Dear Diary: 8th March 2010
I know I said I'd never go back to World Of Warcraft, but we’re back together.
Following the rather monotonous process of installing Windows 7 and backing up the irreplaceable bits and bobs I’ve collected from the Internet in the last five years, I finally made true on my promise to reinstall World Of Warcraft on my ageing desktop machine. Surprisingly, Blizzard have fine tuned the procedure into a rather pleasant affair, with few hoops to jump through in comparison to previous incarnations.
Due to a reasonably recent version of the game being downloaded directly, I was able to avoid the chagrin of Josh and Ian by minimising the amount of time the peer-to-peer installation client was raping our network’s bandwidth for. I understand that the use of such a system reduces the strain on Blizzard’s network, but does it really have to plunder my upload bandwidth to such a degree that download speeds actually take a hit? Just taking a quick look at the amount of peers I was connected to at any one time really brings it home how many people play this game. It’s easy to say twelve million accounts without really considering how many people that actually is.
Having trawled the depths of my memory to mentally reclaim my Battle.net username and password, I found myself once again in the comforting glow of fires in a Dalaran Inn. I’m not sure if there have been engine improvements since I last played or if it is just a tax on my system resources from Windows 7’s Aero, but I had to reduce my graphics settings to lower that I previously remember having to in order to maintain a playable frame rate. I wasn’t particularly upset about this as I’m the first to admit that my desktop machine is getting to the point where it wouldn’t be out of place on an archaeological dig and despite the necessary reductions, Blizzard’s approach of using low polygon models with heavily stylised textures still impresses me every time I return to the game.
Last I spoke about returning to World Of Warcraft, I stated my intention to do so without installing any using any add-ons and seeing how far I could realistically get before having to resort to fiddling with colour palettes and restarting the game every five minutes. True to my word, I am still sporting a virgin version of the interface, having only dedicated about an hour setting up the default action bars and loading them several dozen skills (of which I will probably only use about five) available to Hunters. I have to admit that Blizzard’s vanilla interface has come on in leaps and bounds since in comparison to barely functional mess provided until about a year ago. There are some aspects that are still a bit bare bones, but at least for the moment, it’s good enough for my casual prodding of the game, the true test coming when I pluck up the courage to run a group or raid instance.
Of course, as a perfectionist I am unable to play World Of Warcraft without regular referral to the Hunter forums on Elitist Jerks and so make a visit there to see if how my class had changed in the six months I was away. I live by the modus operandi that if you’re going to do something, do it properly. Unless I’m in a position where I can wipe the smug smile off every Warlock who things that he’s the best damage dealer in the game and that Hunters are nothing more than trumped up support classes, I don’t really see the point of playing in the first place. Luckily it turns out that very little has changed since I stopped playing, meaning making talent changes or learning new shot priorities were surplus to requirement.
So, after managing to get myself completely set up in the space of a few hours, I found myself facing a small crisis in that I wasn’t quite sure how I should dip my toes back into the World Of Warcraft water. This problem lasted approximately five seconds before I remembered about the achievement system and headed off to work on the first incomplete venture I came across on the list.
This resulting in me punching eggs for the best part of an hour.
The 'Did Somebody Order A Knuckle Sandwich' achievement required me to raise my unarmed weapon skill to 400 and a Wowhead enquiry later I found out that fighting eggs in Sholazar Basin was the easiest way to accomplish this as they don’t have a reputation for fighting back. I can’t explain why I take delight in achieving pointless tasks just to obtain a virtual badge to show that I take delight in achieving pointless, but I do and that’s all the justification I need.
In the following hours of play, I didn’t notice that many new additions to the game as I was mostly dabbling with older content, but what did catch my eye was the new quest assistant system, which highlights where quest objectives can be found on the map. Clearly Blizzard have assimilated this technique from the Warhammer Online, where it shone like a diamond in the rough amongst dozens of other poorly implemented systems.
I’m also extremely excited to find out that a new function in the interface that returns a list of all the quests a specific character has ever completed, effectively allowing me to chase down all the ones I’ve ever missed. For a someone with a mild obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, this is akin to winning the lottery. I used to keep unwieldy Excel spreadsheets to monitor my quest completion status and nearly broke down and cried when my laptop hard drive failed and my babies were lost forever, but the fact there is probably an add-on out there that monitors it all automatically is enough to make me forget they ever existed.
The rest of my evening was spent on jousting and throwing away all my hard earned money on vanity pets and bags in the pursuit of the next achievements on the list. It turns out that it’s much easier to spend 1500 gold on a tabby cat when you earned it over six months ago and you forgot you had earned it in the first place. From the length of this entry, I can see that I’ve been well and truly sucked down the rabbit hole already.
I'll be sure to let you know how it goes. Until next time diary.