I’ve been playing games since I was really young. I think what started me liking roleplaying games was the game “Adventure” from the Atari. I moved on eventually to the NES with games like Zelda, Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior. Needless to say I was hooked.
There was something else that hooked me even more so than those though. Back in 1994-1995 when I first started exploring the wonders of the Internet, I would scour for games to play. I think I was getting tired of the “Chat Room’s” so I set off looking for something new. What I found was a bit of a surprise to me.
I remember when my dad got his first PC back in the 80’s, it had a monochrome monitor. The monitor had like a ton of different shades of green. Needless to say it was not pretty, but we loved it because it was something new and for its time it was top of the line. One of the things I remember most about that time though is the game Zork. This was a game that was text based, everything was controlled by what you type in. This game is what really fed my intrigue for was I was about to find.
What I found was a Text based game where there were a ton of people playing all at once. This was completely new to me and I loved it! I Came to find that these were called MUD’s or Multi User Dungeons. I remember the random stats generator where you would sit there for an hour just re-rolling your character over and over till you got some really nice stats. There were even people who made programs that would sit there and do it for you.
The games were not just text, if you got the right viewer it would show your health and mana as well as let you bind keys to do certain things. Most of the time I would not even read the text I would just follow the direction on the compass with the number pad controlling the direction in which I walk. I set it up to where if there was an enemy in the room it would come up as red text, or if there was someone that I knew I set it up where their name came up in what ever color I wanted.
What I really loved about a particular game that I used to play (Gemstone III) though is that it was most beneficial to sit in these certain area’s called Nodes. Inside of these nodes you gained experience, health and mana faster. You see you didn’t outright just gain experience with this game. You would fill a meeter which they called your mind and over time it drained and as it went down you gained exp. This was brilliant because It gave you time to roleplay while your gaining experience.
Between those hunts while waiting in the nodes could be either quick or slow depending on your play style. For me if I wanted to Power level. I would go out and fight till my mind was full then rest just long enough to get all of my mana back then rush out again till my mind was full again. This was the quicker way to level because the higher your mind was the more exp you received while resting. When your mind was in the lower stages or near empty you would get less and less experience. A lot of the time though I would let my mind drain till it was about half full and chat with the other people in the node. This lead to some really fun roleplaying.
As far as how many people were playing? I saw at one time in the height of the games popularity up to 2500 people on at once. There are still people playing the game and its been upgraded to Gemstone IV now. There’s been a ton of changes but I’ll always remember it as Gemstone III and for the ton of fun I had playing it.
I have to say that I miss roleplaying with others and wish that there were more ways to roleplay in MMO’s today. In City of Heroes/Villains there’s a place where you can write up a whole bio for your characters. Recently with some of the changes, people would rather power level while farming certain areas instead of going through the story.
New games need to put more emotes into the game. Maybe they could even hide the emotes in items as well so that people can use the cape they are wearing in a conversation. It could be simple things like taking a hat off and scratching your head. Or even adjusting your hat and brushing off your clothes just before or after going into a duel. It would make finding that special item with a special emote even more satisfying to the players.
I think if developers focus on the player interaction just a bit more, we’ll all have a much better gaming experience.
[tags]Gemstone III, Gemstone IV, GS3, GS4, MMO, MMORPG, roleplaying[/tags]