Sorry on the absence, been dealing with a lot of 12+ hour days, getting ready to leave on a research trip next week, having to lead my guild (incidentally, we started sales of Heroic SoO stuff -- more information here if interested), and been working on another post that involves blog drama but that, I hope, will have a happy ending. Suppose we'll see.
In the meantime, I figured I could jot down some notes for this 10 Years :: 10 Questions deal and some of my answers are noticeably different from most I've seen.
Fair warning: I'm going to totally cheat and go beyond the technical bounds of the question asked though it'll be on the same general topic as the question.
1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?
Because I had been introduced to Warcraft III like a year before WoW launched and I started seeing advertisements for it on Battle.net. I figured it was just the next Warcraft game except with a fancier title, I had no idea what an MMORPG was. Hell, WC3 was the first game I'd ever played online (I technically did play another game (Lords of Magic) with a dial-up modem with a friend who moved away, but that was just the two of us).
You can imagine my surprise when I picked up the game and realized it was very different. Luckily I had been playing Neverwinter Nights prior to WC3 (and still play NWN, you may have heard me mention it a few times) and Lords of Magic had some RPG elements so I wasn't completely lost. Of course, after installing it and signing up for an account I learned apparently I would have to pay monthly to play, which I thought was insane -- after all, why should I keep paying for a game I own? I didn't understand initially about how Blizzard maintained the servers we connected to (unlike single player games or online games like WC3 multiplayer) and would add in new patch content. So I set it aside for a month before deciding I might as well give it a shot since I already had a month to burn by buying the game initially.
2. What was the first character you ever rolled?
A human mage. I had always loved magic in games like Legend of Zelda, Lords of Magic, and NWN (Magical_Master was/is my NWN nickname since Balkoth was taken) and I thought the mage channeling Blizzard at the end of the intro cinematic was completely badass. I made it until about mid-20s before being annoyed with just how squishy mages were (very different from NWN where they were gods).
So I rerolled a human paladin going Holy -- figured I'd have a sword and shield and wear down anything that tried to fight me. Auto attack and heal. I made it until about level 35 where I got into a duel with a Kurzen Medicine Man who I literally could not kill. He couldn't kill me but I couldn't kill him fast enough to outdo HIS heals either. After about fifteen minutes of fighting I dumped the paladin in disgust.
So then I made a human rogue -- figured it would be lethal without being as squishy as the mage. That guy made it to 60 easily and in fact my first three 60s would all be rogues (different servers, no paid transfer back then). Then a 60 night elf warrior (charging from Shadowmeld!). Then a 60 human warrior (different server) who I reached rank 11 with in the old PvP system. Then in the break before Burning Crusade I made Balkoth -- who was undead initially. I kind of made him to kill Alliance who I met while PvPing on my warrior that I didn't like. Wound up falling in love with shadow priests ever since.
3. Which factors determined your faction choice in game?
I nearly always played humans in NWN, they were one of the best races. My favorite faith in Lords of Magic was Order which was mostly humans. And my favorite race in Warcraft 3 was humans.
Oh, and the mage in the intro cinematic and the female mage on the CD cases/bags were human.
Guess which race I went with first? Hence Alliance.
Though I will say that I liked the idea of the Horde -- the outcasts just trying to make their way in the world. Which is why I was fine with going Horde when I made Balkoth and was Horde for all of BC. Lost most of my enthusiasm for the Horde in WotLK, though.
4. What has been your most memorable moment in WoW and why?
I honestly do not know. I'm a very practical person and don't suffer (much) from nostalgia. Some moments that stand out to me looking back (in order of timeline):
- Topping the damage meters in Zul'Gurub by 20% on my rogue. My rogue had a level 50 blue dagger (no, not Barman Shanker) and a level 55 green sword in my offhand as combat daggers. And I was annihilating rogues with mostly epic gear and level 60 epic weapons because they were playing Seal Fate builds (Assassination) and didn't maintain good target uptime. I swear I could see their jaws drop in-game.
- 45 minute Baron run in Stratholme. Good times.
- Hitting rank 11 on my warrior. That's Commander Talnor to you. I formed *the* PvP group to be in on my server at the time, the only groups that did better were ones literally made out of all members of a raiding guild who were completely decked out in epics.
- Joining a raiding guild in BC as a Shadow Priest. I applied to the guild as Shadow (which had just been made viable) and they wanted me to heal...but I was adamant. Shadow or nothing. They invited me to a random BG and apparently I impressed them enough during the battle (Eye of the Storm) that they just ginvited me mid-battleground.
- Getting server first on all heroic dungeons in BC. We had a core group of four plus a fifth who fluctuated. Tank was a Feral Druid who I became best pals with, basically.
- Writing the original Elitist Jerk Shadow Priest guide.
- Topping both the damage AND healing meters on our first Gruul kill.
- After that guild disbanded a few weeks later due to internal drama, Feral Druid I mentioned earlier convinced me to join his raiding guild and help it become better. Was promoted to be an officer within a few months
- Getting a Netherdrake. Pertinent:
- Server first kills of Vashj, Kael'thas, Archimonde, and Illidan. All amazing fights, all in their own way. Could write a post about each of them.
