Prepping for BFA (or any new game launch)

I’ve been through a lot of game and expansion launches in the past 15 years and have been refining my plan to maximize my time playing the new game.

The last big game launch that I was a part of was a few years ago.  The time that the servers went up would be 3am.  Both my husband and I were going to be playing so we made a plan.  This was pre-kids so our intensity level was quite a bit higher as we were planning on playing about 20+ hours the first day.  Our plan was to go to bed a few hours early and wake up about 45 minutes prior to the game going live, get a big breakfast with coffee and hop on voice chat with our guild.  There were about 30 people on our voice chat that early morning and excitement buzzed.  Of course this extended gaming session had ended with my PC having problems and me having to swap to playing on a laptop with poor reaction times.  My brain also had some poor reaction times near the end of my 23 hours played and I wound up dying so much right as I was nearing the finish line (level cap).  I may have cried this day, sources say that I did but I don’t remember it like that.  This was definitely the most intensely I have ever played a game launch.

I’m coming to the launch of BFA (Battle for Azeroth) just as excited as I was all those years ago.  However, this time I’m older and (hopefully) wiser.  I also have a child to consider when making my gaming launch plans and we want to make sure we do this game release in a healthy way.  The game will launch at 5pm CST which is 6pm our time.  We plan to take about 20 minutes each taking turns between 6pm and 8pm.  We will go through our normal evening routine of dinner, playing with my daughter and then get her to bed around 8pm.  Once she is in bed we will start leveling together and play until about midnight our time, so about 4 hours total.  This will be our gaming schedule for the rest of the work week.  On the weekend we will trade off playing games and playing with my toddler and will have periodic breaks where we will leave the house for an hour or so to get some sunshine.  I know this seems like a huge difference from what we did before, and it is!  But this plan is in line with this phase of life that we are in.

Things to do before a new game launch:

  • Meals: Prep food for the week.  This means having easy go to meals that do not require a lot of time to get on the table.  Using paper plates this week so washing dishes can be avoided at all costs.
  • Housekeeping: having the house clean helps keep the guilt away when I playing for an extended period of time.
  • Sleep: gotta get some!  I know its hard to sleep the night before something so exciting but try to get to bed early.  If I are waking up in the middle of the night for a 3am launch try to get at least 6 hours of sleep and wake up with enough time to brew the coffee, take a shower and get dressed.  Since this launch will be in the evening and I’ll be working that day I’ll get as well rested as I can.
  • Communicate your intentions:  This is assuming that you typically have contact with the outside world.  If you plan to hole up in your room for a week and not leave except for bathroom and food, you may want to let those in your life know.  Of course use your best judgement.  I started telling my family how I play during these launches because it was the easier way to go about things since they are not the judgmental type.  If they know what I’m up to they won’t worry about me if I suddenly stop communicating and don’t want to go outside.  I NEED MY GAMES MOM!

I’ve made a list of things to do in game to prep for the WoW launch of BFA.  Some of these things will translate to other expansion launches and some won’t.

Things to do in game:

  • Quest log: empty old quests that I do not want to complete.  This expansion I have complete a bunch of quests and once I’m able to start leveling, I go turn them all in for a small boost in the first level.

quests

  • Bag/Bank:  I cleared out any old pieces of gear that I no longer need and have a mostly empty bag so that I will need to make less stops to sell junk or bank items.
  • Consumables: Stock up on food, flasks, potions, banners, goblin glider kits and anything else that will help me move and kill things faster.
  • Update UI:  Now is a great time to tinker with any elements of my UI that I would like to improve.
    • Recommended Addons
      • Handy Notes + Handy Notes: Legion Treasures – If you haven’t picked up many of your treasures in Legion it is well worth your while to collect them for level 110 to 111.
      • Azeroth Auto Pilot or Zygors guide both will assist you with what to do next and will take alot of the decision making out of how to go about leveling.
      • LookingForGroup – this streamlines the looking for group interface and makes it a little bit quicker to party for group quests.

Things to remember while binging on your favorite video game.

  • Water > Caffeine:  You may plan on staying up later than normal, in that case make sure you use caffeine sparingly and to drink lots of water along with your coffee or energy drink
  • Snacks:  You will want healthy snacks that don’t get your hands messy.  My go-to is going to be cut up fruit in containers that I can eat with a fork and trail mix that I will eat with a spoon.  I know this sounds weird but trust me, you do not want salt and stickiness all over your keyboard and mouse.
  • Breaks:  Every couple of hours I plan to get up from my desk and get my heart rate up.  I’ll be running down and running up my stairs when I need something from the kitchen just to get a burst of exercise.
  • GLHF (Good Luck Have Fun):  Keep in mind that we are playing games for our personal enjoyment.  Listen to your gut and make sure to stop if needed.
Drinking Coffee waiting for BFA
Enjoying some coffee while I wait for BFA.  Who knew that there were french presses in Dalaran?

