Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Danger Of Folks Going Solo

So the beloved WoW blogger Greedy Goblin wrote a post at the end of last month talking about how players don't really need to join a decent guild to get gear any more. Instead, it could be beneficial for many folks to simply /gquit and start PuGing (Pick-up Grouping) with others, so long as everyone in these so-called 'independent' raids play competently.

I totally agree with him.

Moreover, this is a prime time for guild leaders to start reconsidering their position in the WoW community. Do you call your fine establishment a 'raiding guild' but are still stuck in Naxxramas? Then you're not a raiding guild. You are a social guild that holds the odd expedition into a glorified heroic dungeon. That may sound a little harsh, but I can guarantee it's exactly what your members are thinking.

How is any of this relevant?

Instances are getting easier. If you're running nine other people through Naxx' every night while cracking the whip and screaming down your mic on TeamSpeak, people are going to start quitting. No one has to put up with that sort of crap when they can go solo, join a PuG and make more personal progress in one night than your guild did in weeks. Unless you're raiding Ulduar, lay off pressuring your subordinates into doing better. Give them the freedom to join other groups if the opportunity comes up. Hell, if members are getting badges then they're getting better gear - gear that can be used to further your guild's advancement.

Always be aware of changing attitudes and shift your guild's direction accordingly. I know role-playing guilds have started raiding now because it's so easy. If you're all, 'OMG GUYIZ THATS THE FRIFTENNNTH BILLION THYME WE'VE WIPPED ON SPIDER QUARTER IM GONNA KILL YOU ALL AND EAT YOUR BRAINS AND SHIT THEM OUT AND SEND THEM TO YR MOMMA!' then people aren't going to stand for it. Obviously your class-combination composition is off and it's your job (or your raid leader's) to fix it. Acting like giant arachnids (or sentient fungi, or uber-charged Deathknights etcetera) are the biggest deal in the world is just going to lose you friends, especially as there's PuGs clearing this sort of content while half the raiders are stoned.

As I've said many times before, folks will stick around even if your raiding isn't up to scratch, so long as they hold a social attachment to the guild. However, if there's no emotional investment there (probably down to you being a raging douchebag) then your members will do what any sane person would: They'll add all the buddies they have in the guild to their friends list and quit. Blizzard has empowered the individual with the addition of badges and us guild leaders no longer hold influence over peeps because we offer fair loot distribution and regular raiding. We must offer a deeper and more fulfilling experience. At the very least, keep /gchat clean of idiocy and spam so members can raid in peace on their own.

In summary:
  • People are now more willing to raid solo more than ever.

  • Stop pushing for results if you haven't got any for a long time and give members the freedom to go off and do their own thang.

  • Once people have badge loot, then consider taking on Ulduar as a guild.

[No real image credits this week; I screen-grabbed from GG's blog.]

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

The Sense In Humour

The more observant ones of you will have noticed that I've recently updated my 'Introduction' post to include a 'good humour agreement'. It basically says that anything on this blog isn't meant to be directly offensive to anyone. Readers of Leading A Guild should have realised that while I'm serious about the issues I talk about, it doesn't mean I can't deal with them in an amusing and ultimately pragmatic fashion. This philosophy can also be applied to actually leading a guild, as I prefer to lead through level-headedness coupled with a (virtual) smile, rather than use absurdly strict rules. This might seem a little contradictory to what I've said before, but lording over the guild while your members enjoy themselves is different from demanding absolute authority. I try to encourage the former and despise the latter, but can you still lead a guild when your members only take you semi-seriously?

It's all about knowing when to joke around and when to buckle down and do some work. The guy who spends all day telling jokes in Ventrillo is never going to get his guild to progress as far as the leader who opts for a healthy balance between implementing rules and letting members do want they like. Although telling jokes all day may seem like a good way to get guildies to like you, the lack of proper productivity will actually cause you to lose respect in their eyes. Of course if you lead a social guild then none of that really matters, as people join up mainly to be entertained anyway. However, if you're a raiding pioneer, then being too comical at the wrong moments will simply leave you being perceived as the 'clown' to your men and women. I've never seen a clown kill the Lich King, although they may be able to by the time Cataclysm rolls around.

Even simply being pleasant may lead to your downfall under certain circumstances. Failure to punish a rebel or push on with a raid run at the right time can spell disaster for your guild. In these situations you'll find that the outcome is more down to luck than a pre-determined set of variables. You may think 'if I /gkick this guy he's going to go off and spread crap about me', or 'if I call for another go on this boss people will rage quit if we wipe'. Sometimes you just have to make a decision and then put your guild into the hands of fate. If you make consistent choices in line with the guild's overall goal and can justify them, it's likely no one will argue with you. Conversely, if the guy you wish to punish hasn't properly violated your established rules, or you're making a social guild raid until 1AM - then expect for your members to express discontent. Tapping into what people expect of you will make things run a lot more smoothly and you'll know whether to play the good or bad guy in these instances. I can't go ahead and tell you to be 50% arsehole and 50% nice guy, because some occasions will call for you to be more of one than the other.

I will say one thing though: Let the conditions you find the guild faced with dictate your mood, not the other way around. It is acceptable to be angry with your members if people have been taking more than they've been giving to the guild bank. It's not acceptable to be angry with your members if you woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning. Allowing your own hormones to run the guild is a very primitive and unwise action to take and within a week you'll be branded as a fickle monster who no one will want as their master.

In summary:
  • Writing blog posts at 4AM is not a good idea.

  • Having a sense of humour is a good thing, but being the guild clown is not so good.

  • Don't be afraid to be the arsehole, if people are clearly deserving it.

[Image credits go to these guys for the Hitler picture, these guys for the clown shoes and this site for the fairly unrelated 'nice guy' pic.]