How about a training dummy/event for healers?

OK, so there is this awesome new set of training dummies in the Mists beta that gives someone facing, raid buffs, food buffs and flask buffs, can be killed and has about 50 million health. It’s a pretty damn cool new tool for players to try to more accurately judge their DPS in a raid environment without having to actually go in to a raid. It’s a wonderful idea, a great idea and a necessary idea.

But how about one for healers?

So, lets lay it out there, healing is a stressful job, accompanied by a certain sense of anxiety and dread that accompanies healing a group for the first time. I hear horror stories of people getting booted out of instance all the time when they first start healing because they are new and not perfect. It’s a huge fear. One of the things I always suggest to new healers is to pop into a battle ground. As folks on twitter have pointed out, and I’ve agreed with for years, it helps you sort your UI, and it helps you learn some of the aspects of healing like triage. But it doesn’t teach you everything. Healing a PvP group isn’t quite the same as an instance, especially when you have to manage cooldowns and mana usage for boss mechanics, tanks, DPS and yourself.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t heal in PvP, by all means you should as it’s a great way to test out your UI, spells and what they do as well as key binds, but I still find fighting against another group of people is much different than fighting against a raid or boss design. I just want to make it clear I’m not discrediting PvP healing as a learning tool, but there’s no elegant solution to it. I mean, even Rift has healing dummies to help you gauge yourself.

Now here’s a thought that’s been on my mind for a couple months now. In The Secret World there’s a test you have to take for your preferred role to access nightmare content, and it’s called the gatekeeper. What the gatekeeper does is it forces you to respond to mechanics and use your toolkit. When I stumbled upon this I was immediately reminded of a very old class quest in Vanilla World of Warcraft , and I’m sure some of you will already know where I’m going with this.

Remember when you went for your Benediction priests? Do you remember the difficulty of that class quest and how it made you use everything you had to smartly complete the quest? It was an awesome class quest that worked within the confines of the character class at the time.

So here’s my proposal, lets have something, an event,  that you can go into that gives you NPC party members to heal and a faux boss fight. Through this, players could individually test their mettle, get logs and see if they were having issues without having to risk embarrassment or ridicule. Yes I know it’s an MMO and yes I know there are social requirements to be had, but DPS can go to a dummy and test out their numbers, why shouldn’t other classes get something similar? Why not a faux encounter like the Gatekeeper in TSW that lets you test out our abilities in relative safety. Think of how something like this could benefit healers.

Lets take that a step further, how much would something like this benefit tanks as well, or DPS. It would be an amazing boon. It would relieve so much pressure by eliminating at least partially the notion that you have to be perfect on your first time out. You could test to some extent and get an idea before ever having to walk into an instance. I would wager that if something like this was implemented there would be a lot more willing healers, and a lot more willing tanks. I can’t count how many times people in my own guild have said that they would want to try healing or tanking, but don’t want to do so in a manner that would waste someone’s time while they were learning. It’s nice to have friends to call on to learn this stuff, but sometimes they just aren’t around to help at the times you need them.

Yes you could make the argument that you can learn this while you level up and learn your abilities, but at the end of the day I’d be willing to be the amount of people that level through instances isn’t nearly as great as those that level through questing. Even though questing as a healer or tank has gotten better, it’s more often than not more effective to level as a DPS spec anyways. I’ve had healers message me for advice, and then when they get ridiculed in a 5-man or an LFR, or a new raid they just stop because while they were learning, not everyone understood that and made it twice as difficult.

The Gatekeeper system is one of the best things I’ve seen implemented into an MMO in years, it is something I would love to see re-purposed in other MMOs, if only tooled a bit differently. In our case a repeatable event or quest that lets you test yourself, your new gem setup, your new talent choices, your new reforging or just learning how spells work without the opportunity cost of failing publicly before you’re ready. Lets just make it more of an event and less of a test, make it something healers and tanks could use to get a feel for their respective roles.

Is it  a perfect solution, I can’t really say, but healers and tanks need some love too. Having a new tool for DPS to check their numbers with full raid buffs is really nice, but don’t leave out the healers and tanks, the two most stressful jobs you can choose to undertake in just about any game. I just think adding something like this would be amazing, useful, and combined with everything else at our finger tips would just further strengthen our healers and tanks, and their confidence in their roles.

I’ll write more on this later I’m sure, something more in-depth and detailed, but for now I’m curious to see what you think. Would this be something you’d like to see implemented for healers and tanks?

Attracting Gaming Sponsorships

Attracting Gaming Sponsorships

If you’re reading this, you have a blog, a podcast, or an event that you’re looking to drum up some kind of resources for.

Maybe you’re an e-sports organization looking for some help or a guild that’s looking to ease a few financial burdens. I know how costly and expensive it can be.

