Why I Love and Hate Achievements

Why I Love and Hate Achievements

As I predicted in an earlier post, the newly-fledged Achievement System turned out to be more than just a cosmetic change to World of Warcraft. In fact, I was far too conservative in my predictions. Instead of adding another layer of accountability to progression mechanisms already existing in the game, the Achievement System has in fact created its own unique avenue for progression–casual style. Achievements are so appealing because anyone can work on them, alone or in a group, and there’s a reward for every little thing you do. Even, famously, picking your teeth.

The Benefits

There’s a certain appeal to accomplishments that are tracked, defined, detailed, and instantly accessible. I find myself reading through the achievement tooltip when I’m in flight or waiting at an instance for a raid to start. I am by no means immune to the siren call of Achievements. In fact, I’ve been spending all the casual time I have in pursuit of non-combat pets. I have 49 of 50 to date, and I’m sorry to report that no matter how many times I log in when I’m supposed to be working, Syd somehow just cannot get a Sinister Squashling, either through the boss event or through trick or treating. My failure of an alt, Marfisa, has gotten two of them in treat bags so far. Never fear, dear reader, the cute little skunk pet will be mine–as soon as the Darkmoon Faire rolls into town and I buy an ugly old frog.

Moreover, I think the Achievement System is a brilliant move on Blizzard’s part. Many casual players are coming back to the game right now to refresh their knowledge of their characters ahead of the expansion, and the tracking system–and the cleverly written little tasks–breathe a little life into old content.

However, Achievements are not all sunshine and rainbows. Briolante–who’s smarter than me most of the time–tried to tell me a few weeks ago that Achievements were going to be a real drag. In fact, I think his comment had a lot of expletives in it, but his major fear was that Achievements would become the new badge gear–the measure of success that our guild members would pursue, doggedly, until they got every single possible thing. It turns out that he was right, and, like badge gear, many of those achievements require a tank’s help. Hence, the expletives.

Now, it’s not as if Briolante doesn’t like to help people out. In fact, he does, but in moderation, and for things that make sense. I’m starting to feel a little resentful of Achievements myself, even though I haven’t done a single thing I wouldn’t otherwise do in pursuit of them. What, then, is the source of my angst? Read on, dear reader. . .


The Drawbacks

1. I feel like I’m spying on my guildmates. If someone is crazy enough to go explore all the corners of Winterspring, even the really inaccessible one over by the cave full of crazed Moonkin, I don’t want to know about it. Without wanting to, those achievement reports influence how I think about each of my guildmates. It’s almost like opening a bathroom stall door while someone else is in there–very, very uncomfortable. I know I could turn the alerts off–but I can’t make myself. What if I’m missing important information that could be used for the good of the guild?

2. There’s a little voice in my head telling me I’m lazy. I have a ridiculously low number of achievement points for someone who has raided as much as I have. Perhaps it’s my competitive personality, but whatever the metric, my instinct is to catch up. However, it would be hard to do that without running all those heroics and Zul’Aman again, and to be quite honest, I’d rather not. That goes for most achievements–world exploration, holidays, and reputation grinding included. The non-combat pet is my only exception, as I’m all about achievement if the reward is cute enough. However, I’m not interested in the proto-drakes or other flying mount rewards. Syd never uses anything but flight form–nothing compares to the grace and freedom of actually being a bird.

3. The structured Achievements have altered my understanding of the game world. What I love most about the world of the MMO is its open, anarchic nature. I actually like remote locations like Winterspring–where I spent a lot of time grinding rep with the Wintersaber Trainers–because they feel wild and unused, just like the remote corners of the real world. If the game is telling me to go to a certain place to get points, it just doesn’t feel like a hideaway any more. For the most part, when I was grinding rep in Winterspring, I was the only player there. I love the sense of a hostile world with only me in it. I suppose, in general, that I would rather that my “casual time” be as unstructured and solitary as possible. However, that’s me. I’m a raider, and I have plenty of structured things to do in the bulk of my play time.

4. I haven’t felt it too strongly yet, as healers are a dime a dozen in my guild, but there’s a good chance that, as the game moves on, guild members will start to post events–dungeons and raids–for achievement purposes only, and that they’ll need a healer. I tend to run instances following a very practical model. If there’s something that someone needs–that I recognize as valuable–I’m happy to help someone do it. If there were a mount, a pet, or a piece of gear involved, I’m glad to come along. However, I feel the same way about Achievement Points as I came to feel about Badges of Justice–it’s a bit of a stretch to do something unpleasant just for points. Now, if I or my groupmates could buy pink bunnies with those achievement points, I’d understand. But without that, I’m just not going to feel motivated to revisit old content. I like new things, and once I move on from an instance, I really move on. There’s a very good reason my alts haven’t been through Karazhan. I follow the same rule for things like holiday events. If they are fun or profitable, I participate. If not? I let it go.

