An old acquaintance from years of playing on Borean Tundra and other servers has created a web site for gaming, and he asked me if I would like to write something about World of Warcraft, my years of playing on our server, dealing with expansions and patches, and the upcoming Shadowlands Expansion.
I have been playing World of Warcraft for, well 11 years now. I got my start playing during the high point of the game, Wrath of the Lich King. I had bought the game for my wife for Christmas in 2007, mostly as a joke because we had watched the South Park episode, Make love not Warcraft.
At the time we thought, how cool would it be if a game actually looked like that. It sat around on a desk for about a year. In early January of 2009 we installed it and she started playing. We only had one computer in the house at the time so it was all hers. Soon after we picked up an inexpensive laptop for me so I could play online games, and I would help her look up quests. There was a point where her account got hacked and she lost everything, but another player in town offered to get her some equipment and gave her some gold so she could get back to playing. That was a point for me where I knew, this was the kind of game I wanted to play. One where a complete stranger stepped up to help someone out without any thought of being paid back. Just a comment, help someone else out in the future if you can.
So she started on the second day of the Borean Tundra server being opened, we picked that one because on the list it said “new players”. Obviously that is where you start playing any game amirite? The server was locked out for transfers for the first 6 months, so everyone there was on equal footing. Certainly there was a large majority of veteran players to the game that had rolled up a character just because of the Gate opening event and to get their chance at the mount and title. Once they completed that, many just left, server transferred away, never to be seen again. Some were missed when they left, they were the ones that would offer help to people trying to learn how to play for the first time. Many that routinely called all of the new players noobs, carries, casuals, they left and I doubt many tears were shed when they did. Then we had those folks that decided to stay, made the effort to shape our realm into what it would grow to be. In my book, they are the true Warcraft players, not those that play for the beginning of an expansion, then leave for months, only to come back later to proclaim how bad the game was, and that everyone should go play new game title X, Y, or Z that is so much better. An interesting thing happened in those first two years. We learned the game, and we started looking out for our own. People name calling in General chat were quickly admonished, making a name for yourself as a player, having a good reputation actually meant something. And we carried on, through Cata, Mists, Warlords of Draenor, Legion, Battle for Azeroth, and later this year the Shadowlands expansion.
An interesting comment. I cannot recall when I first talked to Spartaprime, it’s been so many years. I believe we first talked back when I had created a Facebook group for the Borean Tundra server. Back then we all had in game friends, and it seemed like a great way for those that decided to go elsewhere or left the game to stay in touch with friends, and maybe to make new ones. Also it showed you the person behind the computer screen. No longer were we that Dwarf you always saw in town with a mount parked on a mailbox, or that Mage in Org that would open portals to send people to Old Dalaran crater as a joke. These were real people, and it made interactions a bit more civil. So about Sparta. He was a true Alliance player to the core, the Horde were evil and must be fought at all costs. Until that day he and some friends created Horde characters and saw things from the other side. You see all the story, the lore, the long quest chains for both sides, even with disjointed story lines, are so well done, have so much passion in them, that it’s easy to develop a sense of which side you belong on. But even beyond that, the feeling of faction pride is further enhanced by the people you play with, and even the server you play on. All are unique in how they have evolved from their beginnings. Server identity still means something even in today’s connected realm game. And I will mention that the Horde welcomed Sparta and friends, and still light a candle for a day when you may return to Borean Tundra.
So. A little about me. I am the Guild Leader for Fates Call, on US Borean Tundra. We are the last of the guilds that were formed on the first day the server was opened. I was not the founder of the guild, nor the 2nd or 3rd person to lead. I am however the current, and have been doing so for about 7 years. I got my start Alliance side, and eventually switched to the Horde. My wife is Co-GM of the guild. When I took over the guild was barely surviving. We had about 14 people in the guild, with about 50 total characters. A Saturday night would see perhaps 2-3 people online. I grew the guild to where it is today. Routinely hitting the 1000 cap, close to 500 player accounts. A guild that raids Heroic, and has accomplished getting Ahead of the Curve since Warlords. At the beginning of this expansion we had nights with over 85 people online, even now in the final months we still see 20-25 or more on in the evenings. I may not be a worlds first anything, but I count my sucess based on the good people I have provided a place to play. Certainly there was a time in the past where I did more, for awhile I was the last of the forum moderators for Shadowpriest.com, until it was purchased and shut down. I no longer raid, or run higher end content, but that is mostly an issue with class design and my abilities.
Spartaprimez mentioned that it would be interesting to hear my opinions on the games past, current, and the future. So I will try to not keep you reading for days.
