Getting up to speed

March 4, 2010

Two months of neglect, but there’s finally something to talk about again.

Early January we started a raiding coalition with another guild from our server, and it went well for as long as it lasted. We made some great friends and did some great raids. Unfortunately, after about a month of raiding the other guild fell apart. There are a few… “aggressive” guilds on our server, one of which bluntly recruited people directly from other guilds. Some were taken in by the sweet talk and it just went downhill from there. At least all the good folk went to a good raiding guild together, a guild we have good ties with, so it could be much worse.

Surprisingly, our own recruiting has picked up quite well over the days. We’ve gained a few good members, and we’re doing heroics together almost every evening. It’s fun to have everyone on Vent and get to know each other, just having fun. It’s good preparation for when we get into raiding again. After all, it’s more fun to raid with friends than people you hardly know.

Tigue is leveling well, 72 at the moment. I took a break from leveling to get her professions (mining/jewelcrafting) up to par, so every node I come across now during leveling can actually be mined. It’s much more profitable that way! I have no doubt that she’ll be level 80 soon, and then it’s time to hit the heroics and get some tanking gear for her.

Cara and I have been running the show in Samsara for a while now, but we decided that we needed a third person on board to form a stable Triage. The logical choice for us was Sc, so therefor we promoted him to Officer. I’ve been thinking about it, and part of me wonders if it’ll be seen as a biased promotion, since Cara and Sc are a real-life couple, but I’m quite sure it won’t. We’ve got a good, understanding bunch in the guild and all the troublemakers left long ago. The three of us are online the most, and Sc has been in the middle of guild leading discussions before, so to me it’s a natural course of action.

It’s looking like good times ahead for Samsara, and I can finally smile again after finally coming out of the briar patch of problems we’ve had.


The State of the Guild 2009

November 2, 2009

I promised the further explanation of the last post, a good two weeks ago. Here goes.

Samsara suffered some massive blows the last month. It’s unclear where it started to go wrong, if at all. What is clear is that we as the officer team made a decision here and there that we probably shouldn’t have. Either way, there was probably nothing we could’ve done to prevent it all, so I’m not about to whack myself over the head for it.

We’re seriously stripped to the bone now, and it doesn’t feel good. We’ve had most of our core members leave recently, reason being that the guild “didn’t have the right feel anymore and wasn’t what it used to be”. Our once thriving guild chat is practically empty now, and we’ve been reduced from an approximate 20 members online at any one time to about 4. 

Ironically, with Samsara’s second anniversary coming up, there’s not a whole lot to celebrate.

That’s no excuse to be down in the dumps, though. Call me naive, but I’m a firm believer of the “for better or for worse” mentality.

If you’re going through a rough patch in your life, what do you do? Give up and retreat? Or do you tie yourself to the deck, hold the ship straight with all your might and ride that big wave through the storm?

I’m one who usually goes for the latter, and this time is no different. I once made a promise to lead this guild in the best possible direction, to the best of my abilities. And I’m not about to forsake on the obligations I accepted.

Be it a relationship, soccer game or a Warcraft guild, everything you do will at some point throw you a curveball. It’s up to you how to deal with it.

And when the going gets tough, the tough get going.


Keeping Your Cool: Settling Disputes

October 9, 2009

We all play this game for fun. It’s our way of relaxing after a hard days work, a way to relieve some stress. But the greatest strength, as well as greatest weakness of an MMO like World of Warcraft is the huge amount of other real people you play with. There will be a good number of people you get along with, a good number of people you won’t get along with, and a huge amount of people you’ll never get to know. Guilds are usually a “sanctuary” for a player, allowing him/her to log on and have a group of people to talk with who he/she can get along well. But you can’t be bosom buddies with everyone, and even in your guild you’ll have a person or two who you can’t really get along with. Conflicts can always arise.

If you have an issue with another guild member, there’s always officers to be the neutral party in resolving your conflict. But what if your issue is with an officer?

I recently came upon a good article on what you can do if you have a conflict. It summed up your possible courses of action in a handy list:

  • Do nothing. It’s the easiest choice. Keep it to yourself. Don’t say anything. You don’t want to rock the boat. This is something I’ve observed most players doing because they perceive there is too much at risk by doing anything else.
  • Speak to your GM. Have a chat with the boss and see what she says. Perhaps they don’t realize it’s an issue and maybe they can talk to the officer and try to resolve what happened.
  • Speak to the officer in question. Directly confront the officer in question and let them know what they did wasn’t cool. I don’t advise doing this publically. Do it privately in whispers. It has a stronger effect then you might think.
  • Change your reaction. This option isn’t quite the same as the first. This involves a complete philosophy change on your end. Is their offense that serious? Does it really matter that much? What if you changed your reaction to the point where you could tolerate it and ignore it?
  • Leave the guild. It’s fairly self explanatory. Be prepared to leave the guild. If you cannot accept what the guild is doing or if speaking to the GM and the officer prove to be futile, then the last option you have is to change your environment entirely. Not every guild is suited for every personality.
  • (Source: World of Matticus)

    Looking at the list, it seems very solid. That’s pretty much the things you can do if you have an issue with one of your officers. I’m just curious: if you would put a percentage of occurrance behind every option, what would they be?

