RPG Nostalgia: What Got You Into RPGs?
Over at the Blog Azeroth forums, an interesting question was posed: what got you into RPGs originally? What was your first RPG love? Maybe your first MMO love?
This is an amazing question for me, because multi-player role-playing games and table top RPGs and I have a long, rich, and mixed history. What about you? What’s your history and love affair with role-playing games? Shout it out in the comments!
And yes, I’ll bare all, don’t worry, just behind the jump:
I’ve been a tabletop gamer for a long time, although I can’t say I’ve always enjoyed it. Back in high school some of my friends and I tried to play a Dungeons and Dragons Dark Sun campaign, with me as a 6-foot tall preying mantis called a Thri-Kreen. (You can see what artists imagine them to look like at Google Images.) I thought the playable race was fun, until in our campaign we kind of exploited it to make me hear something no one else could and I slowly went insane and went on a killing spree over it. Kind of put a damper on the campaign. Potential, but we just didn’t keep it up.
At the time I was more engrossed in Magic: The Gathering, which I still love and while technically isn’t an RPG in the strictest sense, I think it’s arguable that it would fit into the topic. When I got to college, it was all about MUDs and MUSHes and other text-based games on the Web like Legend of the Green Dragon, which were playable in quick bursts from computer labs or class.
I dabbled in other tabletop games, but it wasn’t until my roommates and I started playing Warhammer Quest (probably the only Games Workshop game that didn’t require a billion figures and was relatively forgiving) that I really really got into tabletops. We would throw on the soundtrack to .hack // SIGN and play a couple of dungeons, invite a few friends over, and completely dork out for a few hours. It was a lot of fun, and I still love the game.
Around the same time, I started getting into MMOs – I don’t remember which one was first, but I picked up Final Fantasy XI at the behest of the same roommates, and while I loved the game visually and gameplay-wise, I was about to get my first taste of the social drawbacks of MMOs. Everyone I played with – all of my roommates – stayed up later than I did and at the time didn’t work as long hours as I did or commute as far as I did, so they had plenty of time to play while I was working or out with friends and such. I wound up falling behind level-wise, and as anyone who’s played FFXI knows, grouping with people who aren’t of approximate level in that game results in a pretty hefty experience penalty for everyone involved.
Eventually interest in FFXI waned even though the game lived on, and my friends started dropping off of the game. I did the same, and even though I still haven’t found another game that encourages people to stay logged in the way that FFXI did with its Bazaar system (where players sat and AFK’d outside of the auction house and sold their own wares that they didn’t want or couldn’t put on the auction house) – I mean, I’d leave for work in the morning with bags full of items to bazaar, and come home at night after having been logged in for 9 to 11 hours to find empty bags and tons of gil.
I will consider The Adventures of Fisternis and Prufrock the everliving testament to how awesome that game was.
Shortly thereafter – and probably through the entire time, I was seeing my first MMO love. A little game that not a lot of people may have played, but was rich with experience, depth, roleplay options, and amazing design and graphics: a space-based MMORPG called Earth and Beyond. Seriously, check out the trailer: it’s epic:
Of course Earth and Beyond got completely rolled over because it wasn’t making enough money to keep EA happy, and they were worried about the looming threat of the still popular but wildly more complicated and more massive space MMO EVE Online. That being said though, I played a Jen’quai Explorer named Laithe – a proud Sha’ha’dem intent on following his explorer heart as a member of the explorer caste but without sacrificing the teeth that he had earned from training with the Shin’wa warrior monks of the Jenquai people. Yeah, I know that’s all gibberish to you, especially if you’ve never played the game, but it was a lot of fun, and when I wasn’t exploring vast sectors of space, responding to distress signals and jumpstarting ships, or mixing it up with alien baddies out in the depths of space, I did a little reporting for Net 7, the in-game fan-contributed news and community portal.
I probably played Earth and Beyond for a couple of years, almost right up until Sunset, when EA and Westwood decided to shut the game down. I wasn’t there for that, but I’m glad to see that a couple of Google searches for the game prove that the idea still lives in the form of emulators and fans trying to recreate the in-game galaxy on their own servers for other fans who miss the game as much as I do.
I went without playing MMOs for a long time until I got accepted into the beta of this new game that my friends told me would change the face of MMOs forever. I didn’t really believe it, although I admitted that the company behind it had some strong lore, amazing storytelling power, and so far the screens I had seen looked interesting. A little game called World of Warcraft.
I signed up for the beta and fell in love – the game was immersive, beautiful, fluid, and had tons of different character classes and races, as well as factions that opposed each other – it didn’t take long for me to decide I had to play it when it came out. The closed beta became open beta, and the open beta went live, and I dropped off for a few months. At the behest of my friends who had run out on launch day to pick it up, I snagged it too, and well…the rest is history. Haven’t stopped playing since.
So what about you? What got you into RPGs? Did you start with tabletop games back in the day, or is World of Warcraft your first RPG love? Was WoW your gateway drug into a new world of role playing, or would you say WoW is pretty much the only RPG you could ever see yourself playing?