Curiosity led to me to analyse my thoughts further and I asked myself, well what did you do before? And why don't they work anymore? The answer to me, seems to be a cascade of unintended consequences that the cataclysmic changes to the game brought along peppered with a few other areas of disappointment for me as a player. Unintended consequences, usually undesirable ones, happen all the time everyday. We all have variations of stories where we fixed the water pipe in the house only to break the heater (or some such analogy - I have no clue how exactly these things work) - and it's not until this happens do we begin to see the connections between all of them.
To understand this better, I went back to looking at the things I usually like to do outside of raiding, and why they no longer offer the fun they once used to. Indulge my analysis, if you will...
So...what do I usually do outside of raiding? And why isn't it working for me anymore? And where do those unintended consequences play in?
Things to Do: My Experiences
Levelling an Alt
This is usually a great way for me to take a break from endgame things and simply relax as a lovely low level. It's also a great way to meet new people you would've otherwise never met. I levelled a shaman...all the way from 1 to 70 thus far, and my experience was rather different. I mostly quested as I liked exploring the new quests and lore and only did two or three random dungeons. It's very discouraging but I barely met a soul while questing let alone grouping up.
Levelling had a few new things added to the mix this time around - the phasing and linear questing style and while not quite as new but still recent, cross server LFD. I truly love the new quests and the fact that we can see the world progress. However, phasing had an unexpected result here...you were invisible to the few who were there as they were to you. But even if phasing wasn't an issue, this is assuming that people were questing. With the convenience of LFD, its entirely possible to stay in a capital city and dungeon your way through the levels.
I expected Archaeology to keep me occupied but instead quite the opposite happened. It turned into a tedious activity - a war with the RNG and nothing else. I burned myself out getting Tyrande's Favourite Doll and the unfortunate result now is that I have almost all the rares with a few exceptions....and all the gold in Azeroth cannot make me pursue those remaining ones.
Achievements and Titles.
These have been a lot of fun for me and although I don't take it upon myself to get all the achievements ever possible, I do have a few favourites that I would like to get. It so happens, that I've already got them as achievement seeking was a big part of my gameplay in the months before the expansion. The ones I truly wanted to get were Loremaster, Seeker, and Guardian of Cenarius (being a druid and all!). Titles like "Insane in the Membrane" and "Salty" aren't really my forte, although if they had a sleep related title I'd be on it! =P I would dearly love to get "Justicar" and "of the Alliance" but to be perfectly honest, I feel like I have a higher chance of getting a vacation home in Venice. And this brings me to the other activity I like to engage in ocassionally...
Alright, first things first. I'm not the best at this but I do like to kill some smelly orcs occasionally. I mean, who doesn't? And sometimes, I even succeed. So I gave it a shot and I'm at a loss. We had one case where all the druids were healers in the battleground...and so we had the very weird case of having too many healers? And it seems to be my sorry fate that if the universe makes a frost mage angry at me (which they usually are), I have few options but to pray and run. This is disheartening to me since in the past dying to someone meant that I learnt something about how to deal with them the next time around and got better at it. Perhaps I'm missing something but I couldn't come up with anything on how to save myself from a frost mage. Quite sad.
These are mixed bag - they offer the convenience of running dungeons any time you want at the risk of dying numerous times and being insulted by strangers. I swore off these a long time ago and the few fantastic groups I get are far outnumbered by the jerks, in my experience. And we haven't even talked about the dps who queues as a tank yet. I don't know why they do, but they do.
I made that list up there to help look at my options outside of raiding. I love my guild and our raids are immensely fun but the rest of the week seems surprisingly void of things to do. And this is a result of changes that brought in a lot of great stuff but at a cost that was unexpected.
- Phasing and linear questing had the social aspect take a huge hit. While levelling my alt there was little chance of impromptu roleplaying or grouping up.
- LFD hit the community as well on various levels. *Picks up cane and shakes it around* I remember days when I healed my way through my friends list. I found great tanks, friends and guilds that way. And while the older method of finding groups was hugely inconvenient, it did have a positive side. LFD's biggest selling point is it's convenience but it's anonymity does have an impact both at the lower levels and at endgame heroics.
- I know precious little about PvP but even to me, it seems to be the victim of balancing issues. It made me feel helpless in a way I hadn't before.
- Far from being engaging, this has turned into a tedious grind with few rewards, leaving me shuddering at the sight of a shovel.