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Work warning: Guild chatter and text in these videos contain the occasional snippet of strong language.
Summer break tugging your raiding schedule to shreds? Instead of stressing out about it, maybe it's time to shine your organizational mojo on something a little more fun: a Summer Games event. Time and Tide of Earthen Ring (EU) has done just that, building a weekend of off-season fun and games spanning multiple guilds and even both factions. This may not be the first time we've featured articles about trivia contests, funny challenges and even other special events centering on games before -- but I'm not sure we've ever seen anything as well-planned as these Summer Games.
Not content to simply entertain its own, Time and Tide opened the event realm-wide this year in a savvy recruiting move that undoubtedly raised their guild's profile and sparked plenty of interest from other players. You'll want to read our interview with GM and Summer Games organizer Firelash, if for no other reason than to snag some sweet ideas for a morale-boosting, team-bonding, raider-recruiting event of your own!
Main character Firelash Guild Time and Tide Realm Earthen Ring (EU)
15 Minutes of Fame: How did the idea of organizing the Summer Games come to pass?
Firelash: The Summer Games was created over a year ago. Time and Tide had a usual summer for a raid group that had most of our raiders on holiday, and anyone left behind struggled to raid, without using a lot of PUGs. Therefore, we needed something to do to increase morale and to entertain those who were here. We bounced around some ideas amongst the raiders, and they liked the idea of doing something not raid-related to have some fun for a week. I spent the next day drawing up the plans for the Summer Games, a three-day event filled with games to play.
Are the games designed for your own guild, or are they open to players at large?
The first year, it was primarily for our Time and Tide, but during some of the events, the players needed to fill out their teams and started asking players from other guilds to help out. This worked really well, and so this year, we opened it from the start to other guilds on the server. I advertised the event for a month on trade, and this year we had two teams that were entered from outside Time and Tide.
Part of the reason we opened it server-wide was to get our raid group known to help with recruiting. Traditionally, we have rarely needed to recruit by using trade and we rely on our own networking to find more players. But for a 25-man raid group, this can be limiting, and when we tried to recruit in more traditional ways, people always wondered who we were despite our raid team's being together for three years.
This event allowed people to see our raid members, and by joining in the games, they would realize that we are not just about raiding but have a great community, too. Our raid team has always been a balance of 50% progression and 50% community; whilst progression is important to us, so is raiding with a team that enjoys their time together. I recommend other raid groups think outside the box for getting their teams known on the server; from this event, we had many more applications.
Each team had five players (typical heroic layout: one tank, three DPSers, one healer), and we had six teams participate. As some people could not make each event, they were allowed to substitute. In the end, we had about 50 players participate directly over the weekend. If you include some of the RP events that required teams to gather players, then we had around 200 players take part in some way.
Let's talk about each of the events. What's Lawn Darts all about?
We had six events overall, and we started off on the Friday evening with a small opening ceremony whilst we waited for players to login. We then had the Lawn Darts competition.
For the Lawn Darts event, we had one of our raid members, Dekkion, leap to his death from the rocks outside Dalaran. Each team had to nominate a player to jump too, and they had to land as close to Dekkion's corpse as possible. They were restricted from using any abilities that would allow them to cheat, including flying mounts. The team who got the closest to Dekkion would score the most points.
This event was a lot of fun, with many arguments about who was closest. One jump even came as close that she won by being closer as her dress splayed out on the floor when she died, so she won by a skirt!
How does the Screenshot Competition work? Do players begin that before the event date, or is this something that finishes up after the main event?
As soon as the Lawn Darts event was finished, we released our screenshots to the teams from our website. This consisted of 20 screenshots that the teams had to match as closely as possible by taking their own screenshots and posting them on an online gallery. Each screenshot was marked for right location, time of day matching, NPC locations and any special objects that we included.
Here are a couple of samples, followed by some of the pictures our teams came up with to match those:
Gallery: 15 Minutes of Fame: Summer Games screenshot contest | 4 Photos
As you can see from the screenshots, we were a little cruel to the teams to include Deathwing destroying Uldum, but at least some of the teams were creative and added their own fire.
Each team had until the Sunday just before the final event to submit the screenshots.
Capture and Hold sounds like a mixed PVP / PVE event. How did that work?
The concept was simple: Teams had to attack a Horde village and kill the NPCs, thereby triggering the PVP flag and announcing it in local defense. As soon as the teams started, we had a clock running. When players were killed, they were not allowed to use any resurrection abilities (including corpse running). They had to hold the location for as long as possible against any Horde players that came to defend. When the last player of the team died, the clock was stopped, and the team lasting the longest would win. We had to space this event over the weekend so the Horde would calm down between teams so we had a proper reset.
