Tonight heralded the beginning of a long wait for many World of Warcraft players, as over 70 servers went down for a 24 hour long extended maintenance at midnight (Pacific Time) this evening. According to Blizzard, this extended maintenance is to prepare this large group of servers for the upcoming expansion pack, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. Now, we know that the expansion isn't about to land on us just yet - after all, we still have Patch 3.3.5 to come - but its certainly good news that they seem to be beginning preparations now. Hopefully this batch of upgrades will mean less cataclysmic (excuse the pun - couldn't resist) effects upon the servers on release day. Fingers crossed, but I'm not holding my breath - I'm sure there will be something to prevent us from immediately playing our brand new game that we lined up for at midnight - for some of us, in the freezing cold.
But please, excuse my cynicism. While many players lamented the lack of things to do in this 24 hour period tonight and voiced their plans of playing other games from Dragon Age to Starcraft to the newly free-to-play Lord of the Rings Online (perhaps mucking about on a different server hadn't occured to those on Firetree), for me it was quite perfect timing to do exactly none of the above. Not only has it given me extra time to get this article written, but it gives me the perfect excuse to get away from my computer and pack my bags. That's right, I'm off on vacation tomorrow, and it is one I've been waiting for for a long time.
Back in August last year I wrote an article on our old website, omgRPG.com, about meeting friends from WoW in real life. This particular meeting went successfully and we had a great time, albeit a little slow to start as we were both quite shy. Once we got over the initial hesitation though, we had a great time zooming around together and I even got to see parts of my own country that I'd never seen before. Prior to the actual meeting I had a bunch of questions which I addressed in the article, and now I find myself running through them all over again in my head. I also mentioned how I imagined it would be far more complicated if the person I was meeting was a romantic interest - and now I can answer that, at least in part, as the person I am off to meet at the end of this week is my boyfriend, and he lives almost on the opposite side of the world.
The questions that are swirling around in my head (maddeningly so, at times), and probably in those of anyone in a similar situation to me are quite identical to what I was feeling before meeting my friend last year. Will he be able to recognise me, what if we don't like each other, is this going to ruin our online experience or enhance it, et cetera. The differences lie in the outcomes, however, and the consequences of each. This particular meeting has a whole lot of extra emotion attached to it that the previous one didn't, and with potentially life changing results given our situation. I have spent hours going through all kinds of feelings during the past few months during the lead up to this meeting - from confusion and doubt to absolute elation and excitement (not to mention trying my hardest to slay any skepticism from others at the same time), and now there are less than four days left until that fateful moment. Right now I'm trying my hardest not to think about it too much as I still have a day of work to get through and a lot of stuff to get done before I leave - daydreaming, as I am prone to do when thinking about this subject, is not going to help nor make those deadlines approach any slower.
As mentioned in my previous article, this is not the first time I've met someone from WoW. It will be my fifth, and although it is the most important and drastic of all meetings (all previous ones have taken place here in New Zealand), I've managed to convince myself that although it is risky, I have nothing to worry about. People have come to me before with similar doubts before meeting an online friend, and I've always given them the same advice - just be yourself. Don't try to impress them or do anything out of character because you think its going to help - giving the wrong impression isn't going to improve your chances of building a credible relationship, and remember that the questions you've got in your head are completely natural and valid, and the other person is probably thinking the exact same things as you. Now I've had to take my own medicine, and I'm confident that we'll have a great time. I know that all I can be is myself - so I need not worry myself into trying to be something else. It's working so far, but ask me again on Friday night and I may have something quite different to say once the real nerves begin to kick in. ;)
On top of the excitement of finally being able to spend time with my boyfriend in person, this will be my first trip to the United States of America and I am really looking forward to seeing what all the fuss is about during my stay. I have a feeling its going to be quite different to little old New Zealand, the most obvious thing being its size, but I imagine a lot of subtle differences will present themselves that I may or may not be expecting. In any regard, the next two and a half weeks are going to be an experience for me that I will never forget, and I have WoW to thank for it. So roll out the welcome mat, America - I'm on my way.