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Remember Your First F2P Game On #NationalVideoGamesDay

Today is National Video Games Day. It’s also National Chocolate Milkshake Day, National Boss/Employee Exchange Day, and National Day of Encouragement. So sit down to have a milkshake with your boss and let him or her know how great everything’s going with the company.

For my part in National Video Games Day, I recalled and tweeted about my first “hyped” video game, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link for the NES. It came out in the US nearly two years after its Japanese release, and all the previews and teasers in Nintendo Power and its predecessor, the Nintendo Fun Club News, drove me mad with anticipation. The original Legend of Zelda was an iconic game that was unlike anything else before it, and I knew the sequel would be even better. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t, but it was good enough for 14-year-old me, who I think got it as a Christmas or birthday (in January) present, just to add to that feeling of awesome that always comes with a new game.

That got me thinking about something a little more appropriate for this site: my first free-to-play game. For me, that would have to be MapleStory and, as with many things F2P, it ended in frustration and disappointment.

It was early 2007, and I was in the mood for something resembling an online game. Since leaving City of Heroes two years ago, I’d resubbed on occasion but it never stuck with me again. I’d heard of “free” games and knew they’d be limited — nothing on par with CoH — but thought it might be fun to derp around for a little bit and see what I could do. MapleStory was a pretty well-known title, even back then, so I decided to give it a whirl. It was about what I expected: fun, to a degree, but limited. Still, I played around with it for a couple weeks, happy enough to be in an online world, even if I did stay pretty much to myself.

It’s been nine years, so I really don’t remember too many specifics about the gameplay, but I do remember why I quit. After a difficult battle, my character was at low health. Rather than wait to see it restored, I decided to log off, figuring I’d be back at full health when I checked in after a day or two. Only that wasn’t the case. My character’s health was right where I’d left it, and I’d have to wait to refill it, sitting in game to watch it regenerate… very… slowly… Or, I suppose, i could have bought something on the cash shop, but I’m not sure I ever even looked at it.

Well, I had better things to do with my time than sit and wait for that. At least, I presume I did. I quit MapleStory and never went back. Fortunately, it was just a few days later that the beta for The Lord of the Rings Online started. I jumped immediately into that and spent several years in the game, thus fulfilling my need for limited socialization through video games.