Saturday, December 19, 2009

List of abilities to add to Grid for ICC encounters

I have received requests from players to help them summarize what they need to add to Grid for all current ICC encounters. I figured I would list them here since it useful for all players to know who has what on them for any given fight. The ones below are specifically useful for healers but I will note if it is useful for a tank or dps player to add them as well.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I'm taking my guild and you're taking my money! (An answer post)

A few weeks ago Thespius from World of Matticus had an interesting post on the possibility of paid guild transfers much like you would for a paid character transfer or faction change. In the article, he relayed some tidbits about a possible future service Tom Chilton from Blizz let his interviewers know may be coming down the line at a much future date - Guild Transfers, speculation being released with Cataclysm.

Although I commented that I felt that the transfer service would include one toon (the Guild Master) and the guild name, bank contents and levels (as Cataclysm will offer guild "leveling") and not every member of the guild, I was curious to guess at what cost a full guild transfer would entale if all members of the guild were to be included.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Day 6 - 8 - The Announcement

Last post I wrote before After Midnight transfered servers...

Someone let the cat out of the bag. "Thanks for not inviting me, I guess I am not good enough to be in your 'clique'." It tore at my heartstrings, but made no sense, as that particular player hadn't raided with us in months. Oh well. I was expecting people to be upset; just not tonight.

I hadn't planned on telling people until Thursday. I wanted to make sure everyone got a good week of raiding in with the guild, got a few upgrades for those that were staying and make sure I ran wowmeteronline reports in case people needed them to find another guild. Looks like I'll have to tell everyone sooner...

Had we been able to tell everyone on Thursday, it would give a night of goodbyes and we would disband the guild on Friday. I wasn't quite sure what to do or say when one of our "Friends" status guildies exclaimed that he knew and was upset he wasn't asked to come in guild chat. A couple of people freaked out. "OMG STFU WTF are you talking about?" No one really believed him. I wanted to cry but didn't say a word. In fact, no one said anything and the topic died right there rather quickly.

We raided good and hard that night. Regular ToC on a loot Tuesday for some people if like waving donuts in front of Homer Simpson and him exclaiming "Don't mind if I do!" People were happy, I was happy.

Wednesday. I stressed out all night about telling the guild. I knew that I had wanted to tell the guild on Thursday but I found out that the rumour (well truth) that a lot of players were leaving the server was spreading like wildfire. Time to talk.

I started raid invites. So far so good. Everyone was called into vent. Breath. Officer chat is notified I'm announcing. People are on the edge of their seats. Exhale. "I have something I need to let you all know."

Most of the guild took it well. It helps when most of the guild is coming with. A few players I knew couldn't come and I knew they would be upset. One person was devistated. I felt bad but a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I felt much much better.

Most people who know me know I don't like keeping secrets. I find that if I keep them in I tend to blow up or get incredibly stressed out. Upon telling the guild I felt as though I had opened up the flood gates and any and all stress left my body. Of course, I didn't like the fact that I hurt a few players feelings. Some people left the guild that very night. It was painfully obvious no one was able to focus through the raid that night and some of the players coming felt it was no use waiting to transfer on Friday.

Thursday, a lot of people had already gone. I didn't see a point to staying any longer. Everyone in the guild knew that it was time to say goodbye. We had planned on disbanding Friday but hanging around for posterity's sake made no sense at this point. Some people not coming had already left and with After Midnight actually being a shell of what it was just the night before, there would be no raid tonight.

I said my goodbyes to some of the other GMs on the server and my friends I had made outside of guild. Told good guilds I had some players not coming who would be great fits with their guild and they should snap them up while they could. (And tapped Arkness on his hand for trying to take Dovi! Grrrr :)) I then said my goodbyes to the guild. It took about 5 minutes from start of my goodbyes to the end and then After Midnight was no more.

Our guild did not implode. Our guild didn't go down in a blaze of drama. Our guild changed. Our guild grew and moved onto what most felt it should. After Midnight might be no more on Uldaman but the players of the new guild remained for the most part the same with renewed zest for the game on another server under a new name.

I transfered tonight. Uldaman was like a little town. Little towns were never for a city girl like me.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Day 4 and 5 - The Wait

Second post I wrote about After Midnight's Move. Please remember this was written a few days ago and is meant to chronicle my thoughts on the matter.

So we started a private post to the players who have shown interest in coming with us and whom we'd want to come to a server transfer with us. I feel bad. I hate having to have to keep secrets like this. I have always toted that we led transparently; I think that is why my husband and I have been so respected. Hiding this just feels... dirty. But, this is a new begining and new beginings sometimes means going cold turkey. Time to think about myself.

Here's the problem, we want to raid, drama free, without the BS and with everyone carrying their weight. I like everyone in After Midnight, I do. I just don't think everyone will fit in with what we are trying to build. Also, do I really want to bring the girl who distracts my raiders by showing pictures of her boobs to everyone? No. Do I really want to bring the player who only shows up to loot tuesday and whines when we wipe on progression bosses? No. I'm sure looking from the outside looking in people are going to hate me for this move and not inviting everyone to come with me. I pay my $15 bucks too (oh wait, I pay more like $45... website, vent, account... but that's neither here nor there,) do I really have to spend my time dealing with that BS? Even when I did deal with situations like that with a gkick or something, no one can let things go and I end up being trolled for months. Fun times.
 So we have 24 people who are coming. We almost have an entirely balanced raid group. I know we're going to have to recruit when we get there and it will be hardtimes for a bit to get the raids off the ground. With 24 trusted players, I think we're going to make it through the tough times.

The buzz is exciting. People are cleaning out their banks and doing crazy farming sessions in anticipation for the new economy. Some are scrounging up the cash to make the jump in a few days. We are scheduled to leave on Friday; many are set to leave before then. A couple of people have already transfered over alts and are doing pugs to get to know people on the server. We know we're going to need some melee dps and healers; everyone is instructed to keep their eyes out for players who fit our bill.

The plan is to have open concept leading. Of course we will have the regular officer structure and will be holding our own version of "Raid Leader Idol" but we're not going to have class leads anymore. The original setup will be voted by commitee on how the players want things to roll. I'm thanking lucky stars that we all want the same thing. Progression in a non-hostile envrionment; I trust everyone will do what's best for the guild.

Our website is being revamped by my husband and one of our main tanks whom we found out was a programmer. Out forums sucked horribly so we're hoping to find another provider that has the widgets we need but more functional forums. We also need to fix up our application process; After Midnight's questions didn't make sense for what we wanted to achieve. There is lots of work to do.

I'm terribly nervous about the move, it's been 4 years since I have been on another server. I'm also going to have to eventually tell the players who are not coming. I know there are people who we have asked too that are not planning on coming in the end. I'm hoping they can keep the word to themselves before I do announce it. I doubt that will happen but we'll deal with it if the time comes. I want to be able to be the one who tells everyone what is happening. I don't want anyone else to have to deal with the brunt of this. It's my responsability to deal with the harsh reality of the secrecy, and I know there will be people who will not understand why.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Day 1-3 - The Decision

I haven't posted in awhile because the game had gotten me down and stressed out to the point where I almost quit the game. After thinking long and hard about the situation I decided to stay and the guild decided to to rally around and transfer for a fresh start. I started to write about the process and will start posting what I wrote over the next few days. After reading back through the posts it almost feels like I went through some "12 steps" program. I hope you enjoy...

Burned again. I have been on Uldaman for more than 4 years now. I have been leading guilds for about as the same amount of time. Since I have started leading, I have heard it all. Seen it all. And, seem to have been through it all. It hasn't been always a barrel of laughs.

Uldaman is like a small town. Everyone knows everyone else's business. All it takes is one good trolling in trade or the forums and you seem to get blacklisted. The people here never ever forget. Ever. Pugging is horrible, the progression even worse and the trade trolls are the kings of the server and are immortalized. Ranked 175th out of 200 some-odd servers, low rung doesn't even come close to how I feel about this place.

