A friend of mine, one of the best dk-players I've ever played with, quit WoW a couple of months back. It's not the first time he's done so and for many reasons, in short because irl was taking up more time and WoW was getting less fun for him. With the release of MoP I was talking to him about coming back to WoW, trying to tell him about all the new cool things there were to do and get him to get into the mood for some mmoprg-action.
"Why not come back to WoW?" I asked. "Even if you don't have a lot of time for it anymore, you could just play it a little now and then".
His answer surprised me;
"I just can't play WoW a little".
He is not the first person to say this to me, and I used to have difficulty understanding how people had trouble simply cutting down, or changing their gaming habits to suit their irl-needs. If you can't raid, just don't. Right?
But then I realized, I myself was struggling to get comfortable in the "casual" (whatever that means) role - is playing WoW just a little impossible? Or is changing your gaming habits that which is difficult?
As you may or may not know, I too have for various reasons needed to cut down heavily on my gaming. Not necessarily the hours I put into the game, that is still quite a lot in every day standards (albeit a lot less than what I used to play, don't tell my relatives). What's changed is not the how much, but rather the when - most importantly my raiding has been heavily impaired by the fact that I work so many more evening and night shifts than I used to. Raiding three times a week is out of the question, if I manage to sign once a week I consider myself lucky.
For someone who has raided pretty steadily at two or three times a week basis since early BC, this has come as a pretty big change in my gaming habits. I used to consider myself a raider, someone who, although far from top of the line, definitely put a lot of time and effort into being the best I could be for my raid group. I couldn't begin to describe how much fun and frustration I've felt during these years, as any of you who raid surely know all about. Most, if not almost all of that, has gone from my gaming now, leaving leveling alts mostly.
See, I could do dailies on my main of course, but since I hate doing dailies in the first place, I am even less motivated to do them when the chances of me getting into some proper raiding are so slim - meaning all that grinding rep for gear just seems close to meaningless to me.
Leveling alts is not a bad thing at all, in all honesty that is probably what I spent 70% of my gaming time doing while I was a raider anyway. But those 30% of raiding might've just been 30% of my time spent, but probably 80%+ of what I identified my WoW-gaming with. I was a raider, everything else was just peripheral stuff that I did to support my raiding. I love my alts, but a major reason for me to level any of them was to have all professions at my disposal and also other characters if needed for the raid groups.
I've been forced to cut away what probably was the most important thing to me in the game, I have been forced to reduce my gaming to logging on to an alt every now and then and do some dungeons or quests, knowing that I will never really get to feel like a proper raider again in the forseeable future.
And this is no ones fault, things like these happen. I am lucky enough to be in a very lenient guild, allowing me to sign whenever and as little/often as I can, and they bring me if they happen to need an extra healer that run. This has allowed me to do exactly one evening of raiding since the release of MoP, which is definitely far from my old self where I used to be in the number one group, leveling and gearing up together so that we could jump into raiding as soon as possible. I didn't even have to wonder if I was going to be picked and I was annoyed at the raiders that didn't take it as serious as me. Now I am not even sitting on the sideline, I am one of the spectators, watching as everyone else do what I once did.
I'm not even sure if I am supposed to be bitter over it. In a way I can't be, since there is nothing or no one to blame for the situation. In a way I can even feel like I am really done with three-times-a-week raiding anyway. Just thinking about the sacrifices I have done, the time I've spent raiding... I loved it then, but I don't actually want to go back to that, so what is the problem?
I am still having fun in WoW, I enjoy logging on every now and then and just do some dungeon on an alt, log off and do something else. I love the fact that I can read about how aggravated people get regarding the dailies issue, and just shrug about it. It doesn't affect me anymore! I hate the feeling when I actually do sign for a raid and I can't really decide whether I want them to pick me or whether I'd be really relieved if they didn't.
Yet I can't, I just can't help, but feeling like I am really missing out. Like there is not even a point to playing WoW unless you do endgame of some sort, like raiding or pvp. I level my mage and I think "why waste my time, because there will be nothing, nothing, for me to do once I hit max level. Just turn around, grab another alt and do it all over again. And why? For what?". It is a creeping bitterness that I am almost ashamed off, feeling like a washed up has-been trying to be cool like the new kids on the block and failing miserably.
Eventhough I was way less geared than the other healers in the group, and had never done the fight let alone raided this expansion, I did very well during that one raid. I held on par with the best in the group, just laying some percent after the one on top. It made me remember all the theory crafting I used to do back in the day, and I immediately went into it again, analyzing logs, differences in gear, spec and stat choices, pondering whether I should reforge into this and that or choose this or that talent instead, reading on blogs for more information and... realizing it didn't really matter to me anymore.
But I still had it in me, I still knew how to do this. And like a reflex, monkey-brain if you like, I just wanted to go back to how things were. Jump back onto the band-wagon and pretend nothing had changed. Except I don't want to. Or do I?
In the end the question isn't whether I am having fun in WoW or not, I am definitely having fun. The question is whether I can get comfortable in my new wow-persona, and that is a lot more difficult to answer. As it is now, I simply don't have a choice so I might as well start liking it.