Where Personal Responsibility Begins and Guild Responsibility Ends

Where Personal Responsibility Begins and Guild Responsibility Ends

“Could you expand on the “augments for players” section?  I’ve always been interested in the spectrum of policies from raiders get their own stuff to raid leaders getting all consumables, etc. for the raid.  Where do you stand on this?  Does it depend on where the power position is where raid leaders feel they have to provide for raiders or else they will go elsewhere vs raid leaders that have raiders to choose from and don’t mind telling raiders to be responsible for getting their own consumables / enchants?”

This is a solid question posed by wewhoeat in the comments section of my recent A Night in the Life of a GM post I wrote last week. There is a definitive line between what a player is responsible for and what a guild should look after. But this line naturally varies from guild to guild.

I notice a strong correlation between player performance and their ability to provide their own character improvements. In other words, the players who farm for their own materials or purchase their own augments tend to not die as much and will consistently perform well in their roles.

Why is that?

My own non-scientifically backed, non-peer revered theory on the subject is that the players who take the time and resources to improve their character have this mentality of personal improvement no matter the cost. It starts with taking care of their character. This character care then slowly translates into overall better play. My theory is that the more inclined a player is of maxing their character’s stats, the more inclined they are to maximize their play. It seems to help instil a sense of discipline. They’re spending thousands of their own gold to augment their character. Why not spend some more time referencing the information needed to play better? It shows me that they are heavily invested in their character and they’re not willing to wait around because they need to have that super awesome enchant right now.

Now let me answer wewhoeat’s question.

What is the player responsible for?

Blizzard has seeded Pandaria with a staggering amount of herbs. I often get sidetracked because I see those golden circles on my minimap and I just end up farming. In fact, I’ll end up watching Castle or Flashpoint for 40 minutes while lazily farming for herbs. Such a huge supply has made flask and potion generation extremely affordable. The Spirit of Harmony system makes it accessible to purchase 3 Golden Lotuses.

Not everyone has an alchemist or herbalist alt. I encourage players to send their lotuses to an alchemist who can get this stuff created for them on the cheap. I’ve been slowly trying to encourage people to get their flasks and pots created after a raid. It was getting disruptive and irritating when players logged in requesting flasks and potions made when raid begins. Players should be responsible for at least supplying the herbs. The guild can get this stuff cranked out for them instead of paying the AH costs for flasks. The thing is, we need to do this stuff way before raid time (5 minutes before first pull is just cutting it and asking for it 10 minutes past raid start just merits a frown).

Feasts used to be something that the guild provided. But the way feasts were done this expansion seemed overwhelming at first. I can’t quite place my finger on it, but it seems like most players have enjoyed the farming and are providing feasts of their own stat. I’m seeing Pots, Grills, Steamers and other stuff placed down. It’s not all by one person either. It’s nice to see the guild pitching in on stuff like this because it’s overall one less responsibility I need to look after.

What is the guild responsible for?

In my eyes, the guild acts as a “safety net”. Not everyone has the cash flow or income to acquire 10 Sha Crystals for a weapon enchant. This is where I step in. We do receive a steady supply of disenchanted epics to help fuel our Sha Crystal demands plus whatever enchanting transmutes on a week to week basis and we can use those to help offset the cost. Overall, it’s in the leadership’s best interest to help provide them to the players that need them because it usually results in that extra DPS or healing that could (literally) be the difference between a 2% wipe and and a kill. Really expensive augments fall under here as well (Leg enchants, shoulder enchants).

However, I know there’s players who do extremely well on the auction house. They’re patient and are able to build up quite a fortune. These guys have no problems buying their own stuff. They’re also willing to donate and help replenish gold stores in the bank if we’re in a crunch.

In addition, guild repairs are covered. The guild challenges along with the rewards earned from kills help contribute to that. It’s effective for the funds gathered from the war chest to go back to the players that need them. But depending on raid activities, a guild may not be able to sustain repairs solely on the income gathered from raids. Thankfully there is an option to set a cap in place. Personally, I think the challenge rewards are due for an increase. The cost of raw mats and repairs seem to be going up but the challenge rewards have remained the same since last expansion (although, we did receive Scenarios to help offset that). Anyway, that’s a different topic for another day.

One would say that some of these policies are socialist.

But you know, Canadian.

