Saturday, December 1, 2012

After the Apocalypse part 2

Me and MMO Gaming

In the nineties my friends Jeff and Sky would often drop by after work unannounced and say, "Let's go to Kiko's (great Japanese fast food -- awesome curry rice) or "Let's go to Kinokuniya's" or whatever it was that was on their mind.  And I'd jump in the car and go with them.  Those days were a lot of fun -- we don't live close enough to do that anymore, we don't work the same schedules, things are never that spontaneous.

So one day in the spring of 1999 I think, they showed up and wanted to hit CompUSA in search of a game they'd heard about called Everquest.  I'd never heard of it, I wasn't a gamer, I was just coming along for the ride.  We tried a couple of stores.  Nobody we talked to had ever heard of a game called Everquest, but we eventually found it in a Best Buy I think, or maybe it was a Circuit City.  Anyway they found the game and each grabbed a copy.  There was one copy left, and when I picked it up and looked at it and read about it, the game sounded really, really cool.  So I bought a copy too.

The rest is history.  ^_^  My own history anyway.  My friends played the game off and on over the next couple of years, but neither got a character much further than maybe 15th or 20th level.  I found that the game wouldn't play on my computer, so I upgraded, and then I was hooked.  M roommate was hooked as well -- he watched over my shoulder for two or three nights before we managed to get a copy of the game running on his own computer.

I played Everquest for about 2 or 3 years.  In the end I played mostly on the Test Server, and made a lot of friends there.  My main character was a barbarian shaman named Jalia McMarrin, and I was in a guild called The Grove, because most of the members had met on a message board for druids before we all moved to Test so we could play together.  We had a great time, and The Grove message board still exists today (and sees a handful of posts a year, if that).

But I eventually got tired of Sony Entertainment and of the game Everquest.  My character reached the mid-fifties, but ultimately I was working at night and playing when nobody else was around, so progress was slow.  Shamans were good at soloing, at least, and I bought a second computer and second account so I could duo by myself and keep a merchant up at other times selling potions and stuff I crafted, but I finally decided to move on.

(And the funny thing is, right after I moved on, my friend Sky finally became addicted to the game that he'd hooked me on.  He played Everquest constantly for a while after I'd quit.)

I tried a lot of other games -- Anarchy Online, Dark Age of Camelot, Asheron's Call 2, etc.  The two that stuck were very different from Everquest:  I really enjoyed Second Life, and I also really enjoyed Disney's Toontown.  I ultimately played Toontown for over a year, making a lot of friends in the game.  Many of these were parents with young kids who had never played any other MMO, but when City of Heroes came out, a group of them were ready to try something new.  "It's just like Toontown, but better!" they said.  Which was funny because it was nothing like Toontown.  I decided I wouldn't buy the beta version of the game (you could join beta if you bought the game ahead of launch), but the week the game came out, I picked it up.

And... it was a lot of fun.  It became my new addiction for the next year and a half.  I said goodbye to my friends in Toontown and only played City of Heroes, but around the time of all the nerfs (issue 5, before City of Villains launched), I became disenchanted and decided to quit.  For one thing, I was happy to not be so addicted to an MMO -- when I'm really addicted I play far too much.  Instead I logged into Second Life a lot more, and for a year and a half that's all I did.

I also tried WoW, but few of my friends were playing it and those that were I never saw.  The game was okay but didn't hook me, so I quit after a few months.  And, of course, once again as soon as I quit, nearly all of my friend started playing -- but that didn't get me back into the game.

It was a friend in Second Life -- Kitsy, I think -- who convinced me to play City of Heroes again.  She was playing it and having fun and telling me about it, and I told her about how I used to play it.  There was also a person in my writer's group who was an avid City of Heroes player who would talk about it -- she was a major roleplayer, usually playing male characters -- and I remember talking about the game from the perspective of "that game that I don't play anymore".  Some of my other friends in Second Life had become very addicted to WoW and I rarely saw them, so one night in early January not long after Kitsy had asked my why I didn't play anymore, I reinstalled City of Heroes and logged back in.

I will forever blame Kitsy for this, not only because she got me hooked again on a major addiction, but because she only played for one week more before quitting the game.  None of my other friends played, I really wasn't friends with any of the people from Toontown that had gotten me into the game in the first place (they were "people I knew" from Toontown, but my real Toontown friends had stayed there).  Previously I'd been in a Super Group with the Toontown people, who had turned out to not be the kind of people I got along with well, and then I'd been a member of one of the big cross-server Legion of Catgirl super groups, but I didn't know any of them all that well either.  I'd played on Pinnacle and Guardian before, but I started over on Virtue solely because that's where Kitsy was when she got me back into the game.

