When I played WoW…

Riffing on a quick back and forth I had on Twitter, I thought I’d wax nostalgic a little bit about my WoW phase.

When I played WoW, I lived alone. I was unemployed and in-between job interviews and freelance gigs I’d spend 20, 30 or even more hours playing each week. These days if I spend 10 hours gaming in a week, it’s a big gaming week.

Because I spent so much time playing, I was in an active guild and knew everyone else in it. We’d be on Vent with open mikes, laughing, talking, cursing, and laughing some more. I knew my guildie’s spouses and kids (tho as often as not, said spouses and kids were in the guild anyway). I knew when person X walked the dog at night, and what time person Y got home from work. These people were my social circle at the time. We weren’t big enough to be a raiding guild but back then doing 5 & 10 man instances had enough of an end-game feel that they felt very satisfying.

When I wasn’t doing something with the guild, I’d hang out in Stormwind. There was a strong role-play community at the time and I spent hours just sitting around in the taverns in Stormwind, chatting with people while drinking real beer in the real world. Not having a job to go to, I didn’t have to go to bed at a reasonable hour and so got to enjoy “late night WoW” which, at the time, was a period starting at 1 or 2 am and stretching until dawn when a lot of the ‘noise’ of the server went away and the people left felt like a real community. We’d chat until all hours. Azeroth became, effectively, my local bar to hang out in. With so much time to play, I never felt pressured to hurry through anything.

Then life changed. I got a job, got a girl, we all were sort of feeling like we’d done everything we could in-game and people started trying other titles. I didn’t have time to keep up. The guild kind of drifted apart and I left the game.

I’ve tried to go back a few times since, but it’s like going back to the places you spent your evenings-out at as a young person. There’re still people there, but you don’t know who they are, and the music they’re playing is different, and the decor is different, and the guy behind the bar sure doesn’t know you…he was probably in diapers that last time you hung out there. You just don’t fit in any longer and it just feels kind of depressing.

And yet today I bought Wrath of the Lich King and now I really don’t know why. I know I’ll log in, feel incredibly lonely because my old friends are no longer there, and log out again. Maybe Cataclysm will change things up enough that WoW will feel like a new place to me.

Catching up

We had a big ice storm here in New England during the Thursday overnight. Friday morning our power went out, so I couldn’t post before work. At lunchtime I came home to check on things, making sure neither Angela nor the guinea pigs had frozen to death, so no lunchtime post writing. By the time I got home, power was restored. My heart goes out to the many people who will be without power for several days; high today will be in the 20’s so its going to get terribly cold in all those houses. One of my co-workers had to leave the area to go stay with family; they had no heat, it was getting cold, and all the hotel and motel rooms are booked. I guess some of the schools have been set up as shelters for those without the means to get out of the area.

Funny thing about electricity is how much you don’t notice it until it isn’t there anymore.


Thursday night before all this started I got my first taste of this year’s Frostfell celebration in EQ2. I can’t remember if my account was active for Frostfell last year, but if it was I didn’t pay much mind to Frostfell because there’s a lot of stuff new to me that I’m told isn’t new this year. For my first outing I aided Queen Bunny in her fight against the commercialization of Frostfell. It was a fun little quest, solo (and it scales to your level) and it took me to the Steamfont Mountains, an area I’d never visited in EQ2.

One thing I learned while doing this quest is how badly equipped Riowa is. I was taking a lot of damage which made me think to check his gear and it’s all level 30-32 (and he is 42)! One of my “problems” with EQ2 is that I’m perpetually doing “gray” quests because my quest log is perpetually full. So I always log in to ‘knock off some of these gray quests’ and end up leveling in the process, making even more quests gray. I’m anal about going from A to B to C (in everything I do, not just EQ2) so I take every quest I see, and what I’m learning is that there are too many quests for any one character to do and still maintain some level of challenge. Not sure what to do about that… the A-B-C thing is pretty deeply ingrained.

Anyway, Friday night I was so totally spent that I mostly watched TV. I jumped into WoW a bit to use up Rested Experience on my baby Rogue on Rexxar, but I have to be honest, WoW just isn’t engaging me. It was fun for a week or so but now it’s just the same old same old again, even with the added benefit of CoWs. My account is up for renewal on the 23rd and I don’t think I’ll renew. Winter’s Veil starts on the 15th so I’ll probably play around in that a bit then be done with WoW.

In LOTRO the Yule Festival has begun, and I’ve read there’s a quest in the Shire that earns you a Christmas Tree for your yard, so I need to do that this weekend. I’m wondering if I can get my Champion to 35, get a decent horse, and win one of the Festival Races to get a better horse, all in the course of one special event. But there’s Frostfell fun to be had, too! So many choices! I managed to snag the whole week between Christmas and New Year’s off, though, so I’ll have some extra gaming time. On the other hand, next week is going to be hell week (launching a new web site at work) and I don’t imagine I’ll be getting much gaming dune.

An evening with the CoW WoWs

I ended up spending most of the weekend in EQ2 with the significant other, but last night I jumped back into World of Warcraft. I was still running solo, taking my shaman from level 9 to 11. I’m not so used to Bloodmyst Isle that I can stack quests efficiently or I probably would’ve made a bit more progress.

I’m *loving* being in the WoW branch of the Casualties of War guild, more so (sorry CoWs!) than I ever did in the Warhammer branch. I feel much more connected to my guildies by dint, I think, of achievements. I know that sounds odd, but people are constantly getting these achievements (which I admit, I poo-pooed pretty strongly before I started playing again) and each one garners a round of “congrats!” and these in turn often spawn some chit-chat via blessed, quiet, text.

