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I just stepped through the Dark Portal, for the first time, a few days ago. Now, now, before the cries of "noob" get too deafening, let me share another secret with you: I started playing World of Warcraft on release day. I'll pause to admire the inquisitive looks...
On New Year's Eve this year, I reopened my account after a near 5-year hiatus. 5 years ago I partnered with the developer of the WoWCensus UI addon and launched wowcensus.com (which was later sold off). Between November 2004 and April 2005, I was so wrapped up in creating an excellent service outside of WoW that I completely lost touch with the game itself. After the sale of wowcensus.com, I couldn't enjoy the game for what it was -- a game, I was constantly looking for the next "big idea."
So, what brought me back and how is this time different? Cataclysm. I realized I had seen very little of Azeroth (never getting above level 20 on 4 different characters), and in a relatively short period of time that would all change -- I would never be able to experience this world as so many others had. For a game that has had such a significant impact on my life (it fueled my career change from System Administrator to Developer) that was unacceptable -- I had to experience Azeroth before Deathwing's rise altered it forever.
This time around, I've slowed down significantly – reading the quests, admiring the scenery – and have spent hours simply running from zone to zone to see what I've been missing out on. Cataclysm, and all the change it brings, can simply not be enjoyed to the same degree by those who have not taken the time to stop and smell the flowers. For such a colossal undertaking by Blizzard, I'm not going to marginalize it – when Cataclysm hits I'll be sitting in Mulgore (my favorite zone thus far) and embracing the change.
Have you recently returned to the game after a long break? Did real-life run interference and force you to take a break? Why did you come back and how has that "WoW-cation" changed your approach to the game this time around?