disconnect

As many of you will know, I used to be the GM of a little guild called Eff the Ineffable (and before that War Within a Breath). When I burned out on WoW in general and Cataclysm in particular, I ended up co-GMing a SWTOR guild in the interim. Then I left SWTOR to return to WoW and obviously gave up any claim to leading the SWTOR guild. Now, it’s been several months since I’ve been involved in the leadership of any guild and I’m still trying to come to grips with what that means.

I don’t know if it’s just me being unable to fully let go, or if this is something that many people experience, but I’m finding the process of transitioning from “leader” to “peon” to be oddly difficult. There’s a lot of aspects that keep coming up and they honestly never occurred to me before.1

Finding the other side of the coin

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you may recall some of my more colorful rants about several of the difficulties inherent in being a GM. There’s a lot of shit that I’m relieved to not have to deal with any longer. What I didn’t anticipate is how there’s a flip side to the things I hated and it’s that flip side that I feel a bit bereft without.

I once complained that I couldn’t log on without having a half dozen tells from people who urgently needed to tell me something. I don’t miss that. But I do miss feeling connected. I do miss the flowchart I had in my head that could map all the relationships between not only myself and each individual in the guild, but also between the individuals themselves. When I was a GM, I knew who respected me, who hated me, who was best friends with whom and which members were most likely to get into the occasional heated squabble with each other. I knew who was central and who was an outlier; which people would remain loyal to the guild despite setbacks and difficulties and who might cut and run at the earliest signs of trouble.

Part of that was being a GM and part of that was spending several years with a somewhat stable group of the same people. Now I am neither in leadership nor do I have a long history with anyone in the new guild, except the few people who followed me there to hang out. So I’ve been struggling with feeling completely disconnected with my guild as a whole and that’s a strange feeling when I’ve spent the past four or five years being central by virtue of being in charge.

The reasons I feel disconnected

I’m the biggest part of the problem when it comes to this only reason for this disconnected feeling I have in regards to my place in the New Guild. I convinced myself before I even started that the best thing I could do would be to keep my head down and my mouth shut and just try like hell to do my best in any guild group situations.

It’s kind of a lot of stress and while I know that I have only myself to blame for it, I find I have a difficult time relaxing. I wouldn’t say that I’m not being myself with the New Guild. I’m just being the painfully reserved version of myself, unable to contribute to any discussions without over-thinking my words for so long that by the time I feel I have them in the right order and with the proper tone, everyone else has already moved on.

And… you guys know how I’m neurotic, right (cue sounds of feigned surprise: WHAT? Really? YOU?!)? Yeah, that hasn’t changed at all over the past several months. It’s one thing to say I’m going to try to learn to not give a fuck about what people think and it’s another thing to make a good pretense at not giving a fuck. But actually not giving a fuck? I think that will always be out of my grasp.

It was different when I was a GM. Because there wasn’t any pressure to be just me and hope that people liked me well enough. I wasn’t just Alas. I was Alas the GM and wearing that hat was like slipping into yet another different version of myself – one that could be as brash and rude and derpy and sarcastic as I was capable of being and totally get away with it.

Alas the Peon is another story altogether. Alas the Peon is much closer to who I actually am behind the avatar and even the writer of these words on the blog. Alas the blogger or Alas on Twitter can and do say pretty much anything that comes to mind without worrying too much about what people think. That Alas can trust that if people are reading the blog or following on Twitter that it was choice they made to do so. Alas the Peon in a new guild is besieged with doubts that anyone other than the GM wants her there at all.

Isn’t it funny how all those versions of me are true to me but all it takes is a situation change to throw me completely off my stride? I envy people like At who are just always themselves and are never tripped up by fears of who might be watching.

On timing and structure

But there’s been another contributing factor to the disconnect and while it’s also entirely my own doing, I didn’t realize until a few days ago that it was getting in the way. As previously mentioned, I do my dailies in the morning while I am at work. You know who else is on during the day? Not very many people. And from all I can tell, those few who are on are also engaged in trying to get their dailies done.

By the time I get home at night, I’m done with WoW for the day. So I make dinner and eat and then park my ass on the couch and work on my frightfully enormous cross stitch project with the television on in the background. All of which is to say that during the potential peak times of guild activity, I am nowhere to be found.