- Getting Amani War Bear and selling them.
Note: quit from a few months prior to the end of BC to a few months prior to the end of WotLK.
- Leading a PUG group (with a core of 4 RL friends) to 11/12H in 10 man ICC.
- Getting Herald of the Titans back in WotLK.
- Doing Cataclysm heroics near launch. I loved those, so much fun.
- Killing Heroic Nefarian and putting ourselves on the map with an Alliance first kill for a guild practically no one had heard of two months before (started Cata with 4 members and had to PUG for months).
- Getting a server first Heroic Ragnaros and establishing ourselves as the top two night a week guild in the US.
- Organizing "For the Alliance" near the end of Cataclysm with several other guilds.
- Getting 200 pets prior to MoP launch. At which point I stopped caring because it became a serious thing as opposed to "Get that collection number higher!" and over 500 pets existed.
- Getting the server first Galleon kill with like 10 level 90s and 30 level 86-89 players.
- Killing Heroic Gara'jal literally as he raised his hand to wipe us AFTER he started the beserk emote.
- Heroic Lei Shen. So, so much fun.
- Heroic Siegecrafter pre-nerf on 10H and H Garrosh pre-4/4 upgrades. Siegecrafter was more fun, Garrosh was more brutal. Both immensely satisfying in the end.
5. What is your favorite aspect of the game and has that always been the case?
Raiding (surprise). It's been my favorite aspect of the game ever since the beginning of BC. I love the sense of teamwork and coordination needed to defeat an epic encounter. You need everyone on the same page with a variety of skills and all able to trust each other to do their jobs in an extremely demanding environment. It's why I still play and love WoW 10 years later, haven't heard of another game able to offer the same experience. Some games have tried to replicate it but only succeeded in pale imitations.
As you can probably gather from the previous questions, though, it wasn't always my favorite. I didn't even really understand what raids were for most of Vanilla, I simply did five man dungeons. Then I tried to get into raiding but was aggravated by the guilds that wanted me for having so many bad players and was rejected by the better guilds due to lack of experience/gear (or they wanted me to tank on my warrior rather than DPS on my rogue or warrior. Kind of interesting to wonder what would have happened had I accepted the offer to act as an off-tank in Vanilla using an Arms/Prot hybrid spec). Was frustrating. So then I got heavily into PvP on my warrior.
But then Vanilla hit, I was loving my new Spriest, they became hot commodities in raids, and things took off from there.
6. Do you have an area in game that you always return to?
Nope! That was easy.
7. How long have you /played and was that continuous?
Well, I started playing about a month after release and have played continuously except for a hiatus from the end of BC to the end of Wrath.
In terms of going through my level 10+ characters, I have a total of about 625 days /played with 305 of those on Balkoth. That's about 15000 hours over eight years (since I wasn't playing for two years) so that's 15000/2950 = 5ish hours per day on average.
To be fair, probably at least one of those five hours a day was spent AFK/alt tabbed. And I typically only play about 15-20 hours a week on average these days, often less.
...but during Vanilla I was PvPing like seven hours a day seven days a week for the rank 11 grind and during BC I was playing about the same number of hours a day seven days a week again. Main raid four days a week, alt raid two days a week, Karazhan casual clear one day a week, plus PvPing.
Would be interesting if I could look solely at /played since I returned at the end of WotLK.
8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?
Absolutely. I'm a huge lore nerd and can recite many boss RP speeches by heart. Even if I stopped raiding, I'd at least subscribe to WoW every now and then for a month just to do the quests and see the lore.
9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?
Nothing grand and overarching. I suppose there are four things that stick out to me, though (in chronological order).
First, I sometimes wonder what my WoW career would have looked like had I accepted the offer to tank for a guild in an off-tank role back in Vanilla, as I mentioned above. But since I was trying to claw my way up through the PvP system I didn't want to handicap myself in PvE to off-tank in raids. Might be in a very different place now.
Second, upon being promoted to an officer in that BC guild, I said something along the lines of how I could finally fix some of the problems player X had caused. And I had forgotten that player X was technically an officer for some silly reason, he was completely useless and didn't do anything (and I mean anything) worthwhile anyway. Was made an officer long ago for social reasons, I think. So he saw my comment and I was mortified. "Fortunately" the other officers and GM completely agreed with my assessment and wanted me to do exactly that, but still...
Third, I hate having to cut people from raid teams. Had to do it back in BC. Had to do it even more since forming Despotism. I know it needs to be done. I know it'll help the team overall. I know the people getting cut are causing massive frustration and making people unhappy. It still sucks to do. Really sucks.
Fourth, I missed Ulduar while it was current content. Though that's more of a regret from time NOT in-game.
10. What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside of gaming?
It helped me become a lot more confident and able to lead people in many different ways from social groups to teaching positions to supervisory roles. It taught me organizational and motivational skills (though the motivational stuff is less speeches and more about good incentives and fair treatment). It improved my writing through creating this blog. It helped me create new bonds with people I met in real life due to shared experiences.