Thursday, August 28, 2014

4.4. Fools Seldom Differ

DoD congratulates Jungard on acquiring
the guild's second Shadowmourne,
Icecrown Citadel

Number Two

It was time to celebrate. Spell effects filled the screen as guildies hopped like freaks or knelt in nerdy honor, paying respect to DoD's second Shadowmourne. For once, I was satisfied with my decision. Months earlier, it came down to Jungard or Crasian, and Jungard's long, patient wait from promotion to prominence was over. The warrior that Annihilation took a chance on, that fateful day back in The Burning Crusade, had come far. Today, we celebrated him. Jungard proudly wielded the frozen axe, and assured me that my short-lived days of dominating the melee meters were about to end.

I felt a strong kinship with Jungard; we both believed in the value of effort. In his early raids with the guild, he never once demonstrated fatigue, insolence, or rage. Jungard was every bit enthusiastic to participate, whether it was the first attempt on Illidan, or the forty-first. When I reflect on my guild, wondering why everything went the way that it did, I can't help but feel a certain extra bond to the guildies that predated Wrath of the Lich King.

They knew the meaning of difficult.

Jungard's ideology transcended WoW. He erred on the side of treating people with kindness and respect and watched his words carefully; he knew how easily a lack of context could so ruthlessly corrupt a simple message's intent. Jungard took care to consider people's feelings, even if discussing unquestionable math -- a topic people still felt the need to interpret. It's easy to tell someone they suck. With all things he approached in the guild and in life, Jungard preferred not to take the easy way out.

Having an officer that thought as I did worked wonders for DoD leadership -- trust came much more easily, felt natural. I felt relieved to have him in charge while I was away. In a game of cretins perpetually brofisting each other, Jungard's attention to social skills was a rarity that few awkward gamers could claim. And his hard-working ethic translated from the real world into WoW, demonstrated by his exceedingly high damage and constant focus to improve. Jungard didn't tell people how to play...that wasn't his style. His was more of a set of friendly suggestions, things to try, interesting facts to point out. He humbled me, in both his treatment of the guild and how he inspired the 25-Man progression team to accomplish great things.

Shadowmourne found an adequate home in Jungard's titan grip.

---

"I wanted to talk to you about a possible recommendation, if you're interested."

"I'm all ears. Whaddya got for me, Yungard?"

I took pleasure in keeping the J silent. It's the little things that count.

"I think you should give Fred a chance. He's put in a lot of hours, and not just with the 25-Man. He's been in nearly every Alt-25 since starting. Really trying to better his play and grasp on the game."

I wasn't surprised at the suggestion. I knew they were close: Fred had ties to Starflex, the 10-Man team (formerly a guild) run by Jungard's brother, Randyflagg. "It's nice to see someone dedicate themselves to improving. Especially in the healing department. So many players sweep it under the rug...what did you have in mind?"

"I really think he'd do well as a Healing Officer."

Officer? That seemed a bit much. I filtered my response; I knew Jungard would pay me the same courtesy, "I'm not certain he's ready for that level of responsibility." He's not a good enough healer.

Jungard acknowledged my concern, "There's been some rough patches, sure. But he's definitely working on improving, and really has the guild's interests at heart. He's a team player, first and foremost."

"I wouldn't argue that for a moment. But healing lead requires more than just being a team player. It means being sharp across the entire role. Knowing the strengths and weakness of all the healing classes, being able to direct traffic, assigning the right people to the right responsibilities." And those were just game mechanics. None of my speech addressed his ability to lead people, which he couldn't do if he didn't have their respect. I couldn't say for sure that DoD saw him as credible; I needed that consistent demonstration of proven knowledge. And if my optimism couldn't put a finger on it, how would skeptical Elites see him?

"Maybe you could talk to him, discuss a few things he could work on?"

I agreed. It was a perfectly fair starting point. Fred was making noticeable improvements in healing, and was a likable, friendly guy. But when it came to leadership vibes, I drew a very weak signal off of him.

Finish It

"It's all lies, I swear." Fred joked as I pulled him into officer vent. We both laughed. "What's Jungard said about me this time?"

"Retadin - Blood Elf Paladin"
Artwork by Duneboo
"There's no need to mention any names. Jungard told me to tell you that."

"I'm in deep shit now, aren't I?"

"Breathe easy, Fred. In fact, there's good news here: Jungard's recommended you for a promotion."

"Wow, really? That's cool."

I slowed down, punctuating words with the hopes of conveying some significance in what I was about to say: "I like Jungard. A lot. I trust his judgement. The guy's been one of the most consistent people ever to set foot in this guild. He's earned his stripes. So, when he has a good thing to say about a person, I take it seriously."

