Tag Archives: Nostalgia

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.

Where the Hell is that EverQuest Successor Already?

A staple of MMO blogging is going on about the good old days, and no days were gooder and older at the same time than classic EverQuest.

EverQuest

I will stop for a second and define “classic” EverQuest as a time somewhere between late beta and the final days of the Planes of Power expansion.  Legacy of Ykesha changed the world too much in my opinion.  But if you’re down with Frogloks, the era was certainly dead with Lost Dungeons of Norrath, which made instanced dungeons a thing.

And in that time frame, the classic era, EverQuest was at its most popular, as millions of players passed through the game and as many as 550,000 were subscribed at once.  Most popular has to mean best product, right?  That number is how we know that we aren’t just suffering from selective memory that is editing out the bad bits.

So there have been calls to return to or recreate that era… probably since that era… to bring back all sorts of things like the harsh death penalty, simple classes, spells every five levels, mandatory grouping, open world dungeons, steep level curves, travel time, contested raiding, mobs that chase you right to the zone line, and probably dozens more that I cannot think of at the moment.

And yet, despite that, SOE quite deliberately moved away from that list.  It was as though some old school fans made a list of things that made the game great… that list I just started on myself… and the company said, “You like that?  Well, it has to go then!”  So we got instancing, easier levels, solo quests, a light death penalty, mercenaries, the Plane of Knowledge, player vendors, and some of the most awkward looking mounts ever to grace a video game.

The time seemed ripe for a successor, somebody to get back the essential hardships that molded a generation of MMO gamers.  But who would take on this task?

Mark Jacobs had EverQuest in mind when he said he wanted to take the “suck” out of MMOs.  But his game, Dark Age of Camelot, was really about realm vs. realm combat and not the Diku raiding and level grind on which EverQuest was built.  So I don’t think we can count that.

SOE themselves offered up EverQuest II, dreaming of it being the successor.  But EQII was build on a base of ideas that seemed to largely revolve reducing customer calls and quieting a few persistent complainers on the forums.  Having played EQ and EQII at launch, I gave my impression of what SOE’s “lessons learned” must have included.  EQII was many things, but it was not a successor to EQ.

Blizzard, of course, brought out World of Warcraft shortly after EQII, and it has dominated ever since.  Openly based on EQ, it sought to make a kinder, gentler, and more colorful version of the game.  It embraced a solo, no-fail, low penalty path through the game, the sort of attributes we now derisively ascribe to millennials.  That couldn’t have possibly been the real successor, and even if it was, they have screwed it all up since then.

Then there was Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, the Brad McQuaid attempt to get back to all that was good and right about MMOs, the REAL sequel to EverQuest.  While people blame poor execution on its failure to stick with anything beyond a tiny audience… and, at the time, making MMOs was hard and you had to do all the grunt work yourself… but I still feel he strayed from the true path.  I mean, how many of the fans of the game would go on about how “pretty” the game was to look at?  When was “pretty” ever an aspect of EverQuest, unless the word was paired up with things like, “ugly,” “awkward,” “dated,” or “strange?”

A few spiders were left for us

Oh, the textures!  Classic EverQuest!

And he couldn’t leave well enough alone when it came to the 1999 formula and had to add new things like diplomacy.  So, in the end, not really a successor, as it never attracted enough of those it was alleged to be for.

Meanwhile, in 2006 SOE itself decided to try to farm this obsession for classic servers and rolled up what they called a “progression” server.  It was popular, so popular that the had to roll up a second one.  The two servers, The Combine and The Sleeper launched in June of 2006 and opened up later expansions as the raid bosses for the current expansion were defeated.  A flawed interpretation of 1999, and driven at the pace of raiders who would defeat bosses in short order, it became a staple of the game after free to play, when a subscription was required to wallow in the nostalgia provided.  To this day the servers remain popular, with the latest one, Phinigel, showing high loads on the server status page at even odd hours of the day.

Who is playing at 5am?

Who is playing at 5am PST?

While Daybreak has finally realized the potential of such servers… the first couple of attempts were launched with fanfare and then largely ignored by the community team… and while they do hint at an untapped desire for such an old school experience… they are not really successors in any sense of the word.  Also, the experience they offer is tainted by things that did not exists back in 1999, like crude maps and a quest log.

But for a long time… over a decade really… that was pretty much the only option available for somebody seeking the old school experience.  By 2006 WoW had fully dominated the market, and who wanted to knock-off an MMO that peaked at 550K subs when there was one driving to 10 million subscribers world wide they could blatantly copy.

It took the death of the big budget MMO (Star Wars: The Old Republic implosion), the death of the subscription-only MMO (The Elder Scrolls Online or WildStar, take your pick), and the cancellation of any future plans for Norrath (EverQuest Next gets cancelled) to really get to a point where the industry could even consider not copying WoW and reflect on the origins of the genre and where it first really succeeded.  Even Blizzard is having to acknowledge that their “good old days” are not today, but at some point in the past with the whole Nostalrius thing.

So we have entered the era of the niche revival MMO.  We have Camelot Unchained seeking to relive Dark Age of Camelot in some way, Shroud of the Avatar as some sort of 3D vision of the Ultima series, Crowfall… um… doing whatever it is doing, and Project: Gorgon just getting weird, because why not!

