“Selling yourself” works two ways ..

Alternative Chat made a blog post recently that was a bit of a departure from her usual posts, in that it was a request for readers to “sell” their guilds to her, in the hope that she would join them.

Which is fine, but I did wonder if perhaps she was selling herself short in the process (or perhaps failing to sell herself properly!).

When you’re looking for a guild, you’re basically looking for a new home whilst you’re in-game – people will spend hours playing and the guild you’re in, the people you interact with, can make a huge difference to how you perceive and enjoy – or not – the game itself.

In order to find a guild that enhances your gaming experience, you need to find one that “matches” your personality and play style.  There is really no point being in a casual guild that fishes for fun if your passion is PvP or raiding.

One thing that didn’t sit right with me on that post was firstly the overall feel that she felt she would be a “catch” for any guild – that guilds should be falling over themselves to have her join them.  Yet she said virtually nothing about what sort of guild she was looking for.

So take note … guild leaders and those recruiting for guilds are, usually, not just looking for warm bodies to fill the guild – they’re looking for people who have the same general outlook and enjoy similar things to current guild members; the same approach to the game.  And to ascertain this, they need information from the potential recruit.  A little bit about your real-life situation, how it may affect your time in game, whether you’re a focussed individual who has specific goals in-game or is just happy to dabble in various aspects; what times you normally play and how regularly; if you want to join in events, what days/times you’d be available.

The other thing that would ring alarm bells with a recruiter are saying things like “I’m in a dead guild, and it’s my fault”, “I don’t make friends easily” and “I have a L100 character who’s gear isn’t useless”.

The fact that there is also a proviso to her joining any guild, that she will write blog posts about it too, would also be off-putting for many.  I’ve seen her posts and, although they’re entertaining and often to the point, they’re also often a bit on the negative side.  Which I understand in a way – after all, people more often tend to write about things that annoys them, than stuff that doesn’t – and that type of post is more likely to gets responses. So the assumption is that the majority of blog posts regarding any guild she joined would be negative – and very few people enjoy bad press.

So I’m hoping Ms. Chat finds somewhere to hang her WoW hat and call home – somewhere she is comfortable, can let her hair down and be herself, with people who can accept what she is and what she has to offer (whatever that may be).

For others considering looking for a (new) guild, I’d say the following:

Be honest with yourself first and foremost.  Know what you want, what you enjoy and what sort of guild will suit that.  If you cannot work that out, you’re going to be exceedingly lucky to find a suitable guild straight away – and the more you “hop” from guild to guild, the less attractive as a guild member you’re going to be.

I do the majority of the recruitment for our guild and the first thing I’m looking for is an open and honest application.  Sometimes I can simply tell, from the amount and content on the application, if people are going to fit with us.  There is a specific demographic that has a much higher chance of “fitting” with us.  That’s not to say that those outside of the demographic will not fit .. but just that there is less likelihood.  And that’s not saying anything negative about them – it says something about us.

I’ve found that a much higher proportion of younger applicants tend to lie or mislead on their application forms – either by omission, misunderstanding or simply because they think the information being asked for is irrelevant.

A lot of questions we ask during the application process are solely to understand the person applying (and we always base our decisions on how we feel an individual will fit in .. it’s nothing to do with the character you join with – the character does not interact with others, it’s the person behind the character that does that).  One way we understand people is by doing an honesty check .. if you can’t be honest on your application, when you’re supposed to be showing yourself off in the best light, then you’re not going to be honest in the guild.

Now .. I’m not expecting anyone to come online and blurt out everything that happened that day, or tell everyone their deepest darkest secrets.  I’m just checking to make sure people are able to be honest WHEN IT COUNTS.  For example when we organise raids, we expect people to self monitor and be honest if they muck up – it’s much easier (and causes less drama) if we know why a wipe, for example, happened – because then we can work on it, try alternatives, try to avoid it happening again.  If there is a disagreement in guild, that people can be honest with themselves and each other – dishonesty leads to exacerbation of problems and drama – which we don’t like.

Once the honesty hurdle has been overcome, it is simply a matter of assessing if the person applying would fit.

Sometimes it’s an obvious rejection – we’ve had people apply from the wrong realm or faction (with no intention of moving), we’ve had people applying who are looking for a raiding environment we’re unable to provide – we’ve even had one person apply to join for a completely different GAME!  Other than the fact that quite obviously these people had not researched us properly before applying (and the first page of our website would provide all of the information these people needed to realise we were NOT the place for them), of course they were rejected because we were the wrong place for them.

