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14 Days And 14 Nights In Azeroth

November 7, 2011

So about a couple weeks ago when the weather started getting really cold, I couldn’t take it anymore and decided to dig out my winter clothes for the season. Out popped my World of Warcraft authenticator from one of my jacket pockets, where it had been lying in wait through the spring and summer, like some sort of weird reverse hibernation. I must have left it in there back in February or March around the time I stopped playing Cataclysm.

Perhaps serendipitously, I had received an email from Blizzard a few days before, offering me a 14-day free pass to return to WoW and check out some of the new stuff. I figured, what the hell, it’s no skin off my nose–or my wallet, for that matter.

Anyway, I don’t know what it is, but when I finally finished patching up the client again and got back in it to play, I felt really happy. No matter what I say or feel about WoW, there’s just something about that game. It’s a comfort zone, like a favorite chair with your butt groove still perma-dented in it so you can just ease right back in.

Even so, out of the two weeks, I only managed to get in about 3-4 nights. And fine, while I did a variety of activities, admittedly most of it was camping the auction house and running around Azeroth doing quests for the vanity pets that I’ve missed since I left (pet addiction strikes again). I was busy, and couldn’t really convince myself I wanted to play much more than that. I just didn’t feel the pull.

I know many who would take this experience and say they’ll never go back to WoW, but I personally don’t like saying never or closing doors to possibilities forever. In fact, what my 14 days did teach me isn’t that I can never go back to WoW, but that I can’t ever go back to it and make it my long-term MMO. I am, perhaps, doomed to return to it again and again, albeit between loooooong hiatuses, and play for short bursts at a time–even if it’s only during new expansions and when Blizzard deigns to offer me free passes.

It’s like a reunion with a former lover with whom you’ve remained friends. It’s kind of a blast getting together over coffee a couple times a year to reminisce about old times, and relive the best moments the two of you had together. Yes, there’s still that old spark but the chemistry’s gone. You both play catch up and take note of what’s changed and what has stayed the same, but anything more just isn’t in the stars.

If WoW is going to become one of those games that I revisit again every once in a while for some casual play, I’m actually quite happy with that. I confess I still do that with a lot games, with both MMOs and single-players, mostly for nostalgia purposes, even going so far as to pull out the old DOS emulator sometimes to play the games I did when I was still in grade school. When it comes to WoW, I also still have a deep attachment to my main character, and no matter how long I go between my absences, every time I see her do that stupid little “Night Elf female hop” on my character screen it still makes me smile. I don’t think that feeling will go away anytime soon.

On another note, I was shocked to see that I hadn’t been kicked out of guild when I logged back in for the first time since last winter. It was more quiet than I remembered, but friends I knew from a year ago still greeted me with gusto. Those that played the most, the ones I trusted to see on at practically all hours of the day, they’re still there. They’re the ones I think that will be there until the game shuts down. I can honestly tell they love the game, are happy with it and don’t care what anyone else says. It made me think WoW might not be a long-term game for me, but I want to aspire to that kind of contentment for anything I enjoy doing in life.

20 comments

  1. Why do you carry your Authenticator in your jacket pocket? You hang out at Internet Cafe’s or something?

    I got that 14 day free trial but assumed it was some kind of phishing attempt! :(


    • I think that was around the time we were in the middle of moving, so I was going back and forth between Jersey and Maryland every other week with my laptop, so the authenticator just gets popped in my jacket pocket :D


  2. This sounds pretty similar to my 7 day free trial with WoW, only there wasn’t anyone on in my guild when I was doing my few things. Sadly the GM position was recently assigned to someone who was never an officer in the guild before, although the rest of the officers who haven’t logged in haven’t been kicked or demoted, yet.
    I’m sad that I feel like I’ll never get back my dedication to the game, which means I won’t be willing to pay for play time. I used very little of the free 7 days I was given and had no real reason to want to log in. When I did, I mostly sent notes to in game friends telling them where to find me in SWTOR. :) I did play my low level Worgen through more of the content, but my high level characters never left Stormwind.

    I recently re-subbed for a month of Rift and it hasn’t been worth the money at all. I found the questing wasn’t at all compelling, gathering world event “coinage” for a mount that I’d only ride if I logged in for the future wasn’t an incentive anymore.
    I feel sad, but somewhat cheered by your thoughts that I might enjoy taking a walk down memory lane every once in a while in the future. I just don’t know how much that would satisfy me without long term use for in game activities or group goals.


    • Yeah, that’s it exactly. I don’t think I can give it the dedication I used to give either, that’s a pretty good way to put it.

      When I got back into the game, some of my old guildies asked how I’ve been and what I’ve been playing, I said this summer was all about the SWTOR beta for me, and some of them hadn’t even heard of it. I guess they don’t look at MMO stuff and WoW is their only game.


