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Why is there a picture of a Moose here, I hear you ask? Well, with the Darkmoon Faire in town, I’m in the mindset not only to fish for my underwater mount this weekend, but to get those last five points I need in Leatherworking to finally max my skill. Once that happens, I have no excuse, and I’ll have to go hunt a Moose, who rewards a pattern to make a Moose. This is supposed to be the end of a glorious journey in my Professions ‘questing’ which was, quite unintentionally, spoilt for me by someone who expressed their utter frustration at the gimmick this was as a ‘reward.’ What this made me do was stop and think about how, if I was designing this game, I’d want to end a journey that had me in tears over the depth and complexity of the task I’d undertaken with crafting.

I think, on reflection, I’d rather not have the Moose at all.

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This reward feels, at least to me, like a bit of a cynical nod by the Designers to the people they think I am: yeah, we know how much you love collecting rewards for working hard, so if this one matters enough you can work for it, right? This assumes because I bought into the ‘fantasy’ of the journey that capturing a majestic Moose is the fitting end… except I don’t. I capture a Moose to get a pattern that summons the same animal. I don’t want a gimmick as a reward. I don’t need a reward for doing the work. I’d have done it anyway, and this just feels as if it’s like a requirement to show I was patient. In effect, it’s roughly akin to being sent a statue by Blizzard to thank me for being here 10 years as if that matters to begin with. Physical manifestations of reward only work if the person concerned feels that matters. In effect, it’s to show everybody else how cool you are for doing the thing.

I don’t need to show you how cool I am. I don’t care what you think, I’m not doing this for your validation. I’m doing this for myself.

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Now, what matters most of all for me is to say I finally finished something in game with a strictly defined beginning and end. It’s why the grind to max skill on all these Professions is something I’ve religiously completed since Vanilla: it can be done. So much in this MMO is not static, is built do be deliberately flexible with goals that shift and change to maintain the sanctity of the content. This has become frustrating to me, at a point where I want to be able to plan in a limited time frame and see genuine results. It’s why some of you might have bounced in delight at the thought of Pet Battle Dungeons but I just put my head in my hands and tried not to cry. I don’t need things I can’t finish. I’m not interested in questlines that can’t be rationalised in an evening, or over several. The pain currently in not being able to get back to Legacy where so many of the mounts I need exist is only seconded by the growing realisation that as more content comes, there’s less chance I’ll even start it, because until it is trivial for me to do it alone, it won’t happen.

When you have all the time in the World, things are simply so much easier.

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I’m almost at Revered with all the Broken Isles factions that currently exist. I have one Battle Pet from 7.1 so I can access the faction it allows me to see, and I’m giving serious consideration to grinding PvP rep over time because that’s a finite goal that’s doable. I’m thinking about how I finish my remaining Legion faction to do the same. The things with a finite goal, that take an exact process to complete, are the sanity points in a World where everybody’s got their own definition of progress. I don’t need you to define what mine are, thanks very much, I’m able to do that on my own perfectly well, and that’s not changed in over a decade. All I ask is, that if we want to make Professions even better for Argus and beyond, that you don’t use carrots as the signposts at endgame.

I wanted a moose so much when I saw the skin, back in the day. Then, when it became apparent how popular it would be, Blizzard stuck it on content they hoped players would step up to for completion… except that’s not what the Moose became about. It ended up in the end as a symbol for something a long way from simply in game pixels, and I’d hoped it might teach both players and designers more about themselves… but I fear that’s not been the case. Most people just do what they need to get what they want in this world, and spent little time about consideration of consequence. When I get my moose, assuming I don’t fail the questline and give up in frustration? I won’t ride it, because in the end that skin’s become the symbol for something I don’t really believe in at all.

Rewards only work if you want them, and when you outgrow their usefulness as incentives, it’s time to think about what matters more.

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