15 Years of MMO Memories
With EverQuest 2 and World of Warcraft celebrating their fifth anniversaries this month, we asked our team and members of our community to share some of tales they've accumulated during their playing careers. Most our humorous, some are touching, but all of them highlight the best part of the massively multiplayer experience: the community.
Our first story comes from the dawn of the 3D MMORPG. Though not much more than a trivia answer for most MMO gamers, Meridian 59 maintains a small but active subscriber playerbase in the US and Germany - including many originals from its inception over 15 years ago - to this day. Ten Ton Hammer member sourpuss is one of these originals, and his story dates from the very beginning:
Outside a Meridian 59 Inn.
My favorite MMOG memories happened in Meridian59...Â
[The game dialog] used to say "You can't spell while resting," so I would type nonsense words while I was at the inn resting. They finally changed the message to, "You can't cast spells while resting."Â
Another one I enjoyed was driving [my friend] Gravedigger nuts with the profanity filter. My toon was named Sourpuss, and whenever I would advertise "Meow Meow, Sourpuss mends Meow Meow," the filter displayed Sourpuss as something like @#$%!&. Gravedigger turned the filter off, but I replace the word Sourpuss with the filtered version in my broadcast. He spent 20 minutes trying to figure out why his computer was stuck with the profanity filter on. Someone finally told him it was appearing that way to everyone.Â
Ah, the memories of early beta Meridian59.Â
The best online gaming communities are the ones that move from game to game together, and Ten Ton Hammer Executive Editor Ben "Machail" de la Durantaye tells a good Samaritan story of the kind common among many EverQuest gamers. His story, however, has an especially happy ending.
Having started the MMO scene early, my most fond experiences come from EverQuest. I had ventured into Kedge Keep as a paladin, trying to get bone chips from the bottom of Phinny's Lair to complete the Holy Might quest. It's undetermined if that was bravery or stupidity on my part. I had managed to make it in pretty deep when I suddenly faced more sirens than I could handle. Fighting (literally) to my last breath, I died and my body floated to the bottom.
Now in EverQuest at that time, when you died, you went back to your bind spot, which was several zones away. You didn't get to bring your equipment with you, and being the astute pally I was, I knew there was no way I was going to be able to retrieve my corpse naked. However, it was late, no guildmates were on, and I wasn't going to leave my corpse decomposing at the bottom of the watery caves. So I headed back.
At the entrance was a fellow named Rule. I had never met him before, but he saw me and asked why I was swimming about naked. I explained the story, and he offered to help me get my corpse.
Well, it took us several hours. We died a few more times, but with Rule's cunning, he was always able to get our corpses. After about three hours we finally made it to my original corpse, and I was able to retrieve my equipment. I was incredibly relieved and thankful for his help. Then, in response to my thanks, he simply responded: "Now let's get your quest piece."
Kedge Keep, an underwater dungeon in Dagnor's Cauldron, claimed many a corpse in its day.
And we did. We fought even longer and harder and finally made it to Phinny's lair to get my quest item. I was ecstatic!
But it was short lived. Shortly after, Rule died, followed by a LD. I waited as long as I could, but after 30 minutes or so, my EB was about to run out, so I had to get out of there.
I was wracked with guilt for many days after that. Day after day I kept typing /who all Rule to see if he got back, and if he needed help getting his corpse. But I never did see him again.
That is, until 7 years later in Vanguard. Our guild had formed up and we were storming Telon, and I got a tell from one of my old buds, Zolzimar. Happy to see him, I quickly invited him to the guild. A few weeks later, Zolz told me he had an old friend he would like to invite to the guild, back from the EQ days. I, of course, accepted the request, and sent a guild invite to his friend, Cinister. We got to talking in guild chat about EQ, and how we all played on Tunare. Then, Cin sends me a tell: "You don't remember me? I helped you out in Kedge." It was Rule.
I had thought about this mysterious hero who helped me out all those years ago, and had often wondered where he went, and if he ever did get out of Kedge. I had never imagined I'd run into him again, but sure enough, our paths did cross once again. We've been gaming together ever since.
And yes, Rule did get his corpse.
Machail mentioned Rule going LD, or Link Dead, and Starhawk hearkens back to the days when perhaps the biggest danger to your raid wasn't a tactical failure or a distracted healer, but a family member or roommate wanting to phone a friend.
