My guild turned five years old the other day, which I considered a reason to celebrate. I've always found that "internet time" seems to operate under different principles than real time, meaning that things come and go much more quickly because it's very easy to put a new website up or to take an old one down. It's amazing for me to think of all the forums and community sites that I've been a part of over the years, the drastic changes they've undergone and how many of them have even vanished completely. With that in mind, a guild in an MMO surviving for five years is pretty damn good in my opinion, even if it's gone through a lot of changes during that time as well.
It's not all sunshine and roses however. While working on commemorating the occasion, I went through a lot of old screenshots and blog posts of mine, and it was a somewhat strange experience. Nostalgia is always bittersweet, happy memories combined with the knowledge that those events and people are in the past and gone forever. You can never go back to how it was; I know that. Yet still, looking at those memories captured in pictures and words, I did find myself wondering about why some things have changed.
For example I came across some (what I thought were) absolutely gorgeous screenshots of boss fights in action. "How come I never take pictures like that anymore?" I asked myself. The answer? Probably because I'm a ten-man healer now instead of a twenty-five-man damage dealer. Many of those pictures were taken while I was hugging the floor and people were still struggling to salvage a fight gone bad. I was only one of over a dozen dps, I was expendable for at least a while. This kind of thing never happens anymore. Healing ten-mans is srs business. If I die - or any other healer for that matter - we'll end up wiping pretty quickly, whether we want to or not. No time for distractions!
As much as I do love healing, I'm wondering whether spending some more time as dps again wouldn't be good for my sanity. I've been running random Zulroics on my hunter but no other characters lately - is that my subconscious trying to tell me something? And today a guildie invited me to join a Baradin Hold pug with my hunter and I was thrilled I tell you. Thrilled! Not having to worry about anything but blowing shit up? Sign me up!
But then, raiding as a whole seems to have lost a lot of its luster for me. I found an old blog entry about the first time my guild downed Magtheridon, and I quoted a guildie as describing the reaction on voice chat as similar to a "mass orgasm while trapped in a burning building". Compare that to our latest first kill, Beth'tilac: my boyfriend wasn't in the raid, just occasionally glancing over my shoulder from the sofa, until he suddenly said: "Oh, you got her down then!" He hadn't been able to tell because I hadn't had any kind of reaction to the kill. It's also a world of a difference compared to the nights when I'm doing rated battlegrounds, constantly giggling at some nonsense that's being talked about in chat in-between games, and keeping my eyes glued to the screen at the exclusion of everything else just to keep our flag carrier alive for a couple more seconds.
And the sad thing is, I don't even know why. Out of all the parts of WoW that I believe lost some of their appeal over time, raiding would probably be dead last. Yeah, personally I would have preferred tens and twenty-five-mans to remain separate, but Blizzard still makes some great encounters regardless. Yet somehow... something is missing. There's a definite feeling of going through the motions to it all - and not just with raiding actually.
Again, looking at those really old blog posts about how I used to spend my time in game... wow! No plans, just messing about. Log on, see if any friends are online, then do something together, even if it's just mucking about in Stranglethorn in some way. Nowadays it's: log on, do some solo activity to progress my character, log off again. I could wait for friends to do something together, but all too often that random dungeon or battleground button is too tempting.
I don't know how much of it is simply due to the game itself changing and how much is me, but it's certainly food for thought. I'm enjoying the game in its own way still, but while there is no going back in time, I still can't help but wonder whether I couldn't have more fun with it if I managed to return to my roots in at least some aspects. The problem is that it's hard to break established habits, and you can't be a true noob twice. You can't "un-know" what you already know about the game, such as all the rewards you're missing out on by choosing a less focused approach. But can you still try?