So what can I do? As a player, I am going to strive to use the Achievement system as a tracking-only mechanism. Where possible, and pet skunk aside, I am not going to let the tooltip tell me how to play. That way, when I pore over my achievements panel, it will really let me track Syd’s journey as a character.

Taking a Page from the Vulcans

Matt’s Note: Technically not WoW related. Just a post about my futile attempts at fixing a bad situation. Might have some. But not entirely. Mark as read and move on if you like. Could be fairly lengthy.

Logic and reason. Decision making of any sort should consist of those key elements. We had a pretty bad raid last night. We got shut out by Felmyst. It was a bad game for most players throughout the night, myself included. That’s not what I’m here for, however. There was an incident that occurred post raid. I don’t know the specifics or the details. No other officers were online. I was grabbing a meal and trying to downshift myself from the ubertense zone I was in that raiders frequently experience. My friend alerted me that something was happening in Guild chat. I logged on quickly to take a look. I discovered a non-raider status Guildie had departed.

From what I gathered from witnesses and the like, the player was bitter. He wanted to use gold from the guild bank to repair his gear. A guild that he joined allowed him to do that while our guild did not offer the right here. As such, he labelled us a “newb” guild. One of our active raiders took offense and a verbal sparring ensued.

I’m now left with a raider who is questioning her desire to play this game. The player who left felt that him and his brother weren’t getting the recognition they deserved. For whatever reason, he decided to start openly challenging players to duels for 500G. I quickly took him up on the offer. I’m a PvE specced Priest with near full T6. He’s an S3 geared Warlock.

It was no contest. But I had no intention of winning. Clearly the player was aggravated and the only option I could think of was for him to take his frustrations out on me instead of the other raiders. It took all of my power to prevent myself from yelling. I thought perhaps I could try and defuse him without involving anyone else.

Why weren’t we giving his brother the respect he deserved?

We do. His brother’s the chief MA and a ranking DPS player in the Guild. Apparently by respect he meant why don’t we fund his repairs. I calmly explained to him that it’s not just him. No one in the guild is allowed to use gold for repairs because we can’t sustain that sort of income. We don’t sell epics or instances or anything like that. It’s the guild’s policy. Take it or leave it.

My brother’s way better and more important than anyone else!

Yes, your brother is a key asset to the guild. But he is no less important than the other 24 players. Without our resident Warlock tank, Illidan would have stoned us. Without our healers, we wouldn’t survive.

Why don’t I get a raiding spot?

You didn’t apply. Everyone goes through the application process, no ifs, ands or buts. I went through it myself. If you want to get promoted to a raider status, you put in an app on the forum. I don’t care if you’re his brother. Everyone goes through the same thing.

I tried to be as logical and reasonable as I could. Personally, I didn’t care if he left. He’s not a raider or a sub. If he wants to leave, I wish him all the best. He said his brother was going to leave with him. I said that’s up to his brother to decide. I won’t try to stop him from leaving. But, his services will be missed.

You see, my personal take on WoW is that players should do whatever it is that makes them happy. If it means leaving the guild and parting company, I’ll be disappointed but understanding. No one is under any obligation to stay in this guild. There are no player contracts to be honored or enforced. I will do my best to work with players and their needs to come to an acceptable consensus. I can’t do more than that. I might end up losing two players over this as well. Wrath is almost here. I can’t wait.

My trial period as an officer is coming up fast. I doubt I’ll remain in this position any longer after this. I’m not suited nor cut out to handle these situations on top of my other responsibilities. It’s not often players are a part of a stable organization that has been around since the server opened. The stability here makes it extremely attractive for me.

Other things:

* I’ve been extremely on edge recently. This doesn’t help.
* Missed Sunday’s WoW Insider post. It’s at home on my desktop. It’ll be up later today. Sorry Mike, Dan, Liz. I’m not exactly the most punctual.
* Car broke down this morning. Dad helped me jump start it. Weak battery. Friend wanted a hockey chest pad back when he gave it to me 6 years ago. Had no idea where it was. Found it though. Don’t ever lend things to people that you want back. If I knew he did want it back, I would’ve never taken it off his hands. He wants it for a Halloween costume. The guy is large and in his Mid 20s. The chest pad is junior sized.
* Punching concrete is bad.
* Posting is going to slow down a lot over the next week or 2. I have a paper, presentation and assorted midterms to deal with. I’m also going to suspend myself from WI writing for the same time period. I need my weekends free.
* Essay will be on the Columbine shooting. Have to explain it with 2 Crim related theories. Pick one or the other, compare/contrast, and explain. Have to give policy implications. 8 pages. Can’t use first person.

Things I want to do

* A lot of people visit the Plusheal forums then leave after a few times. I want to hook them back. I’m thinking about starting a Newsletter. Send out a combination of a few healing tips, topic highlights and posts from various healing bloggers. Anna says I’m trying to do too much. She’s right. It’s in the idea stage at the moment.
* I want to expand the world. I have an awesome Resto druid on staff right now. Would love to partner up with a Resto Shaman and a Paladin blogger.

Ambition.

I have it.

