World of Warcrack

World of Warcrack

Today I thought I would write a little about the single biggest pit I had ever fell into.  It seems to me that falling is something that scares most people.  That is only natural when a falling from a standing position has the ability to cause considerable damage to a person and falling from a greater height can increase those effects many fold.  But when you consider that there are some people that seek out that feeling, when they know the chances of being hurt have been mitigated or even removed from the equation.  Sky divers, bungee jumping, skiing, snowboarding, and when we were kids sledding down a hill.  The thrill that can come from something dangerous is like crack to some people, and an indulgence to others on occasion.  So what is it that makes us seek out these pits in the first place?

I was a World of Warcraft addict!  It might be proper to some say “I am” addicted, but I believe there are some addictions that can be overcome so much that someone needs not think in that mind frame again.  Overcoming that addiction was key to keeping me out of depression.  Because it is a gain that can easily take you down that hole for years if you have the mindset ready to allow it.  That was me, for years living in my fantasy world of Azeroth.

Somewhere in 2005 I began to play World of Warcraft or WOW to those in the know.  At the time I did not believe I could like the game, at least not as much as I eventually came to like it.  I had tried other MMO’s in the past that touched on fantasy sword and sorcery type games, such as Everquest; and found them not to my liking.  But WOW was much different than those, and I quickly fell into its embrace.

In the basic edition of the game, I became a passionate pvp’er (player vs. player) and started my progression through the ranks.  I had eventually obtained the status of Grand Marshal of the Alliance on my paladin and I did it before many changes made it easier to accomplish.  In those days, I was second in charge of a large guild that had no real drive.  Though looking back, the guild masters was barely there.  So you could say that I ran the guild for most of its time.  The members for the most part were casual players that were just enjoying the game with friends.  But I had become pretty hardcore, you had to be to get the rank of Grand Marshal.  When that was over, I still needed to be “hardcore”!  Deflating from that state of mind was not a possibility at the in those days.  But my guild did not want to raid, or I should say not enough of them wanted to raid.  So I stuck with my pvping.

Another problem arose with a moral code that I had stood by through the game.  I had decided early on that I would be loyal to my guild.  Guild jumpers had become almost a swear to some people.  Imagine relying upon someone, helping them and gearing them up, just so that they would leave for another guild.  I for one did not want to be associated with that title.  So I held firm for some reason, and did not allow myself to recall the simple face: that it was a game.  That was quite a hard task, because when you push something like Grand Marshal, you become friendly with other hardcore minded people.  The same people that ran in the major raiding guilds for instance.  I had offers to join every major guild on the server; numerous times.  But I could not remember it was a game, so most of them let me become an alternate for their raids and I was OK with that.

The first expansion in World of Warcraft was The Burning Crusades.  It was highly anticipated and opened up an entire new world to explore within the game.  My guild went into it with a passion, and I had a good crew of people that had vowed to me that they wanted to raid.  So my excitement for the expansion increased.  After we reached the new level cap of 70 on the game, we quickly geared out; readying ourselves for raiding.  But as in the past, many things fell through.  Karazhan was the first 10 man raid in the expansion, and by all accounts it was fun and relatively easy once you learned the tricks.  The players I took in there, could not pay attention enough to defeat even the first half of bosses and some one that could only defeat the first time.  It was frustrating to say the least and I was reaching my limit in patience.

It was right around then when a good friend of mine who had in the past gotten me into raids and pvp with his guild came to me with an idea.  He wanted to form a raiding guild out of the remaining members of one of the strongest guilds on the server in the past for raiding.  And he also wanted some select people that he knew would do their jobs as well.  It was his goal to become a top raiding guild, not only on the server; but in the US or even world.  Let us say I jumped at the chance, and left my guild on good terms that very day.  That guild beat the expansion, and was one of the top 100 guilds in the world (or perhaps just in the states).

I can truly say that those were good times, and I enjoyed them.  But with recollection comes more things to consider then you might had thought while they were happening.  I explained that I gained Grand Marshal of the Alliance during my times pvping in WOW.  That came at the expense of countless hours a week for months and months.  It was a slow grind and in the end, when I was so close to reaching that goal it became more of an obsession.  For the first time in my life this A type personality came out of me, and I ruled my pvp groups with an iron fist.  I had a waiting list to join my group that was normally over 30 people long; and if someone made even the smallest mistake in my eyes they would be out of the group for a time.  The last two weeks of my ranking push, I played well over 126 hours per week.  I slept, gamed, ordered take out for all my meals and nothing else.  That was my vacation for the year, for one goal that existed only in a fantasy world… just a game!