Honestly I’m very comfortable soloing in MMOs, which I know sounds really bizarre to some people (“Why not just play a single player game!?”) but with a single player game, you get what’s in the box and never anything more, whereas MMOs are living systems, always changing and growing. So being more or less alone on Bloodmyst Isle isn’t bothering me a bit, but it IS nice to have a guild to trade items with, to chat a bit with, to give and take support from. CoW WoW is currently what I’d call a mid-sized guild… plenty of people on, but not so many that you get lost in the crowd.

The only tiny fly in the ointment is that Rexxar isn’t an RP server, but you can’t have everything. Most of the guildies chose reasonable names (my main reason for preferring RP servers is naming conventions), and only one person has gone with something that really makes me cringe (have I mentioned that I’m an MMO Name Snob?), but that name is so bad I assume the person will end up getting it reported and have to change it. I’d report it if I wasn’t a guildie, but I do have some sense of loyalty. 🙂

But yeah, that’s a teeny, tiny fly. Otherwise, it’s been nothing but good feelings and good times logging into WoW again. And Winter’s Veil starts in a couple of weeks. I love Blizzard’s events!!

Remember, Casualties of War is still recruiting!

What a difference a CoW makes…

Last night I was back in WoW. After the buyer’s remorse-fest of Sunday, I’m not even sure why I logged in. Stubbornness perhaps, or maybe as a show of solidarity with the guild.

This time, I started a Drenai Shaman. Good move on my part, at least the Drenai aspect. I have started literally 20+ human characters, but only a very few Drenai. So their “crash site” starter area is still at least somewhat new. I swear I could close my eyes and run the human abbey quests at this point. 🙂

So I was already more pleased with my return to WoW, but then I contacted the Genda (I think?? Most of us are using WoW names and I’m not always sure who is who at this point) and got a guild invite, and from there on in the night was nothing but fun. I was still playing solo, but enjoying the companionship of the guild made everything feel more fun.

We’re recruiting, by the way. If you’re playing, or are interested in playing, Warhammer Online or World of Warcraft, and you’re looking for a guild, give us a look. I don’t even know how to describe us anymore, but I’ll just say we’re a generally mature and easy-going guild. We get that games are games and real life is real life and that the latter is more important. Lots of us have kids and/or spouses that deserve attention, and we get that you probably can’t be (or don’t want to be) in-game every single night.

We’re still a fairly young guild, too. Just a few months old. But the plans are for eventual expansion into other MMOs, and “unofficially” some of us are gaming together on the XBox or in non-MMO games like Left 4 Dead.

Look, I’m a bitter, angry, cynical old man, and I get around the CoWs and just grin and have a good time. If *I’m* not finding anything to bitch about, you can bet this is a great bunch of people. So give us a try! Start by registering at the forums. Tell ’em Pete sent you; they probably won’t hold that against you.

Willpower saving throw: Failed

So at approximately 11 pm last night, I renewed my WoW subscription. And yes, the baby polar bears figured into that decision, more in terms of timing than in terms of the decision to renew. I felt it coming on, now that CoW is moving into WoW, and figured I may as well get the cute little rat pellet while I could.

I logged in a bunch of my old characters to get the bear and to be baffled by all their gear and crap, then rolled a new character on Rexxar, the CoW WoW server (how could I resist that). And I felt an overwhelming feeling of buyer’s remorse.

THIS again? Kobold varmints, kobold workkers, kobold laborers… defias headbands, grapes and garret’s head? It all came back in a rush. And it really struck me how little WoW has changed in the past 4 years, from the point of view of a level 1 character. I was astounded that, for instance, hovering the mouse over gear in your backpack doesn’t pop-up an “Equipped” window to allow you to compare (though this does happen during quest reward pay-offs). I was surprised that the graphics haven’t changed, that there were no new options for faces or hairstyles. That the character voices were exactly the same. It just felt old to me.

I mean I know that leveling is crazy fast now, and I see some interface tweaks like the fact that PvP has its own Tab, and Blizzard put these totally pointless Achievements in. Pets now ride in a tab on your character sheet. People who’ve played WoW all along told me “It’s like a totally new game now.” and I guess I took that too much to heart. Yeah there are some changes but it doesn’t feel ‘fresh’ in any way, shape or form.

I’m just a bit annoyed with myself. I now have subs to EQ2 & WoW and the on-going LOTRO Lifetime. Which means no going back to Warhammer for another month.

At the same time, I’m excited to be trying a PvE game with CoW members, where everyone is pretty much doing the same thing. We’re all rolling fresh on Rexxar and are going to check out all the old instances and stuff. I’m still trying to decide on a class. The character I rolled last night was a Rogue but I dunno if I’m into that experience. I get impatient with all the skulking around. I might start a drenai if for no other reason than the fact that I haven’t run through the newbie drenai experience a dozen+ times, like I have all the original race areas.

WoW am I ever tempted

This weekend is World of Warcraft’s 4th “birthday” and to celebrate it, anyone with an active account gets a baby polar Blizzard bear pet (as well as an achievement I guess…I don’t even get what the point of WoW achievements are).

This probably circles back to me not fitting into the “too old and too male” comments that sur- rounded Wizard 101, but I’m seriously tempted to re-activate my account just to get this little guy!! I’ve always been a sucker for non-combat pets in MMOs, for whatever reason. Probably the same reason I’m a sucker for non-combat pets in real life, I guess.