Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Guts 'n' balls... revisited

I often wonder what makes elite players truly elite. By elite I do not mean the wannabes of every server but the truly top ones. What makes them so efficient at what they do? Often people simply reply... time. Ok, time does indeed play a huge role in our involvement with the game. The amount of time we put into the game is often proportional to what we achieve. Or the other way around, but you do get the picture. But that is often an aspect of an individual, not the guild as a whole. So... what makes elite guilds tick? Fear of the RL? Some common jedi-like focus on the game? Magic? Money?

I'd like to think that its co-operation. World of Warcraft is by no means complex. Mathematics can be complex. Quantum mechanics, nanotechnology, augmented reality and space travel. These are complex. Scripted, repetitive encounters are not complex. What IS complex though, to some extent, is how you approach those encounters. Take a raid for example...

You got 25 individuals. One of them, at least, is busy up to his neck with raid leading. Possibly others with leading subgroups, like healers etc. The rest try to do a set task and do it as best as possible. Most of the times. When they do not slack that is. When the raid succeds all is well. But what happens when they fail?

One of the most important aspects of World of warcraft is that its a multi-player game. Not a solo game. Therefore, its safe to assume that teamwork does indeed play an important role. I often used to refer in the past to Manslow's pyramid of needs - depicted below:

Source: University of Tasmania (!)

I beleive that the three top layers can be extrapolated to the WoW environment through the notion of guilds. All of the features depicted in the above diagram can be met within a guild. Teamwork - expressed above in the Social tier but with hints to Ego and Self-Actualization - is an important element of a guild. Since most encounters require certain subgroups to micro-manage, its essential that those groups work together consistently to achieve their goals. Moreover, the members of these groups must maintain a good level of communication in order to rectify errors, achieve stability and hopefuly - and ultimately - improve performance.

Now, enough with the posh talk. Wow players must play together. They need to communicate, speak their mind in a polite way. There is absolutely no value in not expressing an opinion when you want to concider yourself a raider. However, this communication needs to follow some simple ethics. I remember when I filled in my application form in Escape a year and a few months ago there was one question. "What is your abuse tolerance level". Well, most of us said extreme. Quite rightfuly I might add. But at the end of the day I often thought that this tolerance is towards constructive critisism. One that is expressed directly from the person voicing an opinion towards the individual concerned. I expect my fellow raiders to come to me and offer their suggestions, critisim and ideas personaly. Thats when that question starts to mean something. When I will sit down and talk with them, reply to their suggestions. Otherwise, if they do not speak their minds I will not know of their opinion. And - I am not perfect by far - I may make a mistake. I must admit - and I am thangfull for it - that certain people do actualy come forth and speak their mind to me.

Raiding is more often than not about reviewing what you did. About being aware of your choices and making decisions. Its about communicating those decisions, tactics and concerns. When a guild does not communicate as it should, when people keep opinions for themselves - or use messengers to relay them... - the guild stops being that very thing, a guild. It becomes a pug, full of indifferent individuals who would rather talk with a sub-group of players with absolutely no benefit for the group, instead of trying to help out the group.

I am fortunate enough that I have a fellow paladin playing with me that he does have the balls to come and talk tactics and opinions with me. We recently had a talk, trying to gauge certain aspects of the encounters we are currently working at. And we adapt. This is teamwork after all...

Guts 'n' balls boys and girls. Come forward and have your say. I assure you, you will surprised from my answer (and this is not by any means a threat...)


Dentrag aka Thoryel :-P 23 September 2009 at 10:37  

I must agree with you there, Lance, although we must not forget that timing and the method must be right for those discussions.
And thats where the guild must find a proper way to hear opinions, be it the forum or an ingame chat channel or some other method.
If there is not an organized medium for those opinions to be heard, then you must rely on individuals whith doubtful results.
So in general it also depends from the guild's level of encouragement in that direction and not always from the guts of the fellow raider.

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