Thursday, March 19, 2015

4.31. Darkly Dreaming Drecca

While Mature cleans his mailbox, Herp Derp completes
the first guild clear of Blackwing Descent,
Orgrimmar

The Code of Hanzo

"I've been out of the loop for awhile." Dalans' voice was familiar, albeit strange, over the phone. Real life circumstances had a knack for making situations like this a bit surreal. For the better part of three years, we'd only ever communicated via Ventrilo, an artificial radio click audibly punctuating the end of every WoW-laced thought. The phone, by contrast, was positively ordinary. Dalans had half my attention while I scanned the aisles of the store, searching for a new pair of headphones for work.

"Who is this Drecca and why does he think his shit doesn't stink?"

A single laugh erupted, startling several customers near me. I gave my former first officer the Cliffs Notes version. Drecca's addition to the team during ICC was a godsend, slipping into the roster at precisely the same time that Omaric began to lose interest in tanking. The paladin assumed the role without so much as a hiccup, making a name for himself in DoD as no-nonsense player with a level head and a practical mind for problem solving. Many guildies leaned on him when it was time to knock out a serious piece of content, cementing that reputation.

With that reputation came like-minded followers, off-hours groupies with a similar "get-shit-done" mindset -- another clique appended to the long line spanning DoD's history. His surprise announcement (along with cohort Bheer) to step down from the 25-Man left a bad taste in my mouth, but thanks to my v4.0 guild strategy, I had no choice but to openly support the decision. The irony was not lost on me.

Dalans responded. "Yeah, but I'm not even talking about the raiding. The recent 'I'll act like a jerk-off to other members because my post will probably get deleted anyways' about the Samurai questions thing throws red flags everywhere."

He's right. You said so yourself. Yet rather than stop it, you agreed with him.

I stared for a moment at a wall of wide-screen televisions with the phone still pressed against my head. An image synchronized across all the displays. Leonardo DiCaprio raced across a beach as enormous skyscrapers of sand collapsed around him.

The hardest part wasn't facing facts -- it was coming to terms with the knowledge that somewhere along the way, we diverted. Being unable to pinpoint exactly when our paths split apart was unsettling. We think the same way, we share the same goals, we're always backing each other up...so we must be aligned, right?

Whatever helps you avoid doing what needs to be done, chief.

"You're right,” I told Dalans, “It's a problem. He's a problem. It never started this way, but it's sure ending up like that. His recent behavior's been more abrasive than usual, but let's face it...so was yours, back in the day."

"Yeah, but I gave Ekasra shit because he asked for it. He shot his mouth off. This stuff on the forums right now? A little different, in my opinion. The only one doing the shooting is this d-bag."

And not the first time, either.

A snapshot of the current Jewelcrafting
economics on Deathwing-US,
(source: theunderminejournal.com)

Superb People Skills

Dalans referred to Drecca's recent outburst on the Raid Management forum, a meta discussion of how to properly vet Samurai applicants. Drecca's topic was simply a request: that we retired "softball" questions in favor of more challenging ones, and I immediately agreed with him. My intent was that the questions be constructed in such a way as to challenge a player into answering intelligently, thoughtfully...perhaps even controversially. It was a quick-and-dirty way to prove someone was invested, and not dictating verbatim from the WoWWiki.

When Fred, a freshly promoted Samurai himself, joined the conversation, the topic began to go off the rails. He wrote, "It was my understanding that the reviewing of Samurai wasn't supposed to be an all guild thing." Confusing language was the culprit here: Fred assumed we were speaking on the topic of Samurai commenting on the state of a fellow Samurai, whereas Drecca's question was focused purely on the process surrounding applicants. Drecca suffered no fools, and went right to work chopping Fred off at the knees.

"I think some reading comprehension classes are in order. Samurai applicants. In the future. As in...not the current Samurai. This forum isn't a peer review of players currently holding the rank, which you seem to think it is. It's to vet potential candidacy, neither of which is the topic at hand. This entire thread is about calling into question the people doing the vetting, and how their approach is insufficient. I'm sorry if I shattered your reality that this is a private cigar club where only you get to discuss things."

Sensing the derail, Fred attempted to take the discussion offline. "Drecca, I'm not interested in getting into a shit-slinging contest with you, here. If you want to fill my inbox with that stuff, go ahead."

"Or, y'know, you could stop being wrong," replied Drecca, "Being held accountable isn't the same as being in a shit-slinging contest. Hopefully, you'll learn to stop mixing up the two, before this thread gets deleted."

Was Drecca wrong? No. But his heavy-handed approached wasn't winning any favors. Disgust with amateurs makes it easy to cross the line from firm to cruel. It's so easy to be right on the internet -- the efficacy of your argument is measured by how fast you can copy and paste a URL. Empathy, on the other hand, is a little more challenging to prove; establishing its presence requires a historic examination of behavior in matters of distress. 

...which is probably why so many gamers don't bother. 

The endless and infinite cycle of death and re-birth, of wiping and running back to the boss for another attempt has a way of permeating the psyche. We're convinced that each new interaction is a clean slate. Why linger contemplating former misjudgments if the boss is dead and loot is being distributed? Whatever mistakes were made are no longer relevant, and contemplating the past only wastes time before the next pull.

