Remembering my Happy Times with MMORPGs

Most gamers have made the tragic mistake of getting involved with an MMO. Heck, the way I speak about them now is probably similar to how I would reminisce about the “good ol’ drinking days” if I were a regular at AA meetings, as the addiction can be very, very real. These are games that, after all, are engineered to never have a true ending, sporting virtually limitless upgrades you can make to your characters, dungeons to raid, and in essence, “stuff” to do, literally until the Sun dies out and we all perish. Or until you forget to eat for a few weeks and everything works itself out naturally.

Today I’m here to ramble on a bit because over some light conversation on the Twittersphere, I learned from none other than CheapBossAttack that Blizzard will be running an official vanilla server dubbed World of Warcraft Classic, that will feature the original, unpatched Azeroth for players to officially enjoy!

Now I did not catch wind of this somehow, which shows that a) I would not be a good gaming news guy, and b) I need to branch out of my Nintendo and Vita tendencies a bit. It also doesn’t really involve me at all, as I’ve learned my lesson regarding MMORPGs like so many of you have that managed to escape.

The funny thing about myself and MMORPGs is that I really appreciate them, the sheer volume of manpower that goes into building these incredible worlds and experiences is on such a high level for me – speaking as a developer, I truly cannot comprehend how a company organizes and designs this level of content. THAT part truly blows my mind. Moving past that however, I think that at their core, they are designed to be addictive, and if you have the time to get involved in an experience like an MMORPG, more power to you. I, on the other hand, will tuck my man-parts between my legs, and run in the other direction.

Am I afraid of MMORPGs? Not at all – in fact, hands-down, some of my fondest gaming memories come from the meager two MMORPGs that I was ever involved in. Furthermore, whenever I stumble upon something World of Warcraft-related, I cannot help but go on a binge on YouTube of raids of late-game bosses, just ogling the precision gameplay – each player a link in a gigantic chain, where all it takes is a single chink in the armor, and the whole raid will go down in flames. The tremendous amount of work it would take to organize these runs, equip the whole group, set up TeamSpeak or Vent or Roger Wilco or whatever protocol we used back in 2004.

Yes, World of Warcraft and MMORPGs in general are a very nostalgia-inducing topic for me. You could even say… my nostalgia gets triggered!

night-elf-hunter-locked
I desperately wanted to show you all my Hunter – I tried logging into my Blizzard account and finding a screenshot, but much to my dismay it was more trouble than it was worth!

The thing about World of Warcraft is that it’s a very nostalgia-inducing topic for many, but particularly for those who played during the “Vanilla” years – vanilla meaning before Burning Crusade, the first large content update, was released. To this day, whenever someone mentions World of Warcraft, I can talk about my experiences with it for hours with a level of longing fondness normally reserved for games like Ocarina of Time or Super Mario 64. Unfortunately Twitter is not well-equipped for long, in-depth conversations, so I decided this needed to be put here.

When you first start World of Warcraft, you are a small fish in a massive sea. You run around, kill things, perform fetch quests, and level up. But most importantly, you partake in the environment. You meet people doing the same things, you would help them, and then they’d help you. It was truly an experience unlike anything I’d ever had at that point. I actually remember introducing yourself to someone online, and knowing people beyond the avatar. It was an amazing time for gaming – remember, we’re looking back at a landscape changing game that first launched in the practical ancient history of 2004. The people who you played with, that you ran dungeons and raided with, they were very rarely randoms. They all had people attached to them, which is something I think most MMORPGs lack today.

night-elf-starting-area.jpg
Teledrassil, the starting area for Night Elves, was gorgeous!

Weirdly, looking back, I never actually was a big fan of the end-game content. Nothing more than 10 man, and I still only ever did that a handful of times. What I loved doing was helping the younger players, giving them advice, hanging out and chatting in Ironforge, and finding new animals to train as my pet. It was social media, before social media took over the whole world!

One of the rarest tameable Sabers in the game.

In fact, one of my fondest gaming memories is wandering around in Winterspring with a friend I met online. He was also a Night Elf Hunter, and we would search around in Winterspring, chatting while killing bears and looking for the rarest Saber that you could have as a pet. I believe this was the saber, but as this was over a decade ago, it’s a little hard to remember.

