piece on Lord of the Rings Online as I was tabbed out from Everquest while I was logging in my enchanter.
One of my enchanters, I should say. I have three. At least three. It's hard to remember. The one I've played the most is a dark elf, I think my only dark elf. He's somewhere in the fifties as I recall. Then there's my favorite, a gnome, inevitably, somewhere in the thirties. The one that I'm currently, repeatedly, getting killed (enchanter is hard, yo! Especially when you're wearing full raw silk and wielding a mithril quill like it's 1999) is a human and she's level 19.
I forget which of them came first. They've all been around for a while. About as long as EQ, give or take a year. This one has a /played of just over 6 days and she was born in August 2000. I created her as an apprentice to what was then my "main" character (a meaningless term given the way I approach MMOs), my first gnome necromancer. Her job was to go places he couldn't and get him stuff.
Naturally that didn't last long. She had other ideas and struck out on her own, although given that it's taken her fourteen years to do nineteen levels that may not have been the wisest career move. Her current awakening results from my recent purchase of the White Wolf EQRPG Scenario Book "Befallen". It made me want to go play through Befallen again. Go figure. (I wonder, given the resurgence of
tabletop gaming posts from bloggers I follow, such as Ravious, Tobold,
Tipa and Ardwulf, whether there's anyone out there running an EQRPG
campaign. I'd be very interested in joining an online version if so...).
Anyhoo, to get to the point, I think Syp really put his finger on it when he says
"We form strong attachments to our first experiences and areas in the
game for both that new zone smell and because we've gone through those
areas on alts so many times."
No matter how long I play MMOs, and it'll be fifteen years this autumn, it remains an unshakeable fact that what I like to do most of all is play character after character through the same low to mid level zones. It literally never gets old.
For a long time there were practical reasons for that. MMOs got harder as you leveled up. Often a lot harder. Nowadays newer MMOs like GW2 do a brilliant job of evening the playing field so that the transition from low to mid to end game is both seamless and painless and yet it's still the lower zones that hold the strongest appeal.
It's not a simple cut-off. For Syp the grey mist comes down at the end of the original game that shipped when LotRO launched, most probably because that game has a linear progression. No LotRO expansion ever arrived with a brand new starting area, unlike Everquest, EQ2, WoW or many others. Every re-start offers the possibility of a new emotional connection akin to the original, something expansions that increase the level cap only can never match.
So, I have something close to the same affection for Field of Bone as I have for East Commonlands, for Darklight Woods as I have for Antonica. Close but not quite the same. It's still the zones that launched with the very first iteration of any MMO that have the edge. It's not an insuperable advantage, to be sure, but if developers want their new creations to attract the same degree of commitment as their initial offerings they don't just need to reach that bar, they need to vault it in style.
I'm off on holiday next week so it will be quiet here for a while, but when I return all eyes (well, all eyes that aren't on WildStar) will be on ArenaNet's second season of The Living Story. We're all just about as certain as we can be that with it will come with the first new, permanent map we've had since Southsun and the first real expansion of the boundaries of Known Tyria since the game began.
That's a challenge. Here's hoping Anet can meet it. History suggests otherwise.