Author’s Note: On November 23, 2014 World of Warcraft will celebrate it’s 10th anniversary. I find it hard to accept that WoW is turning ten, and I find it even harder to believe that I’m still playing it religiously.
In honor of this great milestone, I’m starting a series of Throwback Thursday posts where I’ll highlight some of my most memorable moments in WoW. This series begins today, and I promise to have a new post each Thursday right up until WoW turns ten. With any luck, we’ll all be level 100 by then and having the time of our lives battling the Iron Horde and saving Azeroth, or in this case Draenor, from the forces evil. One can hope anyway. Enjoy Throwback Thursday.
One of the greatest moments a person can have in an MMO is playing on day one. I’ve had the privilege to do that with three MMOs, World of Warcraft being one of them. My journey officially began November 12, 2004 when a friend of mine sent me an e-mail telling about this new game.
Matt is a buddy of mine from high school. He and a co-worker of his were in the beta and loving every moment of it. He wanted me to give it a try.
I had never heard of Blizzard Entertainment and was not familiar with Warcraft, its stories, characters or games. I was well into Star Wars Galaxies (SWG) which had just released its first expansion pack, Jump to Lightspeed. SWG was already consuming a lot of my time, but I didn’t really know anybody there. I was hooked on the MMO concept and liked the idea of playing one with real friends.
I was too late to get into the beta, but since my friend and his co-worker were planning to play I decided to give it a go. On November 23, 2004, I headed to EBGames over lunch and picked up my copy of World of Warcraft. There were no digital downloads back then, you had to have the discs.
I came home that evening and installed the game, and got my account setup. I called my friend to let him know I was ready to begin saving the world, and then we logged on. And by logged on I mean wrestled with the myriad queues, disconnects and other technical glitches that plagued the game on opening night. It was horrendous, but not unexpected. SWG has similar problems when it launched.
Our plan was to play Horde on Mal’Ganis and join the Goon Squad guild. We were not able to get into the realm the first night, so we made throw away toons on another realm just so we could play.
We made it onto Mal’Ganis the next night. I made a Tauren Hunter, and my friend a Tauren Warrior. From the very first moment I was blown away. SWG was the only MMO I had ever known and while I liked it was nothing but tons of grinding. Warcraft was different.
World of Warcraft had quests, and gave you stuff to do while leveling, and it was very new to me, and to a whole lot of people. I had no idea the game would take off like it did, but I certainly felt like I was participating in something special.
What made day one so special is that everyone was new to the game. There were no experts. The best source of information was the official forums and they were as awful then as they are today. There was no MMO Champion, or Wowhead or WoW Insider. There were no bloggers or twitch streams.
There were no max level characters. No maxed out professions. Nobody had any money. You talked how much silver you had, not how much gold. The game wasn’t about min/maxing, raiding, or getting gear. It was about exploring, questing, learning, and meeting people.
It was the most level playing field the game has ever had.
You did simple things like killing boars and it was glorious. There were no addons, no guides. The map was all covered up because you hadn’t discovered places yet. If you didn’t read the quest text you could get hopelessly lost. There were no arrows to show you way. Quest objects didn’t sparkle on the ground. You had to figure it out, and you could spend the better part of an evening trying to find a quest NPC without succeeding. Mankrik’s wife anyone?
When you spoke to a quest giver the text slowly faded in line by line, encouraging you to both read it and pull your hair out at the same time. There was an option to disable that, but you wouldn’t know that unless you spent quality time looking at all of the UI options, and who wants to do that when there are boars that need killing?
I’ll always remember that first day. It truly was the first step in a much longer journey. A journey that continues to this day.