I’ve spent the past few days skimming through an immense archive of MMO screenshots, from early beginnings in Final Fantasy Online (I don’t have anything older stored anymore) on to four folders full of WoW to different titles I’ve played whenever I was jaded with the game and those I’ve played after. Needless to say, it put me in a painfully pensive and nostalgic mood, reliving some of the time I’ve spent in virtual worlds, looking at pictures of old friends who are no more and remembering some of the epic fun and silliness we shared. There is nothing that sets such an MMO picture album apart from real-life photographs; I’ve been to Vana’diel and Azeroth, to Hyboria and Telara, I have lived there and all the memories are memories of real things, real experiences and emotions. It’s been a hell of a journey and I don’t regret one damn minute. When I close my eyes I can be anywhere I want to and that has always been my escape.
Pewter recently examined what makes “the soul” of an MMO which is not an easy mission. It’s a question that can only be answered individually, what it is that draws each of us to virtual places and what we seek there. I once attempted to name that magic that makes games compelling to us, that draws us in so completely and utterly like only the best of them achieve. Where does the soul of an MMO lie? To me it’s many things come together, as it is no doubt for everybody (if not necessarily the same ones): it’s atmosphere and setting, a sense of world and scale, it’s in randomness and freedom, balance and cooperation. Longterm, the social component has the power to change everything. I am also a sucker for shiny art and beautiful music, but then you knew that already.
However you like to call this soul of adventure, I’ve found it there preserved in my screenshots, a decade of fun and wonders documented – a decade of me made up of different pieces. And it hit me that for each of those worlds I’ve visited, I left something of myself behind. That is the painful nostalgia, that’s what it means to truly immerse yourself in an MMO – it doesn’t come for free. We are all paying a tribute.
And maybe that’s why as the years pass, the longing increases and the older we get newer games make us feel less and less. For every world we’ve traveled, we leave a part of ourselves behind…until there’s nothing left to give. “When I was young I was a fool…”
The gallery is up and new blog is shiny!
My gallery is finished now and I’m very happy with it. It was initially only meant for my recent GW2 beta pictures but I’ve always wanted an online documentary that shows all the places Syl has been to and to go drown in nostalgia whenever I feel like it.
Unfortunately I haven’t found too many screenshots of the older games – I’m especially missing my Age of Conan folder that I seem to have lost. I realized too, that I haven’t taken nearly enough good screenshots in Allods, but then I’ll be back – I am always back to Allods.
Since I’ve spent so many hours picking pictures, I’ve finally also tackled another big to-do on my list, which was re-designing the entire blog to make it feel more personal to me and expressing the MMO / gamer thematic. The assorted screenshots were a big help and I absolutely love the new look and header image! This might get me to stick to blogger for a while longer, absolute pain in the ass that it is sometime.
Speaking of which, naturally the overhaul made me lose my blogroll again – this is the third time in a row now and I’m sick and tired of it. I finally found a way to store the links for good (doh), however I had to reproduce all of my blogroll pages manually (from memory) again and I am still missing at least 10 blogs on it. There’s only so much I can remember out of 55 links. So, in case you’re one of my blogroll users or find yourself missing all of a sudden – it’s quite possibly not intentional and I hope to restore the last few over the coming days. Letting me know is also much appreciated.
A good weekend to all of you out there paying the MMO tribute – and yes, one day I will tackle the even bigger headache that is switching my blog over to wordpress!