10 Years, 10 Questions

The ALT:ernative Chat blog has started a “10 Years :: 10 Questions” project, asking players to answer 10 questions about their finest memories in World of Warcraft. She plans on reading them all and producing a series of podcast documentaries featuring some of the best entries.

I thought this project sounded pretty awesome, and I’ll never turn down an opportunity to wax nostalgic about my old times in WoW. I chose to answer my questions in blog form, but you can also submit your answers directly to the project here.

Ready to be crit with a wall of text for over 9000? Then continue reading…

1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?

First of all, I was a huge Warcraft 3 fan. I was less into the competitive aspects of it, and more into the custom games like tower defense. I actually made a great number of my own custom maps for my friends and I to play.

Secondly, I actually didn’t start playing WoW until a few months after release. March 1, 2005 to be exact. What got me to start playing was a friend who had been playing and was telling me all about it while visiting one weekend. I think what tipped me over the edge was when he told me that you could assault towns of the opposite faction and take them over for a time. Looking back, he must have been talking about Southshore vs. Tarren Mill. Or maybe the Crossroads.

The reason I didn’t start playing at release was because I had some bad prejudices built up against MMOs. After hearing the term “Evercrack” thrown around so often, and how horrible of a grind games like that were, I was a bit turned off.

That evening, after lobbing question after question at my friend, I was convinced. I went straight to the local Electronics Boutique (now known as Gamestop) and picked up their final copy of the game. This was back when Blizzard was limiting shipments of new copies to help deal with growth issues causing server problems. I distinctly remember the clerk telling me to “stay away from the auction house.” I shrugged and said, “okay.”

On my first night in the game, that friend came up to me in Dun Morogh and gave me 1 gold. At the time, I didn’t know how much money that was to a new player.

Oldest surviving WoW screenshot of Bendak
Oldest surviving WoW screenshot of Bendak

2. What was the first ever character you rolled?

Bendak! The same character I play today. Same name, same class, same exact toon. I was originally a dwarf, and over the years have also briefly been an orc and worgen, but now I’m back to my dwarven roots. I chose dwarf because of how badass the dwarf hunter looked in the original cinematic.

Hunters appealed to me right from the get go. It wasn’t the fact that they used bows and rifles (though that certainly was a factor), it was the pets. I play a hunter because of the pets, pure and simple. I would delete WoW and leave the game forever if pets were taken away.

The screenshot above is my oldest surviving screenshot of Bendak. I was about level 20 at the time, doing some world PvP in Lakeshire.  It was taken probably in the first or second week of March, 2005. What amazes me the most is how those few lines of chat perfectly sum up how the game was back then.

3. Which factors determined your faction choice in game?

The short answer is that it’s where my friends were playing. I originally rolled on Shadowmoon US Alliance. I wanted to play with them, so that’s where I joined up. The friend who originally got me into the game was a human paladin.

The long answer is I like being the good guy. I know that Horde aren’t the bad guys in the traditional sense, but the Alliance just appeals to me more. I spent a good amount of time as a Horde player to see the other side. I faction changed Bendak to an orc hunter in patch 3.2, and I came back to Alliance in patch 4.3.

Dun Algaz. The location of my first ganking.
Dun Algaz. The location of my first ganking.

4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?

I… I can’t just pick one. I tried, but I can’t. I did manage to narrow it down to 5 though, so I’ll try to keep each one as brief as humanly possible:

4a. My first world PvP experience

I was level 11 or 12 if I recall correctly. It was the following afternoon after my first night in WoW. I had played all night into the wee hours and woke up very late that day. After reminding myself to eat and drink something, I was back in WoW. Someone in guild chat was talking about a huge PvP battle in Hillsbrad Foothills. It turns out it was actually organized on the Shadowmoon realm forums. Both factions had agreed to their own custom PvP scenario, long before battlegrounds were a reality. The goal was to take and hold the tower between Southshore and Tarren Mill.

I decided I was going to go out there and join them. Keep in mind I hadn’t even left the safety of Dun Morogh at this point. A mount was still 30 levels and 89 gold away. I had no flight paths. I left on foot.