Other guilds use different systems. Some lock down the bank. Others provide full access to everything. I’m not certain what differences a 10 man guild vs a 25 man guild would be when it comes to benefits. I imagine it’d be the same. If you look on recruiting forums for guilds, you’ll notice a common trend of raiding guilds providing flasks, feasts, enchants or a combination thereof. A recruit would expect that stuff at a minimum. This makes me wonder if the gradual change from players farming their own TUBERS in Felwood to the consumables on a silver platter have gradually shifted player mentality towards entitlements and the like. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t miss setting aside half a day to go farm TUBERs, Scholomance for Dark Runes, or creating a boat load of fire resist potions. Playing during vanilla gave me a whole new appreciation for the ease at which to access the resources we have today.

Now I’m curious. What benefits does your guild have in place? Do you agree with them?

A Night in the Life of a GM

Inspire by Aunaka’s post on what a raid leader’s day looks like, I wanted to follow up with my own experiences on what a raid leader’s night looks like. You see, my responsibilities don’t immediately end after we kill the new boss. Once we get a progression kill down, a whole slew of other actions need to take place. This process could take anywhere from an hour to 2 hours depending on your guild.

  • Update  recruiting threads – We’re never finished recruiting. There’s about 5 or so threads on various forums and communities that have to be edited with a modified kill count.
  • Update rankings on WoW Progress and Guild Ox – Pressing the giant Update button which pulls your guild’s latest armory information to reflect the new kill and have standings updated.
  • Update the website to reflect kills – Involves uploading the kill screenshot and come up with some witty tagline on the front page. I’m not good at this.
  • Augments for players – This means handling a billion requests for gems, enchants, and other leg patches. A billion. Yes, literally. A billion.
  • Look up information for the next boss – Ensure the overall strategy is online on the forum with links to any additional resources and videos.
  • Write a recap post on the night – If there’s anything that needs to be tweaked and changed, this is where it goes.
  • Harvest and plant crops – I’ve got until midnight to plant as much stuff as I can across all my alts

I don’t mind though. The post raid process is a method to “decompress” from the raid. It’s important for players (especially GMs) to find a way to gradually destress themselves off a raid night. The duty is never over after a raid ends.

Blizzard: Check out Riot’s Playbook for Dealing with Douches

“Go kill yourself.”

Ah, gamer bullying.

It’s been around for such a long time in many different forms. I’m not sure if the war on bullying can truly be won (at least, not for a while). I was catching up on some Drama Mamas this morning on WoW Insider. The topic was about a player from Moonguard and the problems they go through because of the “taint” that the server reputation has. Because of that player’s association, they get crapped on in whatever cross server activities that participate in (Raid finder, battlegrounds, etc).

Like literally, virtual crap from other players being dumped all over them.

I don’t generally write about social commentary stuff. It’s not my strongest topic. While I have my own opinions about different facets of the community, I’m not the greatest at articulating them.

The WoW gaming community can be one of the most toxic ones out there. There’s a ton of name calling and verbal abuse that goes on. When I see it, I make an effort to report it. When I’m the recipient, you damn well know that I’m going to both report and submit a ticket to help ensure it gets looked at. Like others, I get disillusioned because of Blizzard’s policies about withholding the consequences.

Is my report actually being looked at?

What’s going to happen to the player?

More importantly, am I wasting my damn time?

Without knowing the reward, I don’t know if it’s worth the effort which leads me to presume that it’s ineffective because I’ll run into that player again later on with no change to what they’re saying or how they’re behaving.

Unbelievable.

A different approach

Instead of squashing negative behaviour we decide to encourage positive behaviour?

Maybe a “Good job” or a virtual pat on the back?

Or instead of crushing someone on what they’re doing wrong, tell them what needs to be done right. I participated in a Raid Finder Spirit Kings encounter a few weeks ago. I could tell they had been in there for some time. Mounds of skeletons, blood stains on the wall, you know what I mean? After another 2 wipes, I was able to isolate what the issue was:

People didn’t know the strategy or what they had to do.

I could’ve easily joined the chorus and called everyone stupid and to go read the flipping strat, or I could take a minute and hash out the most important parts of it in chat. I told them to stack up on the tank and to run directly through on Annihilates. Surprisingly, no one asked why. I guess they were kind of glad someone was able to extend a hand.

Lo and behold, dead boss right after. Naturally, I repeated the same process for Elegon and Will of the Emperor. Not one shots by any stretch, but downed within a  reasonable amount of time.

Maybe there is potential for positive reinforcement after all. is there a game with systems in place to engage positivity? Yeah.

Take a look at League of Legends. I’ve played the game for a solid year and a half. In terms of gaming toxicity, League of Legends would rank incredibly high. For a team oriented game, there wasn’t much teamwork or encouragement going on. Riot has had success with curbing negative player behaviour. I did my part by reporting players and logging into their Tribunal system to help review reports of players.

What is the Tribunal?

