Sitting on the Dock of the Bay

The end is nigh: everyone keeps reminding us of the fact; however, there are still some players rounding out the last of the expansion, working on kills, leveling alts, or getting some last few achievements under their belts.  I happen to be doing all three of the last set!

Windsoar is still chugging along with her raiding team in ICC-25, trying to down the last few bosses.  My guild rarely does much progression in hard-modes, so getting things dead on normal mode is the general end of our experience.  I haven’t taken part in the 10-man run since my long lay-up with the injury, but they have made it to the Lich King, and are attempting to get him down.

My alts at the moment are doing various things.  Corrinna is currently semi-shelfed (since her enchanting is coming along quite nicely now that she can disenchant Northrend goods), Cinead does a random dungeon from time to time, and Vhaera does the same in company of a mage/warlock/druid (make up your mind!) friend.

Aliera got a bit of a dust off over the weekend.  I transferred her, geared her up in 4-piece T9, and then a bit daunted by being a bit behind the curve, I let her quietly languish.  Nothing is worse than feeling rusty on your favorite character of two years, but this past weekend she spent a night farming heroics with the hubby’s lazorchicken and friends–honestly, the most fun I’ve had in-game in months.  This was followed last night by being dragged rather reluctantly to a ToC-10.  I volunteered to do the add tanking, and not only did I not suck (thank God!) I had a blast mowing through things and finding that I really DID know what all those buttons were for.

Nightfall has probably gotten the most attention lately, and is down to needing 200 quests to finish off the old-world, and begin her time in Outland.  While that still leaves a lot of questing, the hubs in Outland and Northrend are much more Loremaster friendly, and so I anticipate being able to polish off all my questing in plenty of time for the expansion.

…..and back to the point of my post, which was really about the idea of wasting time!  The summary of my characters is, in a way, relevant.  While I’m well content with my current progress in-game, and have a number of activities that are filling my game time quite nicely, I realize that not everyone feels the same way.  End of expansion woes often find guilds struggling to form raid teams, which causes an almost sliding attrition into death, resulting in many players feeling disillusioned with the game, or on the opposite side of the spectrum, so tired of killing the same bosses, that they wonder why they even play this thing called WoW.

And that is really the major stress point behind the expansion doldrums in my mind.  World of Warcraft is not vital, it is a pleasurable activity a number of people pursue, sometimes in conjunction, sometimes as a replacement for other forms of entertainment: joining a bowling league, watching t.v., or spending an evening curled up with a book.  I think most people who pursue gaming do it in conjunction with other activities, but all it comes down to is a pastime.  Expansions offer a time when we can critically look at our pastime and say, “Am I getting what I want out of this activity?”

I have come to every expansion in the game so far with a different attitude about what I expected to gain from it.  When the first expansion released, I wasn’t even playing the game.  I had pursued solo activities when I started the game, and it wasn’t until the hubby and I re-rolled Horde to spice things up that we discovered raiding.  We loved our raiding guild, but in an effort to stay competitive, a series of mergers (I think I lost count after the fourth one) consolidating most viable L60’s on the server resulted in a mix of too many personalities and expectations, resulting in a total meltdown.  We quit the game, and there was a very LONG discussion in our household before we purchased the new expansion… and only after being talked into it by some old friends.

When Wrath released, we were eagerly awaiting the chance to start leveling again.  Our raiding guild, once again, had imploded before the expansion, this time a combination of the health of our guildmaster and the general inability of the chosen successor to keep the spirit of the guild alive, so that we were ensconced in a safe “leveling” guild before the expansion arrived.  Although we had no plans to purchase the game on “drop day” we ended up at a midnight selling as guildmates came home with their copies and regaled us with the fun.  I’d also had the chance to play in the beta, so I was prepped and eager to see all those fancy changes to my paladin tank become a reality.

This expansion marks the first time that I will be actively enrolled in a raiding guild when the expansion comes out.  While I have expressed anticipation for the new phase of the game to begin, at this point, I’m going to qualify that excited glimmer.  While I am excited, because it means another period of leveling with my spouse (the only time we “team up” is when we start “new” games) and to see the changes that are going to be overcoming a world that I’ve become so familiar with over the years, I will be honest and say that it’s not all for love of WoW.

Part of the reason that I hang in here is that my friends and family are here.  While the community isn’t always the greatest, I have never had a problem finding niches where the people I surround myself with on a daily basis are anything less than loveable.  Even those I remember with bittersweet memories of frustration were people I cared about and wished well to, and things might have turned out differently given a slightly different set of circumstances.  Although I don’t love every single person who I am guilded with, run pugs with, or even run across in town, overall my community experience is a good one because I choose to make it a good one.  I know I’m not the only gamer who has expressed the sentiment that RPG’s don’t feel the same anymore.  While the stories can be fun, they keep wanting to return to the MMO because they miss the people.

Secondly, and perhaps more telling, is that I haven’t found another game in quite a while that has grabbed and kept my attention like Warcraft.  There are so many games within the larger game that I find myself having to not think of something to do.  I can be an explorer, a fisherman, an adventurer.  I can stand around and look pretty in clothes I found that match, or I can be a mish-mash of newbish cast-offs I found along the way.  If I need a goal for the day, all I have to do is ask a convenient NPC with an exclamation point, and I am sent on my merry way with a set of instructions in my logbook.  Or, I can ignore everyone and everything around me and tromp off into the wilderness and slay hordes of [insert random mob type here].

However, if another game came out tomorrow that was totally awesome in every single way, I would still have to weigh whether the mechanics and fun of the game would outweigh the ties I have to people in-game.  Generally, I must have both happen together to pull me away.  Rather recently, in fact, I took another look at LoTRO with a free trial for a couple of reasons: I have a lot of time on my hands at the moment, and gaming is my primary activity of any kind at the moment, and when I had purchased the game when it came out my computer was sadly unable to run it very well, hence, I was constantly frustrated at this, that or the other.

