Houston… we are “Go” for launch!September 9, 2008
Or not, depending on whether you’re talking to a fanboy, a beta enthusiast, a critic, a veteran, a dev, or a manatee. Sea cows can be highly suspicious of launches of all type.
Many of the eager, jouncing legs that you envision out there in internet-land come from people absolutely eager to see WAR launch once and for all. There’s a certain level of expectation from MMO veterans as to how the initial days and weeks will progress, hence a lot of the excitement and anticipation. It’s all about how the community forms in those first weeks of the game, the thrill of the (relatively) unknown, the joy of exploration, and the feeling of “newness” that all too quickly fades away.
For some, this is a quick and expensive fix that they’ll feed off of for a short time, pronounce themselves unsatisfied when it goes away, and move on. For others, it’s just another benefit of being in on the ground floor at the start of a MMO.
It’s hard to explain that unique feeling you get those first few days in a launched MMO (and no, beta doesn’t quite count). The world is virgin soil before you. The economy is free of scammers and farmers, and has an opportunity for you to make your virtual fortune. It’s a lot like the first day of school or college or any event where you take people from all walks and throw them into a new situation — there’s a lot of quick bonding that happens because we all share something in common (being new to the game). For some, it’s the eagerness to make a name for themselves by being “first” to accomplish one of the many great deeds that will become copied and an old hat a year from now. For others, it’s a chance to start over and experience a MMO “right” this time — maybe actually reading the quest text, for once, or dedicating yourself to a role that you never previously filled.
It’s a great time that witnesses players who are openly communicative and friendly with others, where game in-jokes have yet to become cliche, where you’re running alongside of a huge pack — probably the biggest side-by-side journey you’ll make with that many players ever in the game — just gleeful to be playing at all. Number crunchers, min/maxers, theorycrafters, and elitist attitudes are kept to a minimum, because even the most experienced beta tester has a lot to learn from this official venture into the game world.
Everyone wants to learn it all, experience it all, drink in it all. You feel as though you’re pulled in a hundred different directions at once, not knowing the most efficient leveling path and not really caring either. You’ll ooh and ahh over the graphics, excitedly share discoveries in guild chat, and rejoice over trivial accomplishments (woohoo, guild rank 2!).
Yeah, it goes away after a while. You’ll see echoes of it again, in the attitudes of brand-new players down the road, or a fresh server opened up for settling. Yet nothing can quite compare, and once you’ve been down that road, you understand why so many people recall that time with warm fondness and wish to return, once more, to the untouched snow beyond the doors of the wardrobe.
I, for one, cannot wait.