One of the questions that often get asked is how do I attract and get sponsors for <something>? I can’t offer you a definitive step-by-step guide or formula on how to get sponsorship. But having been on both sides of the sponsorship question (both reviewing sponsorship requests and negotiating with companies for sponsors for events/organizations), there are a few things you really need to keep in mind to make yourself more attractive to them.

Not all sponsorship arrangements have to involve money. Instead consider things like:

  • Gaming peripherals
  • Hardware
  • Voice servers
  • Guild hosting websites
  • Web hosting services (For your blog or podcast)
  • Discount agreements

Know your audience

If you write a blog, do you know what the demographics of your readers are?

How many of them are male?
How many of them are between the ages of 16 – 25?
How many listeners does your podcast get?
What your RSS subscriber count is?
How many page views you get per month?
What your top 5 most popular articles are?

Having this data is extremely important. The question you need to keep in the back of your mind is how does sponsoring you help them with their message?

Provide evidence and data. Interested potential sponsors will ask for data about traffic and page views. If you don’t have Google Analytics set up, start with that.

Case Study: World of Matticus

Not many of you may remember this, but years ago I came really close to shutting down WoM. Hosting bills were gradually climbing up. It got to the point where I almost had to pay $300 a month to keep the site going. Luckily, I was able to negotiate a web hosting sponsorship. Having traffic information allowed the two of us to come to an agreement because they were able to allocate the necessary resources needed as the audience (in other words, you guys) continued to scale and grow.

Know your sponsors

What is the goal of the company you want to partner with? Are they trying to raise subscriptions? Are they gunning for increased awareness and exposure? Do you know what kind of players are interested in their products? If you have an idea of what their sales goals are, you can help factor that in with your proposal in how you can help them with their challenges.

What can you offer?

Business is still business. You need to be able to exchange value for value. How can you ensure that your sponsor’s message reaches the desired audience? There’s a few ways you can do that.

One of the easiest methods is to place a logo and a link to your sponsors anyone on your site. Graphical banners do the job. Logos can be placed in the site header. Another good spot is to place them on the background image of the site (and it’ll appear prominently to anyone on widescreen monitors).

If you have a podcast, mention here and there (“We’d like to thank our sponsors …”).
If you run a livestream, place their logo on the stream itself somewhere out of the way or change the background image of the page your stream is on to reflect them.
Work with videos? Place their logo at the front and at the end of your productions.
Attending events in person? Have any custom gear? See if you can get their brand embedded on your shirts.

Does your guild run a ton of pickup raids or organized PvP? If your group gets a ton of pickup or cross realm traffic, create a message of the day in Ventrilo that mentions them. Consider changing the name of the waiting room channel. Think of different methods to help your sponsors with their message.

Case study: Fnatic and Team 3D

Fnatic.RaidCall changed the name of their organization to help draw awareness to Raidcall. Years ago when Counter-strike was at it’s height, I believe Team 3d changed their in game tags from 3D.KSharp to 3D.nVidia :: Ksharp. This was during the finals of one of the CPL events where thousands of players were watching the game live. Can you imagine the exposure nVidia received?

Image matters

Sponsors will associate with organizations that project a certain image that they are trying to appeal to. Be mindful of the targeted demographic that they are trying to reach. Be mindful of any negative or abusive language. Adjust your tone so that it falls in line with what your ideal sponsors are looking for.

Case study: Capcom and Tekken

There was an incident several weeks ago when rampant trash talking between two competitors during a match resulted one of them dropping out. Miranda forfeited due to mental distress from the verbal abuse that Aris was delivering. Penny Arcade had an excellent editorial piece about some of that verbal abuse. I pulled off a double take when that same individual then said that “The sexual harassment is part of the culture [and] if you remove that from the fighting game community, it’s not the fighting game community”. While I don’t know if there was any fallout after those comments were made, I’m pretty sure potential sponsors would be wary of associating with any organizations with that type of mentality.

A better example might be that Conservative radio show guy. How many advertisers pulled out again?

Anyway, the above points are a topic for another post entirely.

Measure it

Make sure you have a way to help your sponsors measure any positive benefits. Can’t attract any sponsors unless they can determine how well the exposure is doing them for them. One such example would be a customized link which tracks how many referrals came from your site and how many of those referrals signed up for a product or service.

Look out for them

Your job is to ensure that your sponsors are taken care of. Help them out with whatever they need. Make sure you deliver on the terms that you have agreed upon. Cultivate those long term relationships. Get and provide feedback on what worked and what didn’t. If you’re running an event such as a tournament, invite them out again next year while the whole ordeal remains in the front of their minds.

Most importantly, remember to thank them!

Good luck in your efforts!