During last year’s list of favorites I started off by commenting on how the year was garbage culturally. I had absolutely no clue how bad 2017 was going to be comparatively. On year later with my career things have balanced out a lot emotionally and am actually feeling hopeful for future opportunities again. On the opposite side of work, the games went for this year were bananas in the best sense imaginable. It’s been a non-stop slew of quality releases for all types of players. I feel like I managed to play a great mix of what interested me on the new release horizon, as well as dipping back into older releases that I missed.

As with most years from working in an industry bombarded by the holiday season’s demands – (I work adjacent to retail) a lot of what closed out 2016 actually started off my 2017. It’s always a nice release after wrapping up a hectic work schedule when I can start off the year with the best releases of the previous one.

Here we are together at the end of the year which means a look back at my favorite games of the year. As with previous years my rules are simple for what qualifies…

  • Choices are NOT limited to what was released in 2017. Platform ports, remasters, backlog, etc make it too complicated to just restrict options to recent releases.
  • Choices must be the first time I’ve played them in that form. What I mean by this is Final Fantasy XII (PS2) and Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age (PS4) are two different releases for me.
  • These are my personal favorites and are not indicative of anything beyond that. Technological, cultural, or sales achievements are not weighted in my choices.

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During last year’s list of favorites I started off by commenting on how the year was garbage culturally. I had absolutely no clue how bad 2017 was going to be comparatively. On year later with my career things have balanced out a lot emotionally and am actually feeling hopeful for future opportunities again. On the opposite side of work, the games went for this year were bananas in the best sense imaginable. It’s been a non-stop slew of quality releases for all types of players. I feel like I managed to play a great mix of what interested me on the new release horizon, as well as dipping back into older releases that I missed.

As with most years from working in an industry bombarded by the holiday season’s demands – (I work adjacent to retail) a lot of what closed out 2016 actually started off my 2017. It’s always a nice release after wrapping up a hectic work schedule when I can start off the year with the best releases of the previous one.

Here we are together at the end of the year which means a look back at my favorite games of the year. As with previous years my rules are simple for what qualifies…

  • Choices are NOT limited to what was released in 2017. Platform ports, remasters, backlog, etc make it too complicated to just restrict options to recent releases.
  • Choices must be the first time I’ve played them in that form. What I mean by this is Final Fantasy XII (PS2) and Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age (PS4) are two different releases for me.
  • These are my personal favorites and are not indicative of anything beyond that. Technological, cultural, or sales achievements are not weighted in my choices.

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Today’s the big day! My last day of vacation off of work and the SNES Classic Edition releases. I didn’t bother to preorder it because I thought it’d be too much of a crap shoot like the NES Classic was. It’d be cool to nab one and play some old games that I remember, properly, and have a dedicated system for it. It’s too easy to emulate these days and even easier to put no value into it since it’s easy come easy go. Not to mention with the birth of multi-function devices it’s harder and harder for me to just concentrate on the game I want to sit down and play. Before you’d plop down and jam a cartridge in and just leave it there for hours. No OS to navigate. No tools, settings, or digital stores to waste time on. No internet to browse, twitter to check, or waiting for updates. All of this sounds awesome and yeah, it’d be cool to grab and SNES to revisit some of my favorites like Secret of Mana and Donkey Kong Country. Sounds nifty and I’m in for all of this. With a bit of luck and friendly communication I found myself lined up outside of Best Buy about an hour before open and secured myself a system.

Yet… Something else happened that I wasn’t expecting when I got home. I kind of sat down, pulled the classic out of my bag, and was knocked off my geeky high as things got complicated emotionally.

