This short post is about starting areas in MMOs. When you create a new character in, say, World of Warcraft, where do you begin? How much of the world is available to you, and how soon?
Here’s the author Keen’s ideal starting situation — one that apparently goes against the grain of modern MMO design:
Players start hours apart, and in areas of the world so different from each other that the social mechanisms are different. I remember seeing people say, “We do things differently in this part of the world.” Someone hunting in Crushbone might be used to players behaving differently than those in Blackburrow. Even the experiences are totally unique; players on one side of the world might have a dungeon crawl deep into the depths of a vast cavern network, and players on the other side fight camps of orcs in a forest. The unique experience matters because people can swap stories.
Because people can swap stories! That’s so great, and so important. I don’t know exactly how this applies to domains beyond MMOs, but I’m quite sure that it does.