Posts Tagged ‘nostalgia’

Learning To Like Voice Chat

WoW headsets

There is nothing on this Earth more geeky than a World of Warcraft headset. I must have one.

Not long after I first starting playing Everquest 2 I began afresh on the European PvP server Darathar and met a lovely bunch of blood thirsty bastards. We formed a guild together (all of my buddies from Splitpaw and their’s from whatever game they were last banned from) called The Mutineers and embarked on a hand-holding, tune-whistling, flower skipping journey of scandalous PvP havoc and hell raising. It was also the first time I ever used voice chat.

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Good Riddance To These Game Mechanics Of Yesterday

I loved the original EQ UI. The small viewport made concentrating on the action so much easier.

I loved the original EQ UI. The small viewport made concentrating on the action so much easier.

Let’s face it, most veteran MMORPG old-timers love to sit around virtual fireplaces and reminisce about the good old days and how everything 10 years ago was so much more rewarding, challenging and sensual (OK, maybe I’m the only one who felt that way). Nostaligia is a powerful thing and I’m guilty of giving into its dreamy whims on occasion too but here’s a list of a few MMO game mechanics that I’m definitely glad to see the back off. Not surprisingly most of them are from Everquest.

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Asheron’s Call, The Comeback Kid

1999 meet 2002

1999 meet 2004

Back in December I wrote about the upcoming graphics engine overhaul for Anarchy Online and now it looks like Asheron’s Call is set to receive one too. Surprisingly I find myself oddly excited about it all.

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Anarchy Online, Tickling My Fancy

A few days ago I read an article on Massively about a potential graphics upgrade that Anarchy Online may be getting (after I did a little digging it seems that this new graphics engine has been in the pipeline for quite some time). Strangely enough, it stirred something deep down inside of me, tickling a dormant fancy, so to speak. Could Anarchy Online be getting a significant visual overhaul, enough for it to make a come back? I for one hope so.

Anarchy Online - New Graphics Engine

Anarchy Online - New Graphics Engine

I played Anarchy Online when it first came out in 2001 and, although it was plagued with problems, I enjoyed it for a good few months. It was, and still remains, one of the few online sci-fi MMORPGs on the market and that gives it a certain uniqueness that newer MMOs lack. Yes, I like the new features that games like WAR and Aion have to offer but at the end of the day they are part of a genre that I’ve been playing for years and, to be frank, am getting kinda sick off. Swords and sorcery can only entertain a guy for so long, after all, and I’m just dying to get my hands on some decent Sci-Fi.

The article was enough to get me thinking about trying out AO again. The basic game is free to play and, as I’m currently lacking a desktop PC, I think it’s old enough to run happily on my laptop. I actually tried going back to AO briefly not so long ago but found that I just couldn’t get past the poor UI and camera controls (it’s hard to believe that in 8 years no ones ever updated such basic features). If there’s anything that Final Fantasy XI taught me it’s that I need decent mouse controls and camera movements to be able to enjoy my gaming. However, I’m hoping that if I try AO again, I can get past those issues.

Regardless of whether I resubscribe or not, I love the idea of overhauling the engines in older MMOs and breathing fresh life into them. When you consider the countless number of hours that went into these games, both from a development point of view and a gaming one, it seems like such a waste to let them decay and slowly die off. I’m honestly surprised that more games aren’t updated, repackaged and re-released to new audiences. Everquest did it with the Shadows of Luclin only a couple of years after it came out and now World of Warcraft is kinda doing it (think flying mounts in Azeroth) with Cataclysm.

Well, I’m off to start download AO and see if I can resurrect any old characters and whip out my bald-headed Bureaucrat. And if you inferred any euphemism from that statement then the innuendo is your own.


Grouping Today: Accessible Or Lazy?

Back in 2004, my average play session of Everquest was 4 hours. Aside from any sessions I may be able to sneak in during the day and apart from any social activities in the evening, my usual play time was from 10pm to around 2am. This of course was the beauty of being a student and a memory that I continually cherish as I’m forced to go to bed earlier and get up earlier every year. I think one day I’ll actually be going to bed when it’s still daylight outside and getting up when it’s still dark. Anyway, I digress.

Of course my point is that in those days my gaming sessions were a lot longer and, although I thoroughly enjoyed them, it was an absolute necessity (which fortunately I had the time to facilitate). Logging on, I would normally find myself either in PoK (the Plane of Knowledge) or Butcherblock depending on whether I was grinding LDON quests or adventuring in other parts of the world, such as Sanctus Seru. Soloing was entirely out of the question once most classes had past level 20 so the first call to action was finding myself a group. And that took time.

I usually set aside about 1 hour to find a group or put one together and then a good 2-3 hours for actual adventuring. Forming a group was tough work but very rewarding. My first port of call was always my guild and then, after that, my very long and healer orientated friends list. I found that by playing regular hours (I played on Stromm in 2004 which was a US server and thus perfect for my late night activities), I often bumped into the same faces over and over again, perfect for building up a host of reliable contacts.

