Something that will absolutely turn me off from playing a game is being confronted with a ton of information on-screen early on. I feel like there might have been a time when I was younger that this didn’t bother me too much, or maybe I just didn’t play games where I would experience this. But I definitely feel it now.

One game I definitely remember feeling this with was The Witcher 3. With all the critical acclaim the game got back in 2015, I thought I would pick it up a few months after release. I didn’t end up playing for long, maybe a day or two. Just long enough to get to a fight with a boss (a griffon, I think?). But I distinctly remember being inundated with a lot of choices in that game, and I wasn’t really sure how to prioritize them. There were lots of talents/skill, but none of them seemed to matter that much when I was being asked to pick them. Nothing stood out or looked fun in the short term, just a few minor increases. There were lots of quests/collectibles, but again, I wasn’t sure what really mattered. I kind of felt like I should do everything, but none of it seemed particularly important? On top of that, movement and combat felt very slow and heavy. Maybe I was doing something wrong? I’m not doing a great job of explaining it, it has been a couple of years since I tried the game.

Anyway, I experienced this “information overload” once again tonight when I tried out the latest WoW expansion. I know, that’s the the very opposite of the “being productive” goal for which this blog was created. But a few of my friends are playing, so I thought I’d take a look. WoW is a special case because I played it pretty intensely for a short period of time, I think from 2011-2013. I don’t have the nostalgia of someone who played since Classic, but I certainly have some good memories of my time there. During those years, I had a lot more time to learn the game and grind out goals.

As a result, I had some pretty elaborate mods and a pixel-perfect UI configuration set up on a computer that I no longer own. So it’s not quite as simple as re-downloading the game and jumping in - the vanilla UI was not something I ever got accustomed to. To remedy this, I sought out a few of those mods to bring back the look and feel I expected from the game… but it didn’t really help. Now, on top of having to remember how the game worked, there’s an additional layer of hundreds of UI options across half a dozen mods that I simply don’t know how to begin processing.

I scaled it back and only installed a couple of mods (how is Bagnon not a part of the base game in {current year}?) and proceeded to play around from there. It was probably an hour before I actually stepped off the spot where I left my character when my subscription expired in 2013. And still, the unfamiliarity with everything that has changed, coupled with everything I just plain forgot, sort of kept me paralyzed. Where is the hotkey for this window? What is my rotation? How do I talk to my friend? Oh, this is account-bound now? And so on, and so forth…

I’m not saying it’s bad that WoW has this inherent level of complexity to it. I know a lot of stuff has been streamlined in the past few years. But the game is also over a decade old. Entire systems in this game have come and gone (including two expansions) since I last played. It’s a gargantuan undertaking to keep a game this size running with so many changes for so many years. I’m just not sure I have the focus or the desire to take it all in again, knowing that I’ll likely never be up to the level where I once was - especially if I am trying to prioritize other things right now.

One question I want to answer: what do I want to gain out of playing again? Or should I even be thinking like that at all? Is that a bad way to think about games in general?

I’ll give it a couple more tries to see if it sticks, but it might be best left as a series of fond memories and a source of inspiration to draw on.

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