So… I’ve been around for a very long time. Since the original WoW beta, in fact (Go plainsrunning Tauren!).
Back then, I was known on the WoW Mac Technical Forums for volunteering my time helping people run WoW on their PowerPC based Macs. The lead Mac dev at the time, Tigerclaw, knew who I was well enough to even put a reference to me in the game during WoTLK:
So yeah, I’ve been here for almost the full 20 years.
In that time, I’ve clocked in over 1.4 years, or 510.7 days of play time across off of my characters. I just added it up while writing this. To be honest I’m surprised it’s not higher.
From the original Classic through The Burning Crusade, I really only played one character. Stoneblade, my Tauren Warrior here.
Between my participation on the Mac forums, being one of the main tanks in the guild “Cuties Only”, one of the leading progression guilds on Kil’Jaeden at the time, and my game math contributions to the fan site “Elitist Jerks”, I was almost always online somewhere in the WoW Community, and I took a lot of pride in doing so at the time.
When I wasn’t raiding or on the forums, I was often found just wandering around the Barrens, teaching new players how to play or taking low-level players through the Wailing Caverns for gear or EXP. I also spent a lot of time with a mage I’d met in-game named Guntrix. He eventually quit WoW during WoTLK to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces, and I never saw him again. But wherever you are, Guntrix, I still think about you often, and I hope you’re doing well.
Beyond that, I was one of the few players that legitimately raided Naxx 40 regularly in original Classic. I not only got to see it as it was originally intended, but got the full set of Warrior T3 gear. I did the Heigan Dance, wiped to the one person in the wrong polarity on Thaddius, or failed to off-tank one of the Four Horsemen… and sat in the circle while my DPS took care of wave after wave of KT adds. I could go on and on about the memories I have of progression nights and wipes with my old guild.
Though as I moved on into The Burning Crusade, I put my T3 gear in my bank, where it sat for years to come while I grinded reputation till my eyes bled. I worked my absolute butt off to get all of TBC’s rep grinds, keys, and heroic dungeons done. And keep in mind I did all of this on my warrior. Everything from Kara and T4 all the way to Black Temple and T6 to Sunwell and T6.5.
Even in raid gear, doing daily quests in Sunwell Plateau on a warrior was not fun for me. I still to this day have the errant nightmare of getting ganked by alliance hunters while doing Sunwell dailies on my T5-T6 geared warrior. It was also about that time that players were wising up to using prot pallies in Sunwell proper, so I got benched a lot that raid. Sunwell in and of itself, while a ton of fun as a hardcore raider, was something of a low point for me personally on my Warrior. In fact at that point in my WoW playing career, I had something of a growing bias against certain classes. I’d grown to hate Hunter players quite a bit for various reasons ranging from watching them screw up kiting mechanics in dungeons and raids to being ganked by them frequently around this time. Luckily I would soon see the error of my ways.
Nevertheless, I have overall very fond memories of TBC, and consider it largely the peak of my time in WoW overall. I loved every second of my time raiding in TBC. I know a lot of people go tired of doing Mt. Hyjal over and over again, and I’ll admit I felt fatigue from time to time, but overall I absolutely adored my time raiding in TBC.
When Wrath hit though, my professional life was taking precedence, and I spent less and less time in WoW as the expansion went on. Despite being the start of my more casual approach to the game, Wrath was an expansion of firsts for me.
For the first time in the game’s life, I wasn’t at the forefront of the raiding scene, and found myself raiding more and more casually as the expansion went on. For the first time I rolled an alt character, a Shaman, and played something other than a Warrior. I took up healing in my guild’s alt-run raiding group. Though despite having toons that could use them, I never got Shadowmourne or Val’anyr, nor did I ever get Deathbringer’s Will, thanks to really bad luck on loot drops. Something that still kind of bugs me to this day. But as ICC and Wrath came to a close, I found myself more aimless than ever. As Cataclysm neared, I hadn’t ever let my subscription lapse, and was feeling the burnout.
In fact I still haven’t even to this day. I’ve spent thousands of dollars on the game over the years, but I never got that 10-year thank you statue, by the way, Blizzard!
