10 Years :: 10 Questions

Mission for Godmother

This mornings post is going to be a little bit different than my normal fare.  One of the Blaugust bloggers the acclaimed Godmother of Faff posted a challenge of her own.  On her blog Alternative Chat she is wanting anyone who has played World of Warcraft at any point during the ten years it has been in progress to take a quick survery.  Being a blogger… this screamed a blog post to me.  I will of course post my responses into her handy google form after I have finished this process, but I wanted to share my responses with the world as well.  There is hardly any gamer that has not been touched in some way by Blizzard and the World of Warcraft… so I highly suggest you all participate in the event as well.

10 Years :: 10 Questions

tenyearstenquestions

1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?

I was indoctrinated into the world of MMO gaming during Everquest, and from that point onwards I was always on the look out for the next awesome game.  I spent three years in EQ, another three in DAoC, a year in Horizons and was playing City of Heroes when I first got my taste of beta.  I admit when I first heard about World of Warcraft, I wondered how in the hell they would have enough storyline to make a game out of that.  I remembered Blizzard mostly as a company that made awesome games, but with only enough storyline to keep them from absolutely falling apart.  I just couldn’t imagine something as detailed as say an Everquest coming out of that company.  Then I got my first taste of the game and I was hooked.

World of Warcraft was so evolutionarily better than anything out at the time.  It was a pulling together of all of the best characteristics of all of the games I had played to date and melding it together with this awesome cohesive narrative.  I had some bad experiences with the Everquest guild I was in, and the leader being extremely domineering, so I knew going into a new game that everyone was excited about like WoW… I didn’t want that to happen again.  I figured the only way I could stop it from happening was to accept the mantle of leadership myself.  Roughly a year before the game actually released we started a forum, pulling together the small pools of players that we had played with in all of the games along the way, and through it House Stalwart was born.  At launch we had around fifty players, and it continues to be a large multi-gaming guild to this day.

2. What was the first ever character you rolled?

My first character was my paladin Exeter, who began his life as a dwarf.  I had fallen in love with the Paladin in beta, and especially the synergy between my Paladin and the Priest my friend had been playing.  The problem is by the time release came around they gutted the extremely enjoyable strike system and replaced it with the extremely cludgy seal system.  I gave it the good college try and so long as I was leveling with my friends I did just fine.  The problem is my ability to solo was dismal, and I felt like I was getting pulled into another “forced grouping” situation like Everquest.  Then tragedy struck…  there was a death in the family and I was absent from the game for a good time.  When I came back all of my friends were a good 10 to 20 levels higher than me, and I knew there was no hope of catching up on the paladin.

I ended up rolling a new character a Dwarven Hunter Lodin, and with him I was able to solo until my heart was content and catch up to my friends.  He was the main I never intended to have, and while fun ranged dps was never really my cup of tea.  The problem is that some of my good friends had formed a raid group on our server, and they needed another hunter.  From the moment I started raiding as a hunter, I felt obligated to STAY a hunter since they were going to the efforts of gearing me up.  I played all of Vanilla as a survival hunter rocking the dragonbreath hand cannon for my main weapon.  Belghast was not actually born until I decided that I wanted to be the best tank I could be… and rolled a warrior to level with my friends priest.  But that is a story for another day.

3. Which factors determined your faction choice in game?

In truth when House Stalwart first launched we made a failed attempt to play both factions.  We had House Stalwart of Argent Dawn on the Alliance side, and we had the Burning Claw of Silverhand on the Horde side.  We split between the two roleplaying servers that existed at launch.  For the first few months everything was fine.  We pretty regularly alternated between the two sides, but the problem is as we got deeper into our characters we self sorted.  A small faction of our guild preferred to play horde and the vast majority preferred the alliance.  For me I have always been partial to dwarves, so it was an easy pick for which side to go on.

Because of this however I don’t really feel like I have massive faction loyalty, and ultimately would rather the factions simply not exist.  Having a wall between the players feels like a poor design choice, and one that keeps getting repeated out in other games.  I’ve always preferred how Everquest series handles faction, in that it is a personal choice and determines what areas you can go into… but not who you can associate with.  As far as my not really playing horde regularly since… I guess I have gotten used to the easy life of the alliance.  PVP only happens if you go and look for it, and since I am by nature a massive carebear I like this aspect of my faction.  Additionally I have never really enjoyed playing “Monstrous Humanoids” to borrow the Dungeons and Dragons term.  I would rather be a valiant knight in shining armor than a noble savage.

