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Improvements for guild perk system in Warlords

The guild leveling system was originally meant to be a reward for guilds. People who worked together got rewards. For the first ~6 months, this guild leveling system was awesome. After a year, or two, things went terribly wrong.

The level 25 elephant in the room.

However, in recent years, the guild leveling system, as well as the cash flow perk, has been discouraging people from making new guilds. This has been particularly problematic as it has directly contributed to the decline in the number of people willing to start new raiding guilds, and thus the decline of the raiding population that helped keep the social element of the game intact. Even for social guilds, people only trusted level 25 guilds to have their best interests in mind.

Instead, many people starting guilds have been doing it for the purpose of predatory behavior. That is, someone would start a guild and then spam invites to any new player who made a character on the server. Once people were in the guild, they would be abused for leveling purposes, and then kicked from the guild as soon as the guild hit level 25. Then, that guild could be sold to the highest bidder. Since people couldn’t start new raiding guilds unless they bought a level 25 guild, that created a market for people who abused new players for the purpose of leveling and selling guilds.

The cash flow perk was also problematic in that it earned money for the guild leader along the way, which then was not shared with the rest of the members in a predatory leveling guild. In most real guilds, this cash flow perk did not come anywhere near covering the costs associated with raiding and the repair feature. So, the cash flow perk was able to be abused by predatory guilds (e.g., to a single person who wasn’t giving anything back to the guild members), but wasn’t providing any substantial bonus to real guilds who were using the money (e.g., guild leadership that used the money to supply the guild with needed resources).

Since most new guilds were assumed to be predatory (even when someone actually had good intentions), most good players would not join a guild that was below level 25. This meant that as a new guild officer, you couldn’t recruit quality players, and you burned out of leadership before you even got started. Since all good guilds were level 25, the way to know that the guild was good was to refuse to join any guild that wasn’t at max level. Thus, the cycle of needing to buy level 25 guilds to show legitimacy has been a huge problem that Blizzard has largely ignored. That is, until today.

Social groups will always die and fade if given enough time. So, guilds were always going to fold after their leaders got tired. The leaders were always going to get tired. The problem with guild leveling is that it created a barrier for entry for new guilds and new leaders. That slowed down the creation of new guilds to a much slower speed than guilds were folding, and led to a cascade of other related problems that make guild leadership unappealing to new players. Prior to Cataclysm, there were always new guilds to replace the ones that went away, but that ended with the guild leveling barrier of entry.

The solution to the guild problem.

Blizzard has announced that they are removing the guild leveling system from the game. Every guild in the game will be treated as though they are level 25. If you are in a guild, you get all the benefits of being in the guild without having to level the guild.

They are also removing the problematic cash flow perk. Instead of guilds making money from the cash flow perk, they are putting epic BOEs back into raiding dungeons for guilds to be able to sell. This was the primary way my guild funded all of our repairs and materials prior to Siege of Orgrimmar removing epic BOEs.

Guilds will still have fun bonuses in Warlords.

With the worry about the changes, there are several important things to keep in mind:

  • There will still be the basic perks that came from being in a guild. Things that people really liked, they will still mostly get (though there will be fewer individual perks in the perk list – combining things reduces confusion and “bloat”). For level 25 guilds, nothing important really changes with what they announced.
  • There will still be guild achievements. With all the talk of removing the leveling system, achievements are still something really important that were of benefit to real guilds (and weren’t all that helpful to predatory guilds). Achievements have been updated for guilds continuously every expansion, and are the main ways that all the level 25 guilds differentiate themselves anyway.
  • Purchasing guild bank tabs is still going to require resources, thus there will still be plenty of opportunities to feel like your new guild is progressing in working together to accomplish goals.
  • Without the cash flow perk, it will be easier to get shared guild resources in ways that require working together and doing normal guild behavior (e.g., actually running instances or raids as a team).  Additionally, getting people to donate shared resources will be easier without people thinking the cash flow perk is actually doing something  (when in reality, it never was).
  • People who want to start new raiding or social guilds no longer have to give money to people selling pre-leveled guilds. Instead, we go back to the days when people who wanted to start a new guild had the resources available for them to do so. Thus, people can start new raid teams without being at such a huge disadvantage. The guild perks are now bonuses, rather than a system that punishes new players.
  • If people do only the dungeon and scenario guild challenges, your guild can get around 5,500 gold per week. This number increases if you do any of the other perks, with several thousand more gold available from the more difficult challenges (e.g., battlegrounds, challenge modes, and raids). Seeing as how my guild only got 600 from the cash flow perk (excluding guild challenges), convincing our guild members to complete the challenges is a better source of income than the cash flow perk ever was. You have to subtract your guild challenge total from the perk UI because the game adds those values together.