There’s also something to be said for the Auction House. The Auction House was a very interesting part of World of Warcraft, as new patches and craftable items introduced into the game meant that certain items that were once worthless were now highly sought after. That random thing you had stacks of that were once worth pennies could now pull several gold per. It was like a microcosm of the actual stock market, and boy was it a treat to take control of a commodity before spiking the price!

While I adored my time in World of Warcraft, I quit mere weeks after the release of Burning Crusade because the magic was lost for me. At this point I had only been playing WoW for around 9 months, but the tone suddenly changed in the game. No longer did it become about the journey to the new level cap of 70, but it became purely about rushing through to the destination so you could the new dungeons. To me, it just wasn’t the same vibe anymore. The community changed, as they often do after a “honeymoon period” of a game launch, and no longer was the game about helping your fellow player – it became oddly self-serving and lacked the personality it once had.

I distinctly remember a conversation I had while waiting in line outside a GameStop, awaiting the midnight release of Burning Crusade

Now I’ve spoken a lot about my time exploring Azeroth, but I haven’t brought up the other MMORPG that pulled me in many, many years later.

Following the abrupt ending of my World of Warcraft career, I experimented with several other MMORPGs. None of them ever “got it right” in my opinion – that opinion being based on the fact that I didn’t immediately get heavily addicted to them like I did with WoW – and so, I sunk back into the simpler, single-player adventures, mostly in the vein of open-world games like Fallout and The Elder Scrolls.

That was until two buddies of mine entered a beta to play in the reboot of Final Fantasy XIV Online, dubbed A Realm Reborn. Eager to get into a fun game as I was in a bit of a lull. I’ll mention now that I was not currently in a relationship and I was working my ass off, making money to pay off my student loans – money was tight and time was aplenty. To be honest, I was probably at my most vulnerable for a fresh new addiction!

ffxiv-arr-gameplay-3.jpg
The game world itself was drop-dead gorgeous. It was HD-scaled Final Fantasy I remembered from my childhood!

The thing about FFXIV: ARR as irritating as that acronym is to type, is that they made the beginning elements of the game so perfect as to suck you into the Final Fantasy universe, that it mixed perfectly with my nostalgia of playing Final Fantasy as a kid, and the convenient fact that I had just finished Final Fantasy VII after about a decade of numerous failed attempts.

This is like handing someone a literal barrel of the smoothest single malt scotch in Scotland, a month after they swore off cheap beer. FFXIV: ARR played like a 10,000x enhanced version of all my fondest memories in Final Fantasy games.

If you’re not familiar with the game, there are elements pulled from the entire series and placed all over the world. Characters, enemies, NPCs, bosses, chocobos, you name it – it’s a huge fan service project that just made you want to never stop playing. It was all of the universes of Final Fantasy – materialized into a single massive world.

ffxiv-arr-gameplay-1

Furthermore, they figured out ways to make things like crafting enjoyable! Here I was, working during the day, getting home and working out, and then playing for 4-5 hours a night. Crafting and leveling up and selling my products on the Auction House – I mentioned how much I loved selling things on the Auction House in WoW! – and you could actually have a decent career being a craftsman. While WoW was all about the battles, FFXIV: ARR made it about the lifestyle living in a Final Fantasy-themed world. The battles and dungeons were all a part of it too, but living out the life of an inhabitant and the flexibility it gave each player made it feel that much more rewarding to play.

FFXIV: ARR actually made fishing enjoyable. Fishing! That alone says a thousand words.

To this day, as far as I know, the game still attracts a much older player demographic, due to the simple fact that it’s a much more complex game to get into. While other MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft were now filled with “young kids,” FFXIV: ARR was the place to go to join mature groups of people with normal lives and families, and have fun working with each other without needing 15 straight hours of free time every day. It really was the missing link and the balance that knocked WoW out of my good graces.

ffxiv-arr-gameplay-2

I spent probably 9 months and god knows how many thousands of hours playing FFXIV: ARR, but ultimately I realized it just required too much time for what amounted to lackluster end-game content. I had “beaten” the game in my mind and was simply maxing out my daily allotment of “tomes,” the in-game currency acquired from beating the same boring-ass dungeons day in and day out, to be used to get more gear. This gear allowed you to… do the exact same thing with a different dungeon.

But again – this is was killed WoW for me. The end-game content always turned into work. The reason I’ll never play another MMORPG is because the destination is never as rewarding as the journey to me. It turns into a race to the finish line, but once you get to the finish line, there’s nothing to do but stand around and talk about the “good ol’ days” racing.

