Friday, 17 July 2015

The Horse Is Both Alive And Dead: WoW

Well, that was a surprise.

I'd long ago written-off my old WoW account as lost for good. By co-incidence, I cancelled my sub just as Blizzard mandated a BattleNet account to play and, although as far as I remembered I'd done the necessary to convert or combine or register or whatever the instruction was, whenever I tried to take advantage of one of the "Come back, we really miss your money you!" offers none of the log-in details and passwords I had written down were recognized.

At one point I went so far as to open a support ticket about it. After an exchange of emails in which I quoted not only my account details but even the registration codes from the original box I was told categorically that there was no record of my account ever having existed. At that point I gave up any hope of ever seeing any of my old characters again and made a new account instead to take advantage of WoW's excellent F2P until Level 20 scheme.

That was where things would have rested had I not been flipping through some old papers earlier this week, looking for something else entirely, and happened on Mrs Bhagpuss's old BattleNet login information. Once I'd blown the dust off I thought I'd just give it a try and see if it worked. Yes, EULA violation and all that. All in the name of science so it doesn't count.

Well, the experiment kind of worked and kind of didn't. The log-in information was accepted but another registration window popped up. Odd. At that point I thought I'd better at least ask Mrs Bhagpuss if she wanted her Battlenet account re-registered before carrying on so I logged back out. The more I thought about it, though, the more I couldn't remember ever getting a window like that when I tried entering my own details.

I dug around some more and found my old WoW login and password and tried those instead. Stap me if the same "what ridiculous pseudonym would you like to be embarrassed by in years to come?" window didn't appear. So I made up a name, clicked the button and there it was in front of me - my old account.

At first I didn't realize it what had happened. I thought I'd made yet another new account because the character select screen was blank. I made a dwarf hunter and then, as I was about to log him in, I noticed he was on some RP server I'd never heard of. Miraculously, instead of shrugging and carrying on, I thought to go to server select and scroll down the list and there against my old server was the number 9.

Which is how I come to be playing WoW again. All my old characters are there, every one with a bunch of random letters stuck on the end of their name from some Blizzard name-purge, one with a nose-ring I definitely don't remember choosing at character creation, but otherwise as good as new. I recognized about half of them, mostly the ones that were too high level to log in, naturally.

Along with the scatter of throwaways in single figures, below the threshold I found a level 11 warrior and a level 13 druid. The druid is a night-elf (what was I thinking?) so she was out. I logged the warrior (human) in to find she was in Ironforge. Why, I have no idea.


After jogging most of a full circuit of the oddly featureless Dwarven capital trying to re-orient myself, I passed the gateway to the underground tram, one of the things that most impressed me about WoW back when I first played and which has always stuck with me. Couldn't resist another trip. One jolting, exhilarating tram-ride later and there I was in Stormwind again.

I trotted through the cobbled streets, soaking in the nostalgia. Jogged past the long-suffering schoolteacher and her bored and fractious pupils on their educational trip to the big city until I came to the gates. For a moment I stood looking out at Goldshire. It's just amazing how it all comes flooding back.

For an hour or so I pottered around among the trees questing and complaining to myself about the lack of bag space. Some things really do never change. It all seemed just as I remembered until I crossed the bridge into Westfall only to walk right into a homicide investigation. Not just homicide...horse-icide. Old Blanchy lay dead, crushed beneath the wheels of his own cart.

I remember Old Blanchy. I should - I've been using his feed-pouch as a rucksack for five years.


At level 16 now, my warrior is deep in the investigation. Horse-murder is the least of it. We're on the trail of a mysterious Shadowy Figure who seems to be working to bring back the Defias bandit clan. I didn't even know they'd gone. I still can't get used to all the homeless beggars sleeping by the roadside. This is what happens when you have a Cataclysm. Everything goes all to rack and rooney.

Another four levels and the warrior will lock, which, since levels seem to come at the rate of one or two an hour, is going to be a problem if I'm to get to the bottom of this whole mystery. A problem that may have to be solved by the judicious application of money. Yes, it's more than possible I may re-subscribe, not to get a Garrison but just to see how the new old world has changed. And bring Old Blanchey's killer to justice, of course.

Or I may be distracted by some other new shiny and wander off, leaving my characters to idle away their time in loading screen limbo for another few months or even years. It feels good, though, to know that I have that choice again.





15 comments:

  1. This is the first time I've heard about Old Blanchy! I am saddened by the news. But thank you for invoking a flashback to many pleasant evenings spent roaming around Stormwind...

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    1. It was a trip down memory lane for me too - more so than I was expecting.

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  2. I remember running through there after Cataclysm came out after the regular group rolled up fresh characters to see the new 1-60 story. The death of Old Blanchy came as quite a blow, staple of the old Westfall that he was. I am sure I have his blanket still on a character somewhere.

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    1. It's a great compliment to the writers that even though it's almost five years since I last saw that horse I recognized the name immediately and remembered some of the original quest details.

