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For my main right now, World Quests have become my Garrison.

It’s one of a series of revelations that makes me realise the significance of new content to this MMO and how, like a Pavlovian Dwarf, I’m conditioned to play certain things when new ahead of everything else. The big difference between this and the problem with Warlords, of course, is that I don’t WQ alone. It is done with my husband so we can both at least feel a tenuous connection to Azeroth, in personal lives that have been particularly fraught of late. Last night however I also pulled out the Professions alt, and made some significant progress towards gathering: sneaking around in a zone that’s eight levels higher than my own level whilst happily dying to superior mobs. Then came an epiphany: why am I doing this to begin with, when it would simply be easier to level conventionally and pick up the skills on the way?

I miss danger with everything scaling to my level, and that matters.

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Part of the game’s remit in the last few years has been retention of the player base, and to do this has resulted in what many players refer to as ‘dumbing down’: the systematic streamlining of abilities and skills that before made just picking up a character an exercise in multitasking. Complexity now is afforded by your interactions within the World: hidden quests, complex storylines, processes which for many are impossible to complete without a Guide permanently open in a website. This to me isn’t how you play a game: it should be an organic process that allows you to participate at the level of your choosing without the need for addons and assistance. Except now the game itself, accepting the choices it is asking players to make, will let you buy a map in game to reveal all the in-game treasures, but not show those on anywhere except your minimap, because that would be cheating.

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A small part of me died inside at the end of this week when it became apparent that a key macro, which allows me to complete the Kirin Tor ‘Barrels ‘o’ Fun’ WQ is going to be intentionally broken come 7.2. This is however in line with the plan to prevent certain mods trivialising content by allowing players to use friendly targets as markers. I understand the mentality behind these kind of moves, but if the game wasn’t so fucking complicated to begin with, then you could argue this creativity wouldn’t be necessary either. Players only alter stuff because it is time consuming: it is why duping and boosting are the two most contentious areas of gameplay even after 12 years. Maybe we should be looking for answers that encourage those with less time to play more effectively than penalising those that play regardless, I dunno. I’m not making this game, which is abundantly obvious. I just realise that my unwillingness to do so now even when I have the ability to do so is wrapped up in the complexity of completion that I’m not sure is my job to solve.

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When you are not tied to raiding progression as means to justify your actions, the priority set is undoubtedly different: it is annoying to have to rely on randoms in Dungeons to finish quests you only have limited time to devote to, for instance, and that alone is enough to cause significant scheduling conflicts. I’m still looking at that skinning quest from several weeks ago that needs me to go do Classic Karazhan, and that will require an evening set aside to finish, so tonight will be the night, assuming I can complete everything else I need to in the Real World. When my mark of progress is no longer an Achievement but a full run of three stars for recipes? This game stops being compulsive. Skinning will be the only Profession I ‘max’ out with 3 star recipes this time around, but Legion didn’t destroy my devotion to that task. You can blame Warlords for the rot, that means retention is pointless. You lost me at Shadowmoon, guys, and this system is still not enough to encourage me back.

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My playtime now is pretty much exactly as it was in Warlords: there’s nothing to drive me to play, just things that I could be doing, and until 7.2 comes along and there’s new stuff to discover, I need my own motivation to get things done. I’ve resolved to do bonus objectives on the Hunter alt and only the minimum of questing, because it has now come to the point in my life that I don’t want to read the same story more than once, however often I can pretend it’s being played out differently. It’ll be bonus objectives and gathering all the way to 110 with the Class Quest thrown in, and tonight I’ll craft some gear for her on Pher to wear when she hits max level. By the time that happens it’ll probably be 7.2 and I’ll have new gearing options to consider anyway but then I’m back to my main for the foreseeable to begin with.

There is a lot to consider for me going forward.

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