This German word literally translates into "gate-closing panic" and if the internets are to be believed, it originated in medieval times, when peasants were afraid of the city/castle gates closing before they could make it inside, leaving them outside where it was unpleasant and dangerous. Nowadays it's used to express a fear of being left out or more specifically, of being afraid of not having enough time left to achieve one's personal goals.
I'm looking forward to Cataclysm, I really do, but as it's creeping closer I also find myself suffering from a little bit of Torschlusspanik. Up until now every WoW expansion has been purely additive, adding new content but not taking the existing one away. Sure, game mechanics have changed and Blizzard has removed some items and quests (like the Amani War Bear or the Alliance's Onyxia attunement quest chain), but as a general rule, most things were here to stay once they'd been introduced.
Cataclysm will change that and overhaul the old world big time. It's a bold and exciting move for sure, but... there is also a small part of me that doesn't like it. With Auberdine destroyed, will I never again get to experience a certain tale of tragic love? With Thousand Needles flooded, will I never again get to hurl myself off a huge cliff to test my faith? Maybe I should roll some new alts now to appreciate these quests one last time? But my main is still chasing some leftover quests all over Azeroth and Kalimdor, I need to do them now before they go away or I'll never get to see them at all! And oh, my Alliance priest is not that far off becoming a Loremaster of her faction as well, I wonder if I should... but oh god, not enough time!
This goes hand in hand with the fact that I've actually somewhat enjoyed these last couple of relatively quiet months in WoW. Don't get me wrong, I've experienced the lull and some boredom at times as well, and you'll find plenty of mentions of me wishing for the Cataclysm to come soon on this blog. Yet at the same time, the lack of new content and general slowing down of the game also took me back to an earlier time when I played the game more casually and still had fun on my own time.
The thing is, I think WOTLK has been an extremely hectic expansion. It's not just people running three dungeons an hour instead of one, but also things like the introduction of more daily quests than ever, often featuring very unique rewards, like the jewelcrafter's tokens or the cooking awards - I felt that these put a lot of pressure on you to do those dailies every day, since there was no other way to get these items and if you passed on a day of doing them, it basically meant falling behind and never being able to catch up, precisely because you could never do more than one per day. The ever-improving emblem rewards for five-mans also kept putting new carrots in front of my max-level alts to work on improving their gear, even if I had no plans to raid with them. As a result I spent a lot more time chasing better and better rewards at all times instead of smelling the roses or levelling new alts.
For comparison purposes, I started BC with one character at the old level cap and a few low-level alts, and ended it with five at the new cap. My main was the only one who truly participated in any kind of endgame, so any alts felt "finished" rather quickly and I could get started on something new. Throughout the entirety of WOTLK on the other hand I only managed to level two additional characters to eighty, and one of them had already been in Outland by the time the expansion hit. With the emblem rewards it was hard to feel like any alt was ever truly "done", leaving me with little time to invest in anything else.
Basically, I realise that it's part of the nature and even the appeal of an MMO that it never truly ends, but sometimes it's still nice to get the feeling that you've reached all of your in-game goals and are done for at least a while. WOTLK rarely allowed for that kind of respite for me, except during the last couple of months, where I found myself once again just marvelling at the world, trying out new things or engaging in activities that I hadn't found the time for in a while, because for once there was no point in worrying about emblems or raid progression anymore. But now the Cataclysm is coming and makes me fret once more about having to complete certain goals soon - or else! And of course the expansion itself will also introduce even more daily quests and even more zones to explore, and so on and so forth...
Okay, even I thought that last sentence sounded a bit whiny. Am I really complaining about getting new content to play with? In a way, I guess. As I said at the beginning however, on the whole I'm still very much looking forward to the expansion. I just have to acknowledge that there's also a part of me that's actually not that keen on too much change. Sometimes just wandering around the world you already know and not feeling terribly driven by anything at all can be a good feeling too.