While discussing the possibility of “classic” servers in World of Warcraft, Cameron waxes nostalgic about his own yearning for the simpler days of gnoll-pounding in the Karanas. I loved those days too — my blog is named after one of those old zones, and my header images are all from EQ1, so you know I’m standing right there with Cameron, casting SoW, shooting off careless lightning and healing as best an old-school druid can. I was so nostalgic at one point that I restarted on a new no-transfer server, Stromm, and went through the entire game from scratch (xping in East Commonlands and Permafrost and Oasis, seeing the world once again), so that helped sate that particular yearning.
Honestly, though, you can’t become the person you were, who didn’t know what was around the next corner. Not in a game you have already played. You have to move forward. And so this is my challenge. It is difficult, INCREDIBLY difficult, but will leave you with those same sorts of memories that you had when you first got into MMO gaming.
Pick a MMO — any MMO — and uninstall every other MMO from your hard drive. Additionally, pay no attention to any new MMOs that may be coming out. None of this trying it for a month to see how it goes. Just make it a game you have not played before. The game itself doesn’t have to be new — just you. It could be fun to pick up a really old game like Asheron’s Call and just jump into the deep end, or pick up Age of Conan and wade through blood for twelve months.
One player. One game. One year.
If you run out of content, bug the devs in the forums about expansions and run through the game again. Meet people like yourself. Form new friendships, see things and do things that dabblers will never see or do. You almost certainly did this once with another MMO and now you remember how much fun that was. So do it again. Here’s some suggestions.
Vanguard, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Mythos, Age of Conan, Warhammer Online, Chronicles of Spellborn (assuming it ever releases), EVE Online. I deliberately leave out EQ2, WoW and LotRO, since they are popular enough that there’s no mystery or chance of discovery to them at all (especially WoW, but then, you probably already played that game anyway). If you’re daying, you might even try Star Wars: Galaxies. Don’t believe the common wisdom about games. People absolutely thrive on trashing games they don’t like, even though other people may enjoy the game (in which case, they feel, those people are WRONG and should be playing a different game). It doesn’t matter what people say. You’re going to choose your game and through thick and thin, when you decide to sit down a spend a few hours in an MMO, that’s the one you will choose.
MMOs cannot be fully enjoyed by dabblers. Commitment is part of the attraction.
Second step to this is to blog about it. If you aren’t a blogger, Blogspot and WordPress (West Karana runs on WordPress) will set you up, for free, no cost to you, in about a minute. Day 1 of the new game: Create a character and just write about how that goes. Win or suck, this is your game for a year. So keep a journal online, and in five years when you look back upon this year fondly, you’ll remember everything that happened.
The question is — could you play a single MMO for an entire year in order to get that same sort of feeling for a new game that you did for the one you remember?
Me? Well, I’m still loving EQ2. But there will come a time, maybe this year, maybe next, when I *will* take this challenge. Currently, Chronicles of Spellborn and Champions Online (neither with any sort of release date) are at the top of my list. I expect AoC and WAR to be too dominated by griefers to be much fun, but I’ll be trying out both games just to see.