This launch is going to be a great one!  I can’t wait to see all of the new areas and start doing the new dungeons.   I’ll be doing this with my guild, some of them will out pace me in levels and I’ll hopefully beat some to 120 as well.  What are some things that you do to prepare for a new game launch?

 

 

Dealing with drama as a Guild Leader

As humans, we love to gossip, spread rumors and tell secrets.  It creates a social bond that we enjoy belonging to a group and the endorphin rush from being included.  Of course there is a negative side to gossiping, especially when you are a group that spends a lot of time together.  A guild is just like any other social group where drama can be a real rock in the shoe.  Sometimes you gotta take off your shoe and get rid of that pesky rock.

Magz was a tank, which was an important role to fill in our guild.  There are usually only 2 tanks in a group of 30 people.  Normally a chill guy, one night Magz had a change in attitude.  I can only speculate what caused the change.  Maybe something traumatic happen in his life that we didn’t know about?  Did he get bored and start picking fights with people to spice up his day?  Whatever was going on, he was pissing people off.  If I have one rule in my guild, it is you can’t make everyone hate you.  Several members of the guild began to come to me with stories complaining about him.

It hasn’t happened very often where a longtime member was causing issues.  I’m very direct and to the point when I need to communicate an expectation.  I talked to him and told him how it was going to be.  He had to get along or move along.

The next raid he began to give me sass when I gave him normal raid instructions.  He seemed to think that he was too important to lose and that I would just suck it up and put up with his crap.  I held me temper through the rest of the raid, so I wouldn’t disrupt our planned group play.  Through the 4 hour raid I simmered below the surface and by the end of the night I had reached full boil.

After that raid ended I spoke to him in voice chat, “Magz, your behavior tonight was unacceptable and you don’t seem to care about making things right with the players that have been having disagreements with you.”  He seemed to be indignant, indifferent and perhaps a little irritable.  We talked and when it was clear that I was going to get no where with him and his poor attitude I gave him the boot  “I guess you will no longer be playing with us.”

If you want to continue to play with the group, you can’t make everyone hate you.  Had I chosen to keep him in our guild it would have effected moral and I would have lost some great friends and raiders in the process.  The guy was complaining all the time, being disrespectful towards the leadership (including me) and didn’t seem to want to be there.

I’ve seen players deteriorate into non-productive members and have found that they usually have some warning signs:

  1. They become less responsive to communications.
  2. They start acting weird – acting out or starting fights.
  3. They do something immoral such as scamming a guild member, stealing guild resources or doing other things to harm the guild.
  4. They start having poor attendance.

Of course poor attendance by itself isn’t cause for the boot.  They could have legitimate reasons for missing your scheduled play time, but when a member exhibits the above warnings signs and then has a family emergency of some sort that takes them away from the game for a week – I consider them gone, and I’m usually right.  I’ll make the call every once in a while “That guy is going to quit soon”  I’ll say to my officers.  If I were a gambling woman I would make some serious money with how often I’m right.

If your guild is participating in organized group play, try to always have a contingency plan.  Whether it is someone else in your guild that can fill the role or if you have a potential recruit in the pipeline.  I try to always be prepared.  This way if someone starts causing problems with other guildies, I don’t have to suck it up and deal with the drama.  I always give people the benefit of a doubt and communicate expectations.  To this date I’ve only had to kick a handful of people.  Its not the part of the job that I like, but I need to keep the wheels turning, the bosses dying, and my members happy.

I do love a good gaming drama story.  Anyone have a good one to share?

Navigating the New Guild Management Panel in WoW (World of Warcraft) 8.0.1

A lot has changed in patch 8.0.1 one of which is the shiny new guild panel.  Here is a walk through of how to use your new guild panel.  Your access will vary based on your permissions in your guild.  I will be showing you the Guild Leader level of permissions.

Guild Panel Navigation

Along the right side of the guild interface are the Chat, Roster, Perks, and Info tabs.  This is how we switch between the different pages shown below.


Here is what the Chat Panel looks like.  You can join the in-game chat channel for your guild or community here.  You can also join the voice chat for your guild or community by clicking on the headset icon.  As far as I can tell you must be logged in to use this feature which is very limiting for guilds that like to use voice chat to socialize both while they’re playing wow and while they’re playing other games.

