It's almost a year since I updated this thing and that coincides nicely with another anniversary - full time employment. Did I ever mention that here? I don't think I did but I'm sure it got implied somewhere along the line, especially if you read my tweets. I've actually contiguously been employed since the day I could legally work but the looming ten year anniversary (another one) of working in such a horrible, dead end, part time job made me finally get what I like to call a real job.
A constant throughout the years of writing this is never talking about myself. I don't plan on changing that but I feel some introspection here will help shed some light on choices of late. Like quitting MMOs.
Though I feel it's almost offensive to the great people I met on European servers, whenever I think of WoW it'll always be to the days I spent with Blue Gartr during The Burning Crusade. I remember running the guild on a roster of 27 people, Kuai's horrendous links opening my eyes to 4chan, the way I felt when we beat Kael'thas, all the Warriors I tanked with, Tib's display of Protadin shaping my future and all the unfunny repetitive jokes we made daily about minor discrepancies once committed never forgotten. There was just something about evolving from knowing absolutely fuck all in vanilla to seeing the world in math with a group of absolute clowns that'll always stick with me.
I don't remember what I said when I quit Blue Garter, WoW for the first time and US servers but I always felt they resented me for it despite the astronomical money we all made off the accounts of a game everyone was admittedly tired of. I don't harbour any resentment and still miss certain people I've naturally drifted away from. Here, I'd like to actually put down why I quit even if no one cares anymore and probably didn't then.
As some people reading this may remember, while walking to work with my brother in January '08, we were jumped by two drunks and had a pretty nasty fight. The particulars aren't important but it opened my eyes to the fact that my family were the ones to be there and care for me. I obviously wasn't expecting people on the other side of the Atlantic to fill that role but I was going to bed at 10:00 and waking at 16:00 to spend one day a week raiding for gear nobody needed. I'd also ballooned to 330lbs and lost contact with each and every friend I had. Oh, and that time I was sick for two months straight and couldn't string a sentence together on Vent without coughing? It went away when Bert advised me to clean my room. Yeah...
Most of my EU WoW time spanning from March '08 to September '09 is covered here. Some people might be wondering why I would go back to something I'd allowed to do so much damage to me? Quitting an addiction and having nothing to fill the time with is not breaking the cycle. In hindsight, it was inevitable I'd go back and I'm glad I did as I assembled and entered into a fantastic circle of friends I play all my games with to this day. I strongly dislike online competitive play and will always take the teamwork. For example, of the hundreds of hours I've poured into both Left 4 Dead's, less than 1% of that was spent playing 4v4. Every single second of it was spent with the friends I made in EU WoW. As a co-op/PvE person that realizes how horrendous the public are at most games, having a large circle of skilled friends I could happily spend all evening chatting with makes me feel like the king of an island in a sea of shit.
Oh, I suppose after the shocking nadir above I should just state that I got myself down to 230lbs, have a fab group of acquaintances (thanks to my job) and a very good friend in Silinde that I meet up with as often as time allows. Life blossoms, but reversing years of a tsunami of abuse toward my body and soul is not a swift process.
Back to WoW; I returned again in September '10 and experienced the disappointment that was Icecrown Citadel. I slowly edged back toward my old guild who were seemingly happy to have me back in their ranks. I always told myself and the skeptics I went back with that if things weren't different that I would leave. And I did, taking two of their best members with me to the best guild on the server. This proved to be Redemptions death knell. Do I regret it? Not really. I made a promise to myself and stuck with it which allowed me to see the pinnacle of hardcore-casual raiding.
Alter Ego was the guild we joined. Lead by one of the two people responsible for me being on Argent Dawn, it was a culture shock at first. When people playing like shit and every raid starting late becomes the norm, every minute being squeezed for all its worth with all the needs of the members being provided for was enlightening. Alter Ego was an incredibly run guild that prided itself on respecting everyones time under the assumption that they were 9-5 monkeys that didn't want to put up with... well, what I'd become accustomed to in Redemption. Regrettably though, this greatness came too late for me and my interest in the game was at rock bottom when it was decided to grant the guild a coup de grace as attendance started sagging. My reaction to finding this out was to punch the air and immediately deactivate my account, never to log in again.
