Friday, March 28, 2008

Coping with RL

In RL, I've been really on the couch and getting my WoW fix by reading the forums on my ancient laptop. I've not had the energy to work on writing up my UI updates or to even log on to do dailies. Then it hit me, there's something blog-worthy here and I don't have to strain my medication-hazed brain to write about it. What am I talking about? Coping with real life in a raiding guild.

In order to survive, serious raiding guilds have to create requirements. Our business is downing bosses and it requires a full complement of employees. Guilds tackle this problem differently. At one extreme we have ultra hard-core guilds who require players to devote all of their free-time to WoW. How extreme can these guilds be? I have a friend who was once kicked from a raid because his latency was too high. In these guilds, joy is derived only from conquest. Kang, that time-traveling warlord from Marvel Comics, would be proud. At the other extreme, we have the casual guild that raids. I was in one of those once, I'm not sure they've ever downed Gruul. That's not good business. Kang would recommend wiping them from the face of Outland!

My guild takes a different approach. Leadership stuffs the roster with WoW-addicts (like myself) who have RL issues that keep them from being able to play night after night. We are all, deep-down, hard-core players, but we have jobs, children, health issues, pending nuptials....You get the idea.

This enables members to go on week-long business conferences or take their S.O. out for dinner without jeopardizing their membership or the balance of the raid. As a guild, we still have requirements about raiding 2 nights a week. We still expect members to show up, but understands and accepts real-life. That's not to say that folks can make excuses night after night and expect to retain membership. And they certainly can't disappear for several weeks and expect to come back as if nothing has happened. Communication and dedication to the guild are still required.

This is the perfect kind of place for me and for many of our members. I couldn't stand the lackadaisical approach to raiding from my previous guild, but RL keeps me from being able to commit to the hard-core standards of a 4-5 night a week raiding guild. Simply-put, QSS represents a welcome and needed balance that keeps the game fresh and enjoyable for me.

On a personal note: I have a RL philosophy of "in all things balance" and I strive to obtain it throughout my life.

There are, of course, downsides to this approach. I have identified two connected issues as the biggest.

Progression & Gear: At our core, our most dedicated and regular members are geared higher than our actual progression. I've got my "all purple" set with 2-pieces of T5, crafted belt, and 70% of the best gear available before Black Temple and Mount Hyjal. From a gear standpoint, I should have been downing stuff in Mount Hyjal 2 months ago. The problem here is the ever-shifting make-up of the raid and the significant amount of drops needed to gear up and teach everybody the bosses. This was felt most on Vashj and is no doubt the #1 reason why we didn't down Kael before 2.4 hit. And when a regular, like myself, who has been involved in the first-time kills of 8/9 of our last bosses out of the mix for 3 weeks, it hurts the dynamics of the guild. (And makes Beroth a frustrated hunter!)

Organizing & Managing Raiders: Because of our structure, we are forever needing new recruits (who are not under-geared n00bs), we are forever planning raids based on the dynamic of the sign-ups and we are forever being nagged by our raid coordinator about light sign-ups for this night or that. It's painful on our leadership. It's painful on our members when we have to "indoctrinate" a new recruit or show a regular an old boss for the first time because she doesn't usually play on a Tuesday.

To manage these two issues, a really smart leadership structure was developed. We have what I like to call "the One" structure (this is a Babylon 5 reference.) We have the "one" who is the guild leader. She manages the day-to-day and keeps everyone in line. We have the "one" who is raid coordinator. He is in charge of personnel planning and deciding where we are going. We have the "one" who is raid leader. He's the field general. Each of them have very different personalities.

The other coping mechanism is our forums. We have regularly updated kill threads and strategy guides posted by our raid leader. These guides include links to videos and boss guides, but they also include details about how "we" do it. This helps our players a lot. No two guilds are alike and as a guild we learned we had to think outside the box to achieve.

The final coping mechanism is class rotation. Leadership has a preferred mix of players. Ours likes to have 2-3 hunters in the raids. We have 4 active hunters. We've worked out a rotation of "preferred" nights. Each class does this and it helps immensely when the nightly draft happens. If I sign up for Wednesdays, I expect to be drafter because it's my preferred night. BUT, if I sign up for Tuesday, I expect to be wait-listed.

Well, there you have it. Not my best piece of writing and it took longer than usual to do. I hope it gives you some ideas about your guild dynamics. No, QSS is far from perfect. But for me it's home. I can't wait to get back!


Jeffrey said...

Actually I volunteered to sit because my latency was mind-bogglingly high. It was just the right thing to do - why should 24 other people be forced to struggle with encounters because I can't carry my own weight? Sometimes RL does get in the way, whether it's connection problems, family issues, or illness. I applaud the players that understand that they cannot play at 100% because of RL and choose to step aside for someone else that can, rather than be selfish and not care that there are 24 other people paying $15 a month that don't deserve to be held back because of one person's RL problems.

tkc said...

Hmmmm.... I wonder where he went.