My first true MMORPGs were Ultima Online and EverQuest. When I am playing WoW and I hear people complain of how slow and laggy their Internet connections are, I laugh to myself as I relive a flashback to the old [dial-up] days when every time you had a phone call you got knocked offline, or you had to log off because someone else in the house had to make a callÂ not to mention trying to run a raid where you had multiple members going link dead at the same time constantly.Â
Asheron's Call, along with EverQuest, is another game that celebrates its ten year anniversary this year. Wsmitty takes us back to AC, the original legendary weapons, and the days when something as small as a new set of particle effects made hours and hours of hard work worthwhile.Â
AsheronÂs Call was my favorite game; I played it for 3 1/2 years. My favorite memory was of completing all the quests to get all the Elemental Gems for my sword. These gems could be changed out to give the different elemental attacks for different mobs that had weaknesses to them. The cool thing was that when you changed from Fire to Frost your swordÂs appearance would go from a flaming blade to a frozen blade with ice particles falling from it. It took several nights and a group of around 6 friends to complete all the quests. I have yet to find a game that keeps me interested for more then 6 to 8 months let alone 3 1/2 years. I keep trying them all and hoping some game will [capture my interest like that] again.Â
Ten Ton Hammer's Forum and PR Queen Karen "Shayalyn" Hertzberg relates a story from the days when polish wasn't necessarily high on the priority list, quest databases were non-existent or seriously lacking, and when relying on friends to complete level-up quests and thinking outside the box was all part of the fun.
The Nature Walker's Schmitar was the EQ Druid's epic weapon.
My favorite memory happened in EverQuest. In EQ, we druids quested for an epic weapon that we lovingly dubbed a "leaf blower"--a scimitar with an animation that made green leaves swirl out of the blade. I was running the easier parts of the lengthy quest with my friend and guildmate. At one point, I was supposed to run up to an NPC and hand her a note. This seemed like an easy enough step, but the problem for me was that this particular NPC was sprinting through the woods and wouldn't stop when hailed. You literally had to run up behind her with your inventory open and cycle through a series of mouse clicks and typed responses to get the note into her hands...all while still running to keep up with her, because if she got too far away she would jog off and despawn and I wouldn't get my quest update.
For some reason, I just couldn't get the rhythm down when trying to hand the NPC this note. I tried over and over again, and she kept scampering off and despawning, which meant my friend and I had to kill her placeholders (many levels below us and not worth experience) to get her to spawn again. My friend laughed at me, thoroughly enjoying my suffering as I tried to catch the NPC. He was a fellow druid, and already epic-equipped, so I asked him for pointers.
"I don't know," he said. "I just ran up to her and handed her the note. I guess I'm more skilled than you are."
He was definitely enjoying a good laugh at my expense as we waited for the NPC to spawn one more time. Finally, I saw her come jogging through the forest and I ran up, determined to make the complicated hand-off this time. But, once again, she was getting away, and I was growing hugely frustrated. I had just typed, "That's IT! I give up!" when I saw my friend cast a spell to root the NPC in place.
"Give her the note," he said.
"What about the faction hit?" I cried. We were grouped, so any faction ding my friend took, I took. All I could think of was the slow faction grinding I'd have to do to make up for harming a friendly NPC.
"No faction hit unless you kill her," my friend answered. "I'm just making her stand still."
After handing the NPC my note and running through the quest dialog, I turned on my friend and made a /rude gesture. "Why didn't we root her in the first place?" I asked angrily.
"It was more fun watching you run around the woods getting pissed off," he laughed.
Ah, the good ol' days.
Dark Age of Camelot was the first of the so-called "second generation" of 3D MMORPGs, an experimental generation which included DAoC's large-scale PvP and the sandbox stylings of Star Wars Galaxies (in its original form). Dark Age's 2005 Darkness Rising expansion is perhaps one of the most celebrated and atmospheric MMO expansions in the category's short existence. OneEyeRed recounts his experience upon entering the Darkness Falls dungeon for the firstÂ time.
I have so many memories from UO, EQ, etc., but I think the most memorable was the day I walked into Darkness Falls in Dark Age of Camelot. The look, the feel, the eerie noises and screams just made my skin crawl. I think I spent more time in Darkness Falls than I have in any other area in all the MMOs I have played. I think it was the coolest instanced type dungeon ever made. There were demons and imps and some pretty damn cool mobs.
The climax of the Darkness Falls is with Legion, the ruler of the hellish realm.
Taking down Legion in a raid for the first time after many wipes was incredible. I remember the first go we had at Legion there were bodies laid out everywhere on the first wipe. It was freaking EPIC! Â
The other epic thing about the game was the community. To this day I have yet to meet a community like the one we had on the Pendragon server. This was long before level bumps, character copies, etc., when Pendragon was a real, live and thriving server. Getting a toon to level 50 on Pendragon was an achievement in and of itself.Â
How I miss those days! I think DAOC was and still is my favorite MMO of all time. The game brought together all the awesome features of the previous games along with a great (but frustratingly long) crafting system and an exceptional story. The RvR was the best PvP ever made and to this day nothing compares to it. Unfortunately people moved on and stupid people changed the course of DAOC for the worst and killed the game.Â
I would go back to the game if EA/Mythic would redo all the areas with current graphics support. Hell, Catacombs was incredibly good looking and if they could redo the entire game with that graphical style it would draw people back. I miss the early game and the people I played with the most.Â
Imagine that your favorite story from Star Wars Galaxies has nothing to do with Jedi or stormtroopers. For at least a brief time, SWG captured what many players wanted - to live in the Star Wars story, whether a Jedi, a bounty hunter, moisture farmer, a dancer, or maybe just a nerfherder. MerlikÂ captures many SWG gamers' feelings succinctly..