And in this time, it seems like somebody could go back and copy the 1996 Sojourn MUD/TorilMUD flavor of the classic DikuMUD mechanics and make another grouping and level focused MMO in Unity pretty easily.

Yes, I know we already have Project 1999, but having to be able to find a copy of EverQuest Titanium seems like a pretty high bar for entry in 2017.  And then there is Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen, Brad McQuaid’s next run at an EverQuest successor.  But I fear that he will be tempted to stray off the true path yet again.

Isn’t there somebody else out there that could rebuild a vision 1999 for us?

I mean, unless this whole nostalgia thing is just bullshit and the last 18 years of the MMO market has actually reflected what most players really want.  In which case, never mind.

BB78 – Can The Slate Ever Be Made Clean Again?

After something of a vacation, it is time for another EVE Online Blog Banter entry.  This is number 78 in the series and it asks the following question:

Just for a moment engage your “willing suspension of disbelief”. Imagine that CCP, at downtime today, reset everything in Eve Online. Everything! When you logged in you were in a starter system with your character… but now with less than a million skill points, a mere 5000 ISK and a noob ship (now with civilian afterburner!). Markets are pretty empty other than a few seeded items. All Sov is gone. All player structures are gone. All PI infrastructure is gone. No corps or alliances exist. Nothing remains. New Eden is suddenly a completely level playing field and the next great gold-rush is on? Or is it? What happens now?

The great player wipe question.  I went directly there only a few months into the life of the blog, trying to split the difference between death and rebirth.  And I have been back there many times since.  It is a thorny question and not one easily dismissed, for each tired “obvious” response has its own set of counter arguments that you have to ignore in order to believe there is but one true path.

The pro-player wipe, or pwipe, side of things draws on a desire to relive the past.  Nostalgia is a more powerful force of nature… at least human nature… than people often believe.  Quoting Thomas Wolfe and declaring the very idea of being able to relive the past an impossibility ignores the flexibility of the human brain and memories.

I say this as one who has been on successful trips into the past.

TorilMUD, the Forgotten Realms based MUD I played for many years went through three distinct periods with pwipes in between and probably the best time I ever had in the game was after the third pwipe.  That was in early 2002 if I recall right, nearly a decade after I made my first character, so the game was not new to me.  There were no more feelings of first discovery to be had, no sense of wonder and anxiety in exploring the low level areas of the game.

But there was a huge rush of fun as everybody started out again at level one.  Many old players returned and there were lots of familiar names as we set out with our basic newbie equipment to slay orcs and kobolds and those buffalo outside of Waterdeep.  TorilMUD is very much a game that requires grouping and having ample low level groups to join is something that only happens at pwipe.  After enough time passes the usual thing happens and the regulars are all at the top of the level curve and those few lowbies you see online are often alts, twinked with good gear so they can solo.  If you start new then, low level zones tend to be dead and groups difficult to find.

The game had changed quite a bit since I started playing just after the 1993 pwipe.  But the mechanics do not matter as much as you might imagine.  There is a lot of fun/nostalgia to be had just being on a fresh server where everybody is starting over again.

As a follow on to that, I will point to the progression servers in EverQuest.  Back in the Fippy Darkpaw server era, Skronk and I had a great time running through old Norrath.  Granted, it helped that we started in Qeynos, the side of the world long in disfavor with SOE and so which still has old school graphics.  But even our runs to redone Freeport and The Commonlands were not spoiled by revamped visuals.

Bandit fight in West Karana

Bandit fight in West Karana

And we were not bothered by the how much the mechanics of the game had changed over the years.  A few people were nit picking about how such and such a thing wasn’t like that back in 1999, but on the whole players seemed happy to just jump onto a fresh server with new players and old content in order pretend we were all young(er) again.

In the case of EverQuest, this is born out by the fact that of the three most popular servers running, two of them are nostalgia/progression servers, with the third being a community heavy role play server.

Not so many servers as the old days

Not so many servers as the old days

And, yes, the call of nostalgia is an emotional one, not a logical one.  But we are not logical beings.  I think the past election is proof of that.  I’ve certainly seen enough in life to support the assertion that people general make their decisions immediately and then find and weight facts to support that decision after the fact.  And I know I do it too.

So I can see the emotional appeal of just wiping that database and restarting Tranquility afresh.  Imagine New Eden with 40K rookie ships… erm, corvettes now… undocking.  A New Eden with now loyalty points yet banked, no faction yet earned, no huge piles of ISK socked away in wallets, no markets piled high with equipment, no sovereignty claimed, and not a tech II module or BPO to be found anywhere.  Everybody equal; the same starting equipment, the same amount of ISK, the same number of skill points.  A bright new universe of choices and second chances.  Alliances to be rebuilt, empires to be forged anew, fortunes to be sought once again.

It doesn’t have to be technically 2003 again… or 2006 for me… to feel at least some excitement at the prospect of a pwipe.

Cormorant Docking - Trails On

Cormorant docking back in the day

Of course, there is the flip side to all of that, wherein a pwipe would be very, very bad for CCP.

