Monday, August 11, 2014

10 Answers About WoW

I don't know if anyone's noticed but it's coming up on ten years since World of Warcraft opened its doors to the paying public. Alt: ernative chat , a blog of which I was hitherto unaware, despite its thousands of posts and podcasts over the last five years, came up with the idea of commemorating this momentous occasion by posing ten open questions to anyone who's ever played WoW.

Replies began popping up in my Feedly feed as various bloggers I have heard of began to respond and I thought, well, I played WoW, you know. Not for long, I grant you, but I played. Why should I miss out on all the fun?

So here are my ten answers.

1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?

It must have been about five years ago now. We were in a bit of an MMO slump, the only one I can recall in nearly fifteen years. I can't remember why but we'd stopped playing our regular MMOs, EQ, EQ2, Vanguard. If I'd been writing this blog back then I could flip back and remind myself exactly why that was but since I can't do that I'll have to guess it was either Guild Drama or Existential Ennui.

We tried out all the alternative MMOs we could think of and enjoyed most of them but none of them stuck for more than a few weeks. One weekend we were both really at a loss for an idea of what to try next and someone (I think it was me) said "why don't we try WoW?". Neither of us could think of a good reason not to so we did.

That was a big decision. Neither of us had ever played any Blizzard games. We were aware of it when it was in beta but it meant nothing, neither intellectually nor emotionally, and we paid it no mind. We were hyped for EQ2. After WoW became a huge success we just thought of WoW as "that dumbed down MMO". Only one person we knew had ever played it and he lost interest around level 40 and came back to EQ2 before going to LotRO where he remains to this day.

I don't think either of us ever expected to play WoW let alone enjoy it.

Are you quite sure he's tamed?

2. What was the first ever character you rolled?

Last night I was writing this while tabbed out from GW2. My necro was "guarding" the north east gate of Garrison by standing on the wall offering herself as a target so that, if anyone started to pound it with a catapult or a treb, or tried to meteor storm our mortars, I'd hear her screams as she got caught in the explosions and be able to quickly tab back in and sound the alert.

Because of that I was working purely from memory rather than opening a lot of old files and searching for thumb drives full of old screenshots. Still, I had no difficulty recalling my first WoW character. He was a Dwarf Hunter.

I knew nothing whatsoever about WOW so I had no idea that Hunter hate was a thing. I wanted to start in a snowy area and I liked the idea of having a pet. Unusually for me that first character was the one I stuck with. He got into the low 70s. The next-highest was a Gnome Warlock, who was somewhere around 50 when I stopped playing, as far as I recall. Then there was a Death Knight and I think I tried a Druid for a while. I was only there three months so I doubt I had more than half a dozen characters on the go..

This morning, minus the distractions of guard duty, I had time to dig out those old WoW screenshots. The very first one I came across was a picture of a Dwarf Priest. Oh, wait a minute...

Fergit aboot me, wid ye? I'll gi' ye summat tae fergit aboot!

My actual first character, rather than the first character I was able to remember without prompting, was a Priest. I recall now that I got him to maybe level 10 or 12. I know he was in Goldshire when I finally decided enough was enough and that Mrs Bhagpuss was clearly having a lot more fun than me with her Hunter. I'm all for slow and steady leveling but there is a limit.

He did eventually get played enough that, when the first iteration of the Dungeon Group Finder appeared, just before I stopped playing (although the two things were entirely co-incidental) I was able to try it out by queuing as a Healer. I did a Wailing  Caverns run with him that went well enough but I wasn't minded to repeat the experience. I guess he must have been in the high teens by then.

3. Which factors determined your faction choice in game?

I didn't know there were factions. Well, I suppose it was mentioned at character creation somewhere but it went straight over my head. I just looked at the race and class choices available.

It was only when I started doing Battlegrounds that I really noticed the factions. That and when I couldn't get a griffin in Goldshire because some troll had killed the flightmaster.  I was pretty gung ho for the Alliance after that.

