So It Began

Monday, October 13, 2008

My adventure in Middle-Earth started when I randomly came across the website for the now defunct Middle-Earth Online (or MEO). Aware of online gaming via my cousin (who was my partner in crime in getting me hooked on gaming) the opportunity to delve into the world of Middle-Earth on a grand scale had my blood pumping. Well, not really, but I was excited about the game.

I followed the updates religiously for some time, signed up for beta whenever that would happen, but at the same time the game itself came into trouble, I grew distracted by other games, and what was going on In Real Life™. I actually forgot the game even existed. That is, until August of 2006.

I opened my inbox one morning and found an e-mail inviting me to participate in the closed beta process of the now renamed Lord of the Rings Online. Lucky for me, Turbine had retained my beta application information despite all the turmoil the game had faced with it's drastic reimagining. So, when the moment came and the servers were open to me, I plunged myself into the world of Middle-Earth.

The beta experience was a whirlwind of excitement for me. To actually be able to step into Middle-Earth, a world I greatly enjoyed through Tolkien's books and the Peter Jackson movies, was a giddy experience. And addictive. When I found out after only a week of play that they'd have the servers closed for two weeks to move onto the next phase of beta, I started shaking in anticipation of the withdrawls. Not really, but I did very much want to return to the game.

I attribute my attachment to the game to two things. First, it was my first MMO. There's an intagible quality to one's first MMO (and other games for that matter) that places it at a special place in the gamer's heart, regardless of it's overall quality. Lucky for me, LOTRO is a very well built and designed game - so my special place is warm and fuzzy with quality. Secondly it was the IP. I'm a LOTR nut. Well, not as much of a nutter as those folks that read the books twice a year, and have studied the 12 volume History of Middle-Earth as much as a PhD canidate would his dissertation. However, my affection for the Lord of the Rings coupled with my ability to actually game there in an expansive way drew me in like a moth to my halogen floor lamp. I'm confident that LOTRO won't burn me up though. At least, not to the point of death (i.e. leaving the game).

At the time of my beta, there was only one starter area in the game, that of the race of men. But what an epic way to be initiated to the game. Sure, it used the cliche "you're a prisoner with nothing and you have to break out" concept, but from there, the boring cliche left. Right away I was introduced to some unwitty Hobbits - and surprise, surprise a Black Rider already! The whole experience was very cinematic (for a MMO) and sucked me in right away. Here I am, right in the middle of the world crashing down at the hands of Sauron. My little part of the LOTR world.

As my LOTRO gaming continued, the second seminal event for me was finding my current kinship (guilds in other games). It was by chance, when trying out a dwarf in a later stage of beta, that I grouped up with a member of Operation Arda Freedom. Funny story, actually. I was initially mistaken as the "heir" (or second in command) due to my name starting with the letter G. Apparently the real heir always made characters that started with G, and the leader was terribly confused. After about 20 minutes of sorting this out, I was a member of the kinship. But I think that event helped draw me into their community faster than I would have otherwise. So here I give a shout out to Dwudulin, the man who started it all by grouping with me, Grimbur for finding my theft of his identity quite humorous, and Elster for mistaking me for someone I was not. You three and the rest of the kin are a wonderful bunch of people to play with.

With that fond note, I will end this post before it becomes unwieldly. Happy adventuring.

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