You can’t go home again.

Plug me in, baby.

Can’t talk – I’m THIS close to hitting level 60.

Blizzard sent me a “please come back to WoW” email the other day, offering me a free week of game time.  I was sorely tempted – but eventually decided to just delete the email and move on with my life.

World of Warcraft was released in North America on November 23, 2004.  My younger brother showed it to me at launch, and my interest was immediately piqued.  Less than a month later, I picked up a copy for myself as a Christmas present, and the rest was history – I was hooked.  It wasn’t until shortly after WoW’s Cataclysm expansion came out in December of 2010 that I finally quit playing a few months afterwards, which means that I was subscribed, off and on, for a bit over six years.  That’s an immense amount of time to spend in the land of make-believe.


Vanilla login screen. Good times were had.

Back in vanilla WoW, before Dalaran was a floating city in the middle of Northrend and well before Pandaria emerged from the mist, it took dedication to get anything done.  Banding together with like-minded players into a guild was a necessity, and the bonds you formed could make a good guild both nearly unstoppable and closer than family.  Many of the friendships I forged through WoW are still strong today – I did marry my main healer, after all – and sometimes I miss playing WoW quite terribly, despite the headaches of running your own guild and everything that went along with it, such as organizing  schedules, working with new players, and running the same god damn raid over and over again to gear you and your guildmates up enough to tackle harder challenges.  Still, even with all the fond memories I built in-game over the years, I can’t and won’t bring myself to go back.

shit shit shit shit shi--- dammit.

Looks like I’m taking the rez sickness on this one.

One of the primary reasons that I finally gave up WoW – besides the fact that the subscription-based MMORPG model is an onerous relic of a bygone age – is that the game had changed in a fundamental way that caused it to no longer be fun for me.  In many ways, WoW had incorporated massive improvements over those six-and-a-half years, which made the game less of a chore to play.  WoW progressed from being something that you had to invest a considerable amount of free time into in order to make any sort of progression to a more casual environment where you could spend an hour or two in-game every night and still make progress towards your goals.  Gone were the days of having to spend time painstakingly putting a party of five players together and then manually run your character to the entrance of a dungeon, sometimes through dangerous terrain, only to spend hours furiously pounding your keyboard while you worked through incredibly challenging combat – instead, you can just use the handy Dungeon Finder tool, tick a few boxes, and sit in a queue for a few minutes before being teleported inside the dungeon with four others (possibly strangers), only to be teleported right back out once you reached the end.  Improvements such as the Dungeon Finder might have significantly cut back on “down time,” but their inclusion definitely took something away from the feel of the game.


Filthy casuals.

Back in vanilla, everything was brand new.  The rewards of indulging in your curiosity by exploring over the horizon line were palpable – adventure, excitement, and big piles of phat loot – but as the game became more and more streamlined that feeling of discovery was pared down, bit by bit, until you would spend most of your time simply waiting around a major trade hub like a main city or completing your same grind of daily quests while your queue ticked down.  Yes, the game was more accessible, but the sense of wonder had been drained out nearly completely: what was once a complex, time-consuming but rewarding job in the guise of a hobby that required high levels of dedication and stubborn tenacity to advance had instead become a linear, monotonous repeating cycle of simple tasks that was easy as pie but, ironically, felt like a job.

Up until the very end of WoW’s first expansion, The Burning Crusade, it was a pain in the ass to accomplish any sort of goal.  Whether it was reaching level cap, attaining the top of a profession tree, endgame raiding, or simply finding someone to RP with that wasn’t an immortal half-angel/half-vampire ninja assassin from the future that was the long-lost child of two major lore characters and somehow possessed a bigger rack than Dolly Parton while being more endowed than Ron Jeremy, being a WoW player was harder than a diamond-encrusted brick.  However, managing to actually achieve one of your long-term goals within WoW at that point was a major accomplishment – albeit one that had no bearing at all on the outside world – and it filled you with a hard-earned sense of accomplishment: completing a long quest line that required multiple trips through content with a party of five that was tuned to be a challenge for 10 players at a time or having the resources and tenacity to get your own nether drake mount meant something, dammit.  Now, not so much.

That’s why, even though I miss my time spent on WoW passionately, I’ll never go back.

Blackrock Depths: When you absolutely, positively, must waste 6 hours of your time.

Yes, this was me circa 2005, complete with the full Imperial Plate Armor set and a Bloodrazor.


8 thoughts on “You can’t go home again.

  1. I feel your pain. I came in when blood knights had first started. I quit after I tanked my first heroic while blind drunk.

    It just seemed like a very big waste of time that required no skill. just, you know, time.

    I haven’t gone back.

  2. February 2005. I held off until then. Then I was sucked in and lost a lot of time to WoW, but it was fun, and gave me an outlet. Then kids came (and kept coming) and I just didn’t have the time to play like I used to, and it seemed silly to pay every month for something I rarely even looked at. I quit before Cata came out. Right before MoP came out, I took advantage of a come back free thing, played KungFu Panda WoW for a little while, and then gave up again (That reminds me, I should probably axe my subscription again). It’s hard to let go of. Not really because of the game, but being a social creature, it was the people. I was in the same guild for over 6 years, and I made some amazing friends that I still hold dear today. We went through major life events together, (I even acted as an over the phone doula for one of my guildmates when she was having her second child — a week before I had E).

