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Between all the vitriol seething around stupid (IMO, obviously) issues with modern games, and just the fact that I’ve been away from PC gaming for a long time, I’ve been revisiting some old favorites lately. It’s good timing since it seems like plenty of folks are on a nostalgia kick when it comes to games, and MMOs in particular.

In the last months I’ve at least dipped my toe into WoW, LOTRO, Guild Wars 2, Age of Conan, Star Trek Online, Secret World Legends, Neverwinter, DC Universe Online, EVE Online, Anarchy Online and Everquest 2. Mind you in some cases it was a single login (looking at you, Age of Conan and Anarchy Online).

In a couple of cases (LOTRO and EQ2) I’ve decided to roll on the progression servers (or as LOTRO calls them, Legendary Servers). My thinking was “Hey, it’s a nostalgia trip, might as well go all-in.” Further thinking was that the games ought to be simpler to get back into on these older builds that don’t have years of expansions layered onto the foundations.

Well it turns out that while it was simpler to get back into the games in this way, these servers are not for me. In my heart they are, but in my real world having slower than normal progression doesn’t pair well with my “OK I think I can sneak in an hour of gaming tonight” lifestyle. I just don’t get anywhere.

This might not be a big deal if not for the fact that I never hit cap on these games back when I played them live. I’m a notorious game grazer, so getting through half the content, then coming back years later and starting all over rather than picking up where I left off and seeing new content…it just doesn’t make that much sense for me.

All that said, though, these servers ARE a great way to re-acclimate myself. In both LOTRO and EQ2 I started a new character on the special server and played for a couple of hours. I felt dusty old neural pathways flicker back into life as I remembered the various systems (I’d totally forgotten about the existence of Fellowship Maneuvers and Heroic Opportunities). But once I was feeling comfortable again, I abandoned these half-formed virtual lives to go pick up some old character from years ago, armed with a least some familiarity with the game again.

Ironic, really. I spent a bunch of money for a PC that can handle all the modern games on high graphics settings, and now I’m playing games that I could’ve played on one of the old PCs that it collecting dust in the closet!

Still, I’m having fun and that’s what matters.



Comments:
4
  • I’m really loving my time on p1999. Its viciously hard, people are grouping like crazy, downtime means more talking… it’s lots of fun (for now).

    See how long it lasts, I am only level 25 there -)

    • First, not sure why your comment got trapped in moderation. My apologies!

      Y’know I don’t think I ever even made it to 20 in EQ in spite of playing it A LOT when it was new. I had one character that probably hit 15 a dozen or more times, though. I just wasn’t careful enough and constantly got killed and lost levels.

      When I was on Kaladim I pushed myself out of my comfort zone are started accepting random group invites, which made everything more fun and it felt like, unlike back in the day, when it was time for you to go, you just said “So long” and left. It wasn’t like “I have to leave so now the group has to either find a replacement or stop playing.” That kind of situation is, I think, what has trained me not to accept random invites… the feeling that once I say yes I am committed until everyone is ready to leave.

  • I’ve managed to crawl to 20 as a Dirge on Kaladim. I’ve played a lot, too. I’d guess that in the same time I could make a new character on Live and get to about 90 – especially on my main account with the 140% Vet bonus.

    It is interesting to compare the whole experience, though. I really love modern EQ2. I’m always posting about how much I’m enjoying new expansion content or new holiday stuff. Even so, it’s apparent very quickly how much more organic the original gameplay is. When MMORPGs begin there’s a simplicity that adds hugely to the mysterious immersion factor – you start with nothing, so everything’s an upgrade. You can make just about anything you need, or quest for it or hunt monsters for it or buy it from other players. If you want to go somewhere you run there, or ride, or get some kind of transport. It all makes sense.

    In a mature MMORPG most of that disappears. Upgrades are either super-rare or come in infinitesemal increments or require vast quantities of grind – or all three. Systems become arcane and abstruse. You have to look up all kinds of things on external websites, follow guides, even watch videos, just to work out what you need to do. Everything becomes far more about playing a game than it does about living in the world.

    But then, if you’ve played before, as you level up on a Prog/Retro server you know what’s coming. It’s only going to be fun for so long before you start to catch up with all those extra systems and mechanics. So the thrill isn’t going to last. Which, I think, is why the current thinking seems to be to play on each new server as it comes up then bail when you get bored/disillusioned and wait for the next. I think a smart development team, watching how this is going, could design a new type of MMORPG that has this kind of restart/refresh designed in from the beginning.

    • When I first logged back into the live server, so many things popped up and dinged and donged that, honestly, I logged back to character select and that’s when I rolled a new character on the Progression server! And this was my lowest level character (level 20). I figured out last time I’d played him was 2008, based on the Upkeep activity log on his inn room.

      It took me a good hour when I went back just to sort things to where I had some idea of what I was doing. Of course it didn’t help that it was a fresh install so my UI was in a default state, too.

      I mean maybe that’s just life when logging into an existing character, but I kind of assumed that virtually every “alert” that went off was pointing to a new system that was new to me! We’ll see!

      I do have Angela to lean on since she never left EQ2. Been driving her crazy with questions!