    I can guess the outcome. 50% for the first option, 50% for the last.

    We keep saying it over and over again. If you have a problem, talk to an officer. Usually it’ll turn out to be an argument over nothing. Perhaps we made a mistake, perhaps you understood it wrong. Whatever the reason, we’re all human beings, never perfect but always willing to sort things out.

    I recently spoke with an officer from another guild. She agreed that “unless you walk up to a person and make him/her talk, you won’t hear anything”, and more often than not you’ll open up a huge floodgate of things they want to talk about. This is what makes me so sad. Why not come to us sooner? Are we frightening human beings?

    Leaving the guild is literally the last resort. The last ditch effort after trying everything else. I’m willing to bet that more often than not, a well-placed conversation will be more effective than a /gquit.

    I want this to be a general shoutout to everyone. If you have issues with another player, not necessarily an officer but anyone: talk it over! I understand you “don’t want to rock the boat”, but if you don’t blow off steam in an early stage, you’ll end up erupting like a volcano. And volcanoes break things.


    The group within a group: Guild Cliques

    October 6, 2009

    Sometimes, certain events make you think over even the simplest of things. A death in the family usually reminds you of the frailty of life and how we take a lot for granted. Watching a newscast about hunger in African countries reminds you of how good our own lives are. This is true for a lot of things in WoW as well. From a massive argument in guild chat to a silent /gquit, it can all result in a huge train of thought. The latter being my case.

    Guild members come and go. That’s just the way it is, there’s nothing you can do about it. However, I do find it important to know why someone chose to leave our guild. Was it something we did, something we said? Do the raiding times just not suit you, or is our current difficulty level too high or low for you? Whatever the reason, I just want to know if it was something we could have prevented. In order to improve, you need constant feedback.

    Not too long ago, one of our members left the guild without notice. I wasn’t online at that time, otherwise I would’ve taken action right away. I’ve been trying ever since to have a quick word with him. To find out why he left, if there were any hard feelings, if there was anything I could do. To no avail, unfortunately, as our playing times differ too much. Eventually I dug up some information about his reasons to leave. It was his belief that there was a kind of “clique” present, one which was hard to get in to. If you didn’t “belong” in that clique, you kind of sat on the sidelines.

    This surprised me a lot. I was once a newcomer as well, and I’ve never felt as if I had to work my way into a group, so to speak. Unfortunately this wasn’t the first time this point came up, and I started thinking about it. Was it possible that this clique really existed, or was it just a case of misperception? I decided to trace back all of the people who had left because of this, and take a look at the overall situation. I came to a few conclusions:

    • Samsara can be seen as an outspoken guild. Many of our members have their own view on things, and are anything but afraid to voice those opinions. I count myself as one of those people, although I usually present it with a fair amount of tact. It’s one of our charms and turn-offs, a strength as well as a weakness. Looking at the members who left because of “clique-forming” – let’s call them Bruce and Tina – it can be said that they were a bit quieter. Their participation in guild chat was less than the average guild member, they could be online for most of the day and go largely unnoticed and were more likely to be seen pugging heroics than trying to form a guild group first.
    • Bruce and Tina never came to me or any other officer with this issue, although I can only guess why. If it was such a big problem, why not try to fix it? Did they expect us, as officers, to notice their position and do something about it? It’s something I might try to figure out. I’d like to hear the reasoning behind staying passive when you have an issue.

    I’ll be the first to admit that there are indeed groups of people who stick together in Samsara. I, too, have people I like to hang around with online, even though I like to see myself as someone who holds good relationships with many guild members instead of just a few. I find it an inevitable fact. After all, everyone makes his or her own friends in a guild (and sometimes enemies) with whom he or she likes to hang out with. As officers we try to break those groups up every now and then, mainly by splitting them up in different raid groups. Everyone gets to raid with everyone, ensuring full-scale guild interaction. You don’t have to be a part of these small groups to fit in, as everyone still plays with everyone. Even the people outside of their own little group.

    Then it occurred to me: when are you truly part of the guild? It could very well be that there is a misconception in when you are a “part of the guild” which is the root of this issue. Are you part of the guild as soon as you’ve been invited?

    Many guilds, including us, hold a trial period of a week or two to see if the person fits in. After that time, if the person in question hasn’t left him-/herself a decision is made to either let that person go or promote him/her to member. In reality, many of the people make it to member. The bad apples show their true colors very early on, but most of the people applying are decent players who get along well with the rest. Some might be a bit quiet, some more outspoken. We don’t select our members on such a trait, and accept both with equally open arms. The advantage of this is that we get a large diversity in players and personalities (which can collide from time to time, I admit). The downside is that we get members like Bruce and Tina, who have a hard time truly fitting in due to whatever reasons, and eventually leave. This is unfortunate for us as a guild, who has to say goodbye to a few people, and for the people in question, who have to go on their search for their perfect guild again.