When a summoner logs into the Tribunal, they are assigned a case to review. This case includes another summoner who has been reported, for any number of reasons, on multiple occasions. The summoner reviewing the case is given chat logs, game statistics, and report details to help them decide if the offending summoner should be punished or pardoned. A summoner can also skip a case if they are unsure or uncomfortable choosing a verdict.

Tribunal stats

  • 51% of Tribunal cases result in a guilty verdict, with only 5.7% earning a permanent ban.
  • 50% of players warned by the Tribunal just once never end up there again.
  • Over 700 individual cases were personally reviewed by Lyte and Pendragon.

More than 47 million votes were cast in the Tribunal when these metrics were taken.

So maybe Riot might have a track record with influencing player behaviour.

What’s their next trick?

Introducing the Honor System

Honor is a point system introduced to League of Legendson October 1st, 2012. The Honor system was created to incentivize positive behavior among the League of Legends community and identify summoners that would be considered pillars of the community. Currently, Honor does not provide any rewards or perks other than the points themselves, though this could change in the future.

There’s no actual incentive here. There’s no access to free champions. There’s no additional skins. None of that. It’s just a simple point based system to rank other players based on their degree of helpfulness which is divided into 4 categories:

  • Friendly: Summoners who would be honored through this category are those that have a positive impact on your game and make the match enjoyable, win or lose. Rewards yellow ribbon.
  • Helpful: This category is for summoners that share their know-how and actively help other players improve their gameplay. Rewards blue ribbon.
  • Honorable Opponent: Honorable Opponents are players from the opposing team that remain humble in victory or graceful in defeat and/or behave in a positive manner throughout the game. Rewards red ribbon.
  • Teamwork: This category honors players that put the team ahead of themselves. This includes anything from forming great plans, helping struggling lanes recuperate, and more. Rewards green ribbon.

Here we have in place a working system that’s designed from the ground up to encourage positivity in gameplay. It was actually implemented not too long ago in October. How’s it doing?

  • Negative Attitude reports: -29% in normals and -11%in ranked
  • Offensive Language reports: -35% in normals and -20%in ranked
  • Verbal Abuse reports: -41% in normals -17% in ranked

Source

That’s a pretty impressive start. I was surprised at how much verbal abuse was reduced by as well. All from a simple-in-concept system, no less! Riot might be on to something here. The initial reports are promising. Even the BBC reported on it.

Good hearted players tend to remain true to their core. Likewise, trolls will always remain trolls. The point of such a system isn’t designed to reform trolls because it acknowledges that they’re just going to be aligned with that type of behaviour to begin with. Most players aren’t firmly aligned one way or the other. The honor system helps tip players that are right on the fence to the correct side.

Becky Chambers of The Mary Sue states it pretty succinctly, “I have often had the impression that a lot of bad behavior online — both in-game and otherwise — is based in social mimicry.”

Adapting it to World of Warcraft

How would you even begin to integrate such a process? WoW and LoL are vastly different games. LoL has both a gaming lobby before and after the game which provides a suitable avenue to report, honor, and comment on players. In WoW, after you finish a raid or a battleground, you’re booted into a scorescreen or left with no option but to punt yourself out of the raid finder instance.

Let’s start with PvP since it’s a little easier to do there. The general problem with PvP is that there’s generally more than 5 players on a team (unlike LoL). It’s going to be a cluster just trying to keep track of it all. Anyone that’s negative sticks out like a sore thumb. It seems difficult to salute positive reinforcing players with such a large quantity. Can you imagine trying to do that in Alterac Valley or Isle of Conquest? There should be enough room in the score screen to add interface options and buttons to promote good that you feel made an impact in the win or were graceful in the loss.

As for raid and dungeon finders, I have no clue. There’s no interface setup for something like this at the end of the run. I’d say have a dungeon review popup at the end of the run. Maybe include things like who obtained what loot, speed of run, etc. Then include somewhere options to identify players that were especially helpful.

Rewards

No gear rewards. No cosmetics. No mounts, pets, or any of that stuff.

Though I did toy with the idea of players with positive rating getting priority access in the queue, I ultimately realized that it would lead to further segregation. I wager most players would behave better for faster queue times.

This sounds like a tough system to implement into the game. Would it work? Hopefully. There’s a ton of technical challenges that would have to be overcome. It’s an ambitious idea. It’s worked well in one game. Blizzard has a fairly good track record in taking ideas introduced from other games and putting their own spin on it. Riot put in place stringent safeguards to prevent and minimize abuse (Honor trading and so on). Blizzard would have to do something similar or else the system would be completely ineffective.

