I never truly got into online gaming when I was younger. I initially remained within my comfort zone for the majority of my youth until I hit my teen years. That was when I had become interested in this genre on gaming, due to my friends telling me to give it a shot. I started with RuneScape, but couldn't fully get into the gameplay. I then got into Toon Town, and fell in love with the play-style. Who wouldn't love the classic Disney characters? Goofy, Donald, even Mickey was in this game. When I started, I made my character and got right into the game. After the tutorial and the “find a friend” quest, I was allowed to do what I wanted and explore at my leisure. The game truly began, and I was ready to get in on the action. I played it for hours on end every day and grew stronger. As I continued to play the game, my toon began to look more the part of his zany, cartoony character as I was able to acquire beans, the game's currency, to buy clothing.
With him now looking the part of a resident in this crazy adventure, I continued playing the game with little problem. While I played, I made new friends whom I kept in contact with by email to send messages about the game or request help fast. This came in handy as my life in this game went on, and made the game much more enjoyable.
I started in ToonTown Central, and began doing missions that took me all over the district. This felt like a great way to make friends and see what the game had to offer, and it let me get my fill of hunting and destroying the Cogs. As I fought each of the Cogs that chose to get in my way, I felt a bit sorry for having to destroy them. I knew that I had to because they were bad guys who were trying to take over the town, but I wondered about why we, as the toons, were getting in the way. Still, I continued, finishing off the quest line and getting the Sound gag.
The next gag to get was either Lure or Trap from Donald's Dock. While going through the missions, one of my friends went offline. I didn't think much of it, as people's connections always had issues with them. I continued on, watching every now and then for my friend. My friend never returned, and I felt like there was a problem with their account. After playing all day, and getting the Lure gag, I stopped for the night. Before I left, I emailed my friend, who told me they were done with the game and that it wasn't worth it. I figured they were just tired of the game and the constant paying each month to do everything.
The next day, I went for the gag in the next area called Minnie's Melodyland. Here, I found I was given the option of the gag that I didn't choose the first time, Toon-Up, or Trap. I continued on and acquired my next gag, choosing Toon-Up. With my next gag on my belt, I found that I only had one more I could choose out of two choices: Trap or Drop.
After the quests, I acquired the last gag I could choose: Drop. With all the gags that I acquired in my possession, I now could play the game at my leisure. During this time, more of my old friends went offline. Each email said the same things as the others, stating about how each person found this game to be worse than it should be. I began to really become concerned with this, although I was still skeptical with their choice to quit because I did not have any issues with the game.
The game ran fine and, despite me having all of my gags, was still pretty fun. I would fight the Cogs, level up my gags, and make new friends along the way to replace the ones lost over my adventure. I remember that within two weeks, I had maxed out my primary gags and was half-way from maxing out the third gag. I was making progress in the game, and was finishing quest after quest. After months of play, my gaming nature soon was forcefully replaced with the burden of school work.
While I was in school each day, I day dreamed about my soon to be adventure through ToonTown each day. When I got home and finished my homework, I immediately logged in to play. My life was filled with happiness and fulfillment. Over the next few years, I played the game and, despite what my friends said in their emails about the game, I never had any problems and felt that my friends were just missing out on a great game. Days turned into weeks, which turned to months, which then turned to years. Soon, I had to give up my gaming nature to focus on my life moving forward. Leaving my gaming days behind for the time being, I went to college. After four years, I returned home and lived my life with my new career choice: Graphic Design.
After a few months, I had grown romantically attached to a woman I had known since childhood. We eventually moved in together with her four year old daughter, Lilly. Life went on, and soon, her daughter took a liking to some of the old games that I had brought in the move. She would spend hours playing the games and trying to find all of the easter eggs and secrets in them. One day, I was working on my computer before she walked in, trying to sneak up on me like she usually does. I chuckled as she roared at me and decided to spend some time with her.
As I closed the program I was working with, she asked what one of my folders was. I asked which one and she pointed to the one labeled "Memories Of Friends". I opened it to quell her curiosity as a folder full of images popped up on the screen. As I opened one, it showed me and a bunch of my old friends, standing in front of the ToonTown Central HQ. She asked what this was and I smiled as I looked at each toon. I looked at her and told her that these were my childhood friends who I played an online game with. When she asked what it was, I told her that it was an old game that I found when I was in high school. She asked if she could play it and I nodded, excited that I would be able to share one of my fondest experiences with her.
We looked for the game, but were unable to find it. I sighed in dismay as I scrolled down, looking for some clue as to where it went. After a few minutes, we found a site for a game called "ToonTown Rewritten". I clicked it and was taken to a site that looked similar to the original Toon Town website. After creating an account and installing the game, we were finally able to get in. We spent days training her new toon and sharing the account. I remember that after a few weeks, we finally had everything I had before.
Every day, though, more and more players would leave and say that this game was a mistake. It was just like my old friends, who also left and said they were done with this game. This confused me, so I emailed one of the moderators who remade the game. When I asked what could be causing this, they told me that it might be because it was a port remake of the game without a few major things and that could be why they had left. When I inquired further, they said that it was always on this certain world on the server. After my conversation with the mod, I came to the conclusion that they had added some new content that the older players did not agree with. With this in mind, I continued playing.
