How strange to look back on nostalgia with nostalgia. Here's a post from 2014 reminiscing on my time in WoW. Back then it was almost ten years since I'd played it. Now it definitely is over twenty. However this short post is to mark the final chapter in my WoW adventure. I've deleted my Mangos server, no longer having a desire to work on it. The nostalgia has run its course and now even the memories are faded, replaced probably by Skyrim or some other adventure. Goodbye World of Warcraft and thanks for all the fishing.
Welcome to the Dark Side of the Moon, by which I mean Burning Crusade. The Soundtrack for Burning Crusade is the product of the same team as the original World of Warcraft OST, just a little more so. After the massive scale of the original game, Burning Crusade afforded a chance for a more focused approach, with less zones overall. And that’s why the full version runs to some nine hours long!
The theme park ride never ends. Today I thought I'd go through the highlights of the Original and Burning Crusade Soundtrack. The music of World of Warcraft is a journey in its own right. A journey you could miss if you turn it off. I had an AddOn that allowed you to play music in-game without having to tab out. I used that for a while. Sometimes I had youtube running in the background. Sometimes I listened to nothing besides the hum of the computer fan. I always came back to the game music though. So where did it come from?
The soundtracks to World of Warcraft were created by a small group of people. Here they are. They're Blizzard regulars and all worked on the Warcraft III soundtrack. It was made entirely with synthesized instruments because obviously computers make better music than puny humans. The soundtrack is vast in scope, attempting to encompass the world. The original soundtrack had to cover two continents of varying terrain, remember. But how does it measure up?
From what I understand there's no technical tricks or incredibly moving harmonics but there is a harmony. The tracks blend into the scenery, accentuating it without overpowering. Every new area brings the stirring of a tune, a scene setter for what to expect. Of course one of the big flaws of the original game was quantity. There were only so many tracks composed for the first version of World of Warcraft, each divided into shorter subtracks that played individually. A zone or region of the world would have a particular track dedicated to it with its subzones each tied to a subtrack. Thus over the course of exploring the entire zone you would hear the entire track. The problem was though that there were so many zones, not to mention the fact that each zone usually had at least 8 subzones. That's an awful lot of bread to spread not so much butter on. So tracks were re-used. The track to the Barrens also featured in the Blasted Lands. Feralas has the same track as Stranglethorn Vale. Where zones shared a thematic, they also shared a soundtrack. Or was the thematic tie created by the music?
As we've seen some of these zones were neglected in content so naturally they suffered in terms of ambience soundtracks too. The original game was very ambitious and the corners cut show in the dilution of the soundtrack. The Burning Crusade didn't suffer such dilution and comes out feeling a lot stronger because of it. Over the next few posts in this series I'll explore some highlights from the old soundtrack.
How far have we come? An entire world traveled and still not done. For you see there was one other addition in the Burning Crusade. To reach it we must step through the Dark Portal, into the realm of Outland.
It's time to finish off the Eastern Kingdoms. With Burning Crusade came the introduction of the northern tip of the continent, the homeland of the elves.
Technically it was added rather oddly. Rather than simply implanting it on the geography these regions exist in their own space, reachable only through teleportation and portals. The reasoning behind this was simple. Border control. People without the expansion could not access the new regions. Attempting to swim up to to Quel'danas you'll find only cliffs and empty sea where the map says land.
But how about that land?
Lordaeron, the northern crown of the Eastern Kingdoms. There's a lot of history here, more recent and raw than any other place. Lordaeron was a major setting for the story of Warcraft 3 and the effects are seen throughout. Once a bastion of humankind, Lordaeron is in a sad state. Nearly all its zones have suffered a malady of some kind. It is our task to catalogue them. Let's not waste any time.
Welcome to Khaz Modan! Homeland of the dwarves, we can expect beer brawling and the underground in this region of the Eastern Kingdoms. Khaz Modan is admittedly one of the smaller regions, it didn't receive a fleshing out until the Cataclysm expansion. The Eastern Kingdoms just aren't as neat in arrangement as Kalimdor. What are we waiting for? The first drink waits below.