I actively enjoyed my time in middle earth.  I spent a solid 5-6 days playing it almost exclusively.  I couldn’t manage to cut myself off completely from my WoW connections, despite the allure of enjoying my ranger-y self to a T.  I also run into the problem that frustrates me the most in many MMO’s: my ability to enjoy and solo content.  I played two characters during my trial period: a champion (think a knight with a squire) and a hunter (ranger–no pet!).  While my champion was rather sturdy, and able to eek out of most situations with a little ingenuity, self-healing, and potting, my ranger was at a distinct disadvantage in several situations where tight quarters did not allow for kiting.  In WoW, while I’ve played some pretty squishy classes, as long as I don’t enter a dungeon, I can hold myself toe-to-toe with just about any non-instanced content in the game.

I have found, that unless there is a good mixture of solo and group activities, I quickly lose interest and begin looking for the next thing.  This is where WoW shines for me: I never feel forced to endure grouping, especially while leveling.  I don’t know why I can’t stand to be forced to group while leveling, but it almost always drives me from a game, because invariably, you fall behind the curve in some way when you choose to ignore the “requirement” and continue to level solo.

So, since another game is not currently catching my fancy, and I have a strong bond with my guild, my interest is firmly entrenched in WoW.  As to other activities, well, I don’t really have any other ones that I’m capable of doing at the moment.  I’m hoping to start rehab for the leg this month, but all in all, that leaves out any physical occupations that I might enjoy.  While I like t.v. programs and a good movie as much as the next person, judging by the amount of time I play WoW, I have a lot of free time.  If I spent that much time in front of the tube, my brain would be reduced to jelly.  That leaves one of my favorite pastimes, reading, which I can say that I am continuing to pursue with relish, and not a hint of slacking!  I’m a gamer, I like to spend my free time playing video games, and all in all, I’m really rather happy with the game that is currently available.

Although I may be sitting on the dock of the bay, I can assure you, it doesn’t feel like I’m wasting time.  In fact, I’m almost certain I heard my bobber splash.  Excuse me while I reel in this fish.

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12 thoughts on “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay

  1. Lovely post, Windsoar. I think it's very easy to view pre-expansion play as basically marking time – I find the slower pace quite relaxing, to be honest, although I'm not sure I haven't played much WoW lately but there are plenty of things I think I'd be happy to do. Relationships with WoW are surprisingly complex I find.

    • I just don't see this pre-expansion period as a black hole of nothingness. ToC… yes, black hole of unremitting horror, but the Lich King, no way! I guess my entire gaming time isn't centered around raiding either, so I have an incentive to play no matter what's going on elsewhere. I actually found myself fishing, well, just for the hell of it the other day so I could be online chatting :P

  2. Sorry to hear about your leg, Windsoar. I've not been following your blog long enough to have heard about it before I think. Did you break it? Having a leg "indisposed" is such an inconvenience. I broke mine year and a half ago and it's still not "working as intended". In fact I have to have another surgery – next week (so nervous). But I'm keeping my fingers crossed that yours will be fully functioning again soon :)

    I'm doing similar things on my characters before the expansion. I do our raids, hoping to get LK down before it's "too late". I'm not levelling an alt really at the moment, though I'm considering it. Other than that just slowly gearing up my 80 alts – and trying to decide if I want to continue my warrior as my main in Cataclysm – or if I want to go with my old main (warlock) or a completely new one (hunter)!

    • Yep, I fell and broke my ankle in two spots requiring surgical intervention and the addition of some metal plating in my leg. While I can get up and around a bit now, I'm not going to be running any marathons anytime soon! I hope everything goes well with your next surgery–I know I was pretty apprehensive about being "put under."

      Somehow, I can't see starting TOO many alts, although this server doesn't yet have every slot filled, because I got to make room for new races! However, I do have some plans for the two that I'm working on, and I'd like 'em to be in the ballpark of Northrend by the time the expansion comes a knocking.

      • I have metal plating too! I still wonder if that means the gates at the airport will beep at me? I also broke my leg in two places. apparently you have two bones in your lower leg and I managed to break them both (why do something half-assed, right?) So got lots of metal and stuff.. and it's been bothering me a lot the past year and a half – to the point of not being able to walk properly without pain.. so my surgery is to remove some of the metal to see if it helps *fingers crossed*

        Being put under scares me to death :/

        I have a problem when it comes to the new races.. I AM out of character slots! Blizzard really needs to make me a new slot for the new races :P

        • I'll probably find out in August about the beeping. I hope not, but I'll let you know ^^

          If I hadn't changed servers, I'd be out of slots. I tend to make new characters when I'm bored just to do the starter areas and to think about how'd I'd do such-and-such with a character. One of the advantages of moving!

  3. I'm sorry to hear you broke your leg, Windsoar! :( Great post, and you're absolutely right about the evaluation period. I find myself thinking about it too, but invariably it is the people that draw me back to the game. I've never really taken a break from it, though I've been tempted at times. There's too much about it I enjoy, it always seems to outweigh the things I don't.

    • It's kind of weird being ensconced in a guild and going "of course we're doing the expansion," although I must say not having to deal with the question is nice.

  4. I know that my guild is sticking through till the expansion. It manages to sneak its self into vent every night. Although the pre-expansion slump is being felt on my server, many hardcore raiding guilds have left the server >.<

    Hope your leg gets better!

    -Anslym

  5. Pingback: Shared Topic: Conquering the Pre-Expansion Slump « Twisted Nether Blogcast

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