Other times decisions take longer .. during which time I research their previous guilds, what sort of guild environment they were used to; their achievements – what they enjoy doing in-game and, sometimes, speak to previous guilds to find out more.

So all of that is worth bearing in mind.  Not all guilds will go to that trouble – some will do no research, some will do more – some will require voice chat interviews and “trials” before they will accept you.

This leads me to the second thing you should be doing if you’re looking for a new guild: research.

Once you have established what you want out of the game, what you have to offer, and what you’re looking for – you need to research guilds.  Don’t just accept the first offer that comes your way in trade chat – do a bit of homework.  It will save you time, effort and possibly upset in the long run by knowing what you are looking for, and then actually LOOKING for it, rather than keeping your fingers crossed and jumping from guild to guild.

The resources I would recommend are the Blizzard forums – check out both your realm and the “Looking for Players” forums.

If you’re interested in raiding, check out the Wowprogress website – for realms that are suitable for you, then the guilds suitable for you – often guilds will have recruitment posts describing themselves and links to their websites.

Take your time – watch trade chat, watch who talks on it, who advertises, what those adverts say.  Shift-click on character names in chat to see their guild name and then do a /who for that guild name to see how many are online – if there are only one or two online at a peak time for you, then it’s not the guild for you.

Have a look at the in-game guild finder (type /gf in the chat pane) and take note of guilds that look suitable.  Again do a /who for those guilds during your peak times.

Any that still seem suitable – search for them in your browser (use the guild and realm name) – you may come across websites for them and more information about them.

If they’re still suitable, speak to one of them in-game (check first to make sure they’re not in a raid or dungeon).

Make sure you find out all you need to know before you start an application process, whether that be filling in an application form or simply contacting someone in-game.


The Needs of the Many

I’ve not written anything for a looong time.  I’ve jut not had the time.  In theory, what with me only working part time, term times, I should have bags of available time rattling around, just waiting to be filled.  But either I’m just really bad at time management or somehow I’ve managed to fill that extra time with “stuff”.  I also know that in order to write anything here, I need to devote a decent sized, uninterrupted block of time and that just doesn’t seem to happen that often.

My brain is basically a shopping list full of things that have to be done.  Most of it is highly mundane – some of it I’m avoiding (ironing, again!) – and most of it just never ends.  It might get dealt with “for now” but then it just drops a bit further down the list waiting to sneak it’s way back up again.

This week, for us, it’s half term.  The schools are off and therefore I’m off work.  I tend to use this time to help catch up on stuff that’s been lurking on the list for a while, but also things that are more difficult to arrange during term time – stuff that requires the kids to be involved.

Unfortunately, so far this week, most of my time and concentration has been focussed on the guild.  And not in a good way.  I was hoping to sneak in some time to just learn to enjoy playing WoW again.  Recently it’s just felt like a job – logging in, doing maintenance (keeping the roster tidy, website up to date, guild vault sorted), trying to plan and organise raids, being online enough to be approachable if needed whilst getting dailies done.

A few weeks ago I bought the Legion upgrade and I’ve had that big “level up” button just waiting for me to select a character to boost.  I’ve just about settled on one, but despite that, so far it’s taken me two weeks to get to that character only once to start looking at it again.

Yet one person in the guild seems to be needing my time devoted to him.  This one person has had more of my time and attention over the last few days than my own kids.  For which I feel really bad.  And rather annoyed.

This one person has somehow been involved in virtually every problem that has happened in the guild over the last 18-24 months.  The amount of hours that have been devoted to dealing with “problems” that looking back on, weren’t actually massive problems until this one person got involved, is completely stupid.

Admittedly some of the problems that he has brought to our attention have been a slight problem – but the old adage “mountain out of a molehill” springs to mind.  There was no reason why spending a few minutes dealing with them would not have sorted them out.  Yet once this person gets involved, they suddenly spring into a size out of all proportion – things happen, people leave, drama occurs, massive amounts of time and effort are put into dealing with them.

Our guild prides itself (or tries to) on being an inclusive guild.  We cater to the casual player, the casual raider, the player who has never raided but would like to give it a go.  We base our whole rulebook on being nice to others, considerate and honest.  Being able to utilise common sense, being a grown up and knowing what is right and wrong, and speaking to an officer if there is a question or problem that relates to the running of the guild or raids.

Over the last year or so, this ethos has been increasingly more difficult to honestly use as our strapline – seemingly because of one person.

I have no proof that this one person has CAUSED problems, but the past speaks for itself.  He is either someone who has a remarkable knack for attracting and growing little seeds of a problem into something big without even knowing it, or it’s happening deliberately.

