A reversal of the blogging mirror

Update – looks like the guys who stayed after the shake-up might get some raids after all, Insidious are going to recruit a few folks for ongoing runs. Yay!

Reading about our guild on other blogs is kind of cool. It is odd when I see somebody posting about things that are happening, as many times a World of Warcraft blogger can write all sorts of things, and generally I wouldn’t stop to consider what that is like if it were in my guild. It is different when it is people you know.

Reading about Insidious online is like a reversal of the one-way mirror that I write from. Typically I post without expecting too much feedback. Instead the feedback is the content. I like it.

A fellow blog writer DragonRay recently joined Insidious (Insidous on Nagrand-US) the guild where a few friends and I run most things. I have no real idea if Insidous is different from many other guilds or not, but the way it is run is based upon whoever in the officer or gm is on makes the choices as needed, and we tend to always back each other up. It tends to work because we have similar base values as people, and we’re friends.

Recently several key members of one of our raid teams left for greener pastures, and the second raid team indicated that they’ll return to the guild they quasi-disbanded to join us.

Well fark! That means in a very short period we go from having two darn good 10x man raid teams to missing players. That isn’t great for raiding, and rather than trying to recruit pre-Warlords of Draenor we’ve decided that it is better to have a break from progression raiding.

Aside – Recruiting now for WoD seems premature to me, as so much will change in ways that we cannot foresee. It was the same when we were told of TBC’s progression path through Kara (10s) to Gruul (25s) etc. The mix and grind of guildies and player’s roles was dreadful. I think players have a motivation to get in good with a high value guild early, but that only helps you if you’re actually in the true guild core group, and frankly if you are switching guilds regularly then you’re probably not in any core.

Formal progression raids on heroic content are not planned, but whatever achievements runs, fun runs, or flex-raids are all still a go.

I feel for DragonRay and they guys who joined recently because if the few folk hadn’t left that raid team we’d have had a good go at continuing progression. In her blog post she wrote:

Firstly, raiding…has officially stopped in our guild, little bit of drama I think behind the scenes – which I am not privy to – the joys of not being GM or an officer. So we are basically free until WoD now.  I will still do the raids they have going – if they do achievement run etc…I certainly won’t say no to it.  I missed raid Sunday night due to super busyness and watching for fire news (we aren’t close but at that point a shift in the wind could have done it).

So I missed the announcement, and was shocked when i logged on last night to find barely anyone online.  Such is life of the raid cycle. Unfortunately when you are having to rebuild a raid team some people are more impatient than others.  I feel slightly bad that we had not geared up as quickly as we could, but I can’t force items to drop.

Anyway, suffice it to say I now have free time to get my other toons to 90 before WoD and decide which one is going to get my free boost – I would hazard a guess and say my rogue since I have yet to get one past level 30.

I commented there too as I think it was certainly worth responding to, and to be fair it should could go here too.

You’ve certainly come at an “inward spike” in activity. You’re dead right there was some serious junk happening off camera, and that was finally put to bed recently. Thankfully. All the normal type of things that are seen when a guild has a large amount of real people crunched together for raiding. On the back of that a few key great people said they’d had enough of the to-and-fro and decided to either play less or play elsewhere.

One of the biggest strength the game has is that nobody can tell you when or how you have to play; you get to choose. Then it is also a huge limitation, because the GMs, Officers, and Raid Leads also cannot mandate that a raid will happen.

I’d never play a game where I was forced to play, as that is not a game anymore. It would be work, or torture, or something altogether awful.

Both Raiding and Guild management feel like schoolyard cricket in grade 4 primary school. i.e. you hope every turns up today and plays nice together.

For all that infrequent guff-guff we deal with I still love the people in the guild, and may more who I’ve met along the way. Some of the folks who used to be in guild who left or were removed due to drama are still good people, it just didn’t work at the time.

I can’t fault the folks who left at all because I’ve done the same at other times in my game-life, and I respect their choice. Kind of turning into a longer comment than I intended – what I intended to say straight up was: glad you’re here and I hope you have a ball.

A cynical reader might say, “well as a GM that’s all you’d ever say, it’s empty bullshit”. Well it is not. Re-reading what I wrote afterward I truthfully feel that a lot of the malarkey we’ve faced as a guild was due to people having egos that are incompatible with others. Not that they were crappy people, but that they just cannot get along. Most of those people might be normal in a social setting, but they were pains-in-the-arse at times in a raid context.

cropped-nerbian-entrance Continue reading

Who should pay for Guild Vent and Website?