This is a change that should have positive impacts on the game. The guild level shackles were going to cause a huge problem when people needed to make new guilds in Warlords of Draenor. Now, those shackles have been removed – making way for an era of new guilds. While it may take a long time for the fear of predatory guilds to fade. It is normal for old guild leadership to burn out, but it’s not normal for potential new leaders to be scared away from trying. In time, trying to be a new guild leader may be seen as a positive thing in the community, instead of a negative. As old guild leaders burn out, lets hope that new people can now be encouraged to try to take up the mantle of leadership. It’s still a lot of work to be a leader, but without Bizzard tying our hands behind our backs, it’s now a function of the leader’s effort and skills at leading to make new guilds a success. Go forth and make friends.

Posted in Beta Feedback, Guild Leadership, Warlords of Draenor, Written By Lissanna

Raiding in the New Year!

Welcome to 2014! The last year has been a great year for my guild. We have been progressing in raids faster than any other tier, and our 25-man raid has reached 8/14 HM. I’m also having a lot of fun as a frost mage, and I really love the guild family. I enjoy spending my time in Azeroth with my guild, Undying Resolution.

As we move into the new year, we should hopefully see the beta for WOD start up “soon”. In preparing for the wait for mythic raiding, however, we are still working on making further heroic progress in Siege.

As the guild recruitment officer, it is my job to keep our raids happy and full of awesome people. Right now, our guild is looking to fill healing and ranged DPS spots for SoO and future WOD raiding. We have openings for:

  • Healers of any class, but we are especially interested in a holy priest or restoration druid.
  • Ranged DPS, especially moonkin, shadow priests, or elemental shaman.
  • It would be especially awesome if we could find a hybrid healer/DPS who may be able to swap seamlessly between roles in the transition between running 25-man normal-modes and the 20-man mythic raids.

We are raiding 25-mans on Wed/Thurs/Sun from 8 to 11 PM, Eastern time, on the Elune-US(Alliance) server. It is pretty rare for us to have healing spots open, so if you have been looking for a new heroic-mode guild that raids on a fairly relaxed (3 day) schedule, please talk to us soon! Our guild is almost always looking for ranged DPS, though we don’t have any melee or tank openings at the current time. You can see more about our guild and apply on our forums at: http://www.undyingresolution.com/

As always, if you have questions about my guild, or about anything else, you can contact me on twitter @restokin

Happy new year! Can’t out deeps that boomkin! Ember Isolte’s “Moonkin” parody song is slightly outdated, but I swear she sings “crit chicken,” not “carrot chicken”!!!

Posted in Guild Leadership, Written By Lissanna

Guild Leadership Corner: Where have all the guild funds gone?

This post was co-written by Lissanna, Ranico, and Mindalen of Undying Resolution (US-Elune), as part of the blog’s guild leadership series.

Our guild has a problem. We’re slowly going broke this tier because Blizzard’s changes in 5.4 have removed our guild’s primary source of guild income.

Our 25-man raiding guild used to be self-sufficient:  We’re currently working on normal-mode Garrosh and working on starting heroics. Our guild offers repairs, flasks, food, gems and other raiding materials as part of the package of benefits we offer to our raiders.  In return for these materials, our guild keeps any greens, blues, or epics that drop in the raid and people don’t need. This includes BOE epics, BOE patterns, or shards/materials from disenchanting BOP epics. The guild also accepts donations from members, and plenty of guild members make their own flasks and such. For all of Cataclysm and the first several tiers of MOP, we were able to do this while still either making money or coming out even in funds every month. The beginning of a raid tier is almost always a profitable time in our guild’s raiding, with the end of tier economy usually slowing our guild’s income.