In virtually every other way, he has been an asset to the guild.  He organises events, takes part in events, helps out with advice to others and takes part in guild chat.

191026-johnny-awesomeBut he also has an ability to rub people up the wrong way – not a day goes by when he will say something that subtly puts someone else down or suggests that he is better than someone else.  I suspect at least one person recently has left because they could no longer deal with this, and several other people have alluded to it in passing.

He causes problems by either trying to avoid them, even when he is involved in them, or by sending us a little “oh just to let you know” message where someone else has spoken to him about something, and then he decides to pass that information on.  But he’ll do it in a manner that makes it impossible to act upon – vague information that “some people” are having “some problem”.  He views himself as the guild information gatherer, where in fact he appears to be gathering little snippets of chat, sometimes not even directed at him, focussing them and making them into something they’re not.

Even when drama has been dealt with and over for some time, he still likes to quietly tell people all about them, re-writing history so that he’s the victim or the bystander that just somehow got dragged into things that he couldn’t control.

But as I said .. I have no actual proof – I have hearsay and huge amounts of circumstantial evidence stacked up, but no one event is enough cause in itself to say “enough is enough”.

But we are getting to the stage where enough IS enough.  WoW is a game that should be enjoyed by all.  I realise that as I’m in the position I’m in, a certain amount of “non-fun” things need to be done, however, this one person is sapping my will to do any of that – which I’ve just realised is actually horribly disrespectful and unfair to all of those people who actually do enjoy the game, do enjoy being part of the guild and the events we organise.

We’re getting to the point where, unless this person grows up very rapidly, can look back at what has happened and be TRULY honest with themselves, they’re going to have to go. There is only so much leeway we can give in the hope that it finally dawns on them.

Because I still can’t believe that one person can deliberately cause this many problems yet still want to stick around, so my only conclusion is that they just don’t realise – that perhaps they have such an inflated view of themselves that they just cannot believe it has anything to do with them.

But it is causing problems for the guild as a whole, and for the officers and myself specifically, together with anyone else caught in the middle.  And I’m losing the patience to wait for the time when they understand their role in everything that has happened.

Until they can truly understand and be honest with themselves about their role in past problems, they’re not going to be able to control themselves to prevent it happening again in the future.

I feel I have some responsibility towards this person in order to help them understand what they want and need from the game, and how they interact with others, but there is only so much I can do, or am willing to do, especially when it has such a large impact on the guild as a whole.

And the needs of the guild as a whole outweigh the needs of the one person.


Feeling Let Down .. a follow-up

My last post explained the happenings of our baby alliance guild, and the problems caused by acting quickly when the status of the guild leadership changed.

Since then, myself and the member who had been entrusted with leadership of the alliance guild have had a good long chat and resolved the problems.  In effect, we’ve hugged and made up, and all is right with the world.

But this has outlined how easy it is to cause offence, to view actions taken and words said in ways that they were never intended to be viewed – especially when you don’t know people “in real life”, it is easy to assume the worst of people.  Everything that occurred over the last few days could have been avoided if contact had been maintained … if I had been more on the ball and realised in good time what might be happening with the guild leadership I would have had time to notify the guy who was leader, to get him back online.  If he had realised that the de-throning deadline was coming up, he could have simply logged in on that character – or contacted me to arrange something.

Instead, we were both being reactive rather than proactive – dealing with the fall-out rather than being aware ahead of time what needed to be done.

Hopefully, this can simply be viewed as something to learn from, but I’m even more concerned for the future of our baby alliance guild now – I really don’t want to spend even more time running a second guild, but if I had felt this guy was the best man for the job at the time, and I’ve been let down by him … what are my chances of getting someone who can fulfil my expectations?  Perhaps I’m just a control freak with stupidly high expectations (ask my husband, and he would certainly agree with that!!).

Feeling Let Down

Many moons ago, Blizzard announced their “connected realms”.  Following a lot of research, we (myself and guild members) came to the conclusion that our realm would probably be one of those that, eventually, would be “connected”.

Not realising it would take quite so long, we got all excited and decided to create another guild on the same realm, but on the other faction, so that we could experience the other side of things.  Most of us have a lot of alts and primarily play Horde, so were hoping that, when we got connected to another realm, we could create a bunch of Alliance alts on that realm, and still play together.

As I spend a lot of time looking after our Horde guild, I was looking for a volunteer out of those I trusted from our current guild, to run the Alliance one – initially just to keep things ticking over, but potentially to do the whole shebang – including online presence of website, facebook page, twitter, etc.

