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Community Spotlight: Do You Feel Sad When Returning to an MMOG?

Posted by MikeB Thursday November 12 2009 at 2:22PM
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This week’s Community Spotlight focuses on a discussion started by user Varny that poses the question: “Does it sadden any of you when you return to an old mmorpg?” Varny had this to say on the subject:

“I mean for me mmorpgs hold such special nostalgic memories of the past and how everything used to be better. Like returning to your home town when you were a child and how summers always seemed warmer and brighter when you were a kid. For me mmorpgs give me that same feeling from the ones I was fond of.

I play a SWG and at the time it launched I was 17 or 18 and going through that time in your life when you experience a lot of thing for the first time and have that first heart breaking G/F lol. So like a Song that you used to love and can't play anymore because of her, I also put games to parts of my life that were meaningful. When I try to go back to them, not only am I pissed off that the developer ruined them but I can never like them again due the nostalgia of my past making me wish I could go back”

I know how you feel! I recently returned to The Matrix Online to say my good-byes a few weeks before the game was set to close and all accounts were set as active. I zoned into the Mara hardline, which for the few of you out there who actually played MXO know as the central hub of the game, and seeing almost no one around. I recall kvetching about the fact we had a huge awesome Megacity to explore and yet half the server would all clog up Mara hardline and hang out there. Seeing no one around was a real shocker and definitely made me feel nostalgic, if not a bit sad, as well.

On the other hand, it can be heart-warming at times when you return to an old game. I suppose it all depends on the state the game is in. Varny mentions Star Wars Galaxies in his post, and like anyone’s first MMOG, Star Wars Galaxies has a special place in my heart. I left, like many after the NGE fiasco, but I have returned on multiple occasions to see how things were. Until recently most of those returns were quite depressing. I played on Starsider which was one of the three most active servers at launch, and I recall logging in and finding the place essentially a ghost town with my entire friends list empty with no one on. That didn’t evoke such a pleasant feeling.

Recently, however, I returned to Star Wars Galaxies this summer and for whatever reason over the past few years a large part of the remaining SWG community had all consolidated on my home server, Starsider, and the place was jumping like it was launch day all over again. I was actually happy that some of the things that previously annoyed me had returned, simply because they reminded me of better days in the game. Things like long sprawling lines for buffs being a good example, or the poplocking Wookiee in Mos Eisley starport hawking his wares, who I guarantee you is still there at this moment.

User Finbar offers his eloquent, if somewhat amusing, response on the subject:

“I would't say sad. Sad is a word I use for stronger more important emotions. However I know what you are talking about. There is a certain forlorn silence that is felt when you play an older game. The same feeling that you get when you entre an abandoned building, or when you finally finish a long series of books (eg: Song of Ice and Fire, or whatever). It's a muted sense of loss or a gentle haunting perse. For me this feeling is a classic trademark of a well realized story or environment. So no your not alone in this; you will find me and many others walking the lonely halls of the worlds of yesterday musing at things come to pass.”

User Balthor’s response echoes a number of others in the discussion who never really get the opportunity to feel sad, as they don’t return at all once they’re gone:

“I won't go back to a MMO that I have left. If I stoped playing and quit, it was for a good reason. It's like if I break up with an annoying GF, I'm not going to take her back ... she's still annoying.”
I guess I can see your point! Though some of us do reignite old flames!

So, do you too feel sad when you return to an old MMOG? Let us know in the comments!

todayisblue writes:

Two games come to mind after reading this blog, FFXI and WoW. I've returned to FFXI about three times since launch and each time felt great. To use the girlfriend analogy, it's like breaking up with that girl to meet new people then realizing she was the right one all along. That's a great feeling. However, I did feel a bit sad and nostalgic when I realized nobody powered through levels 12-15 in the Maze of Shakhrami.

My other return experience, WoW, was a bit different. I always returned to either fill social obligations with real life friends or because I had to temporarily fill some void in my life. I would always quest up through the levels I had missed out on, enjoy that process somewhat, and then vow never to play again. No nostalgia, sadness, or feeling of elation really happened there. Hopefully I've learned from the past and Cataclysm won't cause this "abusive girlfriend" to hurt me again.


