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It’s Not So Bad

23 Feb

Okay folks – I logged back in today.  It was only for a moment though.  I realized I’d left characters with tons of useful things (like heirloom items) sitting around in their inboxes.  No sense in giving that all back to Blizzard I suppose.  I mean – I did *earn* it after all.

Still, I was amazingly self conscious about the whole thing as I keyed in my authenticator code.

“What am I doing?”

You’re doing something simple stupid.  You’re clearing out your mailbox so Blizzard doesn’t do it for  you.  You’re transferring leadership of your alt guild back over to your buddy so that the guild doesn’t go POOF when your game time card runs out.  You’re cleaning the house before your lease runs out – quit making this out to be more than it really is.

“Okay, that makes sense, I get it.  But is that all I’m really doing?”

My inner dialog got kinda snippy with me after that.  I mean, c’mon – I logged in because I wanted to see how it felt.  I wanted to see whether or not if jumping in for five minutes would suddenly turn into some kind of “lost weekend” scenario where I wake up at the keyboard three days later with maxed professions on 2 new alts and half way through downing the Omnitron Defense System fight on a character I’ve never played before.

Yeah – no such luck.  I popped back into game and for a very short time was utterly delighted with being back in the game world again.  I danced around, emptied mailboxes and even spent a few moments testing my hunter’s dps.  The delighted wore off rather quickly and was replaced with some kind of pervasive need to log out.  No idea what that was.  I was even a little disappointed in myself because I felt like I should be able to dance back and forth into Azeroth as if it were a game that I could simply enjoy and not…I don’t know…live.

On the writing front, I’m working on cleaning up a couple of (old) pieces of fiction right now.   I plan on submitting them to the poisoned fangs and black hearts of the unsolicited manuscript editors of a couple of popular sci-fi / fantasy magazines.  I’m not particularly expecting anything to get published really, it’s more an exercise in getting back on the horse and letting it throw me a couple times.  Nothing like getting slapped upside the ego by a few soul sucking rejection letters (e-mail these days) to really rev up the commitment engine.

Say.

I like that.  The Commitment Engine.

That’s a blog name if I’ve ever heard one….

Giving up the Game

18 Feb

My name is Tomas…not Windpaw…and I’ve been WoW free for over 20 days.  The last time this happened I was in another country where the Internet just didn’t live.  Short of my time in Kosovo and Afghanistan there hasn’t been a day in the last six years that I can remember where I wasn’t either playing, wanting to play, or writing about World of Warcraft.

Six years….

In a world where commitment to well…anything…is at an all time low, a six year uninterrupted relationship with a virtual world is pretty significant.

Perhaps all the more significant because I’ve finally called it quits.  WoW and I are no longer seeing one another.  We’ve moved out, I’ve got all my concert t-shirts back and we’re both embarrassed about the whole “who gets the dog” thing.

I think for most people, this is the part of the blog post where I’m supposed to wax all bitter and despondent about how WoW has ruined my life, destroyed my relationships and maxed all my credit cards.  How WoW kept me from being me, how it kept holding me back and stifling my creativity.

So before I get much farther here let me make one thing clear.

I still love World of Warcraft.  It’s a great game.  I miss playing it.

I think it’s important to say that.  Most people, when they finally decide to cut something loose, seem to feel the need to destroy their feelings toward it as well.  They demonize it, call it bad, blame it for all of the ugly and unfortunate that wraps their lives.  Sometimes that’s all true.  More often though, it’s because they’re trying to absolve themselves of responsibility.

In this case, I knew what I was doing.  Simply put, I finally realized that I’ve been playing the game for too long and that I was playing too much.

Perspective though – lets have some perspective.

Lets put apply some of that to the phrase “too much”.

I’m not saying I was playing so much that I had forgotten about my family or ruined my career.  I didn’t become a 400 pound slab of marbled man-fat squatting in front of a computer screen, eating pork rinds and chain draining quarts of Mountain Dew while raiding six nights a week.  Nothing like that.  I just played too much.  I played too long.  I let the game become a salve of sorts that kept me from worrying about things that bothered me.

