When you have a life outside an online video game and limited playtime, it’s important to have a plan when you log in. More importantly, you have to have a reason to be there – be it arenas, raiding, or leveling up battle pets. Hell, even archaeology counts. Not having some kind of purpose leads to frustration, burnout, and walking away from the game entirely.
I actually found myself having that kind of moment earlier this week. I had a couple of days off from work, and no pressing commitments for a few hours each day. It was a sweet, sweet green light to get my nerd on and get some serious WoWing in. I had a freshly level capped DK who was decked out in a mishmash of heirloom and early 500ish gear. Time to engage Beast Mode and crush my enemies bones into sweet crystal currency!
Day One started off by running the Apexis dailies to upgrade his fighting fashion sense. I had my strategy to get the most Apexis I could in the time I had, so I tore it up. A few hours later when the clock ran out, my Death Knight had picked up several upgrades from rare mobs and random drops. I was pleased to see that his iLevel was now knocking on the doorway to mid-600’s range. This pleased me. And, so pleased, I logged off.
But just after I clicked the Exit Game button, I was ambushed. At least, that’s how it felt. I didn’t see it coming at all, probably because I’d been focused on getting quests done and measuring secondary gear stats. I had no idea what was waiting for me as soon as the game was off. But sure enough, there it was as soon as I looked at my desktop.
A single word popped into my head – Why?
“Why? Why what?” I asked my brainmush.
Why did you spend the past few hours gearing up yet another character? Why did you even log in?
“That’s a stupid question, brain. His gear was crap.”
Does his gear really matter? You’re just going to throw him in a garrison, get him treasure hunter followers, and use him to make gold. He could do that naked. Knowing you, he probably will.
My brain knew me too well. It should, being my brain and all. “Not necessarily,” I countered. “I might want to use him at some point. I need him to be ready.”
Ready for what? Running a dungeon? Face it, you log in for garrison follower missions. That’s your game. That’s your WoW. It’s like Mists of Pandaria all over again.
My stupid brain wasn’t as stupid as I thought, and it pissed me off. More than just a little bit.
Rewind back to MoP. Before I walked away from WoW for a year, my sole purpose for logging into WoW was to make gold. I’d log in, do my daily alchemy transmutes, play the AH for a bit, check the mailbox, and log off. I wasn’t even really doing anything with the gold I earned. I wasn’t saving up for anything. I was simply leveling up my bank. I needed something to do, and that was something that felt like some kind of progress.
In retrospect, that wasn’t much different than what I was doing now. Only now I was actually doing less than I was in MoP and making more gold in the process. Doing Apexis dailies, like I was doing now, just felt like busy work. To what end? To give me something to do other than farming my garrisons?
As I tend to do, I ignored my brain and dismissed the feeling as having an off day.
Day Two started off like Day One. But even before I logged in, my brain was throwing that “Why” word around. Why was I logging in? Why was I gearing up? Why was I even playing? Was there a purpose to what I was doing, or was I just going through the motions with more busy work?
Even after I started doing the Apexis rounds, that damn word haunted me. As soon as I finished the batch of quests, I stared at the exclamation marks on my mini-map. Was I really going to finish those quests? For what purpose?
I felt like Morpheus in Matrix Reloaded. Only I didn’t know Kung Fu. What I did know was Jack Shit.
Merovingian: The question is, do you know why you are here?
Morpheus: We are looking for the Keymaker.
Merovingian: Oh yes, it is true. The Keymaker, of course. But this is not a reason, this is not a `why.’ The Keymaker himself, his very nature, is means, it is not an end, and so, to look for him is to be looking for a means to do… what?
Great. Now it wasn’t just my stupid brain that was questioning things. It was my stupid Me.
As much as I loved the Matrix Trilogy (maybe not so much the third one), this was not good.
I looked at my Death Knight. This boy needed something else to do. He needed a purpose. A cause.
And this is how you come to me, without ‘why’, without power.
“Shut up brain, I’m trying to think.”
You do see how ridiculous that statement is, yes?
“I swear I will stab you with Q-Tips if you don’t zip it.”
What exactly were my options here? Brewfest was going on, but I already got everything I wanted from that holiday when I got the meta-achievement, including a purple drake that I never used. The Burning Crusade Timewalker dungeons were an option as well, but much of the gear I had from Apexis crystals were very close to what I’d get from those dungeons, and easily upgraded to be superior.
What about raids?
“Go home brain, you’re drunk.” Or was it?
