Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Stone dead

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I met my hero the other night. My excitement was bowed a bit by the fact that he was dead, and turned out to be a bit of a moaner, but only a bit. Even odder was the fact that until I'd met him, I'd never even heard of him. But, after one rambling, ghostly conversation, I realised I was his biggest fan.

Franclorn Forgewright is the greatest architect in all of Azeroth, responsible for the immense doors of Blackrock Depths and who knows how many other pieces of monumental masonry across the world of WarCraft. It was all I could do not to ask for his autograph. My bovine roots may mean I spend a lot of my time in elaborate yurts and bone-stitched tepees, but not even my hatred of the Alliance can dent my admiration of Ironforge and Stormwind. To meet the man who devised these stone-wrought colossi was something I never though a humble druid from Mulgore would get to do. His cities are as much machines as homes, as much statues as settlements, radiating history, hostility and grandeur. And so what was I ever going to say to his request for help but 'yes'? Allowing that 'For the Horde!' didn't really seem appropriate.

And that means it's the first quest in who knows how long I've given a damn about in WoW. I don't read the preambles, only the instructions. I still don't really know why we're at war, especially since Mulgore seems a haven of peace and plenty and not much troubled by scourges. I feel no sense of allegiance to Thrall, and I only hate the Alliance because they fanny around so hopelessly in Warsong Gulch. My commitment to the game has always been about the setting, not the story, until all of a sudden the setting became the story and I felt I owed this man - this grumpy ghost of my enemy - a debt of honour as real as I've owed to any human player. At a time when there's so much talk of story in games, it properly baffles me that the debate remains fixated on dialogue and character design when good games have known for years that architecture is the best narrator you could ever hope for, reading from a script that never tires.

So while I know it's really Chris Metzen or Bill Petras or Justin Thavirat I should be chasing with my autograph book, I'm going to stick with directing my gratitude to Franclorn Forgewright. Not least because he's a lot more likely to give me rare epix! in return. Thanks, Franc. Thancs.