7 Ways to Instill Life into Your Guild’s Forums

7 Ways to Instill Life into Your Guild’s Forums

Are you suffering from an SAG?

That’s short for “Socially Awkward Guild”.

Most guilds have a site or some place to talk about stuff outside of the game. Forums are a great way to foster ongoing communication between your guild members outside of the game. For Conquest, the forums house information from strategy and feedback to guild sanctioned meetups. It’s difficult to get people to start using forums at the beginning especially if they’re not used to it or they’ve never been in a guild with active forums to begin with. Forum activity is one of those aspects of a guild website that takes a little time to grow and where success requires participation from other guild members.

The ideas you see below are common in guilds of all types. Don’t wait for someone else to start a topic. Seize the initiative and be social! I guarantee you that your GM will be thankful (or at least, grateful for the attempt).

Raid Attendance threads

Some raiding guilds prefer using a signup system while others stand by the sign out system. No matter which one you choose, it involves your guild indicating their availability for an upcoming raid. A signup system sounds a little tedious but can be managed with a group that doesn’t raid as often. Imagine raiding three times a week and being required to post a reply saying that you’re able and willing to come! It gets really draining fast. What happens if you forget and your spot gets forfeited? In contrast, a sign out system only requires you to post when you’re missing a raid due to an event that you can’t miss. I’ve had players sign out because of typical things like exams or overtime. In one case, I had a player put up pictures of raging wild fires near their house and indicated that they wouldn’t be able to make it!

Guild picture thread

We all want to know what the player behind the character looks like. The person who you envision when you hear them might not actually match up with what they look like. Mind you, this is all up to the discretion of the individual guild members and how they feel about putting their face out there on the internet. Also, as a word to the wise, there’s bound to be someone who’ll try to troll the rest of the team by putting a picture that isn’t actually them.

nph“I swear guys, I really am Neil Patrick Harris!”

Strategies thread

This is meant for raiding and PvP guilds. It’s great to consolidate all resources into one area. Members can share tips for struggling players or little nuances to squeeze out extra DPS. After every raid, I try to add any new modifications so that the players who weren’t involved in the recent attempts can stay up to speed on the changes. To keep things relatively clean and on topic, create a new thread for each boss that you’re working on.

What’s your job title thread

This one’s always at the discretion of the player and some people will choose to be as vague or as specific as possible. In the history of Conquest, I think we’ve had several Professors. We’ve had a police officer. A firefighter. Lots of IT and finance folks. Many players in science related professions as well. It’s a good way to break the ice especially a newer guild that’s just formed. Good way to find interests with other players outside of the game as well.

Post your system specs thread

In a WoW guild, chances are there’s enough tech geeks who would gobble all that stuff up. Some of the less technically minded might chime in asking for suggestions on upgrades or advice on how to get their system to run efficiently. Depending on how intense it goes, you might have to reign it in lest you end up inadvertently starting an nVidia vs ATI war.

Patch discussion thread

A thread like this will usually end up with a few people complaining dejectedly about the nerfs their class received. But it’s a good place for players to collectively spitball new ideas or discuss the new changes coming to the game. Bonus: Everyone enjoys a good “HA HA YOU GOT NERFED” fest.

Embedded chat room

With Enjin’s guild tools, I’ve added a little chat module at the very top of the guild forums. This is another way to bring people together as not only does the guild defeat virtual dragons as one unit but it functions as a place to to help people get through their day. Everyone loves to complain about something (in fact, I’m probably responsible for 25% of the whining on our chat about the most mundane things while my guild silently rolls their eyes at me).

This is just a start. The sign of an active and healthy forum correlates to an active and healthy guild.

What other forum topics have been successful in generating meaningful discussion? Have you incorporated any other cool addons or widgets to keep interest flowing?

Professionals in your Guild

If you’ve been around in a guild long enough, you’ll be exposed to people with a diverse array of hobbies and people who work in varying fields.

I’ve raided with two Doctors (Ph.D professors).

I’ve raided with soldiers.

I’ve raided with politicians.

Policemen, Firemen, and ambulance personnel (EMT, I think?).

I’m almost positive that I’m not the first to have raided with someone who’s in IT in some capacity. Actually, I’d argue just about every guild had someone who’s worked in IT, or some related position.

