Sunday, July 1, 2007

Memories, light the corners of my mind...

...pixelated color memories of the games we played.



Szelaedan(Sicklybug) & Cassaendra, Team Taeranel, the early years
EverQuest, summer 2000


From text-based MUDs -- GodWars, loosely based on White Wolf's vampire, werewolf, demon, mage clans -- and Realms of Despair, and other CircleMUDs to MMORPGs, EverQuest, Star Wars Galaxies, and World of Warcraft, we've clocked in hours, to some a lifetime, playing games online.

The past couple of weeks, I've grown nostalgic...trying to piece together what it is that I miss and what it was that drove me away.


EverQuest
Bug, as Szelaedan, was a half-elf ranger and I was a wood-elf druid. Bug started playing EQ in early spring 2000 and I started some time that summer.

The required teamwork, intricacy, and precision of having 72 people, later 56?, coordinated to do EXACTLY what they are supposed to, when they need to, standing in place and moving together precisely, where one person's misstep could wipe hours of work, leading to a sometimes agonizing recovery for another attempt (or several0 was exciting! Having a clean reputation and skill were key to getting in to a guild or group. Likewise, one became blacklisted server-wide from being guilded or grouped for a bad reputation.

The best team of druids to walk the face of Erollisi Marr!
...at least the funnest! Plane of Air, 2003

I would get an adrenalin rush when a highly contested mob or zone was up and we raced other guilds to not only get there first, but to successfully mobilize and take it down.

Our guild, Crimson Eternity, had people on during all hours of the day, since we had players between Japan, Afghanistan, Germany, UK, US/Hawaii, Australia, and NZ. You could even talk to someone one-on-one or in a group channel across different servers! :) Fun stuff!

Me transformed into a high elf! RAWR!

Being an officer in one of the top guilds on the server that raided 3-6 days per week, occasionally until 3-4 a.m. on a worknight, and then battling staffing issues for ~3 months on what seemed like a sinking ship (due to the launch of EverQuest II and World of Warcraft that had, in one way or another, stolen 2/3 of our player base and officer corps) was exhausting. Due to a merger, the guild stabilized. Bug and I retired after 5 years of playing the game.


Star Wars Galaxies
Bug and I began playing this game at launch, June 2003, on Lowca. I played SWG part-time while I was not on EQ, where Szel played this game exclusively until the combat upgrade in early 2005 that destroyed the game, coming back to raid in EQ for a few months in between.

Szel was an over-achieving Bothan (imagine Joe Camel) master bounty hunter. I was an under-achieving Zabrak combat medic who loved to shop shop shop! and spend all of Szel's money. He also played Yslossk, a Trandoshan master Teras Kasi artist, who later ascended to Jedi, and Talfa, a Zabrak master physician. Cassaendra later became a merchant. In the game, you could remove all your professions and restart as anything else.

At home, August 2003

The game was very cool for me because of the amount of detail one could control creating the character, race, height, breadth, weight, flesh tone, eyes (shape, depth, slant, size, color), lips (shape, fullness, angle, color), nose/chin/forehead (width, height), hair (style, color, ornament), etc. The color palette was often a smooth gradient, not a sparse offering of colored boxes. I don't think it was possible, unless the base character was chosen, to accidentally have an identical character across all of its servers.

One could shop from numerous racks of clothes, from combat to casual to formal, in any imaginable color. Jewelry, paintings, pets, different types of homes, anything and everything could be bought. It was lucrative to be an architect, chef, mixologist (really!), tailor, or creature handler. There was even room for a 'middle man' to do well for himself by harvesting unique resources around the planets.

Szel's krayt dragon raid, April 2004

A bounty hunter is able to hunt Jedi. A comfortable life could be made being a weaponsmith, armorer, or a specialist in short, medium, or long-ranged weapons, pikes, and so forth...well, not so much a pikeman. Dancers and musicians were really cool! So were image artists, who could change every physical feature, with the exception of your race and sex.


Corellia, before we moved to our town in Tatooine, fall 2004

Bug seems to always do extremely well financially, regardless of which game we play. He studies the market, invests his time and/or money in odd things, and then sells high when the general populous learns of its existence, supply is low, and the demand is high; almost always making 10-100x profit! We packed up our homes on Corellia and moved to Tatooine, where his house was a town hall and his favorite acquisitions were prominently displayed. He also had several homes on different planets and vending machines to sell treasures and resources.