I’m angry about a guild issue, and venting on this blog seems appropriate. Normally I don’t publish guild stuff because it keeps the morale higher and most people don’t need to know. However this scenario is guild wide and I suspect something that other guilds face frequently too.

Basically who should pay for a Guild’s out-of-game services?

e.g. Ventrillo, or whatever voice chat, or the website, or hosting, or whatever.

For our guild the cost of these services has been paid for primarily by the guild officers, with a few donations from some players along the way. I took up the Vent costs a while back from another Officer who had been paying them for years. Another officer has paid for almost all our other web hosting services for many years. Recently I decided that paying for a service that I almost never used was pointless, so I asked for donations and/or other solutions.

I think there has been three donations since then. Not even close to enough to cover any one service, let alone Web and Vent.

A few players stepped up to discuss it, and a few made donations. I really appreciate the time, effort and donations of those people.

The other 12-15+ people in the guild who raid 3x nights a week and use Vent all the time have given nothing. They turn up, raid, and go.

The vent server will stop working any day now because I’ve stopped the account. We are discussing options, but without donations the costs just pass to another of the officers who is being too generous with his money. The silent majority of our raiders who use the service have not helped at all.

I’m angry that others have not donated.

I’m disappointed that other raiders don’t care enough to help.

It would take about a cup of coffee a month from each raider to pay for all our services easily. In fact we’d probably have huge amounts of cash left over. It could be one coffee every three months from each of them and we’d still be fine.

e.g. 20 raiders x $3.50 per quarter =  $280. Even if I exclude the few folk who have already donated or already paid up regularly we could still have just less than $200 to pay for this stuff.

So I have to ask – who should pay? I guess I expect raiders to contribute, but most do not.

Is that view unreasonable?

It is reasonable to be in a guild and never contribute to any of the out-of-game costs?

Should the officers or GM alone pay for all the extra services?

My advice to others is to think about what you are using, who is paying, and what you get out of it.I’m done paying for others to raid on my dime.

Kill everything and loot the corpses, TyphoonAndrew.


Quicktip – Use wowprogress to look for guild hoppers

WoW Progress tells you a lot about a player, when it can get reasonable data. It will show you how many guilds they have been in, which might give an indication of their character.

When you have players come and go through guilds which affects the balance, spotting those players who are always entering and leaving on whims is handy so that they never enter in the first place. Apart from checking The Armory and other tools to check their character’s current setup, the character history can help.

Continue reading

Tears over Tier Tokens

Wintergrasp Offensive

Death Knights waiting for a token not shared with bloody Mages or Druids.

Because of a Guild Officer’s meeting I was pondering the loot tables, gear distribution systems, and the associated mods that raiders use. Of course the loot reward system was discussed, and we once again chatted about all sorts of options. Silly ones, great ones, in an ideal world, and also very much in the world we have to play in. That might make it sound like I didn’t want to chatter about it; not so. In fact we’re pondering all sorts of useful stuff for the teams, and considering carefully what the game will feel like in WoW version 5.1+. The question that came to my mind outside of those discussion was:

What if the tier tokens were made universal for all classes?

I suggest removing them, and making them just “shoulder token” or “helm token” with no class restriction. And here is why:

  • Essentially most raiding guilds have loot policies and systems to handle gear distribution. Therefore the token is adding a layer of restriction which is actually inhibiting the guild’s progression, because it limits options.
  • Some groups have actually implemented separate bid lists or systems specifically fro tier gear, due to the importance it has on the character and raid. Well no change there one way or the other, only that the skew of classes in your raid group will be affected by the random token that drops. i.e. Good luck being a geared Shaman if you rarely see that token drop.
  • Random LFR runs now have no loot need/greed anymore. You either get look or you do not. The token is moot now in LFR.
  • The tokens have the positive change of allowing a character rewarded with one a choice on what particular item they choose from the vendor. This is a huge positive as it means that classes can pick the best gear. Druids for example can pick any of their types of gear fro one token. No change as either an advantage or disadvantage here.
  • The tokens helped when you didn’t want to compete against everyone in the raid for loot, which gave an illusory feeling of hope. But once again that is a mechanic which raiders can handle. It still comes down to which Token dropped, and then who you roll against. So essentially is a two step random process (which token, then roll against other classes) better than a one step random process (what was your loot roll)?
  • The tokens at times were useless due to not having enough of a class range, or they could not benefit the raid the most. Huge problem, just ask anyone doing Wintergrasp, et al.
  • The only situation where these have some limited value as implemented now is for pug runs which are not in the LFR system, and that is only because they keep the illusion of two random events alive. That is a thin line.

So there it is. I can’t see a reason to keep them anymore.

