Well, the folks over at Blog Azeroth have prompted a discussion on “I remember my first…” and the sense of awe that you have in the early stages of play.
I remember the first time I went into an instance not as a tag-along to my lv. 80 friend, but as a member of a party actually at the right level for that instance. Shadowfang Keep, though I’d already gone through it with Hano, in a group that… oh, I don’t really remember how we got teamed up. But I do remember the feeling that came over me when we finally downed Arugal… it was this amazing sense of accomplishment. We’d killed this guy, working together, all of us doing our parts. I loved it. To this day, unless I’m doing a quick grind, I prefer a well-balanced group that has to work to clear an instance. The Tank has to be able to pull well and keep aggro, the DPS has to be on their toes and watch their aggro levels, the healer has to know exactly which heals are best to use in the situation. Yes, it means we wipe, usually more than once, and usually at least once on a bad trash pull, but when you get to the end and down the last boss, you’ve earned it. You’ve earned whatever phat loot drops at the end, and the achievement (if it’s your first time), and whatever else you might get for finishing.
I remember the first time I was of any use in a battleground. I’ve mainly stayed away from them after a few horrible experiences in Warsong Gulch on my warrior, in the 20’s (yes, I know, bad idea, but I didn’t know at the time), and most PvP, when there are more than a handful of people fighting in one spot, really overloads my graphics and bandwidth and I get epic lag. But on a whim, I took my little Alliance frost mage (then a level 17) into WSG. Now, I had more extensive fun killing in PvP when I took my hunter (level 55) into Alterac Valley, but this time, with my mage… I decided to take a leap and try to actually fight, rather than just sitting around trying not to die. Because of my lag, I didn’t try to go to where the combat was, I just stood by the flag. And then, lo, an Orc grabbed it the flag. I frostbolted and frost nova’d and just outside the base, the Orc fell dead, leaving the flag for me to pick up and return.
I literally had to stop and stare for a second before remembering to grab it so it’d be safe. It was just… I couldn’t believe I’d actually done it. I’d actually killed someone of my level in PvP, and recaptured the flag. It still feels a bit surreal, to be honest, but wonderful. I’m never going to be a big PvP buff, I think, but it can be amazing fun.
I remember the first time I saw the outside of Ahn’Qiraj, the Scarab Gate and the walk up to AQ40’s entrance. This was when I was about level 60, and Hano’d grabbed a few guildies to run my fresh Death Knight (rolled just so I could be on his server) through for gear. I got a polearm that lasted me until Northrend, but it was coming up to it, first going in, that really made me catch my breath. I literally gasped. It was so epic – I finally got to see the scope of this world – it feels so small sometimes, given how quickly we can move around in it, but this… it was more than tall mountains and deep canyons – it was an epic empire that should have been long forgotten, but still swarmed with terrifying creatures. It didn’t hurt that there was so much Egyptian influence – I was always fascinated by ancient Egypt as a kid. It was like my most fantastical imaginings come to life. For a brief moment, the world on my computer screen was more real, more alive, than anything around me. I’ve felt a smaller glimpse of that questing in Storm Peaks, and I know when I finally get to run Ulduar 10-man (it WILL happen one day), I’m going to feel that same sense of awe and vivid reality. I can’t wait.
And lastly, but hardly least important, I remember the first time I signed on. Sure, I’d rolled a human, which arguably doesn’t have the most interesting starting area, but the opening cinematic and that brief introduction to the human race made my heart race just a little. I was becoming part of something big. Something that would probably (hopefully) be bigger than I could ever quite realise. It was magical. While it’s much less mysterious now (well, MOST of it), the magic is still there, and I can’t imagine ever losing it. It’s clearly a pretty big part of why I play – just look at my header! That’s a constellation-person! And the WORLD!
I feel bad for people who lose that sense of awe. I can’t see how the game is any fun without it.