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The Nature of Guild Disagreements: The Good, The Bad, and The Greedy

April 8, 2011

Dear Reader,

As much as I’d like to chime in on the new LFD Tank reward system, I promised a certain text today, and I’ll deliver.  Let me just say first, though, that while it’s sad that people have to be extrinsically motivated to play a role they don’t like, and while the solution doesn’t solve the underlying issue, and while people will undoubtedly find a way to game the system, how surprised are we, really?  The game is entirely based on extrinsic motivation; levels, gear, justice points, and achievements are all forms of extrinsic motivation Blizz uses to keep us playing.  This technique is nothing even remotely new, so to get one’s proverbial panties in a wad over it is simply silly.  That said, I can heal and tank on every character except my mage, so I benefit either through extra gear or shorter queues, so I’m A-ok with it all.

Now on to the subject at hand.  Yesterday, we looked at one of many guild conflicts I’ve seen and how poorly it was handled by all involved (myself fully included).  Today, we’ll see another conflict of a totally different nature that was similarly handled poorly (though not as poorly by me, I feel).  This guild was an old, established guild on multiple servers spanning back almost until launch.  It was where my friends and I landed after the previous mishap (and a dawdling with DDO for several months), and we were excited because the guild had a lot of players (more than any other guild I’ve been in – maybe combined) and a lot of raiding potential.  In fact, part of our recruitment included a promise to let us raid lead since the raid leading officer was ready to take a break.

The Story:

This was back when Naxx was the end game raid.  I loved Naxx; I still do.  I know there’s plenty of complaints about how easy it was, etc etc, but I loved it.  I loved the design, the concepts of each wing, the different boss mechanics; every part of it enchanted me, and I was really excited to get in there and start raiding.

After proving ourselves, we were allowed to start raid leading.  We met with great success.  We led the first successful 10 and, eventually, 25 man raids for this guild (not for the server, no, these were casual players).  This was doubly an accomplishment because we virtually never had the same players coming, so every week – every week – bosses had to be retaught.  We cut the raids down from 3 nights to 2 nights to 1, eventually being able to clear the entire place in around four hours.  It was my highest peak of raiding achievement.

But there were problems.  Since there were so many people, more people signed up than were needed.  The old raid leading officer and I would organize on Thursday nights (the raids were Fridays) exactly who was going to be invited and who was on standby.  This worked well enough, but I started to get sick of people no-showing.  We usually could still fill and start on time because we had so many people, but I felt that no-showing should carry some official penalty (instead of me just making sure you didn’t have a spot the next week).

Additionally, the guild’s loot rules were very good at first, using a combination of DKP and rolling to both reward repeat raiders and allowing newer raiders a chance to win.  People could only roll on their main spec unless no one wanted it, also a good rule.  However, there was no rule for the eventuality of people getting all the loot they wanted.  When people started to get fully geared out (due to dependability and luck), there was nothing to stop them from just switching their “main” spec and beginning to gear out the new spec.

Most of the people kindly just stayed the same spec, enjoyed running with us, and helped out everyone else who’d been there to help them get geared up.  There were a few, though, who seeing the opportunity, switched specs and started gearing out again.  This created a big problem because now people who’d been there regularly who’d been unlucky enough to never win the roll for item X were being beaten by lucky folks who’d already fully geared out their old “main” spec.   A lot of animosity started to brew.

Let me be clear.  It was not fully about the loot.  Personally, also I never really cared.  My buddy and I were always passing loot to those who deserved it more, had missed the loot last time, or just needed to get a chance to smile.  We were two of the three tanks, so we could easily get what we needed when we needed it.  My friend and I both, in fact, sometimes went on alts to make sure other, new tanks could get a chance to raid and get geared.  Then, though, came along a warrior dps who’d become a tank.  We knew he’d had his turn getting geared, and, frankly, we’d done our fair share of passing.  My point is that this guy was a greedy jerk, everyone knew it, and the rules allowed for it, and neither my buddy or I wanted to continue to reward this bad behavior.

The KT 25 man shield dropped on week and our competitor won it.  My buddy had passed it to me the last time it had dropped.  We appealed to him to let my buddy have it, since he’d already been geared and my buddy had been such a nice guy.  It was about the gear you see, but also, it wasn’t.  It was about fairness, and people getting what they’d worked for, and not exploiting a flawed system.  The plea fell on deaf ears.

Lastly, there was a big competency gap in the players of the guild, a gap which never really bothered me until much, much later.  There were dedicated Part-Core gamers like myself who learned the fights, showed up on time, and always had consumables.  Then there were the others, casual, friendly people who you’d love to spend time with but who only raided for want of something to do.

