Sunday, October 2, 2011

Now I'm Down In It

I prefer to look at the cover rather than the seizure-inducing clip

Before I get back to gold-making-related posts, I feel like I need to write the following.
Don't worry - I'll get back to gold next time.

In the last post, I mentioned that I interrupted my vacation during the weekends whenever my friends and/or guild needed an extra person to help out with old and new raids.
The guild was trying to run the newly nerfed Bastion of Twilight one weekend, then Blackwing Descent the next after.
I joined and after I'd been given a brief summary of my role in the encounters by the de facto rogue, I performed quite well and even better after we'd wipe after a failed attempt on a boss.
I had a blast and didn't die horribly too often like most shaman usually tend do to (especially melee ones, eeech).
Then it turned out that my guild was progressing through Firelands and called me in for my first attempt at Majordomo Staghelm.
Then the next week, I was asked to replace someone on Baleroc.

Shortly after, I got a friend tell me that the raid leader had been quite impressed with my performance and had been asking for me to join the raid... when I was offline and at work.
As I chuckled with my friend, she pointed out that no one in the guild really knew what my background was, because I'm a Social member and never get to raid in current content with them.
I had never felt the need to show off what I could do or tell of my past experience with the game, because I'm not that kind of guy.
But now I realize that I've never even listed my full credentials.
Not just because people don't know, but also for a reason that I will be mentioning later on.

So bear with me as I take a trip down memory lane and tell you of the tale of how I've been living my second life as a member of Azeroth.

The Tale of Khalior

Part One: Out of the Darkness and into the Light

I've spent a very tumultuous first year out of my parents' grasp as I lived La Vie Bohème in a large apartment with 3 other people.
Then I moved to a new apartment with a wannabe artist who was constantly on the lookout for schemes to escape paying money to others and have people give money to her in exchange of trinkets and rough collages that she'd label as ''art''.
After a week of moving in there, I got a call telling me to hurry to the hospital as my mother was going into chemotherapy for her 3rd or 4th cancer (there was a fluke at some point.. it's complicated).
The next week, she had passed away.

I spent a whole year with dark clouds over my head and decided to go work in internet tech support in a call center for a major company in Canada that was paying much much more than my security guard salary.
I didn't know I was employed as a scab during a union strike until months later, and it was part of the reasons why I quit the job.
However, during slow times or lunch breaks, I picked up on the fact that a lot of guys were talking about the same thing: World of Warcraft.
They were hanging in forums, looking at online videos, and constantly talking about the game.

Now, I had heard of the game before.
I was a huge fan of Warcraft III and enjoyed a lot Starcraft, but had dismissed WoW completely.
It had too many of the things I didn't like in online gaming: it was all about that D&D crap that total nerds talked about in high school and it was an MMO - something that I had been told was a complete waste of time.
I knew Blizzard games were very very good but didn't want to be sucked in by that vortex of All Hated Things, and also knew that if I tried the demo, there was no way of getting out of it.
Working that soulless job at the call center had not improved the depression I was full-on sinking into.
I was spending most of my off-work time drinking myself to oblivion and playing first person shooters that gave me a kick of adrenaline but otherwise all felt the same.
A whole year after WoW's release, and a then-friend convinced me to try the 10-day demo, really not caring anymore.
Three days later, I was buying the game.

It was wonderful.

Nov. 2005, a year after the game had been released, Aeonfyre the Night Elf priest was smiting the heck out of creatures of Azeroth.

MY kind of gateway drug... *ducks*

Part Two: Not So Vanilla After All

The game fascinated me in ways I had never experienced before, dazzling me, giving me a boost of hope as I marveled at the complexity and beauty of this New World.
There was also that whole reward/rewarding system that quickly created a dependency that my crushed self-esteem drank like the most delicious Kool-Aid ever created.
Those two elements got me hooked.
I went through the phases that everybody's heard of: every single thing in your life becomes a means to play more WoW, denial of the issue, excess playing, etc.
I got over that eventually by the time the expansion landed.

Many things happened during this period, so I'll just highlight a few things.

I never got to see the epic PvP social events that were the epic battles of Tarren Mill VS Southshore, sadly, but I have participated in the War Effort leading to the opening of the doors of Ahn'Qiraj - I was level 50something by that time.

Also, this was a time when no one knew anything about how the game was supposed to be played.
So my level 20 to 50 experience consisted of questing solo and sometimes in groups with people who needed help... and I was a Priest Tank.
Hey - I had Power Word: Shield, I could heal myself : it made sense to everyone at the time!
We had never heard or encountered those ''warrior'' things yet.

Towards level 50 I got invited into the biggest guild on the server.
I reached level 60 somewhere around March 2006, and started to make myself known for two things: being a decent healer and a farming bot (got a lot of inquiries about that).
I was very good at picking a lot of herbs quickly and tracking down the elusive Black Lotus and everything went straight to the guild bank for raiding. (Back then I was just happy to help others)

Yeah that used to happen...

Then there was the Legendary Molten Core raid run that lasted 12 hours long...
We didn't down Ragnaros that day but we finally got to meet him for the first time.

