Yesterday, I learned that Wireplay, a company that hosts servers for various games including Team Fortress 2, has closed down. I had no warning, and actually only found out when somebody messaged me asking what had happened to Vikings. CTF_Vikings was the reason I ever cared about Wireplay, and when I discovered that Wireplay had ceased operations, meaning that CTF_Vikings, a dumb map featuring two Viking ships with adjoining gangplanks, had also stopped existing, I was absolutely heartbroken. I still am, really. Writing this blog entry is hard.
For the past six years of my life, Vikings has been everything to me. It's the reason I started to really love TF2, where I found a community of people who would in time evolve to become real, genuine friends. Of course, it's also where I met Moose, who became something a little special in my life. It constantly hits me how unlikely our meeting was, how unlikely it was that he happened to be on the same server, at the same time, as me, Of the thousands of servers out there, somehow this guy in London enjoyed Vikings just as much as me, and returned there every day, just like me. Over the months, Vikings really did become my little social place, like the local pub I'd visit every evening, filled with regulars, and laughter, and silliness.
The regulars created a little 'group' (not a clan!) called the Pantheon of Awesome; the PoA. We were nothing special, a group of folks who had our own little Steam page, who met up on Vikings and, occasionally, other servers. People used to beg to join the PoA, like we had something they all wanted. It was absurd really, thinking back now. All we had was a community, and everyone who joined Vikings was a part of it, whether they were in the PoA or not.
Over time, I became a Wireplay admin. I'll admit, I only did it for Vikings. By then, we were regulars, every night, and knew the tricks and problems, and we knew the problem makers too. Vikings was a simple, crude and ugly map, with faults and problems a little polishing would have fixed easily. Admin work was necessary, we were called in daily - hourly sometimes - to kick or ban idiots. As of Wireplay closing, I was still an admin there. It was something that meant very much to me, because it meant I could take care of Vikings. There were a lot of admins before me, on Wireplay, and some of them were very regular and very involved in Vikings' maintenance, but I felt a special duty to the place for all it had given me.
At some point, a few years ago now, something happened to the servers. I don't know, or don't remember, the details exactly, but the servers broke and were offline for a very long time. Eventually, people moved on, away from Wireplay, or away from TF2 and gaming in general. A lot of the teenagers that once had limitless free time for gaming were now young adults with college and university to contend with. The PoA essentially dissolved, and when the servers finally came back online, they were unplayable, with constant rubber banding and lag that took its toll on the few returning players.
By the time Vikings became stable again, a lot of the older crowd had left, myself included. I still popped on from time to time, sentimentality and nostalgia the prime factor admittedly, but the lure of other games crept in. By now, a small group of PoA folk had moved on together. We had our own Teamspeak server, and took ourselves to other games; Minecraft, Terraria, League of Legends, Starbound. Occasionally, TF2 would sneak back in, and we'd find ourselves back on Vikings, slotting easily back into the rolls we'd always held - basement camp, cannon camp sniper, intel capper, battle medic - and I would admin when need be. It was important to me that the place stay friendly and populated.
I took it personally, really. This server, of all the servers, felt like home. I suppose that's why the closure is so hard for me. To me, this is like visiting my favourite pub, somewhere I frequented every evening, filled with familiar laughter and silliness and friendly faces, to find it torn down to nothing but rubble with no warning, and no notice. There are plenty of other servers, or pubs, or places to call 'home', but this one was the special one. This one mattered, and now this one is gone.
I know this is all daft and sentimental, emotional claptrap, that it's ridiculous to care so much about a game server. I know. But I genuinely can't bring myself to imagine where my life would be without Wireplay, and without Vikings. This January, Moose and I celebrate our fifth anniversary. He's the guy I'm planning my future with, who has shaped the past five years of my life into something utterly unrecognisable from the girl I was before TF2. The majority of friends I have now are people I know through him, or through Vikings itself. Hell, just next weekend I'm going up to London to hang out with our Swedish friend, Anthony, who's here for a week visiting. I met him around the same time as I met Moose, on TF2, in Vikings.
It's crazy. And sad, and empty, now, too. Moose says he wishes that we'd known, that we'd had some notice, so we could play on Vikings one last time and send it out with a bang. I suppose that might have been nice. I don't know if I could have done it, though. I can't imagine signing onto that server, knowing that it'd be the last time I ever did.
So, here's to Anthony, Fecker, Xharag, Saran, Wrath and Fillin, people I speak to every day of my life, who round off every night in Teamspeak with League of Legends or TF2 or Whatever Game We're Currently Into.
To Wunn, Alastor, Rick, Thug, Shas'la, Quinton, Bemon, Statick and Triki, who all still play with us when the mood strikes, who competed in ETF2L's highlanders with us, and who kicked my ass far more times than I'd like to say.
To Sean, Ryan, Abe, Freak, Kyanne, Kingsley, Nibbsy, Rexen, Madman, Pingu, Deva, Kalle, LSD, Lt. Smash (and assorted Smaller Smashes), Spud, Koto - and a bunch of others who all moved on far away from Vikings long ago, but who helped make it the place I remember with such fondness.
And to Moose. Who remains everything.
Goodbye, Wireplay. And goodbye, CTF_Vikings.
I'm Selena, an artist, blogger and gamer - but maybe not always in that order! Dream Somehow is a blog dedicated to travel, geeky adventures, vintage style and a little bit of Disney Dreaming! If you'd like to learn a little more about me, click here.