A few weeks ago, I attended my first World of Warcraft guild meeting for The Little People. I was invited to join the folk of challenged stature in their quest to vanquish the evil Horde when I first began working at SoftSource back in March of this year. Since then, I have been playing semi-regularly (no questionable absences whatsoever, no matter what you say Hlokk :)) with the other members on Silverhand. The last MMORPG I was reasonably absorbed in was Asheron’s Call back in 2001 after I lost interest in Everquest. I have been part of the massively multiplayer role-playing community since 1996 when a friend of mine introduced me to Aardwolf and to MUDding (multi-user dungeon) in general. Aardwolf is a text-based MUD that offers a fairly advanced list of features including one of the best NPC questmasters I’ve seen. Not advanced by any means in terms of its graphical appearance, it has “text prompt” feature with absolutely no attempt at graphical rendition, relying rather on the player’s imagination by rendering everything as text through a telnet client. The difference that Aardwolf presented to me over the variety of video games I had played over the years was the fact that several thousand other people are also playing in the same game with you at the same time. Ferociously addictive, do not try playing aardwolf or a MUD in general unless you are decidedly bored with the notion of having spare time during the next half decade.
World of Warcraft has some of the same tenets as a MUD in that you create a character by choosing a race and class to seed your initial attributes and set of available skills before starting out upon a storyline in which you invariably save the world from evil. You work through a variety of stories in a truly massive area to level up your character by delivering trinkets and whacking various mobs and creatures over the head with a plethora of shiny weaponry. The biggest difference is the truly amazing graphical presentation that brings the world to life. Some of the larger battles that involve your group of about five people smashing the snot out of a horde of baddies with all manner of lightning bolts, fireballs, swords, axes, and bludgeonry, can be extremely exciting and very entertaining. In addition to sharing the concept of quests, guilds, and other D&D facets, it contains and expands upon much of the addictiveness that first sucked me in to playing Aardwolf by working very hard to promote teamwork. While my attendance on Monday night with the Little People has been unreliable to say the least, Vaelorna (my online character) has now reached level 52 and is hoping to achieve the vaunted 60 before The Burning Crusade is released in mid-January. The most compelling part of playing WoW has without doubt been membership in The Little People. Despite having played similar games from the genre for almost ten years I have never before known people I was playing with, nor had the opportunity to play with such dedicated and talented guild-members. The Little People have been endlessly supportive in helping me progress and be a part of the team despite my oft-displayed ability to endanger success, impede progress, or snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. It makes a huge difference to be playing with friends.
Here are a few photos from the initial guild meeting. Picture 1 from left to right is Zelavian, Gnaome (our fearless leader), and me. Picture 2 is of Xanger, Ilurath, Gnaome, Verhutch, Zelavian, Hotcarl, and Shebah all watching a laptop on which Gnaome was showing off a beta version of The Burning Crusade. Picture 3 is of myself and Hlokk (who took the other photos). I work with Gnaome and Hlokk and previously worked with Hotcarl before he left. It was great to finally put faces to the people I’d been slaying dragonkin and wolves with for several months and something I’d love to do again in the future. Thanks to Brian for sharing these pictures with me and thanks to the rest of the guild for many hours of demon-slaying fun.