Thu Nov 12 2009 3:04PM Report
Isaak writes:

 I remember returning to planetside a year or so ago and was sad to see there were very few people. It may have been an odd day, but it was definately a nostalgic experience.

I recerted to fly a jet and did a flyover of a few of my favorite zones. Recalling epic battles that once taken place there. The halls of the bases now humm into the eternal silence.

Thu Nov 12 2009 3:34PM Report
therez0 writes:

And then there are those games of which you have fond memories of, and those memories inspire you to go back in just once more...  then after a 72 hour binge, you realize that the addiction to the game is why you left in the first-place.  For me there are two games that fall into this category: Phantasy Star Online and Diablo 2.

Thu Nov 12 2009 3:40PM Report
erictlewis writes:

Well I left SWG after the NGE, I got a 30 day trial about 3 months back trying to entice me back.  I logged in for 2 hours just to get the free move off intrepid and move to the new server.  I then logged off in total disgust, and almost cried about how nice swg was and how now it was totaly ruined for me.

I took 2 years of eq2 to go to lotro. I returned to EQ2 after Turbine convinced me they were worse than SOE, I was actually happy at how EQ2 had changed for the better I must add. 

Ohter games I totaly gave up and will never go back too for thoughts of how bad things had gotten. Like Vangaurd, EQ1, Planetside as well.  I gave up eve a long time ago, and will never go back their either.

Thu Nov 12 2009 3:43PM Report
MindTrigger writes:

Yeah, I really miss the old SWG.  I usually log back in once every six months or so to see what's going on. I haven't been back on since the server merge, so I should probably go take a look.  Hell, I have nothing else to play anyway.

Thu Nov 12 2009 3:45PM Report
Yamota writes:

 Not sad but dissapointed. Dissapointed that the MMORPG genre has completely lost its original vision with one persistant world and turned into some kind of single/multi player freak with no possibility to affect the world around you.

Thu Nov 12 2009 3:58PM Report
Palebane writes:

I recently resubbed to WoW after an 8 month Haitus, and afterwards went back to EQ again after almost 5 years. The feeling that I got was mixed in both games. For one, yes it did remind me of times past, but mostly what I missed was the people that I used to know. It didn't take long to remember why I had left as far as gameplay, but that didn't stop me from having fun and trying to meet new people and make new friends.

The other feeling that I had was sort of like waking up after having been passed out for a brief period. You don't know where you are or how you got there. Everything is vaguely familiar, yet eerily challanging. It took almost an hour to set up my hot buttons and figure out a few quick macros. Some things came back quickly, others I actually had to ask for help with. So there was a sense in being able to discover things all over again which was alot of fun.

Thu Nov 12 2009 4:06PM Report
Skooma2 writes:

I returned, after a year and a half to City of Heroes (taking advantage of a welcome back weekend) and realized that I forgot how to play; and had no inclination to try to pick up where I left off.

Thu Nov 12 2009 4:30PM Report
Ivax writes:

It's always fun when you play in a game's beta, quit when it launches, then return a year or so later - it's either hit or miss. I was in Tabula Rasa's beta and I remember coming back on a free trial about three months before it closed down and being amazed at how little had been changed lol. That was actually really disappointing because I wanted to like that game so much. Now WoW, that was a completely different story. I played its beta and came back about two months before BC launched and that blew me away with all the additions/improvements. I've started playing Runes of Magic again, and that game has improved a lot too, but that's mainly just removing lag and improving controls and that sort of thing.

Thu Nov 12 2009 4:43PM Report
Corthala writes:

If MMo were love Ao would be my first, you know the felling, you find some to fool around until you find the one. After getting sick of Ao, I returned 2-3 times and it was a great felling until i realised I had no reason to return. just like when you breakup with a girl/guy, you get back together and the realised that there was no reason to get back together.

