If You Could Relive your Gaming Past…

If You Could Relive your Gaming Past…

Last week the Pantheon MMO Twitter account asked this simple question, and I've been thinking about how I'd respond.

There are plenty of moments in time that stand out to me as memorable that I would love to relive. My EQ Story about the run from Qeynos to Freeport, logging into a 3D virtual realm for the first time in Active Worlds, roleplaying in The Realm, winning a Warcraft 3 tournament, racing to the front lines of a relic defense at 3am in Dark Age of Camelot... the list goes on.

Instead of focusing on a specific moment or event, I'm going to pick an era that I'd love to relive. I'd like to relive the time when games would come out, and each game was radically different from anything else we'd ever played. That goes for all games.

Specific to MMOs, since that's probably what VR is getting at (since Pantheon is a MMO), I'd go back to that time when The Realm, EQ, DAoC, FFXI, SWG, etc., were all out or coming out and you could pick any of them and have a unique experience. Seriously, truly unique. 

That was also a time when excitement was at its highest for MMOs. We were awestruck on a yearly basis -- often more. Cynicism hadn't crept in about future releases. No one talked about clones. Business models weren't even a topic of conversation. People still had their favorite games and would bash on the ones they didn't like, but no one was doing so for the reasons we see today.

MMO gaming was smaller back then, and as a result the companies were smaller and their interactions with the community more intimate. The guys actually coding the games were on the forums talking to people (forums were a thing), and community sites dedicated to a single game were often the hottest source for developer/community interaction. I think the developers themselves cared more, or at least it felt like they did because it was often entirely their brain child, rather than many of them being just a cog in some bigger machine.

How about you? What part of your gaming past would you relive, and why?

  • The first six months of Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. That was where the full potential of Everquest came to fruition. Not sure anything in MMOs ever beat the thrill of getting my Sloop or my house by the sea.

    I’d also squash all the bugs but even with them I’d take that over any other period of any other game I’ve played.

    Runner-up would be the six months from the launch of LDoN until the following expansion. Most social period of any MMO I ever experienced. LDoN was a machine for making friends.

    • The first 6 months of Vanguard were really quite fun … minus the bugs which, at times, completely ruined the experience. I do remember reaching level 35 or 40’ish as well and thinking… “where do I go now?” because the game was seriously underdeveloped at that point. Part of that was kind of fun, in a weird way.

  • For me, the most “accomplished” I’ve ever really felt in playing an MMO was in the early days of EQ2 when the Nektulos Forest zone (all mobs were “heroic” and ranged from level 21-27, iirc) was a nightmare even for groups in their 30’s, the roads were “safer” but not “safe,” and someone who was betraying from Qeynos to Freeport had to run through the place someplace between level 14 and level 17 and try not to get 1-shot, since you’d respawn someplace farther back and not only have to try to retrieve your “ghost” but do it without dying again in the same place. And don’t even think about swimming across the river… and the fish might jump out and follow you on land anyway….

    Crazy idjit that I am, I ran through that on my high elf “crusader,” finished the (long and grindy) betrayal quest, and then on a whim decided to run BACK through that hellscape, er… zone…. to go back to Antonica, just outside Qeynos when I was level 19 so that when I hit 20 and became a shadowknight that it would surprise the people there, since of course no one would be insane enough to run through Nek Forest TWICE!!! But a high elf in Antonica wasn’t out of the ordinary, so…

    Hitting level 20 in that “scarecrow group” and getting the “gratz” from the other group members followed by “Wait, SK? WTF?!?!?!” is a cherished memory.

    I’m not sure I could really re-live it though. I learned Nek Forest well enough from that that I ended up running 9 high elves and a dwarf through it to betray to Freeport (the dark elves all cheered for me when I’d walk by…. I liked that…) so that sense of danger just wouldn’t really be there again, even before they nerfed the zone — removed the fish from the river, made the roads safe, and made the mobs the typical “soloable” overland mobs.

  • This will be a little bit of a downer but hey, you asked:

    I would go back to the first few years I started playing MMO’s (days of LotRO and Maple Story) when things really felt like they mattered and thus playing them for hours on end was delirious fun. The game designs, graphics, etc. were a lot worse back then, but they benefited from that exogenous variable of me being completely new to that type of video game and being enthralled to progress in them. Just gaining levels and learning new talents was pure fun and anything extra was gravy.

    Nowadays I just don’t feel like it matters, and I can’t trick my brain into thinking it does after I’ve hit max level in countless MMO’s over the years since those early games. It was around the second or third raid loot cycle in FFXIV (a great game, by the way) that my brain did a quick short circuit one day as I realized I would probably never again feel inclined to grind those tokens out to hit loot cap just so it could reset itself twenty five weeks later or whatever. And that was more or less the time I walked away from MMO’s for good.

    Who knows though, my outlook yet might change again. I don’t begrudge the fun of those who still enjoy that sort of stuff. After all this is all a response to that question “If you could relive one part of your gaming past…”

  • Probably trying DAOC for the first time, after two weeks of failing at getting into EQ (corpse runs, exp penalty – just a little too hardcore at the time for me). The way RvR tied into the PVE economy made success worth it, and it just provided hrs of fun content for me. I still haven’t seen an mmo that matches its spell effects for creativity and just ‘wow’ factor. Still remember running around a mile gate enjoying some RvR when a shadowblade popped out of stealth near me – I yelled out loud “Norse!” – which got a funny reaction from my roommate. Decided it was time to step away from the pc after that lol. 2ndly also really thought the way WAR implemented leveling and gearing up via BG’s was fantastic and a lot of fun.

  • One shotting a dancing Lurikeen with my Infiltrator in DAOC. Ahh yes Perforate Artery for the win.

  • Gosh I loved dropping aoe silences with my engy in all forms of W:AoR pvp havoc. Really the only time in gaming my playstyle lined up with a class being op. The nerf bat came and I raged quit but what a glorious summer it was.

  • Easily the first couple months, let’s say the first summer, of EQ1.

    Back before anyone was really even cataloging anything seriously. There were a couple of hand-drawn maps for major zones, and I think like EQcasters (which was EQ Enchanter at the time, I think?) had a couple of spell lists thrown up. You found out about things by seeing them in-game on people’s characters, or they told you stories while you stood around at the bank or guild or EC tunnel. People would take you and show you where to hunt, how to get into Qeynos catacombs, how to get from East Karana to Kithicor forest through High Hold Pass, etc. It was so chaotic and unknown and it was glorious. You could still be wearing newbie crap with no stats in some slots at level 30 or so and that was normal.

    Once the data-mining began, your Allakhazam’s and whatnot, it took awhile for the full ramifications to develop. It was still pretty decent through Velious but even by then a lot of stuff got datamined and posted very quickly. Afterwards, it never felt the same to me.