10 Feb 2011

Managing Limited Game Time

There are times when I miss my youth. Back when I was a student I’d be free to play the night away, blasting cyborgs in Quake 2 or bludgeoning head-crabs in Half-Life. I’d blitz through a game in four days straight, chomping through single player content like a man possessed.

The other thing was that back then I’d play through a lot of games. I’d consider buying a new title once or twice a month to give me something new to play. I’d adventure across a multitude of worlds, shooting my way to liberty, freedom or glory.

Warcraft has changed this. In the time I’ve been subscribing I’ve bought maybe a handful of other games for the PC. Gordon from We Fly Spitfires asked a great question recently about what the gaming landscape would be like without the game. For me and probably a fair few others we would never have entered the MMO genre.

I think that MMOs are interesting to me on two points, the first one being that they’ll eat up as much time as you throw at them. The second and slightly trickier one is that there’s no way to beat the game. It’s not like Halo where you beat Arthas or Deathwing and get an end-game cinematic before the credits roll.

Things become even more intricate once you start managing multiple characters. I have a raiding mage, a roleplay mage, an alchemy warlock and a jewelcrafting priest as well as countless other alts. How do I make sure I split the time fairly between raiding, roleplay and making sure that my other characters get worked on?

Currently I work on the “priority principle”. I write a list of the things I want to get done in the time I have available to play, and I slowly whittle it down. I can’t make many raids at the moment so I work on other alts instead. More often it’ll be levelling the roleplay mage, but I’ll periodically log on to the alchemist or jewelcrafter to make sure I’m stocked up with flasks and use my transmutation cooldown.

I also tend to push my main game to one side when I’m playing betas. While the Rift beta was up I’d play it almost exclusively in order to get as much out of the limited time as possible. Now that everything’s offline prior to open beta next week, I’m focusing on WoW again.

I’m sure there must be other methods for managing this though, so I’m interested to hear your ideas. Do you just have a single character that you focus all your attention on, or do you drop certain activities from your Warcraft schedule? Do you find that you play fewer games since starting WoW?

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9 Responses to Managing Limited Game Time

  1. Toran says:

    This post absolutely hits home for me. I am in the exact situation you describe. One level 85 character, VERY limited playing time, and look back fondly to my 20s when I had seemingly unlimited time. Too bad WoW wasn’t around then. Actually I’m probably better off that it wasn’t around then. ;)

    Now in my 30s, I have a wife and kids, work, etc – just like many others. This means less time for *all* games, not just WoW. Guess I have become a “monogamous” gamer. WoW has been the only game on my PC(s) since 2006, however lately I have become more distracted by my xbox and ps3 (blackops).

    • Gazimoff says:

      I think it’s pretty much a side-affect of the ageing gaming population. As we get older we can afford mroe games but have less time to play them. It becomes less about what we can afford and more about how much time we have.

      I think the difficulty with WoW is that there’s a fair chunk of us that have been playing it for years and don’t want to throw out that investment. But by the same token, we want to keep doing things that are fun and entertaining. For a game that’s six years old, keeping it fresh and interesting is going to be a challenge.

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  3. Deana says:

    WoW is such a time sink. I so agree with this blog. Instead of setting goals to be accomplished, I set a time limit and get off of wow when that time comes up. Didn’t get any farming done for flasks? Too bad. Tomorrow maybe. I raid and work a little on an alt here and there and try not to spend a lot on raid stuffs (food/flasks) by using my own toons for collecting and making these. I use my transmute cooldowns and the like, but do try to log by the same time every night.

    I’ve actually played a bit more of other games in the past weeks. (Rift Beta for one). I think the shininess of wow is wearing thin on the elbows for many as we run the gearing gauntlet grind. Never getting ahead of gear, dropping Sanctified tier for greens was a bit disheartening this time.
    Deana recently posted..Springsteen ride Uldum-style- WoWShot 3My Profile

    • Gazimoff says:

      The gear curve is frustrating, especially when you’re throwing away gear that you worked hard for to use quest reward greens instead. But that’s also the great thing about an expansion – it’s a gear reset allowing newcomers to get into the raiding game early.

      There are some awesome sets though. I still keep a couple in the bank, just to remind myself what I managed to achieve in the game. Besides, they’re nicer to look at than achievement points :)

  4. Zelmaru says:

    I’ve always said that it’s totally possible to be a decent raider on a limited schedule, but it requires focusing a LOT of your available game time on raiding (when not raiding, raid prep). You just have to organize priorities and understand that you can’t be great at EVERYTHING. I don’t have fishing or cooking on any of my toons. I don’t have vanity mounts. I don’t have most achievements. Time for that goes into raiding, and I’m ok with that because I really do want to raid.
    Zelmaru recently posted..Fire Mage Power Aura GuideMy Profile

  5. Thossi says:

    “Do you find that you play fewer games since starting WoW?”

    Yes, I do – I used to play 3 games (Baldur’s Gate, Total War (Rome and Medieval) and Civilization). And then WoW came along and just … kicked the others out. Wearing steel-capped boots. Same thing goes for my friend, except that nowadays, all he plays is the latest incarnation of Civilization.

    I also try to manage my time when playing somewhat sensibly. Before launching the game, I make a list in my head: “What do I want to do today? Quest/level, do an instance, level mining (or any profession)?”