Let's steal a good idea from Tamarind, and separate the text into several chapters. I think he probably stole that idea somewhere else (*suspicious look included*) - probably the old Egyptians or Babylonians or some such. We shall also add images at random points to break up the text. The Egyptians had that down to an art - their whole wall of text was nothing but images *nodnod*. As behooves
Snack is currently without a guild. I quit today, after a few lines from our guildmaster had me rather upset. The amount of diplomacy stuck into the delivery was low, but of course that is not the whole story. Which is why there is a whole long post about it - well that, and I love to hear myself talk.
2) Guild Climax (Ooh, aah):
Let's start with the high point of guild life. Back when I joined Vengeance, raiding was still focused on the final chapters of Icecrown Citadel normal. The first attempts on the life of the Lich King were made in Summer, and of course it was all very exciting. The guild had an excellent system of checks and balances for raiders - performance of new recruits was (I thought) evaluated well. Quite a few people did not actually make their trial, which had me very hopeful for the future of raiding.
The general level of performance was high - mistakes happened still, though. I think it is only fair to say that some people failed more often than others - but I was certainly not in the best 5% either. I am still surprised I made it through the trial - tank mistakes are so terribly visible.
The first 10-man Lich King kill was strenuous, but brilliant. The fight was quite hard due to it's unforgiving nature. Pretty much a single mistake by anyone meant that a restart was in order. It felt even better then, when he finally bit the dust (err.. ice?) after 93 attempts.
3) Guild Plateau:
After the 10 man kill, progress was focused on heroic modes in 10 man, the achievements in 10 man after a while and obviously pulling the same off in the bigger raids. 25 man progress was a good bit slower (and took almost three months more for the Lich King kill). And while people were still raiding regularily, the drive that pushed the 10 man kill seemed to be a bit lower.
4) Guild Decline:
And this is the bit, where it all got a bit strange. After early October 2010 the decline in signups was palpable. We had just completed the first Shadowmourne for the guild and people were - understandably - a bit drained with ICC. There was some effort by the officers to keep sign-ups high - but unfortunately much of the energy invested was aimed wrongly.
Basically: It doesn't help to tell the people who are there that they need to sign up more.
Both the "need to tell people (tm)" and the "but you got the wrong guy (r)" reactions happen in pretty much any situation, though. It's not like it's not going to be the first thing in the local supermarket and the high tech company around the corner as well. Gevlon would probably call it an Ape-Subroutine ... or something.
With the drive gone, everything went pretty quickly odd. The official release date of Cataclysm had been confirmed by Blizzard as the 7th of December. Two of the officers didn't play any more. With a short "I'll be back" message they had basically given up until Cataclysm. Our guildmaster was busy in real life - which understandably put a dampener on the "pull" of players in the guild.
A few of the remaining raiders tried organizing some interim measures - raiding Ulduar and Naxxramas for fun, attempting to do Trial of the Champions with all the attempts left, that sort of thing.
A bit surprising at this stage was the total lack of communication from the officer core. I'll actually leave that in as it is, because it's important criticism. Not playing the game while waiting for the expansion is entirely acceptable and understandable - most of the officers had put in a very very high attendance record and were worn out - however, the forums were still an open option for communications.
In the last few weeks, people would hardly notice signup pages on the calender any more, and the focus in raids was frankly gone. Some would not show up, some would leave early, some would "stand in the fire" and hardly care. I think one of the most memorable moments was a raid with a second guild (because we couldn't field the 20 people for an Ulduar-25 ourselves any more) when a guildy was kicked from the raid for standing in the bad too often.
5) Officer Stress and Feedback:
On to the parts I cannot properly comment on. I don't actually know any of the data here. I think that our officers (when present) and our guildmaster in particular were doing their best to hold the guild together just before Cataclysm. There was probably some organization going on behind the scenes. One of the highlights of that time was a poll on the forums about how people wanted to go about leveling up, recruiting for raids in the future and content.
Let me quote my own answer to leveling speed, because this is the root of my current problem:
Guild holiday?This still describes how I feel about leveling up in the new and shiny Cataclysm. I personally feel that raiding is only a part of the game - there are many many more nuances to it. Treating Cataclysm like a content patch (see Ulduar, Trial of Champions or Icecrown) devalues the whole experience massively.