One of our well-respected high ranking Horde members volunteered to be that person – he regularly played, he was organised, he was level-headed and he already had high level alliance characters so knew the Alliance landscape.  Various of us created alts, we created the alliance guild and we had a brief flurry of activity.

Unfortunately, as the weeks slipped into months and very little was mentioned about connected realms, and nothing about ours, less and less people logged into the alliance guild – I popped in from time to time, but was basically hoping to level after the realms got connected, so didn’t do much.

Two days ago, I logged in after some time away, to discover the guild was pretty much in storage … the roster showed that most people had not logged in for months.  Including the GM.  He’d also not been online in the Horde guild for ages, and had not contacted us at all.  There was the odd character that had been on fairly recently, but I didn’t know them .. most characters had their “main” horde name in notes, but these didn’t.

I was a little concerned about this .. a guild member in our Horde guild had recently told us a tale of a previous guild they were in, where a similar thing had happened .. the GM had not logged in for months .. and then a random member from the guild had managed to take it over, demote or kick the other guild members and steal the contents of the guild vault.

Obviously I didn’t want this to happen .. not least because it had a link with our Horde guild and I didn’t want the Alliance “version” of our guild to get a bad reputation.

So this morning, when I logged in, I saw that the automatic dethroning process had kicked in, and immediately set about taking control.  My character was in the middle of no-where .. I had no access to mail boxes or banks and had no idea where the closest ones were – and to be honest that was not my immediate concern.  I simply wanted to ensure that the guild stayed linked to our other guild and in our control.

So I just clicked on the button to take control, changed the Message of the Day, posted a note on our website, our Facebook page and Twitter, letting people know, and assumed everything else would continue as normal.  I didn’t see any point in changing anything until the guild got used regularly.

Within a very short period of time, I received a very terse message from the guy I had entrusted the guild to, basically complaining that I hadn’t tried to contact him before the “takeover”, saying good luck and goodbye.

I was gutted.  I had acted immediately, in what I thought was for the best of intentions, yet here I was, my first contact for months from this guy, and he was basically accusing me of taking part in a hostile takeover.

Twitter isn’t the best place to go into any detail, although I tried to explain myself.  I also apologised and said if he wanted it back, he could – that I’d just done what I had done, to safeguard the guild.

He sent a reply saying he just wanted his stuff back from the guild vault (he’d apparently been using one of the tabs as a private, personal storage area) and to be done with it.  That he wasn’t planning on playing again until Warlords came out.

So I logged in, only to find that he’d removed his one alt from the guild, and sent me roughly the same message in-game (he wanted his stuff back) – but he wasn’t online.  I logged into our main Horde guild to find that he had already been online and removed all of his characters from that guild too.

Now I feel awful.  I feel really bad that this guy, who I’d always admired and liked, now views me as an untrustworthy guild-grabber.  I’m wondering if I should have waited until I’d managed to contact him direct prior to acting – but then would I have left it too late?

I’m also feeling let down by him.  I’m very proud of our Horde guild.  I helped create it in early 2007 – I was an officer for a while, then when the GM gave up playing, he handed the reins to me.  I’ve been running it since then, with the help of a few officers, but mostly (and I’m sure those officers won’t object to my saying this) on my own.  I’ve organised the vault, the roster, raiding, raiding alliance, potential mergers, recruitment, websites, twitter and facebook virtually solo, simply leaning on the officers when things got too much.

When the opportunity came to create the Alliance guild, I wanted the same for the future of that guild, but just knew that I was unlikely to have time to do the same for that guild as I do for our main guild.  When this particular guy stepped up and volunteered, I was relieved.  It was in safe hands.

Yet I feel let down that, although the guild isn’t particularly busy at the moment, and requires little admin, the one thing that SHOULD have been done (the GM to turn up occasionally, to keep the guild safe), didn’t happen.

I spend hours and hours every week NOT playing WoW, because I’m looking after the Horde guild.  Was it too much to ask, for someone to simply turn up occasionally on the alliance guild, to keep it safe for us?  And now, I’M the one feeling like I should back down, apologise, that I’m in the wrong for doing just that?

I don’t know – it may be just that I’ve finally succumbed to the cold that my family has been infecting our house with, and my brain has gone all mushy – notwithstanding hindsight, what would you have done, especially bearing in mind the horror stories I’ve heard about other guild take-overs?

The End is Nigh … for WowStead/Curse

It’s been a couple of years now since I left WowStead … running for the hills from their awful customer service, bad attitudes and stuffy, restrictive websites.

