The Guild Counsel: New Year's resolutions

This past year for me has been the best year of my guild-leading life, primarily because I'm surrounded by terrific players who are also terrific people. We've had times when key members step away from raiding, and immediately I'll have several members volunteer to roll up new characters to fill the void and meet class needs. We've had issues, as all guilds do, and we have had disagreements, but I'm guilded with people who are classy enough and level-headed enough to understand the big picture and give the benefit of the doubt.

As I raise my glass to toast my guildmates, I also look forward to next year. As guild leaders know, you can never rest on your laurels, and I have several New Year's resolutions. Read on to see what I hope to accomplish, and then share your resolutions for 2011.

Pace time better. This one is my biggest resolution, and it's one that I'll devote an entire column to in the near future. I've been running raids on and off for 10 years, and I still feel that I can do a better job of managing time and getting the most out of raiding. We've come a long way since the multi-hour raids of EverQuest, when a raid on the Plane of Hate or Plane of Growth would take the better part of a day. And then there were the multi-day raids, in which you weren't actually killing something, but you were on 24-hour watch, just sitting around and waiting for a particular mob to spawn. Instancing and lockout timers have helped reduce the amount of time raiders had to sit by the computer, but that also means players have to make the most of the time they do have during a raid.

The toughest thing for me has always been trying to get people in who are either late or have crashed while we're fighting. Back when a raid was upwards of 50 or 60 players, it was impossible to get everyone there on time and at the proper rally point. I proudly ran a Call of the Hero summon team on my second computer to pull the latecomers up to wherever we were. That enabled me to get the raid going on time but still give latecomers an opportunity to join us. (Usually it was the Rangers who were late, because they got lost in the snowy terrain of Western Wastes. Go figure!) But even with the best-laid plans, if we had every single raid member at the same point and raiding for more than five minutes, it was a near-miracle.

Today, our raids in EverQuest II are much shorter, and I do a hard stop at 11 p.m. at night, so any time we spend waiting around is precious time lost. Latecomers, linkdeaths, and raid-rezzing are just some of the many threats to a nicely paced raid. This year, I intend to focus more on delays and push us harder towards keeping a faster pace.

Organize a guild get together. No, not in the chandelier, although the "Name that '80s Tune" contest we did in Vanguard was pretty fun. Our guild has met several times over the past decade, and we're already aiming for this spring's PAX East and SOE's Fan Faire in the summer. But we're also mulling over an unofficial meet-up sometime in the spring, and New Orleans has been tossed out as a possibility. I definitely need to have us get our heads together to figure out our plans. Any advice on a good place to meet is greatly appreciated!

Spring clean in the winter.
There are so many little tasks that need to be freshened up every once in a while, and the start of a new year is always a good time to revisit them with dustpan in hand. I always stop by our guild site first to clean old threads, update guild news, and review posted guild policies. Fortunately, one of my officers does an amazing job of keeping our site up to date and has even converted it to be iPhone- and Blackberry-friendly. But I do need to unsticky a few out of date threads and tidy up our forum listings. This may seem like a menial task, but it's very important to all your new guild members. There's nothing more frustrating for a new member than visiting the forums and prepping a raid bag based on last year's expansion or changing a class spec based on old information.

The in-game roster is another area that always needs tidying up. As a general rule of thumb, I don't remove members from the roster, even if they have been gone from the game for months or years. However, it's open season on unplayed alts. Our guild excels at rolling up alts and then not playing them past level 10. One of my favorite pastimes is sorting our roster by days offline and then purging it of any low-level alts that haven't been on in several months. It's an invigorating yet short-lived activity, because as soon as I'm satisfied that my roster is clean, dozens of guildmembers will suddenly cry out in shock, incredulous that I could ever have removed their beloved alts. Hours later, I practically have to invite them all back, knowing that they'll never log them in afterwards, and in about six more months, I'll be booting them again.

Review Chalk-talk.
I'm a former teacher, and I tend to fall back on that a lot when running a guild. It's amazing how many times you'll hear guild leaders bark at members to "DPS more," or "heal better" but not take the time to explain how to do that. Our guild does a great job of executing raid strats, but going forward, I know we need to ramp up our output, especially when it comes to damage. I'm lucky because I have a few members who excel at their particular class and who love to talk shop. It's not always an easy subject to bring up, because it's easy for someone to misinterpret a quick suggestion and take it as a message that he's a failure. But opening up discussion on class tips is always important, and whether you choose to officially appoint class leads, run a more open-ended forum, or take on the burden yourself, you need to get your guild up to speed and well-informed. I resolve this year to pick up where I left off and fill that chalkboard up with lots of X's and O's.

I'm looking forward to 2011, and I'm ready to start working on my New Year's resolutions. I hope you've all had a great year with your respective guilds, and I wish that your upcoming year be drama-free and full of loot. Guild leaders, what are your New Year's resolutions? What will you try to improve on for 2011? Guild members, what do you hope for your guild next year? Share your resolutions below!

Do you have a guild problem that you just can't seem to resolve? Have a guild issue that you'd like to discuss? Every week, Karen Bryan takes on reader questions about guild management right here in The Guild Counsel column. She'll offer advice, give practical tips, and even provide a shoulder to lean on for those who are taking up the challenging task of running a guild.
This article was originally published on Massively.