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If you came to look for game talk, this isn’t that post… Yet that’s kind of the point today. If you follow me on Twitter you’ve probably noticed lately a constant unhappiness with my job. Trust me, I’m probably far more annoyed with it dominating my life than you are at this point. My work/life balance has been waning since around last September and it’s taken a serious toll on how I feel about myself lately. It’s pushed me to spending my time to doing whatever and not really caring; going through the motions as they say. That’s become my approach both in work and outside. How’s that any way to live your life though? The reason this has been eating at me is because I feel some guilt for my choices that have lead to this point. My inaction is responsible for my unhappiness. My career has been with the same place since 2004, going through the ranks and climbing that corporate ladder you always hear so much about. I had aspirations to reach a certain point due to what I was capable of and knowing that I had the ability to meet those tasks. I never realized that the cost of success where I’m at came at the price of it becoming your lifestyle instead of a place where you report to daily and leave it at the door when you exit. Recently though I’ve began wondering to what end was I chasing these down for anyways? How am I any better a person or more complete on an emotional or spiritual level by further surrounding myself with people I can’t relate to or want anything to do with outside of collecting a paycheck? It’s not healthy.

Well I’ve decided to take a step down to restore some balance in my life. My ambitions at work have given way to the idea that I could be happier with myself if I redirected energy towards more fulfilling activities.

You never really consider the danger of gaming has created that unrealistic expectation that life is a grand adventure. Personally for me it’s instilled the fear of a life most ordinary. Things are interesting and epic in all the worlds I traverse digitally. Strange journeys, powerful friendships, and memories worth keeping. The meatspace we inhabit doesn’t allow for such fantastical occurrences. In the real world what we cherish most seems to be stability, predictability, and a lack of true adventure. Seriously though – It’s created a level of disinterest in careers that revolve around RoI, bloated tiers of useless management, and a company of men that refuse to talk about anything other than their glory days constantly. It feels like I’m in a retirement home for a generation long forgotten in our creative digital age. Any skill set I have from a hobbyist level goes to waste in an environment where smartphones are still considered “more than enough technology for me.”

Simply put my heart lies elsewhere. Little hints have given way to the fact that I’m ignoring what I want to do because it’s convenient to just do what I’ve always been doing my adult life. A Twitter question of what would you be doing if you didn’t have to work, and then an article about what drives millennials being the most eyebrow raising circumstances as of late. I’ve realized I’m not alone in wanting more. It’s not just me being discontent with my life or feeling immature with that desire to want more. It’s that ol’ chestnut of corporations being soul-sucking blackholes of humanity, that isn’t just hyperbole I’ve learned. I genuinely feel exhausted after ever shift while dreading the next day, versus being energized and excited to come back again. Seeing all the happy’ish people online who chase their passion and are rewarded for it makes me realize that could be me as well. I owe it to myself to at least try.

So this has to be going somewhere. “Legacy” is a strong word, but I want to create things and bring them into our world. My notebook that I keep with me for ideas is packed with at least 15 different projects that I want to see through regardless of their success. Board games, video games, serialized blog dramas, novels, blogs, etc. My wife being a visual artist is a constant reminder that creatives exist and if I wanted to work towards it I could be one of them. How cool is the notion that I could be putting something out there that didn’t exist before I willed it into creation? Inspiring thoughts, perspectives or emotions within others? Connecting with humanity instead of watching it from afar since I’m too exhausted to participate or withdrawn due to concerns of it getting back to the people handing me a paycheck? I feel empty in my current existence. 

Either way, I’m officially changing positions within my company by July to restore a bit of that work/life balance and begin focusing on some creative endeavors. I’m considering it my birthday gift to myself. I mentioned awhile back some goals I’ve set for myself and I fully intend on seeing them through. First being to finish a short story I’ve been working on. A science fiction piece set in space that I intend to have done before 2017 comes to a close. Currently I’m working on the first draft after finalizing all the story beats, characters, settings, etc. I’m excited to complete this and make it available for others.

The second has accelerated a bit as I intended to build an RPG before I’m 40 (giving me 7 years). I plan on learning RPG Maker this year with a small tech demos, and then hopefully began seriously building that game during 2018. I’ve had the story mapped out for a few years now but have left it on the back-burner while dedicating myself to work. Now I have every intent on correcting that mistake I’ve made and plan on diving back into gamedev, something I’ve not done since I left school in 2013. Time to jump back on the horse and ride that code into the sunset.

