Remember Rades

Yesterday I found out via Twitter that Rades of the Orcish Army Knife blog passed away this weekend. 

He's still there on my blog roll, even though he stopped being a regular WoW blogger quite a few years ago. He never really quit or anything, he just moved on to other endeavours, only using his blog to occasionally post Onion-style news articles about whatever was going on in Azeroth at the time.

I can't say that I knew him well, but I knew him in that way bloggers often know each other... where they sometimes read each other's posts and occasionally leave a comment. Even if the majority of our interactions happened more than a decade ago now, I still thought of him fondly. Back in 2010 I nominated him for "best writer" for the Pink Pigtail Inn list of the year. (I wonder whether that still means anything to anyone other than Redbeard.) It's not a lot, but it's not nothing either.

So hearing the news of his passing made me sad. Death is always a gloomy affair, but even more so when the person affected was still very young and full of life. The "suddenly" in Vid's announcement indicates that there hadn't been any ongoing illness previously.

In a way I find these sorts of news even more profound when the person was a blogger. I think it's because with the way we put small parts of ourselves onto the page day after day in a way that feels quite permanent, it feels like we as people should also be around forever... even beyond that youthful sense of immortality that most of us have at some point whenever we manage to spend enough time not having to think about death.

But then something like this happens and the updates just... stop. It seems strange that his post from March this year mocking the Horde's talent for picking terrible warchiefs (as well as Activision-Blizzard's hiring choices... topical!) will now be the last thing to ever appear on Rades' blog. He was more active on Twitter, where his last update will now forever be a quip about (what I think was) his D&D campaign from a little over a week ago.

I suppose one bright spot is that with so much of what he did written down somewhere on the internet, he's left everyone with lots of tangible memories to go back to and remember him by. I went back through some of his old blog posts and it was quite a trip down memory lane. Like how his paladin alt Fabulor turned into this whole comic personality - on some posts I even found comments from my past self expressing my amusement.

I also enjoyed people on Twitter sharing their own favourite memories of him, showing off some of his post-WoW endeavours - from Vid reposting strips of From Draenor With Love, the webcomic the two of them created together for several years, to Anne Stickney highlighting his creations in Animal Crossing (also inspired by Fabulor, clearly) to a race track entirely made of beer signs he built in Wildstar.

It's clear that he was an awesome person beyond WoW and blogging, and I can only express my deepest condolences for his friends and family, for whom this must be a horrible loss. All the rest of us can do now is remember.


Classic News

Blizzard posted a "development update" yesterday, which is mostly about the next Shadowlands patch, but also contains some juicy news for Classic players.

First off, we've got confirmation that the next phase of Burning Crusade Classic will launch on the 15th of September, in a little less than three weeks. This will include the opening of Serpentshrine Cavern and The Eye, which once again makes me glad that I stepped down from progression because I haven't bothered to continue working on my Eye attunement, and if I was still a core raider the raid's opening being imminent now would freak me the hell out.

I do wonder what the overall raid team's attunement status is... there's a channel to track this on Discord, and according to that not everyone's even attuned for SSC yet, and only ten people completed their Tempest Keep attunement. This might not be 100% up-to-date, but it does make you wonder whether people's efforts will suddenly kick into overdrive in the coming weeks... or whether the guild as an entity will actually have to start taking a more active role in helping raiders get attuned than it has been.

The thing I'm looking forward to with the new phase is the introduction of the TBC group finder - which was nothing like the dungeon finder introduced in Wrath, but simply a sort of bulletin board that allowed you to display your interest in different activities in a single place without having to repeat yourself in the LFG channel every couple of minutes. I used to love that tool and got a lot of great use out of it back in the day, even if a good chunk of the community at large seemed to find it too difficult to use for some reason. This is one case where I think the way people's attitudes have changed will actually be a net positive, as I wouldn't expect modern players to have any issues with using this feature - there are even addons for Classic that already try to simulate something similar by curating information from the LFG channel as it scrolls past, but obviously having it built into the default interface will be so much better.

Aside from the announcement of the next Burning Crusade phase, the other big piece of Classic news was that they're also "working on something for WoW Classic players who’ve told us they’d like a chance at a fresh start". There were already rumours about this flying around as the Classic PTR was recently updated to host OG Classic's phase one again, but with some of the quality of life changes that were added later, such as the Chronoboon.

