I am in no way a single character player. I had 17 max level characters last expansion and while I only have 6 now because the reputation grind on alts ruined my desire to level more any time soon while there is still so much for the others to do I am sure I will end the expansion with over 20 90s. I would even bet on it.
So I might not be the best person to look at the single character issue but I think I can look at some of the issues they deal with as I do tend to play the game a lot of different ways, because that is how I enjoy myself.
I've leveled alts on PvP servers, alts on alliance dominated servers as horde, alts on horde dominated servers as alliance, alts with no guild, alts with high guilds, alts with no professions, two gathering professions, two crafting professions, or a mix of one each. I have leveled so many different alts in so many different ways, just to experience the game in every way possible, to get the most out of it one might say.
As such, I can say I have a few servers with only one character on them and at max (was, will be again) level to boot. So I know a little about having a single character. Perhaps it is my experience with having multiple characters with multiple professions that makes me look at things a little differently but I can say without a doubt that it is hard, very hard, to play end game if you only have one character.
Now, I have the added experience of someone that has all professions and knows the ropes and how to use the auction house but I wonder about the woes a single character would have if they did not have the experiences I have.
The one character I will use in my example is a hunter (of course) that has two gathering professions that were not just chosen without thought. I took herbalism and skinning. There is a reason behind that too, something only someone with experience in the game would even consider.
While mining is a good money maker it is also the gathering profession with the most people doing it. Not to mention on a full server, as this hunter is on, there are also a lot of bots, which all seem to love mining as well. So with all that added competition I decided that I could get more done for my time investment using the other two gathering professions than I would using the, seemingly, more profitable profession or mining.
Not to mention that skinning means killing things. Killing things means getting drops. Even gray items sell nicely and lets not forget that anything you can skin can also drop meat and food always sells good, even more so this expansion it seems when turtle meat is still going over 300 gold a stack. So what some might think I lose to not having mining I pick up with skinning in other ways.
All this comes from experience, the same experience that lets me work the auction house to my advantage meaning I always have my satchel filled with gold from my adventures.
Again, I will point out that I have a lot of experience that someone that only has a single character might not, so I am making it easier on myself.
Now lets get to that end game. The constant gearing treadmill and need for enchants, and gems and flasks and potions and scope. About the only thing I can take care of myself is food but that is about it. Even with my minimal efforts I am capable of making a few thousand a week on that character and as such it is enough to keep me with the best of everything I need. Barely.
It is not easy keeping up with everything you need. If it were my main and only character I am sure it would be easier however, I understand that. But as it is, sometimes it puts you in the position of making decisions I would never be forced to make on a server with multiple characters on it.
I just got a chest piece from a heroic for example. Should I spend the 3K the enchant is selling for or should I wait to see if one drops in LFR, or I get into a pug and one drops there, or maybe save up valor to buy one. That 3K can be pretty daunting for most people. I can make it back no problem as I know how to work things to my advantage but the question is still there, do I want to spend 2 hours making gold to make back that 3K or should I just wait for another chest?
On a server with my own enchanter it is never a question. I get a new piece, I pop on my enchanter and I make the enchant, no questions asked. I do not even think about it.
How about running dungeons or the LFR or even a pug. Is it worth using a flask? Food? All that stuff costs gold and is it worth it? If I do not need it to finish the content why use it, it would be like throwing away gold for nothing.
I never make these types of decisions on servers where I have everything going. I can make everything myself and usually do, so I have everything I would ever need in mass quantities. I've never needed to make the decision or putting in a green gem because the blue ones cost way to much. I got spoiled. On a single character server I make the decision every single piece of gear I get with a gem slot.
It comes down to how long I think I will have that piece. If it is something that will last me a while, maybe even until the next raid patch, I will surely spend the gold but if it is something I can replace easy, like with valor or a LFR drop, green it is baby. Why waste the gold.
Talking about gold, to make gold I use my gathering professions and do quite well with it for my once or twice a month I would play it. I don't think I have seen under 30K all that often and when I do it is not long before I get over it again. That 30K I call my buffer, the least amount I want to keep on me. If I go under it then I try to make some more. If I am above it, I really do not give a crap. Some time ago I figured that was the number you needed to keep yourself rolling in anything you would ever need, in cataclysm that is. Might up it now I guess.
For making gold, or not making it the times I am too lazy to spend all that time listing stuff, I need bag space. As a single character this is the biggest problem in the world. Bigger than the hardest boss on heroic ever. It is a boss you can not beat, will not beat, ever. It won't happen, at least not until you abandon your single character concept. If you want to hold on to stuff you will need an alt. This is non-negotiable.
Nope, can't do it, not on this server. This server is all about being solo. No alts allowed. So like it or not, sell stuff or waste the only time I am going to be playing that week on that character sitting at the auction house instead of doing things like dailies or dungeons or raids or pugging or gathering or dancing around naked, whatever floats your boat. All because it comes down to having no bag space.
It becomes a decision of what to keep and what to sell. Some wrath food still sells quite nicely. 60 gold a stack is not bad, but it sells slow. So the options you now have are three. Keep listing it to sell it at the top price and use your mailbox as a catch all, which does work. List it for a super low price. Enough that you will still make a fair deal on it but at the same time cheap enough that if someone sees it they will think, it is never this cheap I have to buy it now. And last but not least, vendor it. Yeap, vendor it. I have had to do that so often it is scary. I could sell it for 3 gold but it vendors for 1. Vendor it now instead of waiting forever to sell it to make a 2 gold profit, that will probably only be 1 gold by the time it actually sells with the listing costs and the auction house cut.
Every piece of junk you get becomes a decision, is it worth the bag space. I did not even do the holiday thing on that character because I did not want the two footballs. I would have felt compelled to keep them but I do not want to waste what precious little space I had on junk. So I did not even tempt myself and never did the quest to get the achievement. It is shared anyway so who cares.
Perhaps it is the fact I have it all on other servers that makes me feel so helpless on the single character server. Perhaps this is how those people that are really casual and only have one character really feel all the time. Perhaps that is why they are not gemmed and not enchanted, because they can not afford it.
Maybe they are not bad players or people that do not care. Maybe they are just a single character and being a single character is really hard. Maybe that little bit of gold they have is to enchant and gem the better chest they know is coming and that is why they have not bothered with this one.
Playing on a single character has made me look at some players in a different light. It might not be they are bad, it might just be that things are not easy for a person that only has one character and it is even harder if they did not choose double gathering and do not know how to work the auction house.
Oh, the woe of the single character, I feel your pain.