To make a very long story short (I could seriously go on for about 2000 words on this alone), I finally made it to the battle… 3 hours later. Many gankings, many wrong turns, uncountable deaths, but it was worth it. When I arrived, we were holding the tower and I went inside and started to heal fellow players with my amazing first aid skills.

Death by Core Hound
Death by Core Hound

4b. My first Epic item

My first truly epic item was the Giantstalker’s Leggings from Magmadar in 40-player Molten Core. What made this drop all the more sweeter was the fact that I was one of 7 hunters in the raid, and I won the roll. I was completely ecstatic. I didn’t sleep much that night, and was still giddy the next day. Even when I get a BiS drop nowadays, I still don’t feel that kind of rush. 40 players. 2-3 drops per boss. Think about it!

Blizzard Construction sign in the old, "inaccessible" Hyjal
Blizzard Construction Co. sign in the old, “inaccessible” Hyjal

4c. Extreme Exploring

At one point in time, it was easy to find like-minded people who were OK with doing things in the game that didn’t directly lead to character power increases in some way. Maybe because compared to today there was so little to do at the end game? A small group of WoW friends and I spent a lot of time going to places we weren’t supposed to. Some examples:

  • Ironforge airport, which actually had a hunter pet trainer NPC up there. We had to use a combination of wall-walking and slow-falling to get there.
  • Hyjal, 5+ years before it became an actual zone. Death was required to get inside.
  • The dancing troll village.
  • Caverns of Time before the Burning Crusade opened them up.  This one was by far my favorite. The shell of the whole area was already there in vanilla, just no NPCs. There was a complicated path up the surrounding mountains in order to get inside.
  • Old Ironforge before they opened it up.
  • Under Stormwind.

Queue times were very long before cross-realm queuing...
Queue times were very long before cross-realm queuing… we killed the time with camp fires!

4d. Late nights with PvP buddies

The grind to rank 10 in the old PvP system was long and arduous, but what made it fun was friends who were there for the same reason. Queue times were often as long as an hour, but we killed the downtime sitting around camp fires and just talking. We could usually be found in either Ironforge or Darnassus.

Would I ever want that old PvP system back? Hell no. But there’s a lot of fond memories there simply because of the friends.

Annatar, my Loque'nahak pet
Annatar, my Loque’nahak pet

4e. Loque’nahak

I was the first Alliance player on my server to tame the first Spirit Beast. Finding Loque’nahak was pure luck in my case. I had just dinged level 78, it couldn’t have been more than 24 hours or so since Wrath of the Lich King had launched. I picked up my Cold Weather Flying and headed straight to Sholazar. Waiting for me at the very first spawn point I checked was Loque. I tamed it with trembling hands, then proceeded to go back to Dalaran to show it off. Dozens upon dozens of whispers ensued. Back then, the respawn time on these pets was often 12 hours long.

Not all my tames have been that easy… it took me a good 5 years to finally get my hands on King Krush.

5. What is your favourite aspect of the game and has this always been the case?

I would have to say collecting  — mounts, pets, toys, transmog sets, and especially hunter pets — is my favorite aspect of the game. I find it hard throw away anything. Bendak’s inventory has 4 free bag slots right now on the live servers, and that’s with full 28-slot bags in both inventory and bank. I could maybe free up a couple more, but I am in desperate need of the inventory improvements in patch 6.0. The silver lining here is I barely play on live servers at the moment. All my time is spent in beta.

I’ve always been driven to get the rare things that make me feel like a special snowflake, I guess. I’m not going to deny it.

6. Do you have an area in game that you always return to?

Not one specific place, but there are a handful of zones I like more than others. I’ve realized that it usually ties into the zone’s music. Nagrand, Terrokar Forest, and Storm Peaks have some of my favorite zone music.

In terms of cities to hang out in, Ironforge is still number one. I always enjoy Winter Veil when it’s busy again like old times.

/played on main

7. How long have you /played and has that been continuous?

My /played time isn’t nearly as long as some people, especially considering I’ve been playing for over 9 years. The majority of my play time was from Vanilla, Wrath, and Mists. While I did play quite a bit in BC and Cata, I consider those two expansions to be much more casual for me. I took extended breaks during that time.  I’ve had periods of being unsubscribed in the past, but I’ve been subbed for the entirety of Mists. Probably because I’ve been a little bit more involved with my stint at WoW Insider, and now Eyes of the Beast.