As human beings, we often get very attached to our “stuff,” and the distinction between real and virtual stuff is no distinction at all for some, regardless of what the EULA might say.  In fact, one of the draws of MMORPGs, the thing that keeps them going for beyond a decade, is often tied into our virtual inventories and accomplishments.

Stuff… be it bank tabs full of cosmetic gear and outdated crafting supplies or hangars full of ships and modules… is part of the link the tethers us to these games.  The sunk cost fallacy is alive and well as people will continue to play a game, even after it goes stale for them, simply because they have accumulated so much stuff.  And levels, experience, or skill points further cement that bond.

I don’t play EVE Online merely because I have 160 million skill points, but all those skill points and what they enable within the game do make me much more likely to log in.

And somewhere in between… at a different spot for everybody… is a balance, a spot where loss of stuff would break the tie between them and the game.  A good portion of people don’t want to start over again, and I am sure that some who do would find that wish challenged in the face of a rookie ship reality.

Of course, CCP knows this.  Every decent MMORPG company knows this.  This is the reason they don’t clean out the character database regularly, why you should worry too much about what it says in the EULA about when they CAN delete your account, because when they actually WILL delete it is a different story.

For CCP to do a pwipe, especially one as described, would be insanity given the current state of the game.  It would be throwing out a known situation in hopes that an unknown situation might be “better,” for whatever definition of the word you wish to choose.  “Let’s roll the dice and see what happens!” is not a viable business plan.

So it ain’t gonna happen in New Eden.  Or not any time soon.

And neither is a fresh server.  Leaving aside the cost of setting up and maintaining another live server, one of the lessons from the EverQuest and EverQuest II is that, while some people will come back for a fresh/retro/nostalgia server, a large part of those who will play them are already subscribers.  One of the forum complaints about the Stormhold server in EQII was that it stole enough players from live servers as to make forming groups for raids a much more difficult task.

Opening a fresh server would steal more players from Tranquility than it would bring in new players, and then we would end up with two servers with less players than the current one.

For a game that thrives on having a certain critical mass of players… any why else would you bring in Alpha clones than to try to keep the game above that level… a second live server (outside of China, which doesn’t count) looks like a non-starter as well.

So we shall plow on through space as before, all of us together aboard the SS Tranquility, for the foreseeable future.

Still, though, it is fun to imagine what we all might do if after some future downtime the whole thing came up fresh.  The reactions would range between sheer joy and utter rage I am sure.  I’d give it a shot.

Alternate titles I considered for this post:

  • You can sort of go home again
  • Playing with your old toys as an adult
  • Roll on rose colored glasses
  • Nostalgia is a can of worms
  • The clean slate
  • How to kill New Eden
  • Nostalgia is a wreath of pretty flowers which smell bad

Meanwhile, other bloggers tackling this month’s topic include:

A Decade Under the Influence of Online Games

Here we are, ten years and more than four thousand posts later, and I am still notably bad at online games.  But I persist.

Being there achievement, blogging version

Being there achievement, blogging version

The title is actually wrong, but I couldn’t come up with a better one.  I can prove I have been playing online games for 30 years.  I even have physical artifacts from the era.  Hell of a year for games… and movies.  I’ve merely been blogging about them for the last decade.

Anyway, for those keen to review past attempts at anniversary posts, here is the list:

I actually did a lot of work on those posts around years five and six.

Base Statistics

An 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: 3,653 (+366)
Posts total: 4,075 (+368)
Average posts per day: 1.11 (-0.02)
Comments: 27,959 (+2,401)
Average comments per post: 6.86 (-0.04)
Average comments per day: 7.65  (-0.15)
Spam comments: 1,312,165 (+34,173)
Comments Rescued from the Spam Filter: 408
Average spam comments per day: 359.2 (-29.6)
Comment signal to noise ratio: 1 to 46.9 (-3.1)
Comments written by me: 3,531 or 7.9%
Images uploaded:  10,416 (+1157)
Space used by images: 2.3 GB of my 3 GB allocation (78%, up 8%)

I continue to post about once a day, but all other metrics remain in decline.  Even spam comments were just one third of what they were last year.  What does it mean when even spam bots are tiring of your blog?

Then I go over to Feedly and look at the stats for the blogs feed and is says crazy things like this:

9,000? That cannot be right!

Seriously, it says this

9,000 followers can’t be right… hell, even 9 stories a week is optimistic.  The stats from the blog say 7 tops.

Meanwhile, the site (noted down below) that sent me the MOST referral traffic shows up with this number.

Being on the CSM doesn't help on Feedly I guess...

Being on the CSM doesn’t help on Feedly I guess…

So there went logic out the window I guess.

The next highest number I could find in my feeds was this:

WoW, really not as popular as me it seems...

WoW, really not as popular as me it seems…

I call shenanigans on the whole thing, unless my site is just a magnet for people addicted to RSS feeds and daily-ish posts.

Life on the internet.  Anyway, those are the basic numbers.  More detailed nonsense is available after the cut… unless you’re reading via RSS, in which case it is all there in your reader of choice, because I love you right back RSS junkies.

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