Yes, I’ll admit it. I’m writing this article as an excuse to showcase Conquest member Lagniappe’s amazing stick-figure artwork. In the midst of other business, Conquest is currently working on a new logo. In my mind, nothing is better than dead stick figures, except for maybe hungry stick figure kitties. Or stick figure vampire kitties. Anyway.
On Guild Drama
Inevitably, even very healthy guilds experience moments of dissent. An organization can easily split into factions, especially when the issue at hand takes on personal importance for the members involved. Right now we’re having some discussion and debate in Conquest over the role of achievements in raiding.
Syd’s Patented Disclaimer
Usually when my students want me to bend the rules, I blame “the department” and claim that I’m “neutral” towards their request. Sometimes it’s a way of hiding my real opinion, but usually it’s a cover for “deviating from standard procedure is a pain in the butt and I’d just rather not.” There’s a window into my personality, I think. I’m going to repeat it again. I’m very pleased not to be the final authority in my guild, because I don’t have to be the one to make this decision. However, that’s not going to stop me from writing about it!
The Achievement Drama
So what’s going on in Conquest? As we get closer to Ulduar and time runs out to complete the Glory of the Raider achievements for the Black Proto Drake reward, some disagreements have arisen among the raiders as to whether the harder achievements are worth trying for. I’ll go on the record saying that I’m “neutral”: and this time I mean that I understand both points of view. It can be very cool to get achievements, and they do require the raid to work harder. However, as implemented in the current raid content, most achievements are a little irrelevant. They don’t award better loot, and there’s no vanity reward either without going for the meta-achievement. For some players, there’s no incentive to extend the raid week for achievements’ sake.
The Allure of Achievements
The main argument for achievements is that they train the guild for harder content. Some people care about the vanity reward, but most of the overachieving guild members are just striving after perfection–there’s not a lot of obsessing about mounts or titles going on. Part of me understands this need for perfection. I think LarÃƒÂsa of the Pink Pigtail Inn is much more eloquent on the subject than I could be, so I’ll link you to her thoughts here.
The question here is not “why aren’t we good enough to do achievements?” but rather “are achievements worth our time?” Conquest isn’t the most hardcore guild out there, but we’re capable of doing anything that we 1) plan for and 2) really want to do in the first place. When we fail at a certain achievement, I’m more likely to look at motivations than the skill of players as the cause. We’ve lost some players recently, and we’ve had others take a break. There’s a good reason for this–it happens any time the content goes “stale.” At the individual level, interest wanes, and the die-hards in the guild have to scramble to hold the house of cards that is any guild together until the pendulum swings in the other direction. The moment is coming when our old friends will return and good recruits will be easy to find–and it will coincide with the release of 3.1. However, it will be too late at that point to get a Black Proto Drake.
Pushing the Limits
While I’m sympathetic to the achievement-hungry players, the feats we have yet to accomplish are the very hardest: 6 minute Malygos and Immortal for everyone, and maybe a couple others. To push ourselves to do that now would be to complete those achievements while undermanned and while training new raiders. Our raid leader, who I have come to like and respect despite his caustic attitude, thought we were doing pretty well considering the team we were able to field. I concur. But I will repeat: if we can’t get 6-minute Malygos down now, it doesn’t mean we suck. It means that if we had wanted to do it, we should have started trying while we still had our best team on the field. We’ll do better at the Ulduar hard modes because there are built-in loot rewards for each of them. I know from my day job that it’s pretty much impossible to get people to do something for nothing.
I think that a raiding guild should always have a goal. Maybe the leadership of Conquest (who are all, interestingly enough, in the we-don’t-care-about-achievements camp) should have made those clearer early on. If I were steering the ship alone (thank goodness I’m not), I would have said let’s work on one achievement per week. I don’t think we need to push ourselves to raid 4 days a week and wipe over and over when we could clear the content in 2. I always believe in the Middle Way–and that might mean one day set aside to Achieve, but not two.
Abstracting from the Situation
I’ve been sidelined from raiding–or doing anything at all–for the last few days, as I injured my cornea (ouch). I had a lot of time to think, and one of the things I thought about was the achievements issue. The bottom line for me is that my guild is important to me. I’ll do things to make them happy that I wouldn’t do otherwise–that darned no-spore Loatheb kill included. I’ll go along with the achievements and I won’t gripe about it. However, I’m going to take a more active role in governing the guild at moments like this. I can’t just defer to Matticus and our raid leader every time. They’re great, and they usually know what to do–but sometimes Professor Syd could be useful. I’ve had to mediate between factions in the classroom and faculty meetings, and if I’m not participating in the decision-making process in game, I’m shirking my responsibilities. In my last guild, I took on too much–I wanted to fix every problem myself, and it backfired big-time. However, now I have to be more active, and at least get involved in the debates. “Out to Lunch” is not a leadership philosophy–so I’m putting in my two cents, both here, on Conquest forums and in-game. Both for myself as an officer and for my guildies, moderation is the key lesson gaming has to teach us. If I have to print “The Middle Way” on a T-shirt and mail one to all the raiders, I will do it. It will also, by the way, have a cute kitty on it, so they can all think of me when they use it to wash their cars.
So, dear readers, how are your guilds dealing with achievements?