27 April 2012

On My Beginnings in SW:TOR

Ever since I first heard about a Star Wars themed MMO being produced I was terribly excited. Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope was basically the first film with live actors I have ever seen and to say that I was “merely fascinated” would be a total understatement. I loved it! I was watching it with a good childhood friend of mine who happened to own quite a lot of Star Wars merchandise and once the film was over, we happily began replaying everything we had just seen. Kids!

I had no doubt that I would engage in this new Star Wars MMO (unless it would be purely PvP based – maybe even then). When I found out that it was set in The Old Republic (as in Knights of the Old Republic – a game that I played through four times) I knew that nothing could stop me. I think it is pretty obvious that I was very positively biased towards this game. But I guess that is okay because there are some people out there who were absolutely negatively biased towards this game, some without even having played it while others only scratched the surface.

I bought my physical copy of the game in early January 2012 and have been subscribed ever since. I did not pre-order or participate in the Beta or anything like that. This meant that I had no first-hand knowledge of the game, only what I had read and seen online. The first character I created was a Jedi Consular – a class I wanted to play more than anything.

The Jedi consular story is a calmer and more quiet experience about being a healer and a diplomat ... -- Shintar

This sounds exactly like my kind of character – a diplomatic Healer.

However, I made the fateful mistake of creating a Human male and by the time I reached Coruscant, I just could not stand the male voice actor any more. Also, I have to admit that I find the telekinetic abilities visually boring. They simply cannot compare to the lightning mayhem of a Sith Inquisitor – incidentally the second character I created. My Sith Pureblood lady made it to level 40 when I was heavily distracted by Shintar’s praise for Troopers. So I thought I would give them a try, created a female Cyborg and never looked back. The Trooper’s story was too compelling, the class too fun to play right from the start that I saw it through to the end.

Kadomi talks about Star Wars: The Old Republic being the best duo experience ever and I can second that. Playing with my brother-in-law is a blast. Multiplayer conversations, not having to worry about finding players for [HEROIC] missions and the beautiful Mako all make for a delightful gaming experience.

I think many people greatly underestimated the appeal Star Wars would have on new players. In my journeys I have encountered plenty of people who said that this was their first ever MMO and that they decided to give it a try because it is Star Wars themed. This is also true for my little sister and her boyfriend. Both of them never had any interest in MMOs, but they are Star Wars fans. Now if only I could get my wife to play, too ... then we could form a real family guild: my wife, her brother, my sister and her boyfriend. Sounds like a good start, right?

At the moment I have five characters on three different English-speaking EU-servers (two RP-PvE and one normal PvE). However, I do have plans to test the French and German servers at some point. This might actually be more of a problem in Star Wars: The Old Republic than it was in World of Warcraft due to the story-driven playstyle. Maybe Warzones can function as an appropriate testing ground ...

In the future, I will try to post about many aspects of Star Wars: The Old Republic and I'm quite sure that I will – at times – seem to be overly critical. That should not suggest, however, that I dislike the game in its current state, just that there is always room for improvement, e.g. server status, UI, GTN, etc.

25 April 2012

[Tag, You're It!]

Quite some time ago (*cough* about two months *cough*) Shintar tagged me to provide some screenshots. Unfortunately, I could not honour her request right away because (a) it interfered with my scheduled blogging plans and more importantly because (b) I do not take that many screenshots to begin with. I took a quick look at my World of Warcraft screenshot folder and did not find any good ones at all. Also, since the main focus of this blog should actually be on Star Wars: The Old Republic I wanted some screenshots from this game.

Better late than never they say, so here are – without further ado – four screenshots:

This is my level 50 – tanking – Vanguard, my main character, the commander of Havoc Squad, unwaveringly loyal to the Republic.


This is my level 40 – lightning – Sith Sorcerer, the second character I created. She is truly evil at heart and enjoys nothing more than causing destruction and mayhem. I took her to level 40, but then became really hooked on the Trooper’s story line and followed that though to the end.


