HoC’s Gaming History

The Early Years

I’ve loved computer games ever since I first slipped a ‘ZX81 Super Programs’ tape into a cassette deck, adjusted the azimuth knob and loaded up ‘Train Race’. I’ve owned pretty much every personal computer and games console at one time or another over the years and still jealously hang onto an Atari Lynx , an Atari STFM and Commodore Amiga A500.
After buying countless arcade, racing and sports games and feeling somewhat unfulfilled, it became apparent that my true passion was for the RPG and fantasy genre. I’ve played too many to name here, but suffice to say, just thinking about Dungeon Master and Baldur’s Gate makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. However, the problem remained that they were all rather lonely and singular experiences and even with the advent of IP/LAN multiplayer modes in games, RPG’s still weren’t really cutting it.
What I didn’t know at the time was that what I really wanted was the MMORPG.

What’s Gone Before

My rite of passage into the world of the MMO was the Korean offering Myth of Soma. I stumbled across the game on Game Network while channel-flicking and was intrigued by the notion of hundreds, if not thousands, of players communicating and sharing quests. After signing up, little did I realise that there would be hard lessons to be learnt online. Being the victim of campers and griefers became an almost daily affair and I spent several weeks fumbling around trying to figure out how online gaming of this type actually worked. It was during one of my more naive moments that I was ‘seduced’ into joining what was to become one of Soma’s finest guilds – The Trelawneys.
The Guild advocated fair play and championed family-friendly values. They properly introduced me to online role-playing, group questing and character development. Guild hunts and events were regularly organised and playing Soma became as much a social pastime for me as a gaming one. I considered it both a privilege and an honour to eventually be invited to take on the role of a guild officer and to be able to design, set up and administrate the guild website. It has to be said, that the I spent time playing Soma has left me with some of my fondest MMO memories and rates as perhaps one of the most enjoyable years of my life.
After the demise of Soma, my involvement with MMO’s went into hibernation for a while until a friend told me about a new game he was playing called Guild Wars. It just so happened that the game had recently finished it’s beta and was newly released to market, so I was about to get into an MMO from it’s infancy stage, something I came to appreciate. Compared to the quasi-isometric, sprite-based Soma, Guild Wars was something else. Lush, expansive and vibrant landscapes, a compelling backstory and fast-paced gameplay – all in beautiful and frame rate friendly 3D. For me, the future of fantasy and RPG gaming had finally arrived. The next two and a half years would prove to be my coming of age with regard to grouping, raiding, PvP, roleplaying and strategical play. Regular, streamed updates and no subscription fees were definite advantages over contemporary MMO’s and this kept me avidly playing through the original campaign and its further three expansions. Guild Wars also rewarded me with my foremost MMO achievement to date, when in December 2005 I was selected for an Honorable Mention in ArenaNet’s Design-a-Weapon Contest. I had the heart-warming pleasure of seeing my entry turned into in-game item, ‘The Ungues of the Oni’, for inclusion in the then upcoming expansion ‘Factions’.

Present Day

Wind on a couple of years and that brings us somewhat up to date. After I outgrew the world of Tyria, my attention turned back to a childhood passion of mine – the world of Middle-earth. I had been an avid reader of Tolkien’s works from quite an early age and had watched the 1978 Ralph Bakshi movie adaption more times than I care to remember. However, due to my involvement with Guild Wars, I had missed the release of Turbine’s Lord of the Rings Online and so was a latecomer to the game, signing up about a year after release. It’s now my current and main MMO and no doubt will be for some time to come. It’s also going to be the primary subject of my blog posts, so I’ll say little about it here and let my thoughts about it unfold as I experience it.