Am I done with WoW? I'd be a fool to say yes but I can't see myself going back to it or any MMO again. See, I actually gave Rift a run for a few months with the Chefs Knife lot but ultimately decided against staying. I even logged into FFXIV once! Working 9-5 has given me a completely different perspective on infinity wanting to come home and spend every hour of every evening on the same game. Even if Rift is WoW for people that quit WoW but are still addicted to WoW, it's a good game in itself but not good enough for me to want to make that commitment. And that right there is the problem with MMOs. As someone that has played at somewhere not far off a personal bleeding edge of hardcore, there's no going back, you can't regress to casual. In both Rift and WoW, as soon as the level cap is reached you pretty much have to raid or PvP to progress your character. I have no interest in PvP and raiding requires a commitment to a group of people that I don't have it in me to hold any more. At this stage of my life, a Diablo-like quasi-MMO that'll interlace with single player interests would suit me just fine.
So, that's me in a nutshell right now. Given how far my life has progressed in the past few years, I'm pretty happy. Does it suck compared to yours? Sure. Could I be further along in certain aspects of my life? Probably. But I'm content to be crawling forward right now.
I go to Southbank somewhat often for classical shows. I'm a huge fan of Chopin and piano based music in general so if I see one of my favorites listed I'll go. Their emails are one of the few advertisement based ones that I'll actually read. One such email drew my attention to something called Video Game Heroes. Further reading showed it was night of video game songs played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Once I picked my jaw up off the floor, I checked with Silinde and Disdain and, £120 later, a date was made. The biggest surprise to me was how short notice it was. I try to keep up with shows at Southbank so three weeks from the email, the first I'd ever heard about it, was insane. To put it in perspective, I have tickets on my desk for the Czech Masterpieces show (mostly to see Dvorak's piano concerto) that I will have had for over a year by the time the actual date rolls round in May. Anyway, here's the set they played:
Advent Rising - Muse
Elder Scrolls: Oblivion - Theme
Call of Duty - Main Menu Theme
Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 - Theme
Legend of Zelda - Theme
Super Mario Bros - Medley
LittleBigPlanet - Orb of Dreams
Splinter Cell: Conviction - Theme
Battlefield 2 - Theme
Final Fantasy - Theme
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty - Theme
Dead Space - Welcome Aboard the U.S.G. Ishimura (specially composed for the show)
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune - Theme
World of Warcraft - Seasons of War
Halo 3 - One Final Effort
007: Blood Stone - Athens Harbour Chase
Grand Theft Auto - Soviet Connection
Bioshock - The Ocean on his Shoulders
Mass Effect - Suicide Mission
Fallout 3 - Theme
Super Mario Galaxy - Gutsy Garden Galaxy
Final Fantasy VIII - Liberi Fatali
Enemy Zero - Last Movement
Yeah, three people that grew up gaming didn't even know what Advent Rising was but their rendition of the song was enough to make all of us agree it'd be worth playing. Ditto with Enemy Zero until I saw it was a piece of shit - how did they get Michael Nyman to do the score for that??? I'm sure everyone had their favorites, heavily influenced by their personal tastes and experiences with the respective games, but for me the Mass Effect Suicide Mission took the top spot. The first thing I did when I built my new PC was to play through Mass Effect. The second thing was to play through Mass Effect 2. Both in the dark with a set of headphones on made an incredible pair of games with some of the best character development I've ever seen an experience I'll never forget. I loved their futuristic music and I felt that the orchestra absolutely nailed the song's stylistic intro that's so synonymous with the series. A close second to Mass Effect was the Uncharted Theme, third being the MGS2 theme.
The biggest disappointment was Legend of Zelda. Being a huge Zelda fan my whole life, I suppose it was only fitting in this day and age to be let down. They over complicated it and it turned into a mess. The World of Warcraft track felt a bit anonymous too. I would've creamed my pants if they'd played The Betrayer and the Sun King instead. The music that plays when entering phase two of Illidan is my all time favourite piece of music from WoW. The CoD themes kinda ran together too and the Mario Galaxy song, while impressive, didn't exactly require much work. It was in stark contrast to the awesome Angry Birds rendition that must've taken some effort to put together.
All-in-all, it was a great night, if expensive with the addition of our £70 Wagamama meal beforehand.
I was planning to add some stuff with regards to anime (goggles this page) and Xenoblade in this entry but I don't feel they're thematically relevant. That, and this is long enough by now. Instead, I'll end on a picture of my drink of choice in Wagamama and get those written up over the next couple of days.