Looking back on a decade of gaming

I know, I know, I am two days late on the anniversary posts stuff, right? Wrong. I am posting this today, Sunday November 23rd, as this is the true anniversary of the launch of World of Warcraft. 10 years ago this day is when the MMO genre changed forever. 10 years ago, so many lives were changed, or at least the lynchpin to that change arrived. 10 years ago my life changed.

Now, while WoW has been live for 10 years, this is not my 10 year anniversary. You see I began playing WoW about 2 months before during one of the stress tests at the time. The face of WoW then was very, very different. Paladins had no talents, you could do every profession with enough gold, and my main wore leather. No, he was still a Paladin. Yes. I was that noobish. A friend, many months before, had mentioned to me the WoW beta had begun taking applications, as he knew of my love of the RTS games, and I had signed up.

For a few months I had forgotten, and then I started seeing reviews and posts popping up all over the internet about World of Warcraft, and that Blizzard, and untested MMO maker, was crazy for planning to release their MMO in the same time frame as Everquest 2, at the time the leader and biggest name in the MMO market. As things got closer to release, it became clear the two games would release at the same time, and that Blizzard was definitely seen as the David in this battle.

After I had already decided I was definitely getting this game, I heard about an online radio station that was planned to launch around the game via a forum post by a guy named Athalus. I responded by email and I was the second person on board to the station, after Athalus himself, and even shamefully designed the first web site for the station, which was utterly horrid. Athalus has his show on Saturdays, and it was decided that I would do a show in the middle of the week, to cover all the news in the lead up to the launch that had happened since Saturday. Midweek Review launched, and I was in heaven. I was a nerd, talking each week to fellow nerds, and reveling in the awesomeness to come that was the World of Warcraft.

I remember broadcasting on the Monday night before launch, where Athalus had found some loyal listeners who were traveling many hours out to the Fountain Valley, California official launch event. You know that launch event Blizzard mentioned and showed pictures from in the LFG documentary? That event, it was.. exhilarating. Broadcasting and talking to people on the ground, describing the insanity. Talking to the lead CM (or at least the most well known) at the time, Caydiem, for a few brief moments while she tried to manage the insanity. Athalus would interview her later and be mocked for actually using the spoken term ‘roflcopter’ in the interview with a CM.

I got my copy from Amazon early the next morning, and recall venting my frustrations that PayPal was not an option for payment at launch, as it had been promised, and then I made my first Character. Medros, on the Mannoroth server, was the first toon I made on live, and the first ever toon I abandoned. I think it’s still over there, but I hated PvP and left once I met my cohost Vexa, who played on the Argent Dawn RP realm, where I still call home. I remember going to Desolace, and being camped by an aggravating Shaman for over an hour, which is likely the event that led me to quit the realm completely.

Once on Argent Dawn, I met the Stormseekers, Vexa’s guild and was befriended by many of the guild members. I later met the Shadow Walkers, who were a heavy RP guild, and eventually moved over there. It was a bittersweet move when I took my last toon from the ‘Seekers, but the Shadows had, ironically as I played a Paladin, become my true home. When eventually, after a tumultuous and ever dwindling Shadows roster had been ravaged by a change in leadership, I too left that guild, it was an even harder thing to do for me, as I felt like I was leaving family behind, though looking back my family had all left, for life, for other games, for reasons shared and those kept secret.

I eventually left WoW Radio, though not before being the DJ to a few in game RP events, and after a short stint on MMO Radio, also not defunct, my voice was silent for a time. I tried to do my show, eventually renamed to Know your Role, as a podcast, but it fell flat without cohost or others to join me and play off of. I also did other podcasts, and these events showed me why I should never, ever do a show without a cohost. I am not good on the mic solo folks.

In late 2006, the leader of the Shadow Walkers, Vendrahga(Grats on 100 Ven!!) asked me if I had ever thought of relaunching my radio show as a podcast. Now, let me explain the tone this was taken in. Ven and his second in command, Nemesis, who were both druids, liked to quest together. Long-time friends, they also liked to get into trouble. In the Shadows there was a long standing reaction to the following interactions in guild chat or vent:

Ven: “Hey Nem, see that?”
Nem: “Yeah….”
Ven: “Wanna kill it?”
Nem: “…sure….”

This was followed by either betting or predictions of the likely demise of our two leading druids, and it often was. This is the tone I felt when Ven asked me, basically, “Do ya wanna?” and it was with that momentous conversation, and the agreement that his wife Lelia, who I had become close to, would become my cohost, that plans were underway for the new show. We bandied about the name, trying to decide if we should relaunch Know Your Role, or rename it. We decided to go with a new name, one that did not signify the purely RP side of things, and instead covered the entire community and all game styles. Thus, All Things Azeroth was born.

On January 14th, the first episode of ATA was released, and that is truly when things began to change dramatically for me. I did 3 year’s worth of NaPodPoMo, have had many cohosts of varying durations, some just an episode or two, some several years. I have gone through all five expansions, and many countless incredible friendships and memories made along the way. I have seen peaks of Storm Peaks and peaks in player base. I have seen friends quit in anger who have returned with new adventures running through their minds. Friends who have been gone a few weeks to a few years have returned in the last few weeks, and I am very glad to see them all back.

As of launch day, the player base, without Asia upgraded to Warlords, had grown once again to 10 million players, a rather fitting number for the 10th anniversary. As we welcome the Asian players onto Draenor, it is very plausible we could see an even larger jump in the subscribers to World of Warcraft, as Asian players are often mentioned as the cause of significant drops in subscribers, and I for one look forward to welcome all of those heroes, returning and new, to the incredible World of Warcraft.

For the folks who have worked, in one capacity or another, on this game, I have only a few things to say. Thank you. You have made, through your combined efforts, a game that has brought together a community of people that I am proud to be a part of. Yes, we have some players who bring with them a bit less shine that we might like, but then we have folks like WoWMartiean, Rho, Moogver, Scott Johnson, Lissana, Shade, and so many more who brighten up this game and the community surrounding it, making us all the better for their presence.

Thank you. You have made a game I have come to not only enjoy, but love. This game is a worthy addition to the Warcraft universe, and one that has made millions of gamers happy and excited to log in each week. Thank you, for including us in your adventure, for being our collective dungeon master as we travel across this land of Azeroth and those worlds it’s connected to, from swamp to sands, from hills to valleys, from past to present. On behalf of your many, many fans, we raise our glasses to you, one and all, far in the past and years in the future, for your tireless and amazing work on this, our World of Warcraft. /drink

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