Uldaman has been good to me and it has been bad to me. Uldaman will always remain Uldaman to me; a crappy instance that once done with it no one wants to go back.

Over the 4 years I have struggled against the odds to keep my guilds going. Not once have I disbanded a guild or had a guild fall apart on me for reasons that I could control. I have kept my guilds going until the last physically moment that I could bear. Quitting the game for a year due to pregnancy being the only reason why I have had any previous guild end. 

Having discussed this with my male counterpart GMs on this server, as a female it seems that I carry a heavy load of criticism daily on how I run things. I have done nothing different than any of the other guilds out here, yet I have been called every name in the book the favourite being "Bitch". This really only happens when I put my foot down and assert the rules implemented for the guild. Someone breaks them, they are in the wrong, I am the bitch. Go figure.

Once again, I have been burned. A couple of guildies break a few rules; hey, causing drama, sexual harrassment and abuse of our loot rules is not that bad right? Not in these people's minds it seems. After immediately "laying the law" the bigger issue starts. The offending players are gone, and the rumours start to fly. "Get out while you still can. The guild is falling apart." is whispered to a player on trial status. She immediately gquits. "I hope, naps is taking the high road and not bad mouthing us, that would be unfortunately immature of her."  They were lucky that I didn't tell the guild at first what was done. The gloves came off when the applicants started asking me why I would invite them to a guild that was about to fall apart.

After letting loose, and telling the guild exactly what took place in order to maintain the peace and stop the rumours, I had guildies come to me saying "thank god I don't have to go through this alone now". The stories of sexual harrassment were sickening, the comments made in private that were brought to light were depressing. I am done.

The constant attacks from exguildies. The hate mail from deleted toons. The level one alts whispering me just what they think of me. The rumours from ex guildies meant to destroy what our guild has worked so hard to do. I am done.

1 week ago I was about to delete my toons and quit the game. A game is only a game until someone gets hurt. 1 week ago my officers banded around my to take the brunt of the work off my back and keep the guild going. 3 days ago the show of solidarity of those within the guild was astonishing. I know that for the most part the people in my guild are awesome. The ones who are able to work as a team have remained and we will strive on to reach our goals. Just not on this server.

3 days ago. The majority of my guildies decided they are done with this server and we should leave together. After Midnight is not dead. After Midnight is surviving and transforming into what it should be, into what it deserves. Just not on this server.

The idea came up during an officer meeting. The idea was presented to our core and 17 to 2 voted in favour. We then presented the idea to most of the raiders and so far reaction has been positive. Many of us are finished with this server and are hoping to start fresh somewhere else.

The research for a new home has been arduous. We wanted a PvE realm. We wanted something with better progression, player base, economy, pugging situation and mature population. We found what we are looking for an players wanting to come have unanimously voted in favour. Were going to go.

There are much more planning to do before we do go, but the situation is ripe for change. ICC is at the brink of being released, our DKP is about to reset, our website subcription is up and so is our vent server.

I will be keeping a log of our transfer process here and will most probably post this when we're done. As I am expecting major trolling I will not be disclosing where we are going or what our guild will be called. This is a clean cut. We're ripping off the bandaid in one fell swoop. After Midnight as it is will cease to exist and hopefully we'l be finally left alone.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Bench: Our Saviour

The Bench. No one likes to sit on it. Everyone plays World of Warcraft to actually play, rarely do we want someone to tell us that we have to sit out that night. But unfortunately, with the inability to scale the difficulty of instances to the amount of people in your party, having to sit out is an inevitable part of playing wow within a raiding guild; game mechanics simply do not allow for more than 10 or 25 people per instance. In a perfect world, a raid guild would have 25 players, all encounters would require the same amount of tanks, the same amount of dps with no bias on melee or ranged and the same amount of healers. Life in game however simply just does not work out that way.

We obviously know that a perfect 25 man "same player group" scenario does not work; even with the aid of Dual Talent Specialization and allowing healers to go dps and perhaps a tank to heal, the need to "afk for real life" aspect of the game also doesn't allow for a raid roster to cap at 25. I have mentioned once before real people play the game with you, not just NPCs. Recruiting more than the allowable 25 man raid instance is a necessity.

After Midnight last night ran into the issue of not having enough available tanks to get a Trial of the Grand Crusader run off the ground. I personally do not like to over recruit. I have ridden the bench before and yes, it is not as fun as being in the action with everyone else. So, having three dedicated raider rank tanks with near 100% attendance, we felt we did not need to recruit anyone additional lest we have someone riding the pine. However, last night it would have been awesome had we had a well geared pinch hitter ready to come in to help the raid out.

Now, we do try to rotate people in and out of our raids. We recruit quality players for our guild and we try to give everyone, as much as possible, the same amount of play time when we can. However, sometimes when I open up a raid spot for a class where we have had players go on hiatus or suddenly change their attendance habits, I'm sometimes approached with the question, why? Why are we recruiting when there is a possibility that X or Y player will show up?

The Bench. No one likes to sit on it, but it is sometimes a necessary evil to ensuring your raid group continues on in a well oiled manner. If X or Y player does not show up, it causes us to have a spot unmanned for the night. Especially in key roles that can be detrimental to your raid that night. In the above example I gave about our TotGC run, we were missing a tank, a key need for the Beast of Northrend strategy; you need more than one and sometimes more than 2 to rotate the impales. Having one or more tanks going MIA from a tight raiding roster can be detrimental to your group.

Blizzard at the beginning of WotLK said "bring the player not the class" the unfortunate reality is that is a half-truism which Blizz admits. While it is easier in Wrath to bring varied types of classes to your raid without qualm, the inherent needs to bring a certain amount of players per type of role is still there.

So how do you treat your "bench"? After Midnight will be looking for a couple of new tanks for our raiding roster to enter the raiding rotation we now have with our current players unfortunately making our nightly bench a little heavier but keeping our raids going. Although I don't like having people sitting out of our raids too much, I've come to realize recruiting more than enough to cover player absenteeism is key to a successful raid schedule at times.

How large is your raiding roster? How many raid groups are you running a night?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Selective Raiding: When guildies don't show up.

What happens when content gets so stale your guildies don't want to do it anymore? What do you do when only a couple of players are not interested in doing the majority of the raids your guild runs, save for the ones that will upgrade their gear?

It's no surprise that hot on the heals of patch 3.3 players are becoming burnt out and bored with the lackluster, lore devoid 3.2 patch. The fear of being left behind in progression and not completing the content before release is stressing the few that are still trying to master it. Yet, because repeating the same 5 bosses (6 including the revamped 4 year old Onyxia) is less than appealing to most, many are looking to these instances merely as a means to gear themselves for the final fight, Arthas.

Many guilds have now abandoned the now out-of-date Ulduar and are treating it like yesterday's news, Naxxaramas. However, there are still several guilds who run Ulduar hardmode achievements as a guild goal since not many have seen Algalon 25 man let alone completed all the instance's hardmodes.

We have been lucky here at After Midnight. We have most of guildies dedicated to what the guild voted for in patch 3.2, continue Ulduar hardmodes as well as focus on Trial of the Grand Crusader. We rarely have had guildies get selective with what they show up to.

How can you figure out if you have players who are trying to pull the wool over your eyes by only showing up to certain raids or the proverbial loot days?

Our guild has implemented a tracking sheet housed by one of our officers. Each raid our officer notes attendance and who steps out of what boss. At the end of the month we trend who has been showing up to what instances and check to see if we have anyone abusing our 60% raid attendance system in this way. There are also various attendance tracking tools you can use as well such as EK Raid Attendance which can automatically take attendance for you at various points of your raid.

If you are in a guild that has opted to continue with Ulduar on top of the "new" content, how do you deal with the players that only show up to what people have aptly named "loot Tuesdays"? Or, how have you reacted when top dps have asked to sit out or have not shown up to the old content because it is beneath them, even if the guild's focus has been to complete it?

Monday, October 26, 2009

When Guildies Lie

People who know me know that I hate being lied to. Whether I have known you for years or a few months, by lieing to me you've pretty much lost all credibility and might have cost the friendship in my eyes. Whether it's big or small getting the full truth and nothing but the truth is the way to go to win points with me. Not only does telling the truth win you respect but allows you not to go on anyone's shit lists.