  3. The last time I played WoW was on a 7-day pass. I remember going in mostly wanting to talk to a friend of mine who still plays the game almost daily (she’s definitely found her place to set up camp and call home), and also to level my Goblin Hunter from mid-50′s to 85. In the end, I only got him to 75 (1-60 leveling is improved, then it feels like you walk right into concrete when Outland hits. By the middle of Northrend I just couldn’t go on).

    I didn’t end up using but maybe 2/3rds of my free time, if that.

    I agree it does have that sense of familiarity to it, though. People always say once you learn how to ride a bike, or play an instrument, you never really forget. All of the knowledge and movements are stored away somewhere in your subconscious, waiting for the day when you pick it back up. I guess the same applies to a game like WoW. It didn’t take more than a day for me to get back into the swing of my rotations, even though I hadn’t played in more than half a year.

    It’s funny that you mentioned WoW as if it were an old flame. I’ve often made the same comparison. It is terribly accurate.

    My enthusiasm for SWTOR is starting to hinder my ability to enjoy other games, especially WoW. Not necessarily because I feel like it will be superior to WoW, but more because there are aspects of the new 1-60 WoW leveling that I loved that I know SWTOR will expand on in ways that a non-story driven game would ever emphasize. For example, there was a part in my Goblin leveling that gave me a fuzzy feeling all because it gave me a sense that my character had impact on the lives of others.

    After having gone through the starting area, I made friends with a Goblin female – supposedly my assistant – aptly named “Sassy” Hardwrench. In any case, I remembered the name from questing through The Cape of Stranglethorn on another toon. Hardwrench Hideaway is a hub there, and Sassy was in charge of it. On my other toon, I never got much from talking to her. But how could she know anything about a Blood Elf that just wandered into the settlement? On my goblin, however, I wondered if there would be any sort of reaction. I wasn’t expecting it when I got there, but I was curious. Lo and behold, when I talked to her in the hub, she remembered who my character was. It’s not an earth-shattering scenario, but it made me feel like my character did things for which he would be remembered (even just with this one goblin).

    Deep in my story loving heart, I know SWTOR will have moments like these, and in much greater detail. That is unless BioWare suddenly went against their natural tendencies for the game (they always seem to place emphasis on your character affecting the world, even to the point where something you did early in the game comes back to smack you right in the face).

    Having said all that, I haven’t deleted WoW from my computer. I haven’t gone back for a sub (and probably never will), but I still haven’t removed it from my system.

    Honestly, I think I’ve come to a similar conclusion you have: WoW may be something I’ll go back to for a short time to reminisce if I have a free pass, or just to roll a trial toon, but it may never be my main MMO again.

    In the past few years, I’ve started to realize that I wanted a story driven MMO more than I could ever describe. Unfortunately, there were no alternatives that combined story with Blizzard quality mechanics.

    If SWTOR can meet that criteria, I may finally have my long term MMO home like my friend.


    • Hey, that’s really neat about the goblin in WoW! I’ve never come across a situation like that in my experience with the game, but then again towards the end I really just skimmed the quests and didn’t pay much attention to the story. Cataclysm sort of brought some of the interest back, but it was still felt a bit forced. After SWTOR, I doubt I’d be able to go back to that pick-up-wall-of-text-quest routine again.

      Thinking now, I should have gone and tried to level up my level 20-something worgen priest. I’ve always enjoyed leveling, it’s always been my favorite part of WoW, and with 1-60 being such a cinch these days, I really should have taken advantage of it.


  4. I remember my last hoorah in WoW and when i decided i’d leave my old flame alone. My ex-gf had broke up with me and left me all alone in the apt we’d shared for a year. It didnt take me a day to move my stuff to a storage and into my mom’s house. I was depressed and took to WoW. My old guild had discentigrated, but reformed up with a mix match of old elite guilds i knew of. It was a lackluster blurr of grinding colleseum dailies, getting every heroic dungeon achievement for a protodrake and mindlessly grinding through ulduar. My ex used to log in everyday, and i would scan my friends list and see where she was everyday. Picking flowers and not making use of the T7 i helped her get, or learning to play with others in groups. It was a miserable existence, until the point we actually grouped for a Naxx pug, and she smoked my alt Pally in s, in part to shite gear and the rotations i taught her for mutilation. She sent me a tell and told me maybe i should just quitso i quit them both :(


    • Man, sorry to hear that. I don’t know what it is about WoW though, but I myself and a lot of others I know have turned to it in times we feel down, and I guess having something to play and grind for helps take our minds off the shitty things.

      Your ex was mean though, the thing she said at the end :(


  5. I understand exacty where you are coming from. WoW is a perfect game to check in with from time to time, even if you aren’t going to stay. I recently did the annual pass, but I doubt that I will play that heavily. But there is a lot that I still haven’t seen, so there are plenty of reasons for me to play a little bit here and there.