Why all the Girlfriend/ MMO Analogy?

Thu Nov 12 2009 4:48PM Report
dashivaathan writes:

They're like old girlfriends because you loved them both at one time.  When you were with them they consumed your time and your thoughts.

Now they're frozen in time in your memories and although you found your reasons to move on the farther you move away the easier it becomes to overlook the faults that are no longer staring you in the face every day.

Thu Nov 12 2009 5:11PM Report
Trausen writes:

I just recently started playing DAoC again and I'm extremely happy to play, but sad at the same time because the player base has come down so much :-/

I miss seeing people running around and killing monsters for xp and then asking to join a group that I saw instead of having to use LFG. I could almost always find someone within eye distance. I liked catacombs at first, but then realized that it just made people go in their own little hovel caves to lvl instead of out in the fields. But I guess it made it easier to lvl. The game has pretty much died so they might as well make a faster way to lvl for people that have been playing for a long time.

Thu Nov 12 2009 6:14PM Report
webrender writes:

I keep leaving and returning to CoH. I love the feel and experience of that game, but each time I return it does not take long for me to remember why I keep leaving as for me the game feels stagnant with the devs simply trying to find ways to regurgitate the same content in a different ways. So for now I’m parked with an MMO that at least keeps character progression moving upward.

CoH was my first MMO and will always be near and dear to me but I find myself now wrestling with turning the account off (I’ve been paying non-stop since launch) as I don’t want to pay for more than two games at a time and by early next year another game may actually…finally replace that spot.

….perhaps sad is the right emotion after all…..

Thu Nov 12 2009 7:29PM Report
Mordacai writes:



I didn't really feel sad as I did ashamed logging back into WOW again for the first time in over 2 was like stepping back in time and reliving those days all over again, the flash backs of nightly and weekend raids, the dread of hours of pushing the same 3 buttons of a facemelter..i didn't want any of that anymore....god i hate my sister and brother in law for putting me through this level 80 is the max..i had 7 level 60's and was sick of it then..i just can't bare to login most nights..why am I wasting 15 bucks a month on family... :(


It makes me feel dirty..just thinking about playing WOW ...AGAIN!

Thu Nov 12 2009 7:29PM Report
laephis writes:

"Not sad but dissapointed. Dissapointed that the MMORPG genre has completely lost its original vision with one persistant world and turned into some kind of single/multi player freak with no possibility to affect the world around you."

This comment completely sums up my feelings on the matter.  I started with UO and while technology (multicore CPUs, broadband everywhere) has increased, the genre has found ways to fragment people instead of bring them together.  Instead of the enormous, interactive virtual world I thought would happen, we've gotten highly scripted games-on-rails with very little freedom to explore.  Maybe someday a company will pick up where UO left off and improve the many cool ideas it had...

Thu Nov 12 2009 7:38PM Report
Takius writes:

My feelings depend of which MMO I'm returning to.. for SWG sad and dissapointed is a good way to sum it up, while returning to WoW just makes me angry that I was dumb enough to waste my money again.. The one time I returned to AoC I actually felt exited about some of the new features, then later dissapointed because it still lacked alot of things that should have been there at launch.

Thu Nov 12 2009 9:32PM Report
deny writes:

SWG was my first mmo.  And I have to agree, what I miss is not the game itself, but the sandbox aspect that allowed to "live" in a virtual world, and not just play a game.  I would look forward to attending an in-game social event like a party or a guild meeting.  I play LotRO and although I love the game mechanics, I never log in to "socialize" with other gamers.

I miss the feeling of having a virtual life to live, where I could explore, fight, manage a vendor, equip my ship with new gear, decorate my house, pick and nurture a profession...  Now, I kill stuff, gain xp, and train skills until I get bored and log out.

I miss being a moisture farmer.

Thu Nov 12 2009 10:12PM Report
jdram14 writes:

 It's actually kind of interesting how nostalgia works for us human beings in general. The funny thing about it is how we will even go back to things we are now ashamed of.

