WoW is a very interesting game. Not in terms of its base mechanics and gameplay loops but in terms of the social aspects that both invigorate and plague it. There is a cornucopia of social interactions that can take place but at the same time they feel neutered in comparison to the days of yester-year. It is near impossible to find people to talk to, whether in or out of guild, because the main gameplay loop has been designed to rush players through daily content to constantly stay on track. There are support systems in place but they seem to discourage communication rather then aid it. On top of that, there is no denying that the WoW community has only grown more toxic and impossible to handle. Why am I harping on such common topics that we all know about? Well, I'm burnt out. In the middle of being burnt out, I found myself reminiscing about my first time enterting WoW. Sure, there are nostalgia goggles in place to make the tedious aspects look fun but there was something back that made it worth while.
Vanilla: Terra Nova and Amadani
When I first got into WoW, I was in the 8th year for grade school; which would put me at roughly 13-14 years old. I was a lonely kid and had zero friends with little chance or want to socially interact with anybody around me. One day, I caught my brother playing WoW. He was in the middle of a Scholomance Raid slowly crawling through each room with what seemed like extreme caution and anxiety. Everything about it looked engrossing. It was a far cry from what I was used to. Seeing that one instance made me want to get WoW. So, later that week I got a physical copy of WoW and found myself with my first character: Wynri, a night elf warrior. After hitting a few levels and having interactions with other players, my brother got me into his old guild, Terra Nova. It was a quiet experience but it was interesting seeing guild chat light up on a daily basis.
At one point, I was Scarlet Monastery ready and saw a message in guild chat, "Hey, would anyone like to do or need SM? I have a few quests." I replied and decided to help out. This was my first real interaction with a guildie. I didn't say too much but she started off with a memorable greeting, "Hello hello! I'm Amadani! Ask Me Anything Dani! I'm always happy to learn and share what I know so please don't be shy!" Instead of doing any Scarlet Monsatry wing, we just sat at the borderline of Duskwood and Stranglethorn Vale while talking about anything and everything. Next thing I knew, we were spending every afternoon and night questing and talking with each other. We were a priest/warrior combo and we ran through content with ease. We always worked together in quests and dungeon while leading the way. It was always so much fun how in tandem we were with each other.
Eventually as we drew closer the 50's, the guild decided to label us as the "Official, Unofficial, Couple." We found it hillarious in part because at that point the guild was nothing but married couples who knew each other in the real world. Amadani and I had shared and discussed our hobbies, interests, and trends but we never disclosed our personal information. That part didn't seem to ever bother us. Whenever we were both online, we would invite each other, get to questing, and start chatting. It was our own escape. It almost felt odd to even consider anything outside of that.
As our time progressed, we consumed the lore, mechanics, and loops of WoW and passed on what we knew. I remember we both had hybrid builds that people considered a joke at the time but are now considered the top tier meta of Vanilla. It seems that we always tried to break the mold with what was deemed possible and show that there was even greater skill to be unlocked. Trying to get together a dungeon was an exercise of patience. Typically, other guildies would be off in their own world and asking general chat for DPS grew tiresome. So, we would just go into dungeons and take on the Duo-Challenge. It took longer but we always managed to clear each level appropiate dungeon by ourselves. It was our personnal victory. All of hard work and effort would finally pay off.
Guild Chat: Amadani: Ding!
Guild Chat: Wynri: Ding!
We both hit level 60 at the same time with the same slime mob in Eastern Plaguelands. We were both thrilled! But, before I could continue, she stopped me and asked, "Hey, do you want to get on Vent and talk there?" We never talked on Vent before. She and I would always just stick to text. It was never really a question before. I said, "Hm... this is new but I'd love too!" We both entered Vent, hit the first open channel and exchanged our first verbal greeting. She quickly followed up, "You know me as Amadani...." She paused briefly. "My real name is Claire. I'm 15 years old. My hair is black and I'm very nervous right now so please say something!" I was quiet. I couldn't think of what to say. I took a deep breath.
She asked again, "Please say something?" I don't know why but I found myself absolutely wracked with stress and anxiety. I finally spoke up, "Hey, I'm Andrew. I'm 14 years old. My hair is also black, how about that?" We both laughed harder then we ever had in our previous talks. I think it was parts of fear, anxiety, and excitement all mixed together.
I continued, "It's really lovely to hear your voice." With a sigh of relief, she gently said, "And you as well." We sat quietly for a few moments. Neither of our avatars moved. Eventually all the mobs we killed spawned on us. I broke the silence, "I think the game is telling us to get a move on now." She laughed and agreed.
Little did we realize that Vent had exploded with actviity. The few guildies that were on had told everyone else that we were in a channel. Next thing you know, just about the entire guild is online and gossiping about us.
Guild Chat: Dextro (Guild Officer): Hey, Ama and Wyn, are you two having a good time in there? :D :D :D
Guild chat: Various strings of "lol" and text emojis filled the chat box.
We both felt incredibly embarrassed but we thought of a clever reply.
Guild Chat: Amadani: You can ask me about anything... except that :)
We laughed it off and went back to our Plaguelands quests and delving into the mystery of the lore that surrounded the zone.
Eventually, we became geared enough to enter the guild raids. After weeks of farming LBRS, UBRS, BRD, UD Strat, Scholomance, getting attuned, getting rep, and doing everything under the sun, we finally entered our first raid together. We were both highly anticipating Molten Core and the experience of a 40 strong raid group. Unfortunately, the officers of our classes were not pleased with our specs. We had to defend our hybrid specs and explain that we've had far superior results when compared to the standard set-up. Our theory crafting wasn't welcomed. We were scoffed at and not taken seriously. We talked in whispers and saw how we had flasks, potions, scrolls, and even a world buff while the rest of the raid didn't bother. Most of our questions were not taken kindly and were quickly shot down. Eventually, we were demoted to the bottom of the tier list for tier and general loot. It was frustrating to say the least.
We found ourselves going through MC, BWL, and AQ20 but never to the higher end of content. We quietly discussed alternate methods of raiding. We both settled on leading our own Zul'Gurub raid. It was a success and we made it to Hakkar. With this raid, we had invited PUGs to fill out the DPS. One of those PUGs ended up taking to us about joining their guild's raids. We thought it over and agreed that as long as we're treated fairly we'll join. We stopped raiding with Terra Nova but remainded under their guild name. Eventually we would hit the tiers of Naxxramas and found new joys and experiences.
The Burning Crusade was around the corner. I asked Amadani to meet me at Tanaris. We rode down south to the ancient gate that lead to Uldum. We both clipped through the gate and sat at the pedestal. Within the confines of that ancient, undeveloped, and cancelled zone, we had agreed to do something that we both were unsure about. It was a topic that felt taboo. But we were excited and eager for more.
"Let's form our own guild for the Burning Crusade!"
We were both excited little kids thinking over the prospect of leading more raids, learning mechanics, and even creating new alts to learn the classes we had the least experience with. The converstion wound down as the time hit close to 2:00AM. Amadani, Claire, said one last thing before logging off, "We can do this. I know we can. More importantly, I'm happy to do this as long as you're there. I want to continue on with you. So, think of a good name for the guild and we'll take tomorrow, okay? And I get last say tonight! Good night!" She laughed and logged off.
To be continued(?) with "Terra Nova's Anger" and "Band of the Hawk: March into the Burning Depths"