New Car SmellJuly 30, 2008
There’s a singular joy in newness that is hard to express and impossible to recapture: your first kiss, when you unpack a brand-new computer, the first day of school, or the first time you step into a new MMO. Many people fall in love with those moments and spend the rest of their lives fruitlessly pursuing or trying to recreate them. I’m more of a realist — I know the moment’s going to go away, so I just try to make it last as long as possible.
As an experienced MMO player, that can be difficult. Even if it’s a brand-new game to us, we still know enough about the genre to run down a preordained checklist and hit the ground running. Check UI… make sure hotkeys are correctly bound… jump a few times… speed through opening quests to get out of the newbie zone… start pushing hard to get up in levels and gears in order to keep pace with everyone else. We do that, and what little newness there was to be enjoyed is suddenly cast aside, forever.
Not me, not this time. Even in beta, I’m holding back from experiencing a lot of things, and when release finally hits, you won’t find me at level 10 immediately. I’m going to be the guy soaking in the quest text, exploring menu options, poking around newbie zones, and seeing what the Tome has to say about everything. I love the new car smell of a MMO, and since we’re all going to be level 40 eventually, why rush the first day?
Unfortunately, some people won’t have a choice but to rush and spoil a bit of the newness — here I’m talking about guilds. In LOTRO, I signed up with a large guild that was organized like a football team on Superbowl day to get in the game, kill fast to get the cash, and rush to a major city in order to form the guild proper. The poor officers couldn’t enjoy the luxury of first day madness because they had a Duty to perform. And even after the guild was formed, the rest of the day was spent signing up guildmate after guildmate until it was launch day plus two and the officers could finally, you know, play the game.
Since then, I’ve had the mindset that all MMOs should let guilds organize and form from the main menu, much like the character creation screen. There’s real excuse to make a handful of people jump through hoops and ruin their first day experience just trying to pull a guild together. I don’t know how it’ll be in WAR — it might be a lot easier than I think, but it’s still going to be major stress on tons of GMs and officers who want to solidify power and structure before spending any time on themselves.
As the day approaches, I’d encourage you to resist the urge to join the surging pack of speedy levelers, like the main mob of a marathon. Level 40 will be there, whether you hit it in a month or in a year, but your first day… man, it’s something you’ll always look back on wistfully and wish you could experience just one more time.