I paused, in case Fred wanted to inject anything; he remained silent, so I continued.

"I think there's a little bit of housekeeping in order, first. I haven't made any decisions about changes in the lineup yet. But I am in the midst of revising rules. So, if a position opens up, you're going to want to have your ducks all in a row...if it interests you."

"Right."

"What that means is: I need you to be an expert healer. Hear me on this. Not just an expert pally healer. An expert healer, period. You need to have all the bases covered. Be able to know the strengths and weaknesses of each healing class. Be able to look down the list of healers at your command and determine who is the right guy or gal for the job, boss-to-boss. The raid leader is going to rely on you to deliver healing assignments that are appropriate for the boss and for our group."

"Got it. What would you suggest between now and then?"

"Well, Jungard tells me you've been contributing to the Alt-25 in your spare time. Get with Mang and Drecca. Offer up your services for healing assignments. Keep a cool head, get some practice leading people....which also means practice dealing with their shit."

"Well, I typically don't do a lot of healing in the Alt-25...mostly I just bring my enhance shaman...."

I waited for Fred to finish his sentence. The part where I expected him to say "...but I can switch to heals next week, to get started mastering resto..." His sentence dangled, and I waited for him to finish. Hoped he would finish it. For Jungard's sake. And for Fred's.

The ending never came. 

His answer just trailed off into silence, silence that told an entirely different story, "I only bring my enhancement shaman, so I'm not really sure how I could possibly begin the task of learning restoration." He never spoke those words, but that's what I heard.

I came out of the conversation no more convinced of Fred's ability to assume leadership than I was going in. Time would tell if he had the inclination to turn it around. But time was limited, and Cataclysm drew near. I hoped Jungard's recommendation panned out, because I trusted his judgement; he thought as I did. I hated the thought of having to tell him his first bad call was one that misjudged a close friend.

Neps powers up his rocket-powered ram,
with help from Drecca and Mature,
Dalaran

Everyone Has One And They All Stink

"F U Cata, and F U Blizzard, this is so fucking dumb", said Riskers, "These changes have really been pissing me off as of late."

"I actually like the change," said Omaric, "I can spend the same amount of time in game that I do now, but have two fully geared characters instead of boring myself to death on one."

I watched the forum drama unfold to see where allegiances would fall. Drecca's topic, "Looks like no more 10 man teams in Cataclysm...", produced a variety of stances. An astute observer might catch a glimpse of a guildy's future, just by watching how emotional they got over this touchy subject. Perhaps someone might even play their hand unintentionally.

"It's not so much about the same character in the same content," Drecca replied to Omaric, "The social dynamic is different as well. I’m all about killing internet dragons, but I want to have fun doing it -- which includes people."

I couldn't agree more. Again and again, players wanted to see how they could bend and shape the game to suit their own needs, forgetting that this was WoW, that dealing with other human beings was baked into the admission fee.

Jungard remained skeptical, "Sometimes the difficulty difference between 10 and 25 comes from the margin of error you have, based on who you bring. If WotLK was any indication, I'm not entirely convinced they can balance the difficulty between both." Jungard continued to demonstrate the traits that drew me to him initially: a perceptive eye and a cool head, so necessary in analyzing every change that trickled down through the patch notes. Jungard understood as I did: It's OK to be critical of the things you love.

"It reminds me of TBC," added Lexxii, "If you'll recall, our T4 tokens came from Kara, Gruul and Mag," referring to Blizzard's insanity asking us to collect our first tier from both a 10 and a 25 man. It was a situation that had less than stellar outcomes for DoD. "I'm still debating the positives of this. Not everyone can be a part of progression. Forcing us to spread our time across alts would definitely liven things up. But, it could also mean the death of the 25. Personally, I don't think Blizzard will let this happen." Lexxii was optimistic, but concerned.

Anyone worth their salt would be concerned.

Bonechatters was next, "25s will always have a different setup than 10s. If anything, this means we'll be able to gear out toons faster. I don't see anything negative to this. Maybe someone can explain?" Bonechatters was still reasonably new, still had that tinge of youthful naiveté common amongst the younger crowd. I didn't hold it against him; we all start somewhere. Guild leaders rarely get the chance to bring any insight on people to the table -- it isn't asked for. Their concerns were of raid rotations, of forum account activation, and of adequate repair gold subsidies. Few cared about behavior. I wasn't an expert yet, but offered what I could to this seldom broached topic:

"Pretend for a moment that you're the leader of guild comprised of multiple cliques. Some of the players in one clique aren't necessarily the best of friends in a group from another clique. Also, both cliques participate in the 25-Man Progression team. Now tell them they can reap the same rewards from their own clique running a 10-Man version of the raid, as opposed to running with a bunch of people that rub them the wrong way. Do you ever think they would show up in the 25 again? If you believe so, explain how."

