Being constructive…its all about the foundation

Long time no post!!! So, its been a while since I posted. I know I know. SLACKER! Actually the dearth of activity from me has been 2 fold.

First, BUSY BUSY! My work life has been atrociously hectic. My home life has been more so. Multiple large scale web projects being pushed at work with overlapping deliverables and time lines coupled with Coaching Competitive Soccer, Basketball clinics, and a kitchen remodel = me feeling like a whirlwind (plus there’s this little project I started with guild mates called Azeroth Pirate Radio…more to come on that).

The second part of this though has been lack of inspiration. As many of you know I usually write from strife and drama. Surviving WoW has always been about dealing with the day to day issues we all face in dealing with one another within the World of Warcraft; remove that from my day to day guild life and you remove the majority of my source of inspiration. While Phalanx of Nod is a great guild filled with some great people it is not immune to stress or drama. I’ve seen g-quits since I’ve gotten there. We’ve had blow ups and accusations of inappropriateness or bad behavior. Yeah, not unlike any other guild I’ve ever seen to be honest.
But, lately there has been some rumbling. Right direction, good enough success, can this be better, should it be better…well, let’s discuss a bit on HOW to deal with this.

So, like any guild it tends to consist of like minded people, usually a core of folks who are in similar life circumstances or perhaps have common goals within the game. That said, as you venture out further from the core group of people the differences become greater and commonalities sparser. At this point folks should remember something very important. The foundation. Its all about the foundation of the guild and players really need to bear this in mind. Also understand that if the foundation of the guild is strong enough, its like a mountain. Good luck trying to move it; but honestly, why try?! If you come to a casual guild don’t try to make it hard core. If you go to a hardcore guild you cannot feign min/maxxing in an attempt to make things more casual. It won’t work. It will only frustrate you and others.

These are common sense sort of things, but really…common sense is rarely common. Yes, I hear it now, “But if things could be better shouldn’t I try to change them to make it so?!” There is some truth and value to this approach. Yes, if the hard core group is getting burnt out, then perhaps some lightheartedness can bring brevity to the situation. Loosen things up for a little bit so that people can become re-energized and re-invigorated and ultimately re-focus on their common goals again. Same can be said for the casual side of things…if things are too lax too loose, it can hinder moving forward. A complete lack of discipline can lead to frustration that you are stuck in a rut; truthfully you may in fact be stuck.

But look carefully at your situation. Analyze and determine if its the guild that is need of changing or if it is you in need of a change? Let’s look at some simple steps to follow:

  1. Discuss. This is not bitching and moaning late in the evening post-raid with a select few folks in mumble or through whispers. Discussion is an act or instance of discussing; consideration or examination by argument, comment, etc. Please note that argument here does not constitute yelling, screaming, name calling, and blame-casting. Its a sharing of thoughts even if not necessarily positive thoughts, but done constructively so as to inform. Essentially, its getting out where everyone stands.
  2. Debate. Yes, you will need to debate various positions. Find validity in each others perspectives. First you found out from what direction each person is coming from. Now you are going to understand why. See their direction as objectively as you are able. Now all of you can do the following…
  3. Find common ground. Decide now where the common place is. This is not about ideals necessarily…its a video game. We are all here to have some fun to various degrees, we may differ though in what we define as fun. Find the common ground. You now know where each other is coming from, you know where your common ground is, now you can…
  4. Explore solutions. This is really important. Complaining you don’t like a situation but having no discernible solution in mind is just not constructive. If you are prepared to bring a complaint to the table, bring a way to fix the problem as you see fit too. And please make it constructive, “If you just left the guild, problem solved” is not a constructive solution.

Remember, whispering behind your guild-mates backs how awful you think things are is not helping you, them, or anyone. If you truly value the guild as a whole and they value you in return then everyone should be open to a healthy discussion and sharing of ideas and opinions that will hopefully lead to stronger bonds and a more rewarding WoW experience for everyone involved.

Though sometimes simply leaving and moving on is the best solution available, do not assume its the only one. And if you choose to make this your ultimate solution, leave gracefully. No back handed compliments, no negative critiques or commentary. Simply leave, quietly. Say thank you for whatever time you spent and experiences you had and move on.

