Gaming Ghost Towns

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Gaming Ghost Towns

Traversing the abandoned servers of once-popular games is like visiting a ghost town - a hauntingly quiet monument to adventures long forgotten.

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I logged onto Guild Wars recently after a long time away from the game. Pretty much never saw anyone outside of the major cities. Not so much ghost towns due to the npcs but still very lonely.
It's the same with my WoW server, the population has been slowly declining over the years and it is now a very rare occurrence to meet another player outside of Orgrimmar.

There's something about gaming ghost towns that always scares me. The emptiness of the world doesn't feel right and I always expect something to jump out and scare the living shit out of me.
Also this was beautiful, kinda makes me want to do it, traverse the empty planes of games now past.

You know, Deus Ex had actually pretty good multiplayer. Another great, totally neglected MP game was Unreal II XMP. I don't really like to wander through empty servers though. After all, old games often don't have the appropriate master servers anymore, such as the XMP. If I'd want, I could just load the map offline, no?

Really, I must say the art of good multiplayer has been forgotten. Quake 3 is and forever will be the best of its kind. And esentially, so will Counter-Strike. You can make CODs and other all you want, but it won't be the same, or better. Especially since these days, MP is so console-focused that you can't really design good fun maps around it.

i did pretty much the same thing with the old f.e.a.r. multiplayer on PC and had a brilliant time in there. a couple of times i was joined by like 1 or 2 more people just looking for some PvP action which is always fun.. but yeah, the empty maps are strangely fascinating.

I visited Caine recently. I only got my ancient laptop at the moment and diablo 1 is about the best thing next to Heroes of Might and Magic 2 thats on this thing.

Brilliant article. Brings to mind a quote I read somewhere about trying to play Red Alert online as like knocking on the doors of a long abandoned ghost towm. Possibly XKCD?

Nice. This is something I have been missing out on as I tend to own single player games these days. It might be fun to get a month of WoW near the end just to wander.

Best article I've read here in a long time.

On the same subject, I've always liked the idea of an MMO with virtually no people. The epic scope of a world is somehow trivialized for me when it's filled to the brim with idiots running around and clogging the screen with chat boxes. (see: Maple Story)

Maybe when if the Fallout MMO comes out, they'll make smaller servers to preserve the feeling of isolation in the wasteland. I kind of doubt it though...

I did this once with Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory.

Was a pretty haunting experience.

Glass Joe the Champ:

On the same subject, I've always liked the idea of an MMO with virtually no people. The epic scope of a world is somehow trivialized for me when it's filled to the brim with idiots running around and clogging the screen with chat boxes. (see: Maple Story)

I totally agree, and I think that happens to all MMO's, really. The few I've played were all free Asian games, not to say that they're bad but that's my limited experience of the MMO. I'm poor lol. Anyway, it got hugely annoying to see people clogging streets with player shops, and sometimes it's hard to reach very popular NPCs with lots of quests because they are surrounded. In games with a story that you're somehow special or chosen or unique, like Guild Wars I recall, it rang really hollow. I also hate the idea of guilds with hundreds of members that you'll never meet. I'd prefer smaller servers myself, with smaller guilds, so you actually get to interact with most of them. That's just my two cents.

Irridium:
I did this once with Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory.

Was a pretty haunting experience.

Aww, damn it. I thought at least W:ET is still thriving :/

Abedeus:

Irridium:
I did this once with Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory.

Was a pretty haunting experience.

Aww, damn it. I thought at least W:ET is still thriving :/

Eh, there are a couple of active servers. But it's declining.

That was the most beautiful article I've read on Escapist.

I haven't done anything like this myself, but I think next time I get the chance I shall, just to really see the worlds we play in. In how many games these days do we really pause and reflect on the worlds we inhabit?

When Bioshock 2 eventually dies out, it'll be the first online wasteland I visit methinks.

i am actually surprised to see, that UT99 still has at least 100 players playing on the Non steam version( dunno if the two of them are connected). i feel nostalgic just talking about it...

