Thursday, September 6, 2012

2.6. Logging in to Hell

A City of Heroes guild combines their powers
against the raid boss Hamidon

The Wild Child

In order to tell you the next tale of Descendants of Draenor, you need to be introduced to an important character in the history of the guild -- one extending further back than merely World of Warcraft. It is the tale that involves a Warlock officer, his subordinate, and a Scrapper from City of Heroes that would become one of the most important figures in the history of the guild. To begin, let's turn back the clock to June of 2004.

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When the nightmarish four months I spent in EverQuest ended, and I vowed never to set foot in an MMO again...that wasn't entirely true. For the remaining months that preceded the launch of World of Warcraft, I was strong-armed by a group of gaming buddies into trying a super hero-themed MMO named City of Heroes. It was a much flatter game than World of Warcraft with far less to keep a player interested; most of the game centered primarily around combat and nothing else. But it did combat well, and the combat in City of Heroes was fun...especially when done in groups with other people.

Although I only played City of Heroes for a couple of months, I did get the opportunity to meet a handful of people, and he was one of them. Gutshot, a fellow member of my gaming clan introduced me to some of the gang he was running with. One of these players went by the name Wildchild. He was friendly and loved to talk -- the type of gamer that Ventrilo and Teamspeak was made for. He rarely typed anything into chat, but if he could freely talk to you like you were on the phone, man...he would chat for hours and hours. He absolutely ate up whatever game he was playing and loved to dig deep into the stats of the game, and figure out how to min/max his play style.

When my interest in City of Heroes waned and players had access to the World of Warcraft beta, I circled back to Wildchild and tried to figure out what his plans were. He told me his CoH guild Unsung Superheroes was most likely going to transition over to WoW. Damn, I thought. I really could have used a player like that in my upcoming WoW guild. I made sure he had my contact information anyway, and let him know that if things didn't work out, that he look me up in Azeroth.

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A few months into Vanilla, my Warlock officer Gutrippa informed me that Wildchild's guild fell through and he was looking for a home. I jumped! "God, yes, please, give him our TeamSpeak server info!" Minutes later, it was like old times in CoH. It was great to hear his voice again. Wildchild detailed out to me that the CoH-to-WoW guild conversion just didn't get off the ground as they had hoped and he was looking to plant roots. I told him he couldn't be anywhere else but Descendants of Draenor.

"Well, what classes are you low on?" he asked.

At that precise moment in Vanilla, we were desperately low on Warriors.

"Done," he said, "requesting an invite in a sec."

I waited a few minutes for the character creation process to wrap up. And then, down in my chat window, the fateful moment when one of the few times he would whisper me:

[From: Annihilation] Yo.

He was a wild child no longer.

Annihilation shows off his newly acquired
High Warlord title and weaponry,
Orgrimmar

Annihilation

Annihilation sunk his teeth into the Warrior class and played it with a finesse that was unmatched. He lived, breathed and died for maximizing that toon, learning every nuance, every subtle power and shortcoming, and how each and every nook and cranny of the class could be exploited. Bearing all this knowledge quickly made him the go-to person in guild for all information relating to Warriors. Unsurprisingly, he soon made his way up to be my Warrior class officer. In his role of leadership, he provided an unprecedented level of assistance to the officer core. While other officers definitely had become "one" with their particular class, Anni took it to a far higher level. For him, It wasn't just about the Warrior, it was about the player behind the Warrior. The person behind the class.

He got to know the other Warriors in the guild in great detail, because that was his nature -- to be online all the time, chatting in TeamSpeak, discussing WoW, classes, raiding, PvP...whatever it happened to be. This extensive exposure to the players granted him some real insight into who we had, not just as Warriors, but as people -- and this was a key attribute that I always tried to make a huge priority for us. And I simply could not compete with Anni's hours; it honestly seemed to me that he was online morning, noon, and night. When he wasn't raiding, he was pouring massive amounts of time into PvP, so he saw both sides of the WoW spectrum. In fact, he spent so much time PvPing, that (due to his nature of always being in conversation) he began building relationships on the other side as well, developing a friends-list of both Horde and Alliance. It was because of this need to communicate that I ultimately gave him the ability to invite players of both sides to join us in our TeamSpeak / Ventrilo server. He even got his own password protected channels, just in case he decided to tell one of his infamous "this is guaranteed to gross the shit out of you" stories, which became a popular hangout for both guildies and non-guildies alike.

At the end of Vanilla, Annihilation retired from raiding, and decided to pursue PvP full-time on a Warlock (having already achieved High Warlord on his Warrior), and although it was sad to see him step down, I was thankful for his contributions in Vanilla. I knew he would never be too far away. If I ever needed a filler or an emergency piece of advice on a particular player, he'd be only a Vent channel away. Annihilation was widely regarded and respected by both the guild, and players outside looking in. He had permanently etched himself into the history of our guild.

Annihilation tanks Onyxia as Kerulak
and the raid move into position,
Onyxia's Lair

The Second Exodus 

One evening, while everyone was busy online leveling their characters and consuming TBC's content, I logged in to gauge how we were progressing towards getting a 25-Man raid team ready. I chatted with a few people, took a look at the roster...everything seemed smooth. The guild was alive and busy, guild chat was scrolling away, people were in dungeons; it was just another day in the World of Warcraft. I checked my own to-do list to see what I would work on for my own character, when I happened to notice a /gquit in Guild Chat. Then another. And another. And another. One by one, random players were dropping from Descendants of Draenor. What the hell? This was catching me completely off guard. I'd heard nothing from anyone, hadn't seen any posts on the forums...nobody had spoken to me. My brain raced into overdrive, trying to recount the events of the past few weeks and months. Had anything happened that I'd overlooked? Was it loot drama? ...nah, it couldn't be. Except for some early exploration into Karazhan, raiding hadn't even officially started.

Then came the bombshell. Dreadlocker, the current Warlock officer, dropped from the guild. Frantically, I started whispering him for answers. I alt-tabbed to the forums to see if there was anything posted, perhaps to explain just what in the Hell was going on. Maybe a private-message was waiting for me, giving me the dirty details of what was transpiring.

Nothing. Not a single word.

I alt-tabbed back into the game to be greeted with still more players quitting. I pinged the other officers online -- nobody knew anything. There didn't appear to be any rhyme or reason to this mass exodus. I shook in anger as the betrayal took hold. Why the blindside? Was it absolutely necessary to give me no indication whatsoever that things were bad? And honestly, how bad could things be? Bad enough to leave and take all these players with you? That's about the time that the fear started to set in. How horrible must this thing...this event been that it would cause an officer I felt was loyal and trustworthy to not only say nothing, but to leave and carve out a chunk of guild flesh in his final moments in Descendants of Draenor? Was it a secret bad enough to mean that this was only the beginning, and that we had messed up so horrifically that it was going to mean the end of the guild in its entirety?

The truth ended up being far more depressing and pathetic.

2 comments:

dread said...

Lol, ignoring the B team, that I had invited to the guild and mentored, and the you feeling betrayal makes me laugh after annie brought in his warlock butt buddy that took my spot in raids.

Forreals Mobile said...

@dread: I don't know you or the circumstances you went through, but saying "his warlock butt buddy" speaks volumes. And not the kind that reflect favorably on you.