This is the question that so many developers have asked themselves. Why does everyone love WoW. Why does blizzard have over 10 million subscribers and there are no other really good mmorpgs on the market. What are other developers doing wrong? Are they dong anything wrong?
I'll kick off the study by quoting the blurb on the back of the World of Warcraft retail box;
'Descend into the World of Warcraft and join thousands of might heroes in an online world of myth, magic and limitless adventure. Jagged snowy peaks, mountain fortresses, harsh winding canyons. Zeppelins flying over smoldering battlefields, epic sieges-an infinity of experiences await. So what are you waiting for?
Seeing that now so much later then the initial release it seems so strange and clean as apposed to what WoW is seen to repesent and to be in the present day. Thousands would become millions. Beautiful scenery becomes flashy gear. Epic sieges become 15 minutes Alterac Valley battles. Things have changed so much.
I started my experience with WoW, like many others, from a trial disk that a gaming magazine gave out with one edition. Just from a few screenshots from the magazine the game looked exactly like the retail box blurb described it. It looked exciting, and fun, and the scenery looked stunning. I should note here that I have always had a truly dreadful computer that can only run most games on low graphics, if indeed at all, so it was a relief and a great new experience to enjoy something so rich and colourful.
I picked a dwarf warrior, and after messing around with his looks I entered the world of Warcraft. For the next hour or so I ran around aimlessly as I was in a completely new world, something I hadn't experienced before. Dun Morough was so fun. The music was calming, yet thrilling and I would take enjoyment from the smallest things, like completing my first quest, or finding a new zone. The game was fresh and exciting. I soon quit my dwarf warrior and started a human rogue. I didn't like the starting zone quite as much so dropped him soon after and took up a gnome mage. The mage sucked horribly at the time but I didn't care. I hit lvl 20, which was higher then any of my other characters, and was running around Redbridge having the time of my life. Soon I got tired of the gnome and started a human paladin. I enjoyed this so much that I played him right up to lvl 35 which was quite a feat for me, being normally restricted to 30min - one hours time playing per day.
Back then the aim of the game for me was not to level, I just enjoyed doing quests, finding new places, getting new gear, just basically playing the game. I never really grouped and I didn't craft, because I didn't know how. I was completely new to mmorpgs as I am sure were so many others. Those first few months were probably the most enjoyable for me, simply because it was new and special. No other game had seemed so important or interesting. I planned out what I was going to do in the game while I wasn't playing. I dreamed of the game, I discussed it with my brothers. It was all-consuming for me.
Perhaps it was because I was so young and naive and new to the scene but I think the reason I liked the game so much was firstly because it was simple, and that is key. And the second because it was simply fun. The game was simple to me; you logged on and ran around exploring the areas, get quests, kill new monsters, finish quests, and get new gear. That was the game for me and it was all I wanted. The game was simple in this manner, not getting serious until you started to hit the higher levels where it took real commitment to get to 60. And then it was hardcore raiding. I stayed away from this and just enjoyed my little, low level, nooby-new world. And it was fun in its simplicity.
What about you? What was your first mmorpg? What did you enjoy most about it? Was it a completely new experience? Did you enjoy just exploring and finding new quests and new monsters?