Guilds are not Businesses

Guilds in these online games are com­plete­ly vol­un­tary, at-will orga­ni­za­tions of peo­ple. This cre­ates a strange dynam­ic when it comes to lead­ing.

When I was GM, a good friend of mine in the guild–we’ll call him Angus–was excel­lent at lead­ing groups and raids. He was­n’t shy about grab­bing a cou­ple of our more pas­sive guild­mates and mak­ing good things hap­pen like attune­ment require­ments, gear upgrades, and all the rest. In real life, Angus is a con­fi­dent leader who runs his own busi­ness, with employ­ees. His com­pa­ny is suc­cess­ful! I thought, “Wow, he’d be a great offi­cer, maybe even GM!” So he got the nod as offi­cer, and while he was gruff at times, he proved a great asset to the guild.

Over time, I learned that Angus had real­ly been eager to take a shot at lead­ing the guild. We fre­quent­ly had open con­ver­sa­tions among the offi­cers regard­ing whose turn to lead was com­ing. So even­tu­al­ly, Angus got the nod.

The problem–and it took months for us to learn this–is that his abil­i­ty to lead a suc­cess­ful for-prof­it busi­ness involves a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent skill set than lead­ing a suc­cess­ful vol­un­tary, at-will orga­ni­za­tion. Angus turned out to be a good boss, but not a great leader.

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Maximum Performance Isn’t Always Maximum Fun

This is a thought in progress. A lit­tle ram­bling.

My wife is a com­bat rogue. Always has been. When she joined the game she fell in love with being a rogue, and she asked what the high­est dam­age ver­sion of rogue was. I went off to the inter­nets, and came back with the answer: Com­bat Sword build. So that’s what she chose. When we got to the endgame, she did the most dam­age in our 40-per­son raids, vir­tu­al­ly every raid. She gave the oth­er dps peo­ple fits. (although she nev­er spammed dam­ageme­ters) She flour­ished in that role.

When TBC was released, the raid­ing game was sus­pend­ed and every­one is back to the beau­ti­ful lev­el­ing game for a while. In TBC lev­el­ing, there are quest dag­gers giv­en through­out the lev­el­ing process, with rogues in mind. She thought, “why not exper­i­ment?” and then rebuilt as Com­bat Dag­gers.

Guess what? Com­bat Dag­gers is sim­ply more fun to play than com­bat swords. Man­ag­ing posi­tion and Back­stab is more fun than mash­ing Sin­is­ter Strike x1000. To non-rogues, I’m sure this sounds like a minor dis­tinc­tion. It sound­ed that way to me, and I told her so.

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Secret Design of WoW PvE: Solo Performer vs Group Utility

The series: [Intro­duc­tion, and a call for com­ments, Solo Dif­fi­cul­ty vs Group Dif­fi­cul­ty, PvE vs PvP, Vari­ety vs Spe­cial­iza­tion, Solo Per­former vs Group Util­i­ty, Your role in a PvE raid]

In group­ing, not all class­es are sim­i­lar. Some pro­vide sim­ple and eas­i­ly defined ben­e­fits, while oth­ers pro­vide aux­il­iary ben­e­fits beyond their basic stat­ed role that more than make up for an appar­ent lack of out­put in that role. That was wordy, let’s talk exam­ples.

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Secret Design of WoW PvE: PvP vs PvE

The series: [Intro­duc­tion, and a call for com­ments, Solo Dif­fi­cul­ty vs Group Dif­fi­cul­ty, PvE vs PvP, Vari­ety vs Spe­cial­iza­tion, Solo Per­former vs Group Util­i­ty, Your role in a PvE raid]

No class is glob­al­ly bet­ter at PvP than every oth­er class. WoW PvP is a huge rock-paper-scis­sor game, where there’s an answer for every move, or in WoW’s case, Class A always feels over­pow­ered to an oppo­nent of Class B, Class B over Class C, and Class C over Class A. (except expand­ed out to an 11-way graph) While no class is uni­ver­sal­ly dom­i­nant in PvP, some builds are uni­ver­sal­ly bet­ter than oth­er builds in that envi­ron­ment.

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Secret Design of WoW PvE: Solo Difficulty vs Group Difficulty

The series: [Intro­duc­tion, and a call for com­ments, Solo Dif­fi­cul­ty vs Group Dif­fi­cul­ty, PvE vs PvP, Vari­ety vs Spe­cial­iza­tion, Solo Per­former vs Group Util­i­ty, Your role in a PvE raid]

Your abil­i­ty to solo par­tial­ly deter­mines the expe­ri­ence you’ll have in groups. If you have an easy time in the lev­el­ing game, you are going to have a more dif­fi­cult expe­ri­ence in the endgame/group game. The fol­low­ing list goes from easy-to-solo to hard-to-solo.

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