Sunday, October 13, 2013

Back To Azeroth

World of Warcraft.

Blizzard's great success story.
I've been away for awhile, and I want to get back to the game.

My history with World of Warcraft started back with StarCraft.
Many of us played StarCraft on the office LAN back in the late 90's.  It would be hard to exaggerate the effect that game had. Some of those coworkers have kids who play in StarCraft 2 tournaments today.

Then in 2000, Diablo II arrived and my evenings were lost.
We would sit on the phone for hours while playing the multi-player version of the game. My couch developed a permanent depression where I camped with my mouse on the arm of the couch and the laptop perched on a box.
When I heard that Blizzard was developing a persistent-world game, I was thrilled and terrified. If they could translate that great Diablo gameplay into an MMO, it would change everything. And if I had even more reasons to play, I may never sleep again.

All my Diablo-playing friends jumped on the World of Warcraft beta release. As a software developer, I take beta testing pretty seriously, so I stayed away. But on launch day,  I volunteered to be the office purchaser. I showed up a suburban Best Buy when the doors opened, walked past the Half Life 2 displays and to the temporary World of Warcraft counter and bought four of everything.  Needless to say, the office closed down early that afternoon.

That was almost nine years ago.
In the meantime, I've created Addons for the game,  run a small guild, and acted as CTO for some of the largest WoW-related sites on the Internet.
But in the last couple years, my time in Azeroth has mainly been limited to updating and testing my Addons, and enough questing to keep my primary characters at max level. I haven't been on a raid in three years.

But tales of thrilling heroics and camaraderie on The Instance podcast make me want to play again!

How can I get back into the game?

I would like to raid and participate in the higher-level aspects of the game, but the skills have changed so much, the talent system is almost gone, and everything seems to require some sort of reputation points.

It just all seems so overwhelming.

Let's break it down into a concrete course of action:

Reach Out for Help

The purpose of this series is to hopefully learn from others who have successfully returned to World of Warcraft. Even if I fail to reach those people, at least I will leave some information for the next person.
I may get help from the guild, but I don't even know if my toons are still in a guild.

Pick a Toon

While my "main" has always been my rogue, I should probably go with my Holy Priest for entering back into the game. Wait times for pick-up-groups should be much shorter, and I can learn the dungeons.
I also have a warrior tank at max level, but I just don't have the skills to tank anymore. So much has changed since previous patches. I don't even know how to train to be a better tank.

Update the Game

I've already updated the game client when testing my Addons, but I'll want to review what Addons are being required by raid teams, and what class-specific Addons are recommended.
As an Addon developer, I've always preferred WoWUI over Curse. But has that changed? Do developers still keep their version control at WoWUI?

Review Abilities, Talents, Glyphs, and Rotations

This is what is keeping me from the game right now.
Abilities are automatic, but I want to read up on them and see just how each one actually works. I know I was misusing an Ability on my rogue for a month before I realized it had significantly changed in Mists of Pandaria.
Talents seem to be somewhat unimportant nowadays. Just to fine-tune with your playstyle. Am I wrong there? Let me know!
Glyphs! I don't even know where to start. I need a web site with a comprehensive list of available glyphs and their relative merits.
Spell rotation usually isn't a serious issue until you're trying to optimize things in a raid or arena. So I'm not worried about that right now.

Log In

This can be a problem if you haven't played in awhile.
During one of my Addon update cycles, I forgot my password, and I my smart phone broke.
The phone was replaced, but I didn't have the code for the Authenticator, so I had no way to log in.
Eventually, I worked with Blizzard customer support. I had to take the dusty original Collector's Edition I purchased on that fateful November day back in 2004 from the shelf and read them the CD key.

Gear Up

I've never been a hunter of gear. I play the game for the fun quests and adventures with good people.
Gear Level, iLevel, dungeon requirements, tier sets...
Do we still have tier sets?
Expertise? What's that about?
Don't even get me started on gems and enchantments...
How is noob-again player supposed to make informed decisions?

Adventure Awaits!

Join me as I begin the journey back to Azeroth.
Perhaps I'll be raiding soon.
Perhaps I'll decide I'd rather play Hearthstone or Puzzle & Dragons.
In any event, I'll let you know what I learned along the way.

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