Sunglasses

Sunglasses

They’re the only way to deal with these healing relics. Paladins, you guys are especially blinding. There needs to be a new metric on the most dangerous bosses list: Wipes due to dazzling graphics. I’m positive we’ve wiped a half dozen times due to this somewhere.

Attenuation? Why don’t I just blind the raid for you!

Seriously though, can we make them just a touch more transparent? Surely there’s a little knob that controls opacity of spell graphics. I’m sure it’s next to the one that’s labelled “Nerf warlocks”.

Is LFR Mandatory for Raiders? Maybe

Is LFR Mandatory for Raiders? Maybe

To me, this is both a yes and no question.

As raiders, it’s fair to assume that we want to get as much of a gearing advantage as possible for raids. Every little bit helps and counts towards boss kills. The beginning point of an expansion is a crucial stage for this. The difference between a heroic weapon and an LFR weapon can be a significant upgrade.

Let’s look at it from the beginning of the expansion.

Speaking for myself, I feel that I have to run it every week. If I don’t, I feel like I’m letting the rest of my team down and that I’m not trying as hard as I otherwise could have. For one, the experience gain out of LFR and seeing mechanics early is beneficial (despite it’s nerfed state). Even though abilities function slower and aren’t as lethal, at least we can recognize and see them. Second, there’s always that slight chance where I’ll get an item upgrade that immediately replaces a heroic dungeon piece which will help in the long run when we’re working on progression bosses. I know there doesn’t seem to be a huge gap between a 463 item and a 476 item. But psychologically, I’m seeing the difference between a blue quality item and a purple quality item. Watching people absolutely refuse to queue for it despite the fact there’s a chance for possible upgrades feels like they’re not as willing nor as committed as I am to the success of the raid group.

It’s the same idea with someone who steadfastly refuses to do dailies.

From my point of view, a blatant refusal to consider LFR or do dailies limits your sources of gear to raids only. Now in a loot council guild, player effort is one of those things that gets taken into consideration. Do we give the shiny new weapon to the Mage who worked really hard at crafting their own items, built up their Golden Lotus rep, and tried their hand at LFR only to get nothing? Or should it be assigned to that Shadow Priest who had better things to do like Pet Battles for 10  hours a night and not giving a damn about dailies or LFR? It’s pure perception. We’re in an environment where we have a general idea of what other players are doing. We can inspect their gear and see where they’re getting it from.

This doesn’t include the fact that dailies help you with coins that can be used at a chance for more gear (although, for most of us, it seems to be for more gold).

The imaginative requirement to do LFR isn’t so much a product of the game. It’s a product of simulated pressure from our peers. We don’t want to let the team down. We want to feel relief in knowing that even though we didn’t get gear that week for our toons, at least the effort was made.

Now let’s Time Warp and move ahead a few months. Patch 5.3 is out with new raid content and big bosses. We’ll call it the Halls of Eternity or something.

Blizzard has indicated multiple times that the LFR gear in whatever the latest raid will be is going to be distinctively lower in quality and item level compared to normal/heroic items in the previous tier. I’d only run LFR in this tier to cap out. But if I’m maintaining my dailies, raids or doing dungeons, I may not feel the need or desire to cap out valor. The incentive to run LFR isn’t as high because there’s no gear in there that would be an upgrade. You could make a case that attempting to complete the new tier 16 set to activate bonuses is a possible goal. But are you willing to sacrifice a 13 x 4 item level decrease just to establish bonuses? I find that a tough case to make.

Many guildies and players I know just absolutely refuse to queue in LFR alone. They’d rather go in as a guild group of possible to increase the chance of success and get through it as fast as possible. Personally, I’m okay with solo queuing. It reminds me why I raid in a guild and is an exercise in patience. I end up doing 40% of the healing anyway.

You end up with people who just:

  • Refuse to read the strategy or dungeon finder beforehand (C’mon guys, do your homework).
  • Don’t stand in melee range for Spirit Kings thereby resulting in the tank dying.
  • Not going to the Spirit Realm for Gara’jal.
  • Falling through the floor on Elegon.

Stuff like that.

Actually, my guild and I turned it into a fun drinking game. I should post the rules we made up for it.

Skewering Vizier Zor’lok

Skewering Vizier Zor’lok

Wikipedia states that A vizier […] is a high-ranking political adviser or minister in an Islamic government.[3][4] The word is derived from Middle Persian[5][6] and then adopted into Arabic root. The vizier stood between sovereign and subjects, representing the former in all matters touching the latter.

Well, today I learned. Not exactly the voice of Psy, but he’s fun and engaging nonetheless.

Healers looking for pointers can visit this page.

