Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Gamer Cred - MMOs

As promised, here's a little look a bit deeper into my MMO gaming history. Starting around 2001 I got into the MMO Scene a little bit late, considering Ultima and Everquest had already struck oil pretty big and made a name for the genra. At the time I was too young to have money for the subscription fees, so I stuck mostly to console gaming an non-subbed multiplayer games online. My favorite around pre-MMO game of the time was easily the Diablo series when I wasn't glued to a console. I was still playing it pretty heavily around 2001 when Dark Age of Camelot launched, though I was getting a little bit more into the big-boy games and subscription fees.

When I realized I found more joy spending money earned on a months worth of gaming for the price of a nights worth of pizza, I started subbing to games regularly. Dark Age being my first and easily one of the most unique and engaging PvP experiences in any game, even to this day. Dark Age of Camelot stole my attention for a good couple of years and was fun each step of the way. Having dabbled a little bit in other MMO titles, and backtracking into EQ and UO to see what they were about, but DAoC was the mainstay of mine until "the next big thing" came out. The next big thing for me, being Star Wars Galaxies. Combining my love of the Star Wars universe and a singular character development sandbox experience (meaning you only got 1 character per server, so the name you made for yourself stuck unless you rerolled - or unless you unlocked a Jedi slot which enabled you to have a secondary force sensitive character on that server), this game had me hooked to say the least. I spent countless hours every day grinding new character builds and exploring the world of SW:Galaxies. I'll end up posting more about my love of this game and how it tied into landing a job working for Mythic Entertainment at a later point, lets get back to my other game credentials.

I played Galaxies until it breathed it's last breath in 2011, but had side MMOs as they launched during it's life span. World of Warcraft was among them, which at the time didn't impress me during it's vanilla days. I quickly realized that the MMO genra was just something that I clicked with. I ate up everything I could get my hands on that was considered an MMO. I played everything that I could find that had a new theme, perspective, or game feature. Does it have player housing? PvP Focus? Sandbox or Theme Park? Medieval, Modern, or Futuristic? It didn't matter. If it was something different, and a massive multiplayer I wanted to be a part of it from ground zero. I played everything from Lineage to Dungeons and Dragons Online, Warhammer:Online to STO, EVE Online to Lord of the Rings Online. I've played most current MMOs to date even if only for a month or two. Tera, Rift, Aion, Guild Wars (which some debate is an MMO or not).  Hell, I even played The Matrix Online in addition to Age of Conan as well as Tabula Rasa. My theme was, simple: Is it different then what i'm currently playing? Does it have a feature or focus I've not seen before? If the answer was yes, I was there. 

Along the path I paved, others started to notice that "MMO's are kind of his thing", and some opportunities started to arise that let me work more closely with them. From a very obscured and quite frankly, dumbass lucky opportunity, I was able to get my foot in the door of the then Mythic Entertainment working as a lowly In Game Support for Dark Age of Camelot - See how we come full circle? I worked there for many years, and was in the CSR Pit (what we referred to the customer support area as), when EA decided they wanted to gobble up the company's next big project. The project being Warhammer Online. Around this time alot of changes had been made to the way we operated there at work. Being absorbed by a Goliath such as Electronic Arts, of course there were changes to be had around ye-olde-Mythic Studios. More responsibilities to the CSR Pit, such as learning Ultima Online as well as Warhammer Online at the same time, while still supporting Dark Age's clientele. Supporting three games isn't bad, and that's not my complaint at all. It's that we were given little to no time to do so, and when going back in time to Ultima Online, having minimal staff to learn the archaic tools used to support the game, as well as the new modernized systems of WAR, it was just a lot of information to absorb with a very high standard of expectations set. I digress. So I worked to support customers, in title, but ended up doing QA work and some developmental things along the way during my tenure in the company. 

Fast-Forward to Warahammer Online tanking pretty hard and the inevitable downsizing that came along with a floundering game. This left me without a job, and bitter to game companies themselves, but nevertheless passionate about MMOs. On the horizon I heard that Bioware (one of my favorite companies at the time) had pulled the trigger on a project I had been following for years prior. Star Wars: The Old Republic promised to fill the gaping hole in my soul that Star Wars Galaxies had set so many years before. Elated by another Star Wars title hitting the MMO scene, I was chomping at the bit to have a taste of the new lightsaber laden game world. When it released I played it avidly for years until it unfortunately tapered off due to lack of endgame content and falling short on promises made. It started losing subscribers at which point I decided that since there were a lot of really great things happening over at Blizzard instead, I would return to the one true champion of the gaming industry and throw my dollars towards their screens. This is where i'm parked today - Blizzard fan-boy and MMO aficionado. 

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