I consider most of the guildies in my guild, if not all, friends. I would hope that all my guildies tell me and my officers the truth when it comes to situations, whether it is why they were not at the raid that night, why they have to leave the raid or why they can't do something during a raid, etc. Egos, for a raiding guild always need to be put aside. While for personal issues you don't need to tell the whole story (Hey, I need to go RL calls right now), making excuses and lying about why you are not able to perform are different.

If your computer is crapping out, you really don't get the fight or for whatever reason you need to be carried because you don't want to be replaced those reasons need to be told. The difference of downing a boss on progression might be the difference between 24 people understanding and performing to having the whole 25. Keeping performance issues to yourself is wrong. Be truthful as to why you can't do something within a raid and you may very well find out someone has a helpful solution to work whatever it is out for you. I have found that some people are so scared to be embarassed that they don't understand the strategy of a fight that they just hope they will blend in with the encounter and mistakes would go unnoticed. People who speak up and do what they can to get it right will just end up performing better once they fully understand.

If you are just not into the raid; your 10 man group is not that appealing to you tonight, you'd much rather go play around on an alt and be left alone. Don't lie to your guildies and say you have company coming over or your house just caught fire. A simple, "hey guys, I'm not into this tonight and sorry I need to bail," goes a really long way. Lieing and getting caught (or in some cases not being good at all at hiding the lie), is very detrimental to your reputation and could possibly cost you much more than a raid spot the next time. Guilds, especially tight knit ones, are full of friends, would you lie to your friends in real life?

What about people who don't show up? I once had my suspicions one of my guildies used to share raid nights with another guild and alternate between the two always showing up for our minimum amount he needed to so he wouldn't lose the raid spot. Upon further investigation, and finding out that was the case, that player immediately lost the raid spot. Being truthful wouldn't have gotten the player booted from the guild.

I have told guildies that have been less than respectful and have lied to me or anyone else for that matter in the guild that this game is played with real people behind those screens. As much as the little chracters might look like NPCs at times, the respect needs to be there for the reality of the players on vent, in front of their computers, sitting at home and very much real.

What are your thoughts? Do you think lieing is just another aspect of MMOs? Or do you think that being truthful in game as in real life is the way to go?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Goodbye to a WoW community pillar

It's been a long time since I have gone and checked over at Dwarf Priest since the writer of the blog mysteriously dissapeared almost a year ago. However I was doing a little catch up reading at my favourite "Gobble Gobble" blogger and saw that Bob Turkey posted that MK from Dwarf Priest finally posted!

There was much
speculation as to where she went from dying, to /quitting WoW due to real life or becoming ill (the real reason).

I for one am glad the Dwarf Priest is alive and alright. Dwarf Priest has been an indispensable resource for many priests who play wow. Ever post was a tome invaluable information on every subject, from gearing to her famous
leveling guides.

Although due to illness, we will be losing out on MK's interesting theorycrafting and insightful posts, I wish her well in her battles with health and hope that everything in real life works out.

Check out the Dwarf Priest's latest and last post

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

When /played means /quit

I haven't entirely fallen off the face of the planet. Things have been really crazy for me in real life so I haven't had time to actually sit down and actively write something. My daughter has been sick and cranky. Work has been hectic to say the least with the end of the year coming close. And, I have been devoting free time (when the little one is asleep of course) to managing the guild and optimizing our raiding structure.

The article I am working on is taking longer than expected due to the aforementioned lack of time.

On the WoW front, things have been going great for AM. We're working on hardmodes, getting closer all the time to our target goals. Players are working together to achieve more and more progression. We have become more rigid in our ways than we were almost a year ago; players know what they are expected to do and when they are not performing do not make excuses of why. At the end of the raid night we almost always have people who might have been off their game asking what they could do to change or asking for advice. The majority of players within our structure are actively bettering their skills with every raid. Recruitment has been ongoing and going smoothly. I anticipate great things come IC when it is released.

In other news, I want to stress the fact that World of Warcraft is indeed a game and please please please treat it as such. After Midnight was hit recently with some incredibly sad and disturbing news. One of our officers unfortunately might have spent a little too much time on the game and is facing a possible divorce from his wife because of it. With promise to delete his characters, stopping his subscription and having his kids destroy the game CD's he may be able to salvage his marriage. I hope and our guild hopes that everything does work out for him in the end.

I know I play the game way too much than I should but I don't feel the brunt that our guildie has felt; playing with your significant other helps in that regard. But at what /played is too much or is it relative to your situation?

For example, my husband and I only play when our daughter is asleep. The game is our down time. Nothing on my end really suffers due to the game (except maybe chores, but who likes to do chores anyways?) But lets say I was working 2 jobs, I had limited time with my family and I chose to play the game rather than hang with them. Or, if my husband didn't play would it be right to not be spending my free time with him instead?

The news that we were brought about our guildie was an eye opener to say the least.

What have you put off / given up in order to play the game?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Yoggy is Soggy!

Sorry for such the delay in posting. Things have been mighty busy for me in real life as in the game. Work had been nuts and we have been pushing super hard on progression content that I have not had the time to step away and write.

I am on vacation this week and have been working on a collaborative effort article on what every recruiter should know about each class and the most important questions you should ask during interviews. It's going to be more of a guide with input from some of my guildies rather than a commentative article.

In other news After Midnight is finally over its progression road block; we downed Yogg-Saron last night. I always hate running into bosses that the guild can't seem to wrap their head around. Everything clicked last night and we finally got it just after midnight. (very fitting)

So other than Algalon, that makes After Midnight as having cleared all WotLK instances with having downed Anub'Arak this week as well.

I'm mighty proud of my guildies on their dedication and hard work this week. Onto to hardmodes!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

How Guild Recruiting Helped My Career

I just hired my first employee.

The experience was a little nerve wracking; Would they like the job? Are they going to accept the salary? Will they fit in with my team? I didn't realize how similar it is to guild recruiting until after the experience.

In February 2009, I was promoted to my first supervisor position which included several management duties including some human resources tasks, hiring being one. I was extremely nervous during the search for a replacement for one of my employees who had decided to leave the company. This wasn't a game; I had full control over who would get the job and who would not, which meant I got to decide who would be on our payroll. This was real.

How did being my guild's recruiter help me with my employment practices? I had aligned our guild with real-life day-to-day practices and viewed our in-game goals and tasks as being similar to real life situation as you would run an organization. This made it easy for me to make allusions to situations I would encounter during my work day. Here's how guild recruitment aligned with how I played out the hiring:

1. Screening the Applicants

We expect our guildies to apply to the guild via our forums. They must state experiences, skills, previous guilds, etc. Effectively, this creates a raiding "résumé" that we use to screen potential recruits before offering them an interview for a potential raiding position.

I have become a pro at screening applications to our guild and this skill has helped me in screening the applicants to the position I was hiring for at my work. Being able to scan through a multitude of curriculum vitae, picking up on highlights and skills that would be a good fit for the position is a must. Going through hundreds of apps over the years, has help tremendously.

2. Interviewing

My biggest fear during raider interviews is that once they get the inside scoop of how we run things, they won't want to join. This goes back to what I was very nerve wracked for during the interview process I just went through. Would they like the job? Are they going to accept the salary? Will they fit in with my team?

The criteria for joining my guild are not necessarily being the best player in the world. We have brought in players who we knew at the time weren't the greatest but were incredibly eager to learn and we saw potential in them. Team players are a must and they best fit in with the personality of our guild to be up for consideration. The "salary" is our ability to clear the content and the raiding spot we offer; are they willing to put in the work to get the raid spot?

Since the job opening that I had to offer was an entry-level position, I wasn't necessarily looking for someone who had tons of experience. Someone who has done the job before would have been nice, as there wouldn't have been such a learning curve. But, an eager fresh out of school worker, willing to learn and put in the effort to do their best was all I was looking for. Since we work in teams it was important for me to find someone who would work well within our work environment.