Something is wrong this tier: With the change to noodle carts reducing our food requirements, our actual guild income should have gone up at the beginning of this tier (especially with our faster than average progression through normal-mode content). Instead, we’ve netted an approximate loss of 250,000 gold in the first few weeks after the start of 5.4 (a really unprecedented early patch loss). Without major reductions in providing materials to our guild members, or increasing guild donations, we will have depleted all of our bank’s reserves by the end of December at the rate of loss from the first few weeks.

Where does all that money go?
Item name – Number of stacks per week = Average amount per stack(average per week)

  • Golden Lotus – 5 stacks of 20/week @ 1300G = (6500G)
  • Raw Croc Belly – 6 stacks/week @ 229G = (1374G)
  • Emperor Salmon – 5 stacks/week @ 125G = (625G)
  • Giant Mantis Shrimp – 3 stacks @ 120G = (360G)
  • Tiger Gourami – 3 stacks @ 225 = (675)
  • Raw Turtle Meat – 4 stacks @ 30 = (120)
  • Pumpkin – 6 stacks @ 290 = (1740)
  • Cabbage – 2 stacks @ 300 = (600)
  • Carrots – 2 stacks @ 200 = (400)
  • Green Onion – 2 stacks @ 200 = (400)
  • Additional Meats/Fish/Veggies in lesser amounts 6 stacks @ 100 = (600)
  • Gems – 20/week = (approx. 1200)
  • Enchanting mats – Random amounts – Not trackable. Usually donated or obtained by DEing greens.
  • Black Pepper – 3 stacks/week @ 1800 = (5400)
  • Rice Flour – 2 stacks/week @ 1800 = (3600)
  • Leg Enchants – 5 x 3 = 15 @ 400G = (6000)
  • Belt Buckles – 4 @ 400 = (1600G)
  • Shoulder Enchants – 4 x 3 = 12 @ 350 = (4200)
  • Guild Bank Repairs – On average we spent 10K gold per week on guild repairs.

What was our original source of income?
In previous tiers, BOE patterns would drop from raids that could be sold to non-raiders or other guilds that were unlucky with their pattern drops. We sold BOE epics that dropped from raids and didn’t require crafting. These BOE epics were often rare and of equal ilevel to the normal-mode raid gear. These were often bought by people who wanted to get a quick ilevel boost outside of raids at high prices. In addition, for the last several tiers, some epic crafting items required tokens such as haunting spirits. These tokens came from disenchanting gear from raids, and used to be so valuable in previous tiers that we didn’t hand out much off-spec gear since the need for haunting spirit tokens to fund the guild was greater than our guild’s need for off-spec gear. A combination of all three of these would mean that selling BOE epics, patterns, and required crafting spirit tokens were enough to keep our guild either breaking even or making a profit each raid tier. We could also sell the crafted items made from having the rare patterns and valuable required spirits.

In the current raid tier, NONE of these major income sources are available to us:

  • In the current tier, there are no BOE epic drops in the raid instance, so we can’t sell BOE epics.
  • There are no BOE pattern drops, so we can’t sell BOE patterns.
  • The current tokens (spirits of war) aren’t used in the same way as the tokens from previous tiers, and so fewer people are buying the tokens. Thus, these spirits can’t compensate for the loss of BOE drops from the raid instance, due to the spirits not being a required crafting material anymore.

Why are Spirits of War not enough to sustain guilds this tier?
As a tailor, the spirits of war only accelerate the rate of making the daily cloth grind to make Celestial Cloth. It takes 21 celestial cloth to make a single epic item. Making a celestial cloth takes 10 bolts of windwool cloth once per day. If you use the spirit of war, it still costs 10 bolts of windwool cloth to make a celestial cloth. So, all it does is speed up the amount of time. The spirit of war is not a required item to make the epic, and it does not reduce the resource requirements at all. Thus, guilds can’t sustain high levels of guild expenditures with selling these spirits of war on the auction house, since they sell at a slower rate than previous tiers. Guilds also can’t sustain spending with only spirits of war to make BOEs to sell (in the absence of BOE epic drops from the instances). For example, since the 210 bolts of windwool cloth (at 12 gold a piece) means that it costs us the equivalent of 2,520 gold to make a cloth belt.

