When I joined RuneScape, it was a new world, small and mostly empty of the hordes of other players that permeate it now. There is something to be said for a game with a small enough player base relative to the size of the game world such that guides, maps and help sites do not exist for it. Since no player had access to such forbidden knowledge, no one felt that they were falling behind if they didn't use them. I could go do whichever quests I felt like, and figure them out on my own, without feeling like by doing so I was wasting my own time, or worse, unneccessarily risking the game's steep death penalty (originally a player lost all but their 3 best items when killed, the penalty has been lessened thrice since then). Likewise, with no maps it really felt like discovery when I stumbled upon some new dungeon or other training area.
Levelling quickly in the beginning, I was rapidly rewarded with new features. While training smithing, I usually learned to make a new weapon or piece of armor every few minutes, and even when I had already found something better for that particular equipment slot, the new item still allowed me a larger profit when it came time to sell my wares. I liked the fact that nearly every item in the game could be made through the various trade skills, and indeed, in many cases it was either the only way to get a particular item, or the players hadn't yet discovered the alternate source.
As the game grew, more features were added. I spent a lot of time playing Castle Wars (a team-vs-team safe PvP area). The cooperative nature of the minigame combined with the zero-risk of safe PvP made it a fun and relaxing diversion. New quests were a common update, and for quite a while I had every quest complete, repeatedly awaiting the next addition only to complete it the day it was released. The quests were far superior to anything I have yet encountered in any other MMO to this day. (Players looking for an MMO with a strong story element should try the RuneScape members' quests. The free ones still suck, and the pay-to-play ones are still amazing. A warning though, the good ones will require a good deal of time investment in the game to reach the required skill levels.) In RuneScape, the quests themselves were fun to complete, and typically required a certain amount of XP to start. I saw them as the end I was working towards, rather than a means to an end like in most games.
Next time I'll delve into what drove me away from the game.
[And I'm sorry about the lack of screenshots, but that's likely to be a trend. I only really have screenies from my time in WoW. This one was actually taken today.]