Idiot In Azeroth Part Five: Scratching The Surface


12 hours.

It doesn’t feel like that. Not even close.

It feels like I’m just at the beginning. It feels like I’m still in the tutorial stages. Technically I still am in the tutorial stage.

I’d have finished most AAA video games by now.

If I didn’t understand why World of Warcraft takes over lives before, I guess I’m starting to get a feel for it now. I’m a level 14 warrior who hits shitty level 10 bears over the head with a wooden shield. One time I was in Elwynn Forest and some weird Wizard type dude casually ran past, raining green hellfire on every man, beast and Murloc in a 200 metre circumference.

I was like… ‘WHAAAAA?’ Impossible to comprehend.

Point being: 12 hours in and I’m still an Idiot in Azeroth. I haven’t scratched the surface. I literally have not come close to scratching the surface. I’m a fish with gills. my flippers have barely evolved legs and I’m gasping for air, flopping in and around the surface. I’m not scratching shit.

At one point on Friday night I clicked into the map. I accidentally zoomed out instead of zooming in.

Cool, I thought. This world is pretty massive. I clicked out again. And again. Then I gasped for air like the afore-mentioned floppy fish. The size of it. The sheer scale. How is this possible? How could I even explore this properly? How could I get to the point where I could successfully navigate this space in the way I can in other games?

In 12 hours I had explored the majority of Elwynn Forest and about half of Westfall. Take a look at the map above. See that small red circle? I haven’t gone outside that radius.

It put me in mind of a comment I read on one of the earlier instalments of Idiot in Azeroth. I can’t remembering the specifics, but the comment went something along the lines of “I’ve spent about 300 hours each on about three or four different characters.

“I consider myself a casual player.”

He considered himself something of a casual player having put ‘only’ 1000 hours into the game. I’m currently trying to think of a single video game I’ve put anything close to 1000 hours into. Multiplayer in every Halo game combined? Maybe?

Have I done anything – like hobbies in everyday actual life – for more than 1000 hours? I can only think of a handful of things: soccer, running, climbing. Sports I consider/considered myself — at one point in my life – fairly adept at.

Point being: World of Warcraft isn’t a game, it’s way of life. It’s seems obvious, but realising it, after spending 12 hours playing the game, is a different thing entirely. It’s like thinking you’re treading water in the deep end of a public swimming pool, then suddenly understanding you’re barely keeping yourself afloat in an ocean miles deep. The feeling is strange: a mix of awe and despair. Unless I commit myself to this – fully – I will most likely never truly ‘get’ World of Warcraft in the way current players, with a decade of experience under their belt, get it.

I will always and forever be an Idiot in Azeroth.


    You know, I know a friend who has multiple accounts, because he's hit max-character count on a single log-in.

    And they're all max-level.


        put it this way mark, you can have 12 character on a single server ( 1 of each class basically) and a maximum of 50 characters across all servers per account.

        Dont forget as well mark... some of us have been playing the game since it was released back on the 24th of november 2004 ( like me) and other have been playing since the beta, some are even lucky enough to be alpha testers

        Last edited 28/07/14 1:43 pm

          I have been a denizen of Azeroth since those lofty days in 2004. Very on and off, a year here and there and I still find it incomprehensible that people have played non-stop from those days till now haha.

          But then there are people who played from the launch of UO that still play today, that's dedication.

    I have over 300 days played.
    Over 1 year, in the last 9 (I started about a year after release), has been spent playing World of Warcraft.

      Sweet mother of God.

        I started (another) alt on Thursday night. I worked Friday/Saturday night. It's level 62 already :3


            Heirloom gear

            Full heirlooms - gear that is bound to your account, can send to any of your characters. There's a few items there that increase experience gains.

              An ass rogue, nice!