Between that and raids getting cancelled the past two weekends, I’ve had virtually no interaction with anyone in my guild for nearly three weeks. At least until yesterday when my GM was also on during the day and organized some Scenario runs. I was so awash in a flood of positive emotions from having that interaction that I even queued in LFR later that afternoon after also taking Vidyala up on a general invitation to come kill Galleon.

While LFR totally killed my desire to be around other people for a while, it was a far more interesting day in WoW than any I can remember having in recent history.

The plan to connect

So I guess that I like that my guild is mostly pretty quiet, but even though I’m the most seriously introverted person I know, it seems that I do still need to get some interaction out of my time spent in game.

Exposure is going to be key, because I’ll never stop being painfully reserved if I never get comfortable enough around these people to carry on a normal conversation. With that in mind, I’m letting go of my decided preference to do dailies in the morning with less competition (it helps that I’m down to only needing Shado Pan and August Celestials) and will be getting online in the evenings instead.

This should also please poor At, who tries to do a handful of dailies with me in the mornings before we go to work, but who is horribly behind because he chooses to spend time with me in the evenings and doesn’t have the luxury of being able to play at work. No wonder I’ve felt a lingering guilt regarding his lack of progress in reputation grinding.

I don’t know whether or when I might get over over-thinking everything I say in the context of the guild. I’m sure I’ll always carry with me some great or small concern about how others are perceiving me. But that’s always going to be the case because I can’t fathom a version of me that could ever be so carefree. But if could relax a bit and figure out how to just be less uptight in this situation and this guild and this context? Well, that would be excellent indeed.

Wish me luck?

  1. Not going to get into it in this post, but one of the changes in being a peon that has really thrown me is in relation to this blog. I’m not in leadership any more and it’s difficult to write about leadership when you’re not actively doing it. I have an irrational fear that it would either come across as pompous or as a criticism of my current GM
Posted in Leadership, Raiding, Real Life, Thoughts and Ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Three years. Sort of.

If you ignore that I took a break (or tried to quit you this blog), it’s been three years that I’ve been blogging here. Sort of.

Recapping this past year seems a bit silly since I was absent for much of it. And as I look back, I see a lot of personal sadness lurking in every corner. I suppose that’s appropriate, as I have a great deal of sadness lingering to this day.

But I don’t want to get into those things. I don’t even want to make this post a big deal because it’s not the post that’s been trapped inside my head for the past few weeks. This is not the post that I’m a bit afraid to write and publish.

This is just a post to say hey, look at that. It’s been three years since the call to write again became so strong that I couldn’t ignore it. Three years since I discovered the marvelous WoW blogging community. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, even though at times it has been difficult and painful.

And here’s to my next year. I hope it shines a little brighter and with greater consistency.

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I have a number of questions

And that number is two:

1. How on earth did the DPS warrior contrive to DIE in the first 10 seconds when he managed all of 7k dps?

2. Why can’t I sustain my initial burst damage of 70k dps? /pout

As a bonus third question, how did the hunter manage to do less overall damage and dps than the tank? Who is lazy and undergeared. I can say that. He’s my husband.

I’m puzzled and unwilling to run HH much more.

But then I already have my pony

 

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A lack of deep thoughts… or shallow ones

You know what I’ve been doing since I last griped about dailies? Yeah. More dailies. No griping today though. I’ve beat that dead horse as much as I am going to.

Actually, I’m pleased to say that I have finished up a reputation grind or two. Today was the last day I did all the Order of the Cloud Serpent dailies, and I really look forward to not having to use up my bandages and fish up golden crap carp every day. Especially since for the last three or four days I’ve finally unlocked and added Shado Pan and August Celestials to my daily rounds.

The Klaxxi and Golden Lotus are creeping up to the midpoint of revered and I have about another week of both of those. Ditto for the Anglers, though they’re the ones I ignore if I’ve reached a point where I just can’t bring myself to do one more set of dailies.

For all of that, gear is coming along slowly. I have been having what may be easily qualified as the worst possible luck with drops in any raid or dungeon I hit. But I’ve been saving my VP up and am going to give something an upgrade before my next raid. All depends on what, if anything, I get out of LFR this week.