Normally I wouldn’t have even given it a second thought. My computer had problems in the past with groups of people blasting away in closed quarters. It was why Ashran tended to kill me before I even saw my attackers. It was why killing Lord Kazzak was essentially a twenty second screenshot that ended with my death or another twenty second screenshot from a slightly different angle.
You changed settings. Things seem to be loading quicker now. There is nothing keeping you from giving it a try other than empty excuses.
I’m not saying it’s possible that my brain bullied me. All I know is that it was an odd sensation when I clicked the button to join the raid queue. Any apprehension I had about raiding was gone. I was a man with nothing to lose. If my computer couldn’t chug through a raid, then I’d officially run out of options and maybe look at playing something else. Even though it was LFR, I didn’t want a poor computer to make me a detriment to the other raiders.
I checked the dungeon guide while I waited for the queue window to pop. I wanted to make sure I had a hairy clue as to what I was supposed to do if and when I managed to attack a boss. From what I read there didn’t seem to be much to it. Between that and my DBM addon, I felt I might not stink up the zone too badly.
When the Enter Raid window popped up, I could feel the anxious butterflies. I was really going to do this. This thing I’d heard about in blogs and podcasts for years. I was going to raid.
Bloody Hell. I zoned in and was standing right in front of The Butcher. “Okay brain, you wanted a cause. Here’s one – don’t suck.”
Sure, fine. Now do you have any potions? Flasks? Stat food?
Well that’s just great.
Someone dropped a feast and I was all over it like, well, like an unprepped raider on a feast.
I accepted the Ready Check window that popped up in front of me. We attacked. My computer was fine. I didn’t die. The Butcher got butchered, and I even got loot! It ended up being vendored, but it was still raid loot!
After I left the raid, my DK stood alone in his garrison. I’d killed my first true raid boss, and it felt like I’d opened the door to a whole new set of options. Causes.
I queued up again immediately, signing up for the highest boss I could access – Warlord Blackhand. I zoned in again, and after knocking off some baddies I ended up getting killed in phase three of the Blackhand fight. But I didn’t care. When we won, it felt good.
I wanted more.
I knew I’d still be working on improving my gear, one way or another. But at least I’d have a reason for doing it.
I had found my Why.
Do you have your Cause? Your purpose, your reason for playing WoW? Or have you stepped away from the game because there was no cause for continuing?
Okay Internet, let’s get one thing straight. I will get Draenor flying. Don’t you worry your pretty little head over it. I just won’t get it in the next few weeks.
And I blame Kephas for that (@TheKephas).
No, not for reelz. Not entirely for reelz.
It all started when I was doing the Tanaan Jungle rep grind dance. I was working the quests, picking up Apexis crystal rewards on a character who really didn’t need the gear. “What a waste,” I thought to myself. “At least I’m getting the rep for flying.”
Meanwhile, as I and many others like to do, I had Youtube videos going in the background while I played. TheKephas videos are some of my favorite ones to play in the background because a) his videos are informative, b) he keeps it simple, and being a simple beast myself I can appreciate that, and c) his videos always feel conversational rather than instructional.
As fate would have it, I happened to be playing his video “Gearing up for Hellfire Citadel” in the background. It’s a great video, and despite the length I highly recommend that you both watch and listen to it. He discusses the best way for gearing up in patch 6.2, so naturally it’s worth checking out.
That video slammed the emergency brakes on my flying progression. Yeah, it was that good. Well, for me anyway. Like I said, I’m a simple beast.
The video in question, or Exhibit A (for Apexis – get it?):
It all seemed like a great way for a character to gear up. That got me thinking – did I have a character that I could gear up like this? At least to the 650ish iLevel?
For the giggles of it I started looking at my level 100 characters. That’s when I found him:
Oh he was terrible for all the right reasons.
- He was a fresh Level 100 that I blitzed to level cap. When I say fresh I mean just that – he dinged 100 and was tossed to the curb. Case in point: He had a Level 3 Garrison with open plots, and maybe nine followers. I hadn’t even bothered to finish the ten minute quest line that would unlock the Salvage Yard.
- His gear was putrid. He had a sub-600 iLevel, and still have gear on that was just barely above 500. He was still wearing heirloom items.
- Alliance. Nuff said.
I decided that for a few days, I would work to get him into Tanaan Jungle and see about upgrading his gear. Of course, I could wake up tomorrow and decide that this is all stupid and a waste of time. But until then, I think I’ll see what I can do.
Look at that. I’m playing an undergeared Alliance Prot Warrior. Thanks Kephas!