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Caution: Feelings Ahead

July 19, 2013

Dear Reader,

I’ve been toying on and off with resubbing to WoW.  I’ve found myself at the battle.net page twice in the last three days (the third day was very busy and I didn’t really have time for pining).  Both times, though, I’ve not gone through with it, leaving me feeling confused as to why I kept getting to that point and then balking.

As the decision began consuming more and more time, I decided to try to be transparent and rational about what I was feeling.  WoW has certainly pushed me away and pulled me back several times, but never has it been much of a tough choice; when I was tired of it, I stopped, and when I wanted to play again, I started.  It was simple before, but not so now.   What had changed?

I figured laying it all out would be helpful, and in a way, it was.  WoW feels like an MMO home to me, a place to leave but to return to, and that’s not changed at all.  I’m relatively familiar with the mechanics, and I’ve got a strong investment of both time and items in the game.  I like the lore, the artistic design, and the level of detail the designers have included.  Additionally, WoW has created this online personality for me, something I had neither interest in nor content for before WoW (and as I mentioned last time, have had a harder time coming up with since stopping WoW).

But is that enough?  What about fun?  Shouldn’t that be the key factor?

Well, WoW’s fun – enough.  In talking to my buddy about the decision, he pointed out that WoW, for him, had stopped being fun when he realized how much of a “police action” (meaning a very simple act) so much of the game was, and how the only real challenge, and, thus, fun, was the high-end raiding.  When he’d become excluded from that, he’d lost interest.

He makes a good point.  I’ve said before that while I have enjoyed some of the solo possibilities WoW provides, the lack of challenge means that I get bored with it before too long.  That should be easy enough to fix, though.  If I’m dedicated to challenge, then I can be dedicated to raiding, which means the police actions that go along with it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.  Besides, I spent the last several months of WoW doing dailies, gathering, and farming.  It should only be easier knowing there’s a higher purpose.

But still the hesitation remained.  I continued to think about why I wasn’t just resubbing, when finally it struck me.  I wasn’t resubbing with anyone any more.  It would be another “cold” start, where I had to start by researching guilds and building relationships, my fourth like that in fact, and I’m just not sure I have it in me to be social with strangers any more.  I’ve been bitten over and over again by “stranger danger” in a variety of game’s equivalent of LFD.

I’ve documented my WoW history well enough by now, but in quick summary

1) I started playing with my wife and buddy, but that guild died.
2) I moved to a “stranger” guild, built up my relationships there, but in the end realized I was being used to run raids without any support, which wasn’t ever going to change.
3) I quit for a while.
4) I resubbed to join my buddy’s current guild on a horde server.  By the time I was max level, that guild had died.
5) I moved to my “best ever” guild with my buddy and my wife, but interpersonal problems with the GM that had nothing to do with me forced me out of the guild.
6) I quit for a while.
7) I started afresh with my buddy and my wife on a new server with a very promising guild that turned out to be not as advertised, so my buddy quit for good.
8) I floundered a while looking for a guild that worked, eventually ending up in a completely ineffectual ally guild on a different server with a couple of local friends.
9) The horrible management of that guild meant we couldn’t get to content challenging enough to be worthwhile, so I stopped raiding.
10) I quit for a while.
11) I came back for pet battles and just bumming around, but as noted above, it wasn’t enough to sustain me.

Is there a pattern there?  I should think so, and what I learned as a result was a) buddy guilds never work out, b) stranger guilds never work out, so c) why bother?

I don’t want this to be the lesson I took away.  The community – you, dear readers – that surrounds the game is made up of so many excellent people, but I just can’t seem to get there in game.  I tried to name everyone who’s made WoW worth playing just so I had a reason to talk to each of you about it, but I got scared I’d leave someone off so I dropped the actual naming.  Know that it’s you, though, dear readers, all of you, and I greatly appreciate those conversations.

But I don’t know if it’s enough to get back into WoW for.  I truly don’t know if I have it in me to start cold again.

More thought is necessary.

Sincerely,

Stubborn (and thinking)

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. July 19, 2013 1:41 pm

    I definitely understand about it feeling difficult to “start over” when you have memories if the network you used to have. And it is likely far harder to build relationships with LFD – you essentially have to force some socialization and add people you meet as Battletag friends and then try to dungeon or quest with them at a later date.

    I do think you would like Heroic Scenarios – they’re not as difficult as normal or heroic raids, but they’re harder than LFR, make you pay attention, don’t require strict composition, only need three people total, and are a good way to meet people. Run H Scenarios with people and friend them if they’re both a decent person and decent player.