The popularity of the subject of fresh Classic servers is something that still baffles me a little. I did expect Blizzard to release some eventually, but we're barely finishing up Burning Crusade's first phase at this point, and the state of original Classic is anaemic. Sure, there's something to be said for the excitement of everyone starting from scratch on a brand new server, but I struggle to imagine that this will draw in a significant number of players that aren't already subscribed for one of the existing Classic products or that it will retain a healthy population once the novelty has worn off. At best it might pull people off the existing Classic era servers and leave those even more dead than they already are.

Personally I can't see myself playing on such a "fresh" server at this point beyond maybe poking my head in at launch to satisfy my curiosity about how busy it is. It has taken me long enough to level any characters in Classic as it is, plus I've come to be very put off by any pressure to rush through content to keep up with the mob, so starting over from scratch while feeling hounded to level faster to keep up with the majority of the server's progression sounds like the opposite of fun to me right now.


Strange Times to Have Fun

In terms of public perception, WoW may be in the deepest hole it's ever been in, with the perfect storm of patches taking too long for the player base's liking, unpopular storytelling decisions, and now the whole behind-the-scenes shitshow on top of everything else. And yet... I've been having more fun in retail than I've had in a long time.

Sure, having a game to play with the husband that we both enjoy to some degree is always nice, but there's more to it than that. I watched a video a few weeks ago that contained the following line after the creator admitted to really having enjoyed Warlords of Draenor, previously widely considered the worst of all WoW expansions: "If you start playing WoW, no matter how bad [current expansion] is, you're probably going to have a great time because there's fifteen years of shit to explore!" And while I'm not exactly a WoW noob, I've been away from retail for so long that yes, I'm not just sitting here on the content of one patch, I've got about six years of quests and stories that I never did when they were current to look into! And that's been fun to explore on a casual basis.

As a bonus, a couple of friends from our SWTOR guild have also had their interest in WoW rekindled, to the point that we even made a little levelling group to take through dungeons together. It's been interesting to see some of the changes that had been made since I last played... for example I was already familiar with the new versions of Scarlet Monastery and Scholomance, but I didn't know that Blackfathom Deeps and both Razorfen dungeons had also been given a new coat of paint during Warlords of Draenor. Makes the dungeon levelling experience in retail even more different from Classic.

Levellers at the end of Gnomeregan. I'm the second from the left.

It's also been interesting to see just how much of the XP gains from running dungeons are tied to choosing the "random" option. We've been queueing for each one specifically since we wanted to do them all exactly once and in order, and that results in only about half the XP that you'd get with the random bonus. About one level per dungeon still isn't bad, but less than I'd expected.

The only thing I've been struggling with is how extremely boring my character has been to play so far, which is very ironic in a game that prides itself in being all about engaging moment-to-moment gameplay and interesting rotations. I went elemental shaman since that's a spec I never really played before (for a number of reasons) and a static group environment seemed like a good opportunity to give it a try.

The problem is that whoever designed the current iteration of elemental shaman clearly gave absolutely zero thought to how it would feel while levelling. Most glaringly, you're given a secondary resource called Maelstrom the moment you choose the elemental specialisation, but with my character in my twenties I still don't have a single ability to spend that resource, so it's just a coloured bar that slowly fills up and then sits there, permanently full, while I spam the same three spells that I've had since level eleven, never getting anything interesting from levelling up. From what I can tell I won't actually get my first way of spending Maelstrom until well into the thirties, so why give me that bar at level ten at all? At least I'm about to be able to start using chain lightning...


Classic Era

When I cloned my nelf hunter to the Classic era version of Hydraxian Waterlords on Burning Crusade pre-patch day, I noted that it was kind of sad to see only 32 people online there. Three months later, seeing 32 players online feels like a good night, as there've been times when I logged on and the concurrent player count revealed by /who was in the single digits. Not that I've logged on that often.

I first poked my head into Classic era on a Sunday afternoon shortly after the split, because I suddenly had the whimsical idea that I might be able to win the Stranglethorn fishing tournament a second time without competition. As it turned out, I wasn't completely by myself - there were a few other anglers there - but as it happened I did get lucky with my casts and won anyway. That was fun.

Someone whispered me then and invited me to their guild, aspirationally called <Choose Life>, where I recognised a few names from a number of different raiding guilds. Sadly the guild hasn't been able to live up to its aspirations as far as I can tell... of the 160+ characters in it, less than thirty have actually been online in the past week - not that I can cast stones, having moved on to Burning Crusade myself. Then again, I'd never planned to make "Classic era" my permanent home anyway.