A few minutes later, Boney changed his stance completely, "In posting, I didn't see the part about the 10 and 25 locks being shared. I retract everything I said. This is a shitty decision and fails hardcore."

Allegiance pledged.

17 comments:

Alex said...

Oh, the sad end is here. I can feel it.

Wylset said...

Always a good Thursday when I see a new post up, thanks again Shawn!

I had another visit from Nostalgia this week, a friend who I'd met in Vanilla and play with through Wrath returned to the game this week.

In trying to get him up to speed as he approached 90 on his toon, I sent him a long email detailing an efficient way for him to get into SoO LFR once he hit 90. He enjoyed it and suggested I post it somewhere.

It reminded me of the blog I started way back when, good intentions shot to hell. But anyway, at least it's a place I can share with others.

So, if you're boosting a toon to 90 and it's been a while, or you're returning to WoW from a layoff... enjoy.

http://wandering-altoholic.blogspot.ca/

Wylset said...

Now that I've shamelessly plugged myself...

Shawn, I'm really interested in finding out why your guild didn't do what everyone else was forced to do from Vanilla to BC, with the drop from 40 man raiding to 25 man. When Cata hit, and the same loot dropping in 10's and 25's, most guilds I know just simply adopted the 10's and said to hell with trying to field 25's.

I'm guessing that there was a sense of a loss of challenge, and I can understand that. But... if that's what you have to deal with, you still could raid and enjoy the lesser challenge.

Wylset

Anonymous said...

Well Wylset, some people really enjoy the larger group size the 25 man brings. Having done progression at both sizes, there is a very different feel to them. 10 mans are more intimate, you will get to know everyone in your roster pretty well because individual performance is always really obvious. If there's not enough healing, DPS, or a mechanic screw-up, you know exactly who did it quite easily. You get to know everyone pretty well because there's so few of you.

A 25 man feels a lot more like being part of a big group of friends (provided everyone gets along of course). A lot more fun banter and arguably less individual accountability. Deaths are less of a big deal so there's usually less blaming and in my experience a lot more general camaraderie. Obviously that's just my own personal experience talking. But I do stand by that they're very different.

25 mans are also much harder to make work logistically, which is where part of the pride of maintaining a 25 man in Cata came from. Managing 25 people is significantly harder than 10, and some people took that as a point of pride. Personally I've gotten the impression it's a bit of a belief that 25 mans are harder, as well as a desire to continue playing with all of his online friends, in Shawn's case.

Not looking forward to seeing when things blow up, Shawn. I saw too much of that when it actually happened in Cata.

Anonymous said...

What I like most about 25 mans, is the flexibility in your raid team.

In 10 mans, you're pretty much stuck to just 10 people, your team. But say one night someone isn't able to make it. Well I can assure you that no one wants to sit in a raiding guild and depend on the offchance that someone might not make it one night, and gets pulled into the raid.

Whereas in 25mans, there's usually at least 1-2 people who can't make it each night. So you get 27 people and the last two spots in the team are constantly switching based on who's there.

We only have 5 healers, but if one can't make it then someone will switch to their healing offspec and we'll pull in the DPS who wasn't able to make it the night before.

Jackwraith said...

Interestingly, I think Shawn has demonstrated throughout his guild history that accountability is extremely important to him, both in the raid and out of it. 10-mans actually heighten the level of accountability BECAUSE there's only 10 of you. It usually takes more people to screw up/slack off in a 25 for it to fail since Wrath. Not so in a 10. That always created the tighter bond for me, whereas in 25s/40s, I always just felt like another cog in the machine. I enjoyed both but, by far, my best experiences in raiding were in 10s (one of the best being a PUG in ICC, oddly enough.) In the end, I think it's much more about personal preference than anything else.

Fred said...

Interesting enough, Shawn is not the only one that has mastered the cliffhanger.

"Well, I typically don't do a lot of healing in the Alt-25...mostly I just bring my ele shaman...."

Anonymous said...

That's because Lexi and Neps were carrying healing in Alt-ICC regardless of what role you or whoever else played. =P

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Shawn Holmes said...