I’m modest and have no dreams of being rich from any of these. What I do want is to be able to look back at my life and not regret the fact that I let my life be directed by people other than myself. I want to look back at what I’ve accomplished and feel a sense of pride. If that means stepping down from where I stand and potentially derailing my career for the time being? Well, that’s a decision I can live with regardless of how it turns out. Cheers.

lostdungeonsofnorrath

EverQuest Remembered is a multi-part series in which I look back on a game that meant a great deal to me, partially due to a matter of timing and circumstance. When tasked with the idea of blogging about something that I spent the better part of five years of my life actively playing it was difficult to nail down what to write about. Putting thoughts to paper I’m left with topics ranging from it’s cultural impact to individual relationships, shaping a fledgling genre to bringing out the nature of who we are as players. There’s a lot to cover here in regards to my personal retrospective of this 18 year old game… but if you’ve got the time, I’ve got the stories – and maybe by the end you’ll have a deeper understanding of how lines of codes shaped my world as much as theirs.

We’ve made it. Just a review in case somehow this is the first article you’ve landed on the series…

  • Pt 1, where I discover EverQuest and explore what initially hooked me.
  • Pt 2, exploring the genre defining designs of EQ as they’re legacy influences design of MMOs, RPGs, and modern gaming still.
  • Pt 3, outlining just how great the scope of the online community was both in and out of the game.
  • Pt 4, we talk about how personal relationships within your community shaped your experience as much as the design.
  • Pt 5, looking at the high end game, explaining your endless progression path, and how well social experience and game mechanics intertwined for the long play.
  • Pt 6, I addressed the darker side of a game this good with my personal addiction, depression, and getting out.

There’s been a lot of ground to cover. EverQuest was a landmark of gaming. It essentially created the MMO market as we knew it through the past 18 years as it still fights for life itself. I’ve had a lot of personal stories tied to the game as well as I recollect frequently. Despite how hard things fell apart at the end I’ll always remember it fondly. Yet the whole point of this series was wanting to say goodbye to the game I loved and the memories of it. The influence it had over my life and how it’s shaped me today is something I can’t ignore, but I’m looking to bury it in the past and move on. I’ve always held onto hope of a return. The EQ that’s available to play now doesn’t, nor could it, capture the state that it was back in the early 2000’s for me. The internet isn’t what it was- janky, wild, and lawless. My social life has changed along with my values. Game design has changed. The idea of being able to hole up for 12 hours a day in a virtual world without interruption is both unfeasible and undesirable by most. Smartphones didn’t exist and nobody texted back then. The game was forced to full screen so you couldn’t research or use instant messenging programs. You were locked in distraction free and it was beautiful. Despite how obtuse that all sounds now it’s a world I can never return to, just a dream that became a nightmare that I once visited. It’s shackled to the past though as I knew it.

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legacyofykesha

EverQuest Remembered is a multi-part series in which I look back on a game that meant a great deal to me, partially due to a matter of timing and circumstance. When tasked with the idea of blogging about something that I spent the better part of five years of my life actively playing it was difficult to nail down what to write about. Putting thoughts to paper I’m left with topics ranging from it’s cultural impact to individual relationships, shaping a fledgling genre to bringing out the nature of who we are as players. There’s a lot to cover here in regards to my personal retrospective of this 18 year old game… but if you’ve got the time, I’ve got the stories – and maybe by the end you’ll have a deeper understanding of how lines of codes shaped my world as much as theirs.