The first year we did this event, we had a lot more freedom, as the Horde were able to access their capital cities very quickly via the Dalaran portals; the teams had to /roll to choose between Razor Hill, Thunderhoof Village and Brill. Unfortunately this year, all the Horde are located in Orgrimmar, so all teams were given Razor Hill to capture and hold.
During this event, the #1 PVE guild on Horde-side took a lot of notice and had a lot of fun destroying our raid members, especially as we have a lot of friends in Aeon -- they took a lot of pleasure destroying us over and over!
Tell us about the course and the rules for the heroic racing.
The heroic racing was done over two rounds. The first heroic we used was Lost City of Tolvir. Each team had to wait outside the portal to the dungeon and had to enter at the same time. They had to race to the end and trade to me an item from the last boss to prove they finished the instance. The quickest teams got the most points.
The times were very close, and by popular demand, we added a second instance and went to the nearby Halls of Origination to have a second round. The times were incredible, and one of the teams finished Lost City of Tolvir in around 9 minutes.
What was the RP event?
Our RP event was called Chain Gang. Each team had to recruit as many players as possible to participate and had to do something creative that captured the attention of other players. We scored the teams under the following criteria: number of players participating, effort required to organize, entertainment value, disruption caused, and how well it worked in a theme.
One of the teams recruited players on both Horde and Alliance side and staged a walkdown, with Horde on one side and Alliance on the other, yelling and taunting each other as they crossed the bridge into Tol Barad. Inevitably, it ended in conflict with both sides attacking each other. They recruited about 50 players in all from both sides of the server to stage this; it was very impressive to get Horde-side to do RP as well in unison.
Another team as can be seen from the video below recruited 40 players to turn into pirates and stage an attack on the Whale Shark, with everyone dressed as pirates with usual pirate-y banter.
And last but not least ...
Our last event was a quiz, but this was done with a twist. All of the teams gathered in Darnassus, and each question was related to a location in Azeroth. To answer the question, they had to race to the location that would answer the question. For example: Find the night elf NPC known as the first ever mortal druid. All players then rushed to the location of Malfurion Stormrage, located in the temple. The first player to reach the destination would score the points.
Who were the judges?
I was one of the judges, but we had several of our raid group's officers judge as well. With any event that required judging, each judge had specific criteria that they had to look for; in this way, the judges could not be biased, as they had to have an exact reason for awarding points under the criteria. As we were very clear about the criteria and gave the players a lot of updates, we had no problems at all of accusations of bias. Everyone came away extremely happy after the events, as most of all during the weekend there was a lot of laughing and a lot of fun and everyone knew that the point of the games was not the competition but to de-stress away from the push of raiding/rated PVP, etc.
All of that sounds like a blast! You obviously spent a lot of time and effort designing every event. How many teams and players were able to participate?
We had six teams play these games:
Rainbow Cupcakes, with the unending cry of Cupcakes HOOOOOOOO!
White Pony, the team that staged the Tol Barad Roleplay event.
Nah Nah Paws did extremely well in the PVP, lasting over 30 minutes and killing many Horde who tried to kick them out of Razor Hill.
Mixed Connections staged a formation parachute jump for their RP event; it looked very impressive but was over a little too quickly.
Friendship is Magic, despite being the team who came from a PVP guild that runs rated battlegrounds, did not do very well in the PVP event -- but did storm it in the Heroic Racing, finishing Lost City in 10 minutes and Halls of Origination in 12 minutes.
Amazing Wowcoholics had the youngest member who was 12 years old and who came up with the idea of the pirates attacking the Whale Shark.
And the best part, for many -- prizes!
This year we wanted the games to feel special, so the grand prize was a Cenarion Hatchling pet from the Blizzard store, as well as ilvl 378 BOEs from our Firelands raids and a Mekgineer's Chopper to share amongst the overall winning team. Each team that won an individual event were given companion pets from in game; we had a large selection of these to give away, which we had gathered since the previous year's games and had stored in our bank.
And you're planning a smaller version of these games for the winter holidays, is that right?
That's right! Over the Christmas period, we struggle to get our raids together, as people are away just like in the summer. During this time, we have two small events. The first event is a simple RP raid; everyone has to dress up in Santa outfits and we choose an old raid to do, wearing only this kit.
The second event is called Murder Games. We choose an old tier of raiding; in Wrath, we went to Naxx, and this year we will likely raid BWD and BOT. One person is whispered by an officer telling them they are the murderer; that person then needs to wipe the raid without being caught. The player is awarded points for wiping the raid and extra points for not being caught. Other players are awarded points for guessing the murderer and bonus points for guessing how he tried to do it. Each boss fight we change the murderer. There are no prizes given during this event -- it's just done for fun. We do, however, pay for the repair bills of all players from the raid bank.
Sounds like an event done right! We bet you'll have a lot more interest in your Winter Games after players get wind of how much fun you've been having. Best of luck, and good games -- in every sense!