This is the milestone I'm currently at, in my long climb up the mountain towards epic flying.
I'm aware; all the cool kids got their flying shark when they were first introduced back in TBC, but for whatever reason, I just didn't get around to buying mine back then.
At the time, Tom Chilton hadn't quite managed to recreate the game in his own perverted image to the extent he has now, and it therefore wasn't possible to (at least theoretically, with a full stable of alts) earn 800-1k gold a day simply by drooling on the floor. This is possibly the only area where Chilton's drive to make WoW safe for the Guitar Hero demographic, has actually worked in my own favour.
Of course, being on a server where the auctionhouse is both active and certifiably insane (in terms of the degree of inflation) certainly helps. I'm not sure about other servers, but Star Rubies can sell for up to a dozen gold apiece, and Rugged Leather (pre-tbc leather type) is worth twice as much as Borean on Jubei'Thos.
This means that to a large extent, where pre-TBC content is concerned, I've finally found a scenario where I can have my cake and eat it too. I can engage in my favourite pastime in this game; charge rich alts 50-200 gold for runs through BRD, and sell the rugged leather I skin from the hounds there, for one gold apiece. Runecloth can spike to nearly 10 gold a stack, and I've also seen Dark Iron on the AH before (around two weeks ago) for 15g per bar.
Mithril, Truesilver, Thorium? Same as Saronite, on Jubei; 3g per bar. Thick Leather is the same as Borean; 55s per piece, or 11g per stack. Felcloth? 2g per piece. Winterspring is more lucrative than Icecrown, barring the dailies. Insane, I hear you say? Possibly, but I'm not arguing.
At this point, the auction house and imitating Indiana Jones via old content are literally my only focus in this game. I don't raid; I'm not even trying to do Heroics any more. Why, I hear you ask? The answer to that question would be Jubei's dark side.
The GearScore addon rules Jubei'Thos with an iron fist. Where raiding or heroics are concerned on the server, there are two groups of people; those with 4.5k+ GS, and those without it. Those with it are permitted to raid or run Heroics. Those without it stand outside the bank in Dalaran and cry; either that, or creatively adapt to their situation, as I have done.
Elitism is more brutal, and chronic, on Jubei'Thos than on any other server I have ever seen. Nobody seems run Northrend Heroics because they actually enjoy them, to even a remote degree.
I was doing the Heroic Halls of Lightning daily quest this morning, when the paladin tank I was with refused to engage the first boss, simply because his desire was so strong to be out of the instance in the shortest time humanly possible.
I've shifted focus to people levelling alts or first characters below the cap, and they seem to be enjoying themselves to an enormous degree. By contrast, I ferried a group of 52s through BRD after the H HOL disaster, and we all had a great time. I also ran a couple of 70s through the Mana Tombs the other night; again, great fun was had by all.
I'm not generalising about other servers here, but on Jubei at least, the central rule seems to be, that before the cap, people primarily play the game in order to actually enjoy themselves. After the cap, the motivation is apparently to either desperately try to find something which will cause onlookers in Dalaran (or other capitals) to gasp at you in orgasmic awe when they see you, or simply to get your GearScore sufficiently high that you are perceived as having fundamental worth as a human being.
I've never been able to (and I don't think I ever will) understand what the point of that is. Using WoW as a source of self esteem, for me, has always come across as an exercise in futility. The goalposts are continually shifting; today you're only considered leet if you have tier 7, and tomorrow it's tier 9.
The other thing that I've noticed, is that with only very rare exceptions, you're never actually praised if you manage to achieve the arbitrary prerequisite for social acceptance within the current moment. You're only ruthlessly abused, rejected, excluded, segregated, and discriminated against if you haven't.
So what are my own goals in the game right now? The first is epic flying, and the second is the Conqueror PvP title. If I manage to get a good enough handle on working the AH, I will probably try and shoot for a Traveller's Tundra Mammoth as well. In my instance tourguide/bodyguard type activities, the vehicle's capacity for extra passengers (not to mention its' ability to host repair and ammunition vendors) could come in extremely useful.
I'd lost faith in raiding probably a year or two ago, but it was only relatively recently when the same disillusionment started to set in for Heroics. The usual argument about Heroics, that it's old content, and therefore at this point gear is the only thing that matters, also doesn't wash to me. I can go to old instances with people any number of times, and still consistently have fun.
I can also, with the right group of people, have fun in the Northrend instances as well. Some offline friends proved that to me last week, when we ran Utgarde Keep and Pinnacle together.
One of them was new at playing a Warrior; not only did he lack experience at tanking with the class, but he was undergeared as well. So we wiped probably four times on Skadi, and in the end only beat him very narrowly. Yet I still had more fun wiping with them, than I've ever had in any amount of runs which consisted purely of "aoe lol," at warp speed, where the instance was finished much more quickly.
The point of this game isn't for people who are bitter or insecure about being impotent, powerless, anonymous, and inconsequential in offline life, to attempt to find a means to compensate for that fact. If you're a loser offline, go offline and do something about it there; don't simply live in this game in order to get a 5k GearScore, and then think you can be a petty megalomaniac towards those whose GS is lower. That is unutterably pathetic.
The argument that 5k GS is in any way necessary, is also completely bogus. There is no 5 man Heroic in Northrend which needs more than 1.8k DPS per DPS class, tops. The number for Patchwerk is 2k. The number for Sarth and so on might be a bit higher, but I'm guessing it's truly not much.
I've asked this question before, but I still don't know the answer. If, when people step into an instance, their sole focus is on getting through it as quickly as is humanly possible, then what is their motivation for even entering the instance at all?
The reason why I keep doing older content over and over again (or even contemporary Heroics, if I'm with the right people) is because I actually enjoy it. If people don't enjoy what they're doing in this game, then why are they here at all?