Last time I lead off with the term EverCrack. It was half-made in jest originally within the community. Yet with all things there becomes the reality of how a lack of moderation spins things from a single weekend binge to full on addiction. I’m not one to lightly throw around words so I’m not exaggerating when I use the term addiction. Setting a baseline of what I mean by it comes from my understanding of what being an alcoholic is. When the thing you have a compulsion towards begins to impact other aspects of your life usually hits that part for me. That’s when it crosses over from something you do a lot to something that’s harmful to your well being and should be considered an addiction. Losing your job because of a habit, withdrawing from social functions, so on and such. If you Google today EverQuest along with “depression”, “suicide”, or “addiction” you’ll have no shortage of personal stories. Even back in it’s heyday prior to being a target for corporate morality by the media, within the community there were plenty of signs of this perfect drug breaking apart people’s lives. I knew and played with people who’s marriages ended over playing too much, meeting new partners on EverQuest, choosing not to work and take odd jobs to pay rent/utilities, even a guy who brought his laptop to the hospital to play while his wife was in labor so he didn’t miss a rare spawn that only popped up once a week at random. There was no lack of dark tales to be told back then when players were shy or in denial about it. Today there are dozens if not hundreds more now that we’ve distanced ourselves from it.

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planesofpower

EverQuest Remembered is a multi-part series in which I look back on a game that meant a great deal to me, partially due to a matter of timing and circumstance. When tasked with the idea of blogging about something that I spent the better part of five years of my life actively playing it was difficult to nail down what to write about. Putting thoughts to paper I’m left with topics ranging from it’s cultural impact to individual relationships, shaping a fledgling genre to bringing out the nature of who we are as players. There’s a lot to cover here in regards to my personal retrospective of this 18 year old game… but if you’ve got the time, I’ve got the stories – and maybe by the end you’ll have a deeper understanding of how lines of codes shaped my world as much as theirs.

Eighteen years and still kickin’. EverQuest is no World of Warcraft when it comes to user base but it’s hard to deny an online only game having this kind of a lifespan is impressive. It’s doubtful that there are new players signing up daily. At best old users are returning during promotional times with free access of celebrational perks. Why is that? What kind of hooks has Sony Online Entertainment dug into us to keep us for so long?

Well a lot of it I feel we approached in the past two articles – The larger community surrounding it, as well as the intimate community within it definitely play a part. If that was it thought people would just have abandoned it for newer games or gotten bored long before EQ had time to build up steam. What we’re looking at is something bigger than just the social network serving as the blood pumping through it. The other part was more mechanically driven, controllable by the developers at SoE to ensure players always had something to do. As long as there were new goals, new progression systems, players would have a reason to come back and play with their friends. From the very start of the game leveling up gave you a now iconic tinny shrill sound of “DING!” that would wake the dead if played loud enough. It was somehow both soothing and terrifying at the same time hearing that at 3am on a Sunday night when you’re alone. Once you ran out of levels to gain they’d add alternate advancement systems, epic gear upgrades, and elusive spells or trinkets to keep you plugging away. No exaggeration, I eventually acquired an item that all it did was turn you into a skeleton aesthetically. I ended up selling it for $175 in real life. There was always another step you could progress your “toon” with from a gameplay standpoint, another carrot dangled in front of you to chase. As a player you were never left wanting or directionless for long. Putting a cherry on top of this deliciously inviting pie was the flagpole event and ultimate goal within the MMO genre: Raids.

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shadowsofluclin

EverQuest Remembered is a multi-part series in which I look back on a game that meant a great deal to me, partially due to a matter of timing and circumstance. When tasked with the idea of blogging about something that I spent the better part of five years of my life actively playing it was difficult to nail down what to write about. Putting thoughts to paper I’m left with topics ranging from it’s cultural impact to individual relationships, shaping a fledgling genre to bringing out the nature of who we are as players. There’s a lot to cover here in regards to my personal retrospective of this 18 year old game… but if you’ve got the time, I’ve got the stories – and maybe by the end you’ll have a deeper understanding of how lines of codes shaped my world as much as theirs.

Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. Shortened down to either MMORPG or just MMO for most these days. Among hundreds or thousands of players on your individual server, it’s hard not to think about just how easily it’d be to be lost awash in the sea of other players. Modern MMOs lack an integral part of what made EverQuest so great though. A reliance on other players. There was a shifting of design that came along with World of Warcraft that reduced dependency on other players until you wanted to larger scale raids, which even those by comparison to EQ were dwarfed with a limit of 24 players instead of the 60+ EverQuest was known for requiring to successfully slay a god. Sure it made it convenient for immediate play not having to try and organize a hunting party manually, often by either hanging around the area you wanted to adventure in to meet up with other lonesomes or gathering the friends you’ve made previously through climbing through the levels in similar situations. Through those natural bonds formed playing together like-minded people would eventually start guilds or extend the invite into whatever ones they were already in to their new hunting partners. It’s akin to going through school and from a class of 30 other students and finding the few you clicked with. From there they’d bring you into their other social circles… And raids are like parties, including the immense fear and desire to run far far away if it was one of your first times there.

That’s where the real charm came from with this game. You inability to succeed on alone in EQ’s world of Norrath lead to a lot of genuine friendships being formed. Both on the smaller level of having to group to the larger scale raids requiring guilds to get the best gear in the game. It always started as goofy light-hearted jokes and banter like sending a single character into the guild chat of ” . ” to see who else would join in the dotting. It was a universal shout out of “dudes, I’m ansy, who else is out there?!”. Sometimes it would lead to communal laughter as we shared jokes, other nights to grouping up together, once in awhile to a higher level player helping you out with something that was crushing you, and even potentially to a real life friendship or more. EverQuest has a well documented history of trust bleeding out beyond their fictional world ranging from general e-mail and instant messaging correspondence to marriage proposals and support groups. EQ served as a platform for social structures that I hadn’t even known existed, let alone experienced prior to that time.

A hunting party relaxing together

So how in the world did Tolkien-esque adventuring in a digital world manage such a feat? While there are literally countless variations that lead to these relationships I’m sure they all began in a similar fashion. When playing in that space and someone gives that extra moment to help you out with little to no reason beyond they wanted to. That special ting you get when someone recognizes you with no ulterior motive. They were just considerate of you in the way someone helping you pick up a spilled pile of books would. For me this happened when running from a higher level bear a few weeks into playing. Another player at the max level, a rogue of all people, saved me as I was cowering with a shred of health ready to accept death. Some playful conversation during that time and a parting offer of future assistance if I ever needed it. The encounter ended with a parting /wave and /dance emote for good measure. Well later on down the line we’d become good friends as we kept chatting. I still talk with her over 15 years later over Steam and exchange Christmas gifts or rum cakes. My story wasn’t unique either as others have posted similar stories of running into a baddy they couldn’t handle or didn’t know where to hunt for experience, then recall a helpful soul that extended their hand to them last time they were in a pickle. Perhaps then shoot them a /tell, a private message to them. Mentoring was huge within EverQuest and it was richer for it. From there on out it’s no different from making a friend anywhere else in the world. Slowly over time you lower your guard, put trust in them with your feelings, and eventually you’re sharing cat pictures with each other.

