Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Time for a Break... and Time to Get Excited About Cata!

This expansion just seems to drag on and on and on, doesn't it. I was sick of ICC months ago; although I had a resurgence of interest when I joined my new guild. Now I've got my Kingslayer title and I'm just sick of it again, sick of the whole game really. It's just the same old same old. I can't even start a new toon, because it's the same old starting area whichever toon I create. And I don't want to raid because it's the same instances, the same boring fights over and over.

So I've decided to take a break from Wow. It doesn't make sense to me, to keep playing even though I'm not enjoying it. It is, after all, a game. My guild will be fine without me, we have plenty of subs, so all I have to worry about is my own enjoyment.

BUT. This is not the world's most whiny, depressing post. I am SO excited about Cata!

I've been reading up on it a lot, and I'm getting excited about the changes to mechanics. I couldn't care less about goblins and worgens because realistically, I'm not going to roll one of them for the same reason I've never been able to get any of the horde races beyond level 5 - I can't relate to them. But I do care about new talents, new areas, new quests, and new fight mechanics.

In my favourite blog, Arcane Brilliance, Christian Belt discusses this week how the new heroics are panning out in the Cata Beta. His insights are very interesting! Apparently the fight mechanics for heroics have been changed so you must think about what you're doing before diving in, AOE at the ready. You now need to set up as much CC as possible, and still be prepared to use your own cooldowns to keep yourself alive.

Players who came to the game at the beginning of WotLK will get a big shock, no doubt, but I think those of us who have been around since Vanilla will get a massive kick out of this. Remember UBRS? It was a massive pain in the arse because you had to run it a lot to get the good gear at the end, but you couldn't just faceroll it every time. You actually had to think, and make sure your raid was organised and paying attention.

And the atmosphere! This is something I'm hoping will come back, as well. The atmosphere of Blackrock Mountain and all its instances was brilliant. They managed to make it hollow and echo-y, and add that to the molten lava, rocks and potentially deadly mis-steps and you had a really immersive place. Plus those instances were HARD. Not many people on my server got all the way into BWL, let alone AQ40 and Naxx. You knew when you saw Tier 3 gear, that that guild was awesome.

I'm hoping that with the changes to fight mechanics, Cata will bring back the ability to differentiate between the good players, and the casual and not so good players. I have heard lots of people complaining about the potential that this will happen (however remote it may be at the time) over the years but I really believe it's essential to the game doing well. The status and notoriety of the best players is what keeps everyone else trying so hard. The fact that only a few people in the world have the best gear and the hardest kills makes the rest of us want to try harder and play more in order to get to that level. To me, this is a fundamental concept, and one of the reasons why the game did so well in the first place.

I can't wait to see what'll happen when Cata hits!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

What Makes a Good Guild Good?

Wow I haven't written for a looooong time. Apologies to those (2? 3?) people who read this blog. I'd like to say it's because I've just been too busy with my exciting, full real life (well, some big things have happened but they haven't affected my blogging ;) ), but the truth is I just haven't felt motivated. Up until recently, I've been beginning to suspect I was well and truly burning out. I love to raid, but really, ICC is getting pretty old. And it's fun to have huge yellow numbers all over the place due to the 30% pity buff but again, it's not your real damage and it's getting old.

What's worse than both of those things, though? Despite almost every Wow player out there now knowing ICC like the backs of their hands, despite the huge 30% buff, my guild was still wiping on normal mode Putricide. Still wiping on normal Blood Queen, and still wiping on normal Dreamwalker. I got sick of looking forward to the raid, turning up in a cheerful, optimistic mood, only for said mood to gradually deteriorate over the course of the night as I ran through the mists of death again, or shook my head at an incomprehensible (and unexplained) loot council decision.

Instead of continuing to turn up night after night only to have a rather unenjoyable time, I decided it was time to move on. I wanted a challenge, and I was sick of being a "casual raider". So I applied to one of the most progressed guilds on my server and was accepted. So far I've only raided with them a few times, but both times have been joking, laughing, exciting boss-killing fun!

Yes, that's right. Wow had become fun again.

The huge difference between this guild and my previous guild got me thinking about just what makes a guild "good". I've played on many different servers, and on each one there have been a few guilds that were widely understood to be "good" guilds and many guilds that were either bad, or just average. These "good" guilds were usually more progressed than the others, and always had more than their fair share of applications even when they weren't recruiting. But just what makes such guilds work so well?

I had a bit of a think, and to me, the following list contains some of the reasons good guilds are good. If you have reasons of your own, please feel free to mention them in a comment. Perhaps they, along with my list, will assist brand new GMs to create the environment they most desire.

  • A Competent GM (or Leadership Group)
    A whole new list could be made about this sub-topic. There are many things that make a good GM. In a broad sense, however, a good GM is confident with leadership, dedicated to the guild, optimistic and encouraging. A guild with a good GM is a guild with direction. If this guild falls into trouble, someone will be there with the will to pull it out.

  • An Excellent Raid Leader
    We all know what one of these sounds like. This is the man or woman with the confidence and knowledge to guide a 10 or 25-person raid. He or she knows all the strats, every class' abilities, every boss' abilities, and can either yell or coax depending on what the situation requires. Having a great raid leader is absolutely essential to having a good guild, because a great raid leader more often than not means the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful raid.

  • A Strong Officer Group
    These guys often do the hard work in a guild, or have the specific knowledge to back up the raid leader, so it's vital to have competent officers. The number of officers can vary wildly, but the main thing is that they are a cohesive, functioning group as well as talented individuals.

  • Skilled and Dedicated Players
    Players are not just a bunch of sheep to be herded, protesting, toward a goal. "Good" guilds will be full of "good" players. There are many different kinds of good players, but to generalise, a good player is dedicated, naturally skilled, knowledgeable (or willing to learn) and has a positive attitude.

  • A Strong, Cohesive Social Atmosphere
    To round out my list, I believe a good guild should have a good social atmosphere. Many people log on just to raid, especially during that grey area before an expansion. But there should always be a group of players, the bigger the better, who log on at other times too - just because they like the game and they like hanging out with each other. The more people like hanging out with one another, the more they'll want to maintain the social constructs that allow them to do so - ie the guild.