Recently I've been considering different ways of refreshing my gaming experience. After all, I've played for 15 years now, and although different games and different players have brought me varied experiences, eventually one settles into a rut and it can be a rough trend to buck. Gamegrene has a stable of writers who form a strong community to support the hobby, luckily. And for my part, I would like to add an experience with a (sort of) new and long-awaited aspect of our favorite pastime.

Square Enix's FINAL FANTASY XI (FFXI) is the first massively multiplayer online role playing game I actually sat down to "play" as opposed to merely "dabble in". After spending 120+ hours of playing since the release of the PS2 version, I'm seriously weighing whether to cancel my account, for a number of factors described herein. The biggest issue seems to be the "massively multiplayer role playing" part.

What is the last great CRPG? Three names come to mind for this gamer: Fallout 1&2, Planescape Torment, and Baldur's Gate 2; the latest of these three being BG2. After thinking long and hard, I cannot think of a single CRPG to top those 3 (Or 4, if you're counting.) Why is that?

While gamers have been rolling dice in basements and bedrooms for well over twenty years now, on a relative scale, online role-playing is still many years behind. MUDs and other text based role-playing options began the internet phenomena which has branched out into full fledged 3D games that have years of planning and thousands (sometimes millions) of dollars invested.

From memory, it all started with Quakeworld. Online gamers, previously at best able to pick a colour and nick name to signify their character, suddenly became able to download or create their own skins. Online gaming was revolutionised, you could proudly display your personality clearly for all to see.

I decided to devote this column to showing you all what I do in a typical night of EverQuest. When I sit at the computer to play some EQ, I have 3 roommates periodically peering over my shoulder saying, "What the hell do you do in this game!? You just run around and kill things?!" Well boys and girls, read this column and I'll tell you what I do. Pay attention, take notes.

Throughout the last decade I have owned just about every game system out there. Everything from the Sega genesis to the Dreamcast to the Playstation to the N64 has been attached to my television at one point or another.

What has happened to my attention span? When I was 5, I had a Nintendo Entertainment System with a handful of games and those same games could keep me busy for months, maybe even years. I could sit down, pop in Super Mario Bros. and play it over and over again, all day long. At the end of the day my eyes were burning, my head hurt and my thumb felt like it was going to fall off. What a blast... I miss it.

Why did I just buy that game? I sat up in bed one night, thinking: what is it that makes you squeal each time your character dies in a game? What is it that manages to make your heart pump like a Formula-1 turbocharger, and your palms sweat like cheese in the sun? What makes a game captivating? It sounds easy, but it certainly isn't an easy answer.

My first computer was an Atari 600XL. It had a keyboard, a cartridge slot, and two joysticks. Really basic joysticks - you know the ones, with the rubbery stick, and the big red button. All you could do was move, and fire. My brother Garth and I had two games: Galaxian and Ms. Pac-Man. I loved Ms. Pac-Man. I played it for hours. But I digress.

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