While these crafted items are selling okay early in the patch (at an average of 15,000 to 20,000), this isn’t likely sustainable due to limitations on the current crafting materials (e.g., who is farming the raw materials to make the items in the first place?). There are only so many trilium bars our guild can farm up outside of raids (and in previous tiers, the BOE items we were selling came as raid drops, and not as spending hours outside of raids farming materials). As the prices of these crafted items (but likely not the raw production materials) will decline over the next 6 to 8 months, if we sold the belt for 5,000 gold several months down the line, we would potentially only profit 2,500 gold based on the cost of the materials to manufacture these items (a far cry from the rate of weekly spending the guild will still incur at a point where our individual guild members may be feeling less generous on their own to keep the guild bank afloat). The rate-limiting factor for making the epic belts and other profession crafted items is not the daily cooldown for guilds with piles of Spirit of War tokens, but instead the rate of farming drops of windwool cloth or other materials required to make the items, especially on lower population servers with hurting economies in the first place. To be profitable, spirits of war and their role in crafting needs to be seriously re-examined.

What could Blizzard do to help guilds recoup lost funds?
To save amazing guild bank systems like Undying Resolution’s, a change to the spirits of war needs to happen soon – before the next expansion.

  • Spirits of war could reduce crafting costs. They need to make spirits of war either seriously reduce or entirely remove the material cost for crafting epics. So, a spirit of war plus a trillium bar could produce two of the balanced trillium bars instead of creating only one; it could reduce the cloth needed to 5 instead of 10 bolts, and reduce the magnificent hide costs to 1 instead of 2.
  • Turn spirits of war into a valued currency. They could also potentially put patterns or items on a vendor where the spirits of war are a currency for buying items directly.
  • Add back raid BOE items. It could be possible to add new BOE items this current tier for normal & heroic-mode raiding, with higher ilevels than normally available (e.g., BOEs at the thunder-forged value level). However, at the very least, for the next expansion, BOE raid epics absolutely need to return.
  • Increase guild raiding challenge rewards. They could also help guilds directly by greatly increasing the rewards from raiding guild challenges. For example, they could increase the number of guild raid boss kills and the gold rewarded per raid boss kill for the guild challenges). If it isn’t possible to make it easier for us to sell things, they could help fund raiding guilds by giving raiding guilds more gold for killing raid bosses (and reduce the need for us to sell items in the first place).
  • Increase guild funds from the Cash Flow Perk. Increase the Cash Flow Perk percentage or make the Cash Flow Perk applicable to more sources of gold income (such as quest rewards or auction house sales). With the declining interest and reduced number of dailies, the Cash Flow generated through this perk continues to diminish and represents but only a small portion of our guilds gross income. This would be better than adding in a taxation system where guilds could “tax” their guild members earnings, since the cash flow perk is a bonus on top of what the guild members earn. However, a “tax” system could also potentially be used to allow guilds to control how much gold their individual members donate to the bank, and could be used for guilds to distinguish differences between themselves, and determine how much money from individual members a guild requires to sustain themselves.
  • Have inexpensive cauldrons (flasks) and feasts (food) available to raiding guilds every tier. While the noodle carts are a nice addition this last patch, this ends up almost being “too little, too late”. As golden lotus for flasks ends up being a major guild expenditure, a 25-man flask cauldron similar to the noodle carts would have gone a long way to making the guild bank issue into a non-issue. The guild funds are really only expensive in the first place because Blizzard took away cauldrons and feasts this expansion (making people reliant on individual food/flasks after a long time of having those provided by their guilds). We could compensate for this by sustaining guild income with sales of BOE epic drops from raids, but removal of the safety net really hurts guilds who created centralized guild banking to provide cauldrons and feasts to their guilds in the first place.

