I started FFXI on the first day of its initial release. I was with the game through Zilart and CoP. I remember when Diabolos was added, but wound up leaving before TAU came out.
I'd GM'd a 90-person social linkshell, spun off a separate successful Sky shell, ran two CoP statics through to Sea, wrote a number of guides on the CoP zones that were semi-popular on the main forums here, and eventually helped charter and run a Dynamis shell. (Didn't stick around to kill the Shadow Lord, but I understand the shell took him down not long after my departure.)
After all that I felt I didn't have more to do, so I said goodbye and parted ways with Vana'diel.
I spent my free time living life. I stayed off MMOs and messed with console gaming instead.
After about a year I drifted into EVE Online. EVE makes for a very pretty chat room but just doesn't suit me. That Christmas someone bought me WoW, so I tried it out for the first time. It wound up being a lot of fun, though the whole game is very easy compared to FFXI.
I joined WoW around the time Outland was added (dark portal expansion) and played through it's endgame content. I didn't feel like leading anymore but I wound up officering in a few different guilds. I found my tolerance for failure was quite low - after doing 64-man content you start to wonder why 25 people can't get their act together. I'd also had more than my share of drama in FFXI so tolerated it not at all in WoW. ^_^
Results were good; we stomped Outlands content, and when the Lich King expansion rolled in we blitzed our way to 80, then trashed all the available raids. Achievements got added, so my guild started farming those, too... and then came the day when I realized how boring all that was. I was playing around on the PTR waiting for Ulduar to be released when that same feeling washed over me. I had done everything I felt like doing. I said my goodbyes, logged out, and put my character into stasis forever. I've not been back.
It's been about eight months since I left WoW. I dabbled in EVE again but EVE hasn't changed - neither has my impression of it. I installed the FFXI trial so I could bounce a Taru around East and West Saru for a couple weeks. Turns out I miss Vana'diel quite a lot - there are social elements to this game that WoW never duplicated. This was the game I always wound up comparing WoW to, and this is the game I wished WoW were more like.
My old server feels like a ghost town. I understand the dynamic; ****, everybody was 75 and working on merits when I left.. there's no reason to expect a large newbie population to be bouncing around. I'm sure there are people up at the higher levels, but the more I play the trial version, the more I remember all the sticking points that made so many flock to WoW: loss of xp on death. Death by poison. Limited soloability, particularly for healers. Long travel times. The list goes on.
I don't think I'll start a new FFXI subscription, but I find I'm looking forward to FFXIV. I'll be one of those folks who still calls a Taru by its original name.