Goodbye, Farewell and Amen – 2

Even my personal life wasn’t immune. When I told Fargo one morning that my wife wouldn’t let me play violent games in front of our then seven-month-old newborn, the result was my appearance in one of the last Daily Victims. This happened more than once, actually. Years later my World of Warcraft character became Flintlocke’s Dad.

I recall a moment back in January of 2004 when I was one of the first people into the office. Our then-editor John Keefer (now over at Crispy Gamer) came in and asked me if I’d like to head down to Blizzard. Apparently the person who was supposed to go with him was late, so I was picked because I showed up (there’s a lesson there, kids!). I didn’t even ask what we were seeing. All I knew was that I’d finally get a chance to visit the offices of the people who’d created StarCraft. As it turned out, the game we were going to play was a little title called World of Warcraft. I believe we were some of the first people outside of the actual company to actually play the game, and while my first thought about it was “What the hell does Blizzard know about running an MMO?,” I came back convinced I had seen the future of the genre. How many people get to be at the birth of something truly remarkable?

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If there was one thing I truly loved about this job it was following what was going on in the world of gaming and trying to dig a bit deeper and find a perspective that might have been missed. When I did what I thought was a bog-standard interview with then-Star Wars: Galaxies producer Haden Blackman about the appearance of the Jedi in the game, I was unprepared for the flood of unhappy Jedi e-mail that threatened to overwhelm by inbox. One sad Force user even challenged us to “conduct an interview with several ‘real Jedi’ players and get the honest Jedi scoop from the players, rather than the corporate mouths wishing to spin all the negative feedback on the Jedi class.” So we did. The result was The Saga of Star Wars Galaxies, an investigative article that had a lot of phones ringing at LucasArts and GameSpy and got me more than a few irate looks at the Lucas booth at the 2004 E3.

I also got to see a little bit of the world — although that usually meant staring at a screen in a conference room in several different countries. I managed to wrangle an awesome trip to Korea for the debut of StarCraft II, which resulted in a memorable dinner with the crew from IGN in a Korean BBQ that apparently specialized in serving monks from the local Buddhist monastery and employed a 125-year old woman who had to wrestle a 40-pound tray of meat to our table. Later I would get to go to Paris for the premiere of Diablo III, and get to see the Mona Lisa and eat snails. Still, my most memorable week on the road (except for a week-long Atari thing in Palm Springs where I got to see most of the GameSpy staff in the pool, shiver) had to be a week in Oslo, Norway for a sneak peek at Age of Conan. There’s a reason I moved to California and the cold of Norway reminds me what it is. Even getting to eat reindeer and moose can’t shake the memory of walking into Funcom with unfortunate icicles hanging from my nose — or where they went when I sneezed.

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