The game certainly has evolved over the past 11 years. We are looking ahead to the 9th expansion which at its end will mark the 18th year for Warcraft as an MMO, even older if you go back to its origins of Warcraft3. Certainly the game is showing its age. Compared to newer titles based on software and hardware available today, it is outdated. But it has its charm much like an old arcade game you played back on the day that you can’t resist giving a whirl if you happen to pass by an arcade. There have been a lot of good changes made, some questionable, and others that make you want to ask
What were you thinking? Why? Why would you do that?
Some of the best changes revolved around bringing community together, when they introduced guild leveling, it was as if they breathed life into the game. Guilds worked together to level up to 25, we worked on achievements as a guild, and got the perks that went along with it. Does anyone recall when they added Mass Summoming? Oh that was a fun time, having a Rogue sneak into the Alliance Capital and summoning a 40 man raid group to one location. Good times. The perks were great, the friendly jibs at other guilds as we all pushed to cap every day to be the ones that got to 25 first. I don’t know why they felt the need to cut off that aspect of the game. It seems pointless at times now, anyone can form a guild with 5 signatures and get most of the perks right away. It feels like those that put in the hard work to get there had too much of an advantage so the playing field was leveled. The addition of the group finder has its share of those in favor, and those against. For myself, I think it was needed, but have had times where I wish it was different in some ways. Certainly it gets abused, and it also helps. When streamers run charity events where they offer to help people get a mount that goes away at the end of a raid tier, when they have the Running of the Gnomes to raise money to fight cancer. Even when we had our own Level 1 Orc and Troll race that drew 43 competitors who ran from the starting area to Loch Modan on foot with no help from other players.
World of Warcraft goes through changes in an effort to keep it fresh. There are times I feel like it is almost a stand alone game set it the Warcraft Universe every time we have a new expansion. Having players that have played from the beginning, even ones like myself are a good thing. We all have years of experience playing and while a great many things might have a coat of dust on our memories, we still know a great deal that can help new players with. However, we are also a detriment to the game because we have been here so long. We have played through 120 levels, years of playing, and that makes it more difficult for new players. As a possible fix in the upcoming Shadowlands expansion we are getting a level squish. Everyone is getting lowered to level 50, and we will level up to 60. They are also implementing ways for you to level in expansions you liked more than others exclusively. So if you were a fan of Wrath you could spend 25-30 or more of you leveling experience there. Content will scale to where you are at. The advantage being if you have a friend say level 25 and you’re at 42, you can both play the same content and get rewarded with items appropriate to where you are at. This is a long way from the game I played where people in the guild would ask for help with a quest from someone at max level how could steamroll through it like it was nothing. Personally I am on the fence with level scaling, especially when you get into current content where you feel like you are getting weaker as you advance. I understand that eventually things will become easier, but those weeks spent replacing older gear with newer, and increasing them too can be frustrating.
The systems are getting changed yet again, we have gone through expansions where everyone gets a Legendary item, to having a single weapon used for an entire expansion, to a necklace we work to power up by doing all aspects of the game, to where we are heading, where we will choose between 4 factions for additional abilities that will help us. Are all of the changes good? That depends on the player certainly. I know for myself I am doing less in the game than I was 4 years ago. A lot has to do with the class design I am having difficulty with for the character I have played mostly exclusively for 11 years. Certainly I have given other classes a try, have gotten them up to a point where you just can’t mash buttons to play. But I have my one character, that one that defines me as a player, good and bad. Mostly a lot of bad and frustrated in recent years. Whether or not the people that design the game intentionally focus on appealing to a certain group of players is debatable. No one wants to feel like they are the bad player, everyone wants to do well, to be the person everyone looks to when they log in, that person that helps save the day. I have had points in my gaming life where everything clicked, where I felt like I was unstoppable and could be the hero. A final bad pull before the last boss in a Heroic Grim Batol with everyone dead and me the last man standing, hitting every spell and ability at the precise moment, and finishing off the last bad guy with only 2% of my health left. Watching a friend solo a raid boss for the last 5% as we all hold our breath watching time and again as he almost gets taken out to seeing the boss drop. We all live for that moment. And perhaps for me those years are behind me as I have gotten a lot older, and found my reaction time is not what it use to be, and that things are becoming more complex and more difficult to follow. The great thing about World of Warcraft is that there always seems to be something you can do. Whether or not you find it satisfying, or worth the $15 a month to play, unless you like working on collecting gold so you can pay with in game gold to play for free. The biggest appeal for myself and many over the years has been the people you play with. The friends you make, those enemies in the game that you have respect for because of the way they act. Maybe someday in the future they will come to realize that making the game inclusive of everyone across all realms only serves to dilute the game, and make the idea of community less, will they take a hard look at things, and maybe force us to swallow a bitter pill, and make people accountable for their actions. Being a great player only goes so far if you are a toxic person. I would rather do 1/3rd of the content with good people that make me laugh, than playing with some of the best doing the hardest content there is if they treat others beneath them like they don’t exist.
Hope to see you as we cross over into the Shadowlands, and beyond.