Remember, one bad or ill moment can condemn you in people’s eyes. Regardless of how stellar you may have been prior to the one incident. Sometimes our last impression is what leaves a lasting impression.



Are you coming or going – make up your damn mind!

No, its not about me departing my guild. Well, not entirely. Most of us ponder whether or not our current homes are always the best fit. Is the progression not right? The chemistry off? Have too many friends moved on? – All valid questions or scenarios, leading to you questioning your particular situation.

But that’s not what the title is referencing! We all know them….the fair weather players! They come, they go. They quit the game in rage and anger over some fool thing, only to return again in short order. As with most things, I tend to generalize and categorize these things into buckets. Helps me to organize everything into nice neat stereo-types, as Ryan Bingham says in Up In the Air, “I’m like my mother, I stereotype. It’s faster.”

P2P Player –These are the folks that come and go simply because they live paycheck to paycheck. So they’re subscription follows the same formula – paycheck to paycheck. Its not that they like this, it just happens, and if money is tight all around, leisurely expenses like WoW are normally the first casualties in that war of attrition.

Seasonal Player– Seasonal players tend to be kids or college students (most often). They play during the school year, especially during the winter months when indoor time is more extensive.

RAGE-GRRRR-QUIT Player– These folks are tough. They hate Blizzard and WoW one month, love it the next. They can’t stand the drama or grind of some form of play, but miss it terribly so, they come back intermittently only to be struck down once more by the same issues that they somehow thought had disappeared entirely on their own.

The RL Blues Player– These guys are really the rest of us. Its more situational and based solely on the normative factors: I took on a new job, had a baby, got married, got religion, busier class load this semester, opted to play another game, lost my job, etc etc.

Large categories to be sure, and mostly everyone who leaves and comes back fits into one of the big buckets. The issue is that they all can carry the same basic problem: DISRUPTION!

There is a direct correlation between the level of disruption a player creates and the obliviousness they have as to how the game and its players move on without them! Yes, we continued moving forward without you…BLASPHEMY I KNOW! Just because you walked away for what ever reason you had did not mean we sat here waiting for you to return! More importantly….just because you have returned it DOES NOT mean you get to walk in and run things as you once did.

Respect is never given, it is earned. Repeat this…over and over and over again. Make it a mantra! Do not walk through that damn door and start barking orders and belittling people for not doing things your way or up to some standard to which you have decided everyone must adhere!

My advice: if you leave and return. Do so with humility and quiet. Do not stomp off like a petulant child, and do not attempt to kick down the door upon coming back. No one is concerned with the size of your ePeen or the “HEY LOOK AT ME I’M BACK” spotlight you so desperately want to cast upon yourself. In short, our in-game lives didn’t end when you left, they won’t be turned upside down upon your return. Act as if it’s a new guild. Sort things out, lay low, figure out the lay of the land and who or what is going on.

For GMs and Officers: Be very very careful when a returning member wants their officer status back. Others more than likely moved in to fill those roles. Allow them to continue to do the job for which they stepped up. Any good former players worth their salt will have no issues sitting in the back of the bus and blending in, contributing when asked. Simply put, if they come back making demands and enforcing their will…RED FLAGS abound!

Anyone else see the same things I’ve seen over and over again the last 7 years? I admit…I have never taken a break to date 🙂

Batting of lashes: On girls & WoW

This is a guest post from Honeytrap, Orc Huntress, Dàrksun – Bloodfeather EU.

Exhausted subject. Can’t believe I find myself writing about it. Oh well. Here goes.

Before I start I will admit to the following, very female features not all of which I am proud:

  • I get lost frequently, even in instances I have been 100 times before
  • I cannot bring myself to disenchant my Red Ruby Slippers; they are still in my bank
  • I do have in my possession every item that is sold by Haris Pilton (although shades & turban was given to me as a gift)
  • My bags are always a mess also in real life. Pity add-ons like baggins does not exist irl.
  • It annoys me when the colour-combination of my clothes goes all off-piste.
  • I really do not think men should wear pink. And that paladin-shield from TBC … well… honestly.
  • I collect pets (but always forget to use them)
  • I have to turn of the sound to kill the Orcas (very sad crying sound when dying), and the Mammoth calves (whimpering). Other than that I am a tough ruthless killing machine.

