To be honest, I’m having trouble remembering exactly when I decided ‘D&D, that’s what I want to play.’ I’d been interested in the style of game for years, though. I’d even made an INCREDIBLY basic system on a few sheets of paper to play with my friends while we rode to orchestra each week. It wasn’t too bad, as I recall. I played a lot of Neverwinter Nights, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance and had seen a lot of Tales of the Sword Coast, so I was definitely familiar with the mechanics in general.
I do remember that my first game of 3.5 edition was played in Brazil, in a sunny living room overlooking Ipanema beach, with a few good friends, and one of their little sisters. No one else wanted to DM, so it was left to me. I created a campaign from scratch and we started off. There was a whole plot about a necromancer lich conquering an island. Those games taught me a lot of lessons about Dungeons and Dragons, not least of which was the greatest lesson of all: the party will never do what is expected.
It was tricky DMing when we were all still learning the rules, but we had fun, and it got me hooked. I don’t think I’ll ever forget my first campaign, especially not the boss I’d spent hours on which they two-shotted. So. Incredibly. Annoying.