That’s the great part that’s been lost to time with online games. As much as EverQuest was about exploring the wilds, adventuring into decrepit catacombs, finding sweet loot, or being in awe at powerful magic spells – It was really held together and made special by dozens of chat channels. Without those communications of /gu, /tell, /ooc, /shout – There couldn’t BE an EverQuest. While as much of a game it was, it also served as a glorified Yahoo chat room. The different branches broke down to local area, across the entire zone, just to your party, to your guild, or individual messages. Navigating between the channels let you socialize with a deftness seen in Jane Austen stories as you managed your personal relationships with the guild, building new alliances in party chat, and making your presence known in the zone to keep your territory claimed. It was a social experience more than anything else. Occasionally players would forget which channel they were in and letting a bit of personality bleed into areas they didn’t mean to. You’d catch hints of friendships being built in guild chat when someone would share something personal to the group of 30+ others currently online, quickly trying to brush it under the rug with a simple “oops, miss” . It was a quick response that stood for “mistell” or “mispoke” implying that it was meant to go to someone else. While usually it’d be some off-brand humor that just wasn’t meant for a large audience, other times it’d be an embarrassingly candid message that was meant for private messaging. At points you could recognize that romance was developing between two players you knew and grouped with regularly. It sounds silly to read about now, but it was kind of wonderful back then to be a part of a world that brought people together. It was by no means uncommon to hear about players meeting up in the real world afterwards and moving in together while taking their relationship to the next level. Hell, even for preexisting couples EverQuest served as an activity to do together. It was no different than getting some buddies together to play cards with or throw an ice cream social… that’s still something people do, right? 

As a social experience it was exciting, personal, opened for growth as a person, and for new branching friendships. Life wasn’t the greatest when I fell into EQ and it provided a safe space to socialize in. I was in my mid-teens, moved away from my friends just far away enough to make it a rarity to hang out. EverQuest started off as a means to meet up with them somehow fairly easily and catch up. Countless times we’d hit a rut and have to pull in random players to fill out the group and from there just built our list of people to play with. It was the first time I’d seen a “friend list” in a game. Seems rather bold to just outright tell me who this list of others are in relation to me, right? Yet like I mentioned before those times served as a gateway to friendships I’ve made personally that’ve stuck over the years. I’d spend plenty of nights in game just chatting with any of those dozen or so friends I’d made – hundreds of miles across the US and bounce off things I was struggling with in real life. Romance problems, my father’s alcoholism, depression, loneliness. A year into EQ and I had a support network that felt more genuine than most blood relations I had. Feeling like I could open up without ridicule or judgement about things that were upsetting me was foreign to me. That was just the nature of the community that formed around this virtual world. Digital characters controlled by real people. It became an intimate clan connected by this fantasy realm of wizards, shaman, elves, magic, and frog-people. If someone didn’t log in for a few days or within their usual play schedule it’d be a cause for concern as e-mails or forum posts would try and reach out. “Does anyone have Punky’s phone number?!”. Whether friends in real life prior to playing, a married couple, or new adopted into the community at large – no one went at it alone in EverQuest. Someone always had your back. You always had someone to talk to.

I know it’s not an original thought to acknowledge how strange it is we can be surrounded by dozens of people in the real world and still feel alone. Fear of rejection, emotional desolation, or in my case as a defense mechanism. Throw me into a world inside digital space where I can disconnect at any time to just play for fun, suddenly all of that melts away to let you just be you for a little while. Spirits rise as you gain a sense of confidence. Your humor fills the welcome ears of others visiting Norrath if even just for a bit. Now the real world, real affections, real emotions are spilling into the play space until the two are indistinguishable from one another. This “game” became a social platform years before Facebook normalized online interactions or friendships. Looking back at it all I’m amazed at what it accomplished from a social aspect. As powerful of a structure as it was for building a vibrant community it wouldn’t have been as interesting as it was if it didn’t give you a reason to keep logging in every day. There were mechanics that kept us coming back and turned it from a weekend fling like World of Warcraft, into a long-term gathering place for friends to return to. Quest lines, guild raids, getting new gear, building factions… but all of this we’ll explore in the next part of EverQuest Remembered. For now let’s just appreciate the quiet moments found together over a digital frontier.

ScarsOfVelious

EverQuest Remembered is a multi-part series in which I look back on a game that meant a great deal to me, partially due to a matter of timing and circumstance. When tasked with the idea of blogging about something that I spent the better part of five years of my life actively playing it was difficult to nail down what to write about. Putting thoughts to paper I’m left with topics ranging from it’s cultural impact to individual relationships, shaping a fledgling genre to bringing out the nature of who we are as players. There’s a lot to cover here in regards to my personal retrospective of this 17 year old game… but if you’ve got the time, I’ve got the stories – and maybe by the end you’ll have a deeper understanding of how lines of codes shaped my world as much as theirs.

