Sep 062010

Several people have wondered where I’ve gone, and I now have the opportunity to set the record straight. (Personal details to follow; skip if that’s not your thing.)

In my previous post, I had said that my wife had taken a bad fall. This was true…however, I left out a key element of the story. When she fell, I was raiding with my headset on, and I couldn’t hear her calling for help from the other end of the house. While she did eventually get my attention, it led to a serious, angry discussion about how WoW was dominating my life and the need for some drastic changes. During the discussion, she pointed out how I’d compromised on my sleep repeatedly, I’d lied to her about what I was doing to play WoW, and how (most importantly) I’d tried to rush our son to bed on raid nights so I wouldn’t miss the raid start time and be benched.

She asked me to quit, and after some more discussion, I agreed to quit for a month, and see how my perspective changed. No WoW, no WoW blogs, no WoW forums, nothing. I cancelled my account the next day, and have not played since (though I think I did log in once, before having a crisis of conscience and logging back out). My account expired some time ago, and I have not renewed. (Interestingly, I get 3x more phishing attempts now for my WoW account password than I used to.)

Now, looking back, I am absolutely disgusted at my behavior. Yes, I loved WoW (the minmaxing, analysis and discussion, really, more than the playing part of it), but that doesn’t excuse me one bit. I can’t believe my wife put up with it for as long as she did. Quitting WoW, however, has made my wife and I much closer; I’ve spent much of the time that I used to devote to WoW with her, and our relationship has improved markedly. (Not to mention, my son is still the coolest little guy ever, and I feel terribly guilty about how I put a game before his welfare. He’s two now, and he’ll come in my office/computer room, grab my arm, and say “Daddy…up…play?” Hard to resist that.)

I’ve realized that I am incredibly good at rationalizing my addictive behavior…after all, I didn’t PLAY WoW much, but I had 50+ WoW blogs that I was current on, I wrote guides for this blog, I analyzed WOL reports for my guild, I watched fight videos on Tankspot, I read boss strategies on BossKillers, etc. I also realized that I felt “entitled” to play WoW because I worked all day and made the money for our family…and as any working parent can tell you, when things are rough, there just isn’t enough time at the end of the day to fit in spouse time, kid time, chores, and me time, at least not realistically.

After a month of perspective of being away from the game, here’s my thoughts on a few things:

  • “Farming” for gear (random drops from instances/raids) is stupid, and it makes me angry to think how much time I wasted on repetitive content. WOTLK, currently, has 16 5-man instances. According to PUG Checker, I’ve completed 268 heroic 5-man runs. (If you count in normal runs, bugs in counting (DTK) and failed runs, I’m sure the number is over 300.) That’s 15+ runs per instance. Let’s say you can do an instance 3 times before it becomes boring…that’s about 50 hours worth of 5-man content in WOTLK. I’ve spent 200+ hours, easily.) I understand Blizzard needs to design timesinks into the game. I get that. Badges are a better way of doing that then relying solely on random drops, so this is improving, but some of the key items for improving your character (weapons, some trinkets) are only available via random drop.
  • Obsessively gear minmaxing is a huge waste of time. It’s one thing if you’re in a guild with high expectations that everyone lives up to (I hate the term “hardcore,” too many negative connotations), but if you’re in the 95% of guilds that don’t, then you’re compensating for someone else’s inability to play well, and that’s not fun after a while. For that matter, most of the fights in WOTLK were execution-based, not gear-based (excepting heroic modes, which I’ll discuss in a second), which defeats the purpose. What do I mean by obsessive? How about farming Sons of Hodir rep (in 3.0, before all the changes to make it easier) where you needed something like 1000 Emblems that sold for 3-5g apiece, or to do 5-7 SOH daily quests every day for 20+ days, to get an enchant that boosted your DPS/tanking/healing by less than 1%?
  • On that note, the daily quest thing also sucks. I HATE that WOTLK essentially says “if you’re not logging on every day to do your daily quests, you’re going to fall behind.” My understanding is that Cataclysm will go to a weekly model, which will be much better. Also, 10 OR 25 instead of 10 AND 25…awesome.
  • Heroic mode raids. I’m still conflicted in how I feel about these…obviously, perspectives vary based on guild skill and personal tolerance. I burned out badly on ICC near the end, but that was due to both it being the last raid of the expansion (why gear up if everything will be replaced?), and a guild raid atmosphere that I felt did not present constructive criticism (though this may be the ex-raidleader in me talking…it’s hard to give up that control).

So where do I go from here?

I’m not permanently done with WoW, I don’t think. It is still one of the most enjoyable and accessible games I’ve played, even if the public community can be noxious at times. Unfortunately, my orders have been changed; I will now, most likely, be heading to a unit that is deploying next spring. As such, I’m going casual. I’ll pick up Cataclysm when it releases, and I’ll have fun with the new content, but I’ll have much less tolerance for timesinks. If it wasn’t for my deployment, I’d probably be looking for an East Coast variant of Skunkworks.

The blog and forums will stick around…hosting fees are paid up through next March, and I’ll even try to write something from time to time (though probably not much before Cataclysm releases). I’ll also be happy to answer any questions people may have, though my experience will go out of date fairly rapidly. Overall, though, I’m very content. I’ve re-arranged my priorities, and my life couldn’t be better.

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