As a recap, I joined (for our guild) WowStead back when it was its own entity.  The people there were friendly, it had a family atmosphere, several of us spent many hours on their forums helping other users and each other get the best out of our sites.

The site was then bought out by Curse, which I viewed with some trepidation because, at the time, they had had some bad press, and I’d had some bad experiences with them, both with their attitude towards other addon-hosting sites and with their own “Curse Client” which, several times at the start brought my addons crashing to their knees.

However, the then seperate WowStead owner woo’d us with sneak previews of how polished, pretty and feature-rich the new Curse websites were going to be, and we believed.  We looked forward to it with some excitement.  Then things started going wrong .. they suddenly brought forward the transfer date (“unforeseen circumstances”), the transfer itself was blighted with problems and people were getting more and more annoyed.

As I was used to helping out on the forums of the old site, in my wisdom I thought I’d be able to help, putting things into perspective and, rather than simply “having a rant”, wrote what needed doing.  I even sent them a PM pointing out a major security flaw in their system (their admin panel was showing the username and email address of every WowStead user).

Unfortunately the new Curse team took exception to that and took a major dislike to me.  I got sent private messages from their customer service guys calling me names, telling me I was overstepping the mark, etc.  I backed off.  It shook me that someone who didn’t know me personally would verbally attack me that way.

Eventually, as I mentioned back in my previous posts, I asked a pretty innocent question … I simply wanted to remove a specific widget from my site and was having problems doing so.  I was polite about it and, to be honest, it wasn’t really even directed at the Curse guys, more at the general forum users.  I assumed I’d just missed an option somewhere.

My post got deleted.  Then a lot, if not all, of my previous posts on the forums were deleted.  My WowStead account got blocked and banned.  Despite repeated requests, via their ticket support system (which was the only way I could now communicate), I got no explanation as to why I was banned.

Luckily, I’d already found a new home for the guild.  Some weeks before I’d decided that the worry and sleepless nights over a website was just silly, and decided it was time to review my options.  I spent some time checking out other hosting sites and ended up at Guildlaunch.

By the time Curse had revoked me access to my WowStead website, I’d already moved the majority of the information over to our new Guildlaunch site.

Since then … over two years now … I’ve been exceedingly happy with Guildlaunch.  I’m a confirmed “tweaker/fiddler”, but I’m also useless at CSS, HTML and any of that stuff, yet the options available for me at GL allow me to tweak as much or as little as I like.  If I was cleverer, I’m sure I could do a lot more with it, but regardless it caters for my needs, and then some.

Today, I found an email in my mailbox that literally made me groan out loud in dismay. “Nooooooo …. no no nononononononono …. plllllease don’t do that!!”

The email suggested a joining of WowStead/Curse and Guildlaunch.

I was gutted.  I’d spent hours and hours and hours with my Guildlaunch website.  I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else and doing it all again, but I dreaded any interaction with WowStead/Curse.  I mourned for what was about to happen to Guildlaunch once Curse got their mits on it. Gahhh!

I immediately jumped onto the Guildlaunch forums asking for reassurance, worried that I’d have to start host-shopping once more.  Luckily, they put my mind at rest.  Within minutes I had a reassuring response from them, and virtually at the same time they posted a notice on their site explaining that Curse was ending it’s hosting of websites and planning on simply transferring them to Guildlaunch.

I have to say that I have mixed feelings about it all.

I’m really happy that, hopefully, this will not affect Guildlaunch at all (other than, no doubt, a huge influx of ex-WowStead customers who were either happy with Wowstead and therefore unhappy about the move, or unhappy with WowStead but used to the way they did business (badly, rudely, ineffectively).  Meaning Guildlaunch customer services could be in for a bit of a bumpy ride.

I’m not surprised that Curse have thrown in the towel.  Anyone who treats their customers the way they did obviously really don’t like interacting with customers.  Therefore, they really shouldn’t be providing a service that brings them into regular contact with them.

I’m sad for the current WowStead customers.  Yet again Curse have proved that their customer service is abysmal.  They have sent out one very poorly worded, almost spam-like email to its users which, if I’d never heard if Guildlaunch, I would suspect.  They have provided no further information on their website, nor on their forums (as at this time).  The WowStead customers are starting to ask questions and the only person answering them is a Guildlaunch Rep.  Who WowStead have not introduced and have, in a very short, one-line post, confirmed that the transfer is legitimate, but not confirming anything else.

I’m sad for the Guildlaunch guys who are having to put up with the fallout of all of this due to Curse’s poor handling of the situation (again).  It’s like Curse have thrown in the towel and said “can’t be bothered anymore .. you clean up the mess”.

