Where does the time go? It has been ten years since we all forged our first alliances and took our first steps within the World of Warcraft.
With over one hundred million profiles created to date World of Warcraft certainly has become a second home for millions of us. Today we are looking back over 10 years of Warcraft with a feature length documentary and a brief look at the original worlds.
"I've seen many people meeting and losing their spouses due to World of Warcraft," says Dmitri Williams, chief executive of Ninja Metrics, a gaming analytics company. "It takes a big time commitment."
Feature length Documentary
Looking for Group examines the phenomenon of the MMO's creation and operation over the past 10-plus years. According to the studio, the documetary will allow you to "explore the history of WoW with its creators, and journey into corners of Blizzard and the WoW community you've never seen before."
Lets look back over the 10 years
World of Warcraft is set in the same universe as the Warcraft series of real-time strategy games, and has a similar art direction. World of Warcraft contains elements from fantasy, steampunk, and science fiction: such as gryphons, dragons, and elves; steam-powered automata; zombies, werewolves, and other horror monsters; as well as time travel, spaceships, and alien worlds.
World of Warcraft (WoW) is a masterful massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMMORPG - We added an extra 'M') created in 2004 by Blizzard Entertainment. It is the fourth released game set in the fantasy Warcraft universe, which was first introduced by Warcraft: Orcs & Humans in 1994. World of Warcraft takes place within the Warcraft world of Azeroth, approximately four years after the events at the conclusion of Blizzard's previous Warcraft release, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. Blizzard Entertainment announced World of Warcraft on September 2, 2001. The game was released on November 23, 2004, on the 10th anniversary of the Warcraft franchise.
The first expansion set of the game, The Burning Crusade, was released on January 16, 2007. The second expansion set, Wrath of the Lich King, was released on November 13, 2008. The third expansion set, Cataclysm, was released on December 7, 2010. The fourth expansion set, Mists of Pandaria, was released on September 25, 2012. The fifth expansion set, Warlords of Draenor, was announced at BlizzCon 2013.
With 7.4 million subscribers as of October 2014, World of Warcraft is currently the world's most-subscribed MMORPG, and holds the Guinness World Record for the most popular MMORPG by subscribers. Having grossed over 10 billion dollars as of July 2012, it is also the highest grossing video game of all time, surpassing Call of Duty: Black Ops at 1.5 billion dollars. In January 2014 it was announced that more than 100 million accounts had been created over the game's lifetime.
Starting a character or play session
As with other MMORPGs, players control a character avatar within a game world in third- or first-person view, exploring the landscape, fighting various monsters, completing quests, and interacting with non-player characters (NPCs) or other players. Also similar to other MMORPGs, World of Warcraft requires the player to pay for a subscription, either by buying prepaid game cards for a selected amount of playing time, or by using a credit or debit card to pay on a regular basis.
How the gameplay develops
As characters become more developed, they gain various talents and skills, requiring the player to further define the abilities of that character. Characters can choose from a variety of professions, such as tailoring, blacksmithing, or mining. Characters can learn four secondary skills: archeology, cooking, fishing, and first-aid. Characters may form and join guilds, allowing characters within the guild access to the guild's chat channel, the guild name and optionally allowing other features, including a guild tabard, guild bank, and dues.
Much of World of Warcraft play involves the completion of quests. These quests, also called "tasks" or "missions", are usually available from NPCs. Quests usually reward the player with some combination of experience points, items, and in-game money. Quests allow characters to gain access to new skills and abilities, and explore new areas. It is through quests that much of the game's story is told, both through the quest's text and through scripted NPC actions.
Quests are linked by a common theme, with each consecutive quest triggered by the completion of the previous, forming a quest chain. Quests commonly involve killing a number of creatures, gathering a certain number of resources, finding a difficult to locate object, speaking to various NPCs, visiting specific locations, interacting with objects in the world, or delivering an item from one place to another.
While a character can be played on its own, players can group with others to tackle more challenging content. Most end-game challenges are designed in a way that they can only be overcome while in a group. In this way, character classes are used in specific roles within a group.
World of Warcraft uses a "rested bonus" system, increasing the rate that a character can gain experience points after the player has spent time away from the game. When a character dies, it becomes a ghost or wisp for Night Elf characters at a nearby graveyard. Characters can be resurrected by other characters that have the ability, or can self-resurrect by moving from the graveyard to the place where they died.
If a character is past level ten and they resurrect at a graveyard, the items equipped by the character degrade, requiring in-game money and a specialist NPC to repair them. Items that have degraded heavily become unusable until they are repaired. If the location of the character's body is unreachable, they can use a special "spirit healer" NPC to resurrect at the graveyard. When the spirit healer revives a character, items equipped by the character at that time are further degraded, and the character is significantly weakened by what is in-game called "resurrection sickness" for up to ten minutes, depending on the character's level. This "resurrection sickness" does not occur and item degradation is less severe if the character revives by locating its body, or is resurrected by another player through special items or spells.
World of Warcraft contains a variety of mechanisms for player versus player (PvP) play. Players on player versus environment (PvE) servers can opt to "flag" themselves, making themselves attackable to players of the opposite faction. Depending on the mode of the realm, PvP combat between members of opposing factions is possible at almost any time or location in the game world the only exception being the starting zones, where the PvP "flag" must be enabled by the player wishing to fight against players of the opposite faction.
