The world of Warcraft is summoned onto movie screens this month, bringing back weird and wonderful memories for past and present players of the hugely popular game.
As "Warcraft: The Beginning" hits theatres, Warcrafters here at CNET and GameSpot -- alongside the film's director, Duncan Jones -- share some of their favourite memories of the game.
Duncan Jones, director: I was a player of the Warcraft games right from the start. I used to run a guild for a game called Ultima Online, and as that game started to wind down we moved across to World of Warcraft. Obviously there was a division amongst the clan as to whether we should be Horde or Alliance, so I had this Sophie's choice moment where I had to decide which side I would go with as the group of real-world friends divided.
Selina Pound, CNET: I started playing a game called RuneScape and one of my friends told me there's a much better game out there, called Warcraft. I was a mage gnome -- and yes I bounced around everywhere!
Nick Hide, CNET: You got this plush package with a thumping great manual and five CDs (hello, Blizzard! Use a DVD!). These took a geological era to install. Then you had to download the patch. The Blizzard downloader is quite an experience: Several species went extinct while I waited for a relatively small 450MB download. Can I ever play? Is this some sort of government-enforced cooling-off period?
Luke Westaway, CNET: I played it really intensely for about a year, getting in very deep, as my real-life friends were all hooked too. There was nothing else like it -- the feeling of striding out into a lovingly crafted virtual world as enormous as it was explorable, and teaming with other players. The bond you form with guild-mates and your own characters becomes very strong as the hours roll by, and I hungered for new abilities and new animal forms for my druid.
Duncan: I would always play as a tank...I wouldn't say I was much of a Leeroy, but I was good at standing in one place and bashing stuff!
Selina: There were two people [in a relationship] in our guild, and one of them proposed to the other in-game. That was really cute. We came together and did this little engagement party in-game. It was a lovely experience.
Dave Jewitt, GameSpot: A friend of mine had recently split up with his girlfriend and as I was away at university I couldn't keep him company, so I joined him in World of Warcraft. When the weekend came he understandably wanted to go out for a beer. The next best thing was to get a few beers in our fridges, and head to the pub in Stormwind.
We joined a role-playing server, so everyone was rather serious. A few hours later both our real selves and virtual selves were quite drunk, and the night ended with us standing on the tables in a virtual bar, in our Worgen wolf forms, drinking until we vomited pixelated bile while onlookers shouted at us via the text box.
Seamus Byrne, CNET: I'd worked at my first magazine job just as the game was coming out, but the magazine closed down and I was out of work. Now, for some this might be a story of disappearing into Warcraft addiction, but for me WoW was the new golf -- I joined a guild with a few other tech journalists I'd met and through these connections in the game I started to meet more editors.
I dipped in and out, catching up with friends and colleagues, running through fun early content like Deadmines and killing Stitches in Darkshire while focusing more on chatting with people in my guild...and it was the chatting that helped me turn a lost job into seven years of successful freelance journalism.
Luke: Throughout my time in WoW I was constantly cooking up get-rich-quick schemes that would earn me major amounts of in-game gold for little to no effort. One time I removed my character's clothes on a street in a capital city, set him dancing and sang sea shanties to passers-by. It earned me very little, however, and typing out sea shanties in real-time was more effort than I anticipated.
I also tried selling taxi rides to low-level characters on my fancy mammoth mount once, but of course, the low-level characters have hardly any money to give. On reflection it's probably good I got those entrepreneurial efforts out of my system in World of Warcraft, instead of spending all my real-life cash on a doomed startup.
Eric Franklin, CNET: I wanted to get the highest reputation for Alterac Valley. All you had to do was stay there -- you didn't have to participate. However, WoW has an idle timer so after five minutes it would kick you out. I would set the timer on my watch for 4 minutes and 30 seconds and then go to sleep, and when my watch would go off I would run to my computer and hit the space bar -- which makes your character jump -- and that would reset the timer.
Luke: If this all sounds very much like a day job, that's essentially what WoW is. After amassing many days' worth of play (that's days meaning units of 24 hours, by the way), my friends and I found the only way to progress was to join larger guilds that could take on the bigger raids. Our free-spirited adventures became scheduled team-sports, and for me, the fun drained away. Happily I had some major exams coming up around that time, which offered the perfect excuse to go cold turkey. I've never gone back, but I have strong memories of the good times.
What are your best and worst -- and weirdest -- memories of playing "Warcraft"? Tell us in the comments! And for more gaming goodness, check out GameSpot.