2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back

Each week my guild has been getting just a little bit better and a little bit bigger.  We has a large amount of interest in our guild the first few weeks that we were raiding in the new expansion.  I was talking to several people per day about how we run our group and what we expect of our members.  Some players I turned away, if they had never raided before or if they seemed to have a “my shhht don’t stink” type of attitude.  I wasn’t putting a whole lot of effort into seeking out recruits, they were mostly coming to me.  Things seem to be going in the right direction until a couple weeks ago when our steady stream of recruits seemed to dry up.  I went from talking to several people per day to talking to maybe 1 or 2 per week.

Last weekend I busted my butt to get our numbers up.  I had a goal of bring in 6 new people and ended up finding 8!  It was a lot of time and effort to get this many people but it would be worth it if we could just fill our raid group for both of our scheduled nights.  Tuesday started out well.  We got down the bosses that we killed in the previous weeks and moved on to start learning some new bosses.  We had exactly the number of people we needed to play but our group set up was far from ideal.  We were a healer short and melee heavy for 2 out of the 3 fights available for us to work on.  It was a rough 1 of progression but we got through it, which was more than can be said for the previous week.

Thursday was a different story.  Of the 8 people that I recruited the weekend before, only 2 showed up, 2 had work conflicts and the other 4 were just nowhere to be found.  We ended up running our heroic clear with less than clean execution.  We brought in a few friends of players that were just not great players and we were carrying them pretty hard.  I ended up sitting one of the friends due to poor performance and being dead the whole fight.  We also had one of our tanks leave in the middle of Thursday -_-  tanks should be the most reliable players in any raid group.  It’s such a coveted position, why risk it with absences?  I’m at a lose for which direction to go.

I’ve talked to a few different guilds about possible merger/collaboration but most seem to want to cherry pick our best players and leave the rest, and that’s not the direction that I want to move in.  If only I could get like 8 players that are here on our 2 nights that we have scheduled content…then we could move forward and work on some new bosses.

I keep telling myself baby steps will get us there, but it is super slow and I want to already be there.

Method gets world first G’huun in Uldir

Method has not been shy about showing their progress to the world as they work on the final boss of Uldir.  This is an unusual move for a high profile guild since most opt for secrecy when working on their own world rankings. Many of Method’s raid team have been dominating the top stream spots for World of Warcraft for the past week.  At current tally Method streamers are responsible for 78% of the all of the World of Warcraft viewership today on twitch.tv.   After following their progress It is apparent that the production value of their content is incredibly high and is reminiscent of the Olympics coverage on NBC.

They are being supported by Discord, Wowhead, Redbull and many other mainstream companies throughout their up to 16 hour days spent throwing themselves at the bosses of Uldir.  We’ve seen an outpouring of support for the raid team through twitch subscriptions, and over $3000 in contributions and not to mention the branded merchandise that they are selling on Method.gg

I only point this all out because I think it makes a lot of business sense the way that they did things and managed to win the day! They gave us a reason to be excited about WoW by including the masses when most guilds would have shut us out. The only sad part is that now that the top spot is taken we won’t be seeing as much excitement around the race. I’m already looking forward to next tier 😂😂😂😂

Great job to everyone involved with the race, the raiders of Method, the hosts, production crew and everyone that made this amazing show possible.

MMOs, old Guilds and Intense Nostalgia

Angry is one of those guilds where people tend to hang around.  The group of players hasn’t changed much in the past 7 years since I stopped raiding on their schedule.  At the start of every expansion a lot of people, myself included, return to dip their toes back in the WOW waters and see how the game feels.  Since my guild was done playing through the raid for the week I asked to tag along to the Angry raid and get some more practice on some of the bosses that my guild was stuck on and also practice my arcane rotation.

As the raid group began to fill I saw so many names that I remembered and started to reminisce about Throne of the Four Winds and Firelands some of my fondest memories in WOW.  I remembered our group playing with a quiet intensity pushing ourselves to complete boss encounters and raid achievements.  This was also my first year going to Blizzcon where several of my guildmates met up to see all of the new announcements for our game.  Being a member of this guild was a commitment which formed a bond between us that has persisted through the years.