Last thought. When I was standing there on the side of the road on a side street with the hood of the car up, cars and people were going by me.

Not a single person stopped or asked if everything was okay.

Think about that.

Build Your Own Guild Part 9: Ambition

Build Your Own Guild Part 9: Ambition

Once you have your own little Raid Machine up and running, it’s very easy to get a particular kind of tunnel vision. In the context of Burning Crusade, many new raiding guilds or casual raiding guilds worked and struggled to become the kind of organization that could reliably clear Karazhan. However, once Prince started going down every week, these guilds stalled out or stagnated. Believe me, I’ve seen it–I used to be in one of those guilds! One week, the end boss of the entry-level raid is dead and every one is happy. The very next week, the best players are leaving the guild for more progressed organizations on other servers.

So, What Happened?

Many Karazhan-capable guilds encountered problems after they cleared the place for one simple reason. The guild’s wildest dream had come true, and it’s hard for a guild to outlive its founding vision. When you are at the helm of the raiding guild, it is your responsibility to adapt your goals and plans to a changing environment. Always plan weeks or months ahead, and make sure your guild is aware that you have a vision for their future.

Making Plans

Your thoughts and planning should extend to at least one instance beyond where you are. Collateral Damage practiced an extreme version of this. Because we started late, hitting Serpentshrine Cavern only in January, we had a very small window of time to clear two full tiers of content. We are less casual now than we were when we started, and we spent a full five months in T5. However, we started thinking about the next step about the time Leotheras went down. At the time, attunements were still in place for T6, and the officers started planning and strategizing about how we were going to kill Vashj and Kael. We shared part of our plans with the guild, in the first of what became a series of goal-setting posts from our raid leader.

In T6, we knew time was running short. Attunements were lifted just as we were ready to start, and we knew that Sunwell was on the horizon. Our goal, however, was to get through Illidan and Archimonde–we didn’t think about anything beyond that. We made posts promising a dead Illidan by the end of the summer, and all of my recruitment ads promised full clears of T6 by that time. And you know what? We did it. I think that the planning, goal-setting, and above all, the stubborn refusal to accept the possibility of failure allowed us to do it. Mind you, we’re not a hardcore guild, and we were even less so the first time we took a peep at Naj’entus.

On Progress

In order to survive, a raiding guild must always have progression in mind. Some weeks no new bosses will die–that is only right and good, as it is the sign of challenging content. We don’t want it to be easy, right? However, a guild must never be content to rest on its laurels and only raid farm bosses. As your group masters more and more bosses, the farm list will grow longer, potentially leaving less and less time every week to work on new content. There are two ways to manage the dichotomy of progression and farming: the fast method and the slow method. Each way has its own benefits and drawbacks.

The Fast Method

Following this method, a raid leaves farm content behind as soon as it is feasible. The raid may set some essential gear goals, like a certain amount of tank health or survivability, but no attention is paid to the completion of gear sets or the acquisition of best-in-slot items. End bosses in particular, because of their relative inaccessibility and high level of time investment, are more or less neglected. The raid may kill the end boss of an instance three or four times at maximum, and all fights in the dungeon will not be on farm status before the raid moves on to the next boss. Inevitably, gear gaps arise, as people do not have the opportunity to collect all the gear from the instance. In Burning Crusade, players looked to badge gear, craftables, and Zul’Aman gear to fill the gap. Similar opportunities for gear outside of raids may also be available in Wrath. This method allowed Collateral Damage to get through T6 in short order, but if you ask some of our members, the progress was too fast at times. The pressure was consistently high, especially for a casual raiding guild, and members spent a great deal of time outside of raiding optimizing their gear.

However, the great benefit of this method is that players never get bored. The challenge is consistent, and the raid doesn’t stagnate. Even if they farm on Tuesday, they know they get to wipe to fun new content all night on Sunday. If you are a guild behind the curve of progression, which many guilds that start up at the dawn of Wrath might be, this is probably the best progress model to adopt. Before you do, however, make sure your players are up to the pace.

The Slow Method

According to this tactic, the raid farms instances until the majority of its players complete their gear sets. These guilds do spend time on new content, but they happily farm the old until they reach a comfortable overall gear level. If the guild follows this method, the members have little need to acquire gear outside of raid instances. They can spend their non-raid time in less stressful ways. The risk, however, is that members will get bored. Over time, a good raid can master so much content that it is impossible to go through it all in a week. There will always be people who want one last thing out of an old dungeon. Take, for example, all those raiders, casual and hardcore alike, who farmed Karazhan into the ground.

The slow method, however, can backfire as easily as the fast method. Raiders may become complacent and sloppy if they’re not motivated to reach new content. It feels terrible to wipe repeatedly to farm content–this is what happens when players do not pay attention or, worse, stop attending farm days.