It was never an issue until weeks and weeks in, when we otherwise had Thaddeus on farm.  There were players who simply could not make the jump.  For those to young or old to remember, Thad had two mini-bosses at the start of his event, and players had to jump from the mini-bosses’ platform to his.  Week after week the same people fell.  Look, I can forgive someone falling the first time they’re there.  I can forgive someone who only falls once in ten raids.  I can even forgive someone falling twice in the same night; maybe they’re lagging or just having a bad night.

We had people fall every week.  Priests with Levitate.  Mages with Slow Fall.  Druids with catform / dash.  Rogues with sprint.  They. Just. Kept. Falling.

This is not something worth getting upset about.  I know this.  My buddy told me over and over that I should just laugh it off.  Somehow, though, I couldn’t.  It was always the same people; frequently the same people who’d sign up and no show, or would be the very last choice on my part to go, or some “bigwig” in the guild who I’d been asked to bring (I was once told by the “head raid leader”- which I thought I was since this person hadn’t been around since I was in the guild and had just showed back up – that she determined who went on raids and did not go on raids.  I told her fine, then didn’t bring her on the raid.  I know; I’m a bad person).

I’ve many flaws, dear reader, which I sometimes use my writing to cover.  I’m being honest, here, though, so I hope you can forgive me.  These things began to grate on my nerves.  You see, I wasn’t an officer.  I didn’t have the control I needed to fix these problems, so I passed them upwards to the people who were to see to them.  At first, I took problems to the previous head raid leader, who I had replaced.  He thanked me and told me he’d bring them up in officer meetings.  But nothing happened, week after week.  So I asked him if I could bring them up to the guild leader (which would have been fine without his permission; it wasn’t really that hierarchal of a guild, but I wanted to be polite), and he said sure.  So I spoke to the guild leader directly, who promised me change.

Nothing happened, so eventually we left.  Simple.

The Analysis:

The guild’s still there, doing well enough, I’m sure, to keep a majority of its player base happy.  It was – and still is – a successful guild.  Nothing I do or say or wish (certainly I don’t wish otherwise?) can change that.  Thus, I guess I was the problem.  This time, unlike yesterday’s post, I really don’t know what I should have done differently, other than just take a chill pill.  The problem with chill pills, though, is that you become resistant to the medicine.  You need bigger and bigger doses that, eventually, the soul pharmacy won’t sell you without a real prescription.

I have no real regrets about how I handled this one except, perhaps, not being more blunt to the loot whore and that I no longer get to hear the dead-sexiest vent voice ever to grace this good earth (Valerius, if you’re still out there, find us; Lonnie misses you!).  I never blew up on people, was never vicious; the worst thing I ever said was that those who failed the Thad jump made my heart shrink three sizes.  I behaved pretty well, over all, since I’d had some really good raid leaders to model myself after.

The real problem here was the leadership.  I don’t know whether they disagreed, didn’t care, or were just too entrenched to change.  If they disagreed, they should have told me.  Sure, I heard “this is a casual guild” my fair share of times, but I always countered that if it was so casual, why were we doing so well?  They almost always, in the end, said they agreed with me and that the problem would be resolved.  It turned out to be a lot of smoke being blown up my bottom.  If they didn’t care, they should have just let me make the adjustments, but once again, I wasn’t an officer, and didn’t have the right to do this.  If they were too entrenched, well, I think that’s really what it was.

That said, A month or two after I quit, they instituted a no-show policy.  ToC was out, so the Thad jump was irrelevant, and they’d adjusted the loot rules regarding changing spec (after which the loot whore had left the guild (surprise surprise)).  I’d like to believe my quitting had something to do with that, but we’ll never know.  There were several far superior players to me in that guild (as well as far more worse players), and maybe one of them took over and took care of it.

The Takeaway:

From this situation, I also see several rules for guilds.

First, your head raid leader needs to be an officer or at least have the power to fully run his raids how he sees fit.  Period.  Things cannot work without this.

Second, loot rules need to see to every eventuality, or there needs to be a firm, stated penalty to loot whoring.  There will always be greedy jerks in every guild that need to be constrained or penalized.

Third, well, honestly, I don’t know.  There’s no “rule” solution to bad playing other than instituting a Gevlon-like tax for screwing up.  I was against that at first, but it’s worked for him, so maybe I have to just full-fledged throw my support behind that idea.  Kindness is great.  I prefer kindness; a gentle, firm hand guiding poor players in the right direction.  Eventually, though, the carrot’s not enough, and you need the stick.

Or, in WoW terms, the boot.

Sincerely,

Stubborn (who will try to keep his future letters shorter than this)

6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 10, 2011 6:21 pm

    The thing I love about Gevlon’s system is it’s non-judgemental, in that they assume first that you will learn from your mistake and improve, and the gold “penalty” is less about penalising the player and more about compensating the other nine players for their time spent “helping” [or perhaps just waiting for] one player to improve.

