Look into my crystal ball

The shared topic proposed this week over at Blog Azeroth was:

So what do you guys remember about the older days of WoW?

crystalballBecause I rather like the look of her beads and because she’s underused, I’m going to highjack Ruuna the Blind and her crystal ball for this post.

Let your mind wander, drifting back through time to august 2005. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”… hmm, nope wrong story but the principle applies.

Through the fog, images appear. I see, I see a night elf, young, nervous, wearing pastel blue. She is by water, lots of water and there are other people with her, 39 in fact.

Ignoring the fact that I actually thought my devout set was the pinnacle of cool, we used to meet in Thelsamar to go to Molten Core. Yes, even with hindsight it sounds a little crazy but back then the Horde who outnumbered us were trying to rank farm and we were trying to farm instances. So once they figured out that sitting around in Orgrimmar hoping we all joined the WSG queue wasn’t going to work, they headed out in search of honour points. That meant camping the road between Thorium Point and Blackrock Mountain at raid time. So our somewhat pyscho guildmaster decided we would all meet in Loch Modan and ride crocodilestyle through the tunnel (yes we had to be on follow or else plus everyone had to ride non epic mounts so we all went at the same pace). Once in the mountain, the perilous journey was not yet over. Oh no, there was the risk of being mindcontrolled down into the firey depths, there was the epic framerate dropping caused by 8 or 9 raid groups, plus gankers all crammed into one fairly small space trying to kill each other.

Have to say, I was so happy the day they introduced an instance that didn’t have a lethal pit of doom underneath it.

The vision is changing, I see dark earth, gloomy caverns and imps, lots of imps. Oh and there is some paladin sat in the corner watching you all fight, he looks even more unimpressed than the rest of you.

Out of Combat ressers, now thats something I miss. The standard of play in my guild went up soon after Blizzard fixed that little caper by adding pulses to force everyone into combat. Although that coupled with 5 minute blessings must have made paladins a nightmare to play. By the time you have buffed all 40 people its almost time to start replacing them again.

Why Imps?

Someone always pulled the imp cave whilst we were fighting Lucifron. Usually just after the raidleader said “don’t pull the imps”.

Once again the images swirl and change. Plaguebloom, diseased animals. There is a darkness here and danger. I sense danger, a warrior perhaps bearing down upon you.

Because of the PvP problem I mentioned earlier, outside raid time the Horde would tend to roam the Plaguelands looking for strays, stragglers and levellers who could be hunted down and slaughtered. Thus doing anything whether it be herbing, questing or grinding was extremely dangerous. Sorrowhill was no go terrority unless you wanted to end up in one of its open graves yourself.

The one thing I probably miss the most from vanilla WoW was the huge Tarren Mill/Southshore battles. In a way it was perfectly balanced because as one side drove the other back towards their town, the guards would swiftly turn the tide of battle. It was also and perhaps surprisingly a great way to meet people of both factions. After a particularly nasty battle we would often sit in the middle by that tower and duel or emote at each other.

duel01Note the wonderful mismatch of gear and dungeon sets.

Looking back, I think the greatest regret I have is how small my WoW world is these days. Back then I had a large and varied friends list:

  • People I met doing world PvP, both Horde and Alliance – But now there is no world PvP. Lv 80s running around ganking doesn’t count. Whilst it used to be a mechanism to start world PvP, todays lowbie gankers tend to run for the hills the second another lv 80 arrives on the scene. Yesterday for example I got to watch an 80 Boomkin in full PvP gear running away from a Prot warrior after happily killing a 70 warlock. He had zero interest in 80 v 80 but was just hanging out in the Howling Fjord looking for low levels (and no the Lock hadn’t killed his alt).
  • People I met doing same server battlegrounds – It was easy to make friends via the battlegrounds as you tended to keep meeting up with the same people over and over again. Now its rare especially in the larger battlegroups that you see the same person more than once or twice.
  • People who could craft rare recipes – Pretty much covered either by guildmates or the auction house.

From raiding to doing dailies these days pretty much everything I do is with some who shares my guildtag. With server transfers/name changes and a feeling of anonymity the sense of community outlined in the screenshot above has pretty much disappeared. We have gone from being a small village like community to being a massive city where no one knows their neighbours but you can get a MacDonalds 24/7. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy the game and in some ways I’m glad its evolved, better quest mechanics, more interesting questlines, better looking instances, but I do miss that sense of belonging not just to a guild, but to something bigger than that. Now thats the maudling over with, other random standout memories include:

  • Rank farming. The nervous anticipation just before the honor was calcuated as you waited to see whether you had gone up.
  • Downranking spells. I loved using lesser heal in Naxxramas the first time around.
  • The Benediction quest.
  • The spider cave on Teldrassil –  That cave is littered with the corpse of my very first character. I still avoid it like the plague even now.

I think thats part of the staying power of WoW. The game is fluid, once you master one element something else is added or altered. Looking back I have memories that make me laugh, memories that make me sad (primarily guilds collapsing) and those that make me happy. At the end of the day, you really can’t ask for anything more from a computer game.

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