Just a Warning this is going to be a *VERY LONG POST*! Written because I felt like writing about something and I couldn't sleep.
When I had first picked up World of Warcraft, I, like many others had no idea the kind of adventure we were getting into. For me, it was the kind of quest that would see many hardships, good times, friends, enemies, and families. It was in the beginning a new experience for me, a huge open world environment with some great music to accompany it. A sprawling community where many laughs would be had and many arguments fought (People of the barrens know this all too well.).
But as time moved on the game and how I played it evolved. The game went from wonderment, to a game which revolved around repetitious routine and frustration at times, to a game that revolved around stats and how to obtain the best gear and spell rotation. This is my story of how I came to see my play style and the way I see the game change. This is the story of a Casual WoW player.
I started playing WoW In the first iteration, now referred to as vanilla, back in those days I had never played an MMORPG before and of course the idea of paying money to play it seemed out of the question, but the idea of a massive world bigger than anything I had previously heard of intrigued me enough to buy it. After picking it up, installing, and patching the game I created my first character in what is now a library of over 20 fully developed characters spanning 3 accounts. He was a Troll Rogue on Scarlet Crusade(RP), rolled because I had a friend who had a Undead Warrior, and he told me the Rogue could go invisible and I loved the idea of sneaking up and killing my enemies.
Back in those days I was lucky to get a solid 3 hours in without crashing or on some occasion, a server shutdown, it seemed that the first 3 months of wow were a real test of patience waiting for Blizz to iron out all of the problems, but persist I did. In those days I never thought of gear or what stats I had, I just wanted to look cool and kill stuff(specifically people). I remember vividly the first instance I joined after being asked to join, it was RFC and the experience blew me away. Five people working together taking down groups of enemies, the experience was like no other, there were no damage meters, no one arguing about DPS, Tanking, or healing. There was none of the repetition I would later feel grinding out Heroics or repeat instance runs for a piece of gear. Just five people chatting about how cool they're new ability was or where to go for this quest or everyone's favorite topic, complaints about the servers. This really set the tone for what my first year of playing was.
Around the time I was level 25 I had ventured into Hillsbrad doing quests. (Back in those days I had not yet heard about thottbot, and there was no quest helper, so the quests really felt like quests, ones I needed to read to have an idea of where to go.) Upon arriving I viewed what I imagine a lot of us witnessed in those days, Tarren Mill being raided. I had no idea what was going on, but chat was lit up with people talking about PvP, who was fighting who, and how famous alliance X was on the server for being in town raids. in those days there were few 60's and the rest were scattered levels. I naturally engaged in the town raid, finding someone my own level and getting killed repeatedly, but it was challenging and it allowed me to learn more about my class and adapt strategy. Later when BG's were introduced I would put what I learned to good use, but for the moment it was amazing to be a part of a raid group full of every level, skill, and gear set-up fighting off a common fow just because the town needed defending. It was there I joined my first guild and made two friends (who I would later lose contact with, but it introduced the major social aspect of the game, guilds)
The days were not always great, back in then it seemed as though the communities were more attentive to matters on their servers. Around level 44 I had done a mara group and I had ninja'd a Dagger, unintentionally it was wrong I admit it. Word of this spread to the server forum and my name was all over general chat for a week. It was strange how I had gone from relatively unknown to blacklisted, but I also had people I had partied with in the past sticking up for me in chat. There was a real sense that each server was it's own entity like a little town where everyone knew each other. Eventually the ninja experience was cleared and became a thing of the past but I learned from that, and never needed anything off hand again.
Life at 60 for me was boring I must admit. I had not yet heard of Raiding, and pvp was all I chose to do, wanting to do Alterac Valley the most, because it was a server event, organized on the forums on certain dates and would last hours, but it was always epic. I spent most of my non pvp time exploring the world because that's why I bought the game and so explore I did. Most notably I went into the Caverns of Time when it was still a Starry Cave, Hyjal before they blocked the entrance, and AQ before the Gate event. But overtime they became boring and my guild had broken up so I wandered around Org most days, until as chance would have it, I joined another guild and learned about Molten Core.