One of the people who remained active on era was a guy that used to join my guild's community raids sometimes, which is why he was still on our guild Discord. A couple of weeks ago he suddenly whispered me to ask if I wanted to come kill Azuregos on Classic era (he's in <Choose Life> too, so he knew I had a character there). I said yes because the idea had novelty value to me - I'd been interested in killing Azuregos back when I was hunting for a Mature Blue Dragon Sinew for my epic quiver, but he was very heavily camped for most of Classic.

What I didn't expect was that there'd only be five of us, with the tank being a hunter pet. I also had to switch to my paladin (whom I'd cloned too at some point) so that we'd have two healers. I remembered hearing back in the vanilla WoW days that Azuregos could be tanked by a hunter pet if the hunter was specifically specced and geared for it, but I never expected to see that in action myself.

The experience managed to be both fun and boring: fun because it was novel and weird to kill a Classic world boss with only five people, but also boring because with only five of us the fight took half an hour.

Since then I've been back to help with killing Azuregos two more times, though I'm not even sure why. A lot of the loot gets thrown away with such a small group, which feels a bit pointless, and after the novelty wore off, spamming Flash of Light for twenty to thirty minutes straight is now just kind of boring. But I guess it's a tenuous connection to the WoW Classic I enjoyed so much, plus I can't deny that it makes me feel good to be wanted for something (even when I know the reasons behind it are purely utilitarian).

More generally speaking though, the state of Classic era makes me a bit sad. It was a no-brainer that most people would move on to Burning Crusade in my opinion, but I didn't expect the servers we left behind to be quite so desolate. The cities that once bustled with crowds waiting for world buffs are now just empty set pieces, and with auction house listings barely exceeding the single digits, the player economy has effectively ceased to exist.

From what I hear from the connected server clusters it isn't quite as bad there (as mentioned previously Hydraxian Waterlords wasn't connected to anything due to its status of the sole European English RP-PvE server), and while numbers are still small compared to what they used to be, things like pugs and raiding are still somewhat feasible on other servers. In fact, I've heard some people praise the atmosphere for being so much purer and friendlier now that the only ones left playing are those who really, really love Classic era, and I can believe that. Hydraxian Waterlords already had a pretty good community as it was though.

It does make me wonder what the future will bring for Classic. Will the BC servers suffer a similar fate once Wrath of the Lich King Classic comes around? And assuming the Classic train ends with that expansion (which I'm not so sure about anymore, considering Holly Longdale's Everquest background), what's going to happen to those servers once the Lich King (or should I say Halion?) is dead?

I suppose I just feel a little disappointed that the way Classic has been going is feeling more and more like just another new MMO release, where there's big crowds on launch day, but then massive drop-off over time, and once everyone's done the content once or twice they just move on to something else. I'm not sure what I expected exactly, but I guess I thought more people would be happy to stick around and simply exist in this beautiful virtual world that they missed so much when it went away. Currently it doesn't really look like it though.


Allied Races

Are y'all ready for another episode of "Shintar talks about game content or features that people cared about four years ago but that are very much old hat by now"? Well, ready or not, here it comes.

Allied races were introduced with the Legion expansion and even though I wasn't playing at the time, I remember there being quite a bit of hubbub around their inclusion back then. They are basically different species available at character creation that (in a post-level squish world) start at level 10 instead of 1, don't have their own starting zone, and don't have unique animations but offer different skins. People love additional customisation options of any kind, and I recall cries to make pretty much everything and everyone into an allied race, something I could only shake my head at.

Accordingly, I didn't pay too much attention to the feature when the husband I started playing retail again, but the other day I realised that with us having completed both BfA and Legion at this point, I had most of the requirements for all the Alliance allied races unlocked and only had to actually go through the associated scenarios/intro quests to trigger the unlock properly, so off I went.

The Kul Tiran quest chain was honestly pretty cool, even if I was a bit exasperated by the amount of flying back and forth cross-continent that it required. The scenarios for the other races were noticeably less impressive, though the one for the lightforged draenei still resulted in a very memorable experience for me, for reasons that were probably not intended.

You see, I did this scenario on my demon hunter, who's currently level 54 without ever having set foot into Shadowlands, but is wearing the best gear you can get from Legion content. The lightforged draenei scenario scales to your level, which means that it was filled with mobs my level or one below. Should be easy enough, right? NO! A single level 53 mob in that scenario was enough to absolutely destroy me.