@Jackwraith,

I'm a firm believer that so many 25m guilds didn't put the time and effort into their people to *NOT* make them feel like a cog in the machine, which is one of the leading justifications on why 10s were preferable to 25s.

Note to all the readers/comments: I support these great discussions on the blog, and guildies also help clarify mistakes in accuracy here.

However, you may occasionally see "comment removed by admin". It's generally because it contains a spoiler. I've warned the guild many times...but some forget, or don't realize it. :)

Bonechatters said...

I think I was known to be outspoken. Though I tended to speak about situations without being fully knowledgeable. That behavior took awhile to eradicate. I was certainly not being DUPLICITOUS on purpose.

Jackwraith said...

Sure, I get that. It's all about what kind of group you want to have. And, certainly, if you have a good healing operation, for example, your healers are going to have the kind of esprit de corps that develops among smaller groups. Those 4, 5, or 6 people working together are going to have to enjoy each others' company and work as a team. The same holds true for melee and ranged DPS and the tanks. But I guess it's a question of what you view as the obligation of the game designers.

I don't have a problem with Blizzard altering the game such that so-called "casuals" can experience raid content. If your artists and devs spend thousands of hours on a raid that's only seen by 1% of the game's population, that's a seriously wasted effort. I don't think the current situations detracts from the skill of those who enjoy a challenge and decide to get it done before everyone else. By the same token, if you genuinely enjoy 25s, I don't think producing the same loot obviates them in favor of 10s. Everyone is playing for the experience in some way, shape, or form. If your experience is predicated upon being the best at 25s, then that still holds true today. If the changes made your job harder... well, it was already harder just as you said, since finding a guild that made sure their 25 team was dynamically involved was a challenge, anyway.

Aedilhild said...

@Jackwraith

Linking raid sizes through loot and lockouts, unfortunately, did obviate 25-man raids and guilds.

It's been argued that Cataclysm's change simply exposed the 25-man's lack of value beyond rewards, but in fact the natural disinclination of adventurers to team up beyond their needs is the basis for, and the charm of, sword & sorcery.

The warrior, wizard and thief each want a dragon's hoard but can't slay the dragon alone, so they agree to face the challenge together and split the treasure afterward. It's entirely pragmatic. Still, the three may discover they work well together (that is, keep each other alive) and — trundling across wilderness, navigating ruins recounting victories back at a tavern — might discover that the other two aren't too bad as companions, after all.

All the same, like any enterprise, they won't add a fourth unless they have the need.

Likewise, in WoW, once a "big dragon" that took 25 to slay could be defeated with 10, only sentimental and social reasons for assembling 25 remained — and games don't run on those.

So long as players are still interested in the franchise, Warlords of Draenor ought to revive larger-group raiding and that "big deal" feeling in Wrath, since although entry requires a minimum of 10, the greatest challenge and rewards need 20, and flex sizes allow groups to grow much more naturally along the spectrum.

Nathaniel Minton said...

I think this is as good of a place as any to say my piece about Fred and Jungard...

Both of these individuals have made a lasting and resounding impact on my life. From the moment I was accepted into DoD's family I made a connection with these two (among others). After you move on to other things in life and have to, reluctantly, leave a chapter of your life behind--a chapter of battling a broken virtual world with a group of friends--you tend to stop and reflect from time to time on the significance of the connections and interactions made during this time and realize how priceless they really are... I recently had to deal with the death of a very close friend from WoW and although we had never met in the physicality of the "real world", meeting him has added value to my life.

Fred and Jungard are people that I would file under this same category. They were congenial, always helpful, and could empathize with your situation in most cases and even if they couldn't they would still make an honest attempt to. I am proud to say that I still stay in touch with them over social media and I plan of keeping in touch with them until the day I am removed from this world...

I have DoD to thank for fostering friendships like these... Thank you Shawn.

Aktar said...

Shawn,

This was an excellent (non productive) work day for me. I just sat and read all of the blog posts and I want to say I am floored.

Everything about your posts convey your passion for DoD and what you have done.

I didn't speak much, but I definitely had to let you know you have done, are doing, an excellent job of capturing a very important part of many people's...lives. (or alternate lives, however they take it!)

-Ak, that shitty rogue/bear.

Shawn Holmes said...

@Aktar,

AKTAR!

Dalans said...

Shawn doesn't do this near enough so I'll be the pimp:

http://discourse.descendantsofdraenor.com/

Go there. Post things.

If you are looking for a response from a guildy or just want to shoot the shit it is more likely for them to see it there as you can @post people and they'll get a notification. Plus I whore it up on the regular so I can let them know as well if they aren't registered.