So the Crystalis developers weren't exactly Nostradamus.
The fifteenth day of April, the fourth month of the year Twenty-Ten, Anno Domini. A day that will go down in infamy? Nope. This is a day that will be forgotten a few years from now by most people. To most Americans, the significance of this date is that if they haven't mailed their tax return by now, they better hurry up and find a post office.
To those who play video games? Even still, not all of us will care about this day. It will, however, be a day remembered by those who have fond memories of the Xbox Live service at its beginning. Those of us who accepted online gaming on consoles as the wave of the future. Or perhaps, those of us who just happened to have a friend in a different location, but wanted to play Halo with him or her all the same.
For me, this day has stirred a rather interesting feeling inside of me. Xbox Live has had a fairly large place in my life for the past five (almost six) years. I originally signed up for the service not too long before the release of Halo 2 in 2004 so I could play with my friends without having to haul televisions around and worrying about someone stepping over a cable causing us all to disconnect.
Shepard. I was just waxing goddamn nostalgic. - Zaeed Massani (This line just doesn't work as well without Zaeed's awesome articulation of "goddamn")
Just like anyone else, I had bad experiences joining random games and playing with people who seemingly couldn't keep their mouths shut. However, I also had a forum account at Gamespot at the time, and a fresh copy of Burnout 3 that I was dying to play. A random post from a user I had heard of invited anyone to play with him, so I did. I was introduced to a smaller community on the site (Gamespot allowed their premium users to create their own board for purposes beyond the official forums), and while we're not on Gamespot anymore, I still talk to those guys to this day. Some of them have gotten married in that time, some had kids. All of us have had our ups and downs.
It's a very small, tight-knit, private community. It started off with frequent games of Burnout 3, then turned into Halo 2 games, and whatever other flavor of the month games seemed like fun to play at the time (a somewhat obscure game called Phantom Dust was very popular for a long time there). Eventually, I played World of Warcraft with some of them.
It's weird, then, to think that on April 15, 2010, the servers for all of the original Xbox games are going to be taken offline forever. Hopefully it will lead to positive gains for the current generation of systems - I know I'm tired of the limit to my friends list. Supposedly the original Xbox was holding back some features for the Xbox 360. I don't know if any changes have been made official, but I hope this does turn into something good.
Perhaps some doomsayers will talk about how this is the problem with a service like Xbox Live, that a game will never be supported forever. It'd be better if clients could host their own games on dedicated servers. They're probably right, but Xbox Live certainly does add an ease of use, at least to me. Finding an enjoyable server on Team Fortress 2 has always seemed like a chore, especially since I don't play the game heavily.
Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. - Rick Blaine, Casablanca
It doesn't matter, though. What matters is that this is the end of a chapter in the life of online console gaming. Certainly, this was an important chapter, too. I'm probably going to hop online and play some Burnout 3 today, and if you enjoy playing those rusty old games online, I'd recommend all of you do the same. That random online session nearly six years ago introduced me to a lot of cool people (some of whom I met face-to-face for the first time in my life at GDC and PAX East), and I think a day of nostalgic gaming is in order.
My gamertag is also my username on this site. If you find yourself wanting to play Burnout 3, feel free to add me today. I likely won't be on XBL until this evening (probably around 6 PM or so? Maybe a bit later.), but I'd love to play with any of you. I might also be coerced into playing a round or two of Halo 2, but that'll take a fight.
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