I Miss The Trains
One of my first, and fondest, memories of MMORPGs is playing Everquest and hearing the screams of “TRAINNNNN!!!!” whilst adventuring in Blackburrow. That word usually meant that you either had to make a very quick exit to the zone line or face death. Ah, how I miss the trains.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, the word “train” was used to describe a stream of mobs (monster or beasts!), forming quite literally a train of evil, chasing a player until they zoned. See, in the original Everquest, mobs never stopped chasing you until you killed them, died, or zoned away. They were like the Terminators of MMOs. They also had an unfortunate habit of being very aggressive and attacking anyone that happened to get in their way which is what made trains so dangerous. If a player was running with a train of creatures chasing him, they would stop and attack everyone they encountered on their path. Fortunately this style of A.I. was quickly phased out in later games.
Trains were usually caused in dungeons when a player or group got in over their heads. Mistime the spawn rate or accidentally aggro a roaming mob and you’d be forced to either die in glorious battle or run for your lives. Players being the cowards that they are *ahem* following their natural instinct for survival tended to opt for the latter and leg it for safety as quickly as possible with little heed of the consequences to others in the zone. Most at least had the courtesy to shout “TRAINNNNN!!!!” when they did it – I even had it as a macro on my hotbar.
So why do I miss those trains? No, I’m not a masochists, I just miss the memories and challenges that they brought. Trains gave players the opportunity to be cowards or to be heroes, to be scared or to be brave. Without trains I wouldn’t have the memories of running for my life through Blackburrow or being miracously saved by some huge Ogre Warrior.
Trains are about creating social interaction and co-operation through challenge. It’s not about making life frustrating for the players (although I dare say it was to some) but rather it’s about creating an element of risk and consequence which in return made our endeavours that much more fulfilling. Without risk, there can be no reward.
So next time you’re running for your life in some dungeon in some virtual world in some MMORPG, stop, think, and try to start a train. Bonus points go to the most inventive scream.