The Guild Master of Angry is someone that I will always remember for grilling me via in game whispers for 4 hours before he would consider giving me a shot in his guild.  He had his doubts that I would stick around, rightfully so since my husband (boyfriend at the time) was in a competing guild on the same server.  I spent a lot of time convincing this guild that my intentions were sincere and that I had no interest in playing in my boyfriends guild due to how they treated the women that played there.  It took a while but I think I showed that I was in it for my guild and ended up playing with them for a year and a half through two tiers of raids.

The raid started and I jumped right in having much more confidence in my abilities than I did 8 years ago when I first joined Angry.  There was the familiar banter over our voice chat and the calm coordination that was typical for this group.  I chatted with a few people that I remembered about some current game related things and tried my best to tone down my raid leader muscles and let them run their team the way that they did.  I did my best to pay attention and play my role in this group.  I offered some insights since my guild had spent some time on the same bosses the night before.  I took note of what they did better and how they communicated and assigned tasks.  It was a well oiled machine of players that were comfortable with each other and trusted in each other’s ability something that I strive to build in my own guild.  We worked on two fights and were able to kill them successfully.

Once we were done for the night the high spirited chatter in our voice chat surged.  Everyone’s voices were a little bit clearer than I remembered, probably due in part to my muffled memory of that time and also due to advances in voice over IP technology.  I was hit with a wave of nostalgia remembering all of the good times as we chatted about who were the oldest members in the guild and how they came to be members, that time when someone left the guild only to return 18 hours later, and who had the most epic failures when it came to devastating mechanics.  I could have stayed up and listened to the stories all night.  Of course the reason that I don’t play with them now is a difference in schedules.  They end their night at about 1am my time which is a bit too late if I want to be able to function at work the next day.

I remember explaining the relationships that I formed in MMOs and how I wasn’t playing with strangers every night, I had grown to know these people over the years and we had built friendships with our common hobby being the anchor point that held us together.  This was of course back when the internet was a scary place, at least in the eyes of most parents, with predators lurking in every chat room.  It was a hard concept to grasp if you hadn’t experienced it but these people that I played games with and only ever spoke to over the internet were my friends!  We would spend hours together every night fighting monsters and exploring caves.  I’ve made some amazing friendships over the years and there are not many places that are steadfast but Angry is one of those places that will always feel like home.

Finding that Work/Life/Gaming balance

As we close out the first full week of the new World of Warcraft expansion I’m feeling accomplished.  I didn’t put in as many hours as some did but felt like I got a respectable amount done.  I played about 14 out of the first 30 hours that the game was out (don’t judge me).  Once we hit level cap, the hubs and I decided to do what all the hard core players were recommending which was to grind out all of the World Quests.  We did that the first night and that was all that we had time for.  Not wanting to spend 5 hours per day doing world quests, the second night we did minimal amount of world quests and began to explore the game.  I spent some time working through some of the story that I hadn’t finished yet, working on my professions, and doing some casual dungeon groups with our new community.  On Saturday, Sunday and Monday night I worked on the Mythic difficulty of the dungeons since those had some of the better gear rewards.  I was on track to complete them all when my high population server started to stutter.  We had a group and had completed one so far and were heading to the next zone when we got an error of “Instance Aborted”  and were sent back to where we came from.  I don’t recall this happening before and it may be the rose colored engineering goggles but I think this may be one of the worst wow expansions launches in recent history.  First we had a 6 hour period the first night where we couldn’t log on and now the server was having problems and preventing me from completing my last two mythic dungeons.  So sad 😦

On top of this being a busy week of exciting new video gaming, I also found myself extremely busy with work.  I’m part of a fairly fresh team and there is a lot that we want to do.  Anytime there is something that we want to do I add it to my list to work on.  Last week I was about to cross off 6 things from my list but ended up adding 10 more.  This is not the way you complete a to do list…There are a lot of technology challenges currently with the way things are set up and it creates a lot of roadblocks to automating tasks.  I’m a macro/automation junkie and I’m having a hard time when I need to manually do a task that will take me several hours if not several days.  On top of these challenges I’ve been slightly distracted at work last week, making sure that I bump my recruitment posts every hour.  I’m definitely not doing that this week since we seem to be in a great position with guild/community recruitment.  We have a general interest meeting next week that will give us a better idea as to number of players that actually want to do the large group content in the game.