    -

    I have to say that I disagree with your “loot-whore” assessment of the player who switched specs just to get gear. I know a lot of this disagreement comes from my own distaste for implicit social rules, especially when it comes to a subject which is as sensitive for some players as loot distribution and while you may correct me if this guy was just a jerk of a person overall [it wasn't mentioned in the post], I resent the idea that you would judge a player for actively working towards the thing that motivates them to play.

    A player must attend raids in order to receive gear, and unless he is a significantly sub-par player [which is the raid's responsibility to "correct"] I tend to think that constitutes earning these rewards. Many players I’ve encountered disagree with this and feel that by providing loot to a player that player has an implicit debt to the raid, and as you mentioned will need to clarify rules that support this philosophy from “unfair” behaviour.

    The only time I personally would disagree with a player bringing a less geared character or spec is if the goal of the raid was progression. It wasn’t mentioned in the post whether your raid was struggling with Sapphiron or KT at the time he made this switch, but as the guild was explicitly defined as “casual” I have to assume that you were all just there to have fun, not to mixmax your raid to the point that preventing a person from playing the way they want to is something that requires consideration.

    • April 11, 2011 1:40 pm

      I don’t disagree with your premises as a whole, but I think what rubbed me the wrong way was that this player was rowing against the tide of the guild. Almost everyone else who was getting geared was staying in their same spec and just helping others get geared rather than switching and continuing to accrue gear. If guild policy had been to do that, well, that would have been that, but it seemed to be the spirit of the law that you paid your good luck forward, helping others get geared as you were helped. While that was almost certainly an “implicit social rule,” I don’t know which part of that phrase bothers you. If it’s the implicit part, then I totally agree; my point was that we needed a written policy for such an event. If it’s the social part that upsets you, that I feel that you should help others get geared who helped you get geared, then I won’t argue with you; we play the game differently, and that’s fine. And that, really, is my overall point; he was playing for very different reasons than the rest of us, but we’d all helped out one another to that point where he had all the gear he wanted. At that point, he no longer felt he needed to be helping us as much as he could, and our views began to differ.

  2. Qwerti permalink
    April 10, 2011 8:57 pm

    Interesting post. I have wrestled with my fair share of guild/raid drama so I have some thoughts on this.

    You’re absolutely right about the raid lead needing authority. This was an awful situation for you to be in, because it sounds like they were back seat raid leading. Not spending the time to help organize but also imposing restrictions on your ability to choose who gets to raid. Just…. Ugh.

    Loot rules. You could write a book on loot rules. In a raid I was leading I ended up with 5 macros for loot rules to account for everything. And it was really just a need/greed system. This is why I prefer a dkp system -it leaves the individual player in charge and loot whoring shouldn’t be possible. But you said you had a semi dkp system so not sure how this worked, I guess it wasn’t a bidding system.

    What to do about bad performers. Try to help them or at the very least inform them. IMO if someone has been informed that they need to improve on something multiple times and they can’t, they shouldn’t be surprised or upset if they are replaced.

    About your guild leaders not resolving the issues, yes you needed more authority but it also sounds like maybe they were telling you things wouldn’t change (we’re casual) but then in the face of your persistance said they would do something. I could be totally offbase there but that’s one possible interpretation. Good chance your leaving did create the impetus to change, sometimes it takes seeing the consequences in action to get something to happen.

    Enjoying your blog.

    • April 11, 2011 1:33 pm

      No, you’re not off-base at all. In fact, that’s part of why I (and my wife and buddy) eventually quit the guild; it was clear they weren’t going to change, and that’s not what we wanted. I have no doubt they were telling me what I wanted to hear to avoid conflict in the end, but I wonder, then, why they weren’t just honest with me. If they knew I wasn’t a fit, they could have been big enough to say so themselves instead of dragging it out for a month or two without being clear.

      The loot system (for a short clarification) was DKP + rolling. So if I had gone and accrued 50 dkp and I wanted a piece of loot, I rolled. Let’s say I rolled a 79. That gives me a total of 129, which is my final roll. A new person couldn’t possibly beat me (which is fair, since I’ve gone enough to get 50 dkp). On the other hand, if I rolled a 29 (for a total of 79), then a new person still had a chance to beat me, which I feel is also fair because heck – they’re there, so surely they at least deserve a shot at loot. It worked well with a large variability in who signed up; without some benefit for new people no new one’s would really ever show up.

      Thanks for the comment!

Trackbacks

  1. Back in the Saddle… Again « Sheep The Diamond
  2. Oldies But Goldies 4: The Nature of Guild Disagreements Series « Sheep The Diamond

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