Late November 2004 has become a day no one that enjoys this genre will probably ever forget. At the time it didn’t really mean much to me, but i was so ignorant of what was about to happen. I was too busy finally hitting max level in FFXI and starting my journey in the end-game scene to really know what else was going on in the MMORPG world. To me there was only one game, that i endured for 8 long months to get to where i was. Then World of Warcraft decided to launch.
I had heard rumblings from gaming buddies and friends about a new MMO about to release based on an RTS. I had zero knowledge of this game and cared even less about it releasing. I was blind enough to assume no one else i played with would care either. Boy was i wrong on a monumental scale. Slowly but very obviously we started losing players left and right from my guild at the time. (I’ll stick to calling it a guild because i dislike the term Linkshell, even though i spent so much time in one). Players were disappearing for long stretches and many permanently to the world of Azeroth and i didn’t know a damn thing about the game. Then i saw the trailer.
I remember saying it didn’t look bad. I was more a fan of the eastern art style type games than the western so it didn’t do much for me honestly. It did pique my interest for sure, mostly due to all the buzz going around. Then i started seeing screenshots of the game. They looked nothing like the trailer in any sense. I actually thought the game looked terrible compared to what i was already playing and what i was used to. I was a bit of an art style and graphics snob back then. To tell you the truth, i’m still not infatuated with how the game looks but it’s never been about that. It took me a while to understand that gameplay trumps pixel density. I certainly didn’t care about that then.
However, that wasn’t the only aspect that i didn’t really care for. The biggest issue for me, coming from a forced grouping game, was the ability to solo level. This blew my mind and didn’t really compute in my simple mind. That went against everything i’d been doing since i started playing the genre. Now obviously this was probably the biggest factor to the games success but my group in FFXI thought it was a complete joke. We laughed every time someone brought the game up in chat. We called it “ez-mode” and “for kids”. The majority of this came from our insecurities and blind loyalty for what we were already playing. I’m sure that’s relatable to a point or at least understandable now.
It was the end of the world for many of my friends that invested so much time into something only to follow the crowd and start over in another game. I on the other hand was fine with it. I was happy where i was and didn’t see a point in playing something i knew nothing about, didn’t like how it looked, and seemed too easy compared to what i was playing. My idiotic point of view and stubbornness lasted all the way up until Pandaria. While i still have a fondness for a lot of old school mechanics, i try to at least play something before i pass judgement now. In the end i think everyone found what they were looking for at the time.