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Oops!

So the whole point of this experiment was to get through some of the games in my PC Library that are unplayed. Ideally by the end of the year I would have played all the games I own, or at least be closer to that goal. And hey, in January alone I played 5 games I hadn’t played before. Some were good; some…not so much.

The problem (if you could call it that) is that in January I either purchased or came into ownership of a staggering TWENTY-SIX new PC games. I only spent 34 dollars, which is pretty good restraint, but I now own every King’s Quest game, including fanmade sequels, almost every Serious Sam game, and a variety of random games I know nothing about, but were free.

I may not be making progress toward my stated goal of getting through my entire library by the end of the year, but the good news is you can look forward to 6 months more of posts from me! I’ve mixed these new games into the rotation, so you can expect to start seeing them soon!

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Cindy Au writes about the experience of falling into a fantasy game at The Mary Sue today. I identified with a lot of what she expresses regarding how fantasy games can help us realize our goals and defeat them at the same time.

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It seems appropriate to begin with some background, doesn’t it? I’ll kick things off by talking a bit about the power of nostalgia. This blog was inspired by a few different things:

First, this lovely post by Tipa of West Karana about revisiting old haunts introduced in EverQuest’s Velious expansion. This was my favorite of the three expansions I saw during my tenure in that game (1999-2002-ish) and I have a lot of fond memories of those places as well.

Second, I had a delightful conversation with an old friend over the Christmas holiday that went something like this:

Him: So what do you remember best about Velious?

Me: (eyes wide) SHARK MEAT!

Let me explain: The Scars of Velious expansion for EverQuest introduced a city called Thurgadin, and inside this city there was a particular NPC, a butcher, who sold various types of meat. Most (if not all) of the meats he sold were items that were already available in the world, generally as drops off the appropriate type of monster (with the possible exception of halfling meat which could occasionally be found inside the bellies of giant spiders, but I digress). One type of meat sold by this butcher was shark meat.

Shark meat was the relevant item in a somewhat obscure quest offered far across the world in the elf newbie zone. The quest-giver offered an experience reward to adventurers who could bring him a certain number of portions of shark meat. At the time the quest was introduced, the only realistic way to obtain shark meat in the necessary quantity was to head out to the Ocean of Tears and fight sharks, a daunting task not only because it was difficult and time-consuming to travel so far away from the cities (missed the boat? Get comfy for fifteen minutes until the next one comes) but also because only a few classes had easy access to underwater breathing ability. It was a great deal of trouble and travel for the reward, so by and large few people did the quest.

Until Velious, when it suddenly became much easier to obtain the meat by simply buying it from the butcher in Thurgadin.

And that is what we did.

I remember loading my druid down with the most capacious containers I could find. Toolboxes had the most slots, but they were pretty heavy; I might have only been able to carry two or three. Then I ported over to the new continent, made my way to Thurgadin, filled my toolboxes with as much shark meat as I could carry (enough to exceed my carrying capacity by quite a lot), ported back to the druid ring in Butcherblock Mountains (as close as I could get to the quest giver), and then cra-a-a-a-a-wled back to Kelethin with my arms full of filthy lucre. Er, shark meat.

I love this memory, because it’s just so absurd, so characteristic to me of the wild and wooly days of gaming yore before “polish” became the gold standard. But I also wonder, laughs aside, was I having fun at the time? I mean, really?

In point of fact I recall passing off a bunch of the meat to a low-level alt to turn in for experience, repeating it until I was bored out of my skull, and finally logging out because I actually felt pretty guilty. As exploits go, this one was definitely small potatoes, but taking advantage of it still felt abusive. (Shark meat was later removed from the butcher’s wares.)

I can think of plenty other MMO memories (relic raids in Dark Age of Camelot, or slowly mastering the Uldaman dungeon in World of Warcraft with my guild group over the course of several weeks, to name two) that I would definitely not have described asĀ fun at the time, but I can still look back on them fondly, or at least treasure some part of the experience. I don’t think this is exactly the rose-colored glasses experience. Maybe more like… brown-colored glasses, because I can admit to myself that there were some shitty parts.

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