The state of my house has been suffering a bit from last week’s video game binge.  We got take out for dinner more than usual, we almost exclusively used paper plates and the clean laundry has been living in a pile on the couch for the past few days.  At least I’ve been keeping on top of dishes, which I cannot neglect or we will soon have an ant problem.  My house is only moderately messy, thanks to my cleaning spree in preparation for the gaming that we planned to do.  Also my two year old need some more outdoor time this next weekend.  We normally go to the pool, but this past weekend it was cold and rainy and I think she got a little cabin fever from too much sitting around.  This weekend ACTIVITIES WILL BE HAD!  I’m making it a point to not be gaming while my daughter is awake during the week.  That few hours that we get to spend together during the day is precious and requires my full attention.

World of Lovecraft

We entered an underground cave where the fish-people had set up a military facility.  They patrolled back and forth as we waited patiently out of sight.  One by one, we jumped into the water and frantically swam as sharp fish teeth pierced our skin.  We were after the treasure and equipment the that was held by those running of the facility.  With sword in hand, we cut our way through our enemies.  It was a typical Tuesday night.

I was a healer and I was dam good at it.  So good, that when a newcomer came along and outperformed me, I took notice.  He had just joined the guild and I was watching him.  Watching him because I wanted to CRUSH him.  Did I mention I’m a bit competitive?  This is just what I needed to push me to be better.

Several years before I ever met my husband in person, we played a game called World of Warcraft.  We played together off and on as we would drive in and out of the game.  It was one of those online friends that you always got along with and was always down for a dungeon run.  It wasn’t until I was fresh off a long term relationship that meeting him ever occurred to me.  We had known each other for years and years but this was brand new experience for both of us.

Early into our courtship we sat down and played against each other in Halo. It started with me kicking his butt and as he got used to the controls…ended with me throwing the controller at his head. I HATE losing.  I love that he’s competitive but I also love that we now solely play cooperative games together.  Less things get broken this way.

It was a whirlwind romance of weekend visits, wine and video games.  He lived about an hour away from me and at this time I was a college student, working two jobs so we fit in time when we could.  Most Saturdays I would have to work a 7 hour shift and would come home to find him eating taco bell, pugging a raid on my computer.  I know that gaming is a major turn off for a lot of women, but for me it an absolute necessity in a partner.  The last thing I needed in my life was the guy I was with whining about how much time I spent on the computer.

Do you remember that newcomer that seriously put me in my place?  If you guess that I was talking about my future husband, you’re right!  Much later I’ll learn that he had just picked up the class that he was playing and that he barely knew what he was doing!  After 5 years of marriage we are still going strong.  Those that play together, stay together 🙂

WoW BFA Recruitment

Now is the time to put on your recruiting boots!  The very beginning of any game or game expansion is a great time to recruit players for your guild.  There are lots of people that are coming to a game for the first time or returning after an extended absence.  This all means that they need a social group!

A couple weeks ago I talked about how we were in the beginning stages of recruiting for our guild.  Now that the expansion has launched we are starting to get a flood of potential recruits.  Last time I made a big push to recruit, I did so mostly by seeking out those players that posted to the general forums saying that they were looking for a guild.  I would send each of them a private message that was personalized to respond to what they were looking for.  While this proved very effective in a new game, this method was getting very little responses in WoW.  For one, we were a brand spankin new guild as far as anyone was concerned.  We didn’t have any wowprogress history or any impressive boss kill logs, so the serious players didn’t even consider us since they were getting lots of messages from already established guilds.