A 40 man raid was something I had indeed experienced in AV, but Molten Core was different, it was an instance where we would have to work as a group to take down some pretty fearsome bosses. I was once again awestruck going into MC for the first time. 40 people attacking molten giants, it had a feeling I couldn't describe, but as fun as the pulls were, the boss fights were something else entirely. Fights that required everyone to be on the top of their game. Wiping and having to adjust your strategy was frustrating and exhilarating at the same time, but the pay off was something that many know so well, and it's the feeling I've been chasing since those days. Downing your first boss is something I couldn't begin to describe with words. The explosion of "woots!" and " OMG YES!!!!" not to mention the deafening screams on vent as your humble guild downs it's first boss. It's a feeling I would like to think every raider has experienced, and one that I rarely see anymore.
Of course downing the boss, as exciting as it is, is usually trumped by your first piece of Tier 1. Yes back in those days gear was indeed hard to get, with bosses only dropping 2 - 3 pieces of gear, with 40 people to compete with, also getting that 1 piece to drop, it was really a big deal when your first piece goes into your bags your on cloud 9. I remember mine vividly, Nightslayer Chestpiece. I had friends over watching me raid and we all shouted like animals when I won it. I felt like I had accomplished something and that all my hard work had meaning.
Unfortunately the guild was hit with drama and soon disbanded after our progression had reached Ragnoros. I left the server and rolled a paladin. After leveling him I raided now and then but never got into a solid raiding guild, mostly due to inexperience, gear, and the fact that I never really grinded instances. This was the way things were for the rest of vanilla. I took a couple of breaks usually lasting a month at a time, but I always had someone to talk to and a good guild to just bs in. Then Burning Crusade was released and ultimately the way I viewed wow changed forever.
When BC was released I was determined to reach 70 and start raiding. At this time I still had no interest in stats, a Purple was good and you needed blues before you could get purples, that's all I needed to know. I played for about a week straight and got to 70 pretty quickly with help from my friends. exploring the new content had actually taken a back seat now compared to my determination of getting geared and ready for raids. My guild had leveled pretty quickly and we went in to Kharazan and wiped the floor on the first boss(horsemen). This was discouraging to most of the guild who had been going through most instances getting their blues thinking they were good enough to take down the first boss, but it took a surprising amount of strategy then what they were used to. Quickly after this the guild disbanded and me and my friends went our own way playing in the arena. Now this was something I highly enjoyed when it first came out. Everyone for the most part was on equal footing and we won about 3/4ths of the arenas we played, but we were not constant about it and over time we lost our edge and quickly were past up.
Also during this time I discovered a very annoying yet fun thing, botters. I was farming in Nagrand when I would see a character repeating the same movements over and over, later in the week I observed this toon was still in the same spot. I whispered him, but was met with no answer so I went on my way. A couple days later I noticed he was still there so I started tagging kills and he would kill them and go on the same circular path. Later I decided to kite a mob, and to my amazement he followed! I kited him to the alliance and after killing the mob, he turned and ran into a wall for about 25 minutes, after that a mob came up to him and beat him to death walking into a wall. It was hilarious, but also introduced me to wow biggest underground problem during BC. I started seeing them everywhere, reporting everyone I could confirm as being an actual bot. Bots in wow really killed my sense of accomplishment seeing as anyone could turn on a bot and get PvP gear or level 70, I saw little reason to play at all if what I was doing was rendered meaningless. This combined with guild drama started my first major break with wow. (Some time later I learned the program used *wowglider* had been sued by blizzard and forced to shut down. since then I have not seen any bots, although im sure there are some out there.)
Six Months later I returned. I rolled my third character after looking on the forums for guilds that were recruiting for raids. I noticed a reroll guild ad, so I went to the server and met with the leaders and decided to roll a warlock. This stage in wow is where I really improved, I began to take the game seriously and learn all about my class, the stats I needed, rotations, and Spec. It was also the best time I have ever had with a guild. We were an upstart reroll guild, it was just five but later went on to 10 members. the core 5 of us ran heroics every single night, not to get badges, but to talk and have fun. I had many laughs with those guys and we were together for about a year. Kharazan runs were tons of fun, even if thats the only raid we actually had because of our numbers. I had, from these runs forged real friendships with people, but I had also geared my Warlock very well and honed my play style to a science. I was no longer a player who went through the motions I was a real contender in runs for DPS.
unfortunately all good things must come to an end. After being swallowed by a raid guild because the majority of us wanted to see the illidan fight we lost contact pretty fast, not ready for a major raid routine of wipes to learn a raid, a lot of good friends quit the game, and soon the guild like many others I have been in had broken up as well. It seemed I was back at square one. I had a well geared character now, but no guild and no recruiting guilds. After this I took my second and longest break from wow. One that would carry my into WoTLK.
