You Can’t Go Back

Memory is a funny thing.  It is entirely selective, and often based on an emotional trigger.  A smell may be enough to have you dream about some baking with your grandparents, or a tree about some trip taken with an old fling.  Few people dream of that time they went to the washroom, or read the newspaper.  We filter out the mundane.

Experiences are meant to be had and then recalled, not chased again.  Nothing will ever truly compare to that first kiss, or that game that you won through an amazing comeback.  Chasing for that feeling again, rather than a new feeling, tends to lead to disappointment.

I played Ultima Online when it launched and for a few expansions.  I made a decent amount of money selling characters on ebay (when that was a thing).  Looking back, it was an overall positive experience.  It was a truly social game, many complicated inter-woven mechanics, and the concept of people impacting the world.  I went back a couple years ago, both the to current game, and then to a shard emulator from the original game.

The first was jarring as it was essentially a new game.  The fundamentals were there, but most of the systems had changed and after a couple days I had enough.  The emulated shard was a worse experience.  For all the fun memories, there were some bad ones that I had simply pushed out.  Lack of housing, massive PvP, griefers all over the place, a large difficulty curve, lack of regeants…I had spent years immunizing myself while playing – building large stocks to off-set the large character losses.  I wasn’t prepared to spent the time/effort again to get back to that point.

I’m looking at Vanilla WoW and realizing it’s just not for me.  While I spent a ridiculous amount of time there, and memories are generally positive, there are some items that just make me shudder.  Classes and specs that have no value.  An economy based on being present in only 2 locations.  Resist gear.  The insane grind from 30+. (side note, I made some decent cash selling guides to address this grind).  Poor travel options.  No grouping tools.  The amount of farming needed.

My recollection of that time is more positive than not, but I was a different person back then.  My expectations were different and the gaming market was substantially different.  I have no need to chase that feeling or pretend that it was better than today.  Just like people reminisce of a day without cell phones, but after 3 days go stir crazy without one.

There are certainly people who will enjoy it, and for a long period of time.  I would still hazard to guess that quite a few more people looking back and applying selective memories, and will be in quite a shock once things get rolling.  I’d rather just recollect.

 

4 thoughts on “You Can’t Go Back

  1. Going back is easy, it’s when you figure out where you are going (the exact same places…) that it gets less fun. I loved my time on EQ progression servers up to a point – that point being, here I am, grinding the same mobs in the same spots as I did 20 years ago… and I know what happens next.

    I think the WoW server would be interesting if it found a point in time that makes the game fundamentally different (class interdependency, CC needed in dungeons, etc.) and moved the game forward that way. But that is way too much work and not even sure if it would be fun.

    I think I’ll be passing on this one too.

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    • I can connect an old SNES and “go back” but after having tried that and thinking that a particular game was amazing (like Star Fox), I quickly realized that my memory had kept the emotional state of that period, but that I had also convinced myself that the actual experience was still fun.

      The end result is that instead of thinking fondly of that game, I now think less of it.

      Going back, to me, is re-creating that original experience. That just is not possible.

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  2. You can go back again in MMOs. I’ve done it several times. I’ve done it by restarting from scratch on a new server and by coming back to a game after a break of several years. In each case, though, I have taken the restart on its own terms, not as a recreation of the past.

    The thing about the WoW Classic servers for me, though, is that I don’t have to go back – I was never there in the first place. I didn’t play WoW until WotLK. Whether that will make it more or less enjoyable is another matter.

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