I am a little excited and hopeful that the ex-Curse/WowStead customers do try Guildlaunch (although some may not, simply because they feel pushed into it), because I’ve been singing its praises for some time and I think the more who try them out, the better.

I did try to help out on the WowStead forums … I have a second account that had lain dormant for some time … simply trying to allay some of the fears about Guildlaunch.

I posted:

I’ve been using Guildlaunch for some time now and, at the risk of being banned (again) from WowStead, I’d just like to say that they’re really nice guys.

The customer service is brilliant, quick and friendly, the amount of options for guild websites is amazing, even for the free ones.

Obviously you’re not forced to join Guildlaunch, you can shop around and have a look at other options, but it does look like you’ll no longer be able to use Curse/WowStead in the near future, so I would recommend, at the very least, giving it a try.

When I left WowStead some time ago, back in March 2011, I tried every guild hosting site I could find.  At the time, there were only a few hosting sites that were anywhere near as polished as I would have liked and, being a cheapskate and very cautious, I wasn’t planning on subscribing and spending real cash anywhere until I was comfortable with them.  Which meant trying them out “for free” for some time.  Guild Launch was the ONLY hosting site at the time (and I’ve had no reason to look elsewhere since) that allowed me so much freedom with my site.

I’m not sure if I’m allowed to post a link to my Guildlaunch website, so you can have a look at some of what is possible, feel free to PM me for further information though.

Unfortunately, within minutes of me posting that, it was deleted (I only have a copy of it because someone replied to it using a full “quote”) and my account was banned.

Really?  Even now, when I’m trying to help their customers, which is something they themselves should be doing, WowStead “support” ban me?  Unbelievable.

Virtual Realms ..

I’ve been checking out the new patch notes for the test realm and a couple of things jump out at me straight away – and everyone else, I suspect.

Firstly, flexible raiding, which was “released” into the wild to be talked about prior to the publishing of the notes.  The initial comments about it suggest that it is more to cater for those guilds who wish to raid together as a group, but often have more people wanting to raid than can fit into either a 10 or 25 man team.

There has been a huge amount of chatter about it, and I’m really pleased for those guilds that have that “problem”.

The second item is Virtual Realms.  Not a lot is currently known about this, other than they will be “virtually” smooshing realms together.  This has a lot of potential to both be a pain in the proverbial, and a massive help to those realms/guilds that are perhaps a bit low on numbers.

From a personal point of view, I can see that potentially both of these items could help our guild, and others like it.

We’re a casual guild that was originally set up back in early 2007.  Initially simply as a levelling guild, a place to hang out and have fun.  But as everyone levelled up, we got more and more interest in raiding, so we ended up organising a Guild Alliance with another guild in a similar situation, in order to get enough for 10-man raiding.

That worked successfully for a number of years, through a number of upsets and name changes of our partner guild, until finally their guild dissolved.

Luckily, by about that time, we were able to field our own groups of 10 – we still occasionally had to cancel raids, or twist arms to help out, but generally we did okay.

We had a peak in the last expansion, I reckon, when we had progressed further as a guild than in previous expansions, we had a decent raid team and a decent amount of numbers – we often had to sit people out.

However, to bring the history lesson back to the present, we are now in the situation where we struggle to get a 10-man raid up.  We regularly have 7-8 people sign up virtually straight away, but we struggle for the last couple.  It’s not that we don’t have that many raiders, it is more that we are all about being a casual guild – people have real lives, different work schedules, illnesses, holidays …

IF Blizzard reduce the minimum for flexible raiding, that would be really great for us – it would mean that less raids would be cancelled for a start.  But it doesn’t really address our main problem, which is simply lack of regular raiders.

The potential for Virtual Realms to address this problem is huge.  It does depend on the number of realms, and types of realms, they will be putting together, but the advantages of having a much larger pool of people to draw from is obvious.

Of course, it does bring it’s own problems – for example what happens to cross-realm-zones … is this to replace that?  Will it have the same lagging issues for certain areas?  I’m assuming that once virtual realms are implemented, all areas of the world will be accessible by all realms in the virtual group – even those currently not shared with CRZ.

One of the reasons for creating virtual realms rather than simply combining servers, I would imagine, is the outrage that would happen as many thousands of people log in to discover they can no longer have their current character name, or guild name – with the virtual realms, anyone not from your actual realm would be marked with an extra character (a “#”), yet they would keep their current names.

Virtual realms would also share Auction Houses, and characters in any of the Virtual Realms group would be able to join any guild in the group.  But how will the duplication of names be resolved?  If there is a Sprowt on each of my Virtual Realms, how does someone else contact me?  How will they know it’s the real Sprowt?