We got trolled. For the longest time, Vizier would always run to the Attenuation platform. We would routinely trigger the boss from the middle and then run to it. We figured he’d go there everytime. Sure enough, the one time we set up at the Attenuation platform, the Vizier runs to the Force and Verve platform instead.

I was never able to take down the Vizier during the beta. Either I ran out of time or the gear or skill just wasn’t there for the groups I was in. I knew the Attenuation platform was going to be challenging for players (especially those who use the keyboard to turn instead of to strafe). Pay attention because Attenuation rings can go clockwise or counter clockwise.

Pro tip: Rebind your A and D keys to strafe left and strafe right respectively. It helps with moving through discs. Point your camera so that it’s from the top down. Paladins with the Relic of Chi Ji are instructed not to use Light of Dawn.

Look how blinding that can be. My guild likes to joke about it and call it the vagina of light.

With all the movement that’s going on in the Attenuation phase, I switched up my glyphs and used the Glyph of Shadow Word: Death instead. When I’m dodging discs, there’s situations where I’ll get lucky with Mind Blast, Mind Spike, and Devouring Plague procs. It’s possible to stand in one place and get a 2-tick Mind Flay through before interrupting it. Shadow Word: Death just gives you an extra spell for to to use on the go.

During the Convert platform, pop your Psychic Scream and Halo spells early and on cooldown. People get pissed off at you if you’re Mind Controlled and dropping fear bombs all over the place. Halo if used at the wrong time will chunk or even kill players.

On the Force and Verve platform, I’d activate Vampiric Embrace while under the Noise Cancelling shield. We assigned all the ranged players to the bubble furthest away. Healers would take the next closest (or middle) bubble. Melee DPS and the tank would secure the closest bubble to the Vizier. Any bubbles that had more than 9 players would have extras reassigned to the healer bubble.

Heroism was used in the final phase during the first Noise Cancelling bubble. It was used defensively to help the healers keep up with the healing without activating their raid cooldowns.

It’s not the greatest fight for a Shadow Priest with the amount of moving that’s going on. I’m still struggling with maintaining meaningful uptime. 80.5% on my Vampiric Touch just isn’t quite cutting it. The DoTs just keep falling off and I’m not able to refresh them fast enough. I try to reapply them with anywhere from 3-4 seconds left, but I’m not all there. Shadow’s fun this expansion (compared to Cataclysm where maintaining 3 different DoTs was a chore).

I’m using Fortexorcist to help track my DoTs but I think I need to find a better place for it. Maybe underneath the target on the top right? Where do you Shadow Priests park their timers? Should I just clip more and throw it up earlier?

The Things we Balance

Life is a balance. We balance our work lives and our personal lives. We balance academics with extracurricular activities. We balance beer with hard liquor (some of us, at least).

WoW’s obviously no different. With that in mind, I wanted to pose some things to think about. These are questions that most guilds and officer teams will find themselves in. Not regularly or often, but they’ll do happen.

Progression vs Gear

Time needs to be managed with precision. With 9 hours allocated to raiding, it needs to be used effectively. Going into this week, we were only 5/6 with Heart of Fear coming out. The intel and opinion we had from other players and other GMs was that the first two bosses of Heart of Fear would be easy. Our options were to go into Heart of Fear and try to get two bosses down quick or fall back to the Vaults and secure additional weapons and trinkets. Elegon still drops fantastic weapons and trinkets. For whatever reason, we’ve always had a problem when it comes to acquiring weapon upgrades.

The flip side of that argument? If we secure the kills, it helps us with our overall standings. In the long run, this helps us with attracting quality recruits.

Besides, rumor has it that Garalon is serious business.

Learning vs Stacking

New players and recruits need a chance to crack the lineup. They need to have a basic understanding and exposure to a boss so that they can get their feet wet. Not only this, there may come times when a regular player can’t make it and someone from the bench needs to be activated. Do we bring in the recruits and risk maybe a few wipes so that they understand what the mechanics are? In the long run, this is almost always the better option. Experience time in the raid is always a plus. On the other hand, if you’re on a limited raiding schedule, would you rather blitz through the farm stuff as quick as possible by stacking the raid?

Every wipe on farm means less attempts on the harder bosses for the week.

There are other types of balancing questions and acts that we regularly answer. But off the top of my head, those two are the ones that come up. I find that those two topics generally face the most disagreement. You can make strong arguments for both sides and it’s not always easy to answer it. It depends on what stage you are at an expansion and what the guild goals are.

As an aside, we’re hurting on ranged DPS at the moment*. If you’re looking around for a new guild for 25s, check us out (and that invitation is open to healers and other roles/classes).

So desperate that I switched over to Shadow.