The girlfriend wasn't interested in The Secret World. She listened to my stories of adventures there with interest, but not enough interest to join me. She was busy anticipating the release of Guild Wars 2. And I was to. It looked interesting, to be certain.
So we bought the digital download and got into the prerelease. We had to poach her office's really high-speed for four-hours of downloads. And then we had to sit through a few more downloads. Finding each other and grouping was a major pain in the ass, but we did eventually and stayed grouped even after logging out.
My first challenge: create my old favorites, Hluill and Leyek. This was tough. From my old EQ days Hluill is a barbarian rogue and Leyek is his half-elf daughter. Leyek became human in EQ2 by means of a handy potion after I couldn't stand the skinny half-elf model anymore. They both became human in TSW, but I am still wrestling with my faction choices there.
After a few rerolls, they became Norns in GW2. I want to rant about the avatar models in GW2, but, in fairness, all MMOs have issues in this area and GW2's are no worse. Getting the tough-chick look for Leyek was easier than the charming-rogue look for Hluill. I am still a bit irked that the naming filter didn't like "Hluillsdottir", especially after seeing similar names in game.
So now Leyek is twenty-second level and I've been having fun. The game is designed to be fun. I am free to help other players without having to worry about loot or experience. I can explore and quest at the same time. Gathering earns experience and materials are deposited with a simple click. Leyek has completed several dailies and finished a few maps.
Part of me wonders and worries: Is this it? Are these five Greatsword-attacks all that I get for the next sixty levels? Is crafting just going to be this mindless? Is it always going to be this hard to "Join in" with my girlfriend's characters?
I can't help but harken to my days on old EQ. Sure, some of my nostalgia is based on the newness of it, but a bigger portion is based on the friends I had there. I would get up early just to play with friends in different time zones and different work scheduals. Why did I have so many good friends there? Because I needed them. Old EQ was fifty-percent solo-able, at best. In one form or another, a group made grinding experience easier and faster. And during the mandatory pauses for mana and health regeneration, there was time to chat and get to know each other.
I made some friends in the the original EQ2 this way. I haven't made any since. As I look at current MMO design, I don't think I will.