There is also the question of character numbers per realm.  Would there be a restriction of 11 per realm still .. or per Virtual Realm?  If they restrict it per realm, then in theory you could have “11 x number of realms” worth of characters on one realm (both an exciting and scary prospect at the same time for those of us with a massive case of altitus!).  If, however, they restrict it to 11 per virtual realm .. some people may end up having to delete characters … which could be a big worry for some.

All in all, I’m curious to see what will happen …

The good and bad of LFR

I’ve had an interesting week or so in LFR.

A guild member had got a new character to 90, and he’d decided he’d like to give tanking a try.  He’d run a few guild instances and done well, and decided (very bravely) to run an LFR.  Myself and a couple of guild mates went along as moral support, and we all chipped in, in guild, with hints and tips along the way.

He had asked me for some advice prior to going in, and I said that the best advice I could give, other than to do his best, was to be honest.  When he joined the group, he should tell them he was new to tanking it and would welcome any help or hints.  The worst that could happen was that people would leave .. and it’s easy enough to get more if you have tanks waiting for them.

So .. when we zoned in, he put up a message in raid chat telling them just that .. to take it easy on him, he hoped he didn’t make a mess of things, he welcomed help.

Now .. this is LFR.  It’s pug gone mental.  You’re expecting the mentality of heroics x 5 … yet it didn’t turn out that way.  It was one of the most enjoyable LFR runs ever .. we had lots of people who didn’t say anything, which is fine, and one or two who were exceptionally helpful and gave good basic tactics of every pull.  I really should have made a note of their names .. there should be a way of giving people in random groups a “thumbs up” (or down, I guess!).  There was also the other tank.  He was your traditional “gogo” tank .. he replied to the initial request for clemency with something along the lines of “I’m gonna do what I like .. you just keep up”.   He didn’t swear .. but he was one of those that just puts your back up .. makes the whole feel of the raid rather unfriendly and aggressive.  If there was a problem he blamed someone else, if he died, it was someone elses fault …

He died on Elegon .. as we were running back in he was slating the “noobs” who had failed, and then said he would “brb .. going for pizza .. I can’t miss watching this!” … his dead body still on the floor.

Someone, I can’t remember who, said something about the now Missing in Action tank .. and a “kick” was initiated.  By several people.  Its the one time I’ve wished I was on vent in LFR .. I could almost hear the cheer going up.  Suddenly, the entire group was happier, everyone was chatting, having fun, having a laugh .. we got a replacement tank virtually straight away and got rid of Elegon with the previous tank’s remains still underneath .. and then finished the raid with no problems.  It was the most fun I’ve had in LFR for ages and a lot of others in the group commented on it.

It is a pity more can’t be like that.

In contrast .. a few of us went into the first LFR tonight … everything went smoothly .. you have the usual suspects that can’t be bothered moving (or move in the opposite direction!) on chains on the first boss fight, people stand in puddles, etc – second boss you end up with fires all over the place .. although luckily we had a couple of good tanks who were excellent at keeping the various raid damage stuff at bay .. most people outgeared the fights so it was pretty easy regardless.  I did take exception to one guy “needing” on a blue BoE drop .. but I hastily apologised once I’d inspected his gear and realised he was wearing a mix of mainly blues and greens.  Too used to people needing on stuff just to sell or DE.

Unfortunately we wiped on the last boss .. the troll guy where you need so many dps and a healer to go into the spirit realm to kill the adds there.  On the first attempt, at one point a guildee (as it happened, my OH) went into the spirit realm (he was very used to doing so as he’s one of those assigned to do so in guild Normal runs) – unfortunately he was the only one there, took tons of damage and, as he came out, he died.

I went into the next one to heal anyone who was in there, but I was alone as well .. and was quickly overwhelmed by the number of attacks I took.  The place was almost covered with adds.

Soo .. inevitably, we wiped.

A shaman who was doing fairly decent dps stated that not enough people were going into the spirit realm, which was entirely correct .. they said that only three had gone in .. they could tell that from their recount addon.

Well, I knew I had been in .. I and my OH knew he had been in .. so we both stated as such, and I said that, in that case, we were assuming he/she was the third.  They then confirmed that, however, stated very firmly that my OH was a liar and used a recount output to prove it.

We left it there for the remainder of the fight, as we wanted to get it finished, although I did state that we definitely went in, and weren’t being deceitful.

Anyway … when the boss was down, and everything was sorted, we checked this Shaman and realised they were actually from our realm.  I know it’s probably pretty sad, but we’re quite possessive of our realm, we enjoy the atmosphere and generally the people we meet there .. we weren’t expecting such hostility from, in effect, one of our own.