The sex thing: Over my years in wow I can see why some female players get a bad reputation. Drama in wow mostly evolves around, play style, loot etc. Bring a female in and you add a whole new set of drama. I could insert a number of stories here ofc – but I will make it simple: Lets face it – some females have a special talent for brainf*cking that most males aren’t even close to matching. I have seen best friends turn enemies and massive /gquits over girls, that can’t be matched by any other drama I have experienced in WoW. Do remember however: it takes two to tango. I mean – how hard can it be to figure out that you are being strung along? Honestly?

I also have had girls complaining to me about being stalked, abusive whispers etc etc. Watching the way they act, my usual response is an advice to adjust behaviour and use Ignore or Report if things get to bad. Advice they seldom listen to. This leads me to draw my own conclusions. I will leave you to draw yours.

The drama-queens & the whiners: I’m not getting into this one. Drama-queens and whiners come in both sexes. EOD.

The bad raiding: Since I haven’t played with a huge amount of girls, I have no conclusive answer to this. I can’t really tell if females are better or worse at raiding then males. I have known some truly great female raiders, but also a few that I sincerely wished would have stayed with achievements & collecting companions. But then – I also saw an extremely huge amount of bad male riders.

Minority and statistics: I think I read somewhere that 90% of the female chars are played by 10% of the guys. Be that as it may: WoW is mostly inhabited by boys, and luckily also some men. Females are a minority. Minorities get noticed, especially those with negative behavior.

But think of it this way: How many male players have you known that are drama queens compared to the number of female players you have seen that are drama queens? How many bad male raiders do you know compared to number of bad female raiders?

My point being: There are not many female players in wow, so their way of playing and attitudes are more noticeable then for male players. It’s a thing that every minority have to face, so just live with it and try not to f*ck up to much.

Friends: So… do I miss female companionship? NO. To be honest I don’t really care a rats arsle if the people I play with are male or female – as long as they are decent, easygoing, know what they are doing, and fun to play with.

Me: So… do I myself let my sex work to my advantage? Do I expect different treatment because I am a girl? NO. I would consider that an insult – in WoW as in RL. I do accept help of course, and if males tend to be more helpful towards females than other males – well I guess I would have a slight advantage. In raiding on the other hand I have to prove my own worth, no amount of batting my eyelashes will help me out there.

Is there a point? Yes. I hope this doesn’t come as a shock to you: Females come in all variations, like males – One size does not fit all.

Disclaimer: This is a slightly rewritten copy of a blogpost i made on a few years ago.

It’s never fair…

So, one of the sticking points with some guild members as of late is our loot distribution method. When we ran 25’s we used DKP, now that we are on 10’s its Loot Council. Some of the raiders call it QCouncil because I run it. Most feel I am absolutely fair about it. I follow an old school thought process of Tanks and Healers first, DPS second, Off Specs third. That’s nothing new there, and I think I am on solid ground (please let me know if you disagree). The next thing I look at is contribution; performance, attendance, etc. Are you a liability to the raid or a benefit? Do you do your job without prodding or do you need multiple reminders as to what to do? Typical thought process there to I think. Lastly, need. I am more apt to give a tier token to the one who has 3/5 and will benefit from the 4 piece, as opposed to the one at 2/5 tier pieces. A 346 – 359, or 353 – 378 upgrade is better than a side grade or slight upgrade. Best in slot items are always a concern as well, wanting to ensure an item that is BiS for one class but not another is considered.

Here’s the issue…loot distribution is NEVER FAIR. Ever. Ever. Ever. Seriously, no matter how fair you make it, someone always feels shafted from their perspective and as a result feels slighted. You hope they see the big picture, but often times they won’t.

The one thing I truly hate is rolling. I hate ROLLING! Why you ask? Hunter A has been waiting for a drop for 3 months. Always performing, always there, patiently waiting. Hunter B joins the guild and comes on a run. “ZOMG BiS RANGED WEAPON DROPS!…roll!” Hunter A rolls a 32, Hunter B rolls a 98. Was that fair? Really, was it? And all of us long time raiders have experienced such a thing.