Take advantage of their knowledge outside of the game. I once clogged a toilet and had a plumber guildie who taught me how to unclog it. My lawyer guildie gave me some helpful pointers helping me ace my US law class years ago. There’s no harm in networking with your own guild because you never know if they can hook you up with something or get your foot in the door somewhere.

Now if I could build a dream team of guildies based solely on their real life jobs, here’s what I would pick.

Lawyer

They might not be able to represent you or officially give you legal advice, but they can help you with suggestions and what’s right or wrong. Alternative: Police officers.

Mechanic

Totally not a car person.

Travel Agent

I like planning trips and vacations, but it gets a little overwhelming at times. Would be great to tap into the insight and tools of a travel agent.

Plumber

Really though, any person with a tradeskill would be a plus. They can give you pointers on home improvements or helping you troubleshoot problems.

Chef

Having a foodie on hand who can throw in tips about meals or getting started would be nice. Bonus points if they’re stars on the grill, too.

Bartender

For the times you need to loosen up and need drink suggestions. And they make great listeners.

Accountant

Someone to help with taxes every year!

Philanthropist

That’s just self explanatory :).

Retail

This one’s a little more common then you think. Nothing wrong with the occasional family and friend discount here and there. I’ve seen guildies hook up other guildies with tech hardware just to help boost their computer performance in game.

IT

Can’t forget these guys. They’re the ones that can help you resolve any computer issues and give you tips on upgrade suggestions as you need them.

Now if you do take advantage of the skills, you should show appreciation somehow. If they’re a player in the same area and they offered you a discount on something, use the money you saved and take them out to lunch. That’s just one example.

What about you? Have you ever tapped into the expertise or field of a fellow guild member? Or on the other side of the fence, have you offered benefits to your guild?

Answering 8 Questions of a Guild Acquisition

Answering 8 Questions of a Guild Acquisition

Like many of our fellow 25 man raiding guild friends, we experienced our share of recruiting problems. Players had been losing interest in Warcraft. Every raid night was a dice-roll to see which line ups could be fielded. Some days we were able to raid short-handed with 23 or less.

It’s really easy to sit back and say “Just recruit”. I commend those who have the weight to attract candidates. The reality for the rest of us is that it’s a little different. If you divided the 10 million-ish players among their different criteria, you’d end up with categories based on stuff like:

  • Time zone (Region)
  • Focus (Competitive, hardcore, casual)
  • Progression
  • Loot system (DKP, loot council)
  • Activities (PvP, PvE)

One of the officers in guild proposed wholesale acquisition of a guild instead of a merger.

For the sake of definition:

Guild merger – Complete integration of two guilds with agreed upon distribution of players (roles), leadership, and loot. Possibly includes name changes and site changes. Resources tend to be combined together.

Guild acquisition – One guild completely absorbs and assimilates a guild. Generally, no leadership spots are given. Bank items can be distributed as they see fit. Sometimes, there is no pooling of resources. There’s minimal (if any) changes to the absorbing guild’s identity or website.

Several months ago, we ran into a guild that was looking to be acquired. Seems that their officer corps was in a mess.

More importantly, they couldn’t find anyone with the time, dedications, or skills to lead the group. Ultimately, they decided they still wanted to play together as much as possible and went shopping for a guild that was willing to consider taking them in.

What were the qualities?

From our perspective, when looking for guilds to pick up, we’re looking for a number of key aspects:

  • Skilled players that can suit our immediate needs. No point picking up 2 surplus tanks and extra rogues if the present raid already has 4. If we’re looking for healers and ranged DPS and that group had those players, we’d talk business.
  • Similar progression. We wanted to avoid  having to re-teach certain encounters. We also wanted to minimize gear gaps.
  • Similar raid ethic and mindset. This is just for general raiding compatibility. Players that have the same attitude towards raiding are generally more cooperative with each other and are willing to set personal feelings aside in favour of getting the job done.
  • Compatible personalities. Similar to the above point. Minimizes any personnel disagreements or verbal fights/arguments.
  • Indifferent to leadership positions. Non-negotiable. Leadership structure already in place. It’s okay to have leadership aspirations like being an officer, but that can come later after getting a few raids under the belt.
  • Raid times and hours. Also non-negotiable. No point in picking up players who can’t raid because they have to go to sleep early or because they can’t get home from work early enough.