The Happy Medium

Is there a way to combine the approaches? I would tend to say yes, but from my experience, certain types of guild structures manage the struggle between farming and progression better than others. Naturally, hardcore guilds are the best at farming–they have structures that ensure their members’ attendance, and those members tend to be really interested in raiding anyway. Smaller guilds will always have an easier time leaving instances behind than guilds with deep benches because they have less members to outfit. However, small guilds run the risk of not filling farm raids if members lose interest. However any raiding guild, regardless of size or structure, can both farm and progress, as long as its leadership is actively managing the relationship between the two. The key idea here is responsibility: farm responsibly, and progress responsibly. Here are some tips on maintaining the equilibrium between these two opposing terms.

1. Farm it like you mean it.
When you do farm old content, or clear the front half of an instance in order to get to new bosses on the back, play as if every fight were a progression fight. Many raid leaders will be tempted to be more inclusive on farm rosters, letting more casual members of the guild see the content. Do this with caution. Make sure that whoever you bring along will not slow the group down. Your highest commitment should be to your regular raiders–make them happy, and you will have a stable guild. I also advise against allowing raiders to bring alts in farm content. In the long run, they will be sorry they spread their DKP over more than one character, and their play may even suffer because they have not concentrated adequately on one class and role.

2. Always have progression time.
In a 12-hour raid week, which seems to be a typical raid schedule, try to dedicate at least 4 hours to new content. That is enough time to take down a new boss if it’s fairly easy or to make significant progress on a difficult one. I have seen bad weeks and good weeks of raid progress, but the only thing that guarantees a stagnant week is dedicating insufficient time to the fun new stuff. Make sure your people have a reason to farm quickly–they should know that, at the end of their raid week, they get to challenge themselves with something new.

The key idea here is reasonable progress. Don’t force your raid through content at lightning speed, but don’t let your group stagnate either. Remember that a guild that makes steady progress will be happier and more stable than the server-first guild that rushes through thanks to sleep deprivation and a Raid Leader who knows how to crack the bullwhip.

After all, what are you going to do when you run out of content? At that point, it’s all farming until the next patch comes out. Make sure that when your guild gets to that happy point, the members all like each other enough to stick around through some slow farming weeks. That’s the kind of organization with real staying power.

M’uru Down, 2 Weeks Remain

M’uru Down, 2 Weeks Remain

muru

Obligatory M’uru screenshot. Big giant tank and spank. Voidzone evasion skills are a plus.

WoWScrnShot_102608_190530

Now we have this Kil’Jaden fellah. Only once we were able to get to 25% but we lacked the DPS and he exploded all over our faces. I need to push for stronger players the next time we go in there. We have players doing less than 1000 DPS on the last boss in the game. That has to change. Twice now we were barely able to tip him past the different percentages. We lost to Darkness 3 times because we had no Dragons available.

This is Kil’Jaden.

He’s the hardest boss in the game.

If you’re not doing at least 1000 DPS or higher and you’re not handling Dragons, what the hell are you doing here?

I have two options available. I can either reduce healers from 9 to 8 (which is going to stress the remaining healers even more than they are) or we move players that aren’t DPSing hard enough in favor of those who can.

It’s unacceptable.

Two weeks. Just two more weeks. I need more time.

From the Don: How to get Featured on (and Write for) WoW Insider

From the Don: How to get Featured on (and Write for) WoW Insider

family

Matt’s note: Not exactly a WoW gaming related post. Feel free to mark as read and come back tomorrow. In fact, Matticus won’t be writing today since he has to get his other 2 wisdom teeth yanked and is in no condition to blog. Today’s post will come from Don Marco Matticus, one of Matt’s many relatives.

Ah greetings. I’ve pestered my dear cousin to write on his beloved blog for so long. I am, shall we say, delighted to be able to publish my intellect for others to consume. I am a far better writer than my dear cousin is after all.

Before I start, we all need to make a fundamental assumption. Let us all assume I, Don Marco Matticus, is the reigning overlord of WoW Insider. I know it will never happen but just run with me on this one, okay?

Let us also assume that you yourself are a creative gaming enthusiast with a passion for writing. In other words, you play video games and you like to write about video games. Heck, let’s narrow the focus even more. You’re a diehard WoW player and you want to write about it. And you want to get paid to write about it. Don’t you? Because all of us are little peasants at heart.

We can refer to that peasant as Matt Demon.

Or alternatively you are a headstrong gaming enthusiast who thinks your opinion and written word is that of God. You think that what you say is always right and anyone who disagrees is pure blasphemy. Not only that, you think you can do a way better job than the staffers at WoW Insider and continue to wonder to yourself what these turkeys and clowns are doing writing all this stuff when you can do a far better job than they despite the fact that you have no experience of your own.

I call those people snobs. Back in my day, people like that would get a good old fashioned kneecapping. If I thought they were real bozos I’d cap their elbows so they wouldn’t write again.

Again, you might not feel this way but just please bear with me.

Right, now where was I?

Oh yes, Don Marco Matticus, Supreme Overlord and Editor in Chief (hypothetically). Here’s a brief list on what matters, what doesn’t, and how to boost your odds of getting in (if I were in charge).

