I sat down today to try out WOW's Looking for Raid feature. I haven't played in a long time, I am barely familiar with my abilities, and I don't know how the fights in the Dragon Soul raid work, but nonetheless I was prepared to inflict myself on a host of unsuspecting randoms. There was some wiping and dying and quite a lot of people slinging blame for the wiping and dying around at random but eventually we cleared the raid out. I had a pretty good time and became a lot better at healing over a very short timespan! The raid was very reminiscent of PUG raids I ran back in previous expansions and seemed to be tuned appropriately. The really great thing about LFR is that I got to experience the final battle of the expansion without having to be in a serious raiding guild. People used to complain that casuals only get to see the first part of WOW stories and never get to see the end but LFR really opens that up to anyone who wants to put in any modest amount of effort.
The low quality of the leadership in LFR groups certainly brings me back though. Instead of saying "All dps need to switch to tentacles and slimes when they spawn" people invariably say "All you dpsers are noobs, wtf is wrong with you?" I rarely found that spouting vitriol was effective but I certainly noticed that simple, clear instructions went a long way towards improving people's play and also keeping the group from exploding. People also seemed extremely eager to quit the raid and/or boot other people from the raid with minimal to no explanation; for some reason every single boot vote went forward even when I couldn't figure out why it was happening.
I don't get that old feeling of progression though as I upgrade my gear. LFR does let me check things out but I really don't get the rush of getting new gear and moving forward, most likely because all of the gear I am acquiring will be obsolete in two weeks and there isn't anything more difficult to accomplish other than what I am already doing. Whether or not I will end up feeling that rush again when Mists of Pandaria launches I don't know - this is particularly true if I end up doing timed dungeons with my friends where gear is normalized and finding new rewards doesn't matter anyway! Maybe I will just do some pet battles and timed dungeons and forget about the treadmill entirely... who knows?
I am going to get back into theorycrafting in a serious way though. You don't need to raid to be interested in finding optimal solutions to problems.