What’s kinda funny is that I really didn’t even have some defining moment where all of this came together into a shining epiphany.  It was gradual.  I think the first clue to all of this was when I started using (abusing) Blizzard’s race / faction change service.  Every couple of weeks my main characters would go to bed in Orgrimmar and wake up in Darnassus or Stormwind.  A few days later and they’d be back on the other side of the fence.  I’d be $60 bucks poorer and apparently no wiser.  Within days things would start to go stale again.

Add in my own OCD like tendencies and WoW was becoming an extension of work.  I’d get home, kiss the wife and kids, then plop down on the couch with my laptop and do my dailies.  After that I’d have to try to get into a heroic so I could make sure I wasn’t getting left behind in the gear game.  I played Tol-Barad every time it popped, not because it was worth a crap as a battleground, but because I need the honor and I needed more TB rep.

From a personal point of view, the relationships I had with people in the game started to suffer as well.  I was getting thin-skinned.  People were pissing me off constantly.  It seemed like I couldn’t get into a 5 man group without getting angry about some part of the group or feeling like my time was being wasted.  I know a lot of people complain that WoW player base has become more toxic and awful.  I don’t think so.  I think for the most part they’re as great or as lame as they ever have been.  It was mostly me.  I was getting bored and I didn’t want to be bored.  I was getting tired of playing and I was scared of what finally quitting might mean.  You know what happens when people get scared, don’t you?  Yeah, they get touchy, they get mean, they stop talking to people.

So anyway, the Army called me a few weeks back and asked me to come visit for a bit.  I did and it was a good visit.  It was a tame visit too.  No running around in the woods, no freezing, no getting wet and wondering if chow was going to be edible.  No, it was the kind of Army stuff that 40-somethings end up having to do.  Planning, putting together yearly training briefings, eating out and letting the per diem pay for it.  Boring stuff.  But each night, after working out and heading back to my hotel, I did something different.  Or more to the point, I didn’t do something.

I never logged into the game.

A day went by.  Then a week.  Then almost almost a month.  I *do* miss the game.  But I think I need to stay away for a while.  A long time ago I told all the people that mattered in my world that I wanted to be a writer.  I think I was seven then and “all the people” in my life probably consisted of my parents and the kids next door.  In a lot of ways I’ve made good on that early hope.  Sure, I wanted to be a Paleontologist and a Fireman too, but at the end of the day, I was writing stories about dinosaurs and firemen, not studying bones or hosing down the house.

My ability to string words together in some coherent fashion has played a part in every success I’ve had in my adult life.  I’ve been published, I’ve won some awards and best of all, I’ve had you Internet people tell me that  you like my stuff and that I should write more of it.  But plodding along in a blog can be just as distracting as playing a game.  Worse, it can give the illusion of progress: “Hey I’m writing here!”

The one thing that I have never really done is given myself a goal.  In fact, I can’t remember ever having goals.  I blunder into them from time to time and have had some pretty neat successes all without the benefit of goals.  But without a goal – without a target to aim at – that’s all I’ll ever do.

Blunder around aimlessly.

If anything WoW let me practice goal setting in miniature for a while.  Early on in the game I couldn’t commit to anything.  I never leveled to cap, I never raided and I never accomplished anything.  After a while, after seeing my in game friends leave my horrible stack of alts behind I decided I needed to change.  I focused on one character.  I learned my class.  I made a commitment to raid and actually showed up.  It’s kind of funny, but in a way, the grind of the game helped me work out some effort vs. reward issues I’d been having in my real life.  How?

Simple.  Nothing worth having comes easy.  Nothing.

The other thing I learned was that if I wanted something – I really needed to work for it.  That thing. That specific thing I wanted.

That’s my next job.  Figuring out what the hell I want.  What I really want.  And getting it.

So, that said, this isn’t a “So long and thanks for all the fish” kind of post.  It’s just a post.  But it’s a post with intent and one that I want to signal good things in the future.  Even if they’re not taking place in Azeroth.

