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Building a better MMOusetrap: Why we fight!

Dave Moss
December 12, 2007
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Dawn stretches its sleeping muscles and peeks out over the snow capped mountains, coaxing a faint mist to mist to take flight over a frozen lake. Animals of all shapes and sizes begin to stir and wake from a cold night's sleep huddled together in dens and burrows, and bird song threatens to break the night's quiet. A sharp echo snaps through the air as the heat from the rising sun causes the ice on the lake to crack and shift, marking the coming day as faithfully as a rooster's crow, and around the dog-leg in the road comes the faint tell tale sound of boots crunching snow, the clink of freshly polished armour, and a nervous laugh.

It is day break in the mountain valley of Dun Morogh, and the Wee Men march on the irradiated city of Gnomeregan. They have been made aware of the dangers that lurk in the caverns and halls beneath the mountains, and the horrific changes to the citizens that could not escape. Their blades are sharpened, spells learned and remembered, shields shined, and tools checked and re-checked. This is not a task they take lightly, as this city was once a place most of them called home. A place where their families lived, where they were born and grew, and where they had hoped one day to grow old and die in.

But all that changed the day the attacks began in the lowest parts of the city, and there was nothing they could do but grab anything and anyone close, and run for the surface. Now their lives are changed forever, forced into action they became the heroes that their city so desperately needed in it's darkest hour, the heroes that could have battered back the advancing forces and saved countless lives. Some simply call them adventurers, but they know themselves as liberators, saviours and champions to the causes so often forgot in todays world. Though in stature they may be small, in their actions and deeds they are giants.

It is for that reason they march this day to almost certain death, a fate they could easily escape by simply turning back. However, this is a fate they welcome with open arms, as if it is the only thing left to them in all the world.

Their breath is crisp in the air, as the small band climbs the now broken road to the surface gates of the city, stepping over the bones of fallen cousins, friends, sons and daughters, stripped clean by the hungry beasts who lurk in the depths below. Their leader, an unassuming gnome, runs his small hand through a beard as white as the snow, adjusts his almost comically peaked hat and breaks the silence with a simple statement, "The one on the right is wounded, kill it first." With that the band rushes up the incline towards the gates, preceded only be the fear they strike into the hearts of any living thing before them.

From there it is a maelstrom of fire, steel and blood as the five figures wade their way towards the heart of the city. Comrades fall and are roughly bandaged and brought back to the fight, as endless waves of terrifying creatures and abominations crash against shield and staff. A temporary refuge is found at last in the only remaining outpost within the city proper. Here, for a few moments at least, peace is found. Bandages are applied, cool drink and warm food replenish the strength of the party, and even a few words of praise from their leader are passed out to raise spirits, but they all know that soon they will have to push on, and that there will be no more peace until the job is done.

Eventually they press on, blood cakes the warriors sword and shield as he ceaselessly pushes his party from one enemy to the next, his body almost never stops glowing from the holy energies focused on him from the devout paladin in the middle of the group. From the shadows the twin rogues twist their blades into the backs and bellies of foe after foe, and from a distance eldritch curses and magics are weaved by the white bearded warlock. They are not the heroes often sung of in the taverns around the world, but that does not stop them from pressing ever onwards.

Finally after what seems like an eternity to the four gnomes and the dwarf they finally reach the end of their journey, the grand hall. From within his mechanical monstrosity their foe screeches out orders to his last remaining troops, trying in desperation to hang on to the city he insidiously usurped. His words are cut short as the tall-hatted warlock booms out an ancient and maleficent curse, silencing the entire hall with a sound that could not have come naturally from his small frame. The lull lasts for but a moment before the cacophony of the ensuing battle threatens to shatter the pillars of the earth itself.

The fight ends almost as swiftly as it began, with a final knife thrust into the throat of the usurper. He gurgles his last words, wheezing out a final plea for his life, even though he knows it falls upon deaf ears.

The day was won, and the city purged of the sickness that has befallen it, but there will be no laughter in the avenues and homes of Gnomergan for years to come. The sickness has burned too deep, into the very stone and steel the city is made of, and that could take generations to heal. But at least for the Wee Men, this day was a triumph, and certainly one hell of a way to spend a saturday afternoon.


I'm sure most of you don't know who the Wee Men are, and some of you might not even know what Gnomeregan is, but one thing I'm sure of is that every one of you who has ever played an MMO with a group of close friends has felt the above at least once during their time online. Most of my friends who played the characters in the Wee Men are no longer playing World of Warcraft, or even MMOs, but we still talk about the adventures we had in WoW, and they are some of the reasons I keep up the fight. I may not be a role player, or a lore-fiend, or even someone who always reads the quest text that comes up on the screen, but I do know, every now and again, there's nothing to keep you going like a good war story.

This is why I fight, why do you?

Why we fight, will be a re-occurring column where I will be interviewing players from different MMOs, and who enjoy different aspects of these games, to find out just what it is that drives us on. If you have an interesting story to tell about why you play MMOs please leave a comment with your contact information and I may get in touch for an interview.























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