I watched this video (please watch at least the first three people) of Mythic employees talking about why Dark Age of Camelot was special to them or what the game meant to them and I wanted to weigh in as well. I want to echo a lot of what Jason Abbott and Craig Turner said about the game. I was a Dark Age of Camelot player back on the first day of release. It’s one of those games that, in the grand scheme of things today, only a select few ever got to truly enjoy. I am both proud and excited that I am one of those people because it has and will forever have an impact on how I view MMORPGs.
DAOC was the first game to show me what real PvP against another dynamic and living player could be like when it involved more than just fighting that actual player. I had done PvP in EverQuest but it was more about the individual fight itself. In DAOC it was about more. It was about defending your realm against a threat you knew was growing somewhere you couldn’t see. It created a sense of “Realm Pride” in me and others when we had to fight to maintain control of our lands against the enemies. Losing our Keeps and especially our Relics was something we could not let happen. Don’t ask me to try and explain what specific mechanics lead to this feeling. I don’t know. I don’t know how Mythic was able to accomplish creating this Realm Pride and if you ask them they don’t even know — they’re probably desperate to know right now, actually. I think it’s more of a perfect combination of many things that are unique to DAOC. The game would have to be remade to replicate it.
I have many fond memories of PvP. Similar to Jason Abbot’s experience, there were many times when I would be out in Yggdrasil Forest hunting something and suddenly I would catch a glimpse of a little creature in the corner of my eye cloaked in shadows sneaking tree to tree. My heart would start thumping loudly in my chest. Maybe it was just a mob or my imagination playing tricks on me, but to play it safe I would casually start strolling towards the border keep and safety of the guards. Then it would happen. An arrow would strike me and my character would scream out. “Oh god!!” I would scream and start sprinting for my life towards the gates screaming like a girl. Most times I would die. Other times I would survive. All the time we would form up with whoever was in the area and hunt the bastage down whether it meant spending ten minutes or an entire afternoon. That enemy must die.
Another memory is of a keep defense. I can’t remember if it was a relic keep or if it was just one of our strategically placed keeps that we knew would spell disaster if it were lost. We knew the enemy was coming. They had taken several other keeps that day and their numbers measured in the hundreds. The shouts rang out across chat channels for the call to arms and defense. Everyone able dropped what they were doing and mobilized. The PvE zones went silent. The safe lands of our home city were like a ghost town as we piled through the gates and made our way as one — a united realm — to make our stand. Hundreds of us moved into position securing various land marks like mile gates that acted as choke points. We lined our archers and casters up on the walls of the keep. We had several flanking groups in position ready to strike at opportune moments. Everyone was in position and a silence fell over the frontier.
We were waiting perhaps thirty minutes. It wasn’t a matter of if they would attack but when. Suddenly the screams rang out “THEY’RE HERE! TO THE WALLS! OH GOD THEY’RE HERE! THE MILEGATES HAVE FALLEN” and the drums started beating… those weren’t drums… that was my heart and my legs beating and the adrenaline flowing. A member of our realm we respected for their leadership asked for our quick attention. We gave it. He gave us a motivational speech that I have long since forgotten but I know we were all riled up. The walls would hold. The keep would stand and the glory of Midgard would forever be remembered this day. Then they came…
Like a sea of red in the distance we saw the shining armor of the Albion army pouring over the hills, coming through the trees, literally surrounding us. Our flanking groups had been flanked and they fell back into the keep. Our archers and casters began their barrage. One after another arrow and spell were fired. Our archers began to fall and we were horrified to see that Albion stealth class infiltrators had climbed the walls and stuck their poisonous knives into them. As quickly as they stealthed in they stealthed out and we now knew the enemy was not only breaking down our door but among us on the inside taking us out one by one.
Maybe two hours had passed and I was losing hope fast. Then the weirdest thing happened. The infiltrators stopped attacking us in the keep. The Albion ranged assault stopped. I peaked over the wall and to my horror I saw that another massive army had gathered on the hill in the distance. Reinforcements for the Albs? How many of these cockroaches could their be?! No, not reinforcements for them. For us?! Could it be the night crew was getting on? No… oh no.. Their face paint vivid and their unmistakable lopsided lumpy heads meant only one thing: Hibernia! Dem Hibbies thinking they were mighty rushed the Albion army. This was it! Our chance to strike! “FOR ODIN! CHARGE!” “CHARGE!” We jumped off our walls, poured out the keep door, and engaged in a three way glorious battle that resulted in several more hours of back and forth fighting over several keeps.
Playing DAOC for as long as I did, I have dozens of memories like this for each realm. Dark Age of Camelot is where I adopted the name ‘Keen’ (from a Hibernia race called Lurikeens). This is where I learned that PvE and PvP can coexist in harmony and how that harmony can be destroyed. Dark Age of Camelot showed me the possibilities of a MMORPG, that they can mean so much more than what developers strive for today.
These memories are what Dark Age of Camelot means to me.