Point in case: RuneScape.

I joined RuneScape within a year of it's release, just before the Dragon Slayer quest and Varrok Sewers expansions. Oddly enough, I actually quit the game just before RS 3D came out. That was years ago. . . 

Since then I've returned to RS from time to time but can never hold on to it for longer than a few days and at most a couple weeks. The reason is simple: That brief time spent with the game satisfies my nostalgic desire while also reminding me of why I left the game in the first place.

But the effect is the same for many games, MMO or not. Warcraft, Age of Mythology, Heroes of Might and Magic 1, 2, and 3, Jet Set Radio Future, etc. I go back to them from time to time, but always leave them after a brief few days.

You want the "golden days" to come back, but the fact is that they never will.

Thu Nov 12 2009 10:26PM Report
AutemOx writes:

Trausen mentions how he loved adventuring and asking to join a group of people he would run into instead of having to go LFG in towns, ect.  I think that sort of thing is the hint that shows what it is that makes us fall so deeply for our first couple mmos...  It is the way we play them which is different from how we play mmos now.

I miss my first mmos dearly too...  Planetside and SWG.  It was the amazing feeling I just cannot explain.  Especially with SWG, there is a part of my brain that will be forever deticated to it, and when I activate that part of my brain sadness and happiness at once comes, which I guess is what defines nostalgia.

The massive battles of Planetside...  The freedom of living in a virtual world that was once SWG...  It just isnt the same with some other games.  I have gone on and off Guildwars so many times, and it is usually enjoyable but it never leaves me feeling like SWG did.  Nor does any other game that I have 'gone back to', like WoW, Vanguard, or EQ2.

I swear to god, me and my best friend will be in our 70's some day talking about pre-CU SWG.  I just know it will be like that, because like I said, theres a special place in our brains for our first couple mmos.

Fri Nov 13 2009 2:04AM Report
Boethius writes:

That emotion as I understand it, that longing lost time, given while playing an M.M.O. and dealing with people who share a common interest who are almost friends is a compelling sentiment so when I last logged into an M.M.O, because I played them a lot for a while, I thought of the people who played the games at that time when I allocated more space to a game than perhaps I would have if I could have done otherwise and the time we spared for each other.

Fri Nov 13 2009 2:41AM Report
Zace writes:

It is always sad and happy to go back to a game. I started EQ while my wife was pregnant and had out first child so through the night when she couldnt sleep (my child) then i would sit at the screen running across the commons to the tunnel to trade or long corpse runs.... She is 10 now and I have been back a few times, currently am back there again and am loving it, Ive played most MMORPGs going.  EQ1 is a good return as things have changed, new kit, new quests, new game mechanics.  best of all was seeing some of my old friends there.

My return to SWG (I too was a beta tester) was fun and sad - sure it had the problems with combat, but the space combat was a laugh, however again not enough people. Ive been back to DAoC (betad that too) and of course WoW and CoX.

The one thing I noticed about it all, to group or to solo?  Well really if you meet up with old friends they are so far ahead they cant really play with you but they can give you help and stuff.  This has been the same in all games i have returned to.  I have to admit EQ1 has been the best return of all games.  As for WoW after the cataclysm, this should be an interesting one. I am not sure about it yet as i wonder what else will be out there to compete with it.

As an aside, planetside - was awesome fun but as has been said going back there there are just not the numbers, but i wonder if the newer game coming out, Global Agenda, may capture the fun and atmosphere...


Fri Nov 13 2009 2:52AM Report
n-methyl-3 writes:

i start playing wow with rl friends and we had tons of fun back then.

when occasionally i join a trial i find myself wandering to some favorite places usually low level areas that many of the first mysteries unfolded for the first time trying to bring to my head all the memories. So yes, it's kinda sad and nostalgic.

Its a weird attachment, I hope your next article can analyze the meaning of it.

