I haven’t given up on the blog here and I’ve been meaning to post for awhile and every time I sit down to write I just got…distracted. I couldn’t even tell you by what – just that I’ve started this post probably no fewer than five times, and I somehow couldn’t manage to find the words that fill the page. I know it’s not the best of excuses, but none the less it is what I’ve got to offer. I’ve given it a lot of thought and I don’t think I’m quite ready to be done with this blog. I probably won’t post with as much frequency as I once did, and my topics may vary more than they have in the past (although, they were pretty wide spread to begin with!). So, I am sure you are wondering why, if I am going to keep blogging, I haven’t posted in a month. The truth is that after we stopped raiding, I spent a lot of time not really doing any gaming. I’d log in, and then decide I’d rather be doing something else – which meant I’d log right back out. And I’m not going to lie, there was a few weeks that I questioned if I’d even keep logging in.
Adjusting to the Casual Side of WoW
If I am being honest, once my raid schedule was gone, and subsequently my obligations in the game, I felt a little lost. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself. I knew that I had a whole laundry list of things that I wanted to accomplish, yet when I logged in I felt…displaced. The only real goal I had was to have fun. And yet it seemed so abstract and convoluted and I questioned if it was even possible to meet that goal anymore.
The truth is I was simply having a hard time adjusting to no longer being part of something that defined my WoW career for eight years. I didn’t (and don’t) have regrets about it – I just didn’t know where I fit in anymore. How to spend my time or what I wanted to do with that time. This, subsequently, meant that I was finding other (less confusing) things to do with my free time and spending less time in WoW while I worked it out in my head-space.
It took me some time, but eventually I realized that stopping raiding wasn’t closing a door for me – but rather it was opening about one hundred other doors. All of the sudden I had all of this free time to do whatever I felt like doing, and this realization was freeing. It was like someone turned on a light bulb over my head, and all of the sudden I was making lists of things I wanted to accomplish in WoW and started checking those things off those lists.
And the best part? Everything is on my schedule.
If I want to log in and play, I can. If I’d rather sit down at watch 4 hours of Buffy, I can. And it is…liberating (in its own way). I guess it just took me a bit of time to be comfortable with this new found free time and work out, in my own way, how WoW now fit into my (suddenly open) schedule. I will admit, making the adjustment was more challenging that I thought it would be. The adjustment of more free time was immediate and welcome, but the adjustment of figuring out how new WoW fit into my life was not as seamless as I would have thought.
Making New Memories
One of the things that I did after I stopped raiding was to finish out challenge modes with Beru. It was challenging, fun and at times frustrating (Um…you died. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t my fault. But maybe you should check and get back to me!). The entire experience was amazing and I think will probably be in my top three WoW memories of all time, right up there with finishing my legendary and killing C’thun. There are a number of reasons for this – but a big part of it was that I was able to do it with some of my favorite people in the game. I know people always say it’s the people you play with that define your experiences in the game – and this particular experience completely reinforced that for me.
I went from being unhappy, feeling like a failure and being made to feel terrible about myself almost nightly to once again being exhilarated and confident. The experience probably did more for my confidence as a healer, and a player, this expansion than anything else – and in an expansion where druid healing was beyond frustrating it was a much needed boost in both areas. And the people I spent my time with were simply amazing – truly some of the best players I have ever had the experience to play with, in both skill and attitude. When I look back at it years from now, I guarantee that I will remember the four other people in this group and file it away as one of the best things about my WoW career.
In fact, I enjoyed the experience so much I am planning to do a second (and third!) round of challenge modes. This next set I am going to run on my shaman, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the differences in strengths between the two classes. Challenge Modes teach you so much about yourself as a player and push you to the limits of your class, that I can’t recommend them enough. If you think you might be even remotely interested in them, you should find a group and give them a go! Even if you are intimidated – don’t be afraid! There will be (a lot of) wiping, and there will be pulls where the tank is dead before you could even think about tossing out a heal. But they require strategy, organization and team work, with the end result being having fun and finding success; everything an MMO should be about. It certainly has been one of the highlights of this expansion for me and I am more than happy to offer advice or answer any questions to anyone who is trying (or struggling) to get into them. I may write more about them later, but for now all I will do is encourage everyone to consider participating in them.