Played time on my alts is miniscule in comparison. The highest one is about a dozen days or so. I’m not much of an alt person, and the alts I do have are usually hunters as well.

8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?

Beyond the objectives, usually not. The one exception is if I’m going through on an alt, I’ll usually go at a much more relaxed pace and read some of it. But when a new expansion launches I like to be max level as fast as possible. Quest text? Ain’t nobody got time for that. I really enjoyed the quest dialogue in SWTOR and listened to all of it. It makes me wish WoW quests were fully voiced, but I know that’s not realistic for how Blizzard operates. It constrains what you can do when you need to have dialogue recorded for everything. I don’t think Blizzard plans that far ahead, and frankly I’d rather game budget be spent elsewhere.

Pre-WOTLK zombie plague event. I loved RPing as a zombie.
Pre-WOTLK zombie plague event. I loved RPing as a zombie.

9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?

I regret losing touch with some old WoW friends. I often wonder what they’re up to nowadays. We had so many good times. The problem is we only ever kept in touch within the game. This was before the social media days.

When I first started playing I was a little too addicted. I may have neglected some real life responsibilities for a time. I am grateful I was able to deal with the problem without having to quit cold turkey. That’s probably why my play time is relatively low for almost a decade of playing the game. Don’t get me wrong, 7500 hours is still an absurd amount of time to play a video game, but in MMO terms that’s in the realm of filthy casual.

Another very old shot. My first "rare" tame, the Stormwind Sewer Beast.
Another very old shot. My first “rare” tame, the Stormwind Sewer Beast.

10. What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming?

Well, I got paid to write about the game at WoW Insider for a time, so there’s that. I was happy to land that gig since i had been reading WoW Insider for at least 6 years prior. The AOL cutbacks saddened me greatly, but the upside is that Eyes of the Beast was born out of it and I’ve had a lot of fun running this site. The response has been better than I ever expected. Everyone who reads or comments on my posts is greatly appreciated. It’s nice to be able to write about something you’re passionate about and actually have other people want to read it.

Beyond that, WoW is sort of absent from the rest of my life. Most people just don’t get it!

Thank you, @AlternativeChat for this great writing prompt. I had a lot of fun putting it together and digging through old screenshots. Be sure to contribute your own memories to the project.

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13 thoughts on “10 Years, 10 Questions”

  1. Great writing! Don’t you have special feelings for Dun Morogh and it’s zone soundtracks as a Dwarf? I do. My first ever WoW character was a Dwarf Warrior on a 10-day Trial account. I didn’t even know there were more classes beside a Dwarf. But I so loved Dun Morogh and it’s beautiful music 🙂

  2. Shadowmoon!! That was my first server as well on alliance, but then my friends decided they liked horde better so we left for Burning Blade. I still have a character there, sadly, unguilded, my old guild still lives on ..i’m shocked.

    1. I was there for all of vanilla and TBC, but left right before Wrath if I recall correctly. I hear it’s horde dominated nowadays? When I was there I think it was fairly even sided.

      When they were doing those server auctions a while back, I was this close to pulling the trigger on the Shadowmoon server blade. All my regret! Should have taken the opportunity to own a piece of history.

  3. that Loque tame story is quite similar to me and terrorpene. I’ pretty sure I was probaby the 2nd hunter on the server to tame him when Cata came out. Stood outside the AH in Org to show him off and the whispers were raining upon me left and right. The WHERE?? HOW YOU GET IT?? WHAT IS THAT?? IS THAT NEMESIS?? HOW YOU TAME NEMESIS?? Ah, gave many terrorpenes new homes, and I was rewarded with gold.. similar case happened with Magria.

    1. While I was definitely not the first, I’m like you. I have 4 hunters and each one has a faithful Terrorpene as their trusty main tanking pet. Just doesn’t feel right on a new max leveled hunter if I don’t have that devilish fire turtle at my side.

  4. Long time reader, first time commenter. Great read, brought back some great memories for me on my beloved main, friend, and number 1 character…my hunter. Even though I’ve only seriously played since the beginning of Wrath. Makes me regret the only 3 months I played in Vanilla and didn’t come back until wrath. None the less, keep up the great work on this website, I’m always excited when I come back and you have a new article.

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