It’s hard for me to admit to this, but I’m starting to get burnt out on playing World of Warcraft.
There’s a lot of guilt because of it. My career goals haven’t changed — not one bit. Warcraft team, I will be in you. Designing stuff for the game hasn’t lost its shine in any way, shape, or form. Just because I’m finding myself out of things to do in-game doesn’t mean I don’t want to keep imagining and planning out things that I wish I could do. But even still, I feel like a traitor, or like the entire dev team is sitting there shaking their head right now and saying “oh man, Overlord Bunny, you’re on the blacklist 5-ever” which is longer than 4-ever, don’t you know. Azeroth has been a second home to me since three months after the release of vanilla. Now it feels almost like turning my back on an entire community.
The good news is that I’m fairly certain it’s not a permanent burnout. I’ve done this once or twice before, taken a month or so off and focused on other games and hobbies, only to get The Urge™ and end up logging back in. The longest hiatus was between the end of Wrath of the Lich King and the tail end of Cataclysm, and even then I couldn’t resist its siren call, because quite frankly, Everquest II wasn’t cutting it.
In the meantime, I’m left to wonder what exactly triggered the change of attitude, from being excited to log in and spend an entire Saturday pew-pewing to practically needing to give myself a pep talk just to log in and harvest my farm.
To begin with, I’m still a little out of sorts from my 2600-mile move from Florida to California. I totally stuck the landing and am happier being here again than I ever could be anywhere else, but there’s still an adjustment period to contend with. It’s been nearly 10 years since I was last in California and a lot has changed (for the better, in my opinion). I have a real family again, since my mother and stepfather are both here. The Fiance has gone from living four hours south of me to sleeping next to me every night. And for the first time in a very long time, I actually have the energy to do things. My days of staying up till 6 a.m. and waking up at 2 p.m. are over. Nor am I afraid of leaving the house anymore; I try to find any excuse to go somewhere at least once per day.
Then there’s the job hunt. I’ve still got a load of applications in with Blizzard, but in the meantime, I’m looking for something temporary and part-time that I can actually do. Though I’m no longer taking the meds that basically poisoned me, I still have some pain when walking or standing — not crippling like it originally was, but still severe enough that if I can’t sit down periodically it will reach that point. This takes retail jobs off the table, and desk jobs around the area seem to be universally full-time, which means I won’t have enough time to work on what I need to work on in order to get my dream job. It’s on my mind constantly. As it stands now, I’m likely going to end up doing nerdy crafts and baked goods on Etsy and some local markets and hope that it brings in enough income to cover my cell phone, mercifully the only bill I have right now. Getting the Etsy store set up, however, requires inventory, and inventory requires crafting my little fingers down to the nub for the greater part of the day.
Within the context of gaming, I did a fairly stupid thing by shotgunning five characters to level 90 back-to-back. Yes, I have my Quintessential Quintet to shove in people’s faces in lieu of a wang, but when thinking of leveling yet another alt, I want to curl up in the fetal position and whimper “no moooooore!” for a week and a half. I haven’t yet experienced all of the revamped content from Cataclysm with either faction, this is true, but the idea of having to redo Hellfire Peninsula ever again is killing me, which is part of the reason that my Ultimate Fantasy Project would be to handle the redesign of all Burning Crusade content. Seriously, just shove me in front of a computer and pay me in tacos and nerdy T-shirts, and I will be your revamp-monkey. At least it’s still got more replayability than SWTOR, but that’s kind of like saying that cancer is better than AIDS.
I’ve maxed out my rep with all of the Pandaria factions. I’ve had Pandaren Ambassador since before 5.1 and its delicious commendations were released. I had exalted with Dominance Offensive and the Sunreaver Onslaught about two, maybe two and a half weeks after they came out. Sure, I could go back and farm my way to exalted with the pre-Pandaria reputations that I’m missing, but it’d require facing that old content that makes my eyes cross. I’ve done at least LFR for everything up to Thunder King, but I honestly don’t feel like I have the patience right now to continue on with it, even though my gear more than meets requirements. A big part of that is because I always loved raiding with friends, and right now a good chunk of my “minions” are on hiatus, so I’m stuck playing with strangers. I joined a raiding alliance with an awesome guild on Thorium Brotherhood after having a really great experience with them a few weeks back, but while I’m still getting settled in here, it’s hard to devote that time to sitting down and raiding, no matter how badass of a group of people they are.
Another huge part of my “meh” attitude towards raiding, to be honest, comes from my own guild. When I started Torchwood Institute, it was supposed to be for me, The Fiance, and our friends and family. Our attitude towards raiding was pretty much “we’ll get to it eventually.” It wasn’t going to be progression-based, attendance wasn’t going to be mandatory… Hell, we weren’t even sure if we’d be doing it every single week. But then a couple of old gaming buddies started getting a little more into the idea of raiding than the rest of us. I found myself watching them pull their mains out of Torchwood Institute to join progression-based guilds and suddenly the feeling became “Oh shit, if I don’t start trying to throw raids together, I’m going to completely lose them.” There’s a certain level of pressure on me now that’s started to tip the scales from “fun pasttime” to “job.” Now, under more pressure from other guild members to open up recruiting, we have a bunch of strangers in the guild who barely talk and give the impression that they’re just there for the XP and rep bonuses. One guildie in particular is constantly hounding me for special favors and titles because he’s the one who brought them in to begin with. Many nights I’ve sat there, finger hovering over the “character transfer” button, and thinking about just leaving the guild in his hands and running away to Kil’rog or Lightbringer or Proudmoore where I could start over fresh, or just give up on guild leadership for a while and join up with some friends of mine there. But then in comes that pesky guilt thing again. I convinced a handful of people who I really wouldn’t want to leave behind to re-up their accounts and transfer characters in the first place. Running out on them would be, for lack of a better term, a “bitch move.”
The server we’re on, to be honest, never felt like home to me. I rolled there in the first place because a friend of mine recommended it, swearing up and down that he’d come play with us, and then promptly cancelled his account for good before I was even finished setting up my first new toon. Uldum is apparently notorious for being a “dead server” with a crappy economy, none of which he bothered to mention, and I sometimes wonder if he was trolling me when he told me to transfer there in the first place. None of us can afford to simply transfer all of our toons off, so we’re kind of stuck where we are. There’s even more guilt now because I feel like a horrible guild master for not researching the server more thoroughly before roping everyone in instead of just taking someone at their word.
In the meantime I’ve been trying to clear out the backlog of games that I’ve got downloaded on my computer. Last year I dropped about $200 on the Steam Summer Sale, only to neglect the whole library in favor of World of Warcraft. The Fiance bought me Skyrim and all of the DLC for it at Christmas which I’ve just started to delve into in the past couple of months. I finally finished Wings of Liberty and am working my way through Heart of the Swarm. With our peripherals combined, my stepdad and I have a complete Rock Band setup, which I expect will be put to good use plus a few bottles of Shock Top. And maybe I should feel a bit more heartened over the fact that even with non-Warcraft IPs, my designer’s eye is still wide open, breaking down and absorbing everything I play and finding inspiration in the most seemingly obscure of places.