The annual PC Gaming Show isn't the only big project we've been working on since the start of 2022. As we just revealed during the pre-show of this year's stream, the PC Gamer team has been cooking up another very special top secret production: a short-form documentary series about wild-but-true stories from the annals of PC gaming history.
We're calling it Tales from the Hard Drive.
If you played World of Warcraft on the wrong server in 2005, you might still be haunted by the memory of Angwe, the terror of Menethil Harbor who lurked the docks ganking everyone who passed by.
Even if you've never dared step foot in EVE Online, you know it by reputation because of players like Samantha Myth, who once spent 16 months undercover to steal a spaceship worth billions.
Here's one way to watch Tales from the Hard Drive: catch the episode on Snapchat by following this link, or scanning the below QR code.
Being invaded by another player in Dark Souls is a uniquely terrifying experience… unless you're one of the lucky few who crossed paths with the Fashion Police, elusive figures who rewarded a classy armor set with a respectful bow.
These are the kinds of stories that take on life outside the games that birthed them—real stories that become enshrined as folklore, told and retold across decades on message boards and Discord servers and skeptical Reddit threads. These tall tales represent what we love most about PC gaming: the ways truly passionate players can imprint their own personalities on our shared virtual worlds. We've written about them, but for a long time now we've felt like that wasn't enough. These stories deserved more.
A documentary series seemed like the only way to do justice to the people on the other side of our screens, though there was one small hurdle—we didn't know how to make a documentary series. Somehow we figured it out, with a little inspiration from the Crypt Keeper and Jonathan Frakes (believe it, Number One). Tales From the Hard Drive is the result. These tall tales demanded a world-class narrator, which is why we brought on the truly incomparable Lenval Brown (voice of Disco Elysium: The Final Cut) to help us tell them.
You can watch the first episode right here, right now, and subscribe to our YouTube channel to catch the rest of Tales From the Hard Drive, coming this summer.
Tales From the Hard Drive episode 1: The Terror of Menethil Harbor
The first episode of Tales From the Hard Drive takes us back 17 years, to the early days of World of Warcraft, when there were two names everyone playing WoW had heard of. One was Leeroy Jenkins. The other was Angwe: the terror of Menethil harbor, an unstoppable rogue who went on a months-long ganking spree that became the stuff of forum legend. Angwe wasn't just an expert in WoW's PvP: he was also a masterful troll. Instead of merely massacring every Alliance player who passed through the port, Angwe and his wife ran a website where they posted the frustrated messages players sent him in-game, capturing their rage. These tantrums became trophies.
For Tales From the Hard Drive, we unmasked Angwe, visiting he and his wife to let them tell the story of those glorious ganking days. We also spoke to former guildmates and players who ran into (or away from) Angwe back in the day.
Because Angwe's reign preceded easy video capture on PC, no video evidence remains of that reign of terror aside from mirrors of Angwe's long-dead website. That meant we had to recreate it. Here's what former PC Gamer senior reporter Steven Messner has to say about bringing this episode to life:
"It might not be obvious just by watching it, but making the Angwe documentary basically required taking a crash course in being a World of Warcraft developer. Right from the start, I wanted this episode to capture all of the nostalgia of that bygone era of WoW—everything from the character models, armor sets, and zones had to be era-appropriate. The problem? WoW is not the same game as it was in 2004. Nearly every corner of Azeroth has been changed and updated at some point. So I did what any obsessive madman would do: I created my own WoW.
"Well, to be clear, I started my own WoW private server using sketchy files I found on abandoned forums and 8-year-old YouTube tutorials. It took forever just to get the damn thing running (server programming—not even once!), and then my troubles were just beginning. I had to pore over documentation to learn console commands to tediously level up and equip around 20 characters with the appropriate loot. I had to learn how to teleport them all to Menethil, and then I had to figure out why they all kept appearing naked (a terrible bug that demanded I reboot my WoW client windows no less than two billion times). At one point, I had 11 different instances of WoW running on my PC in windowed mode, where I'd tab between the different windows to control each character. That's also not mentioning the small army of NPCs that I was 'mind-controlling' just so I could avoid the painful torture of creating a new character and running through the steps of gearing them. I enlisted the wonderful Leana Hafer to control another batch of characters for me during the more elaborate scenes.
"I'm not joking when I say it took about two weeks of full, eight-hour days to do all this. But one does not simply half-ass the retelling of Azeroth's first and only serial killer."
Below is a glance behind the scenes at Steven's one-of-a-kind WoW puppeteering setup.
Make sure to subscribe to PC Gamer's YouTube channel to catch the rest of Tales From the Hard Drive rolling out later this summer.