I've had an experience similar to this about 8 years ago. Back before my computer crashed, I used to play the bejeezus out of Jedi Knight. I realize that I got into the game really late (it being released in '97 I believe, while I was playing it for the first time in '01 or '02). One day I randomly decided to try out the multiplayer. Even though I don't think I was ever actually connected to a server, I still created a bunch of different characters and ran around the levels exploring. And I would spend hours doing this, memorizing bits of the map and discovering where my favorite weapons would be located on the random chance that someone did join in.

It was interesting to see places that I recognized (such as Bespin or variations on single-player levels) and roam around discovering all the little surprises. For example, I was very excited to find out that the carbonite chamber in one of the Bespin levels actually worked and you could trap enemies in it. I would even purposefully trap myself in it for the sheer novelty of looking like Han Solo and being placed in carbonite.

Shattered Horizons and Lead N' Gold hardly have more than 10 people playing total. Kind of sad.

Excellent article, i think it's time i raid my shelves and join one of these forgotten realms.

Edit: just like to say the original call of duty has an awesome multiplayer

Actually, this is the only way I'd play online.

Well that was terrible pretentious crap. The base idea was fine, but I couldn't stop cringing while reading the description of the map on the first page.

Catie Caraco:

Glass Joe the Champ:

On the same subject, I've always liked the idea of an MMO with virtually no people. The epic scope of a world is somehow trivialized for me when it's filled to the brim with idiots running around and clogging the screen with chat boxes. (see: Maple Story)

I totally agree, and I think that happens to all MMO's, really. The few I've played were all free Asian games, not to say that they're bad but that's my limited experience of the MMO. I'm poor lol. Anyway, it got hugely annoying to see people clogging streets with player shops, and sometimes it's hard to reach very popular NPCs with lots of quests because they are surrounded. In games with a story that you're somehow special or chosen or unique, like Guild Wars I recall, it rang really hollow. I also hate the idea of guilds with hundreds of members that you'll never meet. I'd prefer smaller servers myself, with smaller guilds, so you actually get to interact with most of them. That's just my two cents.

I actually like when you go to a city and it feels clogged, but when you go out in the world, it feels for the most part empty. The world is inhabited, but everybody isnt doing the exact same thing you are, or killing all your quest objectives. That was my experience with WoW originally. When I went on a totally empty server, just to see how that would work, it lost all appeal to me. It didnt feel like I was part of a world anymore, and there were enough NPCs to prevent the total abandonment described in the article. I liked being one small part of something vast and epic, not the only errand boy in the whole world. To me, its more fun to be on some back road and occasionally see a person or two running by, knowing that the world isnt revolving around you.

Anyway, this was a really good article. I've been on a few empty TF2 servers, but thats more like a school-after-5-PM feel. Wierd to be in, but you know people are coming back

I did this with Doom on the XBLA version. Pretty funny sitting around thinking that nobody plays it anymore and then all of a sudden BAM! One person joined my game.

I also did this with a few friends on Serious Sam. Literally nobody was online except for my friends and I. It was fantastic.

I got a similar feeling in Minecraft a few weeks back. I stumbled upon an empty server, that seemingly ran no server mods. The whole spawn area and over 100 blocks around was blown to bits. I wandered around finding little blocks of what once were houses, fountains and mineshafts. Pretty eerie feeling. Just saying, the game doesn't need to be old or dead if it has some kind of persistent multiplayer.

I recently started playing Monster Hunter 3, and after 2 or 3 experiences hunting as a team online, I decided never to submit myself to that particular kind of obnoxious torture again, and instead play alone until I could persuade my friends to play too. That said, I still wanted the extra rewards you get online, so stayed there rather than in the Village.

And although I wanted nothing to do with the other people, I still dont feel the same if there arent a few real people in the same city as me, it just...isnt right.

So I get what this dude is saying.

Heh, felt sad reading that. Tribes will never die, no matter how hard Ascend tries to kill it. Hardcore T1 players like myself are crazy people. It'll take a paradigm shift from 64 bit with 32 bit support to 128 bit with no 32 bit support to kill the beast.

