As a night elf first starting in WoW, I had leveled on Teldrassil, moving through Darnassus and then to Darkshore and Ashenvale. Through reading online I had heard that the big gathering places were these distant cities called Ironforge and Stormwind. I was curious. Thus far, through the night elf leveling experience, everything I had seen was all trees and wilderness.
So I decided to make the trek to Ironforge to see what the talk was about. I took the boat from Auburdine to Menethil Harbor. I picked up the flight point at Menethil, but had no connecting points so I had to run. I trotted across the Wetlands, fending off crocodiles, through the mountains, into Loch Modan, across Dun Morogh, and finally to the gates of Ironforge.
It totally blew me away. Nothing in the level 1-20 night elf experience prepares you for the sight of the huge stone dwarf statue at the Ironforge entrance. Once inside, I saw more people standing in front of the Ironforge auction house than I had ever seen in the entirely of the night elf zones.
That is a great statement of how well-planned the early leveling experience is. I truly felt like a hick from out in the country entering the Big City for the first time.
And then my computer crashed. But that’s not the point of the story.
I ran around, did the sightseeing thing, and then wanted to fly back to Wetlands. So I picked up the flight point in Ironforge and flew back. I did a few Wetlands quests and leveled up, and needed to visit a rogue trainer. Time to fly back to Ironforge.
Now, when I first installed WoW, the computer I was using was pretty low-end. Whenever I took a flight path somewhere, the graphics couldn’t keep up with the rapidly changing view. So I would get what amounted to a slide show of my travel, as a still image would pop up onto my screen, stay there for a few seconds, and then another image would appear.
As I flew from Menethil to Ironforge, watching these still images flash on and off, only half paying attention, something caught my attention. It looked like a huge face! But then the image flashed away and I saw Loch Modan and then the mountains of Dun Morogh.
Curious, I went back to Menethil and took the flight again.
This time in my sequence of still images I got the full picture, and I was blown away.
From an in-game perspective, this was enormous. It was an immensely different type of structure than anything on Teldrassil or in Darkshore. Night Elves don’t do this kind of stonework. Coming soon after my amazement at seeing the gates of Ironforge, I was bedazzled by the immensity of the dwarven construction.
From a game player’s perspective, I was awestruck. Nothing I had seen in previous video games had prepared me for the detail and depth of the WoW experience. Here was a dam that is never seen from the front except as a tourist attraction while flying on a gryphon, and yet it was a masterpiece of design. I was so impressed with the effort put into the game by the artist at Blizzard.
I have never forgotten that moment. No matter what the fate of the Stonewrought Dam, it will always be a huge part of my WoW experience.
Damn you, Dark Iron Dwarves.