World of Warcraft

While that was bad, at least I can say that raiding was not nearly that consuming.  It was like working a part time job.  We raiding hard core for at least 4 to 5 days a week, and you were expected to be there ready with your consumable.  The goal of a raider is always to be perfect in a team situation.  You move when you should, you use the abilities you have to the maximum performance you can; and you always pay attention!  If you cannot do those things, then you can’t raid at that level, because that is what it takes and more.  And I did those things for the entirety of the Burning Crusades, and into the next expansion the Wrath of the Lich King.  I healed my ass of for years, working that job, while working full time.  I was good and I suffered greatly in my personal life for that commitment.

That addiction happened during a time in my life, when gaming online was preferable to going out with friends or even family.  I had been in depression for years, and had slowly closed much of my social life off.  On top of that, I was morbidly obese and what comes with that disease is much of the same as depression.  You close down to others, hide, and see interacting with the outside world as a nightmare.  Perhaps that is not how others feel, but it was for me then.  While I am still morbidly obese, my mind has changed a great deal since then and just maybe that was one of the reasons I left the game for good.  I have gone back to it from time to time, when new expansions have been released, or when I had been offered free trials.  But I know fully that I have no passion for such things anymore.  I believe I accomplished everything in the game, and seek other things to take my time away from me.

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My Geek Cred: (Part 2) Years Into the World(s)

So I spoke of my years up through high school. But I am almost thirty five years old, and I have lived a bit since those days.  Although I have truly had many years past then, I have existed in a haze of depression and fantasy indulgence for a good amount of that time. I have moved past some of the worst of those obsessions and hope for changes that will be more constructive to my life.  But I will leave those explanations for another day and continue my geek cred post with those remaining years past those of my youth.

When high school ended, I like many other kids when away to college.  For the next year I found my new home to be Morgantown, West Virginia and more specifically West Virginia University.  It was over five hundred miles away from my New England hometown, had a football team I loved, and so much natural beauty touch my soul.  I majored in girls, parties, drinking, and oh yes we must not forget Engineering.  It seems odd to this day that I chose that major.  Though perhaps not with the way I excelled in math and my technical drawing classes.

My year at WVU was fun, exciting, and took me out of a shell I had lived in.  Though I cannot say that I was as studious as I should had been; not in the least.  I quickly became the computer expert in my dorm and gained many friends through those first requests for help.  Without the quiet demeanor I had in high school or the nerdy edge that comes with some computer people (especially in those days); I caught many dates and late night… adventures through some of those connections.  But I guess I did not write this blog to talk about my college exploits, so I will leave that for you to fill in.

While I have told you that I have always been a natural with computers, I should explain a few things that make me laugh at that point.  Especially after what I have just said about becoming the computer expert within my dorm.  Yes! I did own a Tandy 1000 EX, but that was the first and only computer that I owned until I moved into college.  Computers were excessively expensive back then, and some would argue they remain still today (not I though).  My parents were both blue collar workers (and one eventually on disability), and did not have the ability to buy me all those luxuries.  So for the years after that Tandy, I used computers mainly through friends and school.  My next computer did not come until I was leaving for college, my uncle and aunt decided that they would co-sign a credit card from an electronics store for me.  With that they paid for most of the computer and let me put some on the card as well.  I only had it out of the box one day before leaving for college, but I loved it and spent many late nights wasting hours on it for years to come.

That computer was a Compaq Presario 4704.  It had a 133 MHz Pentium processor, 1.6 Gig Hard drive, 8 MB of Ram, and Windows 95. I cannot say it was the best or brightest computer for that year; but it would had been top of the line for a production computer then.  Through that computer, I started learning how to work on hardware.  It began with the need of an Ethernet card, to be able to access the college network.  I quickly bought that and installed it without much issue.  I later helped the installation of many more that year, making a few bucks (from the guys) and other things as well.  Since that computer, I have never gone without one and eventually never gone without several at hand.

With that new beautiful piece of equipment, I journeyed into a new world of computer games.  Diablo was my first adventure into online gaming, and one I quickly came to enjoy.  I must now admit that I eventually became an asshole on that game, I would PK (player kill; griefing) anyone and anything.  I had entire guilds hunting me mainly because I was one of those cheating bastards that could get around a few of the mods that kept players from being PKed.  I do not know why I enjoyed it so, but in years to come my PKing become somewhat more honorable on other games.