Since I have already gone through the interviewing process with my guild and expectations for the position I had to offer were not a big stretch from the game, it was surprisingly easy to make the jump from play to reality.

3. The Formalities

Bringing players into the guild, advising them of the raiding schedule, asking them to adhere to the rules and having them sign up for the website are all normal things that I ask/tell my guildies upon joining.

Formalities in every organization are the norm. As in work, the guild has a structure in order for things to work smoothly. The basic information I supply or collect from my guildies allows me to manage my resources better.

Upon hiring the new employee, I had already made a mental note of what I needed them to submit for the position. I just assumed that there was info like SIN numbers, start date, blank cheque etc. which were asked of me on my first day in the office needed. Knowing that I myself had to be prepared within the structure of my workplace for things to run smoothly, as in my guild, I scored brownie points when my superiors asked if I made sure the new employee would be bringing the items of info they needed.

In the end, the whole experience was a positive one. Something I attribute from having so much experience with various types of personalities during interviews in game. I am quite looking forward to doing my next one and perhaps fusing more tips and tricks from the game into my workplace.

Monday, August 17, 2009


I know this is a shameless plug but I figured it's my blog what the hey!

After Midnight is recruiting dedicated, mature and talented raiders for their raiding roster. We currently have a good amount of healer, dps spots open as well as one tank spot. While some guilds might have seen a slump in the Summer months in their attendance, we are anticipating the reverse come the school year as many of our players have school-aged children who need attending to during the week.

If you think you would be a good fit for our raiding roster please do not hesitate to contact myself, Dovizioso or Gedoraf in game on the US-Uldaman Server.

Our website is should you wish to apply outright.

Hope to hear from some of you soon!


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Gear>Progression or Progression>Gear?

That is the question.

Everyone loves getting a fresh shiny new piece of gear. The joy of upping your stats making your toon hit (able to be hit) harder or heal better is very satisfying. But at what point is getting more gear moot for progression in the current content?

This is the issue that the new raid lockout extension has brought about. For example, After Midnight is able to clear Ulduar right through to Yogg-Saron now within 2 raid days should we stay focused and not run anything else such as VoA or ToC to interrupt our timelines. As long as everyone is able to stay on track and we don't have to switch people in an out this is not a problem. However, we still haven't downed Yogg yet, something I attribute to never having the same team of players each night and having to re-teach the encounter constantly. The majority of the guild would like to see the SOB go down, turned on his back floating in his own filth no matter how many times we attempt it.

Here's where the lockout extension comes in; we can now have those multiple attempts past the original lockout to work on Yogg WITHOUT having to re-clear the instance. This means more nights to work on him, more nights to get his health percentage lower and lower and less chance the guild will get rusty as time passes between attempts. Locking out may mean that a progression kill may be had with the little extra time we were able to get but it also means that it is a whole week without new gear drops. Something which excites most guildies who are progression minded and upsets those that lose out on a week to get a potential upgrade.

According to our guildies have the necessary stats/gear to down any encounter in Ulduar, and although having best-in-slot everywhere sure adds a slight pack to the punch, we should be able to easily down the Yogg-Saron encounter in our current situation. Yet, some players still argue that if we had more gear we would down it. The complaining from a vocal few (very few) makes me believe that they would rather have those grapey goodness drop like candy from the sky rather than spend the time for the thrill of a first kill.

This leads us back to our first question, what is more important for a raiding guild, encounter progression or gear progression?

In my honest opinion, and according to the goals listed in our guild rules, it is to see the content and conquer it no matter what the stakes. Having a gear level appropriate for the content is key, surpassing it is not necessary. I think the raid lockout is a great way for a guild on the cusp on downing a new boss to have the extra time to do so before a raid week reset. There is so much content in the game now that the guild can be doing to still receive their new upgrades; through the heroic 5 mans and 10 man instances. Badges are acquirable anywhere, from any instance, the heroic dailies now even spew forth the new Emblems of Triumph should you pick up the required quest first.

My advice to players upset with guilds extending raid lockouts for an additional week in the name of progress is the same to anyone who is not happy with their current guild; if the grass is greener elsewhere, no one is going to hold it against you if you go. Think about your priorities in game and find a place that is appropriate to them and stick with it. Most Guild Masters' are happy to accommodate their players as much as they can, but if a player's personal goal or ambition varies greatly from that of the guild's manifesto, it may be time to look for another guild lest your Guild Master asks you first.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thrown Into the Driver’s Seat: Haphazardly Acquiring a Raiding Guild

During a dedicated Warcraft player’s gaming “career”, one sometimes gets thrown a couple of curveballs along the long strange road of progression. Especially being an officer in a guild, dealing with the day to day challenges that arise within the game whether it is your guildies’ personalities, intra-guild relations or random players in general, looting, scheduling and everything in between; things do not always turn out the way we like. However, nothing is more daunting than suddenly finding yourself at the helm of a guild when your GM decides that either leading is not for him, quits the game altogether or just has the need to move onto different waters.

How would you deal with it? Would you excel and thrive at the job maintaining the raiding level of the guild or bettering it? Or would you crack under the pressure?

The following dialogue is the story of one player/officer named “Arkness” of The Wrath of Medivh on the US-Uldaman Server. I had the chance to chat with Arkness recently about his sudden “acquisition” of the WoM one of Uldaman’s progression guilds and with his permission am posting the interview below.


Napaeae: So Arkness, how about we start with an introduction, can you please let us know a bit about yourself, your toon and your current position in The Wrath of Medivh?

Arkness: Ok so my name is Andrew, most of the guild knows me by 'Drew" or by ' Ark' my toon is a Human Protection Paladin, and currently I am GM, Raid Leader and Main Tank of The Wrath of Medivh

Napaeae: Wow that's a lot to have on your plate, did you have the raid lead and Main Tank responsibilities before you became GM?

Arkness: Yes I was Raid Leader and Main Tank before being GM, one of my raiders said last week that they had been in the guild for about a year and "Ark has always been the voice of WoM on vent. Every raid he was the one that lead it."

Napaeae: Obviously you since you had the Raid Leader role before becoming GM, it must have been a natural transition into this new leadership role. But how did you suddenly become GM in the first place?

Arkness: LOL So one night after a raid, we (the GM at the time, another officer, and me) are sitting in the officer channel of vent discussing various items and as with all guilds one of those topics was those members that have questions/comments/complaints/QQ to coin a game phrase. We were discussing some of the ‘QQ’ that I had heard throughout that evening’s raid and part of it was in relation to the GM’s acceptance or un-acceptance as the case was this time of another healers input into a situation during the raid. Apparently hearing this was the straw that broke the camel’s back to coin a phrase and he started messing with the guild rankings some. At first I thought he was messing around as he promoted me to Exec. Officer then back to Officer. Then after that he promoted me to GM and /gquit. He then proceeded to log in all of his alts and /gquit on them as well and that’s how I became GM.

Napaeae: Wow that is sudden! How did you react at that time when you became GM?

Arkness: Well honest initial reaction was "Oh Shit, What's going on?" I felt a bit overwhelmed and taken aback by the situation. I honestly figured that he was just pissed off and would be back on one of the following days. It was quite a sudden shock.

Napaeae: Obviously, once everyone realized that he was not coming back, and it sunk in you were the new GM, how did your guildies react?

Arkness: Generalized reactions at first varied from: 'omgwtf' to 'what the hell just happened' to 'Oh shit, Ark's GM we're all going to die'. Most however already trusted me as a leader, so other than the initial shock weren't too worried about it. I even got quite a few "I got you back, bro." from some of the long standing members.

Napaeae: That's great that you received so much support. It must have felt good!

Arkness: It did, I have a very close network of friends within the guild. We talk outside of WoW and their support has been great as well.

Napaeae: What was your first act as GM? What did you change? What did you keep the same?