Although this server was having issues that caused problems for people, it was almost always full. I found this odd, but I figured that many other players were just as curious about this phenomenon as I was. Every time I tried to enter it, it would say that the server was full and I needed to choose another one. I was discouraged, because I was so hoping for the chance to see this server and find out why this was happening. A thought flickered in my mind as I thought of the server in question. If I remembered correctly, my friends were on that server before they left.
This only fueled my longing to get into the server, but try as I might, I just couldn't do it. With a sigh, I went back to my normal world with Lilly and continued playing with our friends. One morning while I was working late, my friend had gotten into the server, and emailed me about it. Something felt weird though, because he said he wanted nothing more to do with the game after playing on the server. When I emailed him back to find out what was wrong, he simply told me that there was no way this was just a simple kids game.
I looked at this and got quite concerned. If I was going to understand what his problem was, I believed that I would have to see exactly what happened so I could know for myself. Soon, though, a project took effect and I was unable to truly play the game. I was able to get some time in every now and then, but not enough to actually invest my time with it. Soon, I got some time to enjoy myself near Halloween, when I finally found free time to get away from my project. I began to play ToonTown once more. As I was about to begin my exploration for the issue that has plagued me and my friends, Lilly spoke from behind me. She asked why I hadn't gone to bed, and when she saw our toon on the screen in the character selection screen, asked why I was playing without her. I told her that I was about to play for a short while before going to bed. She asked to play too, which, after realising that the next day was Saturday, I decided that it probably wouldn't hurt to play for maybe an hour. Whatever was causing my friends to leave couldn't be so bad that a child couldn't see it, right?
When we started it up, I looked at the time. I remembered in my friend's email that midnight was one of the best times to get on the server. Taking this into consideration, I tried to join the server. We got in, and boy was I surprised. We had gotten in on the last day of the Halloween event, and everything was decorated with skeletons and cobwebs. She seemed struck with awe at this happening, but something felt off, though. No one else was on. I found this odd, given the usual filled server conditions but as I was on at midnight, I felt it would be normal to not see anyone else on. I was amazed by how well everything looked, and she even mentioned how excited she was. When I finally got my bearings, I decided to explore this server, given how my friend found it bad enough to just up and quit. When I entered the HQ to get a new mission, I was met with a special holiday quest.
When I saw “Defeat the Cog Buildings," I thought nothing of it; seeing as it was just a defeat enemy mission. One thing did confuse me, though. When I thought about it, the mission seemed out of place and that such a mission would be offered without very many details bugged me. Regardless, a mission is a mission, and I was not going to argue with it. Lilly was just as confused, and asked me why I accepted a mission without knowing what was going on. I tried to act as if I knew what I was doing, telling her that I chose the mission that we would do before bed. As we exited the HQ, we made our way to one of the exits to find the cog buildings that were plaguing the area.
As I exited to the streets of ToonTown Central, I noticed there were cog buildings all over; unlike the other servers. When I tried to enter the cog buildings, it wouldn't allow me to go inside. I figured it was because of the lack of members in the elevator. When I exited, the elevator closed, which I found weird, given that neither I nor anyone else was in the elevator. I wondered what was going on as the elevator opened and I was confronted with four Cogs. Immediately, a battle began, but the text that the Cogs said was different than the normal, cartoon-like style comments that was given. The message said “It's time for the Retooning." I read the message, wondering what it meant as the battle commenced.
As it began, I decided to go with the small gags first and save my better gags for later. I attempted the Full Fruit Pie gag, as it was a mid-level gag that did moderate damage. When the animation played for the gag being used, my character stopped and put it away as a grim look appeared on his face. I tilted my head in confusion as the toon just cowered at the Cogs he usually had no trouble challenging. The Cogs attacked, one by one, and the toon's expression changed with each attack. After about three turns, the toon's face was completely mortified and he was shaking. My daughter-to-be asked why our toon looked so sad, to which I had to admit I had absolutely no idea.
I tried to get him to attack, but he cowered and wouldn't do a thing. I was beginning to find this unsettling, and tried to find a logical reason for this happening. With the next attack, the toon's HP hit zero. I was actually happy that the battle ended, but something was off. Why was the toon still in the battle? The toon was supposed to go back to the nearest plaza area to heal, but the battle was still going on. The Cogs continued to attack, but with attacks that weren't normally in their arsenal. With each attack, the toon grew more and more exhausted until he just fainted. The screen went black after he fell.
The screen stayed black for about ten seconds before fading into a factory. I was shocked at what I saw; a factory filled with other toons. My daughter stared wide eyed as the camera panned across the entire area. One of the toons caught my eye. It belonged to one of my friends. we watched as he laid on the table, sadly frowning at the ground as power tools appeared around him. The view turned to the wall as the tools hit the toon and dismantled him. As the body was disassembled, the head was taken and a suit came into view. I watched as the head of my friend's toon was placed in the head piece of the suit and a mask was placed on it, resembling that of a Penny Pincher. I covered the child's eyes, as this was something I wasn't expecting her to see. The screen then turned to our toon, who was strapped to a table. The same scene played for our toon as the head was masked with a Big Cheese Cog. The last image I saw was that of our once happy toon, laughing darkly as the screen faded to black.