Do you remember the first MMO that you really fell in love with? For some it was UO, some EQ, and a whole lot for WoW. I’m not really talking to the WoW people as much, but if you are a WoW person and want to chime in, feel free :D.
Although I played UO my first love was DAoC. I started out in Midgard as a Norse Hunter and didn’t get very far before getting my first case of altitis. There was a sense of community, realm pride, you cared about your team and you hated the other two. I don’t really know how they did it but no one was immune, everyone had incredible realm pride. Even as a low level player unable to assist our realm in the big boy fights, I cared about how they did, and I’d cheer them on whenever possible. It was a truly amazing first MMO experience.
Never have I been so mad at a mob as I was at Rock Crabs/Spindley Rock Crabs and don’t get me started on Wee Wolves or Tomtes. The game was a world instead of a game and that is something that I have rarely felt since. The Herald really helped me as a newb to keep up with my team’s successes, I could see who was getting the most kills/RPs for the week and in total, plus which keeps we and our enemies controlled.
Shrouded Isles was released just as I was getting familiar with all of the nooks and crannies of the old world and it turned out to be the same size of the old world. It was pretty much just a whole new world to level from 1-50 in, so I made some more alts, especially of all the new classes that were added. By this time I had played all 3 realms, however, all on different servers, so there was still a sense of realm pride.
When battlegrounds were added in March of 2002 is when I really started loving the game. The lowest level BG was 20-24, prior to this I had not reached level 20, and this gave me some motivation to do so. I was there on day one as a Thane, which at the time was a cool class (later was gimped and since has been reintroduced as a decent class methinks?) and a popular class as well, there was nothing like seeing a bunch of lightning bolts flying everywhere not to mention the hammers. Speaking of the hammers I remember seeing my first big fight in RvR. I was a low level tagging along, hanging in the back with the healers, and our Mid force collided with another force at a MileGate in Odin’s Gate. I could see probably 20 giant blue hammers raining down on the enemies and I don’t think I’m capable of describing how awesome it was at the time. One of the healers then told me that when you see the hammers it is a good sign. I would like to think I will never forget how good of an experience that was.
A year after Shrouded Isles was released came another expansion, Trials of Atlantis. This expansion added new high level content including Master Levels and Artifacts. With Master Levels came Master Abilities which helped change the face of RvR when coupled with Artifacts and their abilities. Artifacts were items dropped by the new boss mobs in the Trials of Atlantis and in order to use one you needed to acquire the scrolls necessary to activate the item. Once activated Artifacts are level 1, at the time each artifact would only gain exp from specific mob types such as reptiles or humanoids and others required PvP kills, nowadays any exp goes towards the artifacts. Many would argue that the ToA expansion was the beginning of the end of DAoC as we knew it and I would have to agree. The core playerbase had been playing for a couple years already, they were max level, they had reached end game content and were having a good time. This expansion made it so they had to gain 10 more levels through 90-100 PvE raids (some soloable, some small group, many many group) and they also had to create whole new templates which included attaining artifacts and leveling them to acquire the abilities, just to return to the end game they previously enjoyed dearly.
A half a year later, June 2004, New Frontiers was released. This was a free expansion but it was also a required expansion, one that many did not welcome with open arms, mainly because the devs decided it was a good idea to further mess with endgame content. In fact, they completely revamped all of the frontiers, which is where the RvR took place. No more familiar lands, these new lands were all new terrain wise yet still had the same names as before. The only positives in my opinion that came from this expansion was the keep redesign, the additional siege weapons, and the battlegrounds for the rest of the players who were not levels 20-35 and 50. It has since grown on me as it has the others who continued to play (or have since come to play) but those who remember what it was like will never forget.
At the end of 2004 the Catacombs expansion was released. This is probably my favorite expansion for the game as it added new classes, faster leveling via new underground worlds or instanced, scalable dungeons, and a bit of a graphics revamp. I did not get to level 50 until this expansion came out, prior to it my highest was probably around 30-35. My favorite aspect of this expansion was the Task Dungeons. You would approach the Taskmaster in your level appropriate area and he would ask if you want long corridors or close quarters type of combat and would then send you to the cave nearby. The mobs would be blue at early levels and yellow at later levels, all the while being worth way more exp and dropping more money than usual. They also added adventure wings onto preexisting dungeons (a dungeon off of a dungeon) and these wings contained mobs that would drop Aurulite. Aurulite was used in the new underground capital cities to purchase decent armor weapons and accessories. I know some are against faster leveling and “handouts” but you still had to sit there and kill a bunch of shit just like any other game so, I would have to disagree with those people.
At the beginning of 2005 in an effort to retain customers by consolidating populations Server Clustering was introduced. Three or so servers would be clustered together, sharing the same battlegrounds, RvR zones, and capital cities. You could go to each of the three servers’ old world zones (including SI and Catacombs) and when you ran into a player from another server their name would have “of ServerName” at the end of it. I view clustering as a good thing only because it was the right thing to do considering the circumstances. Whether they could have avoided those circumstances or not is where my beef lies.
In July 2005 the new Classic server type was introduced. These two servers did not allow access to the Trials of Atlantis content and also introduced a ranged buff system. On all of the other server types it was the norm for players to have buffbots, or characters on separate accounts with max level buffing classes who would buff a group of players and then be left by the safety of the unkillable realm guards (who watch the entrances into the old world zones of each realm). With this system if you got too far away from the person who buffed you then you lost the buffs. Many people returned to play on these servers, so many in fact that they had to launch a third classic server to accommodate the demand. Nowadays these servers are clustered and empty.
Three months later the expansion Darkness Rising is released introducing champion weapons, champion levels, subclasses, mounts, dungeons for gaining champion levels, and the island Agramon which connected the three realms’ frontier zones. By this time I was pretty detached from the game so I can’t say for sure how the playerbase welcomed this expansion. Mythic had been promising player mounts since a couple months after release and four years later they arrive. I never raised my champion levels very high so I only got a few subclass abilities (which for the most part were a joke iirc) but I did get my champion weapon and mount which I can’t say I didn’t enjoy.
One year later and another expansion, Labyrinth of the Minotaur, released. This expansion added the Minotaur races, the Mauler class (solo beast as shit class), the Labyrinth (a dungeon with many boss encounters accessible by all three realms for pvp/pve), and Champion levels 6-10. I’ve some experience with this expansion, I got a Minotaur Mauler to level 49 where he could outsolo my level 50 warrior (by killing mobs that conned red and purple to my warrior), and I did a few encounters in the Labyrinth.
Nowadays all of the clusters are clustered and as of right now (12:30PM EST Thursday 12/31/09) there are 2,600 players on in North America and 0 players in Europe. It is sad for me to see my first MMO love in such shambles. I regularly subbed for about 3 months a year along with multiple trial accounts (some with very high level toons on them) and I haven’t played in some time. If you can’t guess by now, I have the itch to play DAoC again, but seeing as there are only 6 players currently on the classic cluster I doubt I will have much fun.
Here is to hoping Mythic actually creates and releases the Origins server type they teased us with a couple years back (somewhat of a more classic, classic server type with more pvp at lower levels). There hasn’t been much mention of it since early this year but maybe they’ll work on it since Warhammer sucks so bad.
Until then, I’ll be left with a void to fill.