Thursday, September 5, 2013

3.30. "Does it heal?"

Kelden (via Blacklabeled) sneaks a peek
at a conversation in guild chat,

Lonely at the Top

He had become quite the persona in DoD during his six month stint. Originally apping to the guild as Rogue, he had been denied due to an excess of melee, but he was persistent and eventually found a place amongst our recruits by apping as a Shaman. I got from his Vent interview that his previous guild hadn't been seeing raid success; as with many guilds, it started out as a place to socialize with some friends. Long after those folks had exited the game in disinterest, Kelden turned toward raid progression to keep up his interest. I also got the vibe from Kelden that he was set in his ways, a conservative, someone unwilling to budge in the face of an argument.

A great attribute to have if you're right.

So once Kelden was invited and the spam of welcomes died down in guild chat, a lone comment was injected: "Does it heal?"

That was the hope.

Kelden made it clear to me in that first tier of raids in Wrath -- Obsidian Sanctum, Eye of Eternity and Naxxramas -- that he could walk the walk. He was a man of his word; when he said he would sign up for every raid and be there on-time, he was. No excuses. Effortlessly, he fell into a consistent and reliable schedule with us, ever present, always pushing himself to keep everyone alive. He seemed to thrive off of structure, much like I imagined a military man or woman continues their "early to bed, early to rise" regimen long after their service has ended. Unquestioned loyalty in adhering to the raid schedule was a rare commodity (at best), so I took notice when folks like Kelden made themselves known. I could never have enough players that I could depend on to be online more than myself. When 3.1 came around, and it was time to shift from Class Officers to Role Officers, Kelden met all the requirements with flying colors, and humbly took up the office I asked of him. 

I hoped that with this promotion, we'd enjoy a steady, no-nonsense healing officer at the reins, keeping the healers in check, organizing and divvying out assignments, and taking little crap from players that insisted on doing their own thing, or coming unprepared. Far too often I'd have players try to take the reins and lead, but be unwilling to take that necessary step in order to tell someone they're wrong. They'd be afraid of hurting someone's feelings, about damaging that relationship they enjoyed outside of a raid environment. Leaders aren't there to make friends; it isn't their job to be everyone's best buddy. Sometimes they have to make the tough calls that people don't want to hear, and as a result, often keep little company in the off-hours.

But even leaders can relate to their peers. When someone comes along that can't relate to anyone...even outside the raid environment...there may be cause for concern.

Kelden snaps a photo of the 25-Man raid,
while Bheer mocks his disdain for prospecting,

The Deliberate Heckler

Kelden's mutant power was in his ability to pick away at people. Whether it was an intentional decision to rub people the wrong way, or simply a side-effect of his natural demeanor, the result was the same: People were bugged around him. He could turn any positive conversation on its head and deliver a stinging morose observation -- the kind of person that would drive up next to a jogger, roll down his window and call out to the guy,

"You're just going to die, anyway."

He had a very independent way of thinking, but wasn't incredibly adept at arguing a point, and he rarely seemed interested in caring to do so. The guild observed that this was a product of his ultra-conservatism, and his staunch support of a Republican way of life. In their day-to-day moderation responsibilities, I'd instructed Neps and Dalans to shut down two types of discussions: Religion and Politics. It wasn't worth the time or effort to try to moderate stuff that had the potential to explode so violently into drama, so we disallowed it completely. Staunch, one-sided arguments would end in frustration and hard-feelings, a thousand pins poking holes in the team framework we had established.

Kelden's stubbornness and apparent inability to see other's point-of-view gave off the perception of a cold bitterness that few of the guild could relate to. He became the "Debbie Downer" of the guild, the one who's glass was half-empty, and whom identified with the world's faults, rather than take it upon himself to correct them. This, in turn, led him to be the prime target of a more subtle, passive-aggressive type of bullying. Once players realized Kelden's conservatism could be used against him, they sprayed guild chat with raunchy jokes and innuendo liberally. He was also very good at becoming annoyed with even the most inconsequential minutia that comprised our everyday life in WoW. Between pulls in Naxxramas, Bheer would often spam his prospecting macro, filling the channel with a rainbow of gem colors -- driving Kelden to the brink of insanity. 