After a couple of deaths I quickly learned to let T'paartos, the friendly NPC I was supposed to be accompanying, do most of the fighting as he was pretty strong and sturdy anyway. But then disaster struck, when one pull resulted in several adds and I followed my gut instinct of starting to AoE, which meant that I went squish instantly. Oh well, what's another death, right?

The problem was that dying in that particular spot caused me to respawn away from my NPC friend and on top of another mob, meaning that I got killed again right away. I tried to get up again a few more times but without much success - if I managed to evade one mob, I'd just aggro another. Eventually I waited for Metamorphosis to come off cooldown before reviving again and managed to clear a little safe patch for myself. Then I slowly and carefully started making my way back to where I last left T'paartos, taking great care to never start a fight with less than full health and several cooldowns available and to never get more than one mob at a time. Eventually I made it back to him and the quest could resume.

After that I was even more careful and did okay for a while, until we got to the big end boss, who seemed to do some kind of hard to avoid/unavoidable(?) AoE that killed me in a few hits even with cooldowns up. I tried to make it back in time while T'paartos was still fighting but got delayed by more mobs in my way. While I was still busy getting lost inside the cave this was all happening in, I suddenly got the message that the scenario was complete, as T'paartos had managed to finish off the boss on his own. That guy really earned his lightforged status, is all I'm saying. My entire armour was yellow from all the deaths by the end of that, but I guess it was kind of funny.

I did make both a lightforged draenei and a Kul Tiran alt so far and quite like them. I think I'm coming around to this allied race idea... if for no other reason than that still being able to earn meaningful rewards in old expansion content is something I like, as it flies in the face of the sort of planned obsolescence model that Blizzard applies to too much of its modern content in my eyes.


Wind and Fire

Stepping down from progression raiding was an immediate relief in so far as I went from constantly worrying about what I should be doing whenever I logged in to simply thinking about what I'd like to be doing that day.

Items on the "should" list included things like:

  • Hit LFG for Mechanar and Botanica runs, to work on completing my Beast Lord set, which is best-in-slot for hunters until Black Temple or something silly.
  • Farm Primal Air to finally get my gloves enchanted.
  • Prioritise levelling my druid's alchemy to build a sustainable consumable pipeline for myself. (I said this in OG Classic but it's still true in BC - people who have a herbalist or alchemist can't really appreciate what a PITA consumable requirements can be if you can't get anything yourself but instead have to buy everything, all the time.)
  • Figure out what I need to do for my Eye attunement and work on it.

None of these are things I definitely don't want to do, but only in moderation I guess? So I'm glad that I can now just do some quests or putz around, levelling fishing on an alt without feeling like I'm not being a "proper" raider because I'm not putting in the time to make my character the strongest she could be.

One thing that had been bothering me for a while and that I really wanted to rectify was that I still only had the slow flying mount. People who only played later expansions or retail probably have no idea just how slow "normal" flying used to be in BC. It's slower than your epic ground mount! Which often means that it's not actually any faster to go as the crow/gryphon flies than to take the scenic route via a flight path or even to follow a path on the ground.

It's not so bad when everyone's in the same boat, and I remember back in the original Burning Crusade, people with epic flyers were a rare sight during the early phases. This time around though, it seemed like everyone else was buying their epic flyers the moment they hit 70, seemingly without effort. (Obviously I wasn't the only exception... but the trend has pretty much been the reverse of back in the day, in that people crawling along on basic flyers stick out as rare oddities.)

This made me feel envious and I wanted to fix it... but I'd also set myself the extra challenge to go straight for the Cenarion War Hippogryph (the only appropriate mount for night elves in my opinion), which would also require me to hit exalted with Cenarion Expedition and raise an extra 1600 gold on top of the "regular" cost of epic flying.

Free to spend some time and money focusing on this particular goal, I was pleasantly surprised to read on Redbeard's blog that the Fire Festival was a great way of making money. (I feel a bit bad linking to that post like that because it was really about something completely different and that was only a side note, but it was where I first heard it mentioned...)

And what a way it was! Just visiting beloved locations in the old world (of which I hadn't seen much since BC's launch) and clicking on bonfires to be rewarded six to twelve gold for each. I don't remember that being a thing back in the day, but sometimes it's best not to look a gift horse in the mouth. My main visited all of them over the course of a few days and racked up several hundred gold that way - I stole the flames from the enemy capitals as well while I was at it and didn't even die once. Good fun!

This just happened to coincide with a heroic Slave Pens run finally pushing me over the edge for CE rep as well, so it "finally" happened:

With that major gold sink taken care of, I checked on my alts. My mage and druid didn't even have epic ground riding yet, but I'd forgotten that the price for that had also been reduced with BC, so I was pleased to have both of them be able to afford that right away as well.

