Sunday, 30 September 2012

Mist of Pandaria the first 5 days

First impression….. It's BIG.  I mean really big.  I'm currently level 88 and have only gone through 2 Questing Zones and the very start of a third.  Those being of course Jade Forest, Valley of the Four Winds and Krasarang Wilds.  So with only 2 level's left and 4.75 Zones still to cover I can safely say that it's big.  Certainly as far as questing goes. 

It's big in other ways also.  The sheer amount of things to do is impressive.  Even before the end game there are Pet Battles, and I have planted my first crops, cooking has also taken on a new mini game of sorts with the Way of the XXX, having to level each of the 5 Sub cooking profession separately and yet joined, leading to hunting out a variety of different food from different sources, and of course there are the standard 5 Man dungeons.  At end game there will be the standard daily quests and Heroics and Raids, but also scenarios and challenge mode dungeons, as well as all the above.  Having spent the summer playing SWTOR where all you could do at end game was jump on the gear treadmill I have to say I'm very pleased.

The 2 instances I've done with the guild have been pretty easy, but they are only normals and each only taking around 15 Minutes to complete means that they are easy to jump in and out of.  It does mean that levelling only though instances will get tired very quickly.  That's OK though because as I have already mentioned there are plenty of quests to get your teeth in to of varying quality.  Some epic story arcs and some additional Optional 'find me 5 hooves of the hooverbeast'  or similar.  So you can dip into them or not as you heart desires.  Being OCD like myself my poor warrior will be completing them all.  Speaking of completionism this brings me onto my next topic.

Gotta catch them all!  The Pet Battle system is again another way for you to be in game and playing with your guild mates with out having to be grinding through dungeons raids and quests, this is similar to mining in eve online, which is essentially an AFK sport, but it does mean that you can sit there and chat to you Guild (corp) Mates.  Personally I knew I'd be a sucker for it having prior to the expansion managed to get unique 150 pets and the celestial dragon that goes with it…… completionist you see currently my journal tells me I have 361 pets although they are not all unique. Pet battles is not flawless, I'd like to be able to team up with another player for instance, for some 2v2 or more action,  but I'm sure they will develop it over time and it's a very entertaining way whiling away a few minutes or hours if you prefer,.  I'm sure I'll loose hours to it.

First personal impressions out of the way lets get down to the guild business.  As I write this on Sunday morning we have 5 level 90's Gratz to them.  Special mention to Sledgehammer who blasted through and got to 90 in 48 Hours or less to become our guild first level 90.  All our dungeon challenges are complete for the week and I'm sure Scenario's and challenge mode dungeons will follow as people get in to the level 90 content more.  Above all there is a nice buzz around the guild with people hooking up and enjoying the game together again. 

I still don't think anyone reads the Guild Message of the day and people are still not following the guild on Twitter, but you know one thing at a time.  Recruitment has taken a bit of a dive but I'm not surprised by that particularly, again once everyone is 90 I'm sure people will start getting their heads into what they where they want to be, and we already have a raid team outlined.  Having said that I did manage to cajole and old friend from TBC days to join us, we spent many hours doing in Shattered Halls runs together back in the day for the Champion of the Naaru Title, so it's good to have him in the fold and right now I can't understand why he hasn't been before. 

Update on the guild pub.  I'm thinking so far that the Lazy Turnip in Valley of the Four Winds has got to be a shoe in, the music in there is crazy, and even has some beds upstairs for us to fall in to after having too many Pandarian Beers!  So if your down that way on hellfire pop in and you may see a drunk Worgan propping up the bar (beacause you can't stit on the stools!)

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Officers Club

As the run up to the launch of Mists continues, and given the importance of communication (see last blog post for more on that)  I thought it would be a good idea to get my officers together and get some actions happening.

In my guild I don't like to make people officers just for anything.  There is a lot of effort that goes into leading a guild and I figure if you want some authority in the guild you may as well contribute to running it in a meaningful way and take some of the load off me.  I implemented this when I first set up the guild, however I could probably have done a better job.  The aim this time is to make a much more collaborative leadership team that won't mean that the guild dies if I decide to take another break from the game for whatever reason.  To that end I have assigned the following jobs to the current officers.  In case I haven't mentioned this before we are aiming to make 2 10 Man raid teams for MoP content.