I was frustrated that all my hours of finding the perfect recruits were proving unfruitful.  So I made a change and rethought of how we could improve our headcount and be able to step foot into the new raids for BFA and hopefully reduce my load of administrative duties outside of game.  I mean, I wanted to play the game too!  I decided for my own sanity that I needed to cast a wider net and started to spend less time talking to applicants during the first week of the expansion and steering them to the community.

Communities are a new feature which allows you to join a new social group without leaving your current guild or having to pay for a server transfer.  I could see wow eventually making this THE new social experience in the future.  For those long time wow vets, a community is basically a custom chat channel with a member list interface.  I like this idea so much that instead of building up the “guild” we were using the community as our new “guild”  It was so easy to use.  Instead of a potential player having to wait to get an invite from someone, they can just enter a join code and instantly be connected with everyone else that’s online.

Getting people to talk to you is half the battle, and having them join a social group just gives us opportunity to introduce people to our group’s culture.  It takes a lot of work to join a new guild in any of these games, so if I can get them to play with us even just a little bit they may like that experience and want to hang around because of it.  Right now we are getting to know our potential raiders and just having fun.

Handling Criticism as a Guild Leader

Today one of my long time guildmates sent me a whisper.  He didn’t agree with how I was recruiting for our raid groups.  He felt that the players that were in our community were not well vetted, which is true, they are not since I have the link to join posted on public forums.  I’m not looking to create an exclusive club with a whole list of criteria from the get go.  I would find myself saying no to people all day and not growing our ranks.  What if I told a player “no” based on their lack of raiding experience and they ended up being amazing?  A good resume does not mean that the player is going to be great.  People lie all the time and tell us what we want to hear.

This type of criticism is not uncommon for a guild leader.  There is always people that want to tell you how to do things.  I have one time that stood out as a clear, what not to do to keep your guild alive and healthy:

It was the first couple weeks into Wildstar.  We had started strong and were currently sitting at the #5 rank for the entire world for boss kills.  One big problem was that the #1 guild was on our same server and provided extra pressure to catch up to them and surpass them.  This was because we wanted to be the best, and so did the majority of our guild members.

There was a lot of complaining about how we needed to change and improve or people would leave.  The loudest critics came to me and said, we need to do XYZ in order to succeed.  They offered to help, so I promoted them to officers so that they would have the authority to make the changes that they wanted.  Or maybe I promoted them to shut them up, or so they wouldn’t leave.  The later two were the wrong reasons.

So the loud critics didn’t make any changes and continued to complain and now when they were complaining, they were doing so with the Officer title.  OF course maybe part of this was because they realized how much work is involved with leading a successful guild.  The continued complaining created massive problems with moral for a large chunk of our members.

It all reached a boiling point when one of our long time officers sent me a message that they were done with all the stress of trying to be a leader in the guild and that they were going to join the #1 guild in the game.  When they left, so did 30% of our members.  We were a broken group that lacked the ability to complete the content that we were clearing just the day before.  All of the venomous talk of how bad everything really got in my head and stressed me out.  I didn’t even want to play the game anymore.  This experience had sucked all of the fun right out of it for me.

Cancerous members like these may have good intentions, but when they start stirring up crap with rumors and complaining all the time, it’s time for them to go.  You may end up losing a player or two in this process but most likely your guild will remain intact.  Don’t promote your biggest critics to officers in your guild.  If they already don’t agree with you, its more likely that they’ll work against you than with you in the future.

After the experience of trying to allow people to do more and help out and having it backfire so badly, I am leaning towards trusting my gut.  I’m not going to create a perfect place for everyone, its just not possible.  Since I’m doing the bulk of the work getting this thing off the ground my instincts tell me to just keep doing what I’m doing and know that I won’t be pleasing everyone and they’ll move on to green pastures.  The goal is to create a place where I’m still having fun and not burning out form all the stress of trying to please people.