Okay, so I may have popped my MMO cherry on Ultima Online (and the less people that imagine me in that position the better) but I can honestly say I'm now full time on World of Warcraft. Yes, it's four years after the game has launched that I've joined in, but why would I do such a thing?
I think your first MMO is where the heart is. UO was fantastic for what it represents. A total 'world' before Second Life; you have houses, junk, knickknacks and personality roleplay, where because you can see all around you and 'the world seems wide' you can play at telling stories. That's where I think UO's early success was; it was a complete board for people to be able to interact and tell stories, while playing the game. Quite honestly for me, I was never very good at the game. Oh, I could check an energy bolt around as Muldran, and could work out puzzles with the rest of them - but play the actual game? Oh no, I much preferred the story telling, interacting with people, and collecting books for my library.
Playing as an EM - helping write stories, direct events, and be 'part of the lore' - was fantastic for me. I could involve people with bigger things; show more of what's going on, and try to encourage people to 'play the game the way I did'. Oh yes, I ran the occasional PvP event, and dived into Felucca, but I was never very comfortable there. Should I have been? No, because myself and other players like me weren't. But hell, I tried my best in play styles I was unfamiliar with to have a go, and see what we could do. And I think, on the whole, people enjoyed it. After the EM part ended for me, I began to lose interest - not because of my lack of powers, but because I think I'd gone as far as I could with UO; I'd played along with the story, I'd *run* the story , and that was that.
Recent Live Events that are bringing the Ultima Lore back in are fine; they're the type of things I love. There's STORY in the game again - it's just a shame that a lot of people who enjoyed story-play have moved on. I have the Muldran account still, and the old mage wanders in and out to look in on things, but I can't *play* there any more, which is a great pity. I'll definitely turn up and listen in with the EM events - I like interacting with people! - but I think that's as far as I can go now; apart from sorting out the Library books of course!
So - why WoW? Well, I needed a game to play with a friend who moved to America; we both play on the EU servers, since he isn't a twitch player. It's a great way to 'keep up' and still do things. We tried with Guild Wars, but it lacked something. And what WoW has is what UO is only now getting - story based quests. Or is that quest based stories?
When I play things, I want to be intrigued. I want to find out 'more', I want to see what's going on behind the scenes, why the world is the way it is - and what's more, what can I do to shape this. (Yes, even if it's been shaped by 11 million others who have been playing longer than me, but hey!) WoW's story chains and quest chains are a great way to dip in to stories, and find out more about the World. With UO, people had to make it happen, and with the lack of people, less of it was going on.
That's something I don't see in WoW - even on an 'RP' server, I don't see people just 'letting stories happen' around them like they did in UO. In UO, you could wander into Trinsic, stand by the guards there, and start talking, and people would join in. In WoW, the only time I've seen that happen in the six months or so I've been playing is during the zombie invasion; when people tried to help out at the Cathedral.
Is it because people have moved on in the game again? Have I missed the story players? I'm not missing that at the moment, as my friend and I are enjoying finding each new place, new quest, new story. And yes, with the two of us, I doubt we're going to be raiding any time soon (we've created a guild 'for our own use' rather than to have people in it. Hey, we need somewhere to store all this stuff!)
Although in the last two weeks, I've been able to persuade my partner to play - and he's actually started enjoying it (and the recruit-a-friend XP bonus means that the alts that my friend and I have will help bring him up to our mains - so we can all play our ideal set of characters at a higher level.)
Wowed as a progression through MMOs - a bit odd, I know, but I'm here now!