This November marked the 5th anniversary of World of Warcraft, the game that has single handedly brought MMORPGs to the mainstream. While WoW is still a new comer in the eyes of many grizzled MMO veterans, there is already a sense of nostalgia among its player base for what they call vanilla WoW. This is a reference to the period prior to any expansions. Those were the days of 40-man raids, Leroy Jenkins, and Onyxia Welp Groups. The game has changed significantly with the release of Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King but many players would throw their flying mounts away in a heartbeat if it meant recapturing the magic of classic WoW. To these players, the original WoW login screen music brings back fond memories of the good old days.
Nostalgia is not a new concept in the MMORPG scene. Private servers have mushroomed for Ultima Online, all trying to reignite the spark that made the game so compelling to players over 10 years ago. With its open PvP environment, player housing system, and open ended gameplay, Ultima Online was arguable way ahead of its time. UO is still around, now run by Mythic EA, and still actively supported with new updates and even expansions. But the game has been dead for almost a decade to many of the original players who populated to shards of Britannia. Ultima Online had a vibrant role playing community but is still best remembered for its ruthless PvP environment which would terrify today’s gamers. There are disparities among veterans as to when the game lost its way. Purist claim UO died in late 1998 after the release of the first expansion, The Second Age. Others point to 2003 with the release of Age of Shadows as the point of no return since much of the game’s originally dynamics were drastically changed. The game had many memorable medieval sounds but the theme song, titled Stones is the most memorable.
After Ultima Online’s PvP excesses, players more interested in PvE and role playing migrated to EverQuest which was released in 1999. EQ offered the first 3D MMORPG game environment and instantly raised the immersion factor of the genre. With lush forests, harsh deserts, varied dungeons, and frozen tundra to explore EverQuest made for an impressive virtual world. While it was criticized for pandering to a more docile audience than UO, EverQuest was still far less forgiving than today’s MMORPGs. Death carried stiff experience penalties and the added injury of having to recover your corpse from dangerous locals only increased the frustration. Aggressive monsters that never ceased to chase players and huge zones to navigate made exploration difficult yet rewarding. Even with a sequel released in 2005, the original EQ is under continued development. With 15 expansions already released or announced, it seems EverQuest will be with us for some time to come. As with other classic MMORPGs, veterans pine to relive the golden era which is loosely defined as the period between classic through Scars of Velious. EQ’s three dimensional graphics came with a heavy loading time burden, but fortunately gamers had a great theme to listen.
In Late 2001 a little known studio by the name of Mythic Entertainment released a new MMORPG titled Dark Age of Camelot. DAoC promised to bridge the gap between PvP and PvE gameplay by concentrating on what Mythic called Realm vs Realm combat. The game world is split into three nations, each influenced by the mythology of a different region. Albion represents Britain, Hibernia is styled on Ireland, and Midgard is based on Scandinavia. Players from the three factions battle for control of keeps and relics as both a means of competitive gameplay but also to earn special realm points and even to gain experience. RvR combat is built into the lore of the game, making player vs player a key component rather than a periphery time sink. Over the years, Dark Age of Camelot has seen the release of 7 expansions including two free updates one of which added special player housing zones. DAoC has had a bumpy ride but is still supported by EA Mythic which now runs Ultima Online and Warhammer: Age of Reckoning as well. The first expansion, Shrouded Isles added six new classes, 3 new races and doubled the world size. 2001 through 2003 are regarded as the glory days of Dark Age of Camelot, the era prior to Trials of Atlantis which tilted the playing field towards better equipped rather than better skilled players. Each of the three realms had their distinct graphic style, environment and sound but all players have heard the classic theme music.
All four of these soundtracks have special meaning to me as they chart my progress from childhood to adulthood. I started playing Ultima Online back in 1999 at the age of 11 then moved on to EverQuest, then to Dark of Camelot and finally to World of Warcraft. These virtual worlds were my playgrounds and I suspect many of you reading this have a similar connection with your favorite RPGs, whether they’re online or offline. Listening to music from our past can help us understand where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going. Take a moment of your day to reminisce through the power of music but don’t let nostalgia trap you. There are millions of memories still waiting to be made.
editorials OST Game Music Track - MMORPG Music and Nostalgia. Listen to MMORPG Music and Nostalgia from the editorials Original Soundtrack in MP3 Format. Stream and listen to MMORPG Music and Nostalgia.