Depending on your school of thought, LIFETM was either developed from scratch by Great Old Deity (GOD) for short, or it evolved from random bits of code that somehow evolved to form larger, more complex bits of code. It is the most widely played MMORPG in existence, and everyone has dabbled in LIFE at some point or other. There is no demo available for download, but it is free to try for your initial years of playing. Subscription fees kick in later depending on various factors.
You start off as a completely randomly generated character. It is very much like starting a game of Nethack and choosing “random” for everything. You are very weak at the start of the game, but growth of your character is capped for all newbies, so nobody pulls ahead too fast. Your stats are low, and you have about the equivalent of half a hitpoint. You are entirely dependent on your randomly chosen guild, often called a FAMILY, who will take you through your newbie and lowbie stages. Some players choose to remain with their FAMILY till late in their game, while others often strike out at around Level 18. There are also unfortunate players who, due to a glitch in the program, start out without a FAMILY. Most of these players are often taken under the wing of high-level characters and looked after.
The game is fairly standard at the newbie stage. It mostly consists of eating and sleeping a lot. Around level 5 to 6, characters often start going to Standard Communal Houses Of Onerous Learning (SCHOOL). From there on, SCHOOL is the most standard way of leveling up and picking up useful skills. SCHOOL is compulsory in most domains, although certain regions of the game world have no such requirement. In those places, SCHOOL is optional and players may opt to go straight to the meat of the game, albeit with slightly more disadvantages.
For most players, the game truly takes off at Level 18. Depending on your region, you will normally be issued with special “badges” that permit you to drive, imbibe alcohol, or vote, for example. The first thing most players do would be to get a JOB. The JOB-system allows players to earn gold, with which they can buy better equipment, or furniture for their homes, if they have one. As one levels up, the amount of gold earned increases accordingly. Certain JOBs pay more gold than others, but those often have heavy skill requirements. Enterprising players sometimes find start new JOBs, and become pioneers. Depending on your preference you can take on JOBs as healers, mercenaries, traders, and even beggars!
Levelling up in this game happens in several ways. Over time, all characters will slowly increase in level. This eliminates the need for camping spawns. Skills are learnt and acquired in various levels of SCHOOL, and repeated use often results in greater proficiency. Your Intelligence stat is most required here. Skills can be self-taught, but would probably take a longer time to level up.
Customization has reached new heights since Beta 0.4. Because your starting appearance is also randomized, many players complained about their horrendously low Charisma scores. Some players petitioned, and eventually Healers were given the “Modify Appearance” skill. Depending on proficiency, they can alter facial features, body features, and to a certain extent, even height and weight. Tattoos are fully available, as are piercings, ensuring that almost no 2 players ever look the same.
The game encourages friendly and law-abiding behaviour. GMs have set in place a policing system in most areas of the game, and have set down rules to abide by. Breaking rules often comes with severe penalties. Beware, there is no save game function, so once you make a mistake, you can’t restore from a previous save point. Minor rules may mean a fine of several thousand gold pieces, while more serious crimes can lead to a forced stay in the dungeons for a set period of time. Certain transgressions are so serious that the GMs may have to order that your character be taken offline.
Which leads me to my next point. Unlike other traditional MMORPGs, your character has a finite amount of gaming time. Once your game time runs out, it’s game over. There is no reboot option, and there is certainly no reset button. Some players believe that terminated player code lives on in the game, while others subscribe to the thought that player code often gets recycled into new characters. At any rate, no one, not even GMs, are immune to this. GOD could not be contacted for comment. If you have played well, you would normally be survived by your offspring, who usually carry part of your code and game title. Often, that is the aim of many players.
“What is life, if not just one big game? Our game time is always ticking away. Better that we concentrate on improving our characters, than wasting it away.”