I like to think I'm passionate about raiding.
I've pursued it twice a week, just about every week, for the last three years. It's something I enjoy very much, the puzzle-solving and teamwork style are my kind of thing and I like to think I'm good at it. Through two expansions, I've experienced the best and worst raids and continued to work through them, through roster problems, through waning and waxing interest, through a year-long drought of new content, through a glut of bosses, through simplistic encounters to encounters so complicated we never finished them. I never stopped.
And I'm still hungry for more. It's a comfort to me, to know that I have six hours a week where I can sit down and unravel puzzles with my friends, work on executing my play and being rewarded for that time not by loot or achievements, but with the feeling of camaraderie and teamwork.
I've raiding with the same core of people for almost all of those three years - in fact, about half of my raid group is the exact same as it was at beginning of 2010 and about 80% is the same as it was in the beginning of 2011. That's a pretty good record as far as groups go - we've held together for a long time. So the raid isn't just about problem solving as I said above, but also about the companionship of these people.
Raiding is also about achieving what you set out to achieve. It's about solving those problems, not giving up on them. It's about doing the content when it's still reasonably relevant. It's about taking personal responsibility and correcting our play. Owning up to mistakes and not repeating them. Taking the initiative and showing a capacity for spontaneous thinking rather than waiting to be told what to do. It's about pushing through adversity even if it means sitting on the same boss three nights in a row.
And I don't have that with my current group.
Did I ever? I don't know. I remember things being different even as late as last summer, but memory is unreliable and I might be constructing a golden age that never existed. Still, I feel there has been a shift in the guild and slowly but surely, we've moved away from the realm of personal responsibility and progression into the realm of shrugging and moving on.
It isn't any one thing holding us back either, we lost a core healer in September and never quite recovered from it. The last couple of DPS slots haven't been consistent and we've seen many people come and go over the months in an effort to try to fill them. Having me substitute as a healer lately has been a hit-and-miss thing as I try to learn an entirely new style of game-play that I never pursued before. I'm miles away from where I need to be to push new content and I feel I could contribute more as a Tank than I do as a healer. Or maybe that's just me wanting a return to my comfort zone rather than pushing myself to do something new.
"It's not that I want a Hardcore guild, necessarily," I tell myself. "I want the mindset of hardcore progression, the passion that hardcore players bring to the game, that's what I want from the game."
Because I feel that some iota of that passion is missing from my current group. Maybe we're tired, maybe we're bored, the expansion is long in the tooth and when we can see the Elysian Fields of Mists on the horizon, it becomes difficult to remain passionate about the muddy, old, familiar dungeons of Cataclysm that have been ravaged by time and their predictable ways.
I toy with the idea sometimes, of finding such a group, but this is an old song, and we know the ending to this already. After much soul-searching, I decided, way back when, that I'd rather play with my friends than find a guild dedicated to hard-core progression and that hasn't changed.
But perhaps, as with any passion, this hunger for raiding needs to evolve into something else, something more stable. Something that doesn't burn out with the heat and intensity of passion. Perhaps I need for this hunger to smolder, and become embers, something that warms and sustains instead of consuming.
Perhaps, at this point in my life, what I need is a hearth that won't give out.
In pursuit of this, I sent an e-mail to the other officers that I want to step down and become an ordinary member. Last year I stepped back to assistant raid-lead, but even there, I couldn't help but keep my hands in the pie. The temptation is too strong. It's time to let go.
I'm going to go sit by the fire and warm my hands. My responsibility will be to my play and nothing more - I'll always be ready to help if asked, but I think it's time for me to figure out how to sustain myself for the long haul. When Mists rolls around, I might not be first through the breach in the walls, but I'll be on the field.