Raid Leader - I will lead 1 of the raid teams which means we need someone else to lead the other.  This person will be responsible for building recruitment, scheduling, Calling tactics, picking the rosta and all manner of other things that come with raid leading. Including making some posts about tactics for new bosses. I imagine that will be shared between myself and the other RL.

Raid Assistants X2 – for each team the raid leader will have an assistant, a Sargent major if you like, someone to keep the troops in line during the raid, also to deal with EPGP be master looter as well as ensuring to post World of Logs for each raid.  World of Logs is an out of game raid analysis tool that allows for post raid reflection and is handy in troubleshooting.  I may speak more about this in future posts.

Chief Financial Officer (CFO )– Responsible for the Guild Bank – deciding when we need a new tab deciding what to keep in it and what to get rid off, what permissions to give each rank of person in the guild, including how much guild repairs to give everyone and also for selling stuff from raids and keeping the balance nice and healthy.  Annoyingly the functionality for assigning permissions to the GB and the respective guild ranks can only be done by the GM.  Would be nice if I could just assign him the power but hey-ho.

Social Media Officer – Responsible for setting up Facebook and Twitter pages and also running them and getting guild members to follow them. Ensuring that there are guild tweets and FB messages to keep our troops informed, working with the Raid Leaders and Community officer on what messages need to go up there, and also ensuring our forums are kept tidy with irrelevant post deleted or archived. Also ensuring that we are following some good and interesting people that talk about the WOW in order to keep everyone up to date on what's going on with things like the weeks news and latest patches and all manner of information about the game.  My girlfriend was kind enough to take on this job and has set up our twitter feed.  @VirtueHellfire if your interested I'll be using it to post messages and communication to my guild hopefully pointing them to the forum, which I'm sure they'll be unable to click on the link since navigation to a forum is beyond most wow players it seems (again see last post for more on that).

I'm also looking to find officers to do the below jobs also:

Community and Social Events Officer – Ideally a non raider so they can focus on things to do out side of the raid. Achievement runs, Mount Runs, As well as just keeping the guild friendly and a nice buzz.

Recruitment Officer – I would expect this person to work closely with the raid leaders about there requirements and also with the community officer about what sort of social people we want in the guild and the social media officer about what messages we need to get out there for recruitment. So they will be responsible for barking in trade, keeping post on our forum up to date about our recruitment, and also making posts on the WOW realm forums to try and get people in that way. Also for setting the expectations of new guild members and to be a point of contact for them if they any questions about the guild answered.

With the lack of the Community and Recruitment officers the other officers need to pick up these jobs in the mean time.  The essence of this weeks meeting fit in to categories below. 


Some of the officers already have recruitment macro's but I asked the rest to get them.  I like a variety of macro's to get peoples attention therefore I asked everyone to write their own and to pay attention to if any one is whispering them following posting it, if not Change it.

Building Community

Pulling a group of people together out of trade chat and any other means is always challenging trying to build a community spirit.  Especially at the moment when we are not raiding regularly.  One way to get to know your fellow guildies is to do shared activities.  So I've asked me officers to be champions of co-op play - always ask people to join them in whatever your doing, scenario's, dungeons, anything!
Also I can't be expected to come up with all the ideas myself and again I'm trying to build a collaboration here to I've asked them to be creative - have a think about ways to get people interested in doing things and get them scheduled and promoted. 
Communication is Key and all the information people could want to know about our guild is on the website so I asked them to know where things are themselves, post informative and valuable post and direct people there when they have questions.
Another idea I had was to designate a little corner of the world as Virtues, who's know if Blizz will ever do player housing but in the mean time there should ba a nice quiet place that we can all hang out in and maybe all try to get back to at the end of the day.  For me at the moment I like the Shady Lady in Stormwind,  and I have designated this our unofficial Guild Pub for the moment until we get in to Pandaria where upon I'm hoping we can find a convenient corner there.  If your on Hellfire come on down there you may see me or one of my plethora of alts at the bar.


Gave the chaps just a bit of an update here, we currently have enough raiders for one full team, we therefore need to recruit all roles and classes for the other.  Ideally I'd like to do this before we start raiding as I'm keen to avoid a A team and B Team Mentality and have taken great pains to never refer to the 2 teams in such a way.  My plan is to go for the first raid a month after launch thereby allowing everyone to enjoy the content and also get a few more people in the guild who have returned for the new Expansion. 

