at last, someone that actually knows everything that went on, yet disagrees.
let's dissect the phrase 'rose colored glasses' first of all. according to people definition, its looking back nostalicly while remembering the 'good' and forgetting the 'bad'.
unfortunatly, this "bad" is what the people in this thread that are opposing the others, are clamoring for.
players would be able to invest time and get the Knight lt blue pvp gear and mix and match D1 set pieces (which did take time to get) and such. then you could got into UBRS, which was your entry level raid (well after scholo and strat became five man)
so casual gamers had their stuff too. there was a ton of content back then and nothing truly felt linear. you went across the globe for EVERYTHING and the entire world was part of the game. all the things about raiding you listed were for those who seriously wanted to invest their time into raiding. that option was there. and now that option is what, heroic versions of the same thing? same drops, diff color? achievements? where's the fun in just getting a bunch of purples that are scattered along the road that you walk straight through to get to that "hardcore" content?
I’m sorry, but I disagree. No, people don’t look on trade and the LFG channel anymore, but go to the dozens of threads about why there is a tank shortage, you’ll find out why: people and doing dungeon runs with their guilds instead of just utilizing LFD. Sure, some people don’t know where dungeons are, but I bet a majority of the population was here prior to LFD being implemented.
Some of those things you seem to pine for are exactly the things that made the game tedious during vanilla and TBC (at least while leveling). Want to run Uldaman? Okay, time for an hour long walk to the Badlands, partially through Alliance territory (for us horde). Want to run SM? Okay Alliance, time for a long trek through Horde territory or through WPL at level 30-40 (mobs were low to mid 50’s there at that time, remember).
Did I enjoy the attunement quests? Sure I did… the first time I did them. But doing them on a second, or third, or fourth character was no longer fun. Did I enjoy doing my quest for my epic mount on my warlock and my paladin? LOVED IT! Yes, I’m sad that it’s gone. But after TBC came out, it was darn near impossible to get a group together for those instances, unless you got a guild group of high levels together.
The game is what, 6 years old? My girlfriend started playing last December. She just hit level 80, and she still jumped for joy at the achievement of getting there. She still loved the content leveling up, the dungeons, the zones, the fights. She doesn’t like to blitz through a dungeon, she critiques her gear, trying to decide if that haste and crit boost is worth the loss of the int.
But you know what she’s looking forward to the most? Having the ability to play with me… she’s not a hardcore gamer, this is her first MMO, her games before were things like Mario Sunshine. Do I expect her to be in our raid groups when we are trying new bosses, or attempting heroic content? No, I don’t. But would I like to be able to take her into a raid and kill bosses we have on farm? Yes, most definitely. She was saddened when she found out that the end of the Lich King storyline was in a raid, because she wanted to finish the Icecrown quests to know what happened.
The game still has that epic feel if you want it to. I personally spent a good hour just swimming around the new underwater zone when Cata hit, it was amazing. I still think Deepholm is amazing. My guild, which is pretty casual yet still raids twice a week, has not downed all the bosses yet, but when we down one, we scream and rejoice in vent.
Those things you find nostalgic and you want back were, in my opinion, things that held the game back. Making so much of the content not accessible isn’t a great game design. I was saddened when my guild broke up before we got to Illidan, I never got to experience that epic battle, and it wasn’t a fight you could just pug at level 70. Sunwell was out of the question for most people.
Sure, they had content for the casuals. But if you were truly interested in the story of the game, in the progression of that story, you had two options: miss it or become a hardcore gamer. And unfortunately, most people just had to miss it.