This is my level 30 – healing – Operative, a character that I play exclusively with my brother-in-law. He is loyal to the Empire and favours the Light Side. This does cause some problems with his companion Kaliyo Djannis.


Finally, this screenshot shows a rather disturbing development. It seems like the "GOGOGO!" kiddies have already infiltrated a galaxy far, far away. I am a firm believer in the old Undead motto: Patience. Discipline.

24 April 2012

Concluding WoW

I subscribed to World of Warcraft in the summer of 2006 and unsubscribed at the end of December 2011. I played for quite a long time and saw all the highs and lows. At one point (for roughly three years) I was a hardcore raider and I turned more casual in Cataclysm. Concluding all this time is certainly not easy and cannot be done objectively. I did enjoy the game a great deal for a very long time but I found myself disagreeing more and more with the direction the developers were going. Suffice to say that classic (or "vanilla") World of Warcraft and The Burning Crusade were vastly different from Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm and I am not even remotely interested in Mists of Pandaria.

Personally, I leveled every class to the level cap, some even multiple times. That means that by the end my wife and I had 17 level 85 characters between the two of us. My wife was never really interested in raiding or any kind of endgame activity. We only ever did (heroic) dungeons during The Burning Crusade. As soon as one of her characters reached the level cap she basically lost interest in them. She also did play a lot less than me anyway and was responsible for three of the 17 level 85 characters. My main character up until Cataclysm was my Druid – the first character I ever created. I successfully raided as a Healer and I was deeply disappointed by the removal of the permanent Tree of Life Form. But then again this design decision made it a bit easier for me to abandon my Druid and to create a Death Knight Tank on a new server to team up with my brother-in-law.

The constant design changes make it really difficult to select an all-time favourite class, but I think that overall I enjoyed the Paladin Tank, the Druid Healer and Mages in general most of all. I liked Hunters in Cataclysm. I think that Focus was the right thing to do and pets also behaved a lot smarter. I never really cared for Shamans or Rogues. Somehow they never really "clicked" with me. My Undead Rogue was more or less my departing project. I wanted to experience the revamped old world content and he hit the level cap shortly before I quit the game. I have to say that although the leveling speed was ridiculously fast (even without any kind of XP-bonus) the questing experience was generally rather pleasant. The progress through the Forsaken lands felt truly amazing with lots of exciting and hilarious quests.

My plethora of characters was scattered across multiple servers. I have a professional interest in psychology and linguistics and I wanted to experience the differences among the player base on different servers. Therefore, I had characters on several EU-servers (English, French, German and Spanish). I have to admit that my Spanish is rudimentary at best which did not really help my plan to observe player behaviour. However, I feel safe to say that the atmosphere on the Horde side of at least one Spanish-speaking realm seemed to be quite relaxed. The biggest surprises for me were the two French servers. The people there were extremely polite and very helpful. A common question in trade chat was: "I am sorry to bother you all, but could a Jewelcrafter [insert other profession here] please link their profession. Thank you." If someone tried selling a BoP item on trade he was kindly reminded that this was not possible. Compare the usual: "ffs, u cant sell bop u noob". Being a stranger on a French realm was among the most positive experiences I have had in my entire time on Azeroth. The German servers, in contrast, are very, very frustrating. They butcher the English language and their own language in ways that are beyond good and evil. There is a term for this phenomenon called Denglisch where an English word is morphologically adjusted and integrated into the German syntax. (This could almost cause eye cancer; I'm sure of it!) The atmosphere on those servers was also highly toxic and very unforgiving. Try selling a BoP item there, I dare you! I am more than certain that one can find pleasant people on German realms, too. I just have not met that many.

