Thursday, October 16, 2008

Yearning to Game

I've played a lot (A LOT) of games in my life. Board games, card games, video arcade, consoles, rpgs, mmos, you name it. There are two that stand out in my mind: Ultima Online and Everquest.

I started playing Ultima Online in summer of 1997. When I first heard about UO I poo-pooed it. But as it got closer to release I started reading more about it and it sounded just incredible. I really wanted to be in the beta but the due date for sign ups had long past. So one day I'm telling my buddy Jim Cullen about it and he says, "oh yeah, I signed you up for the beta like a year ago." Huh?! Surer than hell when beta started I got a shiney CD in the mail. Holy shit! I could have kissed that guy.

My first experience with UO was a lesson in patience. The servers would crash constantly (like every hour or less) and the lag would often be horrendous. But let me tell you -- I did not give a shit. I LOVED IT!! I created a newbie and found myself on the docks in Vesper. I was in heaven. I proceeded to waste the entire summer of 1997 exploring Britannia. Release came at the end of September and for roughly 2 years I canvased the land learning all of the ins-and-outs of the game, amassing a fortune, PKing the poor souls who crossed my path and generally having a blast. I had some great friends (CoconutMonkey, Desmodus/Batticus, Uber and host of others I can't remember). If you're reading this and want to know if you ran into me I played on Atlantic and had the following characters: Sunchaser, Kafka (PK), Lia. If I PKed you, well, sorry. But rest assured I took a few hits myself.

I've gone back to UO a few times since I left. Unfortunately, I sold my user account so I could never revist my old characters. But I did enjoy once again running from Vesper to Minoc to Britain and down to Trinsic. The music still haunts me. Last time I logged in, perhaps a year ago, I was shocked to see the game was still laggy. 10 years and still they hadn't fixed the lag. That's the software biz for you, I guess.

Everquest was my second mmo and real love. I had actually been in the EQ beta but I wasn't sure it was for me. I started working at HomeAccount in summer 1999 and a friend of mine, Curtis, had been playing since release. I would often go over to his desk and see what new places he had visted and admire the great trinkets he had picked up along the way. So one night I called my friend Deon and convinced him to ride to the store with me to pickup the game. The next day or so my friend Kevin also bought the game and the three of us spent about 3 months adventuring all over the place. At around level 30 my friend Deon bid us farewell but Kevin and I and my friend Jim (living in Detroit at the time) kept at it until we reached the "end game" content.

If you've only played WoW but never EQ then you can't really appreciate the level of dedication that goes into getting a character from 1 to 50 during the early years of EQ. We're not talking a little work here. We're talking a freaking fulltime job. You could have easily spent 8 hours per day, everyday working on your character and would still take you the better part of a year to reach the end game. But once you got there it was a different game. Everyone had gone through the same shit you had gone through. There were always the uber-guild clicks that exluded everyone (I guess that was the thing to do) but most people appreciated their fellow masochists and gladly welcomed them to a party in Lower Guk, Sol B or the occassional Vox or Naggy raid.

I guess I played EQ off and on until WoW was released. So roughly August 1999 to November 2004. I still think about how much I enjoyed my time in EQ. I think I actually hated-loved every minute. I so wanted to rocket up to uber but I would spend a week (or more) learning every nook and cranny of a zone. I guess what I did in EQ is what I did in UO: enjoyed the journey. WoW, bah, "let's just level already".

So there is all of that. Now I'm tinkering around with Project EQ. It's basically old school EQ using the EQemu emulator. I'm curious to see how long I last before I toss up my hands in frustration.

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