See you all around 😉

Wanderlost

7 Sep

There you are, at the top of your game.  Respected, comfortable, enough money in your pocket to buy what you want.  You’ve worked hard and you’re looking forward to the benefits reaped by those that are willing to work hard, who can maintain focus.

Then it hits.  Your favorite character, un-played.  All of your achievement points.  Dust.  All of your titles.  Meaningless.  You wonder what happened.  You did what everyone told you to do.  You focused.  You achieved.  Yet there you are, standing on some windswept mesa in Mulgore on a level 5 alt festooned with heirlooms wondering where the road is going to take you next.

Ah yes.  The old wanderlust.  The altitis.  The lingering legacy of 5 years of not being able to stick with one character for very long.

Rainchaser was my longest love affair.  Yet she’s  hanging out in Ironforge these days.  She’s a NELF again…and…I just can’t stand to look at her anymore.  All that work.  Loremaster.  Seeker.  Over 6k achievement points a 310% mount and all for what?  So that she can sit around drinking beer with the dwarves.

My raiding days (such as they were) are over in Wrath of the Lich King.  Insert work excuse – insert real life excuse – insert reality as it tends to rear itself in fierce opposition to the things you want to do in game.  So it goes.  While I won’t be picking up my King Slayer title, plenty of good folks that I know, have.  My Alliance guild was the first strict 10 guild on the server to down him and for that, they should be proud.  The raid team that did it moved on a few weeks back and started up a completely new strict-10 guild.  They’re off chasing heroic achievements and Ruby Sanctum stuff.  Heck, even my guild’s B-Team has reconfigured itself after the separation and as of Monday night this week, they’re doing the 3-step with Lich-King Frozen-Pants too.  I give them a week or three of working on it before they down him as well.

But me?  It’s wanderlost time again.  My main is wallowing in a state of night elf denial and my alts are a cluttered mess of indecision and apathy.  Unable to raid due to scheduling conflicts on a CST server, so much of my game time has been spent in a rather discontented in between state.  I managed to get my very first (serious) WoW Character (Sequoia – now “Growl”, my druid) up to 80 *finally*.   He’s geared well enough for ICC but spends his time farming Cenarion Rep and killing Anzu…and Kael’ and High Priest Thekkal.  Yet I noticed a couple nights back that after picking up his first ICC-25 run and buying his first pieces of frost emblem gear, I find that I kinda want to set him aside too.

Again.

Each night, after my rep runs are done and once each old world boss has failed to give up the rare mount I repeatedly kill them for, I tend to wave goodnight at my guildies and wander back to the Horde side of the server and log into my baby Paladin.  He’s 76 now and rocking dual protection spec.  Regular Prot for leveling through the dungeon finder and Protribution for cleaving skulls in battlegrounds.  It never ceases to entertain.

Yet there’s a part of me that wonders; what happens when I get him to 80?  What happens when he puts on that last piece of gladiator’s gear?  Do I put him aside too?  Do I wander off to another alt or pull some neglected main out of retirement?

Or do I finally move on to a different game?

Hard to say.

Things I know:

  1. Starting a new ALT before Cataclysm seems…dumb
  2. All classes are going to change in Cataclysm
  3. Now is not a time for rash decisions

So – I maintain the current state of discontent.  I watch my friends raid.  I cleave skulls.  I kill Anzu again and again and again….

And I wonder what tomorrow will bring.

::windpaw note::

Headed off to do Army stuff for a few days.  Catch you all when I get back!

To the Tune of…

7 Sep

Sorry – thanks to the mouse over text in this XKCD – I can no longer enjoy poetry without cracking up.

And I can’t get the tune out of my head either….

In My Day

27 Aug

Quick thought for Friday.

When you get to the point in a game or a career where you find y ourself constantly thinking about how things “used to be” or lamenting how things have “changed for the worst” is it time to do yourself a favor – and just do something else?

So much of the WOW-blogosphere, twitter, and Trade are filled with old timers and wanna be old timers complaining about how the game isn’t what it used to be or how it’s gotten dumbed down until it’s a pointless exercise in grinding.  The other half are raging because a favorite skill or ability has changed or removed from the game (farewell volley) or because the beta (beta mind you) has their favorite class in a bit of a pear shape.