    I came to the conclusion that you can’t truly call yourself “part of the guild” until you feel comfortable in its community. It was exactly that why I never experienced this clique-forming: I felt an instant click with my new guildies. In reality, the guild itself is the clique. The misconception starts when you think you’re “in” when you’ve been invited to the guild. Sure, it’s the first barrier, but you’ll have to open the second door in order to truly fit in somewhere: the door to people’s hearts. As mushy as this may sound, it is a fact. As long as you can’t (or won’t) get along with the rest of the guild, it just won’t happen. This isn’t limited to acting nice or acting like a prick. It includes acting at all.

    Samsara won’t keep you out of raids if you’re new, we won’t ignore you if you say something or choose someone else over you for heroics if you called first. But we also won’t ask you every week if you want to come to Ulduar or TotC. We won’t try to drag a conversation out of you or automatically assume you want to come to heroics. Interaction is the keyword, and if you don’t interact you might indeed feel as though you’re on the sidelines.

    If you never ask that girl to dance with you, you’ll stay a wallflower.


    DIY Progress Raids: Friend or Foe?

    September 22, 2009

    The constant strive for improvement and progression is a part of every raider. It’s what keeps us going, drives us to take one more shot at Yogg-Saron or pushes us to the heights of our performance. But what if, for some reason, there are no raids and you’re left idling in Dalaran? PUGs aren’t the best course of action, as we all know. Group composition and overall performance can be lacklustre at times. But what if you were allowed to make your own raid, exclusively for guildies, during the absence of these “official” raids?

    Would they be a blessing or a curse? 

    For a while, Samsara went through some serious changes. In order to make these changes as smooth as possible, official raiding was cancelled for a few weeks. During this time we allowed our members to organize these progress raids, Ulduar and TotC, for themselves (Naxx was already open at that point). The management was not involved in its planning in any way, we merely gave them the authority to plan the raids, put them on the in-game calendar and use the forum to post the teams. Signups would be handled by them, as well as team selection and raid leading, all the way up to loot distribution and troubleshooting.

    The question of whether or not this course of action will be effective relies on many different factors. First of all, we’ll have to take a look at the pros and cons of both official and unofficial raids. In my view it comes down to this:

    Officially Planned Raids

    Pros:

    • Regular raiding schedule
    • Raid rotation allows for fair team selections
    • Unbiased loot distribution

    Cons:

    • Raids are set in stone. If you can’t make a certain day, you’re out of luck.

    Unofficially Planned Raids

    Pros:

    • More guild interaction
    • Easier on the officially appointed raid leaders
    • Raiders stay sharp since they keep raiding

    Cons:

    • Allows for biased team selection / loot distribution
    • Lack of overview by officers

    The big plus of the official raids are, for me, the sense of stability, fairness, and from an officers point of view also control. Officers are aware of everything concerning the raids as long as they’re planned by our raid leaders, allowing us to take immediate action where necessary, instead of trying to figure out the facts first. The big (and to me only) con of official raids is the fact that if you’re always busy on the wednesday night that your guild runs Ulduar, you probably have very little chances of ever seeing the place.

    The pros of unofficial raids were the reason why we decided in favor of them. The raid leaders were in need of a break, and we felt that having the members create their own raids wasn’t a bad idea. It’d keep the members happily raiding while we sorted out our stuff. At the time we saw the cons as well, but they didn’t weigh as heavily as the pros.

    Several weeks later, and now we’re back to official raiding. And looking back at the past few weeks, would I personally do it again?

    No.

    I think at the time, it was a good idea. And even now, I will admit that it wasn’t completely wrong to do. Our raiders kept raiding, kept gearing up and allowing newer people to gear up as well. All in all, I’d say we gained a raider or two ready to pull his/her own weight in the “high stuff”. But as always, hindsight is clear sight, and knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t allow unofficial runs ever again. As I said, we predicted the cons, but weighed them a lot lighter than we actually had to. Lack of overview, questionable teams, discontent after (or during) a raid. Yes, they did occur.

    We made it clear that we had no say in anything regarding the unofficial raids, and would not be held accountable for anything that happened during said raids. Any disputes between raiders would have to be handled privately. After all, in the words of Uncle Ben: with great power comes great responsibility. A bit more WoW-themed, don’t play with the fire if you don’t have the fire res gear.

    But can you truly wash your hands clean of a situation as officer? It’s easy to say you’re not responsible and take a big step back, but the truth is that, as a guild officer, you are responsible. It’s just not possible to walk away from your job.

     Every guild is different. In some, the unofficial approach is more suited than in others. But no matter the guild, one truth remains: if you’re in charge, you’ll have to stay on top of it.