To be an aging geek

Man. I’ve been feeling old over the past few days. Earlier this month we learned that Gamespy is finally shutting down their servers. Of course this means that some games that have proven to have long legs will no longer be playable for a lot of people. The better ones will have publisher or community workarounds I’m sure. Like Unreal Tournament 3 for example. But it’s the end of an era to be sure. There have been so many titles we have all played that used the Gamespy client. While I was never a big fan of Gamespy’s service, (In a lot of cases, at least for me, it had glitches, and bloated RAM requirements.) I ended up using it for a number of multiplayer games over the years.

The entire news has made me a little wistful for my old days playing Unreal Tournament. So much so that I’ve tried finding my archived run of reviews for the series. I do have most of it, but because some is missing, I’ll have to do heavy edits, and rewrites. I do hope to get that done though, along with some other archived stuff. You would not believe how many other old articles I still have in some form or another, to re-archive here.

Anyway reviews aside, UT was one of my favorite series of all time. It is one of the only series I was in a clan for. While I still hear from the old crew from time to time, we all have other stuff going on. It’s a rare treat when I do get a chance to play something with one of them. We were the mXc clan. Maximum Carnage. Our main leader was a huge Spider-Man fan, and that was one of the storylines where many had thought the books were peaking. One only had to see the dreaded Clone Saga to see why. (And yeah, I know. One More Day was nearly a nail in the coffin.)

But I’m not going to prattle on about the Spider-Man books. Rather, our small group. We weren’t the “1337 clan” you watched on streams in their infancy, or read about getting wealthy for winning at QuakeCon. But we loved the hell out of Unreal Tournament for many of the same reasons as each other. At the time I was working in sales, and repair for a now defunct PC vendor, and had my first real gaming rig. UT was huge for me. Quake III Arena had been fast, and fun enough but UT had its own spin. Its dodges were novel, its weapons were unique, and could add strategies to Deathmatch. It had better Capture The Flag than most other games. It was a blast. When its sequel came out I jumped in, and while not every fan felt the same way, I liked it. Most of the folks in our bunch agreed.

By the time UT2k4 came out there were three types of UT fan. Some who liked UT, some who liked 2k4, and some who played both. 2k3 faded out quickly as 2k4 had all of its content, and then a plethora of new stuff. It was around this time a lot of us fans found a fun server, well moderated, intolerant of cheaters, and full of friendly players. That server was The Super Witch server. Players from all backgrounds converged there, and we taught each other advanced strategies. We welcomed newcomers. We created custom content. We played custom content. Eventually when I was asked to join up with players like Carnage, Brown Sugar, Sentricon, Apollyon, BudWenna, and around 15 other players I figured “Why not?” Things weren’t always so jolly in my personal life at the time but it made the after work hours a little less lonely during those lulls.

Eventually we had our own server as Super Witch shutdown. We had some scrimmages with other clans. We lost many, won a few. But it was fun. It was nice feeling included at a time that I needed to feel included. I’m sure many of the old guard felt the same way.  But like all games, eventually they end. For us that came with Unreal Tournament 3.

Its initial launch was buggy, it had high (at the time) requirements, and it polarized the fandom in its attempt to appeal to every group in the fandom. Up until this point there were now three kinds of UT fan. UT, UT2k4, and both. UT3 tried to bridge the gap between both games. Now there were four groups of fan as a result. While I loved all of the games my opinion wasn’t shared by everyone, and eventually we disbanded when 90% of the community moved onto other games. The release of the Black Edition, and Titan Pack mildly invigorated UT3, but ultimately not enough.

UT3 also used Gamespy which of course means the announcement of it going down makes me a little sad.  Thankfully some in the community are trying for a workaround. But even still, while these games will always have a number of people going back to them from time to time I’ll miss the glory days. Unreal Tournament was one of the shining beacons of First Person Shooters. One of the last successful arena shooters.

This will also affect a lot of other games too. Some of you no doubt have your own memories of many of those titles.  Nintendo is shutting down Wii, and DS servers too so once again, I’d expect to see a lot of nostalgic forum posts, vlogs, and blogs from that as well.

Speaking of Nintendo, the other big thing in “Don’t you feel old?” news is that the Game Boy is celebrating its 25th birthday. I was nearly twelve years old when that came out. I can still remember playing Tetris on an acquaintances’ Game Boy camping around then. Or playing Metroid II, T.M.N.T: Fall Of The Foot clan, Castlevania: The Adventure, Super Mario Land, etc. on friends’ back in the day. Pokémon revitalized the machine too. That came out in 1996. The Nintendo 64 was out that year, and yet an 8-bit handheld was keeping pace.

It’s sort of weird knowing that it won’t be long until the Nintendo 64 will turn 20 years old, once again making me feel like a seasoned citizen.

With these services going down though, I’d get your friends together, and play some of this stuff online while you still can. By May 20th on the Nintendo Wii/DS duo, and by May 31st for your Gamespy hosted PC, and Console multiplayer.


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