Now the (supposedly) English-speaking servers are a whole other issue. It is obvious that anyone who is not French, German or Spanish (-speaking), but wants to play on a European server will choose one labelled as 'English'. That does, however, not mean that this person has even a basic command of the English language as such. Most of the time this did not pose any problems and I guess that those people are a small minority. Things will become interesting when one realm is chosen as the "unofficial" server for people from that region. I was lucky enough to experience this twice. One server was populated by lots of Turkish-speaking people, many of whom either did not understand English or simply refused to communicate in English. This made grouping very problematic. At least before the Dungeon Finder it was possible to manually select ones comrades in arms. After that it became increasingly difficult to form pre-made groups (not counting Rent-a-Tank) and on many occasions I would join a dungeon group via the Dungeon Finder and find two or three of the participants talking in a language other than English. I would then politely remind them to please communicate in English but, alas, I was mostly ignored. Seeing this, I would immediately add those people to my Ignore List. The old World of Warcraft website actually had a passage that explicitly stated that the server language was binding for all public communication on that realm. This page, however, cannot be found on the new Battle.net website. With the Dungeon Finder dungeons not being on the world server, but on an instance server, it would not matter anyway. I encountered the other example of an "unofficial" server when I joined Gevlon's Undergeared project on his home realm EU-Arathor, which had a very large population of Hungarian players.

Now, please don't take this the wrong way: I have absolutely nothing against people from any nationality (in fact I consider myself European, maybe even Cosmopolitan) but I think that in the interest of fairness, we should all at least make an effort to communicate in a way that includes everyone and allows for a broader understanding – participation being the operative word. If someone wants to enjoy group content with their friends who are unable to communicate in the realm’s language, they could at least be polite enough to use the /whisper chat-mode.

I already mentioned the Undergeared project. I wanted to take this up in this post because it certainly was one of the most memorable experiences for me. The project had many haters right from the start which might also have to do with its highly controversial leader. Nevertheless, the atmosphere while raiding was very relaxed and highly professional. The set-up was always unstable because we had to take whoever was online that evening. There were at least three people in the Icecrown Citadel runs who had never been in there before – one of whom has never even raided before and we managed to defeat the "unbeatable" Festergut with that group. This project could have gone a long way and I felt rather sad when it came to a sudden end.

Despite my dislike for PvP there was a time when I was a member of a 2v2 Arena Team with a very good in-game friend. He was in fact a very mature teenager – quite a surprise for me when I found that out. I suck so bad at PvP it's almost criminal and I should really feel ashamed basically having been boosted by him. One night we were teamed against two Rogues and unsurprisingly I died after about 20 seconds. How my Mage friend managed to defeat those two Rogues on his own is beyond me. That was truly amazing! Other times we did some Battlegrounds together with some more friends and non-guildies which was also fun, but I never really enjoyed it that much – it was more the social aspect of it that I liked.

The reasons why I no longer enjoy World of Warcraft are manifold and have all been exhaustively and eloquently described by others. Have a closer look at my ESSENTIAL READING page, this post by Zellviren is particularly relevant.

In addition, the one thing that caused me to quit more than anything else can be summed up by saying: "GOGOGO!" Rushing through mindless content, fast-paced action, requiring ultra-fast reflexes (twitch) and basically instant gratification and speed above all simply do not appeal to me. I enjoyed the slower, more tactical approach of classic WoW and The Burning Crusade where one false move could basically mean a wipe for one's group and where 5-player content (at any level) was seen as an alternative to raiding and not a mere stepping stone on the way. Designated pullers and pull spots, group composition based on class and skill and most importantly a strong community where ones reputation truly mattered – I cannot find any of this any more anywhere in World of Warcraft.

In conclusion, I can say that I did greatly enjoy the game for a long time, but by looking at the current design and future plans, I feel that I am no longer among the target audience of this game.

15 March 2012

WoW: Cataclysm

I did not expect much from the third expansion and I was not really looking forward to it all. Nonetheless, I was actually pleasantly surprised by the initial content. Normal dungeons were still easy as pie, but at least the heroic versions did require some degree of strategy, e.g. crowd control and interrupts. The Grumpy Elf has a series of “Cataclysm miscues” in which he addresses several problems such as the fast leveling speed or the state of professions. I highly recommend reading this insightful nine-part series.