    Finally, I thought I’d give a different perspective on guilds – I’m not sure whether your experience or mine is more representative, but there is hope, I promise.

    1, I played in a few random guilds in Vanilla, but I pretty much had no clue what I was doing and never got into raiding – ran an organized BG group for the PvP rank grind near the end of Vanilla but it was a melting pot from various guilds
    2, I decided I wanted to raid in BC – applied to the best guild on my server as shadow. They wanted me to heal and I held out – shadow or bust. They accepted me a few days later, raided with them for a few weeks, then the guild completely imploded.
    3, however, I had made some friends in some other guilds and joined one of them. Wound up going from a random member to a leader of a Karazhan run to an officer within a few weeks and the guild went on to be the best on the server. Stayed in that guild for something like two years, raiding all the way through Sunwell, and quit WoW due to RL reasons halfway through Sunwell.
    4, came back near the end of WotLK – the guild from #3 had transferred to another server and wanted me to join them but they raided more than I could commit. Transferred to a different server where four RL friends were and started .
    5, something like 3 years later, is still going strong – though none of the real life friends are still playing, we’ve been able to recruit and several members of the guild from #3 came to join my guild when they needed to raid less

    In short, I’ve really only been in three guilds – the first one imploded due to drama that had been brewing within a few weeks, but I was in the other two for over two years each and had a lot of fun. Stranger guilds can certainly work – but you can also try to make friends in-game and then join that guild.

  2. July 19, 2013 1:44 pm

    Apparently the site thinks I was trying to do HTML code and ate the inequality signs along with the words between them.

    “Transferred to a different server where four RL friends were and started .
    5, something like 3 years later, is still going strong”

    was supposed to be

    “Transferred to a different server where four RL friends were and started Despotism.
    5, something like 3 years later, Despotism is still going strong”

  3. Mos permalink
    July 20, 2013 1:44 am

    I’ve had some similar experiences with both stranger and buddy guilds… hell, the player who first introduced me to the game quit the week I started playing! And I’ve bounced around a bit, getting burnt out being in a leadership position, joining a guild on the other side, joining a guild only to see it fall apart. The guild I was in the longest simply deteriorated because the best players all started having real life impede on their playing time, leaving a shell of what was once a strong guild. Combine that with the bump in raid difficulty that Cata brought and it was very frustrating. Things fall apart. I followed a friend into a more rigorous raiding guild. The friend quickly left, but the guild was not a bad fit. Still, it just wasn’t doing it for me and I left the game.

    Cut to early expansion Pandaria. I get an itch to resubscribe, but looking up all the people I’d played with before found them either scattered across different servers or no longer playing. I decided to try a fresh start; new account, new everything.

    My fresh start is on one of the more popular servers. The first guild I join is a guild that transferred over for better opportunities, and was looking to invite anyone just to raise the guild level. Not a bad fit for me, really, as a stranger joining a somewhat established guild. Unfortunately, as I reach max level (the only stranger recruit that stuck around) they transferred to ever greener pastures. Well, hell. Let’s try to find another guild.

    The next guild I join seemed like a good fit as well, and while I wasn’t even really looking to go back to raiding, I did raid with them a few times. It was fun, but then the guild leader retired, and in her absence the whole thing fell apart. My subscription came up for renewal and I quit.

    I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to the game until I saw the post on flex raiding. The first thing in my head was thinking about how that would have saved my old guild, and nostalgia fiercely kicked in. So, I resubscribed and looked for a raiding guild. I was pretty picky about it, though, and took care in finding one that I thought would be a good match. Another newly-transferred guild was looking for recruits, and something in the tenor of their spiel attracted me. After talking to the GM it felt like it had some fellow travelers. I joined. In the month I’ve been raiding with them the guild can only be described as thriving- prior to transferring they had been 6/12 in 10’s and 3/12 in 25’s (having to pug many folks for those) and now have cleared everything but 25 Lei Shen with nary a pug in sight. It’s great, and while it was a stranger guild I’m slowly building up relationships with folks. I don’t think my satisfaction with WoW has ever been higher, even compared to the halcyon early days.

    So- sorry for the long biographical post, but I think the take away here is that finding a guild that really fits you, and is healthy, is difficult, but it’s possible. Best of luck to you, whatever you choose.

    • July 20, 2013 10:34 am

      Mos,
      Nothing to apologize for; this kind of biographical data is precisely what I’m looking for. It’s hard to know whether one’s experiences are normal or abnormal without data for comparison, and it’s somewhat comforting to know that I’m not the only person who’s been bounced around like a pinball.

