Getting Pumped for Battle for Azeroth (BFA)

I am so incredibly excited, I don’t know what to do with myself.  I love new expansions and new games for the opportunity of a clean slate.  It’s the best time to learn a new game when everyone else is learning it as well.  Its a much better experience than joining a 5 player dungeon group just be scolded or worst, kicked, just because you didn’t understand the mechanics of a fight.  Its a time when everything is fresh and shiny and new.  Even my mage that I have had since the end of classic World of Warcraft is exciting to play again.  She feels familiar yet different, more powerful as she has enhanced her ability over the past twelve years.

I’m excited not for all of the changes and new content of the game but because this is the first time in 4 years that I’m getting my guild into a new MMO.  We are hitting the ground running and I am leading the way.

We are a smaller group of about 10 people and we will be able to do the normal and heroic versions of the large group content with this many.  It is my hope that we can grow enough to do the harder content but it will be difficult with the light schedule that we are playing on.  I know the type of player I am.  I know the type of players my guild tends to attract.  We will want to do more once we have completed the easy stuff.  We will want to do the hardest content in the game.

I’m excited to be leading a guild again.  Never have I felt more driven to succeed as when I am holding the reigns.  BFA – we are ready for you!

 

WoW’s broken recruitment tools and how to fix it

World of Warcraft has an in game guild search/recruitment tool.  To use this tool you need to not be part of a guild.  Open the guild interface (default hotkey is “I”)  and you will be prompted to search for a guild.  Click the “Find a Guild” button and that will open up a basic search function.

Find Guild

What we are offered is a simplistic compartmentalizing of our potential new social groups.  We check the type of play that we are interested in, our availability and role.  Then we click the Browse Guilds button and are faced with a list of hundreds of guilds to sort through.  Honestly, who has time for that?

Browse Guilds

While this may be an adequate system for those not looking to get invested in their guild (or this game for that matter), this is not a great way to narrow down your pool of potential guilds.  I really hope Blizzard makes this a focus in the future since I know if I have a hard time finding a guild that fits how I like to play, I typically leave a game after a month or so.

Fix #1: Allow characters currently in a guild to use the recruitment tool.  If I’m browsing for a new guild, I’m not usually going to leave my current one before I have a new one lined up.  Compare this to job hunting.  Does everyone only look for a new job when they don’t currently have one?  Of course not.  That would be an absurd criteria to fulfill in order to interview for a new company (sorry we only are considering unemployed applicants), so why is being unguided a requirement to use the guild finder interface in our game?

Fix #2: Add more robust search criteria.  The search criteria is entirely too broad and on my server if I select one interest it narrows down my search to at least several hundred guilds to scroll through.  I would probably guess that most people that use this tool wind up not finding a great fit due to the large volume of guilds they have to spend time sorting through and end up finding a guild through other methods, be it the forums or the dozens of other sites that try to create a solution for this problem in the game.

  • Schedules:  Allow for guilds to put in their exact schedule via a drop down for each day of the week.  And also allow players to do the same with their availability.  For ease of use, include timezone so that players don’t need to try to figure out what time a guild plays in their own local time zone.
  • Search Key Words:  If you want a guild that is currently raiding or new player friendly that should be an option to search in this interface.  We shouldn’t be limited by 5 check boxes, the results end up being overwhelming to search through.
  • Location:  Allow a checkbox to include different realms, a specific realm or any realms and also the option to include different factions.  A lot of players are willing to pay blizzard to transfer a character.  Why not make it easy for them to do so!?

Fix #3: Allow players to be contacted by guilds. I see so many posts on the guild recruitment forums from players that say “this is what I’m looking for, post your guild info in the thread”. Wouldn’t it be a great option if a player can flag themselves in game as “looking for guild”?  In my experience a player doesn’t like doing a ton of work to play a game.  Make it easier for them!

Fix #4: Request to Talk…in addition to request to join  So many of us out there want to speak to someone who would be a future member.  I remember before joining my raiding guild in Cataclysm times, I spent over 2 hours chatting with the GM before I was extended an invite.  And while that was a bit excessive, I want to be able to say to recruits – “Hey! This is our plan for the guild, this is what we expect of you, and do you have any questions for me?”