Over the years I convinced a lot of my friends to try City of Heroes, but most of them weren't hooked like I was.  I remained the only person I knew well who played it.

If I hadn't run into a good group of friends, that might have been where it remained.  But I played Mouse Police up and began teaming with the same people every night.  I like to say that they powerleveled me to 50 -- they were all fire/kin controllers, whereas Mouse was a katana/regen scrapper.  Anyway we had fun together but as we approached 50 we weren't sure how to stay in touch.  Fire in the Disco formed a global channel called Wild Cards Virtue, which only had about six members total, but ultimately he and I and one other person were the only ones that continued to team regularly.  Another of the members, whose fire/kin was named something like Hot Stuff or Hot Little Number, I forget, had a pattern of making a new character and playing them all the way to 50, then making another, so it didn't work out teaming with them very much.  Another member of the group moved on to a different server, and then eventually they all stopped playing except for Fire in the Disco, who played less and less but would still log in occasionally.

For a year or so though, I continued to play even though I didn't have a lot of in-game friends.  I still liked playing on Virtue, where you could always find a PuG.  I joined Pickup Groups constantly, and derided those who were afraid to play with people they didn't know.  I also played on Freedom a lot ,getting three characters to 50 or close to 50 there, and playing with people from the Marketing forums in various theme-specific Super Groups like Midlevel Crisis, whose goal was to level lock characters in the middle levels specifically to earn or random roll mid-level recipes to supply to the market.  And I played on Victory for a month or two, getting Mouse Police on that server to 50.  I had an idea that I was going to get Mouse Police on every server to 50 someday.  I made some good friends on Victory, but since I went back to playing on Virtue afterwards, we eventually lost contact.

It was when the person I'd known as the fire/kin "Hot Little Number" (I really can't remember the actual name) came back to the game again that I entered what I would call my final phase of gameplay.  Up to that point, I'd been playing without a super group or without a global channel other than the obvious big ones like Virtue United.  I didn't have a lot of close friends in the game.  At the time I was working on my new project, the buffbot girls, Sonic Girl Seven, Bubble Girl Six, etc., and my friend who'd returned to the game was playing as various characters all named "Multiple Girl II".  This became MG's MO for the rest of his playing time.  MG liked to run task forces, and after running into him and talking to him I wound up joining the super group Hero Force.  This gave me a group of people that I gamed with on a regular basis, so I started making  more permanent friends.  Later MG formed the MG's Taskforces channel, and I began to meet other players that way.  MG would log in every night and run several TFs in a row, and would always invite me.  I was becoming a big marketeer, I was learning how to outfit my characters to the gills, I was having more fun in the game than I'd ever had.

Eventually MG burned out a bit, and the Hero Force super group fell apart.  Power (leader of HF) disappeared for a long time.  He made a couple of comebacks, but mostly this confirmed that I didn't really like playing in someone else's super group.  But by this point I was a member of Brickhouse Chat and Antebellum Revolution, and eventually also a member of Whisper X and ROBOKITTY channels, and I had more friends on Virtue than ever, and there was always something to do.  So that's basically how the game went for me, right up to the end.  The people in Brickhouse Chat especially became some of my best in-game friends and favorite people to play with over the last two years, but I also had a lot of friends on the forums and just generally felt like a more integrated part of a large community, and that was why I really didn't want to ever leave.  As the game progressed it added costumes and new power sets and more things to do, and made it easier for people of any level to do them together, and just became a much more fun game than it had been to start with.

And now... I will probably log into Second Life and hang out a bit and say hi to the few friends of mine who are still around there.  I might log into Anarchy Online again, the game is on my computer, it's free to play, but I haven't done very much with it since I installed it six month or more ago.  I am going to try and avoid playing another MMO for a long while though, I'd like to try and get more writing done.  Which I guess is what I'm doing right this minute, although pouring out words into a blog hardly counts as serious writing in my book.  ^_^  I have a long-running Ranma 1/2 fan fiction story that hasn't been updated in at least two years, and I really want to get some of what I've started done on it and published.  And I want to write more Tai-Pan stuff.  So a new MMO isn't on my  radar at the moment. 

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