[Editor's note: This has nothing to do with hunters or pets. Feel free to skip it.]
I’ve been trying to write this post for some time, but it keeps coming out wrong. You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting as much here lately — where ‘lately’ can mean anything up to and including all the way back to the launch of Wrath of the Lich King, depending on what you mean by ‘much’.
Part of that is my day job (a.k.a. my day-and-night job), which I’ve ramped up in deference to the recession. Some of that is other professional projects that my husband and I have voluntarily taken on in the hopes that one day we will find someone to give us massive amounts of money to implement our dreams. And a decent part of it is that … well, expansions are exhausting. I needed a break.
Recently, though, I started to get the bug again — that itchy under-the-skin something-is-missing feeling, that why-am-I-lying-awake-thinking-about-The-Barrens feeling, that if-I-can-just-finish-this-bloody-PHP-I-can-log-in-for-an-hour-or-two-and-just-putter-around-and-won’t-that-be-nice feeling. In other words, I’ve wanted to play.
But there’s been a problem … For example, last night I finally had some time cleared to sit down and play WoW. And what did I do?
Mostly I stared at the character creation screen.
I started off by logging in Mania, my main. But she’s currently nude and untalented — a sure sign I was doing pet testing last time I was on. And I just didn’t have the heart to go through retalenting right now, given that I’ll have to do it again in a week or two for Patch 3.1. Plus I can’t decide whether I want to play with my limited-edition slime or my cat Cloud, who’s been with me since level 23. Eventually I’ll need to make a decision about that. But I’m not in the mood to make decisions.
So then I looked at my alts. But I don’t even remember where most of them are, much less have any visceral enthusiasm about what they are doing.
Maybe a new character? A fresh start! Just playing around! Nothing serious! Pure fun!
Yeah … I couldn’t do it. Somehow it seems like a terrible waste to be starting yet another new character when my main has so much still left undone. I feel like I should be working on something worthwhile — like completing achievements or collecting mounts or gathering data on pets — on a character that matters, instead of futzing around with something I’ll abandon in a week.
And this is the same problem I am having with the alts, in fact. I want to play, but I also want my playtime to mean something — to be advancing me in some way or another that feels ‘real’. This is why I play MMOs instead of single-player RPGs, after all. The shared world and long-lasting community makes the time I spend on these games feel more worthwhile to me.
But there’s a vast difference between feeling worthwhile and feeling like work. The fact is that any playtime on any character is equally worthwhile — in the sense that it connects me to the experience that I enjoy — and simultaneously worthless — in that all characters will cease to exist at some point. So the fact that I’m hung up on this right now, unable to enjoy the play experience unless it somehow also feels like work, probably means I’m still partially burned out.
But I want to play! So what to do?
My husband actually helped me come up with a solution to this. We were talking about the upcoming changes to engineering mini-pets and I mentioned that one of those annoying decisions about Mania that I don’t want to make right now involves her professions.
Mania has been a dual gatherer since the Burning Crusade expansion in order to provide money to the lower level alts. But if I am serious about collecting all the mounts I can with her then she needs to become a tailor/engineer. Ironically, my Horde bank alt is already a talior/engineer — and I don’t want two of them — but I’ve already collected enough mounts on Mania that it would be a waste to switch to mount-collecting on the bank alt.
My husband said, “So the bank alt can switch professions later. Don’t worry about that now.”
Me: “Yeah, but that still means moving away from dual gathering, which means less money.”
Him: “So before you do that, you need to get another character to 80. But that’s perfect — now you have a reason to level up another character! Like … maybe your bank alt?”
Me: “No, no, that will never work. First off, the bank alt stays in town. You can’t gather in town! And secondly … I know very well that if I start a new character my chances of getting it to 80 anytime soon are nil. I always bomb out in the 50s.”
Him: “So start a death knight.”
Me: “I only play hunters.”
Him: “They get zombies, right? You’ll be like an undead hunter.”
I’ve always wanted an undead hunter. I’d kill Mania herself if it gave me the opportunity to play an undead who can tame undead beasts. And I did really love the bit in the Death Knight intro quests where you turn miners into zombies and they call you ‘Mama’ …
And so the notion grew on me, until I was almost — dare I say it? — excited. Plus, taking the short path to 80 for dual gathering helps ameliorate the weird guilt I feel right now with pure frivolous play.
I won’t be posting about my pretty little semi-insane zombie-hugging chickadee here. (Her catch-phrase: “You can’t spell ‘Zanica’ without ‘zany’! Except you have to replace the y with an i, of course. Or the i with a y, depending on which word you start with and which you want to end up with, I suppose. I didn’t mean to imply one was better than the other. And really they aren’t pronounced at all alike. And as a proper name, Zanica doesn’t have as much linguistic context as it does phonetic context, so the pronunciation is pretty important. So anyway … what was I saying?”)
But I am hoping that having an outlet that I am excited about will help me reconnect with the play experiences I’ve been missing lately.
Sometimes you need a break. Sometime you need to realign your priorities. Sometimes you need to try something completely different.