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  3. For all the hate Cataclysm gets, the old world revamp added a lot of awesome stuff. There are a few cases were I miss the old zones -- mostly just Azshara and Hillsbrad -- but on the whole I think it's made the leveling experience far more enjoyable. Seeing the Plaguelands heal, experiencing the brutality of the war in the Southern Barrens, seeing the Desolace bloom, watching Malfurion hold Darkshore together with sheer strength of will... great stuff.

    Even if you don't resub, there's a fair bit of cool places to see. I would particularly recommend rolling Worgen and Pandaren characters just to see their starting zones. Both feature excellent story-telling and beautiful scenery. They poured a huge amount of detail into the Wandering Isle (panda starting area); at one point I found a history class where a Lorewalker was singing the Ballad of Liu Lang to some cubs. Didn't have anything to do with a quest; was just to flesh out the world.

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    1. I started a Panda on the free account but I didn't get on with him very well. Don't think Monk was a good choice. I dropped him at level four and went Goblin instead, which was great. The gobbo starting area is absolutely hilarious. I would like to play through all the racial starting areas/questlines eventually but it could take a while.

      As for Cataclysm I was always intrigued by it. I remember most of the old world pretty well even now and I think I probably have just the right degree of familiarity and affection for it to be involved in how it's changed without being outraged.

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  4. Welcome back!

    Yes, we killed Edwin Van Cleef. He's dead, Jim, and the Defias dismantled. Stabbed him through the heart with a sword, set his clothes on fire with a Fireball, and bloodily chopped off his head to present as a trophy. Then stomped on his corpse, spat on his body, and generally did some other nasty stuff. And *EVERYONE* rejoiced at the death of a pure evil scumbag! Yes, I'm intentionally being over-the-top ridiculous for reasons that will soon become clear to you.

    Some other highlights are the first Horde Southshore quests ("Welcome to the Machine" may have you in stitches). "The Day That Deathwing Came" quest series in Badlands is also hilarious.

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    1. Thanks for the suggestions. The writing so far has been pretty good by MMO quest standards and I'm finding it quite entertaining. I've seen the demise of Van Cleef and the Unexpected Consequences and now there's a revolution going on the puns and sarcastic jokes seem to have dried up. It being WoW, though, I'm sure that won't last long.

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  5. Some character models may have acquired facial jewelry in the model revamp last year, so that may be why you don't remember it!

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    1. I figured that was what it was. The character models look quite significantly different from how I remember them - better in my opinion although I've yet to see the Dwarf and Gnome models.

      Is there a way to change the appearance, like a makeover kit or a stylist NPC or something? I really could do without her having face furniture.

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    2. Most major cities have a barbershop that can be used to modify most (not all) aspects of your character's appearance. Pretty sure that includes piercings. You can talk to a guard NPC if you're having trouble finding it.

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  6. I'm happy to hear you got your account back! I would hate to lose my game accounts and those characters I've grown attached to. Even it it would be the LOTRO one, which I haven't logged into for months.

    I still don't understand what happened, though. Did you by sheer luck find back the correct old password?

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    1. I have no idea. As far as I know I was using the exact same password and login details I have used the two or three other times I've tried. Previously the details have simply not been recognized at all but this time they seemed to trigger a "register this account as a BattleNet account" process, which never happened before. I don't know if I did something different or if they've changed the process and I don't really care. I have my characters back which is all that matters!

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  7. In case your account ever was a full WoW Account, it should in all likelyhood be eligble for the current '7 days free' promotion that ends iirc August 2nd. Its basically available to all formerly full Accounts that were Inactive in June or so.

    If available, you can find it on your BattleNet page by going to your Account Settings, pick the WoW client(s), and clicking the Referrals & Rewards page of your Account(s). If you have a free 7 days, it will be there.

    Note that if it works, your Account will be a Mists of Pandaria one, meaning that characters will be able to level past level 20 - which will lock them out from F2P. You can avoid that by Locking their XP for 10 gold in Stormwind/Ogrimmar.

    Also note that they have removed both the 1/Realm limit as the 'must have a level 55 Character' requirement for Death Knights (think Shadowknights) which start at level 55 and have a special Starter Area, which should take you to 58 or so - which opens up Outland/TBC.

    This also combines well with the level 90 boost included with Warlords (probably on sale somewhere for 30 eur'os) or as a Paid Service (more expensive), as if your Boosted toon was level 60+ it gets a free Porfession Boost to 600 to the Primary Professions he had at 1+ .

    Last but not least: if you have a full Account that isn't Upgrade to the last X-Pac (woD), every 3 months or so you get a Free 10 Day Expansion Trial (in short, you can't level past 90 but get to do everything else as a full WoD account) which includes free gametime if Inactive.

    You can first take the 7 days for free, let it lapse for a short time (to make sure your Account is Inactive in the system) and then take the 10 days Free Expansion Trial :)

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    1. Oh thanks for all that! I'll look into it at the weekend. I know they run a lot of promotions but as usual they send all the emails to accounts I never look at since I tend to make new email addresses for every MMO I plan on sticking with for a while.

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