Oh yeah! I used to write about games!
So, a funny thing happened right at the apex of my latest bout of World Of WarCraft addiction: The 3.1 patch killed the game on my PC.
There I was, finally "stepping up my game" and "taking it to the next level" and "wasting my life" by hitting level 80 and joining my fellow Can't Quit You guildies in one Heroic instance after another to get properly geared up for...whatever. I picked up the awesome Sundial of the Exiled, which, besides being awesome, is coated with an extra layer of awesomesauce. My DPS was rising. My Frogger and Safety Dance skills were improving. All I needed now was the new patch to get a dual-spec and join the gang for Ulduar fun and, well, I wouldn't say my life would be "complete," but perhaps just a little more sad! In a good way!
Then the patch came out. And I was, to use the strictly technical term, boned.
I have a tempermental PC. A fussy PC. A problem PC. My PC, to put it another way, is a fucking piece of shit. I feel bad ever complaining about it, because it is a legacy of my days in the press, when I got free stuff and didn't have to worry about money like ordinary civilians. No, we didn't get free PCs from PC-makers--that's an ethical no-no!--but there was a lot of trickle-down and extra machines floating around and occasional review units that never got claimed. In short, there was always a way to upgrade your rig or even score a new one without having to lay any Dead Presidents down, yo.
This machine now sitting in my home, making my life miserable, laughing at me every time I try to fix WoW again, came from the Doctor Of Cool himself, Loyd Case, editor over at ExtremeTech.com and once columnist and tech editor at Computer Gaming World during its early glory days. He gave it to me for free. And, ya know, it doesn't get any better than that. It's a Dell XPS 630i, with an nVidia 8800. It's also running Windows Vista, but, hey, you take the bad with the good. Vista was the price I had to pay for getting a free machine.
Actually, though, it turned out there was another price. I don't know if it's Vista, or Dell, or just Plain Rotten Luck, but for whatever reason, this PC has been nothing but a pain in the arse since I first trucked it home. And, no, don't bother giving me random tech advise (well, okay, you can), but I promise you I've probably tried everything you are going to suggest: I've reinstalled the OS, I've replaced the RAM, I've wiped the drive, I've updated drivers. I feel like I've done it all except completely disassemble the entire dam thing down to the last screws and put it back together again. Net result: Constant crashes. I should say, the WoW troubles are only part of it. I won't take up valuable Internet space droning on about the various other issues I've had. Suffice it to say, this PC hates me.
So, really, it wasn't a horrible surprise that Patch 3.1 failed for me. But fail it did, and now I can't play anymore, after spending 2+ weekends trying to sort it out. Oddly, I did manage to successfully install the patch and log in once, for about 2 minutes, but then never again. I had just enough time to say hi to my guildies and ask how they were enjoying 3.1, but then was booted, never to return. I've spent time on the WoW forums and discovered other hapless Dell 630i losers, which was at least partially reassuring, but nothing suggested on those forums (yes, including updating the firmware) has helped.
Rather than continue to bemoan my fate and feel sorry for myself, however, I did remember a few things, once I just decided to give up. My family, for one. Outside, for another. But once I got over those two things, it was back to gaming again, and, much to my great joy, I discovered a gigantic pile of new games, untouched or barely touched by me, because WoW had--once again--completely taken over my gaming life, pushing everything else aside. See, when you're addicted to WoW, a weird thing happens with other games. Every time you're trying to play a different game, you feel like you're cheating on WoW. You feel like you're "wasting time" that should actually be spent getting more Emblems of Heroism, or getting Fishing achievements. You feel a nagging sense of "missing out", because you're not in there with everyone else busily getting Fishing achievements. So those other games pile up, forgotten, unloved, unplayed.
Now, with no other choice--other than to stop gaming and do something else with my life (HAHAHAHAHAHA)---I have returned to that sad pile. And here is what I discovered: It is not sad at all! It is happy! A happy pile! A happy pile of great games! All they were waiting for was for me to find them again! And I did! Yaaaay!
And so now the great tackling of the unplayed games begins. First up is Left 4 Dead, which I'm currently only playing in the single-player campaign version. I know, you don't have to tell me--I'm missing the entire point. But I need to know what I'm doing first before I play co-op, out of Fear Of Suckitude. Also on my plate: Empire Total War, Fallout 3 (good god, how did I forget this one?), Sacred 2, Dawn of War 2, and more. It's all making me feel like I should have quit WoW voluntarily awhile back.
It's a demanding, jealous bitch, that World Of WarCraft. It doesn't let us see other games, even casually, for coffee. It feels pretty great to be free and dating other games again.
But, hey, if you see her, say hello. She might think I've forgotten her, don't tell her it isn't so.