Inevitably, while romping through whatever current game I'm in, those fond memories will come flooding back and I'll find myself missing certain games. There have been only two games that have created that nostalgic feeling and although I can make some guesses, I'm never 100% sure why those games have me almost wanting to go back.
As with a lot of veterans, the biggest nostalgia generator for me has been Everquest. I spent four years here and grouped with the same people for three of those years. I'm guessing that this was a big part of what kept me there for so long and why I miss it. While there were exceptions, the early EQ community was pretty outstanding. I spent time in two great guilds, and in both cases more than 80% of the guilds were over 30 years of age. Could this really be such a big factor in my enjoyment of a game? I don't know, but it sure seems the MMO has gotten younger and meaner (no offense to you nice young folks out there!). The other aspect that was hard to find in other games was that feeling of hometown. My first character started in Kelethin and I would look for reasons to head back even at later levels. It just felt like home. The NPC interaction, the music, and saving the city from orcs just all clicked together for me.
The only other game that triggers occasional moments of missing it, is DAOC. Heck, I didn't even play on a RVR server so all my fond moments are pure PVE. Again, I have a feeling it was that hometowny feel that contributed. I had a Midgard hunter and absolutely loved the look of those zones. The buildings and structures in all realms were beautiful in my opinion, but I especially loved exploring the Midgard forests with that subtle music playing in the background. The epic storylines, the beautiful armor sets (probably the best looking armor I've ever seen in any game), the housing, and some darn nice people. This game offered so many wonderful things.
Another big issue for me is feeling connected to my class. Nowadays, in the name of "balance" classes have become ho hum and boring. No one is set apart in any way. My most favorite class in any game has always been the beastlord in EQ. Rather than getting just more powerful versions of the same spell and abilities as you leveled, you gained key spells only at certain levels and in fact became more powerful as you leveled, as did all the other classes in EQ. So in other words, killing a blue con at level 10 was much harder than killing a blue con at level 65. And what's wrong with that? Shouldn't there be advantages to leveling other than killing just higher level versions of the same stuff? Ah well but that's a rant for another day. Back on track here....
All this is not to say I haven't enjoyed other games. I had six-month stays in WoW and SWG which I enjoyed tremendously. And also spent some time in AO, COH, GW, and currently EQ2 which were ok as far as fun goes. But in all of those, I've never had that desire to go back or feel that I was missing a part of it.
Maybe the MMO market is too big now and those types of communities that I miss will never be found again. And maybe we're not supposed to level to be heroes anymore but just average joes who level so we can get be high enough for that fancy mount so we can run faster while we're killing more of the same stuff in the same way.