Arkness: Well official first act as GM, was that evening in calming the masses. Naturally the guild members had tons of questions after the former GM quit and I was promoted. I made an announcement in guild chat, “That the old GM most likely had several reasons for doing what he did. He didn't share these with me. However, everyone needed to remain calm and the situation would be addressed by the officers and those former officers and former GM's (2 former GM's were on RL breaks and have since quit playing WoW as well.) and that I would hold be the GM for as long as they wanted/allowed me to do it. “ No it probably wasn't that nicely worded that night, but that's the basics of it.

The second and my actual first act as GM was to keep the 'status quo' at the time. One of the former GM's (one of the ones on RL break) suggested in the officer's forum to "I guess we should cancel tonight's raid and have a vent meeting to work out what's going on from here." and my response was, “Hell No, I refuse to cancel that evening's raid… That’s just not the message I want to send right now."

Honestly I haven't changed much. I did start enforcing more of our standards. Raiding had became rather lax during Naxx. Trash was easy, bosses were easy, and people were coming unprepared, unread on strats, or just not attending raids as much at all. So I started making sure consumables were used, people had read up on strats, that they were focused, and that they truly wanted to be there with us. WoM has a great history and a great background to it. Not much needed changing except our attitude towards raiding.

The biggest change I made was to fully open recruiting, this accomplished two things: One, it let everyone know that we ARE a raiding guild. Their positions as raiders was not set in stone and it stopped the preconceived notion by many applicants, that they would have a hard time finding a position within our team.

Napaeae: Seems like you handled the situation rather well and quickly! How did the guild react to the changes that you did make (i.e., opening up recruiting, etc.)?

Arkness: They reacted fairly well overall, attendance is up, performance is up, and generally attitudes are much better. That combined with several new members that are wonderful people and players have helped get things back on track after the summer slump.

Napaeae: And how about you? Have you become more comfortable with the idea of being GM? What do you like and/or dislike about it?

Arkness: I love being GM, but it does have its moments and yes I have more gray hairs now. The best part of being GM is the pride that comes when the team goes out there and does well. Just last week when we went to the Crusader's Coliseum, we went in and one-shot the Northrend Beasts encounter. It was awesome fun and one hell of the morale booster and there is a certain level of pride knowing that I helped lead them to that.

What do I dislike? Mostly just those that do seem to be 'me' centered. Every guild has them, those people that are more 'phat lootz' oriented then helping the team and guild progressed. I also dislike the fact that hiding when I need quiet time is more difficult now days.

Napaeae: Haha, you'll get used to the lack of privacy/"me time", I lost mine about 4 years ago.

Arkness: Rofl, I thought it was bad having kids! Now I have a whole guild that likes to track me down!

Napaeae: After going through this experience yourself, what advice would you give to those suddenly finding themselves in your shoes?

Arkness: Take it slow and easy, surround yourself with good friends that are like minded and guild focused, talk to everyone (even the quiet guy that's just a 'friends and family' member has great input), don't beat yourself up too hard when something doesn't go exactly as planned, and most of all to have some fun with it otherwise being GM can become one of those dreaded "J O B" scenarios real quick.

Napaeae: Great advice! Anything else you'd like to add?

Arkness: Yup one more quote I'm stealing... “The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already.” - John Buchan

Napaeae: Isn't that the truth... Great quote. Thank you, Ark, for spending some time talking with me this afternoon about your experiences.

Arkness: No problem, I'm overly flattered that you asked me to come hang out and talk. Good luck in life and WoW. I'll see you around Uldaman.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Would you like your Guildies' sunny side up or poached, Sir?

I work in the advertising industry for my day job. This has helped me out countless times in guild recruitment. As all advertisers are, I am also quite eager to get our name out there in the hopes of catching that lead, that buy-in or that "customer" to join our guild. As guild leaders we all have something to "sell" it may be a raiding spot, a casual laid-back atmosphere or maybe even a little Role Play as suits your guilds needs. How do you go about getting the sign-ups you need to make your guild a successful one?

I have rarely come across a guild that had less than noble intentions in their recruitment practices. For the most part when someone has left our guild for possible greener pastures on their part the receiving guild was the one approached not the guild approaching the player.

What about those times when a guild actively recruits your players without prior inquiries?

I have experienced this about 3 times in my GM "career". Each time has been very different from the last. The first time was a very blatant attempt at poaching our core players with the promise of mounts, money, and dibs at loot. With the 2 following times were done more subtlety and were more effective.

Types of Poaches :

1. Green Eggs and Poach Approach

This is the type of poaching that is downright blatant. The Poacher may approach you outright in a capital city one day saying things to the effect of "Wow, your gear is great! Why are you running with THAT guild? We could offer you so much more." Or, after initial approach, outright offering gold, mounts, extra dkp etc as a "signing" bonus for leaving your current guild to join theirs.

How to deal as a player? This depends on what motivates you. If you are looking for a place that will provide you with bonuses upon joining and you don't particularly have any attachment to your current guild, then it's totally your choice whether you take up the offer. If you're not interested, you can let the inquiring party that you're quite happy with you guild and if you feel the need to advise your GM that you were approached in this manner, do so. Telling your GM, especially if they are down to earth and won't go overboard on the offending party, allows your guild to keep tabs on possible intra-guild issues.

How to deal as a GM? I'm a big fan of letting it go if I don't have prior relations with that particular guild. With that said, if I have had dealings with the guild's GM before I tend to contact them and let them know I know what has occurred and nothing more. Usually, if the poacher has an ethics they apologize right away.

2. Eggs Benedict and other Extravagant Poaches

This poacher may constantly talk you about their guild. They may never come out and outright ask you to leave your current guild but allusions to "Gee, I wish we had someone like you app to our guild," are in constant use. They may message you every time you log on to talk about how your guild is doing. They use any negative statement that you may make about your guild no matter how little ("OMG, we wiped on FL trash one night) and swear that kind of thing never happens in their guild. The Poacher will paint such a wonderful picture of their guild in the hopes to sway you in their direction. Once they feel that trust is gained they will outright ask you if you would like to join after hearing any minor complaints which they have blown up in their minds. (Wow your guild must be so horrible!)

How to deal as a player? Again, if the approaching guild entices you, you are more than welcome to join in hopes the pastures are greener. If you are not interested, for the most part this poacher can get pretty annoying and you may end up putting them on ignore or just appeasing them with one word answers after awhile. Being direct and telling them, "Thank you for letting me know how your guild runs things, but I think I will stick with my current position," usually stops the poacher in their tracks.

How to do deal as a GM? There is nothing much you can do other than trust that your guildies have faith and confidence in your guild and will stick around. If someone is unhappy they will leave anyways and there is not much you can do.

3. Sunny Side Up with Friends

This poacher may be a long time in-game or real-life friend of yours. They joined another guild and tell you about it all the time. They may be having a blast and want to share that with you too. Hey! Who wouldn't want to surround themselves with their friends right? So they contact their GM, they have a spot open just for you! What do you do?

How to deal as a player? Well, this one is a hard one, and totally a personal choice like the previous instances. It basically comes down to 2 choices, stay with you current guild that may be perfect strangers but probably works for you or join your friends guild and be with friends. Whatever you do choose don't ever feel bad for your decision.

How to deal as a GM? There is NOTHING you can do and NOTHING you should do. Who are you to limit friends playing with friends? This is what the game is about anyways, right?

All in all, finding out your players are being poached is quite the annoyance but there is not much you can do if someone has it set in their mind that they are going to leave the guild. Letting the poachers know delicately that you're aware of the situation may alleviate unwanted advances should your guildies complain, however for the most part let it go and have faith that your guildies have your back. Leading with confidence usually instills confidence in your players and is the cornerstone to a strong long living guild.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Gut Feelings: Part Deux

So as promised, I did some soul searching and polling of a few of my friends, officers and coworkers about how to deal with gut feelings about a situation or someone when you don't have any proof to confirm what your gut is telling you.

It seems to me that gut feelings are just a precursor to investigating what is the root cause behind why it is you feel that way. Are you having a bad day? Are you being particularly paranoid? Are you noticing subtle trends regarding something that your subconscious is picking up before your conscious?