My very busy raiding schedule from The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King had taken its toll and I wanted to slow things down a bit. Therefore, I decided to leave the hardcore raiding scene and move on to pastures new. My brother-in-law asked me to join him on the Horde side (on a different server) and we founded a casual raiding guild together. The aim was clear: we wanted to raid about two to three nights a week with a fixed roster and flexible hours in a casual and friendly atmosphere. This worked for the first three months. After that it became apparent that the casual approach in Cataclysm was just that – very casual. People rightfully prioritised other things over gaming and we had difficulties getting regular groups together. Our server was very active, so we were able to pug the occasional raid member. However, the guild perks system required us to have at least eight members from our guild as raid participants in order to receive the guild bonus. This was very problematic at times and let to the fateful decision to merge our guild with a group of friends who were looking for a new guild to call home.

Even though this was technically not a real guild merger because the other group was not a real guild, it certainly felt that way. They were a group of four real life friends and they had heard of our approach and contacted me to talk about details. We had a pleasant chat and seemed to share similar views on the game. So it came that all of them joined our guild which now had nine (allegedly) reliable players (our previous five and their four). That meant that the guild bonus was secured. We established a solid 10-player (casual) raiding guild and for a time it was good. However, the devil is, as they say, in the details. I was basically managing the entire guild myself – the guild bank and guild website, recruitment and raid leading. I must admit that I am somewhat of a control freak and I really enjoyed being in charge of everything. This led to some problems with the “leader” of the four new members who wanted more competence. I had told this “other alpha” right from the start – even before they all joined – that I would be in charge as guild and raid leader and that my brother-in-law was second in command. Other than that we had a flat hierarchy with everybody else being on equal ground. At first he and the others seemed fine with that but somewhere along the road this was no longer the case. I honestly do not know what their specific problems were as none of them wanted to directly and openly discuss it when asked. I had the impression that the main issues were the lack of certain bank and website privileges, but I do not know for sure.

We had no loot drama since a 10-player raid only offered two items per boss and we also created a “class raid” meaning that we had one of each class in the raid. Warrior and Death Knight Tanks, a Holy Paladin as primary Healer, assisted by either Druid, Priest or Shaman – depending on the encounter – and a Hunter, a Mage, a Rogue and a Warlock as primary Damage Dealers. I was very pleased with this set-up and it worked amazingly well. However, we hit a brick wall on Cho’gall and his very annoying Conversion mechanic. We worked several weeks on this boss with no success in sight. Every time we managed to overcome an obstacle something new came along that broke our necks, e.g. the tentacles in the final phase of the encounter. So, we were unable to defeat this boss before he was nerfed. This was also the time when the new members gradually stopped showing up until they all decided to quit the game for good.

As a consequence, my brother-in-law and I decided to go even more casual in Firelands. We set two specific raid nights (Wednesday and Thursday) and we invited anybody who wanted to come (irrespective of guild affiliation) and who seemed capable according to their armory profile. This meant forgoing the guild group bonus but somehow that did not matter to us any more. I guess one can say that we were already losing interest in the game. That method worked surprisingly well and we cleared six bosses in Firelands within the first two weeks after release. Here we were at the final boss again and we were having the same problems again. Master phase one, fail at phase two; master that one and fail at the next one. Eventually, we did it, but I simply did not care any more. I was glad that it was done and finally over. After that I just could not be bothered any more. We had no Dragon Soul guild runs; however, I completed that raid three times via the Raid Finder – as a Healer, a Tank and on my Hunter. Every single run was boring and felt meaningless with the final “boss” encounter being the ultimate let-down.

