Consider the humble mailbox. A curious entity, ignored daily by most MMO players outside of bank alts and, of course, habitual mailers. You know the sort:
Dear Gren the Ungrenable,
Please find attached to this letter a complete set of plate armour too small for you; seventeen swords of various shapes and sizes, mostly broken; every random plant it was possible to pick on my way to the mailbox; a small critter of some kind (it’s either a badger or an angry halfling, hard to tell when it’s crammed into a single inventory slot); fourteen random unbindable pages from the Book of Where the Hell’s My Bagspace Gone; a raclette; a stack of offal (unwrapped); a zoomoozophone; five stacks of Potions Nobody Ever Uses But They Keep In The Bank Just In Case; twenty four cosmetic thongs of varying shades of brown; a quest item that nobody has ever found the quest for but can’t bring themselves to throw away; and three mounts: one sabretooth tiger, one partially digested goat with sabreteeth marks in it, and an angry Krogus, Giant Lord of Mammoths, who suffers from irritable bowel syndrome.
P.S. Sorry about Krogus, he gets irritable when travelling by mail, is scared of zoomoozophones, and stacking him next to the sabretooth tiger probably didn’t help; I’m sure you can dig the rest of this mail out of the steaming contents of his… displeasure.
I can just picture them trying to staple Krogus, Giant Lord of Mammoths to the letter. “[plink] [clip] [clunk] There, that ought to be okay. Hrm, maybe I should use a paperclip too?”
But what of the mailbox itself? Humble. Elementary. Serviceable. Unobtrusive.
Has systematically spread to all known corners of the world.
They just need small plungers sticking out horizontally from their tops and to shout “YOU HAVE MAIL” in an angry electronic voice and they would probably pass for a Doctor Who villain.
“The mailboxes are coming!”
“No, they’re already here!”
“Damn it! Get me the President of this MMO!”
“But sir, to do that we’d need to use…”
“DAMN! Cle-verrrrr. Cle-ver mailboxes…”
They’re not just here, but also there… and everywhere. Each one believing that love never dies. Watching her eyes and hoping… sorry, it all went a bit Beatles there for a second.
Where were we? Right. MMO Mailboxes are evil! I fully expect to get to Mordor in Lord of the Rings Online and find a mailbox outside the Black Gate. “Oh thank goodness! Because I’ve really wanted to write home to mother [licks nib of pen and looks thoughtful]
Orcs, mum! ORCS! They’re everywhere! Oh god! Oh god! Oh god!
Love and kisses,
Then we’d fight our way through the orcs and uruk-hai and goblins and ogres and racially-slurred riders, and finally reach the throne room of the Dark Lord himself. In the gloom at the end of the cavernous chamber would be a black leather swivel chair lit by a shaft of light from a high-up window, and as we ran panting and clattering in to the hall the chair would spin round and a mailbox would be sat there looking smug, and after a pause for dramatic effect, would say “Well Mr Bond, this *is* an unexpected pleasure”.
Just consider the power that mailboxes have: you can post a mammoth into the tiny bowels of a diminutive mailbox, and have that same mammoth turn-up almost instantaneously on the other side of the world! A little irritated perhaps, I grant you, but otherwise unharmed.
And mailboxes are in the starter areas of all places! Who would possibly have mail when they’ve just spawned into the world out of thin air, fully grown, but with nothing to their name but a bunch of ragged clothes and a sharpened stick, and being hated for no apparent reason by every NPC group that exists?
“Welcome! You are a dark lord of the kindred, awoken from your centuries-long death by the power of the bloodline! You must avenge your fallen kin, fight until everything is dead or undead, destroy the world in fire and fear, and restore our clan to its rightful place on the throne of ULTIMATE POWER! Mu ha ha ha ha haaaaaaa!
Oh, and uh, check that mailbox over there, I think you have mail.”
I’m considering a system based upon Old Man Murray’s Time to Crate review system; mine will be a Time to Mailbox system, however, where the time it takes to find a mailbox from the starting point of a level one character will demonstrate how far the mailboxes have infiltrated the game, and thus determine how evil that MMO is (or has become, since the mailbox domination spreads over the life of the game, in case you hadn’t noticed).
Now people might suggest that mailboxes in the starter areas are just there to help people with alts who want to mail twink gear to their characters, but that’s just crazy talk! No, the truth of it is that mailboxes are evil sentient beings from another dimension sent to enslave us all. And anyway, as a habitual alt-roller myself, I can tell you that we altists need a more professional level of help than a mere starter area mailbox could provide.
And I present the contents of this post as evidence for that.