Guild Panel Chat

  1. Community Summary – This shows your current guild and communities.
  2. Join or Create Community – You can use this button to join or create a new community.  This is a new feature and offers a great alternative to custom chat channels.  If you want to join an existing community you need to copy paste the invite link or be invited by a member of the community.
  3. Chat Channel – Here you can view the chat history for your guild or community.  This will save all chat history including when your character is offline.  Watch what you say about the Guild Leader!
  4. Online members – here you can see who is online.  You can right click the member’s name to whisper, request to join group, or ignore from here.
  5. Add to chat window – this is a quick button to add the chat channel to a new or existing tab in your chat interface.
  6. Invite Member – From here you can invite members to your guild or community.  This works the same as typing out /ginvite [MemberName].

This is the Guild Roster panel where you can view a lot of information about the members of your guild.  Want to know who can craft that item you need?  Or when they were last online?  Here is where you would find out.

Guild Panel Roster

  1. Show Offline Members – You can select to show or not show offline members with this check box.
  2. View Drop-down – Here you can show your members Achievement Points (this is really just the general list of your members as shown above)  the other option in this drop down will show all of your members grouped by their Profession.
  3. Member Roster – Here is some general information about your guild members such as level, class, online status, rank and any notes that you have added.  In my guild we label which characters belong to which main player.
  4. Recruitment – is an in game method that players can use to find a guild.  This button opens the recruitment interface.
  5. Guild Settings – This will open up another panel that allows you to edit ranks permissions for changing things in the guild interface and also for the guild bank.

If you need something crafted the easiest way to find out if anyone has the recipe that you need is by checking the professions view of the Guild Roster panel.

Guild Panel Roster Professions

Click View All will open up a crafting interface similar to what you see in your own crafting.

Guild Crafters

  1. Search will allow you to find the pattern that you want
  2. View Crafters will show you who can craft the item that is selected in the recipe list

The Recruitment panel in WoW allows you to post a summary of your guild and allows an easy way for members to contact you.  You get here by click on the Roster button on the side bar then clicking Recruitment at the bottom of this screen.

Guild Panel Recruitment

I’m not sure how well this works, to this date I have not received a single inquiry based on our posting to the in game system.  This may be due to the type of player that I am targeting.  Systems like these may be more successfully used by larger guilds with more general recruitment.


Guild Settings is where you make changes to what a member can do in your guild inteface and what they can view and withdrawal from the guild bank.  To get to Guild Control open the Guild Panel and click the Roster or Info tab on the right side.  From here click the Guild Settings button which will be near the bottom of the screen.  The drop down at the top of the Guild Control panel will let you view Rank Permission and Bank Permissions.

Guild Settings Rank Permission


Guild Settings is where you make changes to what a member can change in your guild interface and what they can view and withdrawal from the guild bank.  To get to your Guild Control open the Guild Panel and click the Roster or Info tab on the right side.  From here click the Guild Settings button which will be near the bottom of the screen.  The drop down at the top of the Guild Control panel will let you view Rank Permission and Bank Permissions.  Click the drop down and change to Bank Tab Permissions.

Guild Settings Bank Permissions

Select the rank that you would like to modify and you can allow the member to view, deposit and withdrawal items based on their rank.  Keep in mind that items can be split up into single stacks in the bank and cannot be restacked without counting as a daily withdrawal.  This allows for most strict management of consumables for your players.  So if you would like to allow players to receive 20 food, this will count as 1 withdraw item per day if it is a stack of 20.  If you would like to limit the daily withdrawal to 1 food you can split the stack of food into stacks of 1.


The Perks tab shows you all of the benefits that you currently get as a guild member.

Guild Panel Perks

  1.  Guild Perks – These are all of the benefits that you currently have by being a member of the guild.
  2. Guild Rewards – These are the rewards that you have unlocked and the amount of gold that your guild receives for each achievement unlocked
  3. Guild Reputation – this is your personal reputation for the guild.  You can raise your reputation in the guild by doing certain activities in the game.

This is the Info panel of your guild interface.  Here you can view a summary of what is going on for guild activities.

Guild Panel Info

  1. Info – This shows your weekly Guild Challenges.  These must be done in a guild group in order to get credit
  2. Message of the Day – This is where you would put a quick communication to your members.  This shows up for a member when they log in.
  3. Guild Information – Here you can include more information about your guild without the small text limit of the GMOTD (Guild Message of the Day).  Usually You will find information on the general schedule, links to voice chat or websites and any other important information.
  4. Guild News – Here you can view milestones that your members have achieved and you are able to adjust your filters to show different types of milestones.
  5. View Log – This shows you all members joining, leaving, and rank changes

Guild Panel View Log


I hope that you found this guide helpful.  The new layout takes some getting used to but is much more visually appealing that the previous interface.

