Category Archives: Random Ramblings

Anything random goes in here.

Changes of Perspective

Premise

I’ve been raiding for a very long time, and mostly was in officer position for most of my WoW game time. One of key components to successful raiding is having similar mentality in your raiders, when mentality of raiders is not aligned between each other and very importantly – with the leadership of the guild then you start seeing disagreements and cracks in your raid team.

Players who feel like they’re putting in more effort than others end up feeling out of place, because they feel their energy is being wasted and their abilities used to ‘carry’ players who are not taking nearly as much effort and in end up with similar rewards in the end – plus there is only that much carrying you can do before it gets too much for one to bear.

We went through an episode of that several times already in our time – and if it left unmanaged it will weaken your resolve and guild for a long period of time, even after you might have already fixed the issues that were present at the time.

At very least it casualizes the guild and then making raiders budge to be more serious is very difficult, mainly because integrating more serious raiders into the guild becomes a problem as the guild which is more casual organically rejects them or makes them feel less welcome – or frustrated.

Problem

As an example we can use our own guild as comparison, while we are keeping up with progress – basically staying near the top at all times (top 3) in now our tri-realm area (The Sha’tar, Moonglade, Steamwheedle Cartel) – somewhat easily it is far from what some of us are used to or rather far from what I know we’d be able to achieve with a bit more dedication.

 

People often mistake dedication with massive amounts of raiding – and while it is important to raid good amounts (some will disagree – i’ll touch more on this in a moment), it is only a tool to help bring out the best in players.

I think anyone who played with Dark Glare in the past would most likely agree that start of Ulduar was our most productive and strongest time – we raided a massive amounts, 6-7 times a week, 4 hours a day with about 27 raiders total. (For a period of 30 days – then dropped down to 5×4 and then 4×4). This was not elaborately planned – raids were put up every day, and if 25 people would show, we would raid. And people just did show, when they stopped showing we reduced the raids to days where people did show. It was very organic, but more than anything mentality was aligned perfectly. People were hungry for raids, and we provided, they prepared well, and there wasn’t even a question, if you were brought into raid at any point, you knew how the guild was doing things and what tactic changes were made – even if you weren’t in raid when they were made.

Is it like this right now? Absolutely not.

Is it bad? Yes, sometimes. It happens that the tactics change and are explained during the raid, and people fail to have heard it due to distractions or cause they phased out. Never mind actually checking up if something changed since last raid.

I think over the years we changed the type of raiders we attract, we went from energetic younglings with average age of 20-25 into region of docile 28-35 year olds. Work and family commitments do take effect on the whole atmosphere but only until people realize where they’re lacking the buzz that the raid needs.

It isn’t all in the age and commitments, a lot of it comes from simply not knowing that what they’re doing is potentially hurting the group as whole – or rather putting too much effort into a specific thing.

This might feel ignorant or overly critical but it isn’t meant as such – only as gentle reminder that the effort and dedication is placed too much in one aspect rather than spread in all various parts of raiding.

What do I mean?

Good tactical preparation amounts to 80% of success. The last 20% comes from individual preparation in terms of obvious perks like potions, buffs, flasks, food, enchants, gemming and personal skill level.

Right now we have a whole bunch of extremely dedicated players, who are capable and more than able to be best group on the realm but we are lacking in three distinct areas :

o Tactical Preparation

Vast majority of raiders today in Dark Glare, read few guides, take a quick look through dungeon journal, watch a video (if available), maybe read some class specific tips then show up to raid and simply try it out, listen to the tactic I’ve chosen for the boss and then try to execute it until boss falls over, or wait until adaptations are made and then boss falls over.

A vastly more productive approach (which has proven to be our key point in former successes) was that raiders were versed in various different tactics before we ever attempted the boss, and then when a specific tactic to be used were suggested we could quickly brainstorm the most efficient combination of sometimes several tactics that would work best for our group before even pulling the boss. This meant that people knew in very deep detail what each ability did, what were the parameters of the fight when the ability was used and how it synergized with other abilities the boss used. Also what to do to counter it in several different ways.

If more effort was put in to tactical preparation (i’m thinking about 5-10 hours per boss) it would save us roughly 4-6 months of raiding per expansion. That is let’s say (10 hours per 30 expansion bosses = 300 hours), if we save only 6 months of raiding (on year long tiers more) – we’d save at least 384 hours of raiding. While already raiding reduced hours before that due to faster clears, which means even more time saved. Large time investment in short periods of time reduces total time investment, plus makes the atmosphere much more competitive, interesting and successful – because when you are actually in raid you know every fight in detail and you fail much less on things because you can expect and predict every tiny bit of the fight. Even if something goes wrong – you know how to handle it.

 o Comfort Zone

When people play together for a long time, cliques develop – and often it gets harder for newer people to fit in easily. This doesn’t mean that people aren’t willing to help – far from it, I think we very often have people helping eachother with various things be it heroics, chalenge modes or anything but people are sticking to their preferred groups a bit too much. I made it a point to try to have a different challenge mode group (during gearing for WoD) each day, both to assess the state of gearing of the whole raid group as well as their play, but also to try to not conform to being with one ‘elite’ group at all time. The whole idea of elite group is silly because group is only as good as its communication primarily and only then skill level.