Towards the end of 2011, my subscription ran out and I took my very first (and only, and final) break from World of Warcraft – meaning I did not renew my subscription. This might not seem like a big deal for many people but for me it was a very big deal. I had been playing continually since I started back in 2006 without any major breaks whatsoever – i.e. without cancelling my subscription. Unfortunately, the game had lost all its appeal to me and I already knew that I wanted to start fresh in a galaxy far, far away.

14 March 2012

WoW: Wrath of the Lich King

Initially, I was very excited about this expansion, as it would conclude the story of Arthas and I was looking forward to seeing how that would end. While journeying through Northrend, I encountered my favourite species, the Kalu’ak. I simply love those walrus people! The scene at the Wrathgate and the subsequent quest to reclaim the Undercity were among the most memorable leveling experiences for me.

Unfortunately, the beginning of the end was already apparent. The “big boss nerf” must have also affected all other dungeons because the common theme from day one in Wrath of the Lich King seemed to be to AoE-nuke everything down. Imagine my surprise when that actually worked! During classic World of Warcraft and The Burning Crusade this was unthinkable. Even low-level dungeons required careful planning and pulling. But not anymore! Pull the entire corridor, nuke and move on. This was true for every dungeon, normal or heroic right from the start. (What a shame!) It was even true for the expansion’s entry raid instance, the rehashed and soulless Naxxramas (please read Kungen’s blog series “Ensidia starts raiding ...” if you want to know more about this and have a look here if you want to get a brief glimpse as to why he quit the game).

Upon hitting level 80, raiding was once again business as usual for my guild and we conquered the content pretty quickly. I think Ulduar was the absolute pinnacle of raid design and I consider the interior area the best raid in the entire game, challenged only by the wonder that was Karazhan. Ulduar had a great story, a beautiful scenery, a plethora of achievements and, most importantly, hard modes that were triggered by in-game events (i.e. player actions during an encounter) rather than by changing the setting via the UI. It also featured two of my all-time favourite boss encounters: Mimiron and General Vezax.

I was still playing with my wife from time to time, although less regularly due to real life commitments and my busy raiding schedule. To be totally honest, the game actually ended for me after I defeated The Lich King. I had finished the story that I wanted to follow and many (game-breaking) changes were already implemented or on their way, most importantly that 5-player dungeons were no longer regarded as a meaningful endgame activity – a view that was facilitated by the great tool that would destroy any sense of server community and accountability: the marvellous Dungeon Finder. That was sarcasm, by the way. The issue of content vs. community is also addressed here and (unsurprisingly) it is Shintar, once again, who hits the nail on the head:

I hope they stick with the focus on community too. I actually haven't met that many completely awful people in LFD either, but even with a decent group the experience is just completely soulless, as everyone just goes through the motions to get to the end as quickly as possible. All the access in the world doesn't do me any good if the content doesn't feel like it's actually worth doing. I'd rather have fewer runs but have them be worthy of remembering.

09 March 2012

WoW: The Burning Crusade

Shortly after the launch of The Burning Crusade, I managed to arouse my wife’s interest in the game as well. So it happened that eventually the two of us would share those online adventures together. We created a matching pair of characters – she played a Protection Paladin and launched herself right into the fray, while I kept my sweetheart alive by healing her wounds on my Holy Priest. This team managed to clear all dungeons (normal and heroic) along their way and met many pleasant – and even a few unpleasant – people during their journeys.

The Druid’s quest chain for the Swift Flight Form was amazing and I consider it one of my most memorable moments. I only wished that the [Reigns of the Raven Lord] would have been a guaranteed Druid-only reward for completing the quest. I am still harbouring a grudge because I never saw it drop. I ran Heroic Sethakk Halls almost daily during The Burning Crusade and started soloing it as soon as I could – right until the very end. I even gave it a try on my very last day in Azeroth – but Anzu would not yield up the elusive item.