I’m addicted to wowjuju.com and their lovely reputation calendar. I’m also digging the buff I get every day before embarking on dailies. It makes my Draenei self feel human again.

Aside from all the work I dump into my main, I sometimes take an hour or two to level an alt. My monk is in her early 20′s and enjoying healing…. as much as she can when being subjected to the vagaries of LFD. Franquility hit Outland and level 61 yesterday, discovering the cruel way that Blizzard will give you flight form at 58 but withhold the ability to fly until 60. I call shenanigans.

And that’s it. A boring update. But then again, all my days are pretty much the same and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.

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Give us this day our daily rant

You know how, in romantic movies, there is often a scene where both of the lead characters reach for the same item and brush each other’s hand? They then look at each other with surprise and their raised eyebrows swiftly morph into warm smiles and telling blushes. They have the same taste in obscure literature/bands/food. It’s love.

Running WoW dailies is just like that, with the small exception being that when two people go for the same thing at the same time, it’s more likely to end in raised swords and fireballs to the face. Or a lot of cursing.

Totally romantic, right?

I honestly don’t normally have to deal with very much of that sort of thing, since I usually do my dailies in the morning and there are only a handful of other people out and about at the same time. Normally, dailies are peaceful.

Thanks to maintenance today, they were very much not my normal dailies. For one thing, it took me a full extra hour to get through all of them and this was at a time of day when I don’t have nearly as many work interruptions to contend with. And it took longer because, unlike what seems to be about 90% of my server’s population, I’m not actively out there trying to be an asshole about it.

But after today, I’m a little closer to ripping up my “Basically Nice Person” card and getting on board the asshole train. Somewhere around the fifth time I had someone come and pick up a quest item I was after (eggs, vegetables, you name it they stole it) while I was busy fighting the mob that had prevented me from just sauntering over and grabbing it, I snapped.

Fine, I snarled at the screen. Let’s see how you like it!

Then I proceeded to follow around the horde DK who had stolen my egg and snatched every single one of his. I cackled madly while doing so because it felt so good to be evil. I’m pretty sure he went home crying.

…except that none of that happened. I fantasized about it and that’s far as it went, because I don’t see the point in adding to the overall problem.

So here I am, impotently pissed off at the absolutely selfish and juvenile behavior that I’m seeing from nearly everyone out there in my neck of the woods. It’s enough to make me wish that there was some way to take the MMO out of my RPG, because the community isn’t an asset when they’re mostly being asses.

To the one Panda Monk who backed off from my vegetables once you saw that I was after them, thank you for being the one ray of light in what was otherwise a terribly daily grind.

To the people who have to deal with dailies at peak times every day, I’m so sorry. I will cut you a lot more slack when you complain about how long they take.

And to tomorrow, may the morning be maintenance- and realm restart-free so I can regain some sanity as I go about my business.

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Rage against the VP cap

After putting in a solid week of being faithful about doing all my dailies every day, I’ve found that’s about enough to hit the VP cap a few days before the weekly reset. I am, much like Lady Catherine De Bourgh, most seriously displeased.

Don’t get me wrong; I understand the need for a VP cap. In the past, having never been the type of person to run heroics until my eyes started bleeding, I’ve never even been bothered by the arbitrary ceiling since I rarely ever hit it.

But yesterday and today, dailies have been mildly depressing. Sure, I’m still getting rep – and that is the main thing. I’m also getting more of those Lesser Charms of Good Fortune1. There’s some gold in there somewhere, all earmarked for my eventual yak-buying shenanigans. But the quest givers still swear they’ll give me my five VP and then renege on that promise.

Those. Assholes.

Again, I understand the cap. But couldn’t there be some sort of compromise on this score for people who are hitting it early in the week? Couldn’t we get, I don’t know, some extra gold or even some JP instead? It’s early enough in the tier that I still have several gear holes I wouldn’t mind plugging with JP gear, rather than effing PvP gear.2 It just seems like there should be something else we could get, rather than a sad feeling when you’ve done 30 odd dailies and still only see an angry red message that you are 1000/1000 weekly VP. Try again Tuesday.

