Thursday, August 28, 2014

Way Down

And if one green bottle should accidentally fall...

This is the time around this Blog where nostalgia is a pretty safe bet. There are those who call this the Doldrums, that 'difficult bit' between the last Expansion and the next, when we're waiting for the Big Push, the Crossover Event to galvanise everyone and to pull the World back to Warcraft. This is also the time of year when far too many capital letters get tossed about and people tend to lose their rags far easier than normal because, DAMMIT, when's it time for new stuff?

This isn't about the New, not just yet, This is very much the old, the catchup, the organise yourself before it all changes period of time we're existing within. However, as you go back to do this, the past inevitably catches up with you, and so it was yesterday that I went to Karazhan with the Horde Hunter to pick up items for the Horde Rogue who is levelling Enchanting and Tailoring in anticipation of having a fully working Garrison on both Factions to write about for my Guide. The thing is, you see, once upon a time it wasn't just about us having all our content in one place where you couldn't exploit it before the Expansion hit. Karazhan had been in the game files since launch, and when the area around it suddenly became populated, the game was afoot.

That's why I was farming it before TBC hit, in a five man group as it was the only way we could survive the mobs themselves.

The Master's Cellar.

We ended up under Karazhan, an area where it appeared Blizzard hadn't closed off to traffic. It didn't matter that there wasn't any XP to be had, or that we'd necessarily have nothing to show for our efforts. In the end, Netherweave Cloth became a commodity that I'd never considered anyone would care about, but when I sold the stack I'd earnt in our first farming session for 200g I realised that pre-expansion gathering was big business. I also found myself thinking that actually, this was plain wrong, that there was something fundamentally dishonest about killing these mobs when the expansion they belonged to wasn't even live. However, that first evening still burns bright in my memory as one of those moments when a Game stops being just a series of pixels and becomes something else. It was also the night when the one cloth wearer we took with us, a Priest, became one of the luckiest people on the Server.

We'd not expected anything of value to drop, least of all a L68 Blue Staff.

Memory Issues...?

This is where memory, history and the inevitable tweaking that happens in Warcraft all combine to make my story and what appears to be the truth diverge. I'm 99% certain this was the Staff our Priest took away with her, but yet it is marked as a L70 item. I know this because it shares the model with the Headmaster's Charge which still remains one of the most iconic weapons in game for people of a certain age. Add to this that this particular item became one of THE most prized caster weapons pre-Kara, and I wonder at what point the L68 requisite stuck in my head. It is a decade ago, after all, but that evening remains special because, for the first time ever, I fought in a five man outside an Instance. We used a Group to kill mobs that were too high for us to challenge alone.

I also killed things that no-one else would kill until the first Warcraft Expansion went live, and at the time that really was a very big deal.

Memories of times past.

The game world today is a long way from those early adventures. I only have to look at my Twitter feed to understand just how much has changed in the intervening period, and a great deal of it isn't good at all. However, the past is capable of teaching us a great deal in this regard: grouping, playing as a team and knowing who your friends are is as important today as it was back then, even if your Server is no longer the bastion of friendship and reputation it once was. I realise sometimes that perhaps I am a little too old-fashioned in my outlook in this regard: friends are wherever you can find them in game, and expanding your horizons is healthy. Look for new places to farm and explore, and when you return to the old parts of the Gaming World take a moment to explore them and understand their significance in the wider context of your gameplay, not simply as another place to farm stuff to sell.

Remember that for many of us, these are the places where our adventures first began.

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