Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Jaxom (Chapter 3)

Posted by Randolph Carter on April 20, 2009

MMO community connection:

The Middle-Earth Adventurer

Chapter 3: Online

Were you ever explosed to MUDs? If so, when and what was the experience like?

My MUD experience is only by association. That is, I knew people who played MUDs, and in one case were creating a MUD, and I learned about what they were by this, but I never participated in the playing of MUDs, barring some play testing for the aforementioned creators. It’s too bad they never finished the project actually as it was pretty fun.

What was your first MMO experience? When and what was the experience like?

My first MMO experience was getting invited to the beta for Lord of the Rings Online. At that time the testing was still in the alpha stages and the playtesting period I was invited to was one week long. And boy was that an awesome week. Being the first time I delved into an MMO, I was hooked immediately. I played as much as I could for that week and despite the bugs and little content that was in the game at that point, they had themselves a customer already. I think my attachment came two-fold. First, it’s one of the few RPGs I’ve played and the new and shiny aspect of that appealed to me. Secondly, it was Tolkien. I’m a huge Tolkien fan, especially coming out of the movies (I’m a book first person though). Two and two make infinity in this case.

I remember being enamored by a couple of specific things though. First was the opening instance which put you right in front of a Black Rider within a couple minutes of the opening gameplay. That was really cool. It put the story in front of the player from the start – and being an avid reader and aspiring writer, story is very important to me. Add in the fact that I was experience Middle-Earth in a new and interactive way, this first instance really left a strong impression. Second was the visuals. At that time my computer couln’t put out enough horsepower to have the graphics cranked up, but the beta didn’t have full graphic settings available anyway. However, what I did see was wonderful. In Tolkien’s world, the land is as much a character as the people running about it and having a game that can produce breathtaking visuals helps a great deal to sell the world. And I’m kinda an eyecandy nut too so…

List all the MMO’s you’ve played extensively:

I’ve only played LOTRO. So, first and only MMO.

Which MMOs have you spent the most time playing? How long is that?

LOTRO is of course the answer here, however I can elaborate on how long. I’ve been playing since my invitation to beta on August 28th 2006. So, that’s about two and a half years. In terms of hours, I’d say I’m somewhere close to 1000. That means I’m a fairly casual gamer when it comes to LOTRO. Primarily that’s because I’m also a lifetime member. There was a deal offered to the beta testers to become “Founders”. They had the option of bying a lifetime subscription for a one-time fee of $199. Of course, I have to buy the boxes for the retail releases of the game but there’s no monthly fee for me. That puts less pressure on me to feel like I need to play and get my money’s worth. Instead, I feel no pressure to play except for keeping up with my in-game friends as well as getting new content for my blog.

Have you reached level cap in your MMO?

Yes I have. Currently that’s level 60, after the Mines of Moria expansion. I only have one character at the cap since I’m not someone who plays with alts very often, if at all. I do happen to have characters sitting around from my little dabbling with other classes but they’re all less than level 15. No, my Captain receives most if not all of my attention.

Are there any MMOs currently in development that you are particularly interested in? Please explain why.

There are a couple that I’d like to mention. Since I’m playing LOTRO, any future MMO I play in addition to LOTRO will not be anything like LOTRO if I can help it. That means I will probably never venture into Everquest (1 or 2), Age of Conan, Warhammer Online, World of WarCraft, etc. What does strike my fancy at the moment is Jumpgate Evolution and StarTrek online, for somewhat different reasions. The former peaks my interest because I was a big fan of the Freelancer game. I came late to the space sim/flight genre – unfortunately bypassing WingCommander, so I can’t say I’m an avid fan of this type of game but it is different from many other games I play and I like a little variety. I also never played the original Jumpgate so I’m coming at this new with very little expectations and knowledge about the game. I’ll trial this game first and see how I like it since I’m not in the beta (if the beta is even going at the moment) and it will require a montly sub. StarTrek interests me because I’m a big StarTrek fan. This one I’m more weary about because they have to get it absolutely right. Moreso than LOTRO in my opinion. I’ve let a lot of things slide in LOTRO that don’t feel exactly true to the spirit of the IP, but with StarTrek, it’s something very specific in tone, quality, activity, story, etc. In other words, there’s not a lot of margin for error in my book – meaning it will absolutely be a trial first and they could do a lot more things to screw it up than get it right. Still, I’m watching both these games.

Feel free to share an interesting or amusing anecdote related to your MMO gaming experience.

The one that comes to mind is a bit amusing, but very dear to my heart. It’s how I came to be in my current kinship (guild) in LOTRO. It was a mistake, actually. During beta I decided to play a dwarf Champion for one of the phases and while questing I got asked if I wanted to group for some of the content I was working on. Sure, why not. It’s an MMO after all, I should be sociable. So I did group. And both members were great people to play with and they seemed to think the same of me. One of them asked if I’d like to join their kinship. This was new territory for me. Being my first MMO I’d never involved myself in a kinship before (although I do have online friends from other ventures previous). Why not, they seem nice enough. If I don’t like it, I can always leave.

Well, the kinleader invited me, then proceeded to promote me to hier (which is basically second in command of the kinship). Okay… that was wierd, but whatever, there are strange people out there. Perhaps these guys are just a bit quirky. Turns out because my character name started with a G, our kinleader automatically assumed I was the hier, who happens to always name his characters with a G. He hadn’t yet logged into that session of the beta and wasn’t in the kin yet. After some odd questions the misunderstanding finally sorted itself out. I was no longer heir, but I now had an immediate connection to everybody who was online at that time. And I’ve never left. They’re a great group of people to play with and I’m blessed to have been mistaken for someone I wasn’t.

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