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Dealing with off-specs (or being one) {WoW}

Oct 5th 2006 4:10PM The truth is that 'raid spec' is a sham. It's an easy way to (pre-emptively in some cases) control and direct the blame resulting from failure.

But failure in this sense is a nebulous concept. It might refer to an immediate failure, such as repeatedly wiping on a certain pull; but it can also refer to a perception of lack of progression. The latter failure is purely subjective, since it is up to each individual and/or group to decide a rate of progression that constitutes success.

Fear of personal scrutiny due to some type of failure (whether actual or subjective) has become so intense that it has become commonplace for raid and/or guild leadership to create ways to shield themselves by pre-emptively distributing the blame. Hence, a spec is dictated for each class, and those who do not pay heed are potentially scapegoated before the raid even forms. It is a great way for leadership to distribute scrutiny resulting from some type of failure (again, either actual or imagined) back toward the raid itself.

The reason many guilds end up requiring certain specs for raiding when they first get into Molten Core is because they need to collectively find a reason for their failure; something tangible and mechanically correctable that they can all point to and discuss. The truth is that your raid doesn't wipe on its first Destroyer pull because of poor talent choices. They wipe because they suck at raiding, because it's quite different from how they've played their character up until that point. But as a raid leader, you have to be very careful about when you tell your raiders to simply buck up and L2P; so the concept of raid speccing is introduced.

Invariably as raiders get tired of wiping as they learn MC, many will decide to give raid-speccing a shot. Shortly after, some degree of success will signal to them that this was the right decision; and it follows that if improvement was measurable with part of the raid "properly" specced, it will be moreso if ALL of the raid follows suit. So all warriors must be prot, priests are told to go holy, shaman are instructed to spec mana tide, etc. etc. Eventually, Ragnaros goes down and the decisions of the leadership are affirmed.

At that point not many players are interested in scrutinizing where their success comes from. They see it as, "We sucked, we respecced, and shortly afterward we stopped sucking." The fact is that success has almost nothing to do with spec, and almost everything to do with learning to raid. This is true from top to bottom. Bringing spec into the discussion is simply a great way for those at the top to distribute the burden for failure among the raiding force while avoiding simply telling your guildmates that they suck.

It's perfectly obvious that it should be easy to find a better raid DPSer than a shadow priest; but why not let them heal? Similarly, a fury-specced warrior shouldn't be wearing his DPS gear when tanking for a raid. If he does, he's ignorant of the role he's being asked to fill. But does he suck because he's fury specced? No, he sucks because he doesn't know what he's doing with regards to raiding.

Forcing your members into a certain spec is definitly a way to signal that the leadership is serious about raiding. It is unfortunate that in reality it has so very, very little to do with the success or failure of a raid.

Finding your way into a good guild {WoW}

Sep 19th 2006 4:07PM Good points overall. It is a bit depressing to be reminded that we play a game in which it is wholly necessary to remind people of point #1.

I agree with the bold text of point #3: guild recruitment does not belong in the LFG channel. I can also see why one would make a general rule of steering away from solicitation in the GuildRecruitment channel. The implication is that any guild that advertises itself in this way is desperate for members; and that's not where you'd want to spend your playtime.

This leads to a question I find interesting (because my wife and I are in the process of starting a new guild): Are new guilds inherently doomed? Keep in mind, I'm not referring to guilds that are re-formed after another disbands; nor merged forces that re-invent themselves by occassionally absorbing smaller guilds. I'm referring to a player with a powerful vision of what guild life should be like, outstanding leadership skills, deep game knowledge, and a guild charter.

To put it another way: every guild started somewhere. An advertisement in GuildRecruitment probably shouldn't be a deal-breaker. If the phrasing and tone of the advertisement strikes you as positive, why not request more information? Obviously if the recruiter's response is to immediately offer you a /ginvite, it's probably not a place you want to be. But if the recruiter instead chats amicably with you, or directs you to a website for more information, why not take a look and see if it sounds like a good place to be?

The reason I find point #3 so interesting is probably because I play on a launch server. The social structure has had a long time to develop and, to a degree, crystalize. Because of the nature of the current endgame, and the simple problem of getting 39 competently-geared and -played people into the same instance at the same time, larger "established" guilds exert tremendous gravitational pull on the population in general. I have seen people who were willing to put up with an incredible amount of abuse simply because they didn't see how else they were going to keep raiding. Apping a new guild, or forming one yourself, has not been regarded as a serious option for a while now. The assumption seems to be that any guild that can't down *insert raid boss here* has problems that go beyond simple membership numbers. In that way, a potentially incorrect negative judgement is implicitly made regarding the character of the guild as a whole. New guilds are socially shelved as alt farms or nub-houses because they don't provide a player with easy entry into endgame dungeons.

The point is that we should all keep in mind that every successful guild started, at some point, with a nearly-empty roster and a heavy recruiting phase. Wouldn't it be great to get in on the ground floor of a guild that meshes nicely with what you want out of the game?

With that said, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts regarding the best ways to go about the first phase of recruitment. The realm forum is always an option, if only to demonstrate proper etiquette in responding to, or ignoring, the ubiquitous forum trolls.

However first contact is made, the one thing a guild must do is give players a reason to want to apply. On an established server, the one reason that most people pay attention to is: "We can raid." It's a serious burden for a new guild to overcome. In my opinion, it should be overcome by whatever means are necessary: GuildRecruitment channel, realm forum, etc. Guilds that never advertise recruitment but can get 40 people into MC will be sought out by potential applicants. To compete with that kind of social gravity is a daunting task.

Rational gamers choose subsidized hardware, all else equal [update 2] {Joystiq}

Sep 15th 2006 1:03AM This is really, really bad. It is also ironic, considering Joystiq's high-and-mighty stance regarding IGN schills taking potshots regarding journalistic credibility.

Bottom line: I just threw up a little in my mouth. Next time maybe do Joystiq, and its readers, a service and just tell it to your cat. Maybe don't even bother with writing it down.

Joyswag: A Castle Crashers tee for your thoughts {Joystiq}

Sep 11th 2006 2:23PM I'm quite excited about this game. I think that games developed specifically for co-op play over Live, with their relatively low price-points, low commitment factor, and emphasis on pure fun over complexity will come to fill a niche in the market. Castle Crashers looks like it's pushing that particular envelope. I'd be ecstatic if I could buy this game for 800 points, but I'd be willing to go as high as 1600. Those are near-fanboy prices; I'm a big fan of The Behemoth's style, and of the co-op action genre in general (Final Fight much?).