Funny how things line up sometimes as if you tell you “You have to talk about this!!”. What caused me to slow way down on WoW was my wanting to raid but not being able to because I did not have the required gear to make it happen. Sure I could have gotten lucky over time and with OpenRaid but it was just downright painful and my guild made it clear that for the moment I was mostly on my own to get my ass geared.
Then I got back to FF14 and quickly got back into the endgame part. While FF14 is more forgiving in how to ramp up your gear in endgame it’s also more grindy and having a guild helps a lot. I did find a guild to help me and it’s been going great and I think I’m getting over the gear hump but here too, a similar problem is creeping up where the old faithfuls are getting tired of running the same stuff over and over just to gear new people while they have nothing to gain from it.
And then Navimie put up this post which gives a great perspective of the dilemma those in leadership positions face and the pains raid groups go through. How do you get to gear new people and give them experience while getting kills and not burning out everyone. How do you manage everyone’s feelings in those circumstances. Having been there myself, it’s a pretty crazy stress on guilds. And even then, some fights just need to be learned the hard way and even if you bring someone geared, they will need a few tries to get it right. Which means that a one shot boss becomes a learning event every time someone new joins.
The circle of guild life
Unless you are one of the few remaining super elite hardcore guilds left in the world who gets daily applications from hardcore raiders your guild probably looks like this if you’re doing any kind of endgame. You have a core group, usually friends either real life or old raiding buddies along with the initial people you picked up creating the guild. Then you have the regular members who contribute to the raids and are decent players but never quite get in with the core group. Then you add social members, the non-raiders due talent or other reasons and finally the new guys with various levels of gear and experience.
If we are blunt, your guild will live as long as your core group does. The core group is the one making the raids be succesful, it’s responsible for guild life and is generaly the group having the most fun. But nothing is eternal and gradually, every core tends to shrink. Real life will happen and people will get tired of the game, will start families, change jobs and a ton of other reasons. This is inevitable and how long your guild lives is directly related to how good it is at adding people to the core group.
How easy that is depends on your type of guild. If you have a super close-knit group of friends and don’t really include new members into the inner circle chances are that as soon as that group of friends lose interest the guild dies. If raiding ability is the criteria for inclusion then you need to be either really good at recruiting quality players or have a way to train your members.
Let’s be blunt again. You and I both know that most of the time the core group ends up being most of the raid group. So if you want your guild to survive you have to replace people who quit with new members that are roughly at the point in their raiding progression. Since most raiding guilds are usually more progressed that what LFR or easily puggable content offers it means that new players are often behind on gear and/or raid experience.
All of this leads us to the age-old problem of guild life. People are going to leave, you need new people to replace them. However new people are most often less advanced than what you need so you have to gear them. But gearing them is boring for already geared people who may cause them to leave and then the circle begins anew.
Gear up or die
I took a long while to explain all of the above because I wanted to make it clear that there’s no real choice here. If you take the approach of not gearing up new members and only recruiting people who fit your exact specifications you are bound to die sooner or later. In all the guilds I’ve been, hardcore or casual, the influx of new members at the appropriate level was always less than the number of core members who stopped playing or slowed down too much. The potential for less geared and advanced players is always there however, especially if you’re making progress. There’s no shortage of talented players who are not yet burned out of the game and who could make great additions if only you take the time to gear them and give them fight experience.
Do you risk burning the old player base? Yes, you can and some guilds do. What makes a good core group is not only gear or skill dependant and some guilds still fail to add to that critical group even if they gear new players. Hell, if you keep gearing new players but never make progress chances are you’ll have trouble there too. You can’t ask older players to always be helping and never have anything in return for them.
Is it tricky? Of course it is! MMO endgame is littered with the bodies of guilds who failed at finding the right balance. Is it bad design that it’s real hard for advanced guilds to recruit players at the right level of progression? I believe it is. It’s also bad design that newer/late players have to face such an uphill battle to catch the main curve of progression of the player base. Making the jump from LFR to Flex to Regular raids in WoW by yourself right now is nothing short of a nightmare. If you have no guild to help you are at the mercy of strangers willing to help you and RNG giving you drops on those rare runs you do get in.
All of this boils down to the issues related to vertical progression in MMOs endgame that many bloggers have talked about. This will also segue nicely into my next series of posts that I hope to publish by the end of this week.