Like many people I think I started back into WoW to try the Death Knight. I leveled him to 80 and joined a guild. I did some research into specs, but not rotations. As a result my DPS was mediocre and overall the class was boring to me. I raided Naxx with another upstart guild, but I lost the feeling I had with both Vanilla and BC. I pondered if it was just time to quit. and so after two weeks I did just that I left again.
After 3 months and some personal RL issues, I was once again pulled back in. I decided to look for a reroll guild, because having had personal success in my last attempt I figured it was worth a try. So I rolled on my current Server Grizzly Hills. The guild was full of elitists and stat calculators who knew most of the fights in wotlk at the time. They had rerolled on GH to show there superiority and pass up everyone in progression. It's no surprise that they ultimately failed. Not enough of them were patient enough to gear, the other half were off in their own little world, no one ever talked and it was a disaster.
Some good did come out of it. Some of the members were from top 100 guilds before rerolling and were actually helpful to me, I picked up a lot from them, including raid macros, strategies on healing (I rolled a restro druid) gearing priorities ext. Once I had reached 80 on my druid, the guild thrust me into action, I was healing for them all the time, and learned how to heal in some intense situations. They also moved at a breakneck pace, only concerning themselves with their performance and how fast they could finish instance X. It was literally like WoW bootcamp with them, and I attribute a lot of my skill to them. but as with most of my luck, this guild never stood a chance and disbanded after I had obtained all the gear I could get (badge loot).
With no place to go I again left wow, and again returned 3 months later, once I had heard of the New Instance system. I joined a Trade Chat guild ad and just did randoms for badges. To my surprise the guild was full of really friendly, active people. I Found myself on vent again talking with them, having fun doing runs with them and generally enjoying the game again. Although I have found that I too have become a little elitist. The other members in my guild were awful. Specs were all over the place, gear was good, but rotations were bad. It was a mess to put bluntly, but I think unlike many people I did not chastise or belittle them, or leave the guild because of this. I asked them if they needed any help, and offered to coach them with specs, and rotation. After research I helped the DK's, about 4 of them, raise their DPS from 2.5k when they started to 4.5 - 6k as well as some warlocks and paladins. I felt like I found a new home, they appreciated everything I was doing, and I loved helping them out and seeing / hearing there amazement about how much they had improved.
As good as this was I was getting bored, and soon decided to start the raid game again. I apped for my current guild and joined the same day as a healer. Leaving my previous guild was not really a big deal because I have 3 characters in the guild and it feels more like a family than a guild, where I can bring my healer to their raids if they need my help and im always welcome there, so im happy about that. But my current raid guild, im very pleased with.
This guild is the closest I have come to recreating the awesome feeling of BC raids. Chat is full of BS and good times, and at the same time we are serious, but not elitist. Last night I went in and cleared up to Lich King in 10m and im doing ICC 25m tonight. It feels like the right amount of challenge for my healing and the runs are fun and funny, It's exactly what I want out of wow right now, and until something happens to change that, I will stay.
I sometimes reflect about my time spent in this video game, it means different things to different people and indeed has meant different things to me during these last 5 years. Whether im out exploring the land, PvPing in an arena, or sitting around during a raid chatting it about of various phallic devices in emotes, I will always find some new experience in this game and maybe thats why I, and many others, keep coming back. Not for the gear, but for the journey to get that gear.
Anyway this post is too long as it is, so im going to cut it off here.
Here are some old screenshots
|This was me dicking around on my paladin, ironically this random guy died from area damage that Sylvanis did I guess|
|My level 60 paladin from days of old (PreAQ)|