Raid Leader

I requested the other Raid Leader started looking for good vids of the raids - I suggested Yoggs Cast and Learn to Raid as a starter.  Also Icy Veins is an excellent resource.  Myself and the other RL will probably divvy up the tactics posts therefore I requested he look at the type of post I have done previously and try to replicate that style.  That style being - a link to a Video, a link to the tactics on Ivy Veins and then a super boiled down version for quick reference.

Raid Assistants

In order to assist the RL's the RA's need to get a few things done.  Firstly Get addons, Raid Buff Status a handy in game head up to if people have all the buffs they should, have eaten and are generally ready to pull the boss.  EPGP (Dkp reloaded), for use in distributing the loots about and making it fair.  There are other systems out there but this has always struck me as the fairest as the amount of effort you put in to the guild has a direct effect on the amount of loot you get. 
Also I requested the get set up on World of Logs - a simple task but it needs doing.

Chief Financial Officer

Again to try and get some community together and to keep the GB full of cash for repairs I asked our CFO to undertake a guild lottery.
The premise would work like this, we charge some cash for tickets, which is mailed to the CFO in game.  The CFO makes a post with a list of numbers and assign names to those numbers based on the amount of tickets someone has purchased.  At a designated time and place we all meet, (down the guild pub perhaps) form a raid group and the CFO does a /roll.  Who ever has that number assigned on the forum post gets 50% of the ticket taking and 50% goes in to the GB.  There other officers suggested that we could offer other prizes from the GB also, for maybe 2nd or 3rd place, which sounded sensible to me so I have left it with our CFO to do something about it.

So with a couple of outstanding points all the guild infrastructure is back and should be working correctly soon.  The only thing we need now is recruitment which is still being a challenge.  Hopefully after Tuesday this will be easier.  If your on Hellfire EU and want to join us then let us know.  Also if you are anywhere in the EU and just want to raid with us then with the new Battletag system that maybe possible also. 

As an aside the Theramore Scenario launched this week.  I have to say I was rather disappointed.  I'm hoping that the other scenarios and 'different ways to play the game' pet battles, Farming, challenge modes and the rest are not such a let down. 

Friday, 14 September 2012

Communication is Key

We are well and truly back, it's been a couple of weeks since my last blog but I'm just finding my feet with this and have not committed to a regular schedule at the moment.  Especially as things are still quiet on server. 

Recruitment is going pretty well I have added at least 8-10 new players to the guild in the last fortnight, not bad for a pretty dead server.  I'm expecting the next week to kick off being a week before launch and the week after launch to be good also with many players returning hopefully to find as I did that their guild is a bit dead, and looking for a new one.  Hopefully many of my old guild mates will also return. 

Having been away I had forgotten the inherent laziness of people.  In leadership of my guild I think it's important to be fair, consistent  and upfront with people, to that end I put all the guild rules up on the website along with posts about what the guild is about, I keep the forum sections clearly labelled so it's easy to know where to look for things. 

Forum sections we have:

Guild Scope and Rules
Raids & Raid Rules
MoP Preparation
Social Events
Vice - Our Hordeside sister guild

Ok so not particularly a small list but you don't have to be interested in all of them.  For instance if you want to join the guild to raid then maybe check out the Raid and Raid Rules forum. 

But no people can't be bothered to tab out of the game a look at a forum.  I don't mind so much if some one is responding to my barking in trade, maybe your speaking to a number of people about their guild, maybe you just want to talk to a real person in the guild and get an idea about them first hand before deciding to join, fine.  Personally I'd never join a guild without having a look at their forum, but that's just me. 

What really annoys me is when people have joined the guild and you have to bully them into registering and answer each and everyone of their questions over and over again when all the info is on the website.  These are the same people that are always surprised when they miss out on things because they didn't know.  Take an active role in getting involved then.

Communication in a guild is a nightmare.  Really there is nothing that you can guarantee that people are going to see, or pay attention to.  The guild message of the day I'm sure must get lost in the addon log-on spam that most players will get these days and it's sadly lacking in functionality and character length anyway (actually I've just logged on and realised that it doesn't appear until all the spam is gone, so it's just lazy, ignorance then!).  Would be nice if the default UI gave and option to copy and paste a link  URL from it, I have an addon that does this but some won't.  Would be nice if it were a bit more prominent.  Star Wars had a pop up when you logged on that you had to click close, this is not the most elegant solution, and you can easily find yourself clicking it away without looking, especially if you were logging multiple alts, it did become something of an annoyance - maybe only pop up once a day or when it's changed?