While tons of people will hopefully have a great time enjoying vanilla Azeroth in World of Warcraft Classic, and dropping FATE bosses in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, I’ll be staying cozy with the amazing memories I have.

img_9594


Are you currently playing any MMORPGs? Did you play vanilla WoW back in the day? I’d love to hear about your fond memories (or horror stories!)! Let me know down in the those comments!

7 thoughts on “Remembering my Happy Times with MMORPGs

  1. Oh, WoW… I started around the middle of Burning Crusade and played it for 8 years.I wasn’t into raiding but I loved leveling up characters, collecting pets, and getting achievements (that was introduced in the Wrath of the Lich King X-Pac). Ultimately, I got eventually got bored, it was too time consuming, and I wanted to play my pile of other games. I’ll never forget the dude who guided my nooby Night Elf Druid to Stormwimd. I was so lost, haha.

    Great post! I’m staying away from FFXIV! But if the Lightning event ever happened again… 🙂

    Like

  2. Imtiaz Ahmed

    WoW was great back in the day. I like you played up to Burning Crusade and left shortly after that, actually sold my account and broke even with subscription fees. My studies at university actually started to get affected and i had to take a big step back, much to the dismay of my guild.

    I had some good times though, but like you said, end game raiding can be very fun and it’s amazing to see the strategies and leadership implored in pretty much all the boss fights. There are some incredible things to see and do. But like you said, it just starts feeling like work where your guild starts taking attendance and points out if you haven’t been on enough and things like that.

    I need a nice MMO to casually play if it’s to ever fit my life, and I don’t think there will ever be another one that can. the FF MMOs sound appealing adn so does ESO, but again, I can’t help but feel that’ll they’ll require too much time and have the end reward just be a grind.

    On a side note, before WoW i was pretty into the first Guild Wars and had a great time playing with my brother. I wish i could go back to those days where the game requirements were pretty relaxing but still had that MMO feel to it. GW2 sadly hasn’t done that for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sure that guild pressure is a major push for players to quit. I remember when playing and having my guildmates saying things like “yeah I’ve available to raid 3am-8am my time” – like how the heck are you doing that, you work and are married with children! The sacrifices made for a bunch of strangers in a guild… ::shiver::

      Guild Wars I never got into but my friends were all into it. It seemed pretty lax on the requirements.

      Personally, I have a theory that what made me love Xenoblade Chronicles (that game keeps coming up today!) is that it plays exactly like a single player MMORPG. As much as it’s an oxymoron of course… I know you played XCX on the WiiU – Xenoblade 2 coming out shortly might be the more casual answer (as casual as you can get for an MMO…), as there’s actually an endgame.

      I’ve hung up my jersey on MMOs years ago at this point but sometimes a solid long-haul type of game like Xenoblade does the trick.

      Also, games like Monster Hunter where you could play “forever” like an MMO. Would be great if we could get one of those on the Switch…

      Like

      1. Imtiaz Ahmed

        Yea I noticed that with Xenoblade Chronicles as well. It’s structure exactly like an MMO in his enemies roam around and how side quests are arranged. XCX Eve more so since it’s entirely open world and has a small online component. But I found XCX went too far in the MMO route and lacked the strong story telling the first game had.

        Either way, I can’t wait for XC2!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Yeah it’s interesting to me how many PC players told me they have no affinity for FF characters/locations but they love XIV because of the changeable class system. As mainly a console gamer, I’m kinda the other way around… I don’t get too involved in the mechanics but I love the atmosphere/world/society of the game. It feels like an online version of XII to me 🙂

    Like

  4. I love XIV (^___^) I’ve never played an MMO and only tried it because I’m an FF fan. That was four years ago 😛 Currently loving Stormblood and its story. For two decades I’ve been saying VII is my favourite game of all time but I don’t think I can deny it any longer… XIV is my favourite game 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They did an incredible job with it. The whole job system was brilliant and the fact that you can be a well-rounded character finally inspired me to break out of my comfort zone as ranged DPS (carried over from my Hunter in WoW).

      In my Free Company, I tanked, healed, DPS, you name it. Totally interchangeable due to the dynamic job system. Really good design decisions in FFXIV ARR.

      That was one of the biggest issues with WoW to me – you had to set in stone which path you wanted to take right at the beginning, and then start over completely.

      Great game and I miss it! Always wished I knew how many hours I played that one!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s