Suddenly, none of us had bodies.
Only weapons waving in the air.
High on a rock, swords and wands floated.
Suddenly, we couldn’t talk to each other.
It had happened in a twinkling.
There had been dozens of us on that rock, massing for one last goodbye.
Discorporation! Beamed into the Void of Bits.
Asheron’s Call came out in 1999, joining Everquest as one of the first MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) games. You had to buy the DVD and then pay a monthly subscription.
You had to be online to play it.
I remember being curious about these new games and how you could play along with strangers from virtually anywhere in the world.
I was already used to BBS’s (Bulletin Board Systems), the forerunner to Usenet newsgoups and, now, all the varieties of social media like Facebook, Instagram, and Google+. In fact, I mostly used a BBS to solve problems with games.
Games up till then came on floppy disks or CDs, then DVDs. You played them alone at your own pace.
The Asheron’s Call DVD installed a “client” on your computer – the main part of the game was run on a remote server and you had to log-in to get going.
In the beginning, you were guided through the rudiments of the game then you could play alone or team up with other players.
I was a little nervous at first about “interacting” with other characters. Mostly because I didn’t want to commit time and, to be honest, I was afraid of being humiliated if I couldn’t play as well as the other guys.
You soon figured out who you wanted to be with.
The game itself is all about exploring and doing “quests” – adventures usually involving fighting. You gained “XP” or experience points to advance your character’s skills and abilities. You gathered up “loot” from the bodies of defeated creatures for money or to equip yourself with better weapons and armour.
By today’s standards, the graphics weren’t the best. In 1999, they were great. But so what? The game was so deep and the way the world was designed is unparalleled. You had total freedom to go anywhere and things happened fast.
What did this game mean to us?
Where to begin?
There were those who’ve played this game since Microsoft brought it out in 1999 right up to the end.
Some played every day for hours. Some, like me, logged on for half an hour, an hour, a couple of times a week.
Some went at it like work, building characters and allegiances with huge inventories of items.
All kinds of helper programs (add-ons) were created. Accounts were sold.
You could play the game for the economy built into it.
Or just whack monsters with a sword (like me).
People met, got together in real life, got married, had kids. Sometimes the kids would get old enough to play.
At least one marriage that came of it.
There have been memorials to players who have died (in real life).
I guess the thing about it was that when you logged on, you were with friends. There was almost a warm feeling as the game loaded up and you checked out who was online and you saw familiar names talking away to each other.
People helped each other out in the game and actually asked you how things were going in real life.
These were “friends” well before Facebook. The players were mostly from the U.S. but also Canada, the U.K., Europe – even Asia and South America.
And they had great names like:
The Ether Bunny
Puerile Pineapple Man
Harlune the Misanthrope
Silence the Kat
That’s just a few of the thousands.
How to put all the experiences of 17 years in one blog post? I can’t.
If you want a taste of all the recollections, look at this:
The Asheron’s Call Harvestgain Facebook page.
Or look at this tribute video: Highly Recommended!
The word had gone out a couple of months ago that this was going to happen.
That after 17 years of familiar faces and names, friends made, enemies squelched, it was all going to be over.
And that time was here.
Even with the warning, it was a little unbelievable. Until twelve noon yesterday.
I guess it started to sink in when I didn’t see the bodies anymore.
1. Wish Upon a Storm by Jom Comyn fr: In the Dark on 99
2. How Do You Say Auf Wiedersehn? by Blossom Dearie fr: I’m Hip
3. Days When We are Free by MashMakhan fr: Mashmakhan
4. I Will Say Goodbye by Bill Evans fr: I Will Say Goodbye