I never enjoyed gaming more than when I played level 70 content during World of Warcraft’s first expansion set, The Burning Crusade. -- Zellviren

I consider The Burning Crusade as the best WoW expansion, the height of my gaming when I felt WoW was doing everything right. I consider WotLK the beginning of the end for me, especially when it came to the difficulty of 5-man content. -- Kadomi

I wholeheartedly agree, even though I would say that the beginning of the end was already noticeable after Patch 2.4. I think that The Burning Crusade was the best expansion because it offered meaningful content for everyone. Heroic dungeons provided a great experience and (additionally) my group did spend quite some time in that beautiful place called Karazhan. The best part about heroic dungeons for me was that they all required strategy and tactics. Careful planning and pulling was essential and crowd control necessary. This meant that heroic dungeons took some time and that they could be seen as an alternative to the raiding endgame.

At one point, however, I started yearning for the ultimate challenge only 25-player raids could offer. So I applied to a hardcore raiding guild and was accepted for trial. We had four to six raids per week. Monday to Thursday were regular progression raids and on Fridays and Saturdays (or Sundays) we did the occasional “off-raid” – old content to get gear and/or attunements for new members. Once Zul’Aman was released, we did our “bear runs” on the weekends as well. We were able to complete the entire level 70 content before the “big boss nerf”. And for a time it was good.

08 March 2012

WoW: Classic or “Vanilla”

Leveling my Night Elf Druid was great fun, even though Darkshore was stretching my patience a great deal. Nevertheless, I could not easily be discouraged and I kept on playing. Everything seemed magical and the little inconveniences that existed did not hinder my enjoyment. There were very long ways to walk and some quests required me to travel to very distant places, e.g. the original quest-line for the Aquatic Form. Yes, there was a time when Druids learned their shapeshift forms not simply by visiting a trainer but by actually performing some tasks in the game world. Shocking, I know!

I died a million times in the barrows filled with furbolgs. I mean, seriously, who designed those? Close quarters, a maze, high respawn rate. It was a death trap for noobs like me. I was in there for literally hours. -- Kadomi

I had exactly the same experience in the Ban'ethil Barrow Den and the related quest asked me to bring back four items when my bags were already full. Life in Azeroth was time consuming and demanding and I loved it.

At some point my Druid hit the level cap and entered into the ominous endgame, where he experienced two massive group dungeons called “raids”. He lent his healing hands to a group that was determined to enter a fiery cavern named Molten Core. There he had his very first taste of what it was like to overcome the greatest challenges with the greatest number of people. It was very invigorating! On a different night some people of the same group asked him to help them kill a horrible dragon hiding in another cavern somewhere in the swamps. Needless to say, he joined without thinking twice. Unfortunately, those were the only two raid instances my Druid did in those days because otherworldly matters kept the real person behind the Druid busy for quite some time. I did stay subscribed, however, and played very casually and started some alts, most notably an Undead Mage.

Overall, I can say that I will be forever fond of those days as they mark the beginning of my journey into the realm of MMOs. The cynics will always attribute nostalgia to “rose-tinted glasses” and that is, of course, their prerogative. It is, however, equally valid for other people remember things in their own way and make different claims. I do not think that some of us are only looking at the pleasant parts of the past but rather that the inconvenient parts were not that unpleasant to begin with.

29 January 2012

On My Beginnings in World of Warcraft

The decision to start playing World of Warcraft did not come overnight and it certainly wasn't an easy one. I had read about the game for quite some time and the material included several rather unfriendly voices. Since this would also be my first MMORPG, the whole idea of a subscription to a video game was alien to me as well.

However, when the time seemed right to actually buy the game and create an account, I was already well informed about the payment methods, the setting, the lore, the different classes, their abilities and tasks, the professions and so on. In total, I would say that I knew as much about the game as it was possible, without actually having played it. How wrong that turned out to be. I bought the physical copy of the game in the fateful summer of 2006 (somewhere between Patches 1.10 and 1.11), when the game was already about one and half years old.