    • You know, hypothetically if I had that year pass, I still probably wouldn’t play as heavily but I do think I’d try to a bit more. The thing about a 14 day pass is, I putter around the world a lot, collecting my pets or working on dailies or leveling up professions. But there is like no drive to go into dungeons or do stuff that would require a long time to accomplish, because I know I’ll be gone in two weeks and no paths that I open or gear that I get will really matter much in the long run. I’m still missing a lot of stuff because of that.


  6. I agree with you on never saying you’d go back to a beloved game. I’ve bounced back into so many of my old MMOs to think otherwise. Especially with more turning to the F2P model. Dropping in to check things out now and again is easy.

    I tend to do this more with MMOs because, unlike SP games, they are constantly evolving. Things I didn’t like 6 months ago might not be there currently? Only way to know is to try it out!

    As for WoW specifically I can definitely see how comfortable WoW can get. The one thing Blizzard did right with WoW is the UI programming. In other MMOs I am constantly running into things about the UI that just frustrate me. LotRO with it’s lack of stance-specific bars or PPU in the AH. Fallen Earth and it’s annoying need to have split-stacks dropped in the exact same bag before performing the split (and lack of PPU in the AH). City of Heroes inability to have turn-keys become strafe keys if mouselook is used.

    All of those, and more, simply don’t happen in WoW precisely because the UI can be tailored to exactly how I think it should work.

    I know this isn’t exactly what you meant but the implications of that are huge. When the UI ceases to interrupt you then you can focus on the gameplay. When you can do that, and when it is decent as it is in WoW, that’s sure to stick with you for months, years even.


    • Yeah, that’s the beauty of living in an era where there are so many MMOs to choose from. And they are constantly changing, adding stuff, etc. I don’t know how I can say for a certainty I’ll never play something again.

      And yes, I agree. UI is huge. It’s the first thing you interact with when you jump into a game, and while a bad UI isn’t always game-breaking, it’s just like first impressions in that they set the mood for the rest of your relationship with the game.


  7. I still play WoW. Been playing since its creation. I always will. I did take a time out for about 5 months this last year but fell right back into it. I use a addon that modifies the UI into something I am fond of using. I enjoy the game and the storyline. Perhaps that is why I have played so long, the story. I go in for the gear and the pets but my fondness is because of the story and the adventure of finding things that most people don’t bother with (that is until I point them out). I will probably play this game until I die or it no longer exists. An interesting thought is that if I die and the game is still around, a small part of me will be around too. Once in the server your characters (toons) never get deleted. A kind of immortality? I think its a nice thought.


    • Even if a game has an amazing UI, if there’s a mod for it I’ll still use it. I can always do with that extra customization :D

      And I’m not so much into the WoW story (even though I try to read the books whenever they come out, because some of the lore is fascinating) than I am into my own character. After so long with her, a backstory for my main has sort of developed on its own, and I’m not even a WoW roleplayer. I definitely grow attached to my characters.


  8. That’s how I play WoW. I first left WoW way back in, oh, 2005. Since then, I’ve come back often for just a month or two at a time. There’s always something comfortable and familiar about it, even after an expansion. I might spend my weeks leveling up a new character, trying out a new class or profession, exploring new areas, doing a few dungeons or going for seasonal achievements. Eventually, I’ll find I’m not bothering to log in so often and I’ll cancel my sub. In fact I usually cancel just after I subscribe.

    When I first left the game I felt jaded after months of steady play, but this way, when I do play, I look forward to it. I will definitely be buying the next expansion when it comes out.


    • Yeah, I think it’s better that way. Like you said, you’ll always have something to look forward to, which is a much better way to look at it, vs. how I’ve felt in the past with WoW. It’s so easy to burn out in that game, especially once you get to max level because so much of it becomes repetition — repetition of dailies, rep grinding, heroics, raids, etc. It’s better sometimes to just take a step back, wait for more content and story, and then dive in again.


  9. I’m sure I’ll play for a month or two every time an expansion comes out. The problem I have with WoW is that I’m much more fond of the leveling game than the endgame. I was amazed that I managed to play for three months after hitting the cap in Cataclysm, that’s pretty much my WoW endgame record. Once I ran out of PvP gear I could get with what seemed like a remotely reasonable time investment, I was once again done with WoW for the time being.


    • I think you held on way longer than I did. I remember hitting 85 on one character, and very soon after that my WoW play time started winding down. I think I started working on heroics and getting another character to 85, but at that point I asked myself if I was just playing because I feel the urge to grind again or if I was actually enjoying myself.


  10. Last time I played WoW it was more like running into an old girlfriend and finding out there was zero chemistry anymore.


    • Yeah, kinda like that. A brief fling for old times’ sake, maybe, but no possibility for anything long term ;)



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