What game that you are not playing, do you still have a deeply nostalgic connection to and why?
I have a deeply nostalgic, spiritual connection to EverQuest circa the Ruins of Kunark era. A friend of mine was playing a Cleric on the Druzzil Ro server quite successfully and after having watched him for a while I decided to emulate him by creating a Cleric that was essentially a carbon copy of his. I created a male High Elf whose distinguishing feature was that he had a rather odd running gait; after all these years I suppose it tells quite a bit about my relative noobishness back then that this is what I remember. This was also one of the few instances in which I used a male avatar.
When I say noobishness, what I meant is that I was so caught up in doing what my friend had been doing that I never bothered to learn to master the nuances and intricacies of the class or the game world at that time. I was, quite literally, new to the concept of graphics-based MMOs, having previously played text-based MUDs exclusively and extensively. I did not know that quests existed in the game, that there were tradeskills, or that certain classes were required to research their spells at higher levels. The depth of my knowledge extended only as far as what I had seen my friend doing in the game: shouting for a group wherever he found himself in the world, immediately being invited to several of them (via tells), and picking the one that suited him the best. Once I had reached level 4, I began doing the same in Greater Faydark and joined the rowdy orc-slaying groups located outside – and later, inside – Crushbone.
From what I recall, this is what I did all the way up until the 50s. I don’t remember exactly what my numeric destination was; I don’t think it was 60. I do remember that at some point I wandered into Befallen and was befallen by a falling death. I discovered that Tailoring was a skill and leveled it up high enough that I started to camp zombies for their hides. There was a point at which I had to travel to a town somewhere and buy high-priced spells from a particular vendor; it’s at this point that things become hazy.
During my play sessions I became increasingly frustrated because I did not know what to do and I also did not know that there was a way to learn what you needed to do in order to become what you would call a well-rounded, well-versed player. I suppose I should mention that this was the point in my life at which I had started drinking heavily and therefore had little patience for anything that wasn’t immediately and viscerally fun. This, then stunted my gaming growth and prevented me from forming a truly deep, meaningful bond with the game. The knock-on effects that this has today are that I’m not able to sit down and play a character – even a Cleric – on Project 1999 for more than a couple of days before I wander off to play something else.
I later replicated this questless grinding experience in classic World of Warcraft as a fire Mage. I drank heavily (both in the game and outside the game), found grinding spots, and sat in them for hours, ignoring all of the yellow exclamation marks above the heads of NPCs who were ready and willing to send me off to collect bear asses. This time I did reach 60, obtained several epic-quality items in Molten Core raids, and eventually quit in a drunken rage one night after discovering that most of the guild had me on /ignore due to the fact that I was intoxicated (and highly annoying) most of the time. I returned on a Dwarf Priest, rinse and repeat, and attended a couple of raids at 60 before knocking off for what I thought was the last time. I later returned via the Dark Side (Horde) and began my solo career, this time leveling up via quests and fully mastering the classic Hunter class. Fast forward to Mists of Pandaria and I was still drinking and still endeavoring to be the best at whatever I touched, but had been deeply dissatisfied with the shattering of the world precipitated by the Cataclysm.
Because I played World of Warcraft for nearly a decade, I have a deep and lasting bond that allows me to go back to private Classic and Burning Crusade servers and stick with them for quite some time. In fact, even now, I have a small stable of Alliance characters in their teens and early 20s on a classic server that I don’t talk about because it’s my dirty little secret. On Project 1999, however, I don’t think I have a character that’s made it past level 10. Philosophically, I really wish that the situation were reversed and that I could ride the nostalgic waves of EverQuest’s seminal, formative experiences into the great beyond, but the reality is that it was the context of a game designed for mass consumption in which I finally broke out of my repetitive ways and started to actually grow. The challenge, then, to this very day, is to embrace growth to a greater degree rather than allowing myself to swim in a sea of familiarity for the duration of every single one of my play sessions.