.  You can run through screen shots in the Classic Graphics category on my other blog for a taste of what space was like way back when I started playing.

Over the years a lot of ships have been updated.  Some of them for the better.  I think the Caldari Scorpion and Moa, both victims of the asymmetry gone wild school of ship design ended up much better for the effort.  (Yes, the Cormorant is asymmetrical too, that was ever the theme of the Caldari school of design until the Drake showed up, but it a somewhat understated way.)

Others I am not sure were worth the effort.  I like the new Slasher/Claw models, but the old ones were still good, while the Dominix went from being a space potato to being a slightly squared off space potato.

And some of the changes were not improvements at all to my eye.  The Oneiros went from a light, asymmetrical feel to a ponderous bulk while the Griffon, once such a slender, graceful design, was turned into a flying space pig.

The old Griffin, as I will always remember it

I know it is all a matter of taste and perspective, but I have to call them how I see them.

So it is with some trepidation that I see the Cormorant is up for a revision.  CCP has a video out about the upcoming change to the model.

It isn’t awful update like the Griffon change, but it is a departure from the essence of the old design, something that hits at a long held memory of the game.  You can’t stop progress, and every ship ugly or not has its fans and they are all going to get a face list some day, so I have to take it in stride. (Except the Drake. Never the Drake, which ranks right after the Cormorant with me for nostalgia.  Change that and I am shooting the monument!)

There is also a video about the redesign process and considerations as well.  Antennas and fins and a wing-like nature are apparently the Caldari motif.

There is something comforting about something remaining unchanged, like that bridge in North Karana.  I haven’t flown a Cormorant on a fleet in nearly a year, but I still have one in my hangar, so I could fly it if I wanted to.  I suspect that I will undock now and fly around a bit to get a few final screen shots before the big change.