I think some of my favorite memories were from Star Wars Galaxies. I will never forget the first time we saw a rancor and took it down. Eventually I farmed them as Teras Kasi, but when we first fought one as a group it was really epic. That game was amazing when it was sandbox style, it's too bad it didn't keep going as well as it started.Â
With poor shelf placement and vapid product selection for PC games, GameStopped has long been on Ten Ton Hammer's list of least favored retailers. Sapperdoc's story gives us pause.
When I first came back from combat in Iraq, I met up with some friends in Star Wars Galaxies. I had pre-ordered it and it had released months before I arrived back home. The Gamestop that I had pre-ordered it at had sold the copy, thinking I had decided not to buy after the months had past. One of the employees was in SWG and he called around, found me a collectors edition, and had it brought over immediately (I had to wait 30 minutes and they bought me a Dr Pepper while I waited). I hadn't pre-ordered the collector's edition, but he gave it to me with no additional charge. That night, when I was in game, he met up with me just to help me get into the game. It was really cool. He hung out with my guild a little, but unfortunately, never joined us. (We were Imp and he was a Reb...)
And then there was WoW. To some, the gaming colossus is paradoxically the most popular subscription game of all time and, in some minds, the most anti-community MMORPG ever made. Detractors cite 300 separate realms, with players split between two factions, tens of thousands of guilds, and (perhaps more significantly) 10 diverse classes. WoW's playerbase might more closely resemble a tossed salad than the melting pot that prior MMORPGs had been, but AnaccheÂ maintains that WoW can create its share of good stories.
My favorite MMOG memory happened in WoW... Â
I remember it quite vividly: I had spent the past few months with my guild, surviving guild dramas and splits et cetera. We had been repeatedly mashing our skulls against Molten Core for months. But now I had changed servers, gone with an old guildy to an Oceanic guild, and on my first night with them, we were to speed-run Zul'Gurub and follow up with another speed run of MC (ÂLoot the damn dogs... NOWNOWNOW! GOGOGO!Â).Â
Molton Core, like the EverQuest "corpse run", became the touchstone experience for a new generation of MMO gamers.
We downed boss after boss and then it came, Majordomo Executus shriveled away and left his loot chest behind... leaving Ragnaros. We sprinted back through the content (we had been so fast that it was all a blur). Most of the [raid members] (judging by their respective voices on Ventrilo) were completely smashed drunk and many laughs were had by all. Then we got into the room of rooms: The Ring of Fire. The tank ran up and spoke to Majordomo, who in turn got himself killed for waking up his master TOO SOON! (Sorry, spoiler). The fight was over in moments. I had chills running down my spine. To be part of a well oiled teamÂ
to kill the unkillableÂ
I needed more. Â
The next night was the true raid night however--Blackwing Lair. We passed Razorgore, blitzed through Vael (now that was an awesome fight!) and blitzed the Broodlord. But next up was this guild's sticking point; they had as yet not been able to kill even the first of the dreaded Three Dragons (Firemaw, Ebonroc and Flamegor). But tonight there was something different. Â
Everybody could feel it. There was something electric in this digital air. I had earlier petitioned a GM in regards to a bug I had been receiving. The GM got round to my ticket just as we pulled Firemaw. He introduced himself, and then realized the fight we were in. Down goes the tank. Off tank takes up the challenge.... KABOOM! We nailed it. Everyone on Ventrilo was squealing with glee--40 mostly drunken Aussies cheering. The GM congratulated me on the kill and wished me good loot, and said he'd give me a minute before we talked about the ticket. We resolved the ticket and he bade me adieu. Â
From this, we kept our steam up, we plowed through Ebonroc, ate Flamegor for dinner but then... Chromaggus. We had more than pushed our fates by blitzing past 3 bosses in one night that we'd never bested before. We were unsuccessful in bringing down Chromaggus that fateful night, but still that one raid was a thing of pure beauty, a machine of players of varying levels of sobriety masterfully playing their respective characters and challenging new frontiers. Â
To this day I have yet to feel that some charge or epic sense of having made it, even when three weeks later we killed Nef. Even after blitzing AQ40. The Burning Crusade offered nothing of the feeling and to be truthfully honest, WoW has never been the same again for me. There was something to be said for the old 40 man raids. Sure, they weren't for everyone, but get a decent one going and damn you could have some fun.
Thanks to everyone who shared their stories stretching over fifteen years of MMO gaming. Have a favorite story to tell? Read other stories and share your own in the Ten Ton Hammer forums!