I'd love to enter a server for an old MMO and wander about.

A fond memory I have of Runescape was wandering around the empty areas of the map looking around, maybe coming across a person once in a while.

It's also why I love games like Fallout 3 and Oblivion. Coming across something or someone in an empty world is always surprising.

I had a very tough moment like this recently. I decided to boot up my PS2 and play Shadow of The Colossus. I started from the beginning. watched the whole opening cutscene(a long one) and used my experience in 3D modeling to see how everything was made. Then i had to do the inevitable, i set out to kill the first colossus. I climbed the cliffs up to where it walked. The ground shook, dust clouds fell from the lumbering beast, and it just walked past me. Like it was supose to. Like it did every time. But this time i could not kill it. I just watched it. I found it impossible to even think of taking this thing out of the world. It bothered me, i just didnt want to see it go away. I knew this was probably the last time i would play the game and i just did not want to see it go. Then i heard they were making an HD reboot for the PS3 :) I now have to go buy a PS3 for that soul purpose.

good times... :} but it is a sinking feeling still

Reminds me of WoW after catacalysm came out, the once popular city of Dalaran was completely abandoned by any players, even the portals to the other cities dissapeared there too. It's odd to see a city once filled with hundreds of people clear out once an expansion comes out.

Loge:
I got a similar feeling in Minecraft a few weeks back. I stumbled upon an empty server, that seemingly ran no server mods. The whole spawn area and over 100 blocks around was blown to bits. I wandered around finding little blocks of what once were houses, fountains and mineshafts. Pretty eerie feeling. Just saying, the game doesn't need to be old or dead if it has some kind of persistent multiplayer.

As part of the staff of a minecraft server I help out on, I have had that feeling a few times. Right after we switch to a new map, we had the old one still running but closed off for normal users. It was such an eerie feeling - all those bases, some blown to bits, all those buildings, chests still filled with items..

I even had the feeling in a still running Minecraft server when we all moved away from a certain continent due to it being a grief magnet. When I went back to see what had become of my first MC base ever, I was a bit saddened: ALl the buildings and those of my neighbours were damaged beyond repair and abandoned.

Literal: Future Hyrule Castle Town in Ocarina of Time
Or alternatively Black City / White Forest in the new games if you haven't done enough Wi-Fi interaction

Tin Man:
That was the most beautiful article I've read on Escapist.

I haven't done anything like this myself, but I think next time I get the chance I shall, just to really see the worlds we play in. In how many games these days do we really pause and reflect on the worlds we inhabit?

When Bioshock 2 eventually dies out, it'll be the first online wasteland I visit methinks.

:) i want to see extra credits cover nastalgia in games. And i too believe this was an amazing article. Even if it just touched on something thats automaticly important to us, it was well written in my opinion.

Nice article.

I guess this kind of thing will become a thing of the past... or at least I was sure of it a year ago. When even PC games were been given the peer-to-peer treatment a la console.
Large franchises such as MW2 looked like they were going to try and kill dedicated servers... but it looks like they thankfully failed.
Games such as GoW3 and BLOPS using dedicated servers again.

I played a lot of first person shooters in the early 2000's and I love(d) that many years afterwards you could go back to these games and check out the online activity. In some cases master servers had been shut down (just like in the Tribes case) and had been bypassed and re-activated by the community.
Sure, the less popular and old games barely have a soul playing them... but at least I have the option to check it out.

I hope the industry somehow reverts back to old-school type dedicated servers (letting the users run them) as without this, this kind of article couldn't happen in the future.

This generation of consoles has almost ushered in an acceptance that when a Publisher says the online is dead - it is and they switch off the servers with no conceivable way of playing the multiplayer ever again.

Very insightful article, thank you.

This IMMEDIATELY reminded me of an xkcd:

http://xkcd.com/606/

The alt text specifically: "I remember trying to log in to the original Command and Conquer servers a year or two back and feeling like I was knocking on the boarded-up gates of a ghost town."

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