Getting in: There are two ways to go about it. You can apply or the Don can hunt you down himself and pitch you an offer. Understand that the Don has Troll headhunters at his disposal. If the Don wants you to write for him, he will make it known. If you apply via EMail, Fax, IM, or carrier pigeon, I’ll consider it. If you’re lucky and I’m in a particularly generous mood, I might even reply.

Formal education doesn’t matter: Formal refers to things like degrees and doctorates. If you apply to me waving around the fact that you have a Ph.D, a Masters, and assorted Bachelor’s in Journalism, English, and Demonslaying I’m not going to care a whole lot. The fact is that when it comes to blogging, anyone can do it if they commit. Don’t get me wrong. Formal education can help. But it is not the be all/end all. You want to impress the brass? Start your own blog first! Prove that you can write creative and quality stuff often. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Don’t come to me with the degree saying you can write. Show me that you can write because I don’t care about your piece of paper.

Spelling and grammar still important: If you apply via e-mail and you make the Don’s eyes bleed, then the Don will make the logical assumption that you will make the audience’s eyes bleed. Making the eyes of my reader bleed is bad for business. It scares away potential readers and ad clickers. Ad clicking is crucial to my survival. Without it, the Don will not survive. Please write clearly, check your grammar, and your spelling.

Deadlines: Don Marco Matticus needs to have material out every hour on the hour. Columnists that write weekly have a set date to reach something by. However, if it is an epic piece that requires an extra day or two, that is fine. But it must be epic. There are certain pieces that need to come up every day at a particular time.

Writing topics: You may not agree with or like what you’re writing about. But the news (like spice) must flow! You may be tapped from time to time to report on major or breaking news and provide a brief opinion or translation of what it could mean. Doesn’t matter if you’re wrong or right. If you’re wrong, the masses will tell you. If you’re right, the masses will tell you that you’re wrong anyway.

Freedom of writing: Don Marco Matticus usually needs to approve what gets written for the masses to see. You think I’ll just let people read any ol’ crap that comes out? The vaults of the Matticus family may be large, true. But they are not limitless. You will be compensated fairly for the work you do. No one cares about you killing Mag for the 20th time. That’s why an element of creativity is a key asset to those that wish to join the Don. There are no limits to the amount of stories you can write. There is no cap as long as you don’t write crap.

Have really thick skin: Are you one of those players that cry every time your raid leader picks on you? Then forget it! I do not take those of weak minds under my fold! You will be insulted, your words torn apart, your name mocked on a daily basis. I received E-Mails on a daily basis calling for your head! Of course, I am far more wiser than anyone gives me credit (especially that Matticus). You will be critically criticized so hard every proc on the planet will occur. It will test the very foundations of your character. Can you endure it? Be aware that every fact you list will be checked. Every opinion you write, analyzed. Every breath you take, scrutinized. The ability to handle criticism and not lash out at the masses (however uneducated they may be) is extremely important.

Payment: You will get paid in sacks of rice, beans, or gold. It all depends on my mood. I will pay 2000 gold coins for a thousand words and half of that for half the amount! If you do an image gallery for me, then a sack of beans per image will be sent to your home. Should you write more than I ask, the Don appreciates your hard work. But you shall still only get 2000 gold per post.

Is it enough for you to quit your day job? It depends on how much of a lavish life you decide to live. The possibility is there.

Retroactive editing: So you made a mistake. The Don is very forgiving. Sometimes those crazy Blizzard fools will make you look bad by making a change that has ruined your post and made you look like a complete moron. As a result, the masses have decided to rain on your parade. You can always edit them after the fact. And we don’t use this WordPress garbage that my cousin so heavily relies on to power the blog.

Do not insult my minions: That honor belongs to me. You spit on my peasants and I will send my Corehounds after you. Only I can criticize my workers. If you apply and even mention any of my staffers in a negative light, your message will be shredded immediately. The family is everything. You insult one, you insult all. Did they even teach you social skills?

Keep all of these in mind should you decide to apply for any major WoW publishing service. They all have standards. Not any mindless, bumbling fool can get in. Even though it may appear that way, these minions do know what they’re talking about and get paid for a reason. You are not. The only way for you to oust my companions is for me to fire them or for them to step down. Your opinion and word mean absolutely nothing to the Don.

Know what the Worse Thing in Wrath Is?

Know what the Worse Thing in Wrath Is?

serious

Nevermind that Retribution Paladins are overpowered.
… of that class balance is non-existent.
… or that herb prices are off the charts.
… or the mount and pet disappearing bug.
… or messed up UI’s.

There is one major problem that trumps them all. Did you know this issue has been prevalent since the era of Molten Core? It wasn’t an issue then, sure. But it always represented a thorn on the side of raiding Guilds everywhere.

In Burning Crusade, Blizzard has proven yet again they glaze over severe problems. They addressed many mistakes since Vanilla WoW and showed some savvy in raid design in Burning Crusade.

