Once an out-of-town friend was visiting and staying with us. Our friend loves sushi, and we love sushi, so naturally we took her to our favourite sushi restaurant. I tend to think that we have an approach to sushi mirrored by all of our friends but not necessarily ideally suited to sushi. To be frank, we eat the heck out of sushi. We don’t go out for it often, so when we do, we eat a lot of it. Mostly because I end up going, “Oh look, this roll has the vegetables with the other thing, and this roll has this other stuff in it, we must try them all!”
And so it went, with the three of us poring over the menu and marking off various rolls. Many, many rolls, enough that when the waitress came to take the order, I think she was a bit staggered.
“All of this?” she said.
Embarrassed, we traded looks. I said, “How much did we order, anyway?” looking around at my companions.
“Too much, I think,” the waitress blurted. It was her turn to be embarrassed, because she hadn’t meant to be quite that honest but it was all over her face. These people are being pigs with the sushi! They are going to explode.
We crossed off one roll and gave the menu back to her.
Yes, I went home feeling sushi sick that day, and it wasn’t the first time. But I can actually say truthfully that it was the last. More or less. The last time I remember having sushi I marked down all the rolls that sounded exciting. Then we got rid of at least a third of them. They were delightful, and I was full, but not stuffed. I like to think I’m learning.
I feel that way about WoW sometimes. At the end of May, I’ll have been playing WoW for two years. No, I wasn’t a “Classic” person. I didn’t raid BQL or Molten Core or AQ or any of those places. I did play this game a great deal, especially in the first year. We basically came in at the very tail end of the Burning Crusade expansion; my first character to level 70 dinged in August, before Wrath came out in November. It’s no secret that it’s something very easy to lose yourself in. Being the not-always-proud owner of six level eighty characters, I can attest that there have been times when I played the game to excess.
Two years later, I think I have a healthier balance. I don’t log in during the day except possibly for a quick heroic over lunch (I work from home). We try to keep the raiding to about three nights at a maximum. But being guild leader/officer/whatever of an active and healthy raiding guild requires some time commitment. There are days when I look at how much time and energy WoW takes and say to myself, “Too much, I think.”
Everyone’s talking about burn out these days. I’ve read good things about how to help your guild survive the pre-expansion slump. But here I’m writing about how to help yourself survive the pre-expansion slump. Here’s what I’m planning to do.
- Delegate, delegate, delegate. It’s not essential that I do every single thing for the guild myself. Ever since work has been keeping me busier our guild’s officers have been awesome about stepping up to take over guild responsibilities. One maintains the technical website stuff, one does raid sign-ups, another maintains the administrative stuff we keep track of (tier tokens, achievement tracking, etc.) It’s awesome. I’m still trying not to feel guilty about not “doing enough.” Hopefully if people ever feel I’m not pulling my weight they’ll let me know. Anyway, the point is we all share the responsibilities, and it helps to keep it fun knowing that if I don’t do something it doesn’t mean it won’t ever get done.
- Cut back. With summer looming and much of our work accomplished in ICC (we’re 11/12 hard-modes now, and we’ve got seven people their Glory of the Icecrown Raider drakes) we’re scaling back our raid days from four to three with an optional day on Sunday. Sunday will be for alt runs, old content and the like. It’ll probably mean that people might run a bit less, but I think we’re all going to be okay with that. We have heroic Arthas looking at us (or we’re looking at him?) so he’s going to be our focus, but even heroic mode stuff takes two raid days or less at this point to clear straight to Arthas. It’s not very sustainable.
- Let go of achievements. Sometimes I think the achievement system was both the most brilliant marketing thing that Blizzard ever did, and also the epitome of evil. As someone who has changed mains multiple times, I just can’t care about achievements as much as someone who knows that they love ONE class and will probably not ever change. I’ve done so many ridiculous things on multiple characters. I have three characters with max level fishing, three or four with max level cooking. I’ve done things like the pet and mount achievements, but never on the same character. I’ve resolved to only care about an achievement if it is especially relevant to a character. For example, my moonkin druid often wears the Starcaller title (naturally!) Even if I start doing more things with Vid – I’d never make a special effort to get that title. It doesn’t matter to her. I will, however, finish my Argent reps so she can be Crusader, because that’s pretty cool. I’ll have to monitor this though, because I like earning the fancy points and it can be difficult to restrain myself.
- All things in good time. Do I really have to speed-run ten heroics to get Vidyala another piece of off-spec Triumph emblem gear? I probably don’t. She’ll get the emblems eventually just from running heroics on a regular basis. Does it matter if I don’t have time one day to do a frost emblem run? It probably doesn’t. It’s pretty silly to think “I need to do this or that,” and even put a timeline on it. This is especially applicable to alts – they’ll get there when they get there. There’s no rush to gear up for new and exciting content (yet), and even when there’s new content there won’t be the same kind of rush. I don’t know about you, but I often tend to over gear content anyway by going overboard with crafted gear or heroic drops. By the time I reach a tier, the gear there is obsolete for me.
- If it stops being fun, stop. Although I don’t advocate unexpectedly disappearing without a word (I’ve had too many people do this to me, and I hate it) – it’s okay to play a bit less than you once did. I wouldn’t shirk my raid or guild responsibilities; always let people know you’ll be AFK and for how long you expect to be so – but if it’s what you really need to get excited about the game again, then do it. You’ll be better off for it. Personally I just intend to moderate my playtime a bit more and cut back on things I might otherwise do such as leveling alts or excessive fishing. I find that playing WoW a lot always makes me appreciate a walk outside more, and sometimes likewise. A day spent doing something far away from computers means it actually feels like a game when I get an opportunity to log in and run a heroic with friends. I don’t want the only sunsets I see to be the ones over Dalaran.
- Finally, keep in touch. For me the best part of WoW is the social aspect – talking to guildies, joking around on the forums, reading and commenting on blogs, and twitter. Even if I’m not in-game as much, I can still keep up with people in these other ways. It can be a nice way to talk about my favourite hobby without getting tired of it.
So, what are your plans for weathering the pre-Cataclysm doldrums? Are you going to take a little break? Level an alt? Go on vacation? Eat way more sushi than any one person ought to eat? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments, I’m sure there are plenty of things I haven’t thought of.