Then I just kept doing the torch tossing/catching dailies in Stormwind for the rest of the event, because I found them a fun little mini game and they rewarded 24 gold for about five minutes of effort a day. 

There are plenty of other things left for me to do besides running Karazhan with my guildies, but I'm glad to be rid of that feeling of urgency. One thing I always wanted from Classic was the knowledge that the game I enjoyed wasn't going to go away in a few months or years and that there should be no need to rush to complete your goals. It's odd how easy it's been to get caught up in the rat race anyway.


A Step Back

I think it's been obvious from my posts about BC Classic that I've not been entirely happy with it. The "problem" is that I've not been entirely unhappy with it either. Instead, my feelings about the game have been oscillating in strange ways. Some nights I'd have fun with a friend, or a really good dungeon run, and I'd think to myself: Yes, this is it! This is what I love about this game. But then I'd log on the next evening and it wouldn't be like that at all; I'd just feel slightly weird and uncomfortable and log off again. What do you do in that sort of situation?

Other people have been having their own version of Burning Crusade malaise and there's been some discussion about it on the guild Discord, and a sentiment that many people supported in that conversation was to give it time. The launch of a new expansion is always a weird period of transition and so on. And they were not wrong in that! But how long does it make sense to wait for things to just magically improve and feel better?

I was hoping that getting back into large scale raiding would reinvigorate my passion by giving the guild as a whole something to rally behind. And it did work to some extent, but sadly that feeling was only temporary for me. I told myself that I'd continue raiding for at least a month, to give it a fair chance and not make any rash decisions based on a single evening's mood. However, the longer I allowed the thought of taking a step back to simmer, the more appealing it became - until I finally told the officers that I wanted to step down from the core raiding team. I felt a little bad during the conversation we had, because when you tell someone in a leadership position that you're not having fun I think it's easy for them to feel like they're to blame somehow, but I still think that it was the right thing to do.

Ultimately, there were three main factors to my decision.

First off, redoing raids I already progressed through fourteen years ago is just not everything I'd hoped it would be. The other day I found a diary entry in which I briefly described my guild's first Magtheridon kill back in 2007. Back then I wrote: I just have to mention that my Horde guild was finally victorious over Magtheridon tonight. After getting progressively worse at every attempt during the past few weeks, we finally got him down tonight. What a turnaround! As one of my guildies put it, Teamspeak was a "mass orgasm while trapped in a burning building". 

What a contrast to our mild surprise at everyone's cube-clicking competence in 2021! And yes, you could ask: What did I expect? I knew it wasn't going to be the same. But I had hoped that it was still going to be sufficiently fun, the same way levelling and running dungeons in Classic has been fun despite of those things also being activities that I've done before. It turns out that something about raiding is different though.

You could argue (and at least one of the officers did) that it might just be an issue with tier four being a bit short and boring and that things will be more interesting in tier five for sure. After all, that has Kael'thas and Vashj! And I do have very emotional memories of those as well... but in a way, that's only more of a reason to not want to do them again. Looking at how tier four has gone, I'm honestly a bit worried about just tainting my good memories of those fights as well by seeing them go down with a whimper instead of a bang.

Which sort of leads me to my second point: the raiding atmosphere. Again, I knew that there was going to be turnover, the way there always is with a new expansion in every MMO I've ever played, and I knew that some people wouldn't get raid spots. But I underestimated just how much I'd miss certain characters because of how much they contributed to the general mood that I loved so much.

Possibly the most striking example of this has been the departure of the guild's bard and recruiter, the paladin healer in full plate that recruited me back in August last year. I knew that leadership considered him a pain in many ways: not bothering to read Discord, constantly asking redundant questions during raids, always insisting on wearing his terribly sub-optimal suit of full plate gear for the sake of RP. Apparently he was told in no uncertain terms that he didn't stand a snowball's chance in hell at a core raid spot in BC unless he was going to change his ways from the ground up. And as someone who's familiar with being in an officer position... I kind of get why that was! Plus he and I weren't even really close anyway.