As I mentioned above, one of my biggest problems with dropping raiding from my schedule was feeling a bit directionless. And, truth be told, it was one of the hardest things for me to accept and adjust to and I’m still not 100% sure that I have completely. However, one of the things that I realized is that I am a very goal oriented person. Which is pretty much true in all aspects of my life. I’m a planner, I like defined goals, I like timelines and deadlines and do some of my best work under pressure.
As such, I really struggled finding my place in the game and how I now fit into WoW – and subsequently the druid community that had become as important to me as the game itself. I think it was those last few challenge modes that finally got me out of my funk, and made me realize the game is now about what I make of it. Which will take some getting used to, but doesn’t mean that I can’t still enjoy it. And so I set some goals for myself.
I wanted to finish the safari achievements and have been slowly capturing my way through Azeroth. I wanted to finish the cooking and fishing achievements and have been working on them. I finally have an alt to level 90 and have been enjoying playing it, and even have plans for my next one. I got to level this one with Brade – something I missed out on at the start of the expansion – and is time together that I wasn’t aware how much I missed. I am catching those rare spawns (hello minfernal!) and working through a list of adventures. And, while it took me awhile to get there, I realized those things are enjoyable and productive ways to spend my time. I may not be getting progression kills and fancy titles or mounts, but I am comfortable with where WoW fits into my life right now.
I won’t lie, sometimes I miss raiding. But at the same time, I don’t miss what I had to give up to get there. And it’s very hard to reconcile those two things into a happy medium. We are starting a very casual raid with 5.2 that I am looking forward to running. It won’t be anything on the cutting edge of progression, and I would be very surprised if we saw a single hard mode – but it will be fun, playing with people that I truly enjoy (yes, even you Dendrite!). And I’m looking forward to it.
Right now I would place my state of mind as “content”. I am happy logging into the game. I am enjoying the activities, group and solo, that I am participating in. And I enjoy that I have the flexibility to say “I don’t really feel like WoW tonight”.
I don’t really feel like WoW Tonight
So…what are you doing with all the free time, Beru? (I can hear you thinking it from here!)
Well, I’ve been watching more TV – although this has tapered off some as time progresses. I am completely hooked on Nashville, and am about halfway through Season 3 of Buffy. Both are quite good, although Season One of Buffy was moderately painful to watch and get into. While I don’t want to become a couch potato, it is nice sometimes to just veg. And Brade and I have been catching up on some much needed vegging.
We have been cooking more. It’s nice to not have to do a week’s worth of shopping and pre-prep meals for raid nights. We can play it by ear, and stop at the store on the way home or go out for dinner or a movie mid-week. And that is something I’ve been rather enjoying. I enjoy not rushing home to sit down at the computer, but instead taking my time with no schedule to follow. I don’t regret that we did these things to be able to raid on an East Coast schedule – but I really enjoy the freedom we have in this area the most, I think.
I’m still reading, although not as much as I thought I would. I blame the vegetative state we’ve been enjoying! I suspect as time passes I will pick up the reading. Before I played WoW I would go through one to three books a week. But right now I enjoy picking up my book as a nice filler when I have a little bit of free time. I’m almost finished with the most recent JD Robb book and am debating what I should read next. Probably the new John Grisham thriller! I can’t help it, I’ve been with him since A Time to Kill and I’ve enjoyed all his writing (good and bad)!
We’ve been playing more board games, which is something I talked about getting more involved with before we stopped raiding. And we’ve made more time for game nights with friends, which have been wonderful for me. We are branching out socially a bit due to this hobby, and I’m looking forward to exploring this a little more, especially since not having many local friends was something that made me hold on so tightly to WoW and I am glad that we are meeting some new local folks (several through WoW, even!). I’m still really enjoying the boardgames, and have recently picked up a two player card game called Netrunner that someone on Twitter recommended to me. We haven’t had the chance to play it yet, but I’m looking forward to it as soon as Brade’s current project finishes and we have a little more free time in the evening.
Overall, I’ve been enjoying things.
Both in the game and out of it. It took me some time to get used to WoW without raiding, and I wasn’t sure I was going to make it, but right now I can say I feel like I’m in a good place with the game. And in a great place with life outside of the game. I’m not sure if anyone else has any tips to offer for wayward raiders who are struggling with the change of pace into a less structured approach with WoW – but the one thing that I think I can offer from my own experience is that the sooner you realize the game will be what you make of it, the sooner you will be able to find your place again. And it may be that place doesn’t include WoW at all. But either way, it is important to remember that you control what happens. And I’m happy that my immediate future still includes WoW and looks to do so for some time to come.