I was one of the lucky ones, I knew somebody that worked for the company, and so I was allowed to play the Game when the servers first came up.
If you weren't one of the lucky ones, all you could do was wait and watch the game play out in Observer Mode, and you'd be forced to follow the luckier folks around in the game, well, as long as they didn't turn their privacy flag on, but hardly anybody ever did that.
There was no character creation process, there was nothing that allowed a player to select male or female or choose a name or race or class or modify a character's appearance or change his attributes or anything, the game just randomly selected whatever it wanted (I guess, I mean, who knows, really) and then started without asking me anything.
My character was an ugly little hairy caveman-looking guy, sleeping in some leaves that had been piled against the roots of a giant tree on a forest floor.
He didn't have any inventory or a newbie sword or anything, he was buck-nekkid aside from a lot of hair and mud, the interface didn't even have any slots for special moves or anything, there was just this button telling me that my stupid little caveman was Starving, and when I clicked on it, a window popped up with all these nutritional statistics and health monitoring stuff with really low scores, I could tell that some of them were tied together and influenced other ones, like his Immune System, but it seemed super complicated and there weren't any other buttons to play with so I just shut the thing.
Okay, so I need to get this guy some food.
I looked around, moving the caveman was easy, it was pretty much the same ole WASD shit, the mouse controlled which way his head turned, I had to spin him around to see if anything was sneaking up behind him and stuff, and there didn't seem to be any way to separate the camera and see my toon from the front, but it wasn't much different from twenty million other games, aside from that.
And who really wants to see a naked caveman from the front, anyways heh.
So I started looking around and clicking on crap, and of course my caveman did a bunch of stupid stuff, gathering up leaves and twigs and moving them around and dumping them into little piles, but eventually he over-turned a rock and started munching on some bugs and worms or something, I couldn't really see what it was, but the nutritional-meter started to tick up a little as his digestive system began processing the food he had found.
The Starving Button changed to Extremely Hungry.
I'll be honest, at this point, I was starting to think about turning my computer off and watching some TV, and I had an angry little flash about wasting my money on this stupid caveman bug-eating game that made me want to quit out and write a nasty Review of the Newbie Yard, but I'd already made a big jokey thing on the internet about doing Newbie Yard Reviews so I hung in there a bit longer than I prolly would've otherwise.
Okay, I'm not gonna sit here and watch this caveman turn over rocks and eat bugs until he fills up his gasoline tank, there's gotta be something better to do.
So I started wandering around and exploring and totally ignoring the I'm So Goddam Hungry Meter, 'cause I really didn't give a shit if my stupid caveman died.
The forest was pretty and stuff, the game had nice graphics and sound, the leaves in the tops of the trees swayed in the wind high above, while the stuff on the forest floor was pretty quiet and still, I saw colorful birds twisting up through the branches of a tree, chasing each other, and one time I saw a deer just before it spotted my caveman and took off like a rocket into the underbrush.
Too bad, man, I'm sure my caveman woulda really dug a deer-burger or two, but there was no way he coulda caught that thing.
I found a ton of berries to eat where the deer took off from, though, and the I'm So Damn Hungry Meter went from Starving (it had gone back from Extremely Hungry to Starving while I was wandering around) all the way down to Got the Munchies.
But now a new button had appeared, and it said... Drowsy.
And as if to compliment the torture, my stupid little dirty caveman took a deep breath and sighed.
I almost punched the screen, I mean, shit man, don't tell me I gotta watch the hairy ape man sleep now!
Luckily enough for my monitor, another player's caveman suddenly appeared on my screen and instantly began to attack my caveman with his fists.
No newb to pvp, I started clicking like mad and making my caveman fight back, instead of wasting my time trying to figger out how to use the chatbox.
This guy wasn't gonna get his dirty little caveman-newb hands on my berry bush, man!
The cavemen did all the fighting by themselves, it was pretty damn pathetic, they tore each other's chest-hair out and bit each other on the arms and legs and rolled around on the ground wrestling each other.
There were all these gross crunching noises as bones and fingers broke and stuff, and a new button had popped up on my screen with information on my caveman's injuries, but I was too busy watching the gory graphics to waste my time with that, I wanted to see if the game would actually show broken arms and blood and stuff, and it did.
Eventually the other guy's caveman quit moving, and my caveman pushed his corpse off him and stood up and gave him a kick, just to make sure, I guess.
Okay, that was pretty frickin' cool haha!
Uh, wait a minute, suddenly my caveman didn't look so good.
Yah, uhm, I guess he took a lot of damage in that fight, and now the adrenaline was wearing off, and he was starting to crumple to the ground.
Don't die little caveman! C'mon man! Get up! Eat some berries or some shit!
Well, he was still alive, but he was really messed up according to the Injury thingie, a broken rib had apparently punctured an important piece of his guts or something.
I decided to use the Sleep button to make him rest, hoping that would fix him up, but his Health statistics just went down the tubes and he turned blue like E.T. and croaked.
There didn't seem to be any way use the text-box to send tells to that stupid bastard that attacked me and got us both killed either, every time I typed something in the box it kept saying was that my Primitive Language Skill was too low to communicate!
So there I was, staring at these two dead cavemen, grrrrreat.
And then the screen went black, and I was looking at a new caveman, waking up in a pile of leaves.
But he wasn't under my control, he was under some new player's control.
Yep, I was stuck in Obvserver mode, and now I had to wait for a new slot to open up.
So I started hoping this new guy would get killed fast, yelling bad advice at him and stuff, y'know.
But he didn't get killed fast.
Nope, apparently everybody had learned from the mistakes of me and that other guy who got in a fight.
They started working together, learning how to communicate with each other, their Primitive Language Skills started going up like crazy, they got to choose names for themselves, they helped each other chase deer into ambushes, and then traps, eventually they started building shelters from the weather and stuff, and making fire, and weapons, y'know, spears at first, with fire-hardened tips, and then bows and arrows, and knives made out of bone, their characters started looking more human, they cleaned themselves up in the stream, cut their hair, made themselves clothes out of hides, and sandals, they were eating better, getting stronger, faster, smarter, they began to explore the forest, they lived like nomads, camping at new places every night, until they stumbled into the ruins of an ancient civilization and started repairing the place, learning how to read the ancient texts they found, how to preserve food and storing it up for winter.
They even found mirrors they could use to see themselves from the front!
I was screaming my head off, biting my fingers and tearing my hair out, checking on the game every day after work, wishing death on everyone, casting a thousand curses, hoping I'd get another chance to play, but goddammit, none of them were dying!
I was just about to cancel my subscription in utter hopelessness and frustration when the first baby caveman was born.
There was a huge caveman party in celebration.
The kid looked like a cross between his parents.
So there was actually a way to choose how our characters looked, after all.
Godamn this game needed a manual!
Of course, as soon as the tribe had managed to raise the kid up to the point where he was old enough to move around on his own, that frickin' guy who jumped me at the berry bush got to play him, 'cause he was technically the first caveman to die, and he was the first in line for reincarnation.
Luckily the ruins of the ancient city that the tribe was trying to rehabilitize turned out to be filled with soul-eating mummies and impossible-to-kill ghosts and stuff, and having babies became a popular way to counter-act the loss of manpower in the tribe, so I didn't have to wait long.
Anyways, that's where my cool bone-handled magic knives come from, I went and found the unburied remains of the two cavemen at the place where I sorta won the first fight that ever happened in the world, at that damn berry bush, and I carved 'em from our legbones after I fought the ghosts off.
Now let's find some women with good hair so I don't have to play a frickin' bald guy anymore.