There's also the guild calendar - more notification functionality on this would be of use also.  A little question mark in the top right hand corner is not nearly obvious enough for lazy tunnel visioned players who want everything on a platter for them. 

Some sort mail all accounts in guild option would be excellent, the tech must be there I've seen it with receiving pets and stuff from Blizz (they now only come to the first char I log on to, or possibly all until I open it). That would be an excellent way of directing your lazy guildies to actually understand what is happening in guild and get involved. 

All of these things are surmountable.  For instance in our guild, guildies only get out of the lowest rank and access to GB repairs if they register on the forum (which is also explained in another forum post, so they would know that if they went there), You can keep telling people to check the GMOTD though the day in /g to get people to look at it, although that sort of defeats the point, you may as well tell each player individually, a raid application to join the raid team also, forces them to go the website, aswel as ensuring that your raid team can at least work a web bowser and type coherent sentences, (well their name a least).  I managed to harangue my old guildies into frequently checking the website and the GMOTD, so it's a culture thing, but when you are in a heavy recruitment phase like we are now big banners pointing the newbies to how things work in your guild would be a large boon.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Holding Pattern

It's Saturday.  The 5.0.4 Patch hit on Wednesday, so I've been trying to wrap my head around all that has changed.  This is the pre Mists of Pandaria patch brining with it pretty much everything but the new MoP content.  So talent changes, spell changes, UI changes, all of that stuff. 

Of course this means broken add ons.  Some add on writers are kind enough to use the beta to write their changes and so release them the day of the patch, some can't or don't either due to not being sure if the live is going to be exactly the same as the beta or simply not having the time.  I'm not sure if anyone makes a living out of writing add ons but many are written by players who just found one day they like to be able to do this or that, therefore I'm not griping about the lack of updated add ons I surely couldn't write on.  However, a quick mention of one that I miss more than any others - Powa aura's, please Mr Writer update it I love it so much.  I'll write a full blog about add ons and probably power aura's will need one of it's own, I find it that useful.

Over the past couple of days, there has been little point in doing anything in game, given that everything is just going to be zero'd come 25 Sept, and we'll be replacing all those hard earned raid epics with greens.  If you fully kitted out in Heroic DS gear then you may get to 86 or 87 before you have to replace but you'll be replacing with quest gear or dungeon drops, so what's the point hammering away at content that is months old. 

Having said that I'm quite enjoying some new experiences in WOW and playing just for fun.  The main thing I have been doing is PVP, as a paladin healer.  For years I've been a big fan of tanking PVE content.  However during the break I played Star Wars: The Old Republic, for a couple of months.  The PVP in SWTOR is one of the things they did get right, I may write a full comparison about SWTOR and WOW someday but not right now.  Anyway through this rather convoluted route I found myself quite enjoying PVP and so I've decided to respec my old retri spec into a Healer and give healing in WOW a go.  I did this a few months back and jumped on every so often to give it a go and see if it kindled my passion for the game again.  I enjoyed it but not enough to get back in full time.  Now I'm back and giving it some more gas though.  Firstly the Pali healer in this halfway house, between expansions, situation seems a bit over powered.  I'm lasting a long time with 4 - 5 Players trying to beat the crap out of me, and my gear is much less than average, mostly consisting still of crafted blue PVP items. 

This maybe to do with the new resilience changes that have been implemented, giving everyone a base 30% resilience and then whatever gear they have on top of that.  If so I like the change if it increases 'Time to kill' one of the main things that made SWTOR so compelling was the long time to kill people in PVP.  I hope WOW is taking some of this and this remains.  I don't think that Healers should be able to last forever with 4-5 people on them but a longer time to kill will definitely be a good thing.  Whether all this will last when people are at 90 and have arena gear with lots of PVP power (a new stat that increase your power in PVP only) on it remains to be seen.  Hopefully me and my Girlfriend can get some Arena going.  She is a Hunter and we've steer away from arena in the past due to the limitations on hunters with minimum range, but that also has been removed from game now, so here's hoping.

The guild remains quiet, as we are in this holding pattern.  An old officer of mine and Real Life mate, has gone to the dark side and is playing  EVE, I've known for a long time that he wasn't going to return he made this official last night with his blog, he is truly lost to the black.  A shame cos he got me into WOW in the first place, but there you have it.  Come the expansion recruitment will have to start in anger and I'm sure it will as many people return , some to dead guilds some deciding what they want to do with Panda's.  Watch this space…..