Monday, 31 August 2009

The Importance Of Forums

In truth, this topic should be entitled 'The Importance(?) Of Forums'. I've said from the very beginning that guild forums are not necessary. When you and your officers are dedicating 100% of your time running activities in-game, then why should you want to stretch yourselves even further and have to moderate a board as well? Furthermore, if your members are enjoying playing the game, then they have no real reason to spend their time trawling around pointless subjects or posting raid strategies, boss loot and similar information which is easily found on World of Raids. I've always been of the opinion that forums are a waste of time to set up and even just getting people to window out and register can be a pain in the arse.

A guild forum/website can be of some use though. For instance, I was recently playing a riveting Versus game of Left 4 Dead with some strangers. Following the match the opposite team were impressed at my natural skill and invited me to join their clan. I told them I'd consider it and went off to kill some more zombies. Hours passed and I found myself half bored to death while simply browsing the 'net. Then the website address of the clan I was playing with earlier popped into my head and I decided to check them out. Thanks to their great, professional-looking site I was tempted into submitting an application.

But what if they never had their own website? I would have never given their little offer to join up a second thought. If you're one of those guys who doesn't like to recruit directly then simply forwarding people to a well-made website is possibly the best thing you can do to encourage them to join up. A summary of your goals and accomplishments presented in the right format will bring legions of promising new folks into your ranks.

Fellow blogger and avid WoW fan LarĂ­sa also recently made a claim that a guild forum is a great way to check up and see if your guild is 'healthy'. She argues that a decline in activity on a forum is a very negative thing and should be treated quickly. While the post admits that many guilds function well without a forum, it's silly for a raiding guild not to have one. On the contrary, I believe that with the advent of in-game tools such as the Guild Calendar, guilds can run pretty smoothly without having to talk things through constantly via a forum. If you think discussing strategies is a necessity, then set aside an evening to talk things through with your raiders on /g or on Ventrillo. Granted, having a forum does make things run a lot smoother and can reflect the social atmosphere of your guild quite well. Conversely, I've known many guilds that have progressed straight through Ulduar and beyond without a piece of external communication (aside from TeamSpeak) between them.

Yep, forums can serve as another useful platform for people to bond. Who doesn't like looking at the real life pictures of people you play with, especially if they're hot? Websites have always proved to be a useful recruitment tool too and they let you brandish your guild's achievements at people passing by. Just remember the other side of the argument: Forums are also another way for drama to spawn and must be moderated fairly frequently. In addition, why are people posting on a forum when THEY COULD BE FARMING FOR FLASK MATS FFFFFFFF!!!?!??!?!!?!

In summary:
  • This isn't 2004. You don't necessarily need a forum to co-ordinate your guild effort any more.

  • However, they can be a great, subtle recruiting tool and they easily let you see if people are getting along well.

  • Moderation is key in many ways. Make sure no one is stirring crap and causing drama and ensure that people spend more time actually in the game.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

On The Gear Myth

I've been reading a lot of the Greedy Goblin recently. It's a fantastic World of Warcraft blog run by a certain popular writer. From what I can decipher, the site started out as a money-making guide but has developed into a place to highlight the social faux pas most WoW players carry out on a daily basis.

A recent reoccurring topic is that of gear. Our new friend Mr Goblin believes that gear is overrated. For months I've told you that gear is important but attitude should always take priority. Gevlon's successful 10-man run on Ulduar with nothing but blues and buffs furthers my own argument. Gear (or lack thereof) has become the root of a psychological mindfuck since Wrath was released. It's possible to take on Naxxramas in level 80 greens but no raid leader in their right mind would let you try it. Why not?

Well if you ask any of these raiders, they'll claim being under-equipped will drag the entire team down. This isn't necessarily true. The first time I ran Naxx' successfully I was barely able to complete heroics. This isn't Burning Crusade and the top loot is simply no longer required to participate in raids. Instead, good gear represents something. It says you're willing to commit time and effort into attaining the very best for your character. To some it's a big, glowing sign which points at your head and reads 'I AM NOT A SLACKER!'. The same goes for achievements and how they symbolise experience. However, both of these aspects have workarounds for the cunning, from linking weapons you see from /inspecting in Dalaran to utilising crafty addons. Many people should have realised these methods of evaluation are downright outdated. It's laziness on the part of a group or guild recruiter to simply demand links to stuff and not think beyond that. This ridiculous trend continues and unfortunately will do so into the next expansion.

Gear is a paradox. Person A may be undergeared for the instance but they'll try twice as hard to compensate for that. Person B may be overgeared and believes the dungeon or raid is below their skill level. They don't try as hard as Person A and therefore risk undermining the entire run. How many people do you know who believe themselves to be competently geared and yet can't even clear Old Kingdom on heroic mode? Compare this with Gevlon's successful Ulduar group where everyone was undergeared by 50% but put in 150% effort.

I'm not saying one highly-publicised example of overcoming the odds reflects the playerbase at large. Only a fool would suggest we all rush out and take on instances wearing absurdly bad armour. At the end of the day gear matters because it allows you and I to make more mistakes. When I tank I like to give the healers a safety net by having a large pool of HP. If they miss an opportunity to top-up my health there's less chance I'm going to be one-shotted. This is simple logic and remains the key reason why all of us should still appreciate gear. It's just important to bare in mind that owning epics isn't the be-all and end-all of raiding. As guild leaders it's our imperative to remember that skill is always going to be more important than seeking out idiots with achievements.

In summary:
  • Don't underestimate the skill of your players.

  • Better to bring along the guy with skill and passion than the bloke with apathy and gear.

  • A combination of a great attitude and good gear is what you should aim for.

[Image props go to both the Greedy Goblin and Ixobelle!]