We decided to jump on their Ventrilo servers. It was extremely important that we figure out what the intentions and philosophies of each other were. We found that there were a surprising number of questions. Here’s the questions we received and how we answered them:

  • What happens to the social players?
    We’ll accept all of them. They can participate in whatever activities they like but if they’re looking for spots on the raid or rated BG teams, they’ll need to apply.
  • How is loot handled? Will our status prevent us from rolling?
    We use loot council. Initiates are allowed to express their interest in an item. You won’t be prevented from rolling on an item that is an upgrade for you.
  • What kind of raiding opportunities can we expect?
    There’s a spot for you and your players on our progression team. If your contributions are solid, we’ll make sure you see action.
  • What other activities are there?
    We have a Minecraft server that some of the players like to mess around with. We have a growing group of competitive Starcraft 2 players. League of Legends games usually occurs nightly with as much as 2 or 3 5 man teams firing off at once.
  • What happens if things don’t work out?
    If things aren’t compatible, Ner’zhul has a balanced and decent sized population. There are other raiding guilds on the server you could consider working with that might be willing to give you and your team a shot.
  • What roles are looking to be filled?
    [At the time] Ranged DPS and healers.

They weren’t the only ones with questions. We owed it to ourselves for due diligence. No one likes to waste anyone’s time. Here’s the questions that we asked them:

  • Why do you want to merge with us?
    No one really wants the job of being a GM or raid leading. We just want to play the game and raid.
  • Is it an absolute requirement for all of you to raid together?
    It’s preferred but we understand that there isn’t going to be roster slots open the whole time. We’re okay with being in the same guild at the very least.

I can’t say for sure the viability of a 10 man guild absorbing or merging with a 10 man guild. But a 25 man raiding guild taking in a 10 man guild appears to be easier to handle and coordinate since much of the infrastructure and power base already exists. Whereas two 10 mans trying to join forces might need additional time to work out leadership structures, guidelines, and other administrative details.

Have you ever been a part of a guild merger before? How did that end up for you? If you could have done something different, what would it have been?

Handling Raiding Couples

Handling Raiding Couples

Couples that raid together in the same guild can be a nightmare to deal with. I’m glad to say I’ve only ever had to deal with a small handful of them. There were some great husband/wife combinations and some not-so-stellar ones.

Interacting with them individually can be a chore at times because most couples share information with each other. There’s little (if any) secrets between the two and I get that. Talking to half a couple may as well be like talking to the whole couple because the other half will usually be brought up to speed about any decisions, events, or other information shared with them.

Here’s the worst part.

Ever tried giving criticism and feedback to one of them? Maybe they weren’t doing so  hot or they entered a streak where they just had some bad nights. Or maybe that individual just plain sucks at dealing with a certain mechanic. You drag them out to the side on an off night or send them a message trying to figure out what’s wrong. They reply back with “But I’m doing everything I can possibly do” and deep down inside you know for a fact that it’s not true because you just looked at 4 other players of the same class, progression, and gear level then coming to the realization that they really weren’t. You send back another message laying out the information you have found along with some additional pointers.

And then what ultimately ends up happening is the other half just swoops in.

“WHADDAYA MEAN MY WIFE IS TERRIBLE HEALER? SHE’S REALLY AWESOME! SHE HEALS MY ASS ALL THE TIME IN BATTLEGROUNDS AND KEEPS ME UP, NO PUN INTENDED”.

Naturally, a cursory glance at other logs and incidental information proves otherwise.

“YOUR INFORMATION AND INTERPRETATION OF IT IS WRONG. THOSE FRAPS VIDEOS OF ATTEMPTS WERE OBVIOUSLY DOCTORED WITH THE INTENT OF SLANDERING HER AND MAKING HER LOOK AS UNSKILLED AS POSSIBLE.”

It’s at this moment where you introduce your face to your palm.

“THERE IS A CONSPIRACY HERE DESIGNED TO THROW HER OUT AND SPLIT UP OUR MARRIAGE. WELL IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN.”

inception

We’re not out to get you

Seriously, there’s no conspiracy. There’s no secret organization designed to screw over a couple and split their marriage. It’s an honest to Elune criticism of their performance and the fact that it’s lacking.

That’s it.

