As a weird person, I do a lot of “what if?” scenarios in my head. What if I was trapped in a bathroom for a month, with enough food to survive? What if I became crippled? What if I won the lottery? They’re just interesting mental exercises to pass the time.
One of my favorite “what if?” scenarios is “What if I was thrown back in time, knowing everything I do now?” A year… five years… ten years… whatever. Lately, I’ve wondered that same thing with MMOs. What if I was thrown back, say, six years to 2003? Would I still play MMOs, knowing what I do now and having played what I have? Would I play the same titles or try something different? How would my playstyle change?
I pick 2003 in this scenario because, for me, it was an important time for me and MMORPGs — I’d been dabbling in them (AO, FFXI) but nothing serious until City of Heroes and then, a year later, World of Warcraft. Titles I’ve never touched include Ultima Online, both EverQuests, both Asheron’s Calls, SWG and DAoC. So what would I do?
Picking up City of Heroes again would be a no-brainer. It was fun from day one, and although the updates were painfully slow to come, they were of good quality and kept the game progressing in a decent direction. Knowing how little there’d be at high levels, I wouldn’t push any one character to great heights, and probably hang back with alts until the badge system came out. I’ve never become truly burned out on that game, and I could see playing it about six to ten hours a week as a side hobby.
As for WoW… no, probably not. Especially knowing what I do now and having done it to death, and knowing how rough the first half year was on that game (server stability, bugs, lack of high level content). Instead, I might have waited until about 2005 or 2006, found a good guild and given Everquest 2 a go, knowing that that title really picked up in quality after a bit.
I probably would dip back into LOTRO — I never hated that game, and even found quite a few things to love about it, but it just never grabbed me the way I expected. I might get in with Eve Online on the ground floor and play that pretty casually.
Unfortunately, I can’t think of many other titles I’d really play, even if I knew there wasn’t going to be good alternatives for quite a few years down the road. It would be nice to know when certain games and expansions would come out, to save myself some hair pulling. DAoC had great accolades with its initial RvR, but the Trials expansion would be a huge warning sign to stay the heck away.
So what about you? It’s 2003, and you’re looking ahead at six years of gaming, of which you already know what’s going to happen…