              As is mine
              good fun and high survivability at high lev

                I haven't played ass rogue since BC.
                I have a sub rogue I played early this xpac PvP season, but haven't played on him for a while

            The level grind gets easier once you do it once. It takes a bit of commitment getting that first toon to 90 but every subsequent toon should only take a fraction of the time because
            A) you know have a deeper understanding of how the games works and how quests work (not to mention classes/dungeons)
            B) You're familiar with at least half the questing regions in the game
            C) Your expenses/gear will be subsidized by your higher level main

            It's not just the gear (though it helps tremendously), it's knowing how to play that makes a difference. You're used to all the conventions, probably played through the content already and can skip through the text and can tell at a glance what will be a reasonable attack rotation and so on. You understand the aggro model, how far around you can skirt, how many you can fight at once safely, how to minimize your downtime and so on.

              Not to mention what quest chains to skip, which ones give the most xp for the least effort AND knowing to do each dungeon at least once for the quest xp!

              Also knowing which zones provide the best quest stacks!

            There's an option that lets you turn off that slow reveal of quest text. Once you've done that you can reduce 45 minutes of exploring a village and following the story to 1 minute of running from gold ! to gold ! hitting accept. As a first timer I'd advise against changing that. You sound like you're enjoying soaking the game in and being able to skip straight to accepting the quest sort of breaks that.
            Couple that with the other things people have mentioned, plus a certain website that acts like an Oracle for all your WoW needs* and you can reduce the experience to a few days. Again, I recommend not pursuing that option. Although if you decide to quit at any point take a look (I'm sure someone you know will be able to tell you). It's a really amazing resource fans have put together. Nowadays MMO fans don't really go that far since a wiki does a good job of most things and audiences aren't as large/long-lasting, but man, WoW has some colossal fan sites.

            *Type a quest/enemy/location/item/etc, get a map, directions, exactly who you need to kill/collect/protect, the drop rates for the items you need, and a comment section explaining absolutely every minor detail you could find yourself asking.

            Mark @ level: 15 you will unlock the dungeon que option. Use it, it gives a nice xp/gold/equipment boost.

    It's like that bit at the end of Monkey Magic season 1, where they realise they're only a tenth of the way to India. But with orcs.

    I've enjoyed this. It's reminded me of how mind blowing the game felt to me when I first started playing back in 2005.

    Keep at it @Serrels! Know the joy of getting that character to max level!

    The sad part Mark, is that with the new "easymode" levelling experience, you'll whisk through the majority of zones completely missing some altogether.
    It's a shame as it takes away the immersion of what is genuinely a phenomenon of the gaming environment.
    I've played hardcore since Alpha - nearly lost my job over it at one stage (took 6 weeks off work), but with every new expansion I find myself playing less and less. I'd hate to see my /played over my chars... it would be well over a year.
    Part of it is that my mates are playing less, part is I've moved out of the share house and epic weekend long WoW sessions, but I think the majority of it is that I've lost that loving feelin' I had back when it was released, and with every new xpac it wanes further.

    I love WoW, but I can no longer fully commit to the time it requires to love me back.

    Stout hearts for future endeavours Mark, it will consume your life if you let it.

      Not really, he is completely new and doesnt have access to heirlooms and then there is the fact both kalimdor and the eastern kingdoms maps may look large but thats only because alot of the zones are just double ups so people can choose which zones they want to go through

    Another level and you can start doing Dungeon instance run with 4 other players.

      That's my plan. Actually I think that's how I'll finish this series.

        I hope you might consider doing a similar thing with some other occasional games later on down the track, it's been enjoyable, vicariously playing a game through you. Obviously it is more applicable to certain games\genre's than others.
        My only suggestion might be perhaps a few more pictures to complete the effect :)

          @markserrels, have you spent much time in any of the MOBAs? I reckon that would be an interesting series - investing a decent amount of time into one MOBA to really get a feel for what draws people in. (I'm a League of Legends player - and interested in seeing what it's like for a new player again).

        You need to at least get to level 20 before you finish the series. Get to the point where you have a mount and can ride around faster.

        disclaimer: Of course then you're going to realise that you can get flying mounts later and they're much cooler than ground mounts and you'll want them before you quit. Then at some point you'll get your first epic item and think man I want more of these. Then you'll realise it's 2020 and you're playing expansion 12, Warcraft: Legends of Whatever.

        Sif I am loving this, first bloggy type thing I have cared about on this site!