But yeah, anyway. One thing I mentioned earlier was that during late-TBC, I had a rather nasty bias against hunters. But one day I was tanking a “Pick-up-Group” (group of random players) of Steamvaults, with a random hunter in the party, and that was the day my eyes were opened. For the first time since WoW launched, I was shown what the class was truly capable of. I’d all but convinced myself that a class that could “only” fill the dps role was of limited usefulness and utility in a group setting, and this random pug player humbled me more than I could’ve ever asked for.
This random hunter I’d never met before was misdirecting, kiting, trapping, and otherwise just making my job tanking an absolute breeze without ever needing to be asked. For the first time, I realized just how wrong I’d been all this time, and I straight up apologized for my arrogance to her on behalf of all tanks right there on the spot. The fact that I can remember that PuG run of SV so clearly after nearly 18 years should say something.
Because of her, I decided to make a Hunter of my own alongside the Shaman, and played those three classes, Warrior, Shaman, and Hunter, about evenly throughout Wrath of The Lich King. To this day I still think of those trio as my own personal “core” classes. The classes I have the most knowledge and experience of in WoW overall.
Though in Cata, my “altoholism” had spiraled out of control and I was actively maintaining a max-level character of every single class in the game by Cataclysm’s End and MoP’s rise. Though admittedly, in the years since, I’ve played less of each, and more and more on just my hunter.
After Cata and MoP, I became an almost completely casual player. Everyone I’d ever met and built bonds with over the years playing had either left or disappeared, and I was less and less satisfied with where the game was heading. By MoP, I was almost entirely just a dungeon finder player. I had no drive to do much else the game had to offer, and the realization that there was always going to be a new expansion, a new raid tier, and a new goal post made me feel a sense of apathy towards myself and how hard I’d worked during Classic and TBC in terms of “attaining the end goal”. I’d had the best gear in the game for a time, but it was never permanent.
I realized that if I was going to keep putting that much effort into the game, I wanted it to be on a version of the game that was “frozen in time”. I wanted a version of WoW where I could get to the end game, get the best gear, and then keep it. Just have my character in perpetual T3 or T6 gear, and just enjoy the fruits of all that labor.
Then Blizzard announced the return of Classic servers, and I thought my prayers had been answered. From the time they’ve gone live, I’ve spent hardly any time on the current live WoW servers. I haven’t hardly touched Shadowlands or Dragonflight at all. In fact I think I have a grand total play time of the two expansions of something like an hour. My focus and my prayers have been fixated solely on Classic WoW.
As I said, I felt like my prayers had been answered, and they have been, to some degree. I’m very proud of my current T2-T3 geared hunter named Vishka on the Classic Era server. I already have almost as much total playtime on that hunter in the last couple years on Classic Era servers as on Stoneblade, my very first character that I played exclusively for almost a decade.
But what I really wanted was a TBC server. When TBC got rereleased, I went just as hardcore on the TBC Classic server as I’d gone on the original TBC back in 2006, thinking when Blizzard released Wrath Classic servers, I could pay $10 to clone my TBC Hunter just like I’d done with my Classic Era character before it. My plan was to mainly play TBC Classic for the remainder of my time on this planet playing it. I wanted to experience that time in TBC when Hunters were king.
And experience it I did. I parsed so hard on Kara and Gruul’s in Phase 1 that I was ranked between the 3rd and the 5th best Hunter on the server, and held the spot for over 6 months.
I had an absolute blast reliving through TBC. But to my dismay, I was not given the option to clone my character and keep it on a TBC Era server. At this point between the disappointment and the burnout from going so hard on TBC Classic, I put WoW down once again.
Over the last few days, I’ve thought about picking Vishka back up and raiding through ICC with him in Wrath. But… I dunno. As talk of “Cata Classic” ramps up, I’m finding myself experiencing the same sense of “never ending goalpost” apathy I felt the first time Cataclysm came out.
WoW has been a part of my life for almost 20 years at this point. I honestly can’t see myself just quitting and never looking back. To be blunt, I just wanted to put some of my history with the game down on paper in hopes that it would bring some clarity. But in a way I feel more confused than ever.
Have any other long-time players experienced this?