    As far as game playing, Skyrim kind of ruined WoW for me. There was/is so much richness to the game play that even when I’m replaying a different toon, the whole world feels different and not like I’m just grinding through the same shit with a different avatar. I’m wondering if the ESO is going to have the same kind of camaraderie as WoW did, or if it’s going to feel more like Warhammer Online.

    • I tried Warhammer Online. There really wasn’t anything there that interested me. Likewise Guild Wars 2 – it’s pretty, but it’s more like WoW methadone. The biggest thing I miss, just like you, is that great community feeling.

  3. As a Conossiour of MMOS for over a Decade (or right around that long maybe), I know what I enjoy out of MMO’s, and it’s not the comradeship so much as the expansive world I was free to expore.

    Sadly, the Social aspects never really seem to happen for me anymore. That is to say, I have too little free time to devote to the regular schedule needed to make, and keep online friends. I am horrible at maintaining RL friends these days (just ask those who still talk to me LOL).

    So when I play an MMO, I look for a game with deep exploration oriented game play (doesn’t have to be geographical exploration). I want a game where I can go out with my toon, and be a badass lone wolf.

    It’s sick, I know, to play an MMO and intentionally be a wallflower. Partly this is because real players usually bore me, they are either loot kiddies, keen on leveling absurdly fast. OR abysmal role players who write god awful fanfic’s in the guild forum about how their “Oh so dramatic” warrior princess had a bad hair day… (bad role players are fine, but like Dave said, Half demon vampire dragon ninjas who have biological ties with one of the key NPC’s and RP with God mode make me ill…).

    Then there are the REAL Psychos… Like this one dude, almost killed himself and led to the guild almost disbanding all because he was convinced he was madly in love with one of the other guild people, and was jealous when “she” would RP a romance with him in game, but wouldn’t be his love in real life, or even tell him what continent she lived on in real life (smart girl?).

    Probably the one game that grabbed me and makes me still unable to cancel, even though I don’t play often anymore, it EVE online.

    EVE’s game play is incredibly cerebral, and 100% sandbox. There are no instances of the type normal to MMO’s. The PVE content is literally only there to provide resources for players to use in the PVP/Political intrigue/Market PVP aspects of the game.

    In that game I have been everything from a humble Asteroid Miner, to a slightly more awesome Carebear NPC bounty hunter, to a badass in lawless no sec space hunting players who might be enemies with my allies, or who might have pissed off my employer.

    I even did something that if done in WOW, would get you banned from the game, but in EVE is something that is almost a feature…

    I joined a corporation early on in the game and really was a loyal hard working player… But the leaders were all lame Socialist dicks, and so nobody got to keep their loot or income beyond what they needed to keep their mining lasers running (they wanted risk free profit to build up their warships).

    The game was quickly becoming a chore and job, and I was pissed…

    So as the corporation became unstable with political bickering, I used my charm and way with words and went from lowly subordinate miner… to candidate for head of the 60 man corporation.

    I won the Debates, and the Election and took control of the corp. Under my leadership there was a brief period of prosperity, and everyone got to keep what they worked for instead of being forced to “Donate” it to the corp.

    Of course, my ultimate goal was the screw over the old leaders, and so after I made sure the “good” corp mates got the ships they wanted all these months and worked so hard for… I ran the corporation into the ground, made under the table deals with a rival pirate corp (one run by a friend who was once in the same corp as me), and had the old leaders hunted and podded (PVP killed), using the funds out of the corporation wallet.

    Just as they were freaking out and needed a strong leader to lead them to fight back my “Mom got sick, and I needed a break.” I let the former leader be the temp leader in my absence, and I played my pirate alt for a while and hunted them down myself for a while, till it got boring… I remember smiling as the corp broke up and I split the corp wallet “Evenly” between the cool players, and the dicks who tried to make it a real life (MMO) version of Animal farm with them as the pigs.

    I then officially joined the enemy pirate corp with my main character, much to the chagrin of the dicks I Was screwing over, and the venomous emails and bounty attempts on my players life were amusing.

    Bottom line, EVE is not a game you play for the phat lewts, or dungeon raids… it’s a game you play for Visceral cerebral intrigue, and white knuckle – high suspense PVP.

    It’s one of those games where you might play for a week looking for something fun to happen, building up your bank account, doing NPC missions or mining space rocks.

    Then all of that can change in 10 seconds and next thing you know your risking a weeks work on a blockade run in a no name corner of the universe with only seconds to make a decision that will mean losing that week of work, or tripling your profit.

    It’s a game where you might spend a boring WEEK planning or looking for a chance to “Whack” a rival player, finally find them, play cat N mouse for an hour looking for a chance to hit em when they are vulnerable, and have it culminate in a 60 second white knuckle firefight where you swear your heart and breath stopped when you uncloaked and fired your first torpedo…

    It’s a game that is way more than the sum of it’s programming… To a lot of people who don’t get it, they see the repetative jump travel, the repetative missions, the mining, etc… and never see it for what it is.

    An insane sandbox where you are encouraged to do everything from build the sandcastle of your dreams, or go find one being built by a little girl and kick it apart right in front of their faces.

    You can play it 100% safe and never leave high security space and only risk PVP if you break the law… or you can really play the game the way it’s meant to be played… go to low sec, or lawless space and get involved in the politics.

    I stopped playing because I don’t have time to do the latter anymore… but I miss it every day…

  4. Pingback: I have been wrong before. | Amateur Professional

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