  • Discussion Interface:  Attach a chat interface specific to each potential recruit tied to their request for more information.  Allow all of the officer rank members in guild to view these questions and respond to create a sort of chat log that can be checked on and responded too – even if the player is offline.

As a guild leader, I spend more time than I would like trying to find and communicate with potential recruits for my guild.  I would rather be spending my time actually playing the game instead of working extra hard due to having poor tools that are supposed to help me.  I spent 5 hours last weekend posting to player’s recruitment forum posts, adding their battle tags only to have none of them add me back and it felt like a whole lot of wasted time with no progress made towards finding people for my guild.

There are a lot of players out there that play MMOs and crave that social aspect of existing in a virtual world.  I know that this is very much a quality of life improvement but it is my belief that as WoWs player get older and as we have jobs, kids and other real life obligations in our life, we will gravitate towards games with systems that make the overwhelming task of finding people to play with less time consuming.  I know that I personally want to play games with cool people, help me find them!

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?

Dusting off the raiding boots

I took a long break from raiding starting in 2014 after a stint in a game that broke my spirit when it came to running a raiding guild.  This game was called Wildstar and it promised to be a hard core raiders dream.  It turned out that people didn’t stick with the raiding for one reason or another and our guild imploded leaving us a loss for what to do.  I can’t blame my extended hiatus from gaming solely on this experience.  Shortly after we stop playing together I was expecting my first child.  I won’t lie, pregnancy kicked my ass.  I spent a lot of time with my feet elevated playing tablet games.  As in a ton of Hearthstone.  Of course the first year of my daughter’s life proved difficult to get on the computer for anything longer nap time.  I picked up one of those games that I always find myself returning to, Star Wars Galaxies.  I mostly wanted to chat with people so I rolled an entertainer and watched the chat scroll as my character danced poorly for warriors preparing for the hunt.  Since the leveling part of this class could be done while I was AFK (Away from keyboard) I felt like I was progressing without having to be present the entire time.

And this was my gaming life for a while.  Of course I picked up the Legion expansion of WoW and had a blast for several months playing casually. I played through the revival of Secret World Legends.  I was enjoying the content but missed my friends and without friends to play with, an MMO soon loses its appeal.

Last year I found myself in the hospital and my husband brought the laptop with an old MMO installed.  To my delight the wi-fi worked well and I got to work leveling my character.  For 3 days, I played my heart out in this game and found a renewed sense of excitement that I haven’t felt for a long time.  The hubby and I got to level cap and started to build up our characters making them stronger each day.  When it came time to do the large scale content with groups of 25 people, I didn’t hesitate.  I wanted to raid again!

Start at the beginning

My first soiree into guild leadership happened in an explosion of drama, which I somehow became the catalyst.  “We are supposed to be a hard core guild,” I said “You can’t cancel a raid just because you can’t make it!!”  Our argument was a whirl of purple text from our in game whispers, which were anything but quiet.  Our guild was named Nox, which means night or something like that and we had a great start as a guild.  We were wracking up the accomplishments and able to brag that we were 4/5 in bosses defeated.  Only one more to go…and the Guild Leader was CANCELING!  “I won’t have it!”  I fumed, “this is not how this works!”

Cali has been removed from the guild

Kicked.  How can he kick me?  I wasn’t the problem.  From there I can only describe what came next as a scheme.  Like any respectable guild at the time we had a website where we all communicated daily and on this website I still had access.  I began my plea in a forum private mesage (PM) to all of my guildmates asking them to to reject the bad leadership and join me on a new adventure.  And join me they did!

I stood in our main city hub, staring at a blank text box asking me to name the guild.  I’m terrible at naming things.  I typed in some text and created the guild.  I knew that everyone would get a kick out of this temporary name that I picked and make me change it in a week.

You have joined Cali Killed Nox

Little did I know that we would play under that guild name for the next 4 years…