4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?

Sindragosa_Mockup I have a whole string of memorable moments, but probably the one that will always stand out for me is the first time we killed Sindragosa in Icecrown CItadel.  This was a fight that we absolutely struggled with for weeks.  The raid I was helping to lead at the time, Duranub Raiding Company was aptly named.  We were in fact a durable pack of nubs… which is a phrase that ties back to an even earlier raid group the Late Night Raiders.  We were one of those groups that struggled to get down the basics of an encounter… then all the sudden the moment you beat it you never wipe on it again.  Same was the case with Sindragosa, we struggled to deal with people getting frozen and people breaking them out.  On the time we actually downed her one of our best hunters Thalen, landed the killing blow mere seconds before getting put into an iceblock himself.  So the boss was down and there were 25 little icicles spread throughout the room.  The above image is my “artists recreation” of the fight.

All of the most memorable moments I have from the game came either through raiding or through dungeon runs, and I have come to the realization that they have little to do with the actual game itself.  Sure the game provided me a backdrop to do interesting things with other people, but it was the interaction with said people that made it interesting.  From the raid singing the “Crotch Pocket” jingle anytime Furnace Master Ignis shoved someone into his belt mounted crucible, or the struggles with “OmNomNomITron” and our shouting of “KIds!” anytime the plague one would spawn adds.  It was the people that made everything interesting and all of the memorable moments I have are something you can never actually get back.  They were awesome but they were fleeting and you can make new memories, but you can never fully relive the old ones.

5. What is your favourite aspect of the game and has this always been the case?

My favorite aspect of World of Warcraft or any MMO for that matter are the dungeons.  I love delving into ancient ruins with friends in the search for fabled treasures.  For starters I have a massive bloodlust when it comes to gaming, and I will go out of my way to kill mobs.  In a given night there are lots of moments where my friends will ask “Where is Bel?” and sure enough I will be a ways off killing something that we didn’t actually need to kill.  So I love running dungeons with friends and during the era of WoW before the dungeon finder I used to build groups regularly from random strangers on the server.  This was the primary way I met new people to join our raid and often times my guild.

The problem is with the dungeon finder the dungeons changed into something that I didn’t like very much at all.  It all became about getting through them as quickly as possible and avoiding as much content as you could to rush to the end boss and “Finish”.  This mentality just seemed like a travesty to me, because for me the dungeon itself was the reward and the time spent with new and interesting people in it.  Unfortunately this dungeon mentality has infected so many other game communities that if you log in and run a dungeon in say Rift, they have the same expectations.  While there are a few games like FFXIV that seem to have been forgotten by time and have really charming dungeon running cultures, my biggest fear is that WoW opened a Pandora’s box and ruined dungeon running in the process.

6. Do you have an area in game that you always return to?

There are a few areas of the game that I never skip, for example if I have the opportunity I will always level through Duskwood.  Yes it is a frustratingly laid out zone, but I love the vibe of it.  If there is a zone in a game that has werewolves, vampires or zombies… chances are I will deviate my leveling path to make sure I go through there.  The problem with Duskwood however is Elwynn Forest and Westfall have so many issues.  On a role-playing server, Goldshire is still ERP central…  so I have long since stopped leveling any character in Elwynn.  Westfall got considerably better in Cataclysm but is still a fairly boring slog in a pretty ugly zone.  So generally speaking if I am working on a new character I will make a beeline to Duskwood around 20… complete the zone and then run the hell away and get back out of the human areas.

As far as areas I return to, I admit that I return to past raids often.  Even though I spent three hours of every sunday for years in first Molen Core and then later Kharazan…  I still enjoy soloing both zones.  I am also extremely partial to the Black Temple, as I love the look and feel of the encounters.  Basically if it is a raid and I can potentially solo it, I will likely do it on a semi regular basis.  In a way I know I am wallowing in the nostalgia of the good times I had in that place, so once again it is less about the place itself and more about the experiences I had there.  Each time I take down Nefarian for example I remember one of our paladins screaming “Use the Fucking Force” over teamspeak as all the healy paladins cast holy wrath.  I have so much nostalgia tied to so many zones at this point, that revisiting any of them is enjoyable.