Let me give you an example of how I took care of my uneasy stomach this week with the advice I was given:

I suspected for awhile that one of my long standing guildies was unhappy. However when approached all responses were "I'm ok." So I let it go. I also, from keeping my eyes open recently saw indications of another guild (that recruited some of our notable drama laden ex-guildies) were trying to get this guildie to leave and join their new guild.

With that scenario painted, here are the steps I took to figure out if my gut feelings were justifiable.

1. Weigh the Evidence

As with most of my long standing guildies, I have set up communications outside the guild to keep up on day to day news whether it is MSN, Twitter, Facebook, etc. I noticed that statuses and conversation that had subtle undertones to it, which probably gave me my first warning that something was up. That, combined with prodding comments from said ex-guildies probably solidified the gut feeling that some poaching was going on. Add a little late night private vent channel discussions with said players and you got yourself a very suspicious situation.

2. Discuss the Situation...

...In confidence, with someone you trust.

I spent a good while talking about my thoughts and feelings with a trusted officer who gave me a little perspective on the situation and compared with me his views and feeling on the subject. It helped get my thoughts in order and find out if others might be seeing the same thing I was.

3. Confront with an open mind

The last step I took was to bring the guildie into a private vent channel with the officer I had my discussion with, and had a no-bullshit, guild related only conversation with the player. I laid my suspicions flat out on the table, and asked flat out if it was true. In fact, the guildie confirmed indeed they were thinking of leaving to join the guild I had suspected. That yes they have been unhappy for awhile but haven't done anything because they have been in the guild for quite a long time and thought maybe it was just a passing feeling. Although, the guildie couldn’t give us any direct point of which to work on to make their situation in the guild better, it still opened the lines of communication that seemed to not be there before. I believe if you are very direct with the player it prompts the player in return to be very direct with you.

The officer and I did not get angry, did not give ultimatums, kept an open mind, stayed professional and open to anything that was said; I believe that to be one of best things to do when confronting suspicions. You just don't know what the actual situation is and can't yet form an opinion about it without actualizing what is going on with the person in question.

In the end, my gut feeling was confirmed and my uneasiness with the situation calmed by now having the flat out facts. By taking these steps, I avoided days or weeks of agonizing supposing or speculation and embarrassment if my suspicions were wrong. By doing less internalization and more communication (which is key in any organization whether it be a workplace or a guild) we were able to pinpoint the problem (or in other situations lack thereof,) and come to a conclusion or understanding about it.

Napaeae's To Do List

1. Finally Organize my bank space so I can easily access gear sets for 3.2 changes

2. Finalize my
3.2 gear wish list

3. Decide how After Midnight is going to approach the Coliseum and how that affects our raiding Ulduar.

4. Decide what we are going to do with
Raid Lockout Timer Extensions

5. Decide if we are making a new DKP tier for the new instance (I'm thinking not until T9 is released Tier 9 "Trophies" are showing up in loot tables already)

6. Farm (Raiding is getting expensive!)

7. ???

8. Profit?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Gut Feelings and Drama

I'm an Aquarius III (born in the 3 quadrant of the month), and a characteristic of my sign is having a strong empathy and intuition about things. I tend to feel when something is not right or if there is a negative energy surrounding someone. At the risk of equating myself to my dog, Bailey, it's the same as when salespeople come knocking at our door; he wags his tail and want to be pet by one visitor but, the next visitor he's growling and snarling trying to get the person to go away. He has a great sense of a person's personality and tries to protect our home.

In real life, I tend to steer away from people who cause me to have that pang of doubt in my stomach about their intentions. I have been known to remove people from my life who have caused drama or pain. In game, as GM I believe it is important to stay objective. Like a workplace, sometimes you have to work with the personalities you have and even though you get the feeling something is wrong with someone, you almost have to ignore it and base opinions on actions rather than feelings.

But at what point do stop ignoring gut instinct?

There have been several times in the past few years I have had my "spidey senses" tingle about a situation or person in relation to the guild, that I have ignored and treated my decisions based on actions, only to have an immense amount of drama happen within days or weeks of the feeling.

Now, I cannot arbitrarily go around removing players from the guild that I get bad vibes from, nor can I go around paranoid about every situation that goes on, but at what point do you act upon those primal urges to remove the problem outright without a concrete action to base it upon?

Everytime I run into a situation that could have been stopped by acting upon my feeling right away, I tell myself, "Next time I am going on gut, forget objectiveness!" But how does that align myself with being the fair and just guild leader that I am/try to be?

I'm hoping to make a guide post about this soon, but I am looking for input. How do you deal with your gut feelings and drama in your lives or guilds?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Phase wha?

Just a quick note to my guildies whom I am super proud of for getting Phase 1 of the Yogg-Saron fight down in 3 attempts last night. Let's get through the next phase tonight!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Girl Power?

I know the majority of Guild Masters out there are men. There’s no doubt about it. However, there are women out there who like to take leadership roles as well and you know what? Thrive at it sometimes better than their male counterparts.

Now, I’m not saying that I am the best guild leader in the world. In fact, sometimes I feel like I am downright crappy. Personally, and I don’t know why I do this, I tend to be very soft on people in the guild where as in real life I’m not entirely the biggest doormat like I am in game. That’s why I enlisted my assistant GM Forth who tends to put things in perspective for me and is not afraid to be the bad cop to my good cop. But I am sure I bring a different perspective to leading than some of the other male GMs out there.

When I am recruiting or dealing with inter guild relations I find it very funny when someone comes to me very pleasantly with an issue or a question and I get approached with “Hey Dude, thanks for the info or thanks for dealing with x, y , z…” When I reply jokingly “Its ‘hey Dudette’,” I’m often taken aback that attitudes change to the negative or even surprise. “You’re a chick and the GM of After Midnight? Oh, sorry ma’am!” or “Whatever girls can’t lead guilds yours must suck!”

I have heard of guilds that don’t recruit women at all for various reasons; either they are a distraction to male players, they bring drama, they don’t play as well, etc. (On a side note some of the women players in our guild can out play the men twofold, and I have seen my fair share of male drama queens in my years of leading.) For whatever reason, a person that avoids women in game or brings a misogynistic approach to them leading is very telling to their real life approach to the opposite sex. There have been many of time I haven’t been taken seriously because of the difference of my private parts or have been called every name in the book when I make a decision or “let someone go” from the guild; something my male friends would rarely experience for the same actions. Those would be the same people I would avoid in real-life, why should I surround myself and the women in my guild with people like that?

So what do I do or try to do to make leading an easier for me? (Try being the operative word)

Let it roll off your back

Probably not exactly associated to being a woman, but when you get insulted or put down or called out etc, specifically because you are a woman (or anything else for that matter) let it roll off your back. I struggle with this the most. I tend to take things very personally because of the amount of work I have put into the guild, but being put down because I pee sitting down shouldn’t be a reason to get upset. Let it go, and appreciate your ignore list.

Don’t be the doormat

Sticking to your guns as a guild leader is an essential part to fair leading, so why do women tend to feel guilty when they need to play the bad cop role? I think sometimes it leads back to the whole old-fashion way of raising girls that they need to be kind and nice at all times. I was pretty much raised as a tom-boy but was still formed to be the “accommodating one” where as my brother was able to run around and act however he wanted towards people with disregard and it was seen as just being a boy. Now, because I don’t like to have people angry at me, I blame this on my mom, I tend to accommodate players who end up using me as a doormat because they know can. The only advice I can give to other women leading out there don’t do a Napaeae and let people wipe the mud off their feet on you.

Surround yourself with good people

I have had a total of 2 players who in my opinion had no respect for women ever recruited to my guild; it was not fun and even being in After Midnight for the time they were tried to cause dissention from within and usurpation. I am a big advocate of recruiting married couples, other women and players who have great respect for the females who play this game. Not because I want every player to respect me but because I find those players who have no problem with interacting with both sexes tend to be better guildies all around. Even in real life when I have met people who objectify women they tend to not have the same respect for everyone around them including men. If you want to build your guild around a group of players that work well with each other you need to continue to recruit respectful people. That axiom that your girlfriends tell you time and time again is true – find a man that treats his mother well, and he will most likely treat you well too.