Feelings on GM retirement

Part of the challenge to play wow well is at a basic level having enough time to make progress. There is a minimum amount of time needed to do any particular task, and of late my time available has been decreasing – this is especially true of any player who wishes to also have a controlling role in a guild structure. It takes a bit (or a lot) more time than just playing.

In future I expect it to get even harder to get a regular cycle of time each week, so (with much apprehension) I’ve retired as GM of the Insidious guild, returning the title to the old GM. In hindsight I have some thoughts on being a guildie, a GM, and a player that I thought might be interesting to others. Continue reading

Raiding is a Party not a Sport

Maintaining the weekly raid roster is a bloody hard thing to do; just ask any recruitment or guild officer. With the holidays, life, and general grumpiness of raiders these days, there is little to do except be constantly supporting the ego and feelings of the current team, and potentially recruiting for replacements at the same time. WoW Insider has a post up that talks about the concept of rebuilding years, akin to a sports team that has an off year while they train up younger players.

The sports team analogy does not mix with WoW though, due to the expectation and flexibility that raiders have vs the sports teams. In fact I think the sports team example actually makes it worse for the players who are left behind because it might make them think the social mechanics are different to what they really are. Why?

  • Raiders are not in financial contracts, and nobody is being paid.
  • Raiders cannot be forced to login.
  • An off-season for a raid team is enough for many to leave, or slow further.
  • There is no glamor or praise for the bench & support roles.

So cut it with the sports analogies. Also the job/work comparisons are moot too for exactly the same reasons. You think I go to work for fun every day? I can see that the amateur sports team comparison as closer to the raiding structure, but it still misses the range of social & community aspects that MMOs teams often have.

Ok then, what would be a good comparison? Dinner parties.

  • You probably want to attend because its meant to be fun. The invite list is finite, but sometimes a bit of stretch can be accommodated.
  • If you’re invited regularly it means you’re probably in a core group of some sort who often catch-up.
  • You’d like to believe that the people are friends, or at least will be civil to each other. You also might not like your old friends new partner, but hey – its their mistake.
  • Real life or other events will get in the way and make you late or not attend. The importance of the person in your life will probably dictate if you go. If the devotion is akin to family you’ll probably go regardless and apologise, and might even ring ahead.
  • You’re meant to bring something to the party as a gift, but its ok if you don’t. The gifts are just like Pots, Food, and Flasks. Some people never bring anything, and everyone knows who they are, but its unlikely they’ll be abused for it.
  • Sometimes you’re a ring in that hardly knows anyone, and that is a double edged sword. You might end up standing in the corner (or dead on the floor) half the night.
  • God help you if its a date too – as you’ll be scrutinised the entire night by strangers.
  • Some parties suck and are a total waste of time. Other parties are good even if you don’t do a lot, as you just hang out with your friends.
  • There is a chance of meeting some new people, or knowing them better.
  • And if you’re desperate for people to attend the party you can just invite almost anyone and see what type of person you get. Generally that does not work very well though.

So what does that mean for raid composition? Well that is where you need to remember that just like the birthday party the participants are looking to have their expectations met, and the people running the party have a huge amount of work to do while its going on. They carry the balance of all these aspects with them.

They stress about it all through the process, and they plan all that they can before hand. Sometimes all the plans go to hell 5 minutes before the party should start, other times the party goes badly mid way through (anyone got a bad uncle or mom who drops in?). During the party they are the hosts who try to keep everything flowing. And afterward they are the idiots who have to clean up, and deal with any issues.

What can you do as a good Dinner Party attendee / Raider?

  • Don’t be an ass if you don’t get an invite. Sometimes there is just not room.
  • Bring a positive attitude, and bring a gift or two.
  • Respect everyone, and know when to keep your mouth shut.
  • Don’t expect that you can just turn up with two extras, even if they’re hot.
  • If you really miss out, get off your ass and organise your own party. Do that for 5 weeks and then talk to the normal leads – your attitude might have changed a bit.

As an aside, these comparisons come to mind too while I wrote this, and while they’re a tad odd they are still very demonstrative:

  • When the Fury Warrior throws up in the garden and needs to sit quietly inside for 5 minutes, its the raid leaders who arrange that break.
  • When the Princess can’t be happy until everything is just her way, everyone groans quietly but keeps on anyway.
  • When that loud annoying nerd won’t shut the hell up about Dr Who, its the team leads who must assign somebody to “handle” him.

In closing – respect the raid leaders and organisers, and try to have fun. They have far more to stress about that just one person. I hope all your parties are fun and you get a heap of gifts.