---

On February 11th, the topic of undercutting came up. Initiated by Bovie, it was a casual reminder to the members of the guild that auctioning items for less than your fellow guildy shouldn't be considered a personal attack.

Many of the members that played the AH used mods to calculate their posting prices during the bulk posting of goods. Undercutting manifested algorithmically: victims were simply based on the lowest current buyout price. AH add-ons examined these current buyout costs, computed newer, lower costs, and automatically plugged them in during post. The add-ons were mindless and obedient; they harbored as much ill-will toward any individual player as a vending machine holds against the human charged with restocking its selection of junk food.

But if you don't use an auction house add-on, have never used an auction add-on, have absolutely no concept of how auction house add-on works...it is easy to see how one might be singled out by a fellow guildy in an undercutting. Not everyone knows of the existence of The Undermine Journal.

Various guildies reinforced Bovie's stance, hoping to bring clarity around the issue, as well as diminish its perceived importance as a slight against an individual. Even Falnerashe, who normally shied away from the forum, threw her 2c into the ring: "It's the AH. Who cares?"

The most significant post on the topic came from Goldenrod, who used his own experiences gaming the AH to paint a picture. The mage wholeheartedly agreed with the sentiments shared by Bovie, Fal, Guns, and the like, but took it a step further to explain his positioning. He never once claimed to be an expert in economics, but spoke of seeing opportunities to corner certain markets, working with other players, brokering deals that dictated both price and volume for maximum profitability. To Goldy, as it was with a great number of players in WoW, the AH was just another raid boss to defeat.

Unfortunately, someone did not agree with his approach.

Fred (via Daliaah) joins Mature and others
on Deathwing-US to defeat Mobus,
Vashj'ir

Not Safe For Work

"I see censorship is alive and well in this forum," Drecca wrote, "I'm sorry for calling out a fellow guildy whose ethics bend as they need to. I now know that exploiting Tol Barad is an unforgivable offense, but forming an oligopoly is perfectly acceptable. To hell with the moral compass. Yes, I took and aced economics, too. It is reprehensible that you charge guildies for cuts because they bought the pattern on the AH, and you have the audacity to patronize us with comments like, 'When I'm done making money, I'll let you in on my secrets.' Nevermind the fact that you police the guild vault militantly, disallowing anyone that isn't on the 25-Man from pulling gems. The spirit of guild cooperation is indeed alive and well in DoD."

Goldenrod responded.

"Tol Barad was an exploit of game mechanics. The Terms of Services of WoW clearly state that you aren't to utilize known bugs/issues that gain you unfair advantages -- there is no such statement regarding the AH. Everything I, or any gold maker does, is allowed, so long as it falls within the realm of the existing game's rules. I also never charge guildies for the cut: the only time I've asked for payment is if they have no source gem, and I provide one from my own resources...and even then, it's far below cost."

"I also never meant to treat you as a second-class citizen, and if you feel I have, I apologize -- I simply can't provide gems for all of the 10s as well as the 25. If the members of the 10s would like help with gems, I'd be happy to accommodate if they reach out. As for the sharing of my strategy, I'd be happy to share it one-on-one with interested parties -- I'm just not ready to post it publicly on the forums."

Goldenrod's clarification and apology went unanswered; none was needed. Drecca aired his dirty laundry for all to see, and it was clear that he considered himself (and his groupies) as dejected and marginalized. Eventually, he aimed the barrel directly at the guild leader.

Drecca soon began calling me out on my leadership tactics, informing me of my inappropriateness. Simple, thoughtful advice (such as making negative Karma hidden from view) eventually gave way to shameless pandering on behalf of Herp Derp's constituents.

On one occasion, Ben posted a joke link to the off-topic forum which (unsurprisingly) took visitors to a site not fit for viewing in the workplace -- something many of us did during breaks at the office. Goldenrod politely provided some direction to Ben's increasing thoughtlessness, stating simply, "You may want to note links like these as NSFW, as a courtesy to those who might get in trouble for following the link at work."

Ben's response to Goldy? "lol i dunno what that means." Stereotype: perpetuated.

I felt compelled to remind Ben of his growing irresponsibility and demonstrated lack of respect for fellow guildies, writing:

"Perhaps one day when you get a job, you'll learn."

That evening, I was treated to a scathing letter from Drecca in my private messages, admonishing my choice to publicly shame Ben. How dare I? What gave me the right to embarrass Ben in front of the guild, pointing out that he couldn't obtain employment?

To that, I simply replied: Couldn't?.....or wouldn't?

Understanding the difference required context: Ben's history, what he was like, what he was capable of, what he had done -- and what he was starting to do again. But if considering the context of the bigger picture isn't high up on your priority list, then why wouldn't you jump to conclusions?

After all, every time we're undercut on the auction house, it's a personal attack on us...

...isn't it?

There was a day that Drecca and I agreed on nearly everything. That day was now a distant memory.

3 comments:

Goldenrod said...

No true narcissist is able to properly ignore something said about them, even on a small niche blog on an unknown corner of the internet...

Let the record state that Drecca will certainly arrive soon to explain why Shawn was wrong. Should be good!

All the best,

Goldenrod

Dalans said...

IB4TL

@Goldy, that's a win-win comment if I've ever read one. /popcorn

Jorge Ortega said...

Sigh, nearly done with an opinionated peice and my damn employee deletes my file. I'll edit my post this evening.