Don’t tolerate being called names (or any of your other guildies being called names)

I loathe the B word. I have been called it at least once a month since I started playing the game either to my face or hearing it through the grape vine. As I said above I don’t do things that differently from other guild leaders out there, in fact I think sometimes I might be nicer than most; yet I still once in awhile get called nasty things for putting my foot down. If someone in your guild makes nasty comments relating to gender, race, financial status, sexuality etc, it’s time to cut to cord quick with a swift guild kick.

Finally the best piece of advice that was ever given to me was mind your own business; what you think of you and your work is what matters most. Ignore the nay sayers and be true to yourself and your goals and you can never go wrong.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Emptying the raid bottle...

Just a quick note to say, after a few burst bladders and horse voices from saying group 1, group 2, group 3, or group 2 heal, group 1 go get mana... After Midnight downed Vezax last night. I think it was the first time we went so long attempting a boss without a bio break but no one wanted to redo that trash!

Everyone was super focused and into it last night it really makes a guild leader proud. (As a single tear rolls down my cheek... that was for you Dovi.)

I promise I have another useful post coming shortly.

Friday, July 10, 2009

After Midnight the After Math

So I haven't written in a few days, that is mainly because I haven't had much time. Work has been crazy and the "behind the scenes" work Forth, the officers and I have been putting into the guild has been a long arduous but rewarding task.

When I last wrote we were trying to find ways to rebuild/revamp the guild while staying on our server, Uldaman. I have to say so far so good.

After much soul searching and discussions with the officers, we felt it was unfair not to outline what we expected of our raiders in specific during-raid rules. One day (usually farm days) we would let loose on vent and on progression days we would command silence. Those that have been raiding with us for a long time might have known the reasons but newer players might view that as bi-polar.

So we implemented much regimented and very straightforward rules and expectations, in writing and published on our website so all could see. Our goal is to make sure our players feel comfortable knowing the limits they have within our raiding environment and never have to be paranoid with not knowing what is expected of them.

We fully expected some players to not be happy with the new implementation and style of leading we were setting forth; in fact we had a couple of players leave outright the next night. Two with minimal drama, one with a slightly over the top post on our forums due to sitting for one night, only due to min/max reasons of setting up out raid and not agreeing with how we wanted to go about the changes in the guild.

It's hard for me to accept that you cannot please everyone, so the over the top posting was hard for me to objectively handle; mainly due to my personality and I'm sure something a lot of women struggle with in society in general. Gender issues within the game though will be something I will touch on in a later post.

In order to properly ease the guild into the new way of doing things, we held our regular monthly guild meeting on Wednesday but rather than having a complete open forum with any topic that came to mind at the time we asked for 15-20 minutes silence on vent while we went through the changes to be implemented. Then instead of a complete open forum, we had each class leader (and one officer for those classes that we do not have class leads for) take their teams into separate vent channels to discuss concerns without the GMs present. One by one Forth and myself "visited" each group, elaborating for anyone who had questions, asking players to voice their concerns and giving them a task of coming up with evaluation benchmarks (on specific boss fight and on training dummies) for their class for any future newcomers to the guild.

All in all it was a very positive experience. Forth and I were very aware there were people hesitant or unhappy after the meeting but were not willing to say so; but we also knew there were lots of people who felt more at ease and actually appreciated the direction. We also knew that some were waiting to see the outcome of our labour within the raid environment.

We ended the night with pulling everyone back into the ventrilo lobby and handed out promotions to initiates and instated our new raid leader we were looking for.

Thursday night was "show-time" so to speak. It was our first raid night after the guild meeting, with a new raid leader and new raid rules. After the whole gquit drama at the beginning of the raid, everyone seemed to fall into a comfortable rhythm; players were able to focus when needed, knew the limits of speaking in vent and joking around and were able to keep a comfortable medium doing so. Trash went faster, we one shotted bosses, people laughed, joked and had fun. It was nice to see the guild turning into a happy family again, albeit even for this one night and hoping for repeats. By buckling down, keeping a positive attitude, applying the new rules right away which corrected any (minor) problems last night evenly and without bias we were able to set ourselves up for a complete weekend of progression attempts on General Vezax with only spending 2 raid nights on farm content. This is something we have not been able to do since Ulduar came out.

I'm hoping for a repeat again tonight on the progression attempts. Our new raid-leader seems to have the calming "Aura of Command" (I love this term which is stolen from Matt of and I hope the guildies continue to respect him as under his delegation and organization we seemed to thrive last night.

So through the storm the guild seems to be finding their light, I guess change is not a bad thing after all.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Pruning the bad apples… How to go about it?

We’ve come at a quasi roadblock for After Midnight. Due to the way some of our core is used to raiding with a “laissez-faire” attitude we’re about to lose a handful of people. Because of the lack of “focus” of some of our raiders those that need the focus in order to play, lose it as well.

This raiding week has been horrendous. Not only because I think I caught the swine flu (there were 4 cases in my office alone over the past month), but because even though last week we were working on Mimiron (downed him) and had attempts on General Vezax by this time. We have wiped too many time this week on Hodir and I blame part of the reason to dps not reading strategies (again) and players who underperformed I’m sure because they were watching tv at the same time.

So what do we do? Uldaman is considered a medium pop server but in my and several other eyes it may as well be a low pop considering how everyone knows each other. Depending on what we do choose we can pull off a “pruning” in one of two ways, either it goes off without a hitch slowly and behind the scenes or we cut ties fast with those causing problems and suffer a month of drama like any other guild who seems to try to go back to basics to rebuild on this server.

There are a good handful of us who feel we won’t be able to recoup on this server and we’re thinking of a possible re-roll on a higher population server. After this week’s raids and the applicants that we have been getting from the server I’m starting to think having a guild transfer may be the best bet. However, this is our home. And people are asking us to get rid of the players who are not pulling their weight and rebuild on the server itself before we all jump ship.

Here’s what I am thinking of doing below.

Mama’s Clean Slate Ideas:

Reread and redo our raid rules.

I was looking over our raiding rules and although the requirements to raid are very clear I noticed our “during raid” rules are almost non-existent. I’m going to go back with a handful of players and set up reasonable raid rules to guide our raids by. For example, we have 3 players who disconnect constantly on fights which have sometimes wiped us since one is a tank and 2 are healers. We’ll be implementing the 3 disconnect rule. Disconnect 3 times on any boss fight and you will be replaced since being disconnected doesn’t help the raid much at all.

Enforce raid attendance

We have always been relaxed with our attendance rules which I think has come back and bitten us in the virtual ass. We’re now facing players having more time in the summer than anticipated. Usually players stop playing or reduce play time during the summer; we seem to have people coming back to the game and now have many players sitting on the sidelines.

Implement a 3 strike rule during raids

In reference to my first idea, 3 strikes for anything that detriments the raid, you’re out. No consumables? Haven’t read the strategy? Do that more than 3 times you’ll need to sit. I’m sure if players sit enough they will get the point and start coming prepared or focus up. If not, they’ll probably leave or we will ask them to leave.

Weed out the players causing distraction or problems

Unfortunately, we have some players who do distract other members while raiding. Although they might be able to focus and still talk, joke, watch tv etc., others can’t when they pay more attention to these people than the raid. If players can’t accept that they need to focus and keep silent just as much as everyone else, I think it’s time to remove them.

Also, After Midnight has a low tolerance for bad attitudes, or usually does. I think its time we confront players who are on the cusp of hitting that guild kick for attitude level and find out if they are truly happy here or just here cause they have no other place to go.

It’s going to be a long hard road but I think we’re going to be headed on the right path again soon to getting our guild be where we had originally intended it to be.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Sex sells a little too well… My thoughts on recruiting

I used to be one of the best recruiters on our server. I say used to be because I have recently started to doubt that claim. I used to spend hours on end scouring recruitment threads, cross realm transfer requests, researching unguilded toons, promoting, etc. I love to recruit, so much so I think I should have gone into head hunting rather than marketing. Although I suppose my marketing background helped some.