And yet... without him, I never would have joined the guild. His sub-optimal gear was what gave me the confidence to try raiding with the Forks in the first place, because as he himself acknowledged: If he could get away with healing raids in full plate, there was little to worry about in terms of pressure to min-max. There was that time when I had a bit of a fight with someone on Discord and he whispered me to ask if I was okay and offered comfort through some surprisingly sensitive insight. He also had a reputation for being extremely hard of hearing and unable to recognise anyone's voice on Discord, even that of the raid leader - but I remember one evening during some post-raid chatter on voice, I said something and he responded, addressing me by name... leading to me exclaiming, "oh my god, Inquiz, you recognised me by my voice" and feeling strangely yet incredibly flattered - a particularly poignant memory with all the recent instances of people seemingly not even remembering who I am. Many of the funny memories I captured in video clips or in writing on this blog featured him as well. And now he's gone, off to heal and recruit for some other guild in his plate suit. It's strange how much even people you barely know can contribute to the comforting tapestry of a familiar environment.

And with all these people leaving, and some others joining, things change. I'm not alone in struggling with this, so I was initially going to chuck it all up to a generic fear of everything simply being different, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised it wasn't as simple as that, which brings me to my reason number three for stepping down: The guild has been taking some very clear steps towards being less casual, even if it's hard to admit for some people. No more free consumables from the guild bank, more expectations to follow rules. And there's nothing wrong with that! But I don't really think it's what I want from the game, not anymore.

I started raiding in Classic almost bristling at the thought of gathering consumables and world buffs, but as time went on and we progressed into harder content, I saw the difference that they made and decided to put more of an effort in. I felt inspired by other people's dedication and work, and soon aspired to be more like them, and to in turn lift other people up by doing things like helping out with Tribute runs when I could, even if I didn't necessarily need one myself. But I also knew that if I couldn't get my buffs or consumes one week for whatever reason, it was going to be fine. We weren't concerned with how much dps people did; we just wanted everyone to show up and follow the raid leader's instructions please.

Yet now we have rules to bring consumables, and people like to talk about dps a lot. And neither of those things is wrong, but I've realised that they're not something I want to deal with at this point in my life. Fourteen years ago bringing flasks to every raid was a complete non-issue to me and I cared about my spot on the dps meter too. But now I just feel bad when someone (anyone!) gets told off to stop being a slacker and flask up already, as I'd rather deal with people not having consumes than being told off for not having them. And having raided without live damage metres in SWTOR for nearly ten years has made me realise how much toxicity they encourage, so that I really prefer for people not to be involved in this sort of e-peening, never mind mid-combat.

I'm kind of wondering whether a gradual move towards being more hardcore is inevitable for any kind of guild that manages to stick around for a certain amount of time. As content gets harder, games kind of force you to evolve with that increased difficulty or be left behind - and Burning Crusade raids are definitely a step up from Classic. The Forks did become at least slightly more progression-focused on our journey to and through Naxx as well - and it was the same thing for my old Burning Crusade guild back in the day. Being a complete noob myself and constantly improving my own gameplay alongside everyone else, it was certainly satisfying for me too at the time.

The problem is, I've been through this whole song and dance before. I didn't come to Classic for that. I kind of stumbled into raiding because the guild's atmosphere was so great and the company meant so much to me. They needed a hunter and I felt that I was being helpful by coming along. I was hoping that we could just continue hanging out in the same kind of chill raid environment that we'd had before. When I agreed to new rules like bringing full consumables to every raid it didn't feel like a big deal, but considering the ease with which we've killed everything, it seems that was about as necessary as worrying about world buffs in Molten Core - the exact sort of situation I'd been keen to avoid ever since I first heard about how people raided in Classic. The moment I realised that I'd kind of become what I used to despise was really quite eye-opening to me. Maybe more preparation will be needed to down bosses later on... but considering the limited amount of time I'm willing to devote to Classic in general, I just don't want to be spending most of it worrying about farming/preparing for next week's raid.

There are still many good people in the Forks, and I've certainly not disliked any of the raids I've been to. Any of the three major issues I just discussed probably wouldn't have caused me to quit progression raiding on their own, but everything put together is just... meh. I'm in a place in my life where I have so many things vying for my attention that reserving seven hours a week for something that's merely okay does not strike me as a good use of my time. I was willing to go the extra mile and raid in two MMOs at once last autumn because it didn't used to matter if I was feeling a bit grumpy one evening... in a Classic Fork raid, I'd usually be smiling or giggling about something or other within five minutes. People still make me smile sometimes, but not as much - after all, some of the players that were the funniest to me have been victims of the downsizing or disappeared for other reasons. Overall, progression raiding in BC Classic has felt too much like simply going through the motions to me... and that's just not something I've got time for anymore in my hobbies.