[Note to my readers -- There's a lot of "gamer" jargon here, and I can't define all of it without going off on some very long, digressive tangents. I try not be purposely obscure -- It really is a whole 'nuther reality with its own language.]
Yesterday, I received my copy of The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar. I got to thinking -- this will be Laiane's fourth MMORPG incarnation, and her sixth gaming incarnation. EverQuest; TES III: Morrowind; EverQuest II; TES IV: Oblivion; Vanguard: Saga of Heroes; and now, Lord of the Rings. I've been Laiane, or she has been me, for 6 or 7 years. I think a history is in order.
My online gaming obsession started shortly after I met The Husband. We were still living in our respective apartments in Ann Arbor when he bought me a copy of EverQuest (and a copy for himself shortly thereafter). I went through a variety of characters. For a while, I thought I had found the "perfect" class for my play style -- the Necromancer -- and I harried the world of Norrath as the Dark Elven Aamaterasu Solreaver, who summoned the undead to do her evil bidding.
Then I went to see a movie.
[Insert foreshadowing-type music here]
It was the first of The Lord of the Rings movies directed by Peter Jackson. When the initial scene of the Last Battle of Elves and Men was on the screen, I started crying (I tell you, I cry at anything sometimes). Someone had finally gotten it right. Someone -- someone who obviously loved Middle Earth -- took the time to do the movie properly, the Way It Should Be Done. (1)
In any event, when I saw the character of Legolas Greenleaf, Archer of the Woodland Realm, I thought -- in addition to "that's a hunka burnin' Elf luv" -- I want a character who can do THAT. "THAT" being defined as uber l33t archery skillz.
There are those who love the tank classes, the knights in shining armor defending their party from the foe. There are those who love the role of the healers, the clerics/druids/shamans who are always welcome and needed in groups. (2) Other players are drawn to the fire-power of a wizard, the versatality of the bard, or the subtleness of an enchanter.
Photo courtesy of Meme Cats
Then there are those of us who want to kill stuff quickly, from a distance, and have it drop dead before it has a chance to get in one good whack of its own. Add some tracking, foraging, stealth movement, and serious close-combat DPS (3), and you've got yourself a Ranger.
When I created Laiane (4) , that long, long time ago, I didn't know I would love the Ranger class so much. She was just another character slot that I was experimenting with; but Laiane reached 55th level in EverQuest before I retired her, far surpassing Aamaterasu (who was abandoned somewhere in the mid-30's and, as far as I know, is still camped at the gnome pirate outpost on Velious, hunting snow cougars).
I was a Ranger when Rangers weren't cool. Rangers were the "paper tanks." We died a lot. There were a multitude of Ranger jokes about the ease with which we Took The Big Dirt Nap ("A Ranger walks into a bar... LOADING. PLEASE WAIT"). The people who played the class didn't play to become powerful characters, for the most part, but because we had an affinity for the Predator-Hunter archetype.
I'm disappointed that I can't find a screenshot of my EverQuest 1 Laiane. All I had were some forum signature blocks The Husband helped put together for me.
[Oh, yes, I remember the day when I really, truly made GrandMaster Fletcher (250), and got my trophy. /sigh]
I stopped with EverQuest 1 shortly after the Lost Dungeons of Norrath expansion. It was at that point when I realized that I couldn't progress much further in the game without devoting an extraordinary amount of time acquiring AA's (5) -- and when I realized you couldn't get a group without 100+ AA's to your name, and that if I wanted to progress I would HAVE TO group.
I have many opinions about enforced grouping, and none of them are good. For anyone who cares to make the utterly specious argument about "Why play a MMORPG if you don't care to group?" argument, I'll tell you right now that you're a moron. There are many players who love to interact in a large, dynamic, persistent online world with hundreds (if not thousands) of others, and not necessarily group, and we tend to be much smarter than the likes of you.
[To be continued at some point in the future. One game down, five to go!]
(1) Those of us of a certain age shudder to remember the animated Lord of The Rings film that came out in the late 1970's. Ralph Bakshi? It was like a combination nightmare of all the bad fantasy ever written and H. R. Pufnstuf.
(2) I'm having an EQ2 /guildchat flashback, from Crystalmind, "I'm a Libra with no one to heal!"
(3) DPS = Damage Per Second. Numerical shorthand for "How quickly you can kill the pixalated orc before it kills you."
(4) "Laiane" -- rhymes with "rain" -- is a variation of the name "Lain" from, of course, Serial Experiments: Lain. I find it amusing that the anime Lain exists in "The Wired," another name for the global (computer) communication network, aka "the Internet." There's a lot more philosophical, nature-of-reality, separation-or-lack-thereof between the Wired and Reality weirdness in the anime. Go read the Wiki article.
(5) Achievement points, I can't for the life of me recall exactly what AA stands for anymore, but it was an alternative leveling system IN ADDITION to regular leveling. You could put EXP into levels or AA's, and buy special abilities with your AA's. When I left EQ1, I had six, count 'em, SIX, AA's. In order to get to the magical 100+ level of AA's, I would have had to do EXP grinding groups every night for 6+ hours for a month or more. No. Thank. You.