People should go out of their way to play with as many guildies as possible, and help rise those who are worse to our their own level of play, rather than to avoid them because they are currently worse. Best raiders are homegrown – they are supremely loyal, thankful and will go out of their way to prepare once they’re opened up.

People tend to group with one other or two other specific people and while I understand fully that you enjoy playing with specific people more, there is little to no place for sentimentality when it comes to raid preparation – especially at start of an expansion. Missing out on loot, and in turn having other people miss out on loot as they can’t get groups for things that give them the upgrades is very shitty and we need to do better if we want to ever be first again.

Comfort zone is also visible when people feel their raid spot is guaranteed – or when people wrongly feel that they’re actually significantly better than their real performance shows. This ties in to the next point. There are ways to fix that like re-trialing whole raid group like some opt to do at start of expansion but I think clear communication and criticism when due is more effective, I also think long term members of the guild deserve respect and honor and re-trialing them would be unworthy however for that very reason they should be the ones to pull the cart forward rather than dragging it down – and abusing the privilege of long membership.

o Personal Damage Taken Reduction

With ‘safety’ of spots often comes safety of slacking, right now this means that only roughly 7 people had 640+ ilvl before raiding started, and only two over 650+ ilvl. This in turn means much lower dps than expected – aim for START of mythic is 25-30k dps per person, higher the better – not many are at those numbers.

Also we’re taking fuckton more damage than needed, looking at logs many people aren’t using personal damage reduction cds on cooldown or not even when big completely predictable hits come.

Until we as a group decide to go for realm firsts we won’t get any, or if we do get some it will be because of our current strong point – raiding dedication and willingness to push extra hours, not because of our ability to play, gear or tactical preparation.

One last bit

We have the potential to do better and we’re on good track, extra dedication in terms of hours, and realization that many are underperforming has spurred you a bit – in a bit of a wake up call. If we improve on points written above – then results will come. People often like to throw the phrase around that results will “come on their own” when things are sorted, but only as long as we’re willing to put in the extra effort.

TLDR:
– Prepare better tactically (5-10 hours of preparation per boss)

– Group for things with as many different raiders or trials as possible, and in case they’re not as good as rest of the group, bring them to the level of play that is expected from a Dark Glare raider.

– Don’t take your spot for granted, especially if you’ve been in guild for a long time – go the extra mile to be better than everyone else so that they have something to aspire to and that your spot is earned by more than just past merits.

– Use defensive cooldowns or I will trade you.

 

Rose Tinted Glasses #1 – The Beggining

Introduction

I never was overly interested in what makes people work the way they do, what influences their decisions or what overall makes them who they are.

Especially not from academic standpoint. I’ve got in to ‘business’ of managing people more by accident than by plan and since the faithful year of 2005 when it all began I’ve come very far in successfully reaching the goals we set ourselves upon as a group – a community. Considering we all come from different backgrounds, age groups, experiences, genders, belief systems and many other tiny variables which all make up of who we are – we somehow mostly managed to not kill each other and get some good results – the road there and beyond is far from simple – as is everything where people are involved.

Rose Tinted Glasses – Nostalgia

This section will contain bits and bats of information that is relevant to the narrative of how my guild managing days started and evolved through time. How different decisions and options chosen affect me / us even today and how it all fits in to the grand scheme of my perfect idea of the guild! Disclamer : Sanity not guaranteed past this point.

The Early Days

Prologue

When I first started playing World of Warcraft, honestly I had no idea what I wanted, what I expected. It was just another thing to do on boring days as school wasn’t very challenging or interesting – the whole academic process in general seems to be built for people that don’t work like I do.

I never really felt comfortable or interested in what it is they are trying to teach us that would be useful in long term aside from teaching you how to learn, get knowledge yourself, expanding and explaining your ideas and having good arguments to support the idea you are presenting. Connecting all these was pure cold logic, but we wouldn’t be people if we wouldn’t apply the subjective part and emotions in to it as well – this is where the Academic world became completely devoid of anything interesting for me. Complete objectivity while valuable seemed a mistaken concept. A concept someone else can tackle … me I want to kill internet dragons and be a software developer.

World of Warcraft

So what does any of the above have anything to do with WoW ? Well since I had to do something with my time I was looking for some entertainment (don’t we all?) – I was visiting my cousins, with whom we used to play games with at every occasion we could get. They shown me the game for which they said is very amazing. When they got me into it I had no clue what it will all mean but it changed me and affected me in many ways in the course of the coming years.