After Midnight has been no exception to fuel my love; however this time around recruiting has been somewhat of a different beast.

We started off the guild as a focused raiding guild that has fun but still gets things done. I have been raiding with some of the players in this guild for almost as long as I have been playing the game. We are extremely comfortable with each other and due to this fact I believe this has made us into extremely crass individuals in game. Don’t get me wrong, we have our limits, however several of us are comfortable to have discussions out in guild chat that most would only have with your best friend over a bottle of wine. This is where recruiting for the guild became interesting.

I’m still coming across moments where I slap my hand against my forehead and say why didn’t we recruit this way in the first place for After Midnight’s “special” situation. Let me share with you what I learned.

Mama’s 5 rules to recruiting:

Know your focus and define it clearly

One of the biggest issues I have had deal with is changing how the guild is to appease everyone. After Midnight’s goal was in fact a semi-hardcore one. We wanted to down bosses and have our proverbial cake too while still being allowed to mess around. Unfortunately selling yourself as a focused raiding guild doesn’t go over well when recruits understand this to mean that during raids everyone brings their “A” game, mutes their mic and gets the job done.

After Midnight has become a special case as our members have become slightly bipolar in their wants for the guild and we have twisted and turned the guild to try to accommodate every change whether it be monthly, weekly or even daily. We have gone to complete horsing around during raids which tend to make them much longer in length, to complete silence on vent when members complained we’re not focused enough, back to a medium of minimal horsing around when those same members complained it wasn’t fun anymore which in turn lengthened the raid week once again. (Not to mention added to the number of wipes)

Ideally, what should have happened is we should have defined the guild clearly, recruited as such as a focused raiding guild and upheld the standards rather than bending and twisting to every member’s whim. In doing so, we would have entered a clear contract with everyone in our guild by keeping the promise of focused raiding with them complying or else face unfortunate consequences to keep the guild integrity.

Set reasonable standards then stick to them

If your goals are to only recruit players who are completely geared in Tier 8.5 to see the content you are currently doing stick to it and don’t deviate. That said you wouldn’t make such a demand of players if you were only starting out Naxxramas with your guild. Set your player demands early on and stick to them.

If you raid schedule requires your players to meet 50% raid attendance, enforce it. If players must be gemmed and enchanted properly to be considered for recruitment, require it 100% of the time.

If you set reasonable standards for your guild based on your guild’s status (casual, hardcore, pvp etc.) and server demand (low pop servers tend to have a more competitive player market than high pop) and you stay with them throughout your recruiting career you will be respected by your guildies and potential recruits alike. Deviate and you run the risk of seeming wishy washy or desperate depending on your situation.

Research your applicants

Never heard of the player you are about to recruit? Investigate. How many times have I run across a situation where I didn’t look into the guild background or server background of a potential recruit only to find out once recruited they were either a) a guild hopper, b) disliked by several members of the guild, c) trade chat spammer or d) drama queen. although not used that much anymore can sometimes give you a fair idea of where the toon you are thinking of recruiting has been.

Has the player applied to several guilds at once? Your server’s realm forums may have a “guild list” with their websites so you can check it out.

Are they coming from another guild? Talk to the guildies of that guild or better yet the Guild Master to get the 411. (This obviously might not be an option if the player is trying to be discreet but I’ve always felt sometimes it’s best to have the discussion with their GM to uphold better guild relations.)

In any case, a little digging and you might find yourself with a diamond in the rough or avoiding serious drama.

Don’t over recruit

One of the worse things to do to fresh applicants unless it’s outlined and expected from the outset is to sit on the sidelines night after night waiting for a chance at a raiding spot. I’ve been in situations where I have over recruited and had about 15 people sitting on the sidelines. People started dropping like flies because they felt they weren’t needed and applied to guilds that had a full time raiding spot for them. Unless you have detailed the fact that players need to work for their raid spot and the spot is not guaranteed, do not over recruit.

Class Balance; know what you need ahead of time

When we started After Midnight we looked at the amount of raiding toons we had and the amount we had for each spec and set our recruitment needs clearly on our website. Although Blizzard has been quoted as saying “bring the player not the class” it’s hard to have a successful raid with 10 paladins and 15 DKs. Ok maybe DKs are slightly over powered but hey even they have their raiding limits!

Knowing what classes bring which buffs to the table and building your raiding team accordingly is essential in a raiding guild pining for success. If your guild is more casual then Blizz’s cliché might be more up your ally but even then players don’t like having to compete with 10 others of their own class for gear especially if it’s done through /roll as some guilds do. The best way to build your guild is to have a good mix of all classes and specs. This way your raiding guild can min/max properly or your casual players won’t feel faceless in a sea of players with the same class.

For those of you building your raid roster by min/maxing buffs one of the best raid building tools I have seen comes from MMO champion:

This tool allows you to play around with the different classes/spec to build an optimal raid based on the buffs you need to maximize your raid’s potential. Don’t have that Shadow Priest in your guild for the + to hit? Your Boomkin friend can do the same thing.

And Mama’s unwritten (until now) sixth rule of recruiting don’t use the promise of hot dirty priests as a selling point to your guild. Even though they tell you they come for the focused raiding you’ll find very quickly your guild is full horny old perverted men who think they can get into your pants, for real.

Happy Hunting!

First to post in epic thread...

So I decided to do it. I figured hey, everyone has been why not me? So here I go, about to embarked on my "epic journey" through blogging by taking you through my journey of being a "chick" GM in the World of Warcraft.

So I figured I better start off by giving you a little background behind myself to start this thread out right.

My name is Rachel, also known as Napaeae to everyone in my guild and on my server of Uldaman. I have been playing for just shy of 4 years and have been GMing just a couple months shy of that. I have been holy since I started playing way back when and only recently have dabbled in the shadow specs since dual-specifications have come out with patch 3.1.

I originally GMed one of the largest casual guilds on Uldaman called the Elder Ones along with my husband for over 2 years during vanilla wow and part of the burning crusade. Around approximately that time my husband and I had a little surprise and found out I was pregnant. I had morning sickness to the extreme and the game made me too nauseous to play so my husband took over GM duties for awhile. We had two types of players in the Elder Ones, the casual players who just liked to level, quest and play alts, and the raiders. Sometime shortly after TBC started, we passed the Elder Ones off to a trusted friend and created a guild called Sufferance and took a semi-backseat role to leading the guild. Unfortunately Sufferance did not survive past much of Tier 5 content and fell apart while I was in the hospital giving birth on July 1st 2008 to my wonderful daughter named Caitlin.

After my return to the game and sitting in a guild with no one in it, (and feeling much better with baby outside of me!) I decided to start a casual PUG guild called Badges R US since there was really not much time left to TBC until the release of Wrath of the Lich King. Badges R US catered to players who didn't have a guild and wanted a community of players who just wanted to run anything from regular instances to T6 content. We hosted a community where players could sign up for completely PUGged raids. Week after week we had guilded, non-guilded, very experienced and not so experienced players come together and learn as a group through the content right up to Illidan.

By PUGging and networking, Badges R US had invited a lot of great players who, as a guild, wanted to pursue guild only raiding come the expansion. Badges R US closed its doors and reopened under the new name of After Midnight at the start of WotLK.

And that where we are now; We have cleared all 3.1 content except for OS with 3 drakes up, we’re working on General Vezax and have completed 1 hardmode by changing the order of Iron Council killings. I along with my assistant GM Forth (my husband has since taken a backseat to leading himself) deal with the day to day workings of After Midnight and work through any issues, lead raids, and generally act as information specialists for the guild.

My goal through this blog is to document how we lead, my experience with being a woman GM and the stigmas and issues that have been associated with it as well as showing my readers the female perspective to being a leader. I’m hoping to be able to let you into my world with my posts and possibly get some interviews going with other GMs to cover topics of interests to all guild leaders whether woman or man.

Happy hunting!