Following Tan's post from... awhile ago, which I kept on wanting to comment on... here's my venture through MMOs. What I liked about each one, what I didn't like.
Vanilla WoW: This was my first MMO and my first big venture into Online gaming. Prior, I had played a few FPS'es that had multiplayer. I really felt myself building my character. I spent 12 hour sessions just running around with a person I ran into, trying to find other players to fight. One of those turned into an invite to my first guild, which really opened my eyes to cooperative gaming. We were all in it together. Making our way to level 60, giving eachother items, gold, whatever to make ourselves all better. We spent months working on getting ourselves gear so we could finally enter a raid. Although I quickly jumped to a different server once they entered their first raid, I found an even better group of players to progress with. The raids were more difficult. The rewards were better. I found a group of about 60 people that I truly enjoyed spending my nights with, even if there was more drama than a high school girl's group. When 1.12 hit, it destroyed this world. It showed how easily our 'friendships' could be destroyed. Those people that just wanted loot moved over to PVP, while it left the core raid group in shambles. Progression ceased.
WoW: TBC: Due to other life commitments (mostly moving far away from work so I couldn't stay up late), I dove into PVP with Obscurity. A whole new world opened up. Competitive online gaming. Many nights were spent killing each other to learn twitch commands. TBC was when I got into 'spreadsheet' gaming. Min/maxing everything to try and pump out more damage without sacrificing defense. I quit playing WoW for towards the end of this expansion, only ever picking it up again for a few months at a time.
WoW: WotLK: This was the first time I played with people I actually knew in real life. Mike and his (now) wife picked it up and we played together. It was fun, but with how simplistic the 'end game' got, it wasn't nearly as fun. And when I say 'end game' I simply mean, you could get gear that was within 10% of the hardest of hard players by barely playing the game at all. I feel blizzard messed up balancing this. I didn't see the point in spending countless hours behind the keyboard to do an extra 10% damage. This was the last expansion I played for more than a month. Therefore, I can't really comment on the rest.
LotRO: Still my all time favorite gaming experience. Pip showed me around that one night, and I was simply in awe. It was the first 'realistic' MMO I played and is still absolutely stunning. I thoroughly enjoyed the classes.... I still mantain that (at least vanilla LotRO) had the best character selection in any MMO I've played. I loved how laid back that game was. There was no hard core grinding. I literally spent weeks cooking food and farming. The combat was engaging. I think my routine attack sequence with my thief was at least 10 DIFFERENT attacks, each building on the last. Player housing was amazing, even if it eventually meant neighbors were no longer there. The bad: The auction house was completely broke. I was turning 10G an hour just sitting at the AH. Why? Because the interface was so piss poor, that people couldn't navigate it easily. While that was great for me, it was always a huge annoyance. When it went to F2P, I couldn't stand the game anymore. Paywalls were everywhere. Every time I moved, it prompted me for some cash.
WARHAMMER: This was a good game. The PVP was excellent. But that's all there was. Open world questing, while there, was worthless for leveling. Win one game of PVP, that's a few hours of leveling in the open world. The player base also fell sharply, leaving nobody to play against. And when people realized how easily leveling was in PVP, they all rushed there and then you got afk'ers in every damned game.
Age of Conan: Tan brought me into this game. I never really got into it. The game was too jittery, there were never enough people on to make it engaging, and there was far too much text.
EVE: What a great game! I've gone back to it four times now, each time I get completely caught up in it. Everything about it is fantastic. EXCEPT that you can use real life cash to get in game isk. Similarly, you can use in game isk to get game time. This completely ruins it for me... as it always just comes down to me grinding to get enough isk to pay my monthly fee.... so I can just grind some more.
At this point in time, I think I am done with MMOs. I don't have the time to spend grinding anymore. And thats really what most of these games came down to. Grinding so you can grind more. I've lost the 'fun' in MMOs. I still have LotRO installed and will jump back into that every once in awhile, but that damned paywall is just too ever-present. And with me being such a high level, most players won't stick around for that long. Oh well.