There’s never enough. Time, people, money, focus, whatever it is – there’s never enough of it to go around.
If I had enough time, I am sure that I’d be Arena Battlemaster Loremaster Cynwise, the Light of Dawn, goldcapped several times over. More time would mean more opportunities to do those things necessary to reach the pinnacle of every aspect of the game.
But I don’t have unlimited time, and neither do you. We all have limits.
And limits are wonderful thing, because limits create focus.
When you can’t have everything, you have to choose those things that matter the most to you and discard the rest. If I want to do X, I can’t spend that time doing Y; so which one is more important to me?
Without constraints, you don’t have to make choices. Yet our choices make us who we are.
Work with what you have. Don’t reject your constraints: embrace them.
TIME IS RUNNING OUT
A little while ago I realized that time was running out on the World of Warcraft as I knew it. I mean, I’d known intellectually that major changes were coming, but I was pretty content to pass the time doing what I enjoyed. I’d pvp some nights, raid others, play the auction house others. (Okay, who am I kidding, I played the AH every chance I could.)
I was content.
But then the Beta came along, and more of my friends and acquaintances started playing in it. And the pre-expansion blues hit, when folks went back to school, the markets stabilized, but folks were on less, maybe leveling alts, maybe doing… things?
And then came the Fall of Zalzane/Operation: Gnomeregan, and now the 4.0.1 PTR, and something became very, very clear.
I had two, maybe three months tops, to do everything I want to do in Azeroth before it all goes away. No more delays, no more tomorrows. I’d get maybe a day or so warning – a week if I was lucky – before Cataclysm hit the live servers.
Here it is, the biggest constraint of all: the world you’re playing in is doomed. It’s like we’re players in a Greek tragedy, and the Chorus is telling us that our fate is coming to meet us.
On top of having to find time to play amidst real life, of finding people who are interested in doing the things you’re interested in too, comes an unalterable deadline: Soon this will all be gone.
It’s not the time to panic. Now is the time to get to work.
KNOW YOUR MOTIVES
In my first version of my Cataclysm Bucket list, I had a lot of goals that seemed big at the time. Go fishing in zones that are getting changed! Run old classic dungeons! Level a bunch of alts! Ony Ony Ony!
You know what? I went to Azshara to fish, and the fishing there sucks. The beaches are hard to get to, there are grumpy turtles and Naga everywhere, and the pretty places are just acres of unfulfilled promise; scenery, like Crystalsong Forest, only more disappointing.
And Onyxia was fun to duo at 60, but she’s now a loot pinata at T10 gear.
In the year since I’d written that list, my priorities had changed. I couldn’t force myself to level alts that I knew I’d abandon; travelling to places I’d already been didn’t interest me at all. So what was I left with?
I wanted to experience the Horde from their perspective, before it all changes.
And I wanted to kill the Lich King.
Two different goals, but all doable in the time left to me. The biggest problem would be motivation. I like doing content once, but going over the same thing bores me. It’s why I PvP so much: every battle is different, even if the maps are the same.
THE OTHER SIDE
I tried, and failed, to level alts on the Horde side of my server. The best leveling area in the game, Eversong/Ghostlands, saw me get stuck before I finished any of the cool questlines, and I never went back to any of the other starting areas. The highest I got was a level 17 mage, who I leveled the last few levels in Warsong Gulch, which kinda missed the point of it all.
This changed when I faction changed my level 19 warrior twink, Cynderblock, to pursue some best in slot gear. I’m over there, grinding away some quests for a cool shield, when I realize — I could just go do all the starting areas. No pressure to level up a throwaway alt, no need to start out weak and gear up with the same crappy quest gear — just quest for the cool rewards and see what there is to see.
Then I thought… wait a minute, I could get all the reputation gains from the Horde quests, and then faction change back to Alliance and do the same… maybe I could get Ambassador? Ambassador at level 19? Is that even possible?
That crazy thought was exactly the motivation I needed. I found out that I really did want to see all of the Horde areas, but I didn’t want to do it and never look back. I wanted it to matter. I needed to put constraints on my leveling to make it crazy, absurd, audacious.
Try for Ambassador at level 19? Exalted with all 5 factions, without a mount? SIGN ME UP.
Back at an old job we were asked to set BHAGs: big, hairy, audacious goals. These were goals to not just stretch yourself, but push yourself to do things you’d never rationally consider.
A BHAG was what I needed, a BHAG that embraced constraints. Plenty of folks can, and do, level through the starting zones in a very short period of time. I don’t enjoy leveling enough to do that to myself once, let alone five times. But doing something on a character that you are going to keep, where you don’t know if you can succeed, and where there are some specific limits?
Yes. By setting limits creativity flourishes. And that’s what happened to me with the Level 19 Ambassador project.
Cynderblock has completed nearly 400 quests in every single Horde zone from 1-30. Every quest that was available to a level 19 character and awarded reputation with one of the 5 main factions is complete. The only exceptions were two of the rare beast quests in the Barrens (couldn’t find them) and the repeatable Chen’s Empty Keg quest in Ratchet. I looked at that and said, let’s try this without that, and if we need it later we can come back for it.
I’ve started the faction change process again, this time to bring Cynderblock back to the Alliance as a Human — hopefully Diplomacy’s bonus will be enough to get her over the finish line. If not, there are some daily quests during the Harvest Festival to try. And if not.. we might be brewing beer in the Barrens. Or we’ll wait for Cataclysm and do all the *new* quests.
All I needed to do was find the right constraints to get this one done.
THE COMING MONTHS
I still have a bit of work ahead of me on Cynderblock; I have to go visit all the Alliance starting areas, doing all the quests I’d skipped over the first time. There are areas I know I skipped entirely (Loch Modan, Darkshore, Ashenvale) that are changing in Cataclysm, so I’m looking forward to seeing them again.
And there’s also the little matter of the Lich King.
I never expected to raid; when I first started playing, raiding seemed to be completely out of the question. I didn’t even run dungeons while leveling!
So I’m pretty happy that I found a guild who would take my PvP-educated self through heroics, and then 10-mans, and finally 25-mans. It’s helped me grow immensely as a player, but there’s one thing missing.
After weeks and weeks and weeks in Icecrown… I still haven’t killed the Lich King. Our guild has, but I haven’t.
I want Arthas down before Cataclysm.
And I will get him.
NARROW YOUR FOCUS
I’ve heard a variety of dates around Cataclysm’s release date: early to mid-November, late November, early December. I don’t think anyone knows yet.
But I can look at the calendar and say, I have 6 weeks before the earliest feasible date, 2 months tops. What are the most important things for me to get done?
Embrace the deadline. Narrow your focus and make sure you get the things done you really want to get done.
Cataclysm will come soon enough.