Speaking of Tuesday and my general sense of rage over weekly resets, those goddamn Charms of Good Fortune are killing me. I have three week’s worth of turn-ins on those, all taking up space in my bags and bank, because we haven’t crossed an arbitrary threshold yet. And this is one roadblock I don’t get at all. How does it hurt anyone if I go into a raid with six or nine Elder Charms of Good Fortune? For that matter, why do they only allow us a max of ten?

So they can keep us doing dailies long after we’ve stopped needing the rep?

That’s lame. Or to quote Lady Cat again,

 Yes, yes but this is all extremely vexing… I’m quite put out!

  1. Why these can’t be a currency is currently beyond me.
  2. But this is a whole other rant about my terribad luck in heroics where the only cloth that drops is healer cloth.
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This post is a hot mess of disjointed topics

I’ve been meaning to write a few posts since the weekend – and I realize it’s only Tuesday and this isn’t terribly old news or anything like that – but I haven’t been able to separate the two topics from each other in my head. So rather than delay writing until I figured out how I wanted to try to split the things up, you all get a longish post that will be half real life and half HURRAH! I RAIDED!

We’ll start with real life because it happened first and because it affected the raiding bit.

Photo credit for this one to my brother-in-law

I’ve been planning since, uh, last year to go camping at Capitol Reef National Park. I know I’ve mentioned the place a few times here and there, largely in my I’m-stuck-in-the-Midwest-and-I-hate-my-life-here-and-I-just-want-to-go-home posts. Anyone who has been around for a while knows that I’ve been back in Utah for nearly two years now.

But it wasn’t until last Thursday when I arrived in the glorious red rock country of southern Utah that I really felt whole again.

This one, too. Or maybe my sister. The rest are mine, okay.

Growing up in a large family as I did (7 kids total), our family vacations tended to be camping trips. We went to a lot of great places, but the only place we went every year was to Capitol Reef. Some of my earliest memories are of frolics through the apple orchards and of hiking the desert trails. As I got older, I came to appreciate the juxtaposition of those two things. And my last memories of that place before this weekend were of sharing my own slice of heaven on earth with At. That happened before we were even engaged so the last time I was there was a bit over a decade ago.

I was blindingly happy to be there. I can’t help but believe that words would completely fail me in trying to describe that sense of wholeness and homecoming, so I won’t even try. Suffice to say that it’s the most important trip I’ve made in a long time.

The beauty of the place took my breath away all over again. Although there had been a small part of me that hadn’t wanted to go because RAAAAIIIIIDS, it took only one look at those sheer red cliffs and achingly blue skies for me to know that even if I missed a month’s worth of raids for a few minutes of looking at the scenery that defined my childhood, it would all be worth it. 

WoW was both the furthest thing from my mind and the closest as we hiked along the Cohab trail (so named for the early Mormon settlers who would occasionally flee from Fruita [now a ghost town] to the canyon to avoid the federal officers who pursued them for their polygamist beliefs. A lot of people fled to and through these canyons, actually, including Butch Cassidy [and his gang] for whom Cassidy Arch is named.). It was close because I’ve always seen echos of red rock country in certain zones in WoW but I couldn’t regret being amongst the sere beauty of the real thing rather than working towards raid readiness in the artificial setting.

Dead tree with Pectol's Pyramid in background

 

But that brings me to a point about raiding and raid readiness. Namely, that when Sunday rolled around and I was back home and able to be online for the first scheduled raid, I wasn’t at all ready. Half in greens with a spattering of heroic blues, I had made an honest effort to do everything I could in the little amount of time I had since hitting 90 to get geared and ready. But I was a far cry from being even close to prepared.

They took me anyway, largely because it was supposed that I would be less annoying than a pug. Here’s hoping that was true.

I was certainly in a state of panic as the raid group formed and assembled, and tweeted nervously that I was pretty sure I was going to throw up. What, I have no idea, as I was too on edge to even eat. The last time I had “raided” with this guild, they had carried me through heroic Firelands and so I had a pretty good idea of how skilled they are. But this time there would be a greater expectation for me to at least pull my own weight.

Once we got started, I was able to settle down a bit. There was an air of excitement among the rest of the raid group, but restrained. They were there to learn and master the fights as much as I was. Although I was lagging behind on most fights on the meters, I at least felt that I was finally on a more equal footing.