I farmed my own Epic Riding training and Epic mount in a week and a half, back when 1000 gold was considered a fortune.
I killed the Carrion Grubs in EPL, sold greens and the precious Larval Acid that was needed to craft the Hide of the Wild - the must-have cloak for any serious wannabe raider at the time.
A week after that, I got the lucky roll and was in possession of the 4th or 5th Swift Razzashi Raptor mount of the server.
Also, I was a 3-4 weeks away from hitting the Grand Marshall PvP rank when the PvP changes were introduced... Had I paid more attention to the news, I would've had the title back then - my only regret of that period.

But otherwise, virtual life was good.

Then all went to heck in a Black Portal.

Priests are shiny

Part Three: My Burning Crusade

Our GM finally revealed himself as being a master manipulator that pitted people against each other instead of distributing the guild's wealth and most of my farming hours found itself locked in an abandoned account.
Mutiny was the only course of action, a new guild was formed, but I was forever distrustful of everyone except my close friends.
So the expansion hit the servers and I experienced it with a mix of amazement and bitterness.
I got a new job, schedule was in conflict with the guild's raiding time, and real life was not going too well either.
My priest got to raid a few times, but otherwise had done everything that could be possible to do solo.
Bored, jaded and about to quit the game, I tried one of those new blue things.
You know... Draenei.

Yeah being a shaman was good.
Compared to a priest, I could do damage faster AND could take on more than one mob at a time!
I quickly leveled Khalior to 70, then proceeded to make him my main character, which included grinding all my reputations again.
Yeah, that included the whole Scepter of Ahn'Qiraj chain... again.
Fun times.
The other important detail here is that while I was going through the whole leveling experience again, I paid a lot of attention to the quest text, put 2 and 2 together, and finally started to discover the game's lore and how broad and deep it was layered throughout the game. (Many 'lightbulb' moments followed.)

Aaaaand that's how I've spent most of that expansion.

Meanwhile, social situations on the server had turned quite sour and my Australian friends had expressed the desire to be in a less self-destructive environment, so we moved all of our characters from an American to an Oceanic server and into a pleasant, mature and experienced guild.

With a new environment, we were ready for the rise of the Lich King.

Wearing pieces of that Scourge Event gear I wish I still had...

Part Four: The Achiever

Northrend appeared on our maps and so did the Achievement system.
Since I had become quite the completionist, it was normal that was going to latch onto that when I had reached level 80 and completed questing.
But something quite different happened that was about to drastically change the way I played the game: there were achievements that required you to purchase gold sinks.
Pets, mounts, specific mounts - they all required that you have a good amount of currency.
I spent a good part of the expansion trying to find ways to make gold.
I usually got my total gold up to 50k-70k gold, then I'd buy a gold sink and get back to making gold again.
It wasn't anything very severe, but I was making frequent trips to the Auction House to sell items and had noticed that questing through Northrend gave quite a good amount of pocket change.

And after having mostly PvP and raid achievements to go, I decided to make as much money as I could get and fill my alt guild bank with as many things as possible.
I was tired of always running out of currency and I had heard the odd tales of people having so much money that they were giving some to their guild members.
I wanted to be able to have more gold than I needed, because I was divining that the future expansions were not going to be friendly to my account's wallet.

So with 90k gold, 5 full bank tabs, 7 characters whose bags were filled to the brim with various items and engineering materials (worgen rogue engineer was on my list), head full of tips by those new ''gold blogs'' that I had just discovered, I was ready for the Shattering patch.

I was quite proud of that one

Part Five: Rise of the gold-maker

Well that part is easy - just read the blog!
So far, I can say that the key word for me during Cataclsym has been 'focus'.
Focus on priorities, on doing most of my questing and running around on my main character first, on different goals, on helping the guild, on adapting quickly to changes and to try to predict what will happen in the near future.

Things are going well and the WoW vacation I recently took could not have happened at a better moment game-wise and in my life.
As I am reevaluating my goals, I find myself looking forward to Blizzcon 2011.
Mike Morhaime and Chris Metzen and everyone at Blizzard are probably aware that this will be THE Sales Pitch that will determine if World of Warcraft will be able to see the conclusion of what they've been ramping up to in the game. (Rumors have been mentioning two future expansions)

Spotlight's definitely on you this year, sir

I can say for myself that it is entirely possible that I will not be buying the next expansion if the pitch isn't stimulating enough interest in me to continue to invest my time in this game.
If that's the case, I will still accomplish the two tasks I've set myself this expansion: to see all the new game content and reach 1 million gold.
Then I'll follow the game from the sidelines as I delve into... something else (no, not SW:TOR... the closer that game gets, the less certain I want to involve myself with it).

I'm glad I wrote all of this down.
By no means is this a complete and accurate and expansive account of my years as a WoW gamer, but it's the main gist of where I come from, where I've been, how this game has changed me.
It started by being an escape from a sorrowful life, then became a drug, then a social medium, then a way to develop teamwork and team-building skills as well as a goal-oriented motivational device, then a teacher of all things economic (I almost flunked economics in high school : the irony is quite thick right here, folks).

So as I am picking up where I've left off in my gold-making ways, I am counting the days to Blizzcon with a little more emotion than I normally would feel for a geek convention.
Even though I think somewhere in my brain that I'm being ridiculous for thinking that, I can't help myself from feeling that way.

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