Come to think of it, in the short while I played WoW, I don't believe I had any Horde characters at all. I have one now, a goblin, on the Eternal Free Trial. I've forgotten my password though. I might have to start again.

Last call for passengers for Ironforge. Please have your boarding cards ready.

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

Easy one!  It was the day I finally managed to get up to the Secret Gnomish Airfield. I'd spotted the apparently inaccessible location while leveling up in the general area and I became obsessed with finding a way to get to it. I spent hours attempting to climb various possible approaches without success. I watched YouTube videos and read detailed walk-throughs and still couldn't get it right.

The day I finally found the exact pixel-perfect spot to clamber up and onto the snow-covered runway was the day I downloaded FRAPS to record my triumph, although a not-very extensive search this morning has failed to turn up any documentary evidence beyond a couple of screenshots. It remains one of my most memorable MMO experiences ever. Proper exploring, that was.

If that view doesn't make you want to go exploring you might need to check your pulse.
That you have one, that is.

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

Leveling and yes it has, not least because it's my favorite aspect of every MMO. I found leveling to be quite well-paced in WoW so long as I wasn't on my Priest. Nowhere near as fast as I'd been led to believe and not as easy, either. Very satisfying and enjoyable, especially when I was just hunting at random and not doing quests.

Five years ago that was still a perfectly practical and pleasant way to level. From the evidence of playing my Goblin in the Free Trial last year I'm not so sure that's still true today.

Home is the place that when you have to go there they have to take you in.
Especially when they have no doors to keep you out.

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

Dun Morogh, the dwarven starting area, and Loch Modan, the next one along. Just thinking about it makes me want to roll another Dwarf so I can go there again. I also liked Goldshire although not so much the people who hung out there. I haven't been back since Cataclysm though. I wonder how things have changed. Or even if they've changed.

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

A little over three months. For me, WoW was the classic three-monther. I came to it not expecting very much and found it to be much, much better than I expected. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole journey from 1 to 50 (the original game) on two characters and would happily have played several more through that content. Probably will one day.

I didn't feel the same, however, about either The Burning Crusade or the WotLK zones. I didn't enjoy the 60s much and by the time I hit the low 70s I'd had enough. Gameplay seemed to have become much more directive, even coercive, and it took much of the fun out of leveling. Mrs Bhagpuss lasted a little longer and got a little higher but although we were both very happy to have played and had a lot of fun while we did, three to four months was enough.

The color scheme that nearly killed the game.

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

Absolutely. Every time, every quest, all the way through. I do in every MMO, even badly translated imports. Having plenty to read as I play is a key reason why I play MMOs in the first place.

WoW does itself no favors with the abysmal font, color and design of its quest text. It's ugly, abrasive and hard to read. Added to that, Blizzard's writers use a strained, artificial, cod-formal prose style that adds a weird, arch, knowing edge to every quest. You get used to it eventually but it's a struggle. Plenty of other MMOs, most of them in fact, have better-written quest text than WoW.

Look. It's not a mailbox, I'm not naked and I'm not dancing. Alright?

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

Can't think of any. I never danced naked on a mailbox.

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

None whatsoever. Wait - one thing. I know no-one at all in "real life" who would ever identify as a "gamer" let alone as an MMO player, which makes it quite difficult to explain to anyone what it is I do with my time out of work. When I try to explain, occasionally someone will say "oh, you mean like World of Warcraft?" which allows me to say "well, sort of. Something like that". It's quite literally the only MMO 99% of people I meet have ever heard of.


  1. I wouldn't feel "right" answering these questions because I didn't play WoW much because I didn't really like it.

  2. I also loved pre-Cata Loch Modan and Dun Murogh, though The Shattering hasn't been kind of them (he said omniously). Exactly the same with the Questing set-up, loved the open world feel of the orginal game but with each expansion it got more and more railroading/plothammer-y

    The airfield is btw now an all-access area integrated in the Questing experience, no more max-level Dwarf guards mauling poor level 8-ish Trolls anymore.


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