Welcome back. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the series up to this point and are still on board as we dig in even further to what exactly made EverQuest so special to so many people, particularly myself. The first of the series covered my introduction and awe to this new unknown experience, and the second addressed a bit more of the design and technical feats accomplished that laid the groundwork for both MMOs and RPGs from that point onward. We have a lot of expectations on what best describes an MMO – The tropes and mechanisms usually found within those games. Really what defines an MMO though shouldn’t be limited by any of those. At its core the defining characteristic is it’s a massively multiplayer game. You can’t have an MMO with it’s people. Today I want to focus on talking about that, more specifically the mass-scale of interacting with others playing the same game as you in real time. The community was large given the requirements and nature of the game back then, boasting over a half million players broken up into clusters of 1500-3500 chunks identified as servers. Each server was named after an important figure within EverQuest’s lore… Primarily deities and primal forces, with the occasional iconic NPC such as Firiona Vie who graces the cover of nearly every release of the game. Those servers would effectively be your home from creation until you quit. Years later I still easily remember my server and it’s history. I started on Saryrn (Goddess of Torment), which was a splinter off of Veeshan (Dragon God) and Bristlebane (God of Mischief) after they became overpopulated in the first year of it’s life. Eventually as the years went by and players left, worlds were collapsed, and my home of Saryrn was swallowed up by Bertoxxulous (God of Disease) sometime around 2012. This may seem like a bunch of random names but I’ll get back to the importance of this a bit later. For now though just known within each server there was it’s own unique community, with it’s own culture, it’s own player heroes, and it’s own list of wicked scoundrels. These all added up to create an identity for each server, which bled out into forums or message boards to further solidify the impression created by the experience of being enraptured in EverQuest.

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Previously I’ve discussed my excitement for Final Fantasy 15. I had a lot of hope for what the game could be as potential overflowed from various trailers and news points scattered over it’s 9+ year development cycle. As it traveled from being Final Fantasy Versus 13 into it’s final form broken into a film, episodes of an anime, and finally a video game my excitement grew. Before any of that really became a thing to me, my initial interest of this game began back in 2012 on my birthday when Theatrhythm Final Fantasy received a DLC song for an unreleased FF Versus 13, Somnus. The song was gorgeous and the mood was tonally different from anything I knew of Final Fantasy.

That was the turning point where it went from something that I didn’t even bother watching trailers for, to digging up as much as I could via Google notifications. The game was pretty much assumed to be dead at one point as the news was sporadic at best while Final Fantasy 13’s series continued to disappoint at Square. It was out of sight and out of mind until the E3 2013 trailer when it rebranded as the 15th entry of the mainline titles, breaking away from the baggage of Lightning’s saga. Yes, it got a fancy roman numeral all of it’s own as “XV“. Either way that trailer captured my imagination as Square games all tend to do eventually. Later on they’d eventually pair a demo titled Episode Duscae in with their HD port of a previously Japan exclusive PSP game, FF Type-O, and I totally spent $60 on it to get an early poke at what FF15 might be. It’s been two years and I’ve still only put in about 6 hours into Type-0. Really, I could have paid just $60 for that 3-4 hours of content in the FF15 demo and be satisfied. Everything I loved about open world fantasy games (Dragon Age for example) was wrapped up in this actiony, exploration driven Japanese RPG ready for consumption. Super emo characters, party system, myriads of weapons, dungeons to explore, side quests, ridiculously spikey hair styles, and brutally cheesy themes like friendship conquers all. Everything I want from my JRPGs was on parade in a gorgeous seamless world to breath it all in with. This was the Final Fantasy I’d been dying for since 1999’s adventures with Squall & co. I loved it so much I went ahead and wrote an entire blog just about the demo.

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