On Heartbreak, Disappointment and Rekindling

"A pair of powerful spectacles has sometimes sufficed to cure a person in love." - Friedrich Nietzsche
They always say that your first heartbreak is the worst.

For the past three years, WoW and I have been involved in a rather torrid love affair. We would get all hot and smoochy, making anyone witnessing us together desperately want to be somewhere else to avoid the embarrassment of having to watch us. Yes, we were that couple. My affections for WoW were so strong that she could do nothing wrong in my eyes; at worst I would give her a gentle slap on her shapely toosh when she did something that annoyed me. But we'd never argue. No, we were too much in love for that.

And then she went and did this. She broke my heart and in an instant, the honeymoon phase of our relationship was over. I could see flaws in her that I hadn't noticed before. Little annoyances started to creep in and suddenly I was no longer as excited as I had been about spending an evening together. And when we did spend time together it was the gaming equivalent of sitting together on the couch watching a movie that we'd both seen before: Entertaining, but only in a dull, predictable way.

It's times like these that it's natural to wonder if there is something else out there. Younger, attractive games catch my eye - like that hussy Rift with her long, blonde hair and tight, designer jeans or that lovely Lord of the Rings girl with the amazing smile and sparkling personality - and I start thinking that maybe, just maybe, there would be another great match for me out there somewhere.

Alright, I think I'm going to stop this metaphor right there before someone thinks I'm actually talking about my wife.


The point is that since the nerfs to Firelands I haven't really been excited about World of Warcraft. I've still been playing, but aside from our weekly raids I haven't touched my main character at all, choosing instead to spend time levelling up Alts. My baby Shaman is finally all grown up and starting the painful process of PUGing heroic dungeons, and I have a slew of other Alts that have been getting a little bit of play time here and there. The game is still there and I still enjoy it, but I feel like when I play I'm just spinning my tires.

And it's because I'm not excited about Raiding. It really feels like Blizzard has taken away the thrill of the kill with these nerfs. I no longer feel that same lust to raid that would cause me to race home from work, excitedly log onto the game and into Mumble and hoot out loud when a boss falls over dead or a great piece of gear drops. No, the knowledge that the fights have been neutered has made me feel like I'm just killing time until the next patch drops.

I don't like this feeling.

I get quite frustrated with the constant negative attitudes that a lot of people have towards this game these days, and even more frustrated to see myself slowly drifting towards that point of view and becoming one of the discontented. I hate that these recent nerfs have diminished my enthusiasm for the game, because I do love it. Hell, this blog is really just a series of love-letters to the game. The lore, the story, the gameplay, and the look and feel are all things that make coming back to Azeroth each night a joy. I want to love this game again, but like a jilted lover, I feel hurt that maybe the game is leaving me behind in favour of another type of player.


"Absence diminishes mediocre passions and increases great ones, as the wind extinguishes candles and fans fires." - Francois de La Rochefoucauld
But is it possible to fall in love again?

Last week my guild and I went into Firelands and killed Ragnaros for the first time. It was messy and extremely close to a wipe, and would never have happened without the nerfs. For all the tinkering that Blizzard has done to make Firelands a ROFLstomp cake-walk through the sparkly faerie meadows of Candy Mountain, normal Ragnaros is still a tough fight. The dance is complex, and there are many mechanics that would be happy to kill you if you forget to put on your game-face after the snoozefest of the other six bosses.

Frankly, the nerfs made our kill last night. When Ragnaros hit 10% there were only three people left alive, and with 3 or 4 meteors rampaging around it was only a matter of time before we became yet another smear on the floor. Without the nerfs there was no way that kill would have happened, but rather we would have had another rather ignominious wipe. I know for a fact, however, that we would have killed him without the nerfs, but it likely would have taken a couple more nights working on him.

Regardless, when Ragnaros finally succumbed to our frantic and flailing efforts I did let out a restrained "Whoop" of joy. Even knowing that what we had just accomplished was only a mere shadow of what it once was, it still felt damned good to finally get the bugger down. That immensly uplifting feeling of joy is why I enjoy raiding so much and the lessening of that, more than anything, is the reason that I am so upset with the nerfs.

Some people might scoff at feeling betrayed by a computer game, or think that complaints about the nerfs are meaningless without having stepped foot into a heroic mode. However, I think that no matter what challenge or goal is being worked on, it is disheartening to have it taken away before it's completed. Or, in this case, to have it made remarkably and unrecognizably easier. Defeating a savagely nerfed encounter, regardless of whether it's the first time or not, is simply not as great an accomplishment as it would be otherwise, and the emotional high and ultimate satisfaction is consequently lessened. And in the end, is there any point in playing a game that isn't giving joy and satisfaction?

Still, as much as I am disappointed that Blizzard didn't allow me the time to complete this at full difficulty, I'm happy that we managed to do it.

Tonight is the first time we go into Firelands as a 7/7 guild to attempt Heroic modes. Despite everything I'm finding myself looking forward to seeing the more difficult versions of the encounters. I'm actually a little excited. That feeling is a good sign that I will be able to get over the disappointment of not completing this raid tier before the fights were nerfed to the ground.

In the end, I look into her eyes and I obviously still have feelings for her; I wouldn't be so upset if I didn't still care. I think I can forgive her and  make this relationship work. She's a grand ol' game; a few wrinkles around the edges, surely, but she's still vibrant and fun with a lot of redeeming qualities. There is still so much that I haven't done with her and sights we haven't seen together. I hope that we have a lot of years left together.


Images of Azeroth - The Outlands: Part 2

Zangarmarsh near Sporregar.

The spiky awesomeness of the Blades Edge Mountains

The Black Temple in Shadowmoon Valley.

The Biodomes of the Netherstorm.

As always, click the images to embiggen.