        Keep playing to at least 70, just take like 5 weeks off work and give your wife the car keys.

    Ok seriously has ANYONE explored EVERY SINGLE CORNER OF AZEROTH, since compared to some other worlds maps, this map could invite possibilities of an achievement for anyone who has explored all of azeroth

      Edit: It's actually not that hard to get.... there's achievements in there that are much bigger time sinks (Time Lost Proto Drake anyone?)

      Last edited 28/07/14 2:01 pm

        Ohh, i got that dragon years ago! it spawned right in front of me, and seconds later I saw an angry crowd of teenagers flying over my head. Man, that felt so good!!

        The way they break it down actually makes it sort of easy. It's a very nicely presented checklist for each zone. Also not having to walk everywhere takes a ton of the work out of it (more so if you've got a flying mount). You can ride across the entire thing pretty easily. It's a huge map but it's designed so you can get from one end to the other without too much trouble.

        It's one of those MMORPG quirks where they want the size of the world to be massive, a hundred times bigger than Warcraft, but they also want players to be able to reach each other without spending three days riding a virtual horse. On top of that they've got to balance moving the characters with magic (portals between cities) and immersion. Being able to use a Hearthstone to teleport to an inn is vital to the game,, but it also cracks the forth wall a bit and in the minds of veteran players reduces a map the size of Elwynn Forest down to a few landmarks.

    Take a look at the map above. See that small red circle? I haven’t gone outside that radius. That's not even the lowest zoom either. Going up another level you find out that there's an entire other realm to explore, Outlands.

    Last edited 28/07/14 2:02 pm

    @markserrels Mark trust me you want to get out of Westfall and go to Kalimdor! It's where all the fun quests are at for Alliance! (Ironically when I play Horde I go to the Eastern Kingdoms).

    What level are you now btw?

    I still kinda wanna play it and experience the whole thing and explore a massive world like that, but in what you've experienced so far @markserrels, or maybe other people can tell me, would it feel like you've missed everything major the game has to offer (like events and new expansions when they were first released and everyone was jumping on them and seeing what you could do) and you're just playing catch up to everyone else?

      If you're a completionist like me, yes. There are plenty of missed achievements and one off items, mounts and pets you'll never be able to get. Otherwise no. The content doesn't really vanish. They rebuilt the original content when they did the Cataclysm expansion, so the 1-60 zones have different plotlines and stuff, but it's not like you'd have to have played the original version to understand what's going on.

      The only thing you really miss are the raids being current. With a few exceptions not much really happens there. Even when it's the end of a plotline it's mostly just 'and then 25 guys kicked the door down, killed his mini-bosses one by one, then killed him'. Honestly with only a few exceptions you're better off reading the wiki entry. It's also not hard to get a group to run those older raids provided you're ok with everyone being 10 levels above it. It won't be the same experience as running it 'properly' but you'll get to see the story.

      and you're just playing catch up to everyone else?

      At this point it's right between expansions so it's about as good a time as any to dive in. There are people already fully geared at level cap, but that's all about to become obsolete. People will be stronger but it all caps out.
      It's not like on South Park or like some games (EVE comes to mind) where you can just keep getting stronger forever, so the people who got in early aren't at a permanent advantage. The downside to this is that if you get to level cap, get the best gear in the game, and then come back a year later your gear is totally obsolete and you might not even be at the highest level possible.

      [Edit: It's also worth noting that the 'best' gear is replaced a few times per expansion. It happens at a rate even good players struggle to keep up with. It can be quite a frustrating experience to work hard for a set of great gear only to have them release a new dungeon that drops pretty much the same stuff. Although after the first time it does become a lot less frustrating than it sounds.

      Edit 2: Also I should probably point out that being out geared by other players doesn't really matter unless you choose a PvP server or play PvP content like battlegrounds and arena (Player vs Player). On a PvE (Player vs Environment) server you're not going to have random players running up to you and killing you. They might annoy you but it's not like if you walk outside of Stormwind there's 80 Horde players in impossibly high stat gear waiting to gank you in one shot.]