If I couldn’t find a group to invite myself into, more often than not, someone I knew would be on and I’d be able to form my own with them. We then start looking for other players to join, usually by advertising in Out Of Character (OOC) chat. This required a lot of patience on everyone’s part and tended to involve us just sitting around in either PoK or the LDON camp in Butcherblock, waiting. And waiting. As I said before, I often put aside an hour for this process.

Finally completing a full group was then incredibly satisfying and we’d adventure for hours on end, most players staying a good solid 2 hours or so (it was usually considered rude to leave too early unless announcing it upon accepting the group invitation). Strangely enough, this was all before the term PUG was even coined and joining random groups of strangers was considered normal and necessary. I’d also struggle to remember more than a couple of bad experience I had in such groups.

But alas, how things have changed now. Today I will play a MMORPG for perhaps an hour a night during the week and maybe a couple of hours on a Saturday or Sunday. This is due more to circumstances and my, shall we say, “evolving” social and family life.  Even then, I’m faced with certain ordeals that I never had to endure 5 years ago. PUGs are generally meant to be avoided, maintaining a full group of strangers long enough to complete an instance is often a luxury, and my friend’s list is shorter than what Ms Piggy could count on her trotters.

No doubt a lot of this is of my own making but I do find it odd how now we have to be forced and herded into grouping. Blizzard is introducing a spanking new LFG system which pulls people from across servers and instantly teleports them into their desired dungeon all in an attempt to bring back socialising and grouping. I think that I’m all for it because it will mean that I can group without having to break my meager gaming pattern but then I catch myself looking into the mirror at the man I have become and miss my former self and the depths of immersion, adventure and socialising I’d reach.

So here’s the question: are we just becoming more lazy now? Are we too satisfied with our soloing and quest grinding to even bother putting together a group? Or are thing just becoming more accessible and making our lives easier?


My MMORPG History

I decided to copy Syp and Hudson and create a page which holds all of my MMORPG history. It’s quite a long list and pretty comprehensive although I can barely remember some of my characters from older games. I’m glad I did it now because I’m sure it will just get harder to remember (I seem to be turning into an old man rather quickly these days).

Looking at it and reflecting back upon all of the MMOs I’ve played is very interesting – boy, I played a lot of rubbish. Asheron’s Call 2 anyone? All I remember about that game was constantly getting disconnected every five minutes and it being a major disappointment. There are also a lot of fond memories hanging around too. I was quite thrilled to discover that Sony still had a record of all of my old Everquest characters and it gave me a chuckle to see that the first ever guild I created and led (the Outcast Legion) is still alive and kicking. Well, alive maybe, kicking maybe not.

Anyway, have fun checking it out. I’ll keep updating it over the years to come.


MMO Classes That I Love

Classes. Jobs. Professions. They’re in almost every MMORPG we play and are perhaps the single most important choice we make. They define who we are, what we do and how we do it. Everyone knows the classic Warriors, Rangers and Wizards but what about some of the more exotic or uncommon classes out there? Here’s a run down of some of my favourite MMO classes of all time (in no particular order).

Berserker

My Ogre Berserker, Crushinator

My Ogre Berserker, Crushinator

I adored my Everquest Berserker. There was just something so thrilling and exciting about playing a giant Ogre who crushed things with a two handed axe. Bersekers are probably my overall favourite class in any sort of RPG but surprisingly hard to find. They also tend to be the first class to get axed (ba-da-boom) from developer’s line-ups. Although I play a Berserker in EQ2 it’s not a patch on my original love, the Crushinator. The idea of a Berserker in plate armour just doesn’t sit right with me.

Beastlord

Oh how we love the Beastlord. You only need to check the ‘Expansions and Adventure Packs’ section of the EQ2 forums to see dozens of threads entitled ‘please bring back the Beastlord’. Unfortunately SOE have strongly resisted this request (I honestly don’t know why) and it’s a damn shame. Beastlords were unique and exotic and we’d never seen anything like them back in 2001. Monks with pets, what a combo.

Pikeman

I miss pre-NGE Star Wars: Galaxies. Anyone who reads my blog will be able to tell you that. One the reasons I miss it so much though is because of the Pikeman profession. There was just something so unique and exotic about them (perhaps because they were rubbish so very few people bothered to play them) and I loved it. To me, there was nothing more exhilarating then running into the middle of a huge group of Tuskens and performing my AoE sweep attack. Sure, I would get slaughtered the second they stood up but it was worth it every time.

Hero

DOAC Hero in Stag form

DOAC Hero in Stag form

Celtic warriors who could turn into freakin’ stags. Stags, man, stags. I rest my case.

Bureaucrat

I signed back up to Anarchy Online not so long ago just because I missed the Bureaucrat class so much (unfortunately the terrible camera and movement controls put me off – I couldn’t manage to get it set up for the way I use my mouse now). I have no idea why, but for some reason the idea of playing a fat, bald old guy in a suit really appeals to me… wow, I think I’ve just admitted to desire to become a middle age Salaryman. I need a life.

So tell me, what classes do you love?