I’m all for one. In fact, I rather enjoy questing – and being prepared for the actual raids. This probably means there will be new factions to get to exalted, new areas to be enjoyed and generally lots of things to do. Again – I arrived late at Vengeance and haven’t really seen any levelling going on, but at the moment people seem to mainly log on for raids and disappear right after (or that could be me – I wonder if me not being on outside raid times plays a role?). Would the simple solution be to just set everyone to member once the expansion hits and let them ask for “raider” rank when they feel ready?
From the changes to the interface/gameplay a lot of classes will need to learn how to play the game again anyway. The AoE-days are apparently going out; crowd control and possibly even area control (with fog and line of sight and things) are coming in. It’ll be a new game.
So… I’d skip the “preset” holiday period. Raid as soon as 10 people are willing to go, but allow the other guildies to catch up at their own speeds.
I also tend to stick less to a schedule around the Christmas holidays. There are presents to be sorted, a tree to be watered and decorated and all sorts of family celebrations. That dreaded "real life" shows itself in its most enjoyable form. With cake and chocolate!
And luckily, everyone seemed to basically agree.
The official statement back then was this:
We have yet to finalize and edit rules for expansion on our next meeting, but this can be said for sure: we are not going to be pressuring nor have any penalties for the 80-85 leveling time. This is very individual and depends a lot on real life commitments each of us has and off course play style (a lot have been starving for new lore and leveling experience), and there will certainly be no gkicks because of slow leveling.Now unfortunately this has not played out the way I interpreted it at the time. Back then, I thought this sounded perfect for a leveling experience that was similar to Wrath of the Lich King. As a level 70 (back then - this is ancient history, mind) I had to complete pretty much all the zones, do almost all of the quests and thus got almost all of the factions up to the point where only instance runs would improve them further. The best pre-raid gear was aquired from heroic instances (back then pretty much the same as now), with crafted items making up everything that was missing in drops.
We will start raiding new content only when 10 or so players will be feeling like it, then growing in raid group size.
My interpretation: We won't moan about anyone who plays the whole new zones/quests in their drive to get the best gear accessible before raiding. We want quality in the raiding equipment first and foremost.
The first players in the guild reached level 85 on the second or third day of Cataclysm. The new leveling model is an entirely different one. People are expected to level early and pick the two zones they enjoy most. Much like the rest of the new game (with the Shattering) there are now multiple parallel leveling paths that are entirely equally viable. Perfect for someone who plays an Alt and wants to experience something different.
The first instances were run (and moaned about), the first heroics were attempted (and moaned about even more). A relatively small group of players was seriously rocking the heroic world. Today (21st of December 2010, so this post can last for eternity) the average item level of those is around the 348 mark (done in my head - from a sample of four - so the standard deviation might be large). My own has just barely passed the 330 - almost a tier behind everyone else.
Now interestingly enough - this is not only something I noticed, it was also noticed by the officers (Good! They care deeply about the guild after all!). However, the way they went about it was terrible.
What I would have wished for would have been some clear communication. Something along the lines of "We appreciate that everyone wants to play their own game, but this is a raiding guild. We want to start seriously raiding in week x (I would have said week 2/2011, but that's too late for some). We want everyone who's interested to have their gear ready by week x-1, so we can plan on who will be there, what to do, etc."
I would probably not have minded someone saying "Look, we currently have one well-equipped tank. We need a second one - is there anything we can do to help you get gear?". I appreciate that it's my own responsibility to gear up, but pickup groups are not the fastest way - especially if some guildies already know the instances inside out.
What I got instead (over the last three days - since a first attempt into Blackwing Descent) was increasingly hostile Guildmessages of the day and then finally a personal "talking to" from our guildmaster today.
My perception was this. I had just grouped up with Issy to do instances. We had asked in guild if anyone would want to join us for a normal and actually got one more. We had entered the instance (a new one for me) and asked around if anyone actually knew what they were doing here. Two of the DPS were willing to help with quick tactics and we set out to kill things.
