As it sometimes does (on a good day) my post about Nostalgia and being stuck in a frozen moment of Everquest spawned a couple of responses. And this is why I like blogging – I read them, thought about them, learned some new things, and gained a bit of clarity on the subject. Oh, not absolute, conclusive clarity but another angle on it all.
The first post, at Time To Loot, is here
This quote is important to me:
” A good example of this is the ol’ Sierra adventure games. I played and loved the ever-loving heck out of the Quest for Glory series.1 There was a time when I was playing through these every year or two. Yet I never played the King’s Quest or Space Quest games when they were current. I once thought to try them out but I bounced off them almost immediately. My love for QFG remained untarnished, but there was no getting on board with KQ and SQ. “
And it will feed my point soon. But first I want to link to Bhagpuss’ article and also dig up a quote from his:
” These aren’t living worlds. They’re instruction sets. Always providing someone can recover the code (easier said than done but being done more and more – and more and more effectively – year by year) your past can live again. If you call that living. “
Both are interesting points (and both write ups are great reads) but I had a moment while gaming last night where I think I figured out that it is not just Nostalgia – which is of course a part of it – and it is not just the mechanics – which of course is ALSO a part of it – but it is the non-throwaway nature of the game.
Things matter in P1999. In our age of disposable, repetitive grind for upgrades gaming worlds it is a point in time where things matter.
Loot matters. Because you can sell it. RE-sell it when you are done. Give to to alts. Lend it to friends. Your items are truly yours, and not just destroyed or vendored when you get the next upgrade. They are not bound to you or only exist on you – they are things that can be passed around and shared. And items might last you 50 or 60 levels. That’s right, all of your levels. And while that may not sound interesting to you, the permanence of such items makes them special. More real, if you will.
Your reputation also matters. There is one server. No name changes. No transfers. Levelling takes such time and energy that you don’t want to be making enemies in a small community after getting to level 15, 20, or 30.
Buffs matter. My Enchanter loves hitting random people with flyby Clarity buffs. Those buffs, depending on level, can make that persons time up to 100% easier. People genuinely appreciate it. There is excitement when you get hit with a Clarity, or a SOW, or a haste. It matters.
I’ll finish with a story that the modern day WoW player will never be able to understand (if they only have WoW as a backdrop). There are three parts to the same story, each different, but no less important.
I was camping the Nybright Sisters in Lesser Faydark on my level 16 Shadowknight. She is well geared, with items I have farmed with my higher level enchanter as well as a kick ass main weapon I bought at the EC tunnels. It is a common, usually busy camp. I can handle all the mobs quickly and easily there at my level and gear and the XP is good. The Platinum is even better as they drop frequent bronze weapons.
A Cleric comes by. He knows it’s a solo camp. XP, money, everything is better there as a solo camp. He “hails” me, I wave, and I invite him.
Story 1 : “Isn’t this a solo camp?” he asks. I say yes, but that company is always welcome. And especially that of a cleric, who tends to struggle soloing if it isn’t an undead opponent. Happy to share in the spoils. We played for an hour before he had to log. He asked if I would add him to my friends list and hopes we can adventure again in the future. I was NOT maximizing my play time, or xp per hour by inviting him – quite the opposite – but I did make his night better and I also had someone to chat with. And who knows, I might need a rez in the future and it never hurts to have Cleric friends for that.
Story 2: Same camp. Thirty minutes later. A Druid comes by. Same old story – these people are checking if the camp is free. Since there is no instancing, it’s either free or it’s taken. I invite him. We get tons of bronze weapons. Here is my issue: I can’t sell them in zone. I am a Shadowknight, and the only vendor I know of in Lfay is a Ranger outpost who will kill me on sight. In fact, I spent 4 hours killing Minotaur Slavers in Steamfont that made Gnomes “dubious” to me meaning I can access the bank there, vendors, and even spell vendors for my class. I had to do a bit of work there. Anyway – the mobs are easy and several times he mentions he feels useless. I let him know his most important job is telling jokes. They are bad. His second most important job is to loot ALL the weapons and go sell them, and give me half of the spoils. We found mutual need for each other.
Story 3: A level 20 Druid sends me a tell: “Can you locate my corpse in the zone?” – corpses and all of your gear remain. You have to find and loot them. You have 7 days or they disappear – including all of your loot. It’s important. Shadowknights have a spell “Locate Corpse” which points me in the direction of the corpse. I respond “sure – just meet me at Nybright camp” and we continued killing the sisters. He arrives, I cast the spell, and off I go. I find it in the centre of the zone and get consent to “drag” it back to him. Lfay is a very dangerous zone, I am being careful. OF course, not careful enough and I aggro a Brownie which is a VERY fast, and I know I can’t outrun him – but hopefully my pet slows him down and I can make the zoneline. I tell the Druid to zone as well, as we are grouped and if I die near him the aggro might transfer. I think I am going to make it, but the Brownie roots me, and I die.
The druid is so upset about all of this. “I Am so fucking sorry! Dammit, I feel terrible!”
“Hey, it’s ok. Bad luck, those guys are hard to see and it’s part of the zone”.
I neglect to mention that I lost a level.
So now I have to run back to the zone, find MY corpse, AND his corpse, and be really careful for that roaming Brownie. I am cautious and I manage to do just that. I bring him his body and he loots it. The whole time he is worried about me dying again, and apologizing for the death. I just get the job done.
After he tries to tip me with 15 platinum – he is only level 20 and that is a lot of money. I decline. He insists. I decline. He asks why – and I respond “Someday I may need a port from a friendly druid on a corpse run. Making allies is more important than money”. He sends me a tell saying “Add me as a friend. You get free ports for life. Thank you for being so friendly and kind”.
It’s not just nostalgia that makes me enjoy playing there, its the fact that everything you do, and how you treat everyone you meet, actually has an impact on their gaming day. It matters. And in this disposable gaming world, if I can enjoy gaming and have some sort of a positive impact, that matters to me.