      With all the stable and happy bloggers out there, it’s easy to start to believe that I’ve just got bad luck and it’s not worth the effort, but perhaps that’s not the case.

      Regardless, thanks for the comment!

  4. Samus permalink
    July 20, 2013 5:01 pm

    I think there is clearly something about the anonymity, or semi-anonymity, of online games that makes people progressively less “civilized” depending on the level of that anonymity.

    For instance, if you have ever watched the streaming of Diamond 1 LoL players, you will notice games are quite cordial, even when one teammate’s bad play is clearly costing them the game. No one becomes toxic. This is partly because toxic players push their teammates to lose any game they are behind, and will never get to the top. But the top players will also tell you, they basically know all the other Diamond 1/Challenger level players. That community is small enough that they will almost certainly play with these people again many times.

    Meanwhile, I’m sure you already know how “average” LoL players act knowing they will almost certainly never see you again. How often do you really run into someone in real life that is as angry and negative as a typical LoL player? Almost never. Rather than assume there is some secret stash of horrible people I just happen to never encounter except online, I think it is actually the anonymous environment that does it to them.

    To bring it back to WoW, I think this is a spectrum of civility rather than just a “yes/no” for toxicity. WoW players may not be as bad as LoL players, but they certainly aren’t as civil as I’d expect from someone I met in real life.

    So this is why I can’t go back to WoW now. They just won’t stop their total dedication to raiding as the only end game. So I can’t do anything remotely challenging without playing with people whose personalities are (almost) all…well, I’d rather be playing with bots. Not because they aren’t mostly perfectly nice people in real life, but because of the semi-anonymous nature of the game.

    I don’t think I’m the only one that feels this way either. I think there is a severely underserved market for people that want to play games only with their friends, not strangers.

  5. July 21, 2013 5:17 am

    If the possible obstacles of a “cold start” are all or the substantial bulk of why you will not resub (as oppossed to say, you find the overall design choices in WoW wrong nowadays like me). Then there might be one tiny bit of advice I can list for you and bear in mind this comes from a viewpoint of someone who does play MMOs for the social part (hence the optimism in people^^).
    Anyway your list as to why certain guilds and in particular cold starts don’t seem to work has one flaw in it: It’s based on empiricism. That means you let what was guide you in predicting what will happen in the future and those two have no relationship with each other (E. Hume).
    So what I am essentially saying is, yes cold starts are hard but they can never be worth it, you can never find another “best guild ever” or a really good friend, if you do not try. Who says these things above that most of us might have experienced must be relics of the past? Nobody, only your fear of failing in finding any of the above.

    I think I know how important a very specific type of guild is for you by readingsome of your previous posts, but you’ll never find another if you do not try. And even if you do not find it you might find some level of peace in the fact that you tried and maybe come to terms with that WoW is no longer for you as far as guilds are concerned. And that is something positive too (albeit bittersweet)

    Bottom line as long as you feel the way you feel, keep trying and don’t give up (imo).

    Hope this helped a bit!

    PS: Your search for a guild reminds me of my search for a new MMO (maybe even the search for a new MMO in the genre). Maybe the answer is to be a bit more flexible and realizing what was in the past can’t come back and if we make some slight adjustments to what we are seeking we allow ourselves to find somethng even better. It’s a tough lesson and I have not yet learnt it but it could be the answer I don’t know.
    Maybe the answer lies in finding what one can be more flexible in and what not to find the right mixture?

    • July 23, 2013 6:53 pm

      Let me start that while I’m going to pretend a little hostility towards your comment, it actually made me feel good, so thank you.

      Still, I want to say that things like that make me want to punch philosophers in the face. The flaw with Hume’s argument is that on the whole, patterns assert themselves naturally (even the breakdown of pattern is part of a pattern), so while on an individual experiential basis, Hume’s right, on the whole, most people will get the same results to most things most of the time. Empiricism is based on pattern perception, as is virtually everything else in the world other than some schools of philosophy (and maybe deep math, I don’t know), which could be argued are based on the willful resistance to perception (which is perfectly acceptable, too, considering that there’s been plenty of brilliant philosophical statements to come out of that practice).

      Regardless, I truly do appreciate your comment, which was meant and taken to be an appropriately academic “chin up, old boy” to an English professor.

      I also tend to agree about the flexibility, and I think my gaming walkabout has helped me understand that about myself about bit better, so I hope I can bring that maybe-newfound realization back to WoW. We’ll see!

      Thanks for the comment!

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