A Guild’s Life

I often enjoy how perspectives change. This is just a self evaluation, even on this blog. Back in 2008 when I started blogging I closely followed and often agreed with Wolfshead and Tesh when it came to virtual worlds and the opportunities that existed in our space to make games that had meaning. We were all very aligned on what was missing for games that lacked tangible impact on enjoyment and entertainment. This attitude and optimism stemmed from experiences I enjoyed in the frontier days of the MMO – before homogenization, before “casual” play and most importantly, before instanced content. Yes, WoW changed all of that, for better or for worse but that didn’t come out of thin air. I often discuss now that it’s not that I want the same games we had – the EQ  and DAOC experiences can never be replicated or repeated – but I really want that feeling again. The unbridled amazement, discovery, and joy that games once brought. Along the years I start realizing the true world building and discovery isn’t coming anytime soon in this genre and you learn to accept and quietly take what parts you can still glean and enjoy. This is when you enter your own nostalgic space and make the best of what you have.

I still visit my original EQ Guild forums (The Grove) and yes, I still have my login and password and still have access to guild only forums. I have 484 posts there. Few of us visit, and fewer still often. I stop by randomly once a month, see who has said hi for the most part, see what people are playing. That is tie that is 20 years old. I don’t even go to my high school reunions.

I was looking for my quit thread and couldn’t find it. The reason for doing so was that I think I vaguely recall blaming EQ for it’s harsh death penalties, separation of friends due to level disparities and content difficulty, requirement for hours of grind. (etc.) You know, all the things that have since been fixed but have eroded the communities with play within. It started as a small research assignment to see at what point and for what reason I had given up on EQ. At some point EZBOARDS was bought by YUKU and the search functionality is bad now (like – non functioning), and it has unregistered some of my posts but also has them tracked as mine. It is weird! I did find some nice gems I wrote 15 years ago that had things in it such as:

2001: when things started getting tough  “For me, I will remain a grover even if I am the last one left. I have played EQ since beta, and have never enjoyed my play time as much now. I owe a lot of this to Velm, who took me under his wing in oasis, and showed me truly how to enjoy the game. I just ran with it from there, some bumps along the way, of course, but all in all, I have never had more fun in any game.:” (I am still in the guild and the random times I have logged into the testserver the only player on from that guild)

2001: as things were falling apart “When we started losing people, everyone panicked, and we thought of solutions to ‘fix’ the guild. REcruit, do weekly raids, etc. etc. I was a big part of these conversations as well, I have to admit it. That is where we were wrong. It was never broken. Trying to fix it broke it more. I made a comment to an ex grover, now a part of another guild, that I am liking whats going on now.. people who dont want to be here are not. People who do, are. Its not based anymore on if we can do raids, get epics, etc.. those remaining are long resigned to realize that its just not gonna happen within ourselves, we have to go to others for that . What it is based off is people who like the tag, and each other, playing a ‘game’ and enjoying each others company. If you can handle that, stay and have fun with us. If not, go, enjoy your time, send me a tell sometime, and maybe I can see if I can get us killed somewhere sometime. Somewhere along the lines when the grove changed from a group of friends, to a raid/epic/uber group, is when it got lost. Its reverting back now. Im fine with that. I just dont know if anyone else is. For me? I will be in the grove until I am last member, or Griid /guilddisbands it. Or if Griid kicks me out. IF any of that happens, happens, I wont join another guild, because really, whats the point?”

A few years later when I popped in to say hi:

2005: “Troll. Very busy little troll =) I miss MMORPGs, well, not entirely, but I miss the way they *were*. I was thinking about the old Grove days, when I first was invited along, and those were fun, fun times. Reallly fun. I stuck with DAOC for a long time, Did COH, beta tested away (currently testing Matrix Online) but is it just me or are MMORPGs really dumbed down? I don’t know if it is just because it was my first, but for all of its downfalls, EQ really had some twisted sense of accomplishment and danger attached to it. Current games there feels like there isn’t any inherent “risk” factor, (no risk, no reward! =)”

I couldn’t find my quit thread. It was driving me nuts. Did I even write one?

What I did find was a lot of different quit threads. And they were heart wrenching to still read now. In a game like EQ if someone quit your guild it really felt like they were quitting your family. In a small, tight knit guild when you lose key people you lose the ability to do things. The actual capability of you to enjoy the game is now lessened. That is just crazy. There was also so much good support and friends talking about life. You can literally go through years and years of conversations there and see people start the game, join the community, their journey there as a guild member, the drama that happens, the good that happens and their goodbye when they leave. It is a very crazy historical perspective of some important and defining gaming years of my life. I spent hours pouring through threads with the initial sole purpose of finding a specific thread of my own but ended up reliving some really strong memories – both fond and upsetting.

Some fun threads revolved around new game launches and if people would participate and where they would be. No one was able to get back together in any way that resembled what we had. I am not an overly emotional person – especially when it comes to the past – but when there is an artifact like our guild boards preserved perfectly like that it feels like it is in real time and is still going. It still feels alive for the sole fact that it is there. I am thankful that it is but also don’t want to get stuck reliving a past that can’t possibly exist again. I just became completely drawn in reading those boards. A lot of this also has to do with the formative parts of my years and how I was growing as a human being at that time.  All of that rolls into one another to create a perfect storm of nostalgia and wonderment. And at the end of it all, I can’t help but think that if I put more into the communities that exist that I would get much more out of them.

For all the power of emotion and nostalgia that still rests there, I game with zero of those people now. The only one I even know who participates in BlogNation is Ozmandius at KTR but he hasn’t posted in a couple years and while we were both serial posters on the boards I was the one that left and we never really connected afterwards. This entire post organically grew from a little research to support some gaming events I have experienced that could never be duplicated in any world (which I am still going to write) and it took me to a place that I wasn’t quite prepared for. Still, it was an amazing personal journey through a group that defined my expectations for a virtual community and ruined most chances for any new game to live up to.

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