My OH, because he was rather indignant of having being called into question, whispered the said Shaman to say that he wasn’t happy about being called a liar and that he definitely had been into the spirit realm.  The Shaman replied very dismissively, basically stating that they were right, but they would agree with him, just to get rid.  “Whatever makes you happy” was the quote used.  Oh .. and “little boy” …. haha .. he was even more annoyed about being called a little boy ..

My OH did the only thing he could then, and simply put the Shaman on ignore.  At which point, the Shaman started whispering me!  She (for that’s what I later discovered she was) told me that I should rein in my little boy and that she knew he had been lying.  I did not give away the fact that I actually spent the raid sat next to him, and could see both mine and his monitor, but I was polite and said that, as I knew for a fact he wasn’t a liar, perhaps her addon was misleading her?  She stated that it wasn’t, it was correct, and that it showed everyone who had been in the spirit realm and caused damage .. and that he hadn’t.

Now I don’t know why this was .. perhaps it was because she was in a different phase and it therefore didn’t track out-of-phase damage, perhaps, as they seemed to be suggesting, two totems were up at once and one of them was in one, the other in the other realm – perhaps it failed to track that.  I don’t know what was possible/impossible.  All I know is that this particular person, after a smooth LFR run and then one wipe on the final boss, felt the urge to assign blame, to check her addons, and to thrust that blame at the first person available .. indeed, one of the few who had actually had the temerity to state that they were trying to do the boss using the correct strategy.

I had a pretty long conversation after that with her … not throwing blame or swearing (on my part, anyway) .. I know she swore at least once as I have the “naughty word filter” up, at which point I commented on it and stated I couldn’t read such words so she might as well stick to proper ones.

I suppose most people would probably have just pressed ignore, or report, or had a slanging match .. but i was (a) curious to discover WHY she had thought he had lied and (b) why she had been so aggressive and persistent about it ever since.

She told me that she hated LFR, she had never had a good experience in them.

I asked her why she did them then?

“Valor Points” was the reply …

“but you can get them from dailies, heroics, scenarios … if you hate LFR so much, why do them?”

“because LFR is quicker, and tanks always shout at me in heroics for pulling aggro”

“well, perhaps if tanks are always shouting at you for pulling aggro in heroics, you should stop pulling threat? … after all, it is probably because you outgear the tank, and the tank has no way of “over-gearing” you suddenly, so the only other option is for you to rein it back a bit”

“but then I wouldn’t be able to use X and Y spells so much … ”

“well if you enjoy tanking so much, perhaps you should roll one … our guild is always looking for tanks, feel free to apply!  Just make sure you do actually apply WITH a tank character 🙂 “

“but I enjoy pulling threat off the tank, it’s fun … ”

“in that case, we don’t want you applying to our guild .. we prefer people who consider others and know how to play their role”

I then finished our conversation stating that we were simply rather shocked that someone from our realm was so immediately negative of someone else.  She stated that we shouldn’t be so surprised .. at least 50% of the realm was made up of horrible people …  I just said I was really sad for her, that she had obvious met an awful lot of the wrong people and been really unlucky … but that if she went into random groups expecting everyone to be really horrible and acted accordingly, she would generally find that people would react in exactly the same way back to her.

In the end, rather than being upset and angry about the whole situation, I just felt sad that someone could play an MMORPG and yet find the majority of people they encountered “horrible”.

Strangely .. writing about this particular person brings another lady to mind who was fairly similar.  I don’t know if she felt the same way about the realm in general, but she spent some time in our guild and, on good days, was a very nice person .. chatty, funny, helpful.  However, she was also a “glass half empty” type of person … in game or in real life … she often started talking in either guild chat or whispers about stuff that annoyed her.  Initially people would try to see the positive, cheer her up, show her the “glass half full” side of things .. but at the end of the day we all log into the game as part of our relaxing “after work” time … if we logged out feeling more stressed out than when we logged in, then it wasn’t working.  And that what was happening with more and more regularity.

I know that people like this exist .. I have personal experience of it, indirectly .. but we only have one life to lead (depending on what views you have!) … you have the choice of either going through it miserable or happy.  Personally .. I choose happy every time.  I realise it isn’t possible to be cheerful ALL the time .. but why not make the effort?  I find that, if you make the effort to be happy, even if you’re not .. it tends to be catching and soon more people around you are more cheerful .. which cheers you up.  It’s just like yawning 😛 *yawwwwwnnnn*