If you've ever wanted to quit your job, travel the world and play WoW whenever and wherever you please – take it from Caesar of US Dark Iron-H, it's as good as you'd ever dreamed it could be. In March 2007, Caesar sold his house, put the rest of his belongings in storage and hit the road. Since then, he's managed to keep his WoW account alive and has played on and off from his laptop and internet cafes all over the Pacific and Asia. So far, he's logged in from two dozen different countries on almost every sort of network issue you could imagine.
We caught up with Caesar in Kuala Lumpur to see if his travels are turning out to be as cool in practice as the idea was on the drawing board. (TLDR version: They are.)
Caesar: I'm in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Last week I was in Bintan, Indonesia and Singapore. Next week, I'll be in Penang, Malaysia and maybe in Thailand, depending on how fast I move. (Editor's note: Moments before this article was scheduled to go live, Caesar e-mailed to say he had just in fact added Thailand to the list of places from which he's logged into WoW.)
What prompted you to sell your house, pack up and fly out?
I wanted to see the world. I have always enjoyed traveling and learning about places, and this was the opportunity of a lifetime. Everyone always talks about going out to see the world. I actually went and did it. I have no regrets, whatsoever. Also, selling my house before the market took a dive is looking like a good move in hindsight. :)
I've been traveling now since March of 2007, so around 17 months. In that time, I've been to over 40 countries and territories, some of which most people have never heard of, let alone visit: Nauru, Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Micronesia, Palau, Easter Island and the Marshall Islands.
I get e-mails every few days from people who find my website and say, "I'm so jealous. You are doing exactly what I want to do." Every day is a new adventure. You get to see places in a way which you never possibly could just watching TV or reading the news.
What other destinations do you have in mind?
I hope to be moving in a westerly direction over the next year, through the Middle East towards Europe and Africa. I really don't know the specifics yet. I sort of make everything up as I go along. The current plan is to explore Southeast Asia, then go to India. I'll eventually get to Europe and Africa.
So how does WoW fit into your trek across the globe?
Given where I am, I am usually 10 to 13 hours off of the server time, so raiding is usually out of the question. I haven't seen much of the 25-person content in BC. I occasionally will go to a raid if they need a 25th and I happen to be online, but my gear sucks and I can't contribute that much.
Also, it is not unusual to have extremely high ping times, which makes it difficult to raid or do serious PvP. If I could play again on a regular basis, I think I'd focus more on playing Arena matches. I've always enjoyed PvP healing more than anything else. (I'm a Discipline Priest.) I haven't been able to really play on an Arena team, as they started doing Arenas after I was out of the country. Playing Arena matches seems to take up much less time than raiding.
How long have you been a WoW player?
I've been playing MMOs ever since Ultima Online came out in the late '90s. I also played EverQuest extensively. I rolled my first character in WoW a few days after the game was released. My first character was a Night Elf Hunter, which I got to level 60.
When PvP and Penny Arcade started their war on Dark Iron, I created my current main, Caesar, an Undead Priest. I've been playing him ever since. The main guild for the PvP side of the war was Panda Attack. I was an officer in Panda Attack, which had well over 600 people in it at the time. I eventually took some players to form a raiding guild called Djork (which is currently recruiting, BTW). I'd call it a casual raiding guild.
I quit as guild leader a few months before BC was released. I stepped down right after we had killed Nagafen in Blackwing Lair. It made for a good point to hand off control.
Are you still a member of the guild?
Yes, and I am technically still an officer -- but I do very little and can't raid on a regular basis. The guild is currently working on the Black Temple.
I have become an ultra-casual player. Due to time zone differences, ping time and the fact that I play on a laptop, I can't do much more than daily quests and battlegrounds. I've managed to get exalted with the Skyguard, Ogri'la and the Shattered Sun Offensive. I'm currently doing dumb stuff like collecting pets for achievements when WotLK releases. I think the addition of daily quests is the best thing that has happened to WoW. I wish they added more quests for more factions -- preferably older factions, not brand new ones.
Do you find yourself striking up WoW-related conversations with people you meet? Have you discovered cultural differences in the way players play and talk about playing the game?
When I have seen people in other countries play, it is amazing how similar it is. I watched some Korean players play once. I could easily tell what was going on by listening to them, even though I couldn't speak Korean. I've met a few travelers who have played WoW, but they are also usually pretty casual players. I got to know some guys in Perth and Adelaide, Australia, who played WoW when I played in their LAN center. I've also seen a lot of similarity in the Counter-Strike players I see. I think there is a common gaming culture around the world. No matter where you are from, what language you speak, if you play games on a regular basis, you'll share similar lingo, slang and mannerisms.
