If that’s not retro, I don’t know what is. That is my first character ever in an MMO. Sort of.
I had wanted to get into MMO’s but was nervous about how “hardcore” everyone kept telling me Everquest was. With my first child and a move to graduate school both coming within six months time, I knew those days were probably behind me. Enter Playstation’s version of Everquest, which was supposed to be more accessible to the common gamer. And it just so happened a friend of mine was beta testing it – in those days a rare thing. There was about a week left, so he let me borrow his whole system (keyboard too) and take it to my place to try it out and see if it was something I wanted to get into. (By the way…what’s the statute of limitations for NDA breakage? Because we totally did that).
I was hooked in the first hour, but I didn’t play beyond the tutorials and a bit of wandering. I bought the game, ethernet adapter, and a new keyboard on my next payday. So technically, that’s a picture of my second ever MMO character.
I still remember how I got butterflies in my stomach, exploring this virtual world, marveling at all the other people standing around with me in Fayspire and then Telethin. I had started a Magician, but before long I saw a Ranger wander through dual wielding, and wondered how long it would take me to get one to level 20 so I could dual wield as well. Thus the first symptoms of alt-itis developed early. As did my first desired equipment – it didn’t take too long to see a Magician with a shield. I went nuts. A shield? That was awesome. Later I found out there was a dagger that had somehow been assigned the visual graphic of a short sword. And I spent my later days in early Norrath looking like an Elven Fighter-Mage from early DnD, especially since I was the only mage I knew that took the time (and money) to keep a stack of throwing knives with me to supplement my DPS when my mana was low or I was waiting on a cooldown.
That first day was incredibly memorable to me. It actually hurts to think that I will never again roam the towers of Fayspire, accidentally aggro that giant elite/group encounter fish while swimming in the lake, or fight my way through the tunnel of orcs to the lands of the dwarves. And if you play the theme song for me, I will stand mesmerized by PTSD-like flashbacks.
And I will do you one better – I also remember my very first loot drop. Well, outside of vendor trash. It was a magic staff called the Beanpole. Adds to Intellect and Power and so on. But the description said that it was enchanted to slowly cause the bearer to take interest in the world of agriculture, and it was said that the mage who created it lived out his later days blissfully farming. Apparently the curse worked on me too. I’ve had a strange attraction to farming and cooking in every MMO since that has offered it.
Mostly, after that first day, I am still impressed with how huge early Norrath was. One of the early grinds was always opening up the caravan (fast travel) route from Freeport on the east coast to Qeynos on the west coast. That run took at least an hour, maybe as much as an hour and a half. I’m sure more recent MMO’s can boast of greater size in total across their zones, but I don’t think any, except perhaps Everquest 2, has overwhelmed me with how big it is in quite the same way. And these days, with the removal of Qeynos and Freeport as starting areas, I’m not sure it has the same vibe either.