Jump to Lightspeed was Bug's favorite expansion. Space combat missions and being able to travel on your own ship! Wow!! He had ace pilots for each faction - Szel(privateer), Talfa(imperial), and Yslossk(rebel).

Sightseeing at the Lake Retreat, Naboo, fall 2004

When Bug met Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Jabba the Hut I was excited! It was easy to become immersed as you flew or rode to places you recognized from the movies, like going to the Lake Retreat where Anakin and Padme stayed, Mos Eisley, Mos Espa, Jabba's Palace, ...! The sights and sounds were so familiar, down to the MSE (mouse) droid that you saw randomly or could purchase and augment as a "pet." Even the music was familiar.

The poop hit the fan when the combat upgrade came about in March 2005. What had been promised since launch was not given. The game was, in fact, further reduced and simplified and there was no balance. Items that were worth millions were now rubbish, and vice versa. It was quite frustrating and the final straw, so we canceled all of our accounts with Sony Online Entertainment - EQ, EQII, SWG.

World of Warcraft
Bug began playing WoW in spring 2005. I began playing a few weeks to a month afterwards. Having stepped down as an officer in EQ and after the guild had stablized, it was time for me to check out life as the other woman.

Azshara, one of my favorite scenic areas

We started as Alliance characters on Burning Blade, a pvp server (Cassaendra, night elf druid; Bug created a dwarven hunter). I got fed up with the gank-fest, so we moved to Bloodhoof, where we started Alliance characters again (Cassaendra, night elf druid & Bug created a dwarven hunter).

We were asked to move to the Horde side by our old guildmates in EQ. We joined up with them in a guild called Ghost Force. At the time, they were the #2 guild on the server, Horde-side. It meant very little to me at the time, being level 0...the birth of Vetiver, a tauren druid who would be versed in the restorative arts and master herbalism and alchemy, and Vandren (Bug), a hard-nosed undead shadow priest with a hanging jawbone, who would melt your face if you looked at him wrong.

Setting up to raid Onyxia, November 2005
Prior to learning about custom user interfaces(UI) :)

Tired of the societal 'unfairness' imposed upon priests, especially raiding priests, to only be able to acquire healing gear versus damage gear, Bug created MadCapsule, an intimidating orc (enhancement) shaman...but yet another class that could cast a heal.

FlexBar was our favorite UI. The game was never really the same after the UI became unusable toward the end of 2006, near the onset of the game's first expansion. It devastated Bug as a shaman, thus the birth of SicklyBug, the undead pirate rogue!

As a druid, I could shapeshift into a cat (rogue), bear (warrior), caster (heal/damage spells), tree (heal only), and bird (flight-form).

Vetiver...in travel form, using a very clean FlexBar UI!


...in cat form


...in caster form with MadCapsule, while we were in Boonedock Saints, spring 2006


Blizzard must have learned from EQ's mistakes. Most people hated being forced to search for groups for hours to complete anything on EQ. In WoW, one could reach the maximum level not having grouped with anyone at all. Of course, it was frequently evident when you group with someone like that - they display very little to no common sense or courtesy, and at times, any feeling of consequence for one's actions. EQ bred discipline.

Lycaena, my undead shadow priest, and Sicklybug - YAR!


Lycaena on horseback in Winterspring, January 2007


Mitzi, my blood elf mage-baby, January 2007


I miss the challenge and camaraderie! We've had a lot of fun spending anywhere between 5 - 20 hours a day with people (not pixels) working together as a tight-knit team. A handful of those people we cherish and consider them, in real life, our friends. We would never have played any of these games for as long as we have were it not for our friends. One of these days, I hope we'll be able to meet them all vis-à-vis!

- Cassaendra

3 deep thoughts:

Mjol 05 July, 2007 20:59  

Wow, that was pretty snazzy. I'm glad you guys posted that; gives me more of an idea of how the world of eq and swg was like.

Noffin 26 July, 2007 14:35  

PEEP!!

SicklyBug & Cassaendra 28 July, 2007 22:43  

Heyas BT & Noffin!

LOL - PEEP back at ya! =)

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