If anyone’s interested, I thought I’d finish sharing my memories of my early WoW days back in its 2004 launch. You can read the first part here.
November 23, 2004. I took the day off work (I think), and eagerly ripped open my World of Warcraft Collector’s Edition box purchased right off the shelf at Best Buy. Blizzard does great Collector’s Edition boxes, and while I liked the cloth map, the making-of DVD and the soundtrack, one of three unique in-game pets was the clincher. To this day, every time I start a new character, I continue to get to chose between a panda, mini-Diablo or a zergling. I usually go with the panda, even though he falls asleep on me all the time.
Ask anyone who was around for launch, and the following two to three months: it was a mess. Sure, the game ran great and was fairly polished for the genre, but Blizzard was almost clueless as to the level of demand that the new players were going to put on their meager servers. With only a dozen or two servers available at launch, people jammed on there like crazy, creating massive queues and crashing the servers almost routinely. It took them months to fix the problem, and months more to eliminate the queues.
In any case, I didn’t care about that — I got in, found an open server, and made my first character: a dwarf hunter named Chark. I was most interested in making a hunter and warlock initially — pet classes are a favorite of mine — but I never quite got around to making that undead lock I wanted.
To risk sounding old fogeyish and overly nostalgic, there was just something about those first few days that I’ll never get back, as long as I play WoW. That fresh, brand-new feeling, where I had little clue about the game, where the music, sounds and little details like footprints on the snow amazed me. The dwarf newbie area felt HUGE, and Chark probably was the biggest idiot trying to run around and figure stuff out… but I had a blast. Everyone was shouting on general chat “How do I do this?”, nobody had higher characters to help finance them or give them a leg up, and the economy was so meager that 25 silver for a sale of ore felt like a small fortune.
I abandoned Chark around level 25 and deleted him at some point. Since those first days in 2004, I’ve left WoW a few times to take breaks and try other games, but always seemed to come back. I played a Tauren druid to 58 with a regular group of friends until burning out on the PVP server nonsense. I’ve made tons of alts and played at least three warlocks into their 50s. But really, I consider my serious WoW start when I joined up with TWW in September 2006, having newly moved to Rexxar and starting a new character from scratch.
I have a nostalgic twinge for those earliest days, and sometimes wish that I could go back to just experience it all over again for the first time. But then I remember how utterly broken some of the classes were back then, and how many of the tools we take for granted now weren’t even present (you had to get a mod to give yourself more than one toolbar, for pete’s sake!).
So, really, it’s great to be playing today. I hope to be doing so through the next expansion and beyond!