Conclusions:

While some non-raiders may see the removal of these exclusive BOE items as beneficial, they come with a huge negative downside for the raiding guilds who required those items to make large raiding guilds sustainable. At the current rate of gold loss, our once profitable bank strategy has us leaking money faster than our income can keep up.

We are making internal guild changes (such as offering guild members rewards for donations to the bank, posting notices of what items we need donations of each week, reducing the amount of raid repairs we allow per day, and other strategies). In the short-term, we have seen guild member donations increase due to showing the guild our finance problem. However, this is the equivalent of shifting the costs onto our guild members – instead of an individual member crafting a belt and selling it for 25K, they’re spending their time and money outside of the raid crafting a belt and giving that item to the guild to sell. At that point, it’s no longer the guild providing resources from the funds gained from selling items acquired from raids, but members sharing resources they personally acquired outside of raids. Even with serious changes, we may have to seriously consider reducing the quantity and selection of raiding materials we can provide to our guild members 6 or 8 months down the line if donations don’t stay high enough to make up for the loss in sustainability from raid drops (we will eventually exhaust the resources of the minority of raiders who consistently donate to the bank if all raiders don’t donate equally). With the fact that our guild has one of the best maintained guild banks I’ve ever seen, having to change the way we provide materials to our members would break my heart. For guilds less well organized than ours, it is likely that they will stop providing materials much sooner than we would, as they are likely to run out of funds much sooner than we would. If this trend continues into the next expansion and several raid tiers down the line, this loss of sustainable guild funding would also cost us one of our primary recruitment tools after several years, and would hurt the culture of our guild since our members are used to how amazing our guild’s resources have been thus far.

Of course this raises the broader question, why not have raiders pay for their own repairs and provide everything for themselves? Why do we even need a Guild Bank? That question can continue sofar as to: why do we even need guilds? Especially true with both LFR & Flex. The simple answer is we want to be able to create our own communities with our friends, we want to be able to craft our own collective narrative and history within the game, not just as individual players but as a broader guild. Please give us more tools and ways to do this, not less. The answer to a vibrant community is not simply connecting realms or removing barriers to raiding, it also includes making “Guilds” fun and interesting, making them a network of micro communities across realms that forms the backbone of the broader macro community in WoW (as they always have).

Posted in Guild Leadership, Mists of Pandaria, Written By Lissanna

Guild Leadership Corner: rewarding raiders for success

My guild (Undying Resolution on Elune) has several guild parties a year. At the guild parties, we hand out awards: guild rank promotions, raid attendance award bonuses, and awards for recognizing people who contributed to our team. This works well with our 25-man, where this helps our raiders to feel recognized for all the work they do.

The awards we hand out to our raid members have four categories. The first three involve nominations from the full guild, as well as full guild voting on those nominated. The fourth award is one given by the officers. You can read the award descriptions on our website.  Our four award categories are:

  • Most improved raider
  • MVP: best overall raid performance
  • Most helpful member (can be given to either a raider or a social non-raiding member)
  • General Excellence Award (awarded from the officers to any raider or social non-raiding member).

During our guild party, we try to have themes. Around the holidays, everyone dresses up in their Winter’s Veil outfits and we decorate with things like snowmen, and other holiday things. For our summer party, we have summer outfits (well, except for the moonkin…).

WoWScrnShot_071113_213352

We try to find places to hold our parties that offer help to that themed feeling. So, for our summer party, we found the closest thing to a beach party spot that we could find, and invited people to bring beach clothes and toys. However, phasing can cause some problems with where to choose a party. So, if you choose to do a guild party, be careful not to choose it somewhere people can be left out (as we found out the hard way when 3 people couldn’t see us at our summer party spot!). With up to 30 people, finding a party venue around Azeroth can be really difficult!

However, a chance to relax and have some fun with our guild members can help make the long summer (or winter) months more enjoyable!

WoWScrnShot_071113_211752

Posted in Guild Leadership, Written By Lissanna

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