I love RPGs. Just to give you some idea of my tastes in the genre, I’m a massive fan of japanese RPG epics like Xenogears, Secret of Mana and Final Fantasy VII – as well as PC RPGS such as Planescape: Torment, Fallout and Knights of the Old Republic. But I know virtually nothing about the modern MMORPG. I have friends that are huge fans of MMOs but I haven’t ever given them a solid try, based on heresay that the experience is excessively grindy, shallow and dull. I shouldn’t say never - I actually very briefly beta-tested the first Everquest. But I had basically no clue what was going on, and no manual or help was available at that time. This combined with the fact I was running a pretty unreliable dial-up connection contributed to the Everquest beta CD (yes, they actually sent out beta disks! Seems insane now doesn’t it?) getting tossed in with all the AOL CDs in the trash.
The truth is that MMOs aren’t going away. Since Everquest, they’ve exploded in popularity all over the world. The most popular example of the genre, Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, boasts about 10 million monthly subscribers! Its hard to really put that number in perspective – that’s 1/3rd the population of Canada! What makes this experience so compelling, that so many gamers feel the need to keep coming back (and paying!) month after month? Is WoW a perfectly engineered addictive substance? Or just a damn fun game that happens to be incredibly deep? Well, my curiosity has gotten the better of me and I’m about to find out.
Blizzard really wants you to try World of Warcraft. The trouble is that many new MMOs are actually free (with micro-transactions of course!) and its tough to compete with that. Well, now World of Warcraft is free to try for as long as you like with the Starter Edition. The catch? Well, there are several details that are mostly meaningless to me, but there is no trial or demo time limit. The important limit in the Starter Edition is instead on your character’s level – which cannot exceed level 20. Once you get to that point you can keep playing, but you will no longer earn XP. This is where I fit in. Over the next while I will begin my adventures in WoW using the starter edition, up until the level cap of 20. And during this period I’ll be writing a diary of my progress right here as well. My good friend Dan, and resident WoW expert, will be assisting me in getting my bearings in this strange new world of Azeroth.
The goal for WoW Me is twofold: First I’d like to figure out what accounts for WoW’s perpetual popularity; next, I’d like to test myself Super Size Me-style. By the time I reach the level cap of 20, will I be hopelessly addicted? Bored? Mildly interested? The possibilities are endless! I’d like to invite you to join me on this epic journey into MMORPG-ness – one man’s quest to discover the secret behind the most lucrative videogame ever made.Tags: blizzard, mmo, world of warcraft, wow me