We got through trash with ease and then took a few minutes to talk about the Stone Guards in Mogu’shan Vaults. I was beyond relieved to not have to be the one trying to call that mess… or tank it. Or heal it. Look, my job as dps was relatively simple, okay. Don’t stand in bad things and if you get chained to a buddy, stick near them, especially if they are melee dps or a healer and have better things to worry about than sticking near to a more flexible ranged dps.

There were several wipes, including one where we hit the enrage timer, but ultimately we were able to get through the fight and move on to the next boss. We were less successful there, but made good progress into the second phase before ending for the night.

For me, my takeaway was fairly personal and possibly overly optimistic. But I didn’t feel terribly out of my depth with this raid team in terms of being able to pick up on mechanics and start to utilize my magey bag of tricks in response to recurring issues. It remains to be seen whether I can keep up in terms of dps output once my gear is actually up to par (and believe me, I am hitting those Golden Lotus dailies as hard as I can and striving to reach the weekly VP cap), but at least I wasn’t in there dying to stupid shit and failing to grasp how each mechanic affected me. There’s lot of room for improvement, of course, and I still need to take a detailed look at the log, but overall I’m excited to be raiding again and really looking forward to getting in there with better gear and a little knowledge of the fights.

Which brings me to one last observation and then I’ll just wander away from this mess of a post. I’ve read a few posts/tweets here and there about how little people like the dailies grind. Welp, I can understand the sentiment, but I have to say that I love it. I get that this is specific to my situation, but dailies are something I can actually do while at work in between my little bursts of actually working. I like that I can tackle them at my own pace and get interrupted to make some asshole a special pot of coffee and not have the interruption get me kicked out of a group or any further from meeting my daily goals.

And with that being said, I need to go make some coffee and then wrap up my Golden Lotus dailies.

If you’ve raided, how was your first experience?

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Mountain of mount misadventures

A day in the life of questing with At: a short, illustrated tale

At: Alright! I’m ready to go! Let’s hit it!

Alas: Err, what are you doing back there?

 

At: I’m your rearguard, baby! Keepin’ an eye out for mobs we might have missed!

Alas: But your mace is poking me!

At: You’d have a similar problem if I turned around… if you know what I mean.

Alas: Oh, lord.

 

At: This’ll be great for both of us. You’ll see. You can keep your eyes on the road and I’ll be ready to spring into action the moment something comes after your fine tail.

Alas: *sigh* I wish I had never race changed. The tail jokes are so old.

At: This is valuable already. Know how I know? I can tell you that we’re moving away from a tree that appears to be on fire. Moving away from things that are on fire is a good thing. You’re all the hotness I need in my life, baby.

Alas: Um. We just passed by the tree that’s on fire. I already saw it. Honestly, you’re giving me updates from my life, two seconds ago. I remember.

At: Well, if you don’t like me riding this way, I suppose I could remount. Or, we could both dismount and then mount other things. If you know what I mean.

Alas: …remount. Not me. The rocket.

At: You’re no fun.

Alas: Oh my god, what are you doing now?

 

At: Best of both worlds, baby! I can keep an eye on the peripheral and the rear this way!

Alas: What about the other side?

At: Oh, you’re right. Umm. Can you stop for a second?

Alas: Now what?

 

At: Now I got the other side covered!

Alas: You know what?

At: What?

Alas: It’s time for you to drive.

At: If you say so, baby.

Alas: HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW? IS THIS FUN? HUH? HUH? IS THIS VALUABLE?

At: I dunno, baby. I think all your shouting is scaring my mammoth. Could you maybe it keep it down back there?

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Thoughts on MoP

With all my spare moments of late having gone to actually experiencing MoP, I am well behind the general curve of writing about it. That’s okay. If I were ever topical and timely, I think the world would end.

As I write this, I am waiting for my husband to finish disenchanting whatever it is he has moldering in his bags and do whatever else might take his fancy before we press on. We’re both 88 and wandering across Kun-Lai Summit.