Most of that complaining is just noise of course.  But you have to wonder at the volume sometimes.  It’s just a game.  If I have to “remember when” I remember how bad playing a 1.0 feral druid used to be.  How my rogue buddy used to hand my furry ass to me in duels and how it seemed like I could never actually kill anything in pvp.

Things aren’t so bad.  It’s just a game and if  you’re not having fun, FFS go away and let the rest of us have some!

Wait…What? I Don’t Even….

18 Aug

Yeah – I know I said I quit.  Well frak that – I’m no quitter.  Yeah, yeah I changed my mind, so sue me….(please don’t).

For those of you that commented over the past couple of days.  Thanks.  For those of you that have e-mailed me directly – thanks even more.  I’ve had a lot of good advice from several of you and for once in my life I’m actually going to take the good advice instead of doing what I normally do.

‘Paw – what is it that you normally do?

Why that’s easy son, I put on my viking helmet.

The one with the propeller on top?

That very one!

Then what do you do, ‘Paw?

Why I go straight into /FLAIL mode of course!

Yeah  – so no /flail this time.  My “gotta go” post is the last flailing thou shalt see.  Though I must admit that I am wearing my viking helmet.  Yes, my desk fan is making the propeller go round right-a-round.  Seriously – what’s the point of a propeller anyway if you don’t make it spin?

You’re flailing ‘Paw….

Maybe so – but I’m having fun.  Which is something I think that I’ve been leaving behind both in game and in this blog.  That said.  Expect 45% more fun here and 50% less bitching and moaning about current content.  I’ll leave the bitching and moaning about things to the professionals out there.

What’s the other 5% gonna be ‘Paw?

Why recipes for gnome in all of its various pan-fried, baked, boiled and stewed forms of course!

Okay – back to work for this dog.  I’m turning comments off for this post though.  I don’t deserve any.  Quitters (even temporary ones) shouldn’t get comments.  Time to start earning them.

Time to Go

16 Aug

I’ve enjoyed writing on this site a great deal.  I made my very first post while stuck in Afghanistan and had high hopes of making this a place where my writing and my love of WoW as a game and social experience could interact and entertain.

Sometimes it has.

More often than not it has turned into a distraction.  A place where I vent about my life in game and out and none of it to the betterment of anyone – much less myself.

This was supposed to be a place where I wrote. Where I created stories.  I never intended to be a “WoW How-To Blog” – nor one of those character diary blogs (though I enjoy both a great deal) – I was supposed to be writing the serialized life and times of my Tauren Huntress and her faithful wolf pet.  As Negathle can tell you, where one Tauren goes – others are quick to follow.  Rainchaser and Windpaw were joined by Rain’s older sister (Tigerclaw) and complimented by the the rough edges of their shamanic younger sister (Skychaser).  I wrote a little of each of them and even spent about 10,000 words on Tiger’ as an entry for last year’s writing contest.

Then something terrible happened.  People actually seemed to enjoy the stories.  They posted nice things and told me to keep writing!

Which of course means that I almost immediately stopped.

After getting a taste of just a little notoriety back in the blogs early days I let the attention (and the difficulty) of keeping up with my writing distract me from what was supposed to be the blogs focus.  In doing that, I cast aside the 1 True Rule of Blogging (Thou Shalt Have a Focus) and dithered my way into relative obscurity with pointless posts about WoW minutia that anyone can find done 100% better anywhere else on the web.

There have been a few half hearted tries to fix this, but they have not stuck.  What has survived I am not really proud of nor intend to maintain.

Now – this isn’t Windpaw up and deciding to take his dog dish and go home.  Not a chance.  But it is time to start over.  Unlike some of my contemporaries, I figure it’s best to move on when the blog is at an all time low tide for readership.  No drama – no angst – no distraction.  Just me coming to terms with a proud project gone awry and deciding what to do next.  This is a good time for both.

Safe travels to you all.