This "up-with-people" attitude left him few options to socialize outside of the raid game, so he would turn to tasks of isolation, like the Insane in the Membrane grind, popping his head out only on occasion to add a morbid observation to the discussion at hand. Even the other officers would have a tough time finding things in common to enjoy in-game with Kelden outside of raids. On a particular evening that I continued to work on my PvP gear, I invited Kelden to come heal me in a battleground, to which he obliged...only to hop into a Strand of the Ancients mounted gun, blasting away at the arriving Alliance while they swarmed me and emptied out my health bar. To Kelden, he was none the wiser -- this was simply how he ran BGs in the past.

It was a behavior borne out of the solo mindset, rather than one which relied on others for help.

Yet amid all these apparent lack of people skills, Kelden understood people far better than most would give him credit for. He knew, for example, when healers like Shimerice were apt to making inappropriate decisions about who not to heal, based off of their own petty emotions -- a skill only a few other officers possessed. During Lyticvirus' final tirade on our forums at losing his rank at the end of 3.0, Kelden very calmly and objectively stated the facts of the case, free from emotion and name-calling. There was no sarcasm, no taunting or name-calling. He was called upon to act like a professional and uphold the edicts of the guild, and he did so in a way that reflected Descendants of Draenor as I intended.

Kelden was a different breed of cat, which made him tough for me to read.

Mature joins Kelden and other DoDers,
to assist a pick-up group with the execution of
"Heroic: Emalon the Stone Watcher",
Vault of Archavon

A Downward Spiral

As we progressed into Ulduar, tell-tale signs began to surface -- things I dismissed because of the complex shroud that draped down over Kelden's optimistic personality. He appeared distracted as we dug deeper, which I attributed to his school schedule wreaking havoc on the hours of sleep he was knocking out. His healing assignments were steadily getting more subjective (read: worse), and had to be adjusted by Neps. Of course, this wasn't seen as helpful advice, but rather an attack on his ability. So, rather than pick a fight in public, he clamped up even further. In his deeper state, he spoke rarely, contributed little to the forums, and yet I was none the wiser that this was the natural order of things for Kelden.

When the blow finally came, I was surprised, but paradoxically, it made sense. Even after getting used to his modus operandi of keeping to himself, the vibe was ever present that something wasn't right. More than any other player before him, the day he was invited to DoD could be better described as the day we started the countdown until he quit.

His reasons made sense. Friends from his old guild had returned and he felt like his best chance at getting any sort of enjoyment would be to return to that group of folks. There wasn't any point in trying to talk him out of it; as with all of his decisions, his mind was made up and there would be no changing it. We agreed to keep it on the down-low until the guild had finished off Yogg-Saron, for morale purposes; I would use that extra time to examine what replacement options were on the table.

As for the original reason I wanted to talk to Kelden that evening, re: the issue of Divineseal and his continued poor play, I took that on myself, speaking to Divine about resolving it. As expected, there was a lot of denial from the Paladin, a lot of "this forum post here says this is the right way to heal", and I just silently shook my head in disappointment as I worked him back into the rotations -- knowing full well that a much better healer was quietly on his way out.


Cheeseus said...

Kelden, if you're out there, I miss you and your sense of humor/views on life.

Just remember - Every birthday you're one year closer to dying.


Anonymous said...

lol nice

Anonymous said...

"Leaders aren't there to make friends."

Something we all know, but it helps to be read off of this blog.

Kelden said...

I'm not that easy to get rid of Cheese. I miss you too bro. I hang around and troll the comments on here from time to time until Shawn deletes them.

I'm also still in the guild, assuming I haven't been gkicked for being offline 20+ days. I've been on hiatus for a couple months, but hopefully I'll be back up and running in a week or so when I get my new PC built.