When I went into Wrath with the intent of beta raiding, I prayed long and hard that this monstrous issue would be fixed. To my utter dismay, I have discovered they have not. Do you realize what this means? This could potentially kill Guilds everywhere before they even get off the ground!

The colossal problem that I’m referring to?

chest-loot

It is the looting of chests.

In Molten Core, it wasn’t a problem as raid leaders could master loot items.

In Karazhan, there were only 10 players to worry about with everyone wanted badges.

But in Naxxramas, the 4 Horsemen drop a chest. With Badges (or Emblems). They’re lootable by everyone. That’s 25 players who want badges. 25 players that will be spam clicking the chest.

This is a serious problem.

25 players each taking 10 seconds to loot a chest.

That’s almost 4 minutes of pure chest looting.

Which means it’s 4 less minutes to save the world.

Something must be done!

Image credits: coolza

Build Your Own Guild Part 8: Dealing With Feedback

Build Your Own Guild Part 8: Dealing With Feedback

Successful guild masters and officers are always attentive to the concerns of their membership. It is your job to understand your guild’s psychological makeup and status. If your raiders are happy and enthusiastic, you’re probably aware of it, as people tend to be demonstrative about positive emotions. However, little worries and concerns can bubble below the surface of an otherwise stable guild, and, without the leadership ever being aware, a small problem can turn into a guild-breaking one overnight. How can you address these explosive problems before they grow to dangerous levels? Read on for some tips on eliticing–and dealing with–feedback from your members.

How Do I Get Them To Talk to Me?

Face it, Guild Master, you are one scary dude or dudette. You are The Man (or The Woman), and that means most people will tiptoe around subjects that might be controversial when you’re around. Rest assured, however, that your guild members have opinions, and they want the leadership to listen and to react to them. Here are four things you can do to get your guildies to tell you their little secrets.

1. Have Guild Meetings on Vent
Collateral Damage does this every couple of months, and it’s quite helpful. The officers start out with a little “state of the guild” address and then turn over the floor for member questions and concerns. Now, when it’s time for members to talk, don’t expect the discussion to start immediately. I learned through teaching my college classes that a little silence is ok at the outset of a discussion. People are getting their thoughts together and mustering the courage to speak. You can ask little questions to prompt them, but make sure you let people have time to get the ball rolling. From what I’ve observed, the first person to speak will say something really positive. Others will comment on it, but the feedback will start to roll in. Eventually, you may get people’s most passionate objections to your guild policies. The important thing in such meetings is to listen. Let people know that you will hear their concerns and take them to the table at the next officer meeting.

I can tell you, sometimes CD officers have felt frustrated and under-appreciated at our open meetings. Try to think beyond yourself and your immediate reactions. Is there something helpful you can learn from a person’s complaints? We’ve found that even the most ardent whiners aren’t able to sidetrack the guild from its most cherished goals. However, we’ve also discovered some useful information in open meetings. In at least two cases, at the next officer meeting, we changed policies based on public opinion.

2. Post Officer Meeting Notes
Officers spend a lot of time discussing policy in meetings–earn credit for that time with your members by posting notes. You don’t have to expose every controversy, and naturally, anything pertaining to specific players should be kept quiet. However, when you’re writing new policies, a little item in your notes that says something like “Discussed Revisions to Attendance Policy” will let your members know that the officers are actually responding to the changing conditions in the guild. CD allows members to comment on officer meeting notes–we get many good ideas this way.

3. Have a Feedback Forum
CD has a forum in which only officers can post and everyone can reply. The purpose is to elicit member opinion on major policies. Recently we have decided to implement a Raider Status and attendance requirement for Wrath of the Lich King. Our policy drafts went up in this forum, and there was a lively exchange between officers and members. We were able to clarify our intentions, and the final document is, as a result, very clean and easy to read. Of course, some members disagreed with the officers’ decision and thought that we should continue without Raider Status. We tried to assuage their (mostly unfounded) fears, but we did hold firm to what we had decided. However, some of those objections led to clearer policy, and as such, they were a very fortunate thing.

4. Allow Members to send PMs to Officers
Your guild website should have the capacity to send Personal Messages. These are like emails, only less formal. When CD members have personal complaints–either something they want to keep private or something that only affects them–the best way to communicate that is a PM to one of the officers. If they do not request that the note be kept private, often we share these with other officers so we get a balanced solution. A good example of this kind of issue is the perennial loot quandary. It has happened several times that a CD member has felt that loot was distributed incorrectly. Sometimes the members are right. Inevitably, things go a little bit awry with any loot system. These member issues have actually helped CD officers revise the loot system for Wrath so that it is more fair to all raiders.

The Two Types of Feedback

As a guild leader you can expect to get two types of feedback: legitimate concerns and QQ. Here is how I suggest that you address each type.

Legitimate Concerns:
Sometimes members are able to see around officers’ blind spots. Often the members are first to know when someone has been treated unfairly. Even in the best guilds, this can happen by accident! Make sure your policies are flexible enough to change if they are really not working.