      Last edited 28/07/14 5:25 pm

    Interesting how differently people define casual vs hardcore - I think i had 16 days played on my WoW character over probably an 18month span and I considered myself obsessed with WoW hehe. 1000 - 1200 hours is a hell of a lot of time for a 'casual' gamer.

    524 days played across all my characters, not even mad.

    I need a hug..

    The secret to levelling without Heirloom gear (you need a high level character for that.. think hand-me--downs) is you need to be in the correct zone and be doing the correct quests for your level.
    If you are level 15 you want to be doing quests that are Yellow. green ones if they are easy and take no time. Plan to do multiple quest in the same area and hand in together. This saves travel time. I have 5 level 90's but only 2 i raid heroics with (Prot Pally/Ele Shaman) which is a pretty big time hole.
    TLDR: Log out in Inns. Plan your quests Be in the correct zone. DO NOT BE SCARED TO DROP A LOW LEVEL QUEST, YOUR TIME IS MONEY SON. <3

      Depends on whether he wants to level fast to get to higher level content or whether he wants to actually play the game along the way. If it's the latter I'd suggest turning off XP gain from time to time so you're doing quests at the "right" level. Just remember to turn it on again when you find enemies are around or above your own level.

      Some of the quests are pretty fun and can be tense fighting mobs where you have a chance of losing. But now that you level so quick, if you try to do every quest in a zone you'll wind up 5-10 levels higher than your opponents and just faceroll them :(

    The world becomes smaller as you get to know it and explore it. Elwynn Forest breaks down into landmarks. As you explore Azeroth the zones become short lists. Elwynn Forest becomes just Goldshire, the newbie area, home to some events and the entrance to Stormwind. That happens to all the zones. Then you go through the Dark Portal and get an idea of how the expansions break down. It becomes Azeroth, Outland, Northrend, Azeroth (Cataclysm content), etc.
    On top of that you learn to fly. Remember being on the rocket? You'll fly over most of Azeroth like that, totally on autopilot, considering these mighty zones nothing more than an annoyance. 'Why did they have to put so much nothing between Stormwind and Booty Bay?' you'll ask yourself.

    It's really interesting the way MMO content breaks down and how your perspective morphs and shifts so subtly. Without even realising it stuff that would blow your mind as a single level in a game becomes easily discarded.

    Do treasure your first visit in Azeroth and play it your way. Ignore the haters, the online guides (only if to learn the basics) and explore the gorgeous world.

    Too often I look back to the old days of Azeroth, wandering the land as a total newbie, and wish I am an idiot once again.

    From that map - the southern most continent, Pandaria - is actually bigger. Probably about 3 times the size and about 80% as big as Northrend, the continent to the far north. Also, there is another "continent" which is actually the scattered remains of a doomed planet, and it is probably about the size of Northrend as well - perhaps a little bigger. So - the world is even bigger than you imagined.

    And it's dense too - there really isn't any dead space. Every part of the world is fully able to be flown in, and viewed at all angles. So there is a lot of content.

    Also, I have put in well over 1000 hours of gameplay. I'm probably around 3000 hours.

    Yeah, well I played up until level 20 and went to ogrimmar as an Alliance character. I quit after dying about 30 times and realising that I would never be able to get inside.

    Last edited 29/07/14 3:55 am

    on my main alone i am over 260 days / played i have had that toon since about mid 2005. i have 6 other chars with at least 100 days played. fml

    I should stop reading your adventures .... the more i read them, the more i feel like reinstalling it. I started playing back on launch day (Nov 2014) but gave it up about a year and a bit ago. Been cold turkey since then but this just makes me want to go back again ...

    Your first time is always slow. After that you just blitz through with addons and ignoring text in about 1/5 of the time.

    There certainly is a lot to do in Azeroth, but when you look at it like this it sounds intimidating. Don't. Just play at your speed in your own time and do the things you like to do. You can certainly explore the whole huge world and it's not that hard, but you don't HAVE to.
    I'm a Wrath baby, meaning I started playing during the 3rd expansion and I have explored every area and done every quest as Alliance and have multiple max level toons. My new project is to do all the quests as Horde since the story differs, but it's a slow roll, I only play that character once every few weeks. No pressure.

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