Having trouble finding a function in your guild interface?  Leave a comment and I’ll help you out!  Happy gaming!

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Purple shirt…I want it so bad

There is a tailor recipe that only drops off of a specific mob in Razorfen Kraul called the Rich Purple Shirt and what started out as a quick way to farm some gold became a mild obsession of mine.  I started by farming the whole dungeon taking down every mob in the place.  This of course took forever.  I needed to trim down my time spent on this and make this farm a bit more efficient.  There were many reported drops form a mob called the Razorfen Beast Stalker which are in the front of the dungeon.  I started just farming the beginning of the dungeon, run out, reset, repeat.  I was doing this 10 runs at a time until I reached the instance cap and couldn’t zone in any longer.  At this point I was having a little bit of fun and started running a stop watch to see how fast I could go.  I got my runs down to about 3 minutes a piece on my mage.  After about  40 runs of this dungeon I hopped on my 110 goblin rogue and with sprint was able to get the runs down to about 2 minutes a run.

I have gotten a ton of cool looking transmog greens doing these runs.  Which I know these pieces sell for a lot, but they move sloooooow.  I’ll be honest, I’m hurting for gold right now.  I used to have some pretty reliable methods for making gold but now with Legion winding down the prices have been all over the place.  So I’ll keep farming my greens and if they don’t sell I’ll break them down into enchanting materials, after equipping them all for my own fashionable reasons.

My time this morning to run RFK 10 times was 21 minutes and 49 seconds and I still haven’t gotten my purple shirt!  I can’t tell you what I’ll do once it does drop.  I could sell it like I had originally planned or I can learn it and make some money from slow moving cosmetic items.  I’ll just have to let you know when I get it.  Happy farming all!

Keeping your players engaged

Burnout and boredom are real killers in a game.  I once tracked our member turnover and found in the worst of times that we would lose about 20% of our members per month.  There were a lot of things working against us.  The raid content was completed and most of the members have done the fights at least 30 times, some of them had done it a lot more than that on alternate or alt characters.  We were a guild primarily focused on raiding which are large group content and normally the hardest group content in MMOs.  When the raids stopped being exciting we had to find ways to keep our guild members happy and engaged.

Good ol’ raid/character progression is one of my favorite ways to play a game and keep everyone engaged.  We were rewarded with better armor and weapons each time we killed the bosses, which also made the fights easier. Every week we get a little bit better through repetition and we complete things a little bit quicker.  This allows time to learn the new encounters and eventually we experienced the thrill of a fresh kill.  Of course this only occurs in a time with new content that we haven’t completed.

Sometimes I didn’t have to do much to keep players engaged because everyone would self entertain.  We always played with competitive people that wanted to do the best that they could and beat the next best player on those damage meters.  For those not familiar with damage meters it is a ranking of who does the best on any given fight.  This would lead to individuals spending their time researching ways to better play their class, grind for that item that would result in a small increase in productivity and lastly taking more risks in a fight to squeeze out that extra small amount of damage.  Sometimes all that stood between you and the next person was one more spell being completed.

In the weeks prior to a big game release we once had A Great Level One Race, which was a type of event that I always remember fondly.  We all create brand new characters and gather together in a giant group.  We had everyone start in one place and gave them a finish line. We offered up a pretty substantial prize for the winner, so even if you had no interest in playing the silly game that we created, that prize encouraged you to give it a try.  We all twittered on our voice chat while we raced for the prize.  There was only a little bit of cheating.  It was a great time.

Testing the new content before it was released to the public was another great way for us to bond.  If there was new large scale content available for the players to try out I made sure that we were there.  I would send messages to the developers and offer up our services for testing to make sure that if they needed people to test, that our names would come up. It was such a thrill to be part of an exclusive group that got to check out content and offer our opinions and expertise as gamers to the creators of the games that we loved.

This week we decided to do a little extra tracking as we worked through a raid that we have just completed the week before.  It took us a total of 4.7 hours to complete the whole thing, this week we decided to use that as a bench mark and work on shaving minutes off of that time.  I had this plan to do things differently.  Maybe clear non boss mobs more quickly, time before a boss encounter could be shaved down to 5 seconds from 10. When we can see ourselves improving each week it keep us motivated to keep the momentum going.

Guild Meetings are one of my favorite ways to keep up with players, especially if you are planning on playing something that has yet to launch.  I don’t schedule our meetings past 30 minutes.  The goal is to get people talking to eachother and hopefully creating friendships and bonds with others in the group. After all we are here to have fun.

What activities keeps you playing with your guild?