Well that was Kalimdor, the untamed continent. We journey on to waters more familiar, though no less safe. On a whole they are known as the Eastern Kingdoms, the realms of men, elves and dwarves. The Eastern Kingdoms are supposedly home to more than half a dozen different human nations. How that is represented in-game, well we'll see. In terms of climate it a few different regions. The major temperate zone that makes up much of the center, the blasted wastelands around the Redridge Mountains and the infected scourgelands of the north. We're starting on the subcontinent of Azeroth, our ship is just pulling in to harbour below.
So here we go. After much debate I decided to tour the WoW world as it stands in The Burning Crusade. It added some beautiful areas that are worth seeing, while still being close to the original game. We begin our journey in central Kalimdor.
Do you remember way, way back a game that got so popular it penetrated the public consciousness and ran a celebrity-laden ad campaign? Mr. T remembers. The most surprising thing about those ads were that they came out in 2007, four years after World of Warcraft had been released.
Yes, World of Warcraft. Maligned, loved, decried and deconstructed but always known. WoW is many things to many people. While it is most definitely still alive today I will speak of it in the past tense. That's because WoW, for me, is in the past. It was a good time but it was also a unique time, like that first kiss or the first time I did a backflip. You may relive the memory but you don't need to recapture it. You already have it, right there. Yes this is a nostalgia laden post.
Before going any further let's put it in context. I don't remember exactly when I started. A WoW expert might be able to identify it as between the time when the oceans drank plainstriding and the years of the rise of Blackwing Lair. It was an age undreamed of. More specifically it was probably August 2005. I wasn't that interested in WoW when I started out. It was a fairly awkward game with a lot of rough edges. One of those rough edges were druids.
Let me tell you about druids. A druid in WoW was able to change their shape. They could become a giant bear, able to shrug off attacks. They could turn into a lion and rend their enemies to shreds. They could even turn into a seal, able to swim the ocean depths and hold their breath indefinitely. It was when I started a druid that WoW captured my imagination. Before then the characters available to play had seemed fairly mundane. They were mages and warriors and thieves who did things like shoot fireballs or hit people with a sword. To me a druid was revolutionary. I could sneak up on enemies unseen, plunge through the waves without fear and race the dunes of Tanaris without ever tiring. I didn't have to do these things alone either because September 2005 was when I started playing on a new server. Defias Brotherhood.
Let me tell you about Defias Brotherhood. Up until the advent of this new kind of server I'd mostly played alone, talking to people little, joining up with them even less. The DB server changed all that. It was a new kind of server for WoW, an RP-PvP server. What that meant was it was for Roleplayers but for Roleplayers who wanted to fight in the war between Alliance players and Horde players. This new combination was the advent of a whole new game for me. I would meet an orc, questing in the deep jungle. We would hail each other, tell each other news of distant lands and do all that silly RP stuff. And then out of nowhere we'd be attacked. A dwarven rogue would leap from the shadows, trying to end our lives. In the maelstrom of battle a friendship would be forged and when myself and the orc stood victorious we would, through the medium of these characters agree to join together and begin an epic quest to kill ten gorillas. Not that exciting maybe but what WoW lacked in imagination for quests it made up for in its environments.
Let me tell you about environments. WoW's artstyle was heavily stylised. Simple, boxy models with bold, striking colours. It had the advantages of both standing out on the shelf and being fairly low-end on the computational demands. If there's one fair criticism of WoW it's that it's a Theme Park. The landmass of the world can be crossed in a couple of hours, less if you don't get attacked along the way. The designers worked with their tools though. Every area is different, with its own story. The environments varied vastly, even inside a single area such that you could travel between lush jungle and demon infested ruins with it managing to feel consistent. The variety was amped up for the expansions, where the designers were able to dedicate more time to making areas unique. Which leads me to my point.
Yes my point. This was originally going to be a self-contained post, describing both my history of WoW and itself through the magic of screenshots. However as I looked at it I realised that the environs of WoW and my exploration of them is a far larger topic which deserves its own space. So over the next few weeks I'm going to go on a tour of WoW. As I go I hope to unearth some of my own history, as well as thoughts and criticisms of a game so old such thoughts are irrelevant.