And it’s the togetherness that I want to talk about first. So far, it’s my only big complaint about this expansion. Not At. He’s my hero, standing in front of my pagoda-shoulders-clad self and taking the beating I so richly deserve for setting things on fire. But trying to quest as a duo can be, frankly, rather shitty.

I don’t understand why Blizzard did many of these quests the way they did. It’s a strange sort of split, where some of the quests function better with a pair, the way they always have, where two people killing the crap out of 15 whosits goes faster than it would with only one person trying to do it. But then there’s the quests that have traditionally given credit to both parties – healing NPC’s, talking to That Guy, examining This Place – that now require each person to act on their own, making the process take twice as long.

Even more baffling are quests like the one where you’re asked to get snake heads and not every snake apparently has a head but when they do, both you and your leveling companion get the loot.

So yeah, questing in pairs could have been smoothed out a lot, but that’s genuinely my only

Whyyyyyyy?

complaint so far. Well, that and the shoulders. If they continue to look like small roofs I’ll have to break down and mog them into something less obnoxious.

That being the only negative in my mind so far, I could just say everything else is great. But a few highlights for me are:

Alchemy

I love that I don’t need to keep running back and forth to a trainer just to see what I might have that is new. I enjoyed crafting roughly 100 health potions and seeing my character give the little spasm that indicates new knowledge going over with every potion I made. I still have to compare what I have in my recipe book to a complete list on another site, but judging from past experience, I think I have just about everything without even trying.

The Scenery

I admit I’ve never been hugely into Asian-inspired themes, but I don’t think anything I’ve seen so far has been anything other than lovely. Maybe it’s just a change that I needed after all the blandly monotonous feel of Cataclysm’s new zones, but I’m digging the beauty of the zones I’ve seen and the dungeons I’ve been through.

Dungeons

Speaking of dungeons, I like the balance I’ve seen so far between interesting and engaging mechanics and straightforward AoE-festing. It seems like there’s a good mix of the swiftness one could achieve back in Wrath 5-mans with some areas that are a bit more challenging. I’m definitely looking forward to hitting 90 and starting to tackle the heroic versions.

To conclude

I think those are the three biggest things I’ve enjoyed so far. What I’m finding interesting is how so many people are so enraptured by this expansion. I certainly didn’t expect to be – didn’t even think I’d be playing – and am now eating my words from when I wrinkled my nose and said that I couldn’t believe Blizzard would do such a thing, that they were clearly just cashing in whatever old ideas they had lingering from WC3.

I’m still in favor of seeing an expansion revolve around the Emerald Dream – I think they could do some really interesting things with that whole concept. But MoP? It doesn’t suck. Not even a little. I have no problems saying I was wrong in my initial distaste and I cannot wait to see if all the great touches carry through into raids. I really need for that aspect of the game to not be a letdown.

 

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On pressure and expansions

The calendar keeps startling me. Not all that long ago it was one month until the xpac. Then one week. And now we’re down to the wait of several hours.

I’m excited, but I’m not that excited. In the past, I’ve arranged to have time off and have made plans to power-level. Never to the point where I was actively trying for a server first of anything, because I know that would lead straight to disappointment and anger when I didn’t get it.

This time will be different. Oh, I am sure my free moments will all be going to getting to level 90, but I’m not taking time off work (er, not that I would need to) and I won’t be frantic about leveling my professions. This time, I want to enjoy the ride. I want to take time to admire the scenery rather than have conniption fits that the area is too overcrowded and nothing is respawning quickly enough. I’m going to make some easy cash by selling anything I gather for the first few days.

For the past several expansions I have raced towards max everything and then wondered a few weeks later what difference it really made. None of the stress and effort got me into a raid any sooner. None of it made me fabulously wealthy. None of it made me walk away saying that being the first person in the guild to reach the new level cap was totally worth it. Still less worth it was the way I would be the only alchemist who could make certain things for my guild for a while.

It was all pressure on top of pressure.

Of course, the ironic part of all this, is that I am now in a guild where I expect that sort of drive will be more the norm. I suspect I’ll look something like a laggard by comparison.

But that’s okay by me. I want my first impression of actually being in the new expansion to be about the fun I’m currently having rather than the fun I hope to have. After all, isn’t that the beauty of end-game? It’ll still be there, completely undiminished by anyone else having got there ahead of you.

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