This time I'm answering an email from Jesse.
So I used to play WoW all the time. Actually, too much. So I did the whole "delete your characters and quit cold turkey" thing. Like 3 different times. Anyway, right now my account is on hold, but it's got a 38 rogue and a 56 mage (albeit both of them are naked, since I tried to sabotage myself and give hundreds of gold away when I quit last...).
The two reasons I quit are very closely related: one is that I just played too much; and the other is that I started to think that, if you don't play all the time, there's no getting anywhere. I like PvE more than PvP, so I guess the end result of that would have to be raiding, right? But I can't sit down at my computer for 7 hours to do a raid, or spend whatever god-awful amount of time it would take in a week to run kara (I don't know how long it would take to do that instance... and I don't think I want to know). I mean, don't get me wrong, I do like all the little things like professions and questing (even solo) and a good instance is always fun as long as you don't have idiots screwing it up... Anyways, my question is, can a person with a real life (and a real 50-hour a week job) actually play WoW, and have fun, and still have a life? (and dare I say, maybe even still have a girlfriend?). I am skeptical, but I don't know, and I'd like to get back in if you think it's actually feasible.
P.S. Also (if I do decide to get back into the game), since [my server] is (and always has been) underpopulated, do you think it would be worthwhile transferring to a more populated server? Or is that just overrated?
The short answer is yes, absolutely. And I think that the readers of this column will agree with me. You can play the WoW, PvE-style while still having a real life.
First of all, I think you've been misinformed about how long it takes to do endgame instances. Sure, the first time a guild tries an instance, it takes a long time to get through each part. But a group that has good gear and knows what it's doing can do Karazhan in 2 hours. A casual raiding guild will probably average 3 to 4 hours to complete a 10-man raid. So you do not have to play all the time to get anywhere in the endgame. Also, there are a lot of things for those of us with more limited playtime: instances (regular and heroic), crafting daily quests, faction daily quests, etc. And it's only going to get better in the expansion. But because your game time has taken over your life in the past, you will need to have a plan if you want to come back without succumbing to overplaying again.
Over on our sister site Massively, I wrote a column about Playtime Management. I recommend giving that a read. The main thing I want you to get out of it, however, is to make yourself a schedule. Schedule everything else you need and want to do during the week first and then see what time you have left to play. Then schedule blocks of gametime and stick to it. Don't play longer than your scheduled time (you need your sleep) and don't play when you are not scheduled. You may find that you can schedule a couple of 4 hour blocks of time a week and then, when you get to 70, you will be able to raid. Or you may find that you can only play for 2 hour sessions which is really enough time to get an instance done with a good group.
The problem you may have on a low population server is getting good groups together with people who have schedules that are similar to yours. You may luck out, but the likelihood increases with the population. Also, it can be hard selling crafted items and drops on the AH to a depressed economy. A higher population server with a healthy economy and a good mix of casual and raiding guilds is really the place to be to get the most out of your playtime. Even if you never end up raiding, hardcore raiders are great at gobbling up consumables at high prices and they do instances so often that getting into one of their PuGs can mean a speedy, efficient experience.
Right now you have a couple of mid to late-mid level characters who are naked and broke on a low population server. I really wouldn't recommend transferring them to a new server if only because it is going to be hard to re-gear them and get back into the swing of playing them. I think it would be a good idea to start fresh on a high population PvE server. It will take some legwork to find the right one. I recommend hanging out in the realm forums and seeing if there is one without queues that has a community with which you feel comfortable. Someone in the comments in this article may also have good PvE server suggestions.
If you find the idea of leveling up a character from scratch daunting, there are easy to read guides out there to make it faster:
- Class leveling guides: Each of our class column writers here at WoW Insider have written leveling guides for their classes. These are a great read for anyone who wants to know what talents to pick and how to best use their class skills while bringing up an alt or a young main.
- Faction leveling guides: I can't tell you how much I love Jame's Leveling Guides, particularly the Horde ones. They make leveling fun and efficient with maps and tips and everything you need to quest your way up to 70.
The main reason I recommend re-rolling instead of transferring is so that you can develop online relationships with people. The best way to get into a good guild is to group on your way up the levels. If you are a good groupie and have a similar schedule to some other good groupies that are guilded, the chances of your being invited to their guild is high. If you transfer in all nekkid and rusty, you'll look like a noob when grouping on your mage and that can be hard to overcome. You also may want to try a class that interests you but that can heal or tank. DPSers are a dime a dozen when looking for a group. Being a good tank or healer is a great way to get lots of invites (whether you want them or not) to groups on the way up and instances and raids in the endgame.
A large portion of WoW players are adults with jobs who have fun playing the PvE parts of the game. So, yes, you can have a real life and enjoy PvE from level 1 to 70 and beyond. But you have to make sure you get your real life taken care of in order to earn your leisure time and if you don't think you can stick to a schedule, you may not want to attempt coming back. But if you have the discipline and you obviously enjoy the game, then I do think that playing on a server with a healthy population will make things easier and more fun.
Good luck and let us know how it goes.