Thursday, 27 January 2011

Healing Gnomes

A little while ago I made a decision that I didn't realise I would struggle with as much as I have.

I don't follow lore too closely, my enjoyment of WoW comes far more from game play and progression than story, but there have been quest lines that have caused a patriotic swell in me for my faction and for my race. I'm thinking especially of the quest where Sylvanas and Thrall retake the Undercity, seeing all those undead refugees in Orgrimmar saddened me and as the quest countdown timer ticked I was impatient to storm the gates of the Undercity and punish those who had hurt those people. MY people.

The initial selection of faction and race wasn't dictated, as I know it is for many, by existing WoW friends. I very much chose what felt right. I studied video game design at uni and I'm a designer now, so aesthetics and animation had a fair role to play. I knew no lore at all but the Horde appealed more without question and this race of Forsaken was intriguing and their design fascinating. I rolled the very beautiful Blood Elves and Draenei to watch them jump and twirl and preen themselves for a bit, but then when I looked at my lvl 1 Undead Priest, looking over her shoulder shiftily, with no eyes, half her face missing and tattered apprentice robes, I knew that she was mine.

As you're no doubt aware, many guilds crumbled and fell in the weeks and months leading up to Cataclysm as raid content offered nothing of value to those who already had the achievements. The one I was in was among that number, after which point I found it very hard to find a guild which would have raiding days to suit my schedule come Cataclysm. Shortly after it's release, a RL friend offered me a spot in his guild on another server, 10m raiding, the two nights a week I can make. Perfect! However, they were Alliance.

I knew I'd miss being an undead, I'd miss Orgrimmar and running with the distinctive silhouette of the Horde, but I wanted to hit the ground of heroics and raiding running and if a faction change was in order then that's what I would do. Blizzard failed to make the Worgen fulfil their design potential in my opinion, and I've always enjoyed Draenei animations so I went with one of those.

Materialising in the Exodar, where I'd never been before, I paid for a portal to Stormwind, which was equally unfamiliar. I spent some time pestering the guards for locations of flight points and reforgers, and flew around the city a while before settling on the roof of the auction house. In Orgrimmar I have my favourite perch points for looking at the city, places I always log in and out from, places I sit so I can easily be found for bartering my professions, places I've spent a long time being, even with the changes to the city. I missed it.

I ran normal and heroic dungeons, felt a bit sick for healing gnomes, and felt increasingly distanced from my character as the armour I had, the last remaining visual representation identifying her as the same character, was  replaced. Without conscious thought I started playing my warlock alt more (still Horde-side) and realising that the longer I had Reala on Alliance, the more unfamiliar she felt to me and the less I identified with her when I didn't even realise I was identifying with her in the first place.

A month ahead, I have come back to Horde (and promptly spent all my herbalist warlock's money on levelling Reala's professions). As luck would have it I've found a brilliant little guild who will be raiding on the days I can. But really, I would have sat and waited, I would have pugged and wiped Blackwing Descent 100 times, but what I realise is that it's highly likely I had to give it all up to appreciate the finer details of this immense experience we call a game.


PS. The restoration of my 'of the Undercity' title is a very welcome thing indeed!