The first question I got was "You guys doing heroics yet?". I was a little surprised about the choice of chat-channel, but I declined. I thought in a funny manner, but of course this is hard to judge over the interwebs. The next question was "How come? been 85 couple days". Now I know I just said it's hard to judge funny over a chat, but that appeared unneccessarily agressive to me. When I said there was plenty to do I got a "Like what? we are not a social guild tbh, other things can wait."
Now this combined with the tension and bad communication over the past days for me was too much. I may be too easily angered (especially in the mornings, while tanking things I have never seen before) but I was told I could take as much time as I wanted. Just to be told it didn't apply.
There was a new post on the forums at the same time, basically saying something like this:
It seems that we have a lot of players who have already reached level 85, but for some reason instead of getting ready for raids, decide to spend their time in-game on leveling alts and not raiding related professions, which can be done after the main character is raid ready.
We did give everyone time to level at whatever speed you like, but abusing this to slack at level 85 is unacceptable.
This is basically where I draw the line. This ties in with the question on pretty much every guilds recruitment questionaire "Are you willing to respec for the good of the guild?". My answer usually is "Sure, as long as I can stay tank. Of course I'll get Improved Demo Shout if no one else can provide it, but I don't want to join as a warrior tank just to be playing a priest healer". This is a game I play for my enjoyment - and without knowing all the facts accusing people of slacking is not acceptable.
Especially not in the format done.
Waiting until the players are not currently busy, then taking the time to talk to them works. Snapping out one-liners in between your own heroic runs does not. I'd say a guild leadership in any way needs to be better than the members at communicating its wishes. Much like my boss at work needs to be better than me - otherwise something is going wrong.
5.5) Intermezzo: On Gearing up for Raids
There is, of course, a reason for my leveling plan. Surprisingly I actually want to raid on Snack and am aware of the gear requirements for proper raiding. Unlike the top guilds (Worldwide, obviously, but even Serverwide) I am not good enough a player to cleanly progress in the minimum level of equipment required. On the first day in Naxxramas I died to Anub. On the first day in Icecrown Citadel I wiped on Marrowgar. Hell.. the first time in Shattered Halls heroic I died to the gauntlet trash.
Luckily, Blizzard is well aware of a bell-curve of their players skill. Higher gear levels help to smooth out problems and rough corners. In the current situation that means reputation rewards (and tanks need Ramhaken, Wildhammer Clan, Therazane, and Guardians of Hyjal at exalted) and crafted items. Blacksmithing, mainly. And now I am well aware that leveling Alchemy on a second character to maximum may be considered wasteful, but the cost of raiding does actually play a role.
Wow, that sounded more angry than I thought. What I was trying to get at - I know what I need to do to raid and it takes time. More time than some other classes, possibly - and certainly more than I can spend when I have a small child at home. 16 hours of WoW time may be logged in - but certainly not at the keyboard.
5) Again: Back to Officer Stress and Feedback:
So ... I am looking at a guild with officers who (probably) talk in officer chat and on the forums in a seperate channel. They do, however, not see the need to communicate their fears, hopes and wishes to the guild - except in BOLD STATEMENTS at the end of a decision finding process.
I left at that point.
6) What can I learn from this?
It seems at the moment that a raiding guild is only good for raiding. If raiding stops (for whatever reason) people loose focus and the construct unravels.
It's true as well; while raiding I might put up with drugged and abusive guildmembers who behaved like teenagers - as long as they were pulling their weight - but in the downtimes their (well his) aggravating chat behaviour was just unbearable.
Officers of a guild have to handle recruitment (well done in Vengeance), raid signups (well done in Vengeance), guild policies (So-so done. I really liked the poll, I was completely unhappy about the sudden change in direction at the end) and communication with the members (not well done in Vengeance). I am truly glad that I am not an officer. Major props to all who are - no matter wether they blunder on one or the other topic - because this is hard work.
Oh yes. And I decided to put my own enjoyment of the game over the guild experience for the moment. Everyone makes mistakes and it was probably hasty to leave. I still feel like it was the right thing to do. I'll take my time leveling and gearing up, and when I'm ready (and back at work on a normal schedule) I'll probably have to go and find a raiding guild again. I love bashing my face against a wall three nights a week. I just don't want to burn out on the only raid in the game now when there is other stuff to do still.