Here are some common examples of legitimate concerns.
1. One of your guild members is behaving in an offensive manner or specifically antagonizing someone.
2. One of the guild policies has had unintended consequences. For example, there might be a loophole in your loot system, or you might be distributing BoE items like Hearts of Darkness in an unequal manner.
3. A specific member or subset of the guild is feeling overworked or burned out.
4. Something in your raid strategy is not getting desired results.

Sometimes you’ll get a PM and just know that the person has a valid point. When that happens, don’t panic. Reply to the person and let him or her know that the issue is going on the next officer meeting agenda. Make sure you talk about it, and make appropriate policy, rostering, or strategy changes.

QQ

The letters QQ are meant to resemble crying eyes, and QQ is synonymous with whiny complaints. QQ is constant and unavoidable. I am going to make a radical suggestion here for how to deal with this. As you read or listen to the complaint, try and imagine that it is legitimate. Even if you end up disagreeing with the person or even reprimanding her, hear her out before you do that. QQ is called QQ because it’s communicated in a less-than-constructive way. However, separate the content from the means of delivery to find out if, behind the tears and snivels, there is actually a valid issue to be addressed. If the person has a point, put their issue on the meeting agenda just like any other member concern.

The following is a list of issues people tend to feel passionately about in the game. As such, they are likely topics for QQ.

1. Loot Issues.
This will always be the number one cause of weeping and gnashing of teeth in the World of Warcraft. Most of these complaints are unfounded. If you have a loot council, you will be dealing with this often. Try to make the person reasonable, or at least resigned.

However, sometimes loot issues are very much legitimate. If someone is concerned that he consistently gets passed over for loot or that others of his class and spec with similar attendance have significantly better gear, he is probably right. Loot systems of whatever type tend to have loopholes through which many purples flow. These complaints are a way to discover if your system is really working the way you intended it to. It may be that “unlucky” players, or players in certain roles, truly are not getting their fair share. If this is the case, do something about it! Whenever you find injustice in your guild, stamp it out!

2. Personality Conflicts.
In a raiding guild of 35+ members, not everyone is going to get along. Members who are at the high end or the low end of the competence scale may attract a lot of complaints due to jealousy on the one end and resentment on the other. Evaluate each of these complaints for validity. As an officer, you need to know the difference between one of your raiders having a bad day, or a bad week, and just plain out being a bad egg who either does not play up to the standard of your raid or makes everyone miserable. You should also ask pointed questions to decide if harassment is involved. For example, if one of your female members is having to field consistent come-ons from a male raider, this is a legitimate complaint and you should probably kick him. Many guilds let rampant sexism, racism, and all-out prejudice go on in g-chat or vent. In my opinion, this kind of thing isn’t very funny–or very conducive to successful raiding. I would rather play in an organization that’s open to different types of members. Sure, Collateral Damage cuts loose a bit late night on vent, but on the whole we’re an organization that 10-year-old girls could happily and safely belong to. “Cutting loose,” by the way, is different from encouraging prejudice. No one minds a little innuendo or even well-meaning jokes at someone’s expense–the problem comes when members harass each other. As a guild leader, you should be able to tell the difference.

3. Bench Issues
The #1 topic of PMs sent to officers in Collateral Damage has to do with raid scheduling. Long story short, people want to be in when it’s convenient for them and out when its not. A lot of people feel frustrated that they’re not in full control of when they get picked to raid. For the most part, people just have to deal with it. Officers can lend a sympathetic ear, but we know that we have to balance the needs of many different people. Bench happens, more often than some people would like. However, if a person complains that they are consistently being passed over for a raid spot, you need to investigate that issue. Look at that person’s attendance and performance. Does he have a legitimate complaint? Has he been forgotten, or is there a deeper issue? Is someone getting preferential treatment and not sitting their fair share of time? If so, rectify that immediately. No one–especially not officers–should get out of sitting the bench. Sometimes, however, the raid leader is perfectly justified in sitting a player frequently, especially if he’s not performing up to the standard of the group. This can be a good opportunity for the class or raid leader to work with this person on improving his play. After all, raiders are supposed to want to play up to their potential. If that interest isn’t there, it could be time for a frank talk about that player’s status in the guild.

Conclusions:

Don’t fear feedback from your members. Embrace it, and deal with it in a timely manner. After all, you are in service to your guild members. They’re really not trying to ruin your day. When members complain, they do so because they care about the quality of their in-game experience. Never fall back on the “it’s just a game” excuse for unequitable behavior. Sure, it’s a game, but games have rules. They’re only fun if you follow them. One of the rules of being a GM is to create an environment your members feel comfortable in. Otherwise, you’re no better than the three year old who kicks over the Monopoly board and then sticks the house from Park Place up his nose.

A Note about Mother Shahraz Post 3.0

A comment from Xserisi has been brought to my attention. I figured it would benefit many players if they knew about it as well so I decided to turn it into a blog post.

Last night we saw BT, we stopped before Mother Shiraz, seeing we ran out of time and were unsure about our health if we would go in with with low or nill shadow resist gear. (anyone tried after patch?)