I started MUDing (Multi-User Dungeon; text based gaming) that year as well.  A friend from high school led me to his MUD, and I took it up with a passion as well.  Eventually I started building areas for that game.  I took it upon myself to make the biggest area I had seen, and to my horror that area was junked by the implementers of the game out of spite for leaving their game for another.  Building was a kin to writing for me, allowing me to build adventures for others to experience and enjoy.  I believe text based games are still underrated, and offer so much for people to experience. If you have yet to experience one, go try one out and see what they are like.  I support one such game today, though I am sure others are just as great: http://www.kotl.org  (Telnet to kotl.org:2222)

The biggest gaming change for me in Morgantown was the lack of Dungeons and Dragons games.  The majority of people I spoke to played GURPS, and while I had played the system in the past… I did not like it.  But to my surprise the other thing that was popular was live action role playing.  They played Mind’s Eye Theatre based off of White Wolf’s World of Darkness universe, which if you’ve been reading, I had loved.  So I delved into live action to fill my need for role playing, and can still say it was one of the best experiences I had with gaming.  We played on the streets of Morgantown, and caught many odd looks to be sure.  The experience is not one I had captured past that year, but will be one I still admire.

Before my year at that college was over, I had finally gathered a group of D&D gamers.  It took what I consider an excessive amount of work on my part.  I from the second month of college there began to put up gaming flyers all over college and in parts of the town.  Each flyer eventually had the tags removed or went missing themselves, but I would get no calls or emails.  It was not until the last months of school within the spring semester when interest was shown and by then school was almost to an end.

After that first year, I was unable to go back to WVU.  I began to work full time, and tried community college for a time.  I eventually landed a job with a major telecom company that was expanding itself.  Specifically I landed a job in their new internet department, working as a technical support agent supporting dialup and DSL customers.  The best part to that job, was that I ended up on third shift working with a small overnight crew.

I assume you must be wondering why I would think that would be a benefit?  After all third shift is a life sucking hole which causing most people to have issues eventually.  It was the team of people that I ended up with, I believe there were eight of us on that shift when I started and since the work days overlapped we always had at least six at a time in house.  Out of those people, at least four were self-proclaimed hackers who loved UNIX and Linux with a passion, would code all night long, and spend hours doing things in external shell accounts and making printouts of nonsensical data (for those not in the know). The other four members of the team, including myself with gamers, all computer gamers (well the hackers too), at least three role players, and all around online/computer junkies.  I learned a lot from those people, am still in touch with a few, and still hold one as one of my best friends to this day.

The job required a medium amount of computer knowledge to start.  But with such influences around me I began to feed on knowledge with a frenzy.  While there I acquired an A + certification, and a Networking + certification.  I learned a lot about UNIX and Linux, and began my studies for a CCNA certification (Cisco Certified Network Associate).  The design of websites also became in my view, and I learned HTML and a little more coding (I had learned some C and C++ in high school and college). Let us just say that I became quite proficient in many aspects of computers.  But as time went on after leaving that job behind, much of that knowledge as faded like distant memories.

I bought my first domain in those years, and it is currently pointed at this blog; for I have not used it in years (http://www.darkreality.com).  That site was my first big step past a fortunecity or anglefire website that I had used in the past for fun things.  Darkreality.com started as a place for people to post stories, poetry, music, art, or anything creatively inclined with a darker (gothic, metal, edgy) foundation.  That was my goal at least, to bring people together and have a place for sharing that material.  The site was a hit!  To my great surprise and delight, I had thousands of hits and hundreds of people giving material.  I had at least two music labels asking for me to write reviews and post songs from their bands; after which they sent me free cd’s to do so.  And one book publisher wanting the same for a soon to be released book.  Let us just say that I was overwhelmed with the amount of material and response; I did not have the resources or skill to bring that site to the level at which it was climbing.  If I had only sought out help in that endeavor.  That is still one of the biggest disappointments of my past, especially now knowing I could had made a living off of that site.

My work friends and I founded our main gaming group during those years.  That group has been gaming (not with the same people other than us two) for about twelve years now, we rotate game masters every year or two to give others a chance to play.  While I do have other groups and have played in many other games; that one brings me the most joy out of all of them.  Perhaps it is because I helped found the game and am the one who actively searching for players when others leave.

The other passion that I quickly picked up; once my college pursuits were over, was reading again.  For the first time ever, I read with delight and enjoyment! I just could not get enough and I still cannot to this day.  Soon I found two of my favorite authors, Robert Jordan and George R. R. Martin.  I found that I liked long epic stories and searched out more, and found a weakness within myself; I could not stop reading a series that I liked, and had to have each book that followed.  Since those years, I have read hundreds if not more books.  I have found that I mainly enjoy fantasy, but am willing to try science fiction titles as well.  On occasion I have ventured out into historical fiction titles or other fiction that seems almost historical like that of Bernard Cornwell and Patrick O’Brian.  So I became addicted to a new form of fiction, and one I will never give up completely.