Have you been keeping up with Wrath news? If you're still on the road when the expansion hits, do you think you'll load it up and begin casually working through the new content as you can, or will you hold out for later?
Yes. I've been paying attention to Priest class news and seeing what they will do with Engineering. I've been pretty underwhelmed with both so far. They still don't seem to have any coherent idea of what to do with the Discipline tree. All the new talents seems to be PvE-oriented. I personally would rather see a sharp and clear division between PvP and PvE in the Discipline and Holy trees, and just respec as needed, rather than have two trees that try to the same thing with similar talents spread across both.
I have no idea how or when I'll be able to get a copy of the expansion. I assume I wont be able to install it for at least a few weeks after it ships. The only think I can think of would be for someone in the United States to buy a copy for me, send me the game code and let me download the software from Blizzard. If I'm somewhere with poor bandwidth, it might even be longer.
If anyone from Blizzard is reading this, please consider putting in achievement for the number of countries logged in from. :)
Do you play other games as you travel -- any handhelds or anything like that?
Yes. I often have a lot of time on my hands. My laptop is a Mac, so that has limited the games available to me, as I find it very hard to find games for the Mac while traveling. The only game other than WoW I currently have installed is Civ 4. There is a new expansion for it, but I can't find it anywhere. I also have an iPod Touch, which now that the 2.0 software is out, makes for a good time-killer if you are on a train or a plane. I have some simple Bejeweled-type games installed.
I've been looking for a copy of Diablo II for the Mac since I heard about the plans to release Diablo III. I'd like to play through it again, and the expansion. Again, finding games for the Mac is really hard in Asia.
What's been the most precarious log-in experience you've had abroad?
WoW requires more bandwidth than just checking your email or surfing the web. I've been able to log in in places with satellite connections like Samoa. The oddest internet experience was probably in the Marshall Islands. The only place I could find with a decent internet connection was at the main building for the national communications company. They had a small internet cafe with the giant satellite dishes right outside. They didn't allow for laptops and didn't have games installed, but I could have probably logged in from there, too. The cost for DSL in the Marshall Islands is $5,000 per month, and the actual bandwidth is an extra $800/month.
Where did you not expect to be able to log in -- but did?
Honiara in the Solomon Islands. The Solomons are an out-of-the-way country, and I never expected them to have good internet connectivity. I was surprised to find it not only wasn't bad, but it was pretty cheap as well.
Where did you expect to log in -- but couldn't?
It wasn't so much that I couldn't log in, but I found the internet situation in Australia to be much worse than I expected. If I played in an internet café, my connection would usually be fine, but often times finding good wi-fi was hard to do. Free wi-fi is almost unheard-of in Australia. Even paid wi-fi was often very slow. Connectivity in Asia is cheaper, better and much more ubiquitous than I found it in Australia.
I can't think of any time I couldn't log in from somewhere. I've had poor connections and there were places I didn't even bother to try. In hindsight, I could have logged in from Easter Island, but I didn't make the effort.
Any updates to the list of places you've logged in?
Since I wrote that, I spent over five months in Australia and have also been to Papua New Guinea, Singapore and peninsular Malaysia. I wasn't able to log on in PNG because I had to uninstall WoW from my laptop temporarily for photo storage. The connection there was pretty slow, so in theory I could have probably logged on and chatted, but probably nothing more.
I know a lot of people will read this and will roll their eyes, saying "If I were traveling, I wouldn't be playing WoW." If you are going on a short vacation, I'd agree. Leave the laptop at home. When you are doing long-term traveling like I am, then being able to kill a few hours and talk to people you know online is really nice.
I use OpenDNS as my default DNS server most of the time. It seems to solve a lot of problems. I also use my iPod Touch as a wi-fi finder and strength tester. Pulling out an iPod is much easier and safer than pulling out a laptop.
Despite the rumors, I have never had my account suspended because of all the different IPs I've logged in from. Simply logging in from another place is not grounds for getting your account suspended.
How can interested readers follow along on your progress across the world?
I keep an active travel blog where I write about my travels and share my photography, which you can subscribe to. I also have started a video podcast recently which you can get on iTunes. I'm also active on Twitter.
I always welcome hearing from people while I'm on the road. I travel by myself, so e-mails, tweets, text messages or even messages in game (if you happen to play Horde on Dark Iron) are welcome and appreciated.