My main regret from MMO gaming over the past 13 years has to be not keeping better track of screenshots. Sure, I still have access to some of those older games like Ultima Online,
but I wish I used to be as big on collecting digital bits as I am now. I would love to see screenshots from all of those games that went away. I try to keep track of at least the month, but sometimes it would be incredible if I had character shots with name, date, and time.
Confession time! In Ultima Online
, I picked the dumbest skills to start out with because they sounded cool. I think I went with tailoring and musicianship, the latter of which was totally worthless without other barding skills. These skills... were not good skills for staying alive in the Wild West of UO
. I used to spend so much time running the road between Britain and Vesper, picking up bags and junk left by other players so I could sell it instead of actually learning how to kill stuff myself. I also remember being a skill-clicker and moving with the arrow keys in EverQuest
until I switched from Druid to Bard and really had to master the controls (thanks to twisting). So embarrassing!
I definitely have a history of mistakes in MMOs! My first one is excusable because I was young, but my brother told me that the only thing to do in EverQuest
was to kill bats. I did that for many days before I realised it was a troll.
These days my mistakes tend to be things that happen because I make a hasty decision. I choose skills because they sound or look cool without weighing the benefits to my class or character. I then delete the character without moving money or items anywhere.
My biggest mistake was thinking that MMOs would always be ambitious virtual worlds like Ultima Online
and Star Wars Galaxies
and continually evolve up that ladder. Clearly the money is in simpler, more accessible EverQuest
and World of Warcraft
derivatives with stripped-down combat-focused feature sets, but back when I first started, I assumed everyone playing and making MMOs was a fan of the sim-style gameplay that the early ones offered.
I think that probably my biggest mistake was not doing my homework. MMOs back in the early 2000s weren't as well-documented or newbie-friendly, and a combination of my timidity in entering these worlds and ignorance of what to do while in them probably didn't help either. I should've picked a game, done a lot of reading up on it, then played it instead of what I initially did -- just jump in, get slaughtered, get lost, and get frustrated.
One of the unsung praises of World of Warcraft
was that when it came out you didn't have to do a lot of reading up on it ahead of time. You didn't even have to understand MMOs much at all. It was presented to you in a very intuitive fashion that helped bridge the gap between ignorance and happy play time.
My first MMO (and computer game, pretty much) was World of Warcraft
. Here are some mistakes I can remember: thinking that the "say" chat channel went everywhere and wondering why people ignored me, not knowing how to repair my gear (or that it was a requirement), discarding vendor items instead of selling them, only melee attacking as a Hunter (I switched to Priest about a week in, though), and thinking that I had to actually run around to dodge enemy attacks. I also took tailoring and enchanting, two massively expensive crafting professions. Needless to say, my Priest was broke and useless most of the time, and only partly because I started as a clicker and keyboard-turner.
Oh, and I was on a Mac, so I had no right-click. The world changed for me after seeing PvP videos with complex keybindings and mouse-turning -- watching other players be awesome made me into a dangerous Mage later on in my WoW
career. For a brief period before Burning Crusade
launched and ruined everything fun about being a Mage, I was a PvP nightmare.
My biggest mistake doesn't even really make sense, considering my line of work: I made the mistake of thinking people in games were genuine, honest, and that sort of thing, and I trusted much too readily. As a social worker who saw so much negative in life, I have to wonder how on earth I thought that. The truth is, I have always been one to give the benefit of the doubt and see the good in people. I always believed people were basically good. Unfortunately, in my first MMO, that little misconception (of people being genuine online) caused me to be blindsided by the sucker punch of massive drama, and it affected me greatly, to the point that I withdrew from being the outgoing friendly person I was for quite a while. I knew in my head that anonymity made people more brazen and likely to do things they wouldn't otherwise, but I'd never experienced it to such a horrifying degree. I hid out and only gamed with a few select close friends (that I actually met in said first game) for a stretch of time but eventually went back to being more open again.
was my first massive online world, and I remember being confused about who was a real player and who was an NPC. It got me so flustered, I wouldn't talk to anyone -- even when I got private messages! I thought that those PMs might be part of the game, and I didn't want to look silly by responding in general chat or something.
I think I've been extraordinarily lucky in regard to playing MMOs. First and foremost, my first MMO was Star Trek Online,
and I began to write about my first foray into playing an MMO by blogging about my experiences from buying the computer that could handle the game up to the point I joined the Massively team. So many people commented on my blogs or talked me through the basics that I didn't have much time to consider myself a "noob" in any way, shape, or form. My biggest mistake was not realizing that I could "shop" for a decent fleet. I let myself get bullied in a couple of them, and those experiences almost made me want to quit the game. Since then, I've gotten into many other games and have had the time of my life!
What do you get when you throw the Massively writers' opinions together in one big pot to stew? You get The Think Tank, a column dedicated to ruminating on the MMO genre. We range from hardcore PvPers to sandbox lovers to the carest of the carebears, so expect some disagreement! Join Senior Editor Shawn Schuster and the team for a new edition right here every other Thursday.