Yes. I can say with certainty that you don’t need to have full Shadow Resist gear on for Mother Shahraz. Prayer of Shadow Protection or Shadow Aura from the Paladins should be enough to get you through it. DPS has to be high. You don’t want to take more than 3 or 4 teleports. She should be able to go down relatively fast.

Keep in mind, everyone has to commit. If you go full Shadow Resist, make sure every one does so. If you want to go for the blitz method, then keep your raiding gear on. Soak tanks are still important. Your healers have to stand on their head (hockey expression for goalies making unbelievable saves).

As my ancestor Napoleonicus once said:

There ain’t a problem in the world that can’t be solved by copious amounts of DPS.

Is Sydera a Barbershop Addict?

Is Sydera a Barbershop Addict?

In a word, yes.

I don’t actually have pictures for you of all Syd’s new haircuts, but I will admit that they occur at the rate of about one per day.

Here’s the look I’m currently sporting. I find it ironic that Phaelia of Resto4Life couldn’t wait to get rid of her facial tattoo–I couldn’t wait to get one!

Below, you can see yesterday’s pigtailed look. It was a good thing too, because my hair was out of my way when I got sick from too much Halloween candy. Carmelita, to my left, is pretending not to know me.

All this, after I promised Briolante I wouldn’t change my hair. . . much. My favorite tank/ significant other extraordinaire says he’s very glad I always look the same in tree form. Syd just doesn’t look like herself these days.

Oh well, at some point there will probably be a return to my long mint-green locks.

Healing Naxxramas – Instructor Razuvious (10 man)

Healing Naxxramas – Instructor Razuvious (10 man)

razuvious

Instructor Razuvious is the first boss of the Military Quarter (Death Knight Wing). He’s a rather unique fight in that your tanks don’t actually tank him themselves. Tanks have to hold threat indirectly.

The gimmick

razuvious-orb The first thing you have to understand is that Razuvious hits really hard. He hits harder than normal. He hits so hard he can remold the face of your bear tank and dent plate in others. He has 2 Understudy’s with him. There are 2 orbs on either side. The goal here is for your tanks to activate the orb thus granting control of the Understudy’s to you. Your players have to use their abilities to tank him. They have to taunt off each other and activate their abilities accordingly.

Who should MC? The groups I ran with had both main and off tanks on the orbs. For Guilds going in for the first time, I don’t advise this. I’d suggest having a tank and a random DPS use the orbs. The reason being is that if a mob breaks early and the orb controller can’t get the Understudy back, your tank can blow a taunt and temporarily hold aggro until the orb controller can get it back.

Above: Picture of an orb controller.
Below: Orb controller in action.

razuvious-orb2

Abilities

  • Random throw: Applies DoT damage to players. Need a healer to get them back up. Similar to the Zul’Jin phase 1 mechanic in Zul’Aman.

Releasing control allows the Understudys to gain all of their health back (this may have been changed with recent beta builds). Ranged and healers will want to stand at maximum range. When your orb players lose control, the Understudy will immediately run towards players who have MC’d them. Tank Raz as far away as possible to buy time for your orb players to pick it up again.

If you look at the header image at the beginning, note that room is circular in shape. Tank Raz at the very top part as much as you can.

Understudy’s CAN be healed. But please don’t rely on it too much. I suggest placing 1 healer on the raid, 2 on the Understudys (1 each).

understudy-ability

The Understudy has 3 abilities:

  • 4: Damaging melee attack (I think)
  • 5: Taunt
  • 6: Bone Barrier which reduces magical and physical damage taken by 75% for 20 seconds. You definitely want to use this.
  • 1: Auto-attack

 

Vocabulary

Communication is extremely important. When I took down Raz, I’ve heard successful tanks use the following:

  • “Taunt ready!” (When their taunt cooldown is up)
  • “Taunt now!” (When the tank is about to lose control and needs the other tank to take over)
  • “Debuff is off!” (There’s an Orb debuff that prevents them from using any orb for about 60 seconds)
  • “Losing him in 5!” (Provides a 5 second warning that the MC spell is about to fall off and that the other tank should pick him up while the original tank is going to lose control of an Understudy and has to use an Orb again)

Note: I’m going to re-emphasize this again. Healers can NOT sustain Understudy’s on their own for extended periods of time. Don’t try to tank it with just 1 Understudy the whole way. Tank switching and Orb releasing is imperative. The job for healers in this fight is to help extend Understudy’s for as long as possible.

1 healer on the raid to cover up the DoT damage that’s applied and the other 2 on the Understudy’s should be more than enough. This is a DPS fight more than anything else.

When it’s over

We’re not done yet. We still have 2 of these MC’d mobs up. Have one of your tanks release control and have the other Understudy taunt that. Use the mob to tank the other mob. As soon as you DPS that one down, have your free tank (Main or off tank) taunt the remaining one. DPS that down and you’re home free.

Loot

More guides to healing Naxx can be found here.