Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership.
With another BlizzCon behind us, the wealth of information about upcoming content has been at times overwhelming. As a player, I'm always excited to learn about what's around the corner. But as a guild leader, I worry about what kind of ugliness is going to crop up as a result of it. From the upcoming patches to the WotLK expansion, new challenges will arise to test the savvy, determination, and people skills of officers in all types of guilds. Just like the CEO of any good business, a guild leader shouldn't just react to challenges as they arise, but anticipate them and take steps to meet them head-on. Let's examine what's in store for Warcraft guilds and what we can do now to transition smoothly into the future.
Everyone who has a character slot (or two) dedicated to their guild's bank, raise their hand. I'll keep mine down, since one of my officers handles it (Naaru bless him), but we have at least three toons holding items for the bank at present. I'm sure there are guilds out there with even more bank toons. We currently list the bank's items in a limited-access area of our Web site, and people post to claim them. At that point, the officer has to retrieve and mail the item, then update the listing on the site. It's a clumsy system, and I'm thrilled that we'll soon be able to manage our guild's resources using in-game tools.
But obviously this kind of interface is ripe for abuse. Guild leaders will need to be very careful with their accounts, since they will be priority #1 for account hackers. WoW Insider has posted a guide to protecting yourself from keyloggers. Give it a thorough read!
There's also the potential for your own members to abuse the system. Fortunately, GLs will be able to designate certain "vaults" as off-limits to most members, so think about whom you trust with BOE epics and hard-to-find crafting materials and whom you don't. Access to these vaults will most likely be tied to guild rank, so now is the time to develop a ranking system that rewards loyalty.
We can only speculate about whether guild banks will require bags and gold to expand as player banks do, so smaller guilds especially should think about saving up some of those resources for this feature's eventual implementation, presumably in 2.3.
It remains to be seen how well Blizzard's own voice-over-Internet-protocol software, scheduled to be released in the next content patch, will run. Will the players embrace it? If so, it could mean the end of guilds shelling out their own cash for Ventrilo or TeamSpeak servers. But one of the benefits to running your own server is that you control who has access to it. With the software built into the game, anyone in your party or raid will be able to broadcast. In a guild-only setting, that's usually not going to be a big deal. But if you tend to have pick-up players in your groups, you could run into problems here.
The last thing you want is one of your members getting into a verbal flame war with someone in another guild. Whereas before you could cut such a disagreement short by booting one or both from your server, we can only speculate whether Blizzard will give us a similar solution. Of course you could always boot that nonmember from the group, but what if it's your own member in the wrong? It may be best to hang onto those Vent and TS servers for a while after 2.2.
2.3 will most likely bring us Warcraft's third 10-player dungeon. Unlike Karazhan, no attunement will be required. With T5-equivalent gear available, most raiding guilds who haven't progressed much beyond Kara will be chock-full of players chomping at the bit to set foot in this place. We can look forward to all the same drama about who gets to go, who's on which team (if you have enough well-geared members to field more than one), how loot will be handled, and so on. You can add to that the additional stress of clearing the instance as fast as possible, since loot will be better for those who can kill bosses faster. I enjoy the challenge of clearing dungeons quickly (when no one is having connection issues), but this type of challenge tends to make people even less forgiving of members who make occasional mistakes or have home obligations that tend to draw them away from the keyboard for a few minutes here and there.
Guild rosters can change at any time, so it may be premature to set up your Zul'Aman teams at this point. But as the patch that will bring us this dungeon approaches, it may not be a bad idea to establish some preliminary guidelines about what it will take to earn an invite and what will be expected of those who go.
Wrath of the Lich King
The next expansion is probably still a long way off. After all, almost 16 months elapsed between the official announcement of The Burning Crusade and its release. But as the expansion approaches, there are many questions to ponder. Who's going to make the big push to become your guild's first Death Knight? How will this new class affect your class balance in raids? Who's going to be the go-to guy for Inscription?
More ominously, how will the addition of 10 levels and the eventual obsolescence of all TBC endgame content affect your guild's morale? I've already seen some dismay among my members about this development -- and I have to admit, I'm feeling some of this dismay myself. MMOs are a treadmill by design, but adding 10 levels isn't so much running on the treadmill as getting off, resetting the mileage counter, and starting over again. As excited as I am about all this additional content, I dread its impact on how people perceive the game and value the rewards of playing. How many will decide it's just not worth it to continue?
As officers, such developments are out of our control, but they certainly have an affect on our rosters. The only thing we can really do is to make sure that our members have fun while they're playing. Gear and progression are fleeting, but the memories of good times online with friends are what endures.
Send Scott your guild-related questions, conundrums, ideas, and suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may find your question the subject of next week's Officers' Quarters!