When I first started playing I was trying different things out and I started playing a Tauren Warrior and gave it a sufficiently original name of … Mercauren on Daggerspine. Original .. yeah.  Since I didn’t understand the mechanics of the game I got tired of playing a warrior really fast since I didn’t know how to eat food, or bandage so I just waited until my health regenerated between mobs to kill them. Suffice to say it took forever to do anything.

Soon we decided to re-roll our characters on a different realm called “Darksorrow” to start again from the beginning and I bravely rolled a Paladin this time – so that I can heal myself between mobs rather than having to wait. Thus Mercus the Paladin was born. The amazing escapades of leveling and stories that happened on the way will be saved for another time and another post.

There is one story that is key to the point I’m trying to make today. That is the story of how me and my cousins made our first guild : The Servants of Light.

We were about level 16 at the time, and generally we were completely clueless when it came to knowing anything about managing people, guilds or well – just about anything. We were just there to play the game and were looking for people who did the same – had no goals, other than to get our characters to 60, guild was just a vessel for conversations.

Servants of Light

My older cousin who shall be known from here on out as Woop was the leader of the guild, and my younger cousin Wolfist was an officer with me – and at the time and we generally picked up new members for our  guild in random dungeons (which were at the time limited to realm). Building groups for dungeons at the time took a very long time, so you got to know the people a little bit before you entered the dungeon.

Guild was steadily growing and more members we got, the more joined since more people were passively getting to know more people. And with the growing guild came the importance of managing it. In the process of leveling and figuring out new things on daily basis about how the game works Woop decided to pass on the leadership of the guild to me and move on to another guild where he felt he will learn more. (He was faster, more capable and more involved at the time already.) I at the time didn’t know my left foot from right in World of Warcraft terms yet.

I didn’t have the slightest clue how to manage the guild and numbers just kept swelling. In time I’ve got to meet some of the people better and built officer team around me to simply help me with things we were attempting to do at the time. (From today’s standard this goals seem insanely trivial, but at the time these were huge undertakings for a group of completely new players – pretty much all of us were on our first serious characters.)  The goals we set to ourselves were :

– Get gold to create guild tabard (10g)
– Get Demonslaying and +9 Damage on 2 Hander Enchants (nice red and blue glows).
– Get to level 60 as characters.

Ranks in guild were based on levels (crazy notion) and at top we had Guild Master (me) and Officers. To prove a point on how clueless we were as a guild – we were on PvP server and held many weird (almost RP like events) where we’d gather at guild headquarters and then just spend time there, dueling, talking, giving updates of what was happening with the guild and similar.

That was the first crucial point in my WoW Career. I realized we aren’t all the same. (Shocker, I know.)

We are not all the same!

We held all this wonderful events, random lotteries, guild quests, occasional guild dungeons, “helping” each other out if we were higher level with low level stuff (“helping” being interesting word here because a lot of time we were simply too clueless that we were more of an obstacle than help to each other.)

Turns out there were few people in the guild, who couldn’t care less about all that, they were just leveling and working on their professions and were talking about this weird things called Scholo, Strat that were supposedly impossible to do. Soon they’ve caught up with everyone or even got ahead of us (while we were busy doing random things they were levelling) and then they said that they will get to 60 and will kill an amazing dragon called Onyxia. To me it sounded like something they invented, didn’t believe WoW had anything after reaching 60. I thought we were done and that was it. That moment was when my competitive spirit kicked in – the day that changed everything.

The Day that changed everything

I’m competitive by nature, I want to be first, best, and I want to know that I am there due to the effort I put in. So I’ve said to myself that things need to change.

That was the day when I did something different to all other days, instead of looking for who needs help with something random in the guild I decided to level (I’ve been on level 40 for about two weeks by then, simply enjoying my Warhorse riding around the world doing random stuff) – to great stress of Woop who wanted me to speed it up so we could play together.

In a few weeks I reached the maximum level of 60. And what happened then ?

The whole world opened up – when you got to level 60 you just started realizing how amazing the game was, people were running up to you being amazed because being maximum level was extremely rare, they looked up to you as you looked up to those that came before you. They looked at you with that same charm as we were looking at rare few people (who by then we knew by name) who seemed to have been wearing matching armor with matching names – they called it Tier 0, and I knew I had to get some.

There were other paladins on Darksorrow that seemed to know what they were doing at the time (Olizandri, Elho, Peresvet, Alastor, Ori, etc.) that I looked up to and that is what pushed me to actually start playing the game seriously – to push forward, to try to be like them.

This in turn made me realize that the guild was split in several little subgroups each pulling the guild in their own direction, which wouldn’t be happening if we were united with same goals, same hopes and same basic idea behind it.

That moment the choice was made. It was time to do something radical. What was done? We’ll have a look back to that in Rose Tinted Glasses #2 – The Rise

<I will attempt to find some old screenshots to add to the post in the coming few days.>