Thursday, February 14, 2008

A trip into a lost world

There's something sad about old, forgotten raid instances. They lay there desolated, but still all undamaged under the layer of dust. It's a little like in the movies when you return to an old castle that has been put into a moth bag. Furniture and crystal lamps have been covered in white sheets to protect them. A flash of light brakes through when the curtains are withdrawn, dust is everywhere in the air and suddenly the main character remembers the magic summer when life was put at its edge 30 years ago... It could have been yesterday...

I had exactly that feeling when I for the first time entered the raid instance Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj. I certainly had never ever put my foot there before, so the parallel isn't perfect, I must admit. But we had persons in our company who had spent many evenings in there, sighing at the memories of the former fights, with nostalgic voices. Once upon a time this was really really HARD. Deeds of heroism had been performed in there, even though it was a bit hard to really understand it for a bunch of level 70s, dressed up to their teeth in Kara gear.

Personally I didn't have that bittersweet taste in my mouth, memories from wipe feasts which had turned into triumphs, the longing for old raiding friends who had chosen another path. For me I most of all enjoyed getting a little new content - to see bosses I hadn't seen, to experience pulls, which definitely were a bit different from the ones in Karazhan, which I start to remember in the middle of my night sleep. And it was wonderful to be able to ride outdoors, a difference from the corridors of Karazhan or Gruul, which feel kind of narrow. Here there was plenty of fresh air!

I entered a whole new little world, which carefully had been sculptured by the developers at Blizzard. Bosses giving us some surprises... an impressive air trip from the dwindling heights of a huge bridge, a giant creature which should be pulled around, carefully positioned above a giant egg, which then should be broken in the right moment. Suddenly I became aware of a buzzing sound, where did it come from? "Just look up", the others told me, and there, against a burning red night sky, I saw giant bees hovering in the air, frightening alike real life bees in their movement pattern. What kind of giant wall was it over there - a water fall? No, of course not, a sand fall since we were in the middle of the desert ruins, surrounded by a mix of giant insects and bosses which looked as if they had stepped right out of the wall paintings in an Egyptian pyramid.

There was plenty of loot, blue and purple. Things which once upon a time would have made you wild, but now was distributed by greed rolls, without any further thought. Useless. And meanwhile you could see your reputation grow, with obscure little groups I've never heard of and never will have anything to do with in the future, but who once upon a time had been very important.

I can't help it, but I feel a bit sad, watching all this wasted creativity, all those fantasies, laying there unused, unplayed, forgotten. Even if they of course still live in the memories of those of you who once experienced those instances for real.

The thought strikes me: is this how things will turn out with the raid instances which I now experience at the right level? The day the expansion hits we'll all put our last foot in Karazhan, Zul Aman, Gruul, SSC and whatever it is for a long time. Yes, probably. There will come new players, focusing on levelling from 1-80, without ever putting a foot into the raid instances in Outlands, players who will stare at me like an old fossil, not understanding what I'm talking about when I mumble about how fun it was to dance in a ring around Aran or the feeling of taking down the Prince for the first time. The dust layer will be several decimetres thick.

Myself, I'll definitely one day want to make an outing to the passed, to Black Temple, even after I've started the ride up to 80. I'll come back to Shadowmoon Valley, pull off the sheets, pull away the curtains and see all those things I missed. It doesn't matter if it gives honor or loot by then.

The fantasies are still there, as magnificent as they were when they were once created.

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