Fri Nov 13 2009 5:50AM Report
AKASlaphappy writes:

I have to agree, I started playing MMOs with SWG and then WOW after NGE. I have a lot of fond memories from both games, playing with rl friends and meeting new ones in game. Although to me I can not go back to either one, star wars died to me when they did the NGE update. WoW while it holds a lot of good memories, after playing it for 4 years, has no appeal to me any more. I can not stand the thought of starting over and raiding to get the new armor for what seems like the thousand time. I can not wait for the next great sand box MMO where end game raiding for armor is not the whole point of the game.

Fri Nov 13 2009 8:57AM Report
VortexZ writes:

 For me, I was discovering music when I first played WoW.  Now there's a whole bunch of songs linked to the fond memories I have of playing with my guild, in an awesome little community on Lothar.  The weight of this nostalgia has driven me back to WoW several times, but it's never stuck.  I have never had as much fun as I did leveling to 60 for the first time, and I have had trouble finding an MMO that gives me the same experience.

Fri Nov 13 2009 9:13AM Report
sectorbob writes:

Yeah, nothing sadder then going back to where the magic was.  I went to DAoC a while ago and was very disappointed in the amount of people playing.. was like a waste land..sigh. My first MMO was EQ1 and I still talk to my real life friends from those days about the funny stuff  we went through back then. And the same from DAoC. Both of those games had a slow enough combat system that grinding through spawns was a social bonding experience (and crafting in DAoC, trading in the tunnel in EQ1, etc.) Just an observation..




Fri Nov 13 2009 9:24AM Report
hfztt writes:

Well, I played DDO when it came out and was not impressed. Now, I love it. On the other hand I have tried to fall in love with WoW 4 times now, but ending up burned every time in the first month.

EvE on the other hand have been my sweet lady for 6 years, but we have an understanding about 'other' relationships...

(To stay with your relationship metaphor...)

Fri Nov 13 2009 9:26AM Report
Kyleran writes:

I wasn't quoted, this blog stinks...     :)

Yeah, I miss DAOC in its glory days, few games really felt like a world like that one did.

Fri Nov 13 2009 9:51AM Report
MikeB writes:

Pretty sure I've quoted you before Kyleran! :)

Fri Nov 13 2009 10:26AM Report
jehera writes:

prolly one of the first MMO's ive ever played was "GTH" also known as "Gate To Heavens". the game was damn fine, but the dev support behind it sucked bad, sadly it also dragged the game down as hackers flooded the servers and dev's could no longer maintain a propper game. altho i remember having good days with an old group of people i teamed up with, even joined in clan later on.


we where only 10 people, but it was epic, returning to private servers of that game now may be fun, but it still doesnt give you the warm feeling you had when being there for the first time with that group. no matter how big or small a clan i join, nothing can replace the old feeling of joy you had with those guys back then.


i guess once a game is dead, its better to just leave it be, then bring it into revival, those games will never become what they ever used to be. in MMO games, its pretty much the comunity that makes the game, not the devs or the game itsself.

Fri Nov 13 2009 11:17AM Report
sasha654 writes:

AO was my first, and it was amazing in it's heyday.  Then SWG - pre-NGE it was the coolest game ever - I wish they could make another game where you could build cities and have professions with such detail.  The saddest thing in the world is logging back into the ghost town and remembering the way it used to be.  I hope something good comes out soon - there are a few promising prospects...

Sun Nov 15 2009 9:12PM Report
avalon1000 writes:

It's weird that I read all the comments about SWG and the old school mmo's and yet the game companies just don't "get it".

Tue Nov 17 2009 6:04AM Report
mckimmins writes:

I played a text based MUD based on Lord of the Rings back when I was 16 in the 90's through my early college years. While I have moved on to graphic games like Eve, Lotro, etc I still love to shelve my old text game for a year or so and then jump back into it for awhile. Most of my old friends still linger around and Ive known those guys for almost 11 years now.

Tue Nov 17 2009 10:14AM Report
Player_420 writes:

yeh UO and DAOC were my first 2 MMO's (i played UO on launch month hack fest)

and going back to both of them feels so good, until I realize the once numerous community members are gone.

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