Yesterday a good friend of mine from my Wrath raiding days, showed back up in my life suddenly. Now this isn’t exactly a strange occurrence because folks know that I tend to be the ring leader of a network of gamers. I am the one that tends to be good at maintaining connections with folks regardless of what game we happen to be playing. So an attempt to get in touch with me, generally also means an attempt to get back in touch with a gaming core of friends. The strange part of this whole experience however is when a few years pass between speaking. In this case, it seems like every few years our paths cross, the challenge being that large swaths of time pass between and my memory is often times spotty at best. Thankfully most people are super forgiving about me remembering the super granular details… and I seem to be relatively good at the large picture as a whole. The thing with the impending release of Legion next week is that this has been happening an awful lot in my life. Running around and doing Events, means that I have casually bumped into a lot of folks from my past… some of which I was interested in rekindling friendship… and others not so much. We talked about the mixed bag that playing World of Warcraft since launch is on the podcast this weekend. There are friends that I adored, and would still do damned near anything to help… and then there were folks who were super toxic influences and lead to a lot of the anxiety ridden struggles I had as a raid leader. Coming back to this game… and the server I have played on since the beginning of it all… means I am ultimately going to confront a good deal of both.
I remember thinking yesterday how cool it would be to “get the band back together” because I miss raiding with some of these people. The key word being “some”, because ultimately I don’t really want the band back together at all. I want a revised image in my head of the band. I want this amalgam of a bunch of different raid teams, from a bunch of different eras of the game. I want to create the “All-Star Team” from my memory, but the thing is… my All-Star team is not really the best players. I found out my ideals for who I wanted to play with were vastly different than that of my friends during Cataclysm. We built what we supposed to be the “best” team to raid with, for 10 man… but my best was completely different than their best. Ultimately when creating my team I would want to play with the folks I had the most fun with… some of them were also the absolute worst at standing in fire. They were fun to be around and invigorated my enjoyment of the game, and I didn’t give a damn if we had to take forever trying to learn this fight or another because their presence made me happy. It is moments like these that I realize I play a vastly different game than most people do. I play a game made up of the people sitting behind the screen at their keyboard, hanging out with me on a nightly basis… and not a game of abilities and number crunching. At the end of the day for me at least, playing for victories is ultimately a hollow experience unless I did so with the people I enjoy playing with the most.
In a lot of ways this is what makes the Final Fantasy XIV raid group so special is that it is a bit of an amalgam of the two. These are all people that I greatly enjoy playing with, but at the end of the day are also extremely good at the game. Hell there are so many nights I feel like I am the “bad” that is being carried to victory. While I largely said I would swear off raiding in Legion… there is a big part of me that wishes he could form this same sort of group in World of Warcraft. I want raiding to be a focus on having fun with friends and doing something together that we can’t necessarily do apart. By the same token though, I don’t want to be concerned with damage meters, or reviewing the logs after the raid. I don’t want to care if someone stood in the fire too long… or if we could do something more efficiently. I want to just have a night hanging out with friends, talking on voice chat and killing bosses… hopefully getting some sweet loot in the process. The problem being that I don’t think World of Warcraft is that game, or at least its raid game… isn’t that game. Final Fantasy XIV I can go into a fight not knowing anything about it… and learn everything I know from a series of attempts because it messages the mechanics extremely well. World of Warcraft, I realistically need to read the dungeon guide and some third party sites to fully understand the mechanics of the fight and what I am supposed to be doing to counter them. That is a huge difference, because one I can discover the fight with friends… and the other feels like homework.
Legion launches next week and I really don’t know what it has planned for me yet. I am enjoying the game, and I am enjoying making my own way through it. I am not sure if raiding will be part of that greater picture, but in the end I am going to try going with the flow. So many times I have had a raid that I knew I was gearing for, when an expansion launched. As a result I felt like I needed to push through the content to get raid ready within a weeks time. This time around… I am more focused on which character I am going to level first and which zone I am going to start in. I have never gone into an expansion before with a complete set of characters, and ultimately liking something about each and every one of them. If enough of these old familiar faces stick around… then I think I might want to try my hand at raiding again. I am not super concerned with doing much more than 10 player/flex raiding if I do however. Another thing that I would really like to do is set up a night to work on older raid achievements and get folks some awesome mounts. I know there are several tiers where I am one or two achievements away from my own mounts. The problem being that there just are not enough nights in the week to try and schedule things on, and continue to play other games. Whatever the case I am trying my best to go into the Legion expansion with an open mind, and not really focused too tightly on what I am going to do… and when I am going to do it. This is undiscovered territory for me, and it is going to be interesting to see what comes of it.