Just not worth it

After a while, I realized then that some couples just aren’t worth having around especially not with such an overprotective attitude like that. GMs need to be able to deliver that honest feedback without a vulture jumping in and protecting every chance they get. Handling couple applications usually warrant a much closer examination and the questions asked during any interview stages are going to be different then the solo applicants. It’s gotten to the point where I’m tempted to blanket ask “If I said your significant other was performing poorly in this area, what would you do?”

On the other hand, you could just auto decline couples entirely and sidestep any potential drama problems that might happen later.

Thankfully the couples I have in guild right now are quite mellow and I haven’t had a reason to punt any just yet.

The Delicate Art of Delegation

The Delicate Art of Delegation

Last night, I wrote a heartfelt post detailing my trials and hardships in the captaining of Conquest. While I believe the crew is just as (if not more) important than the captain, all executive decisions regarding which way the ship is going rests on his shoulders. I’ve been in guilds where there were co-GMs are multiple leaders. It resulted in a lot of indecision and little progress. That being said, if there comes a time where a significant choice needs to be made, what I’ll end up doing is gathering up my senior staff. I’ll give them some time to illustrate their case for or against. I’ll let them talk it out while I listen and deliberate. But once the time is up, a choice has to be made.

Learned about that from Tom Clancy’s Executive Orders (Jack Ryan). Great book, by the way. I’ve always loved military thrillers.

I noticed a trend that emerged in the majority of the comments.

Joveta says:

“You probably -shouldn’t- be Healing Lead on top of everything else you’re doing. Delegate delegate delegate!”

GoW says:

“please, use your Officers as much as you can.”

Starman says:

“What I found is that having a really good 2nd in Command that you can split the pre setup check list with helps a TON.”

Tatiana says:

“Use your officers. Delegate. You do not have to carry the entire load.”

Lakland says:

“Also- delegate, delegate, delegate! You are raiding with (some) very competent folks. My guess is more than one or three of them has the capabilities to raid lead themselves. Take advantage of their skills and step back – captain the ship.”

Now how exactly does one go about doing that? I can’t simply just ask a person to do something. I don’t know if they’ll even like it or more importantly, want to. I don’t want people to chop wood for me or to cut and shape sails. I want them to yearn for the open seas.

Self motivation is the way to go.

But I do need to have clear cut positions and roles. I’ll see to it that every major position can be fulfilled by 2 people in case 1 person won’t be around.

Let’s use corporate analogy. I’m running out of sailor ones. Not everyone here is technically listed as an officer. But their roles are important, all the same.

Matticus
Position: CEO

Purpose: Makes guild level decisions in regards to guild directions and objectives. Responsible for day to day affairs and overall raid strategy. Plans raid schedules. Oversees preliminary raid preparation and post raid activities. Serves on the board of loot directors.

Sydera
Position: CFO, Human Resources, Director of Restorative Operations

Purpose: Handles matters pertaining to personnel and guild applicants. Oversees guild finances and resources. Quarterbacks the healers. Serves on the board of loot directors.

Kimboslice
Position: Director of Strategic Operations

Purpose: Contributes strategy and tactical approaches to bosses. Also acts as DPS quality assurance. Raid disciplinarian. Quarterbacks the DPS. Heroism caller.

Assuming he stays up longer than 14 seconds against an undercard.

Ice
Position: Lootmaster

Purpose: Ensures all things shiny go to the proper players. Handles the looting of greens, blues and epics. Serves on the board of loot directors. Battle res organizer (assuming the CEO or Director authorizes the use of a Battle res in an attempt, more on this in a future post).

Hassai
Position: Tank

Purpose: Sets the overall pace and speed of the raid. Has been granted full autonomy and discretion in terms of trash pulls. Knows when to pull and when to hold.

Briolante
Position: Tank and Technical Director

Purpose: Handles any unforeseen or unexpected trash mobs. Oversees the guild technical infrastructure which includes the guild website and forums.

With that, I do believe that just about summarizes my staff. I have no doubt that as time goes on, some of their roles will begin to mesh and evolve. Perhaps new problems will occur and solutions will be needed. That does not necessarily mean I have to overthink it or issue out another promotion. I think I’ve got a great team here with their roles properly outlined.

As an aside, it’s course selection time. I wonder if I would benefit from a business management course.

Probably not.