After my previous experiences in the RTS games of the Warcraft universe, I was already convinced that I wanted to fight on the side of the Alliance and that my character should be "Elven" (The Lord of the Rings comes to mind again). At that time, the idea of creating a female character for a man honestly had not even occurred to me, so I chose a male Night Elf. To find the right class, however, turned out to be much harder. Generally, I find any kind of magic wielder the most compelling choice, so naturally I wanted to create a Mage. Unfortunately, I already knew that a Night Elf Mage would not be possible – in fact, it should take at least another 3 years until that choice would become available. Though, I did create a haughty female Blood Elf Mage during The Burning Crusade.

Questions over questions: should I create a Night Elf Druid or an Undead Mage? Would a Druid be similar to a Mage, even though their philosophy seemed to be quite different? Would that, at one point along the road, matter from a gameplay point of view? In the end my desire to play on the Alliance side and to play an Elf was stronger and I decided on creating a male Night Elf Druid on an English-speaking European PvE server. This character would be my main character almost until the very end. His accumulated experience signifies my entire gaming experience in World of Warcraft and it was on the day that I “changed mains” (Oh how I hate that notion!) that I knew that my time in Azeroth would sooner than later be coming to an end.

If someone is interested in why I eventually fell out of love with World of Warcraft, they should have a closer look at my ESSENTIAL READING page. Other authors have already – very eloquently – described the same problems I had, so there is no need to rehash the details right here, right now. Suffice to say that it had NOTHING (whatsoever) to do with burnout! If the game had not changed this drastically, I would still be playing.

27 January 2012


The idea behind this post is to provide the interested reader with an introduction to my internet alias named Maldwiz. Since the name as such might only be meaningful to very a small minority, the focus shifts more towards the person behind the name, in particular towards the gaming experience of said person.

Our story begins in the year 1991, when a young boy’s parents decided that the time had come to purchase their first personal computer. Up to this day, the young boy did not call any electronic entertainment devices his own and was forced to look jealously over the shoulders of his friends, while they enjoyed themselves by making a small, stereotypical Italian plumber jump around. Then suddenly, at around his eleventh birthday, the parents seemed to have arrived at the conclusion that a personal computer would be beneficial to the child’s further education. Needless to say, the boy was more than thrilled.

In the months and years to follow, the boy would gradually mature and familiarize himself more closely with this new technology. It seemed inevitable that sooner or later he would leave the standard (card) games – that came with the PC – behind him and stumble across more advanced types of interactive entertainment software. So it happened that the very first “real” video game that this young boy – now a teenager – would be playing on his computer was none other than the infamous DOOM.

While DOOM was certainly a lot of fun the whole First-Person-Shooter genre never really “clicked” with Maldwiz. Something new was needed, something different. Luckily this came in the form of a real-time strategy game called Warcraft: Orcs & Humans. This game was very captivating because it required a different approach towards gaming, aiming more at strategy and tactics. First-Person-Shooter – at least at that time – never really required the player to plan ahead. Everything was more of a spur of the moment thing. Another aspect that Maldwiz enjoyed about the new game was the fantasy setting. It reminded him strongly of The Lord of the Rings, one of his favourite childhood books.

Naturally, Maldwiz also played the sequel Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness and the related expansion Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal. Those were just as great as the original. Later came both Diablo and Diablo II as well as StarCraft with its expansion StarCraft: Brood War. The final RTS game that Maldwiz would be playing was Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos with its expansion Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. Please do not worry! There were also countless other games in between – some even in the real world, with actual human beings. Preposterous!

And then came ... World of Warcraft.

The numerous adventures in the online world of Azeroth, however, deserve their own post.

One final note: the company behind all those wonderful games, Blizzard Entertainment, did provide Maldwiz with over ten years of marvellous interactive electronic entertainment and he will be forever grateful for that experience. Rest assured, dear reader, that our teenage hero did not neglect real human companionship. He grew up to become a productive member of our society and is, in fact, married to a lovely woman. They might be expecting a child in the not too distant future.


This post should have given you a bit of background information about my person and my gaming history. More will follow, although not necessarily similar in length.