It’s weird. For me… Evolve was a lot of things. It was a lot of firsts. I’ll give you a warning now, that there’s a large amount of writing, but there will be no summary or TL;DR at the bottom, because I couldn’t do this topic justice in few enough words to make it worth it.
A number of years ago, I was pretty much 2 people; one of them sat down in front of a games console, and the other played with dogs, talked with friends, watched videos, read books, did homework etc. I had a relatively social life and never liked not talking to my friends for any extended period of time, but when I played games, I wasn’t focused on my friends. Playing with friends was great and all, but I wouldn’t feel like I missed them if they weren’t there. Unfortunately, during game lobbies, when I wasn’t distracted I would feel lonely, and need my friends. A lot of the time, I would play Evolve while my friends played Destiny, so I could talk to them, but I didn’t need to play the game with them. The first time I got a mic for the PS3, I would talk to my friends with it, but when they weren’t on, I still used the mic. Well, I still wore it, and it was still on, but I couldn’t speak through it. I was holding myself back and I wouldn’t let go. I was so uncomfortable on the internet, that at times I would outright lie about myself in games with an in-game chat feature. And I don’t just mean small lies, like pretending to have something in common with someone for the sake of easy conversation, I entirely made up a character or personna and stuck to it. It was much easier to feel comfortable with people that way, since no matter how much they knew about me, they still knew nothing about me.
Another thing I never did was buy into hype. I never pre-ordered. And not because of fear of false promises, but because I simply didn’t care enough. I waited weeks, or until Christmas to get new stuff. I never followed games up to release. I was never that person to be “Oh, have you seen the new [x] teaser!?”. I was always the one who replied “Oh, no I haven’t. I’ll look when I get home.” And most of the time I didn’t even do that. Again, I just didn’t care enough.
When a new game came around that I did like, I’d sit and play it and one day I’d see a “New Content” tab or whatever on the menu, and think “that looks cool”. But following the Devs’ announcements, tracking release dates, hyping up trailers, reading patchnotes or even caring about balance? I had no interest. In fact, I didn’t even know that such things happened. A game was a game. No matter what happened, I’d still just go home and play it for a few hours in the evening. I was a “casual gamer” as they are called.
I never really knew about community forums either. It never occured to me that a Dev team would set up a website for like minded individuals to share their experiences or opinions of the game. I thought that Devs were kind of like Movie producers. They worked hard to make something they loved, something they thought we would love. Then they released it, reeled in the dollar and made a part 2. That’s what I thought Devs did.
Evolve changed… pretty much all of this. At the start, it just boiled down to the fact that I really loved the game, like, a lot. It was the very first game that I bought in the first week of release (and still remains the shortest time after release that I’ve bought something). I discovered the existence of the forums through one of the little info cards on the main screen that gives news. Stepping into the Evolve community really punctured the lines between the 2 people that I was, and slowly they sort of bled into each other, and the mind consumed the mask. In all my time I don’t recall a single lie about myself at all, which is the complete opposite to my experience in other games.
When I fell in love with the game, it made me care about it, and about my matches. This was finally enough motivation to speak over the mic, since communication is super important. I’m not going to pretend that Evolve completely unburdened me of this crutch, but it started the process, and then it made me able to talk openly in games after sometime between 1 and 2 years.
Joining the forums, I became an active member of the community, through which I met the first (and only) person who I could even consider calling a friend that I hadn’t ever met in real life. I noticed that the Devs did care a lot about their game post-release and it was not a matter “Here’s our game. Enjoy”. I noticed Devs replied a lot. And it wasn’t bot email stuff like “Thank you, your suggestion has been taken into coniseration”. Genuine, human replies. But it wasn’t only on feedback comments, or bug reports. They made an effort to involve themselves in the community, always popping into speculation threads with their damn Popcorn gifs, and then there was Shaners with the community QandA. The fact that I can name some Devs, at least by their forum handle speaks volumes. I, now am on Overwatch forums, about as much as I was on these forums in their prime, and I only know Jeff Kaplan from the Dev Update videos. Which takes me onto the next topic.
Evolve was the first game that I followed anything like Dev updates, patchnotes and Dev streams. For the first time, I found myself excited and interested with what they had to say. It was the first time that I thought about balance or tried out a ranked mode. I followed the patches and new content additions and all of their hype. I hadn’t joined the forums until after T4 was released. It was around Lennox’s release (between her and Jack). I saw Lennox and the other silhouettes and instantly bought the HS2 pass. Oof. Shocked myself on this one. Definitely regretted it. Until… it came close the Jack’s release and the hype consumed me. The reveal give me goose bumps and I was so made that it had to be released at night time in my timezone and ruin my night of sleep. After that I was wrapped and pretty much counting the seconds until Gorgon, and then EMET and then Kala.
This game has definitely revolutionised the way I look at video games as a whole. Not only do I play them as someone who wants to learn them, understand them and become good, I view them as an art. To me, that game isn’t just a game, and this community isn’t just a community. Getting that news about TRS losing their rights to Evolve sucked. “Sucked” doesn’t really fully explain my feelings, but I litered the forums with my feelings on that at the time and don’t need to do it again. Hearing the news that the Stage 2 servers were being taken down felt weird. It felt wrong. Like some evil movie villain was trying to erase Evolve. But, that feeling past quickly. I knew that it was going to lose its servers, but I didn’t really accept it. But the fact that typing Evolve:Stage 2 into the Steam store no longer gives results (at least not the ones you’re looking for) forces me to accept this as reality. It’s like when my grandad died at Easter. Everyone knew it was coming and had accepted it. The year I was born he was given 6 months to live. Only off by 17 years. But when he started to lose a lot of weight and get sick, people knew what was coming. But then he got so sick that he had to stay in hospital. My nan was in the process of moving his bed down stairs when she got a call telling her that he wasn’t ever coming home. He needed permanent professional care and was moved to a nursing home. No matter how long people had to prepare for it, actually seeing him barely conscious, weak, boney and frail was a shocker and it obviously was very upsetting to see. As weird as it may be to compare the two, that’s sorta how I feel now. And I imagine the termination of the servers will also be upsetting, even though I don’t play the game anymore.
As I said, I don’t really know what this thread is. I don’t really have a reason for making it, but I wanted to, and writing it made me feel better. I don’t really want to go and read through all of that because it’ll spark off thoughts that I don’t want to think about, so I apologise for any mistakes or nonsensical phrases, it’s late and I’m tired.