How could you raid back then with the sheer amount of boring trash mobs all over? its awful... I was doing some Stratholme runs to maybe get the baron's mount and I was utterly disgusted by the instance: 20 million trash mobs all linked together so 1 miss-pull could spell wipe for the entire group.
There was a time when trash could accurately be called "Equally interesting yet non-epic-dropping non-bosses". Players had to pull carefully or risk the dreaded wipe. Yes, risk. What a strange concept! Next thing I'll tell you that bosses needed tanks and some weren't a pure DPS race.
Was there a lot of trash? Yes. But trash was different. First off, less boring since you weren't half-afk spamming AoEs. But there was also the incentive bit: trash dropped more interesting stuff. Sure there were the usual boring things like vendor trash and cloth, but also scourgestones and bits of bone that were desired for things related to Naxxramas floating above EPL.
When you're not planning to burn down an instance in 15 minutes on a slow day, a wipe isn't going to wreck your careful badge grinding schedule. Besides, how people reacted to a wipe was another way to evaluate people for possible recruitment. The guy who just lays there waiting for a res, maybe he isn't the best candidate. The first guy back, rebuffing and drinking, that's a potential keeper, assuming he's not the one who caused the wipe in the first place. When everyone is just a bunch of anonymous jackasses, wipes can say something. When we had to invest some time to get to an instance and complete it we also weren't so eager to ditch after one wipe the way people often do during their random instance mini-game.
And of course our gear sucked. Maybe a wipe hurts if you're in full epics, but only raiders had epics and if they wiped it was because they were trying for a speed run. Badass, am I right? Yea. When you're in half greens, a wipe isn't all that expensive. But no, these days we don't want to get our beautifully crafted dresses dirty and do you know how much these shoes cost!?
But I'm missing the true point: when someone is running a place for and only for a single extremely rare drop, then anything, whether challenging or trivial, boring or fun, cheap or expensive, is just an obstacle. Yes, a surprising new idea that I'm sure you've not heard a thousand times before: when you do something only for the result, the process is less fun than it might be otherwise.
Setting that idiocy aside, I want to clarify that I didn't enjoy wiping. I'd have rather not wiped. But they weren't the end of the world, the cue to spew rants about noobs, the cue to requeue with a new crew. And even while they weren't fun, they provided a standard of comparison, so that smooth runs were a reward for an instance well run rather than the trivially boring standard.
This isn't just vanilla nostalgia. It's also BC nostalgia. Even then we still played with our own server and weren't teleported directly into the instance. We'd wipe in SL and run back, rethinking our pulls. Or SH. Or Arcatraz. Okay fine sometimes in Arc we'd just give up and go home because that last boss was a bit too dependent on the group makeup.