There are a lot of loot methods available: DKP, EPGP, Loot Council, Suicide Kings (my personal favorite for 40 mans), and the list goes on. If you are in a guild and do not like their method, you are free to start your own guild and do it your way. No one is tied to where they are and everything is “at-will” employment.

For those who feel “Loot Council” is horrible…understand this. If you do not get an item, it doesn’t mean you are hated. It means the decision was made that someone else was the priority. If player A gets something on boss kill one, and then again on boss kill two it does not mean they are the Raid Leaders favorite. Big picture…the next time those items drop, they won’t need them! Items drop off a table…they will drop again, just be patient. And if the raid is progressing, even if you have gotten nothing – THE RAID IS PROGRESSING! That’s the ultimate goal, not your personal iLevel rating.

Have other people had this issue? Have you all also felt the pains of griping, complaining, and finding your name burned in effigy? What do you do as a GM, RL, or Officer? Would you just jettison them from your guild or allow them to stew?

It’s a “teaching opportunity” to be sure, but what happens if they won’t learn?


Guild drama & conflicts – Can’t we just get along?

So, why do guilds break up? Certainly many reasons can contribute collectively to a guild’s break up and eventual demise, but none is more deadly than – personality conflicts. I have a number of social/WoW friends in a progression guild. They have recently been hit with a “guild destroying” type event. Do I think they will collapse, NO! They are good people and will more than likely find the right replacements, but it does bring to light the primary issue we all face within the game – each other!

Their GM has a simple philosophy and a correct one: You don’t have to be friends, just play nice together and work towards the common goal of progression (I’m paraphrasing here). Admirable though this is, let’s examine it in more detail.

The notion of “I don’t have to like you, to work with you” is not new. The military has had this perspective forever! Liking someone’s ideals, values, religion, race, creed, or how they put on their pants means nothing when you are both in that trench with bullets firing at you and your lives in one another’s hands. I spent 8 years in the US Army, my wife the same. We saw racism and politics yes…but when the stakes got high – read: lives on the line – none of it mattered. We hear stories and read books like those by Stephen Ambrose about groups like Easy Company 506th Regiment: Band of Brothers. Men who despite any differences, formed a lifetime bond due to the extraordinary circumstances they went through together. In the end, the differences shed away and only the commonalities remain. Athletes on teams share similar experiences through the “Head long into battle” bonding that can happen. Same can be said for the private sector where I may not see eye-to-eye with a colleague, but we can in fact find a way to get the job done.

Many feel this applies to those playing MMOs like WoW…here’s the kicker, there are no lives on the line. We are not dependent on one another for a paycheck, benefits, or livelihood. There is no real ultimate goal like a championship or true glory (i.e. Sports championships are not always about substantive reward but are nonetheless tangible). In the end, gaming success supplies one with really only one thing: bragging rights. Some think this is enough? We work together, we kill some Dragons, we all get to brag…but not so fast! We all PAY to do this, and this has a curious affect on one’s mindset. We are all customers paying no more or less than anyone else. So why do it “their way”? Why not YOUR way!!!

We face this all the time. Sometimes it boils to a fight and parting of ways. Other times it leads to a tense situation, but eventual understanding and hopefully stronger bond between opposing viewpoints.

I certainly wish the latter for my friends in the aforementioned guild; a stronger bond between those remaining, and hopefully stable foundation for them going forward. To the GM: if I can help in any way, you need only ask.

For those going through such conflicts, please try to understand the differing viewpoints and focus on the commonalities. I know…sappy sappy sappy. But sappy as this all seems, these are the foundations for real life, not just for in a game. If you can master working together toward a common goal no matter your differences within WoW, you are on solid ground to do so in Real Life as you move through your education and career. Its important folks…REALLY important! People may watch and laugh at movies like Horrible Bosses and Office Space; but many of us will tell you – IT’S REAL! There really are situations like those that you may face and it’s better to be prepared for them, then not.

Find the common ground. Look for ways to move forward and not backward. Easier said than done? – certainly, but worth far more than any loot or gold that is dropped by any boss.