7. How long have you /played and has that been continuous?

I am am really hoping you mean how long we have played the game in time, not actual /played hours.  Firstly it will take forever for me to compile a list of just how many hours I have played this game spread out among my army of alts.  Secondly I really don’t want to confront just how big that number will be.  Suffice to say I have 7 level 90 characters, 2 85+, 4 80+, 2 70+ and enough 10-30 characters scattered on so many different servers that I have long since hit my 50 character limit and have to delete something to roll anything new.  Belgrave became my “main” while we were starting Crusaders Coliseum 25 and I just looked and his /played is 86 days so I cannot fathom just how many physical years I have spent when you add everything up.

As far as how long have I played…  I was in beta before the launch of World of Warcraft and House Stalwart was a day one guild.  I played pretty solidly until Cataclysm when I feel out of love with the game in a big way and wandered off into Rift and then a string of other games.  It seems like I renew interest in the game a few times a year now.  I came back at the tail end of Cataclysm and stayed for the first few months of Pandaria, long enough to raid a little bit.  Then most recently I came back for about six months and raided a bit of Throne of Thunder/Siege of Orgrimmar.  At which point I took back the crown of my guild and have at the very least kept my account active from that point onwards.  I love the guild and the people in it, and I am always willing to log in and check in on things even though I am maybe only playing once or twice a month.  It is easy to quit the game, but it is extremely hard to quit the people playing it.

8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?

I freely admit that most of the time I do not.  There are two distinct kinds of questing for me… busy work and epic quest chains.  The busy work like Kill X things, deliver this to that, retrieve this doodad…  I really don’t pay attention to at all.  In general I try to skim every quest I get to see if it is going to be an interesting one or not.  If something catches my eye in this skimming process I go ahead and read the entire thing.  I have gotten really spoiled by modern games with voice acted content.  I will stop and listen to every last acted word when a quest is delivered like that, however if you are giving me a wall of text I skim it for the relevant bits and then move on.  The primary time I end up reading every last line is when you get one of those quests that doesn’t work the way you think it should.

If you can believe it I am actually better about reading quest text today than I used to be.  During the early days of WoW I would far rather grind mobs than do quests at all.  This was the side effect from coming through a long line of games where the quests didn’t really matter.  Everquest was a massive misnaming of that game, because in reality you never encountered quest unless you dug for them by “hailhumping” every mob in a zone until one of them responded with a keyword that signaled there was a quest.  Instead I preferred to just go out and slaughter entire zones rather than hunt for the one clue that started a quest that was more than likely just a “bring me X things” that you got from killing mobs anyways.  It also depends on the game, in a game like The Secret World I read every last bit because I know not doing so will come around to bite me in the end.

9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?

I am sitting here trying to think of something, but really nothing major comes to mind.  I know there have been times where I wished things had ended better with various people regarding the games.  When you lead a guild and lead a raid there is always drama surrounding it.  There are various events brought on by the game, and raiding that I wished would have maybe ended on better terms.  However I don’t really dwell on them enough to consider them regrets.  For the most part everything I have experienced through games, has lead me to be the gamer  and blogger I am today.  I tend to focus on the journey and not the goals.  Sure there are little baubles and trinkets along the way that I kinda wish I had gotten, but for the most part I can always go back and obtain them later.

The only thing I really wish I had done was complete my shadowmourne.  I am up to the part where I need to collect the various bits from the different encounters in Icecrown, but I have never actually gone back and made an effort to do it after the close of Wrath.  Ultimately it just didn’t seem important enough to hassle a bunch of people into doing.  It is not the sort of thing I really dwell upon but it would have been nice to complete that legendary eventually.  I would still love to see a set of bindings drop for Thunderfury, but that is less about me or more about me wanting to make sure SOMEONE from LNR gets some.  We raided Molten Core every single week for two years and never saw so much as a single binding drop.

10. What effects has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming?

Other than it making my wife occasionally grump and want to pull the plug from the back of my PC, I have to say overall the experience has been a positive one.  There are so many friends that I would not have today were it not for this game.  My blog for example started entirely out of a love of World of Warcraft and over time morphed into a love of all gaming.  My twitter community, my blogger friends, the massive group of people that makes up House Stalwart and even the Blaugust event that is going on right now and is so amazingly successful…  none of this would have happened were it not for World of Warcraft and the connections I made while playing it.  As a result, even if I fall out of love with the game, I have to respect the effect it has had on my life and the great lives I have met in the process.