PvE (called normal or RP) servers, by contrast, allow a player to choose whether or not to engage in combat against other players. On both server types, there are special areas of the world where free-for-all combat is permitted. Battlegrounds, for example, are similar to dungeons: only a set number of characters can enter a single battleground, but additional copies of the battleground can be made to accommodate additional players.
Each battleground has a set objective, such as capturing a flag or defeating an opposing general, that must be completed to win the battleground. Competing in battlegrounds rewards the character with tokens and honor points that can be used to buy armor, weapons, and other general items that can aid a player in many areas of the game. Winning a battleground awards more honor and tokens than losing. However, players also earn honor when they or nearby teammates kill players in a battleground.
The general plot
Intent on settling the arid region of Durotar, Thrall's new Horde expanded its ranks, inviting the undead Forsaken to join orcs, tauren, and trolls. Meanwhile, dwarves, gnomes and the ancient night elves pledged their loyalties to a reinvigorated Alliance, guided by the human kingdom of Stormwind. After Stormwind's king, Varian Wrynn, mysteriously disappeared, Highlord Bolvar Fordragon served as Regent but his service was marred by the manipulations and mind control of the black dragon Onyxia, who ruled in disguise as a human noblewoman. As heroes investigated Onyxia's manipulations, ancient foes surfaced in lands throughout the world to menace Horde and Alliance alike.
Assault on Blackwing Lair
Deep within the fiery heart of Blackrock Mountain, the black dragon Nefarian conducted twisted experiments with the blood of other dragonflights. Intent on seizing the entire region for his own, he marshaled the remaining Dark Horde, a rogue army that embraced the demonic bloodlust of the old Horde. These corrupt orcs, trolls and other races battled against the Firelord Ragnaros and the shadowy Dark Iron dwarves for control of the smoldering mountain. Before he was vanquished by fearless heroes, Nefarian created the twisted chromatic dragons and a legion of other aberrations in his bid to form an army powerful enough to control Azeroth and continue the legacy of his infamous father, Deathwing the Destroyer.
Rise of the Blood God
Years ago, in the ruined temple of Atal'Hakkar, loyal priests of the Blood God Hakkar the Soulflayer attempted to summon the wrathful deity's avatar into the world. But his followers, the Atal'ai priesthood, discovered that the Soulflayer could only be summoned within the Gurubashi tribe's ancient capital, Zul'Gurub. Newly reborn in this jungle fortress, Hakkar took control of the Gurubashi tribe and mortal champions of the trolls' mighty animal gods. The Soulflayer's dark influence was barely halted when the wise Zandalari tribe recruited heroes from the Horde and the Alliance and staged an invasion of Zul'Gurub.
The Gates of Ahn'Qiraj
The great desert fortress of Ahn'Qiraj, long sealed behind the Scarab Wall, was home to the insectoid qiraji, a savage race that had once mounted an assault to devastate the continent of Kalimdor. But something far more sinister lurked behind Ahn'Qiraj's walls: the Old God C'Thun, an ancient entity whose pervasive evil had suffused Azeroth since time immemorial. As C'Thun incited the qiraji to frenzy, both the Alliance and Horde prepared for a massive war effort. A mixed force of Alliance and Horde soldiers, dubbed the Might of Kalimdor, opened the gates of Ahn'Qiraj under the command of the indomitable orc Varok Saurfang. Their charge: lay siege to the ruins and temples of Ahn'Qiraj, and vanquish the terrors of ages past.
Shadow of the Necropolis
In the Lich King's haste to spread the plague of undeath over Azeroth, he gifted one of his greatest servants, the lich Kel'Thuzad, with the flying citadel of Naxxramas, a horrific base of operations for the Scourge. Consistent attacks from the Scarlet Crusade and Argent Dawn factions weakened the defenses of the floating fortress, enabling an incursion that led to Kel'Thuzad's defeat. However, a traitor among the ranks of the knightly order of the Argent Dawn absconded with Kel'Thuzad's cursed remains and fled to Northrend, where the fallen lich could be reanimated.
The future of World of Warcraft
"Our goal is certainly to release expansions a little faster than we have been," said lead game designer Ion Hazzikostas during an interview at BlizzCon. "I know we've been saying that for years. You can go back and find quotes from 2008 about how we're gonna release one expansion per year. Ultimately that always got hung up on, 'Well, we're not gonna release before we feel it's actually done to a Blizzard level of quality. That tended to take closer to two years. But we've increased the size of our team, and we feel like we're in a place where we should be able to move faster than before. So our goal is to get expansions into players' hands faster."
World of Warcraft's latest expansion, Warlords of Draenor, is only a couple days away. It's a momentous occasion for sure, but more WoW is, well, more WoW. We're used to it. What about after that? Will we ever see Warcraft IV? Or even a World of Warcraft 2? Kotaku asked Blizzard.
First things first: World of Warcraft isn't going anywhere, even after Warlords of Draenor wraps up its post-release plot, which will come (as per usual) in a series of patches in the coming months. However, Blizzard wants to drop another bouncing baby expansion into this orc-infested world much more quickly this time. If all goes well, the expansion after Warlords will be out in a year.
"We could reinvent [something major like combat with patches to WoW], but we wouldn't want to," he said. "And that's definitely one of the constraints of an existing ten-year-old game: you can't fundamentally reinvent the rule set. You can't pull that out from under people without harsh consequences."
For now, though, WoW's sticking around for the long haul. Its 12-million subscriber heyday might be in the rear-view mirror, but Blizzard's realm of endless war still has some fight left in it. Let us hope, then, for a bright future.
Warcraft fans we call to you! What do you want next?