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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

It's all in the planning

15 Minutes of Fame is our look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes – from the renowned to the relatively anonymous, the remarkable to the player next door. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about.

Playing WoW is an exercise in organization. You need to organize your bank, you bags, your gear, even your talents. You need to plan which dailies you need today, which factions you're grinding and where you need to farm for what. Oh, and don't forget to check your banker and update your auctions.

Legend of the Alliance from Eonar-EU has ridden methodical organization from scratch to the top of the PvE game. The two-year-old guild has climbed from a chatty, rag-tag gaggle of newbies to a lean raiding organization thanks to careful planning and guidance. We visited with GM Loverose about the guild's history, its custom web site functionality, and the mature, methodical leadership that has steered its course.

15 Minutes of Fame: We understand that Legend of the Alliance has its roots way back in n00bdom. How did the guild get started?
Loverose: Legend of the Alliance started two years ago. It consisted of random people who met in Redridge. None of us knew each other when we joined the guild. We evolved from a very small, unknown social guild with few members to one of the biggest social/raiding guilds of Eonar. At the first stages of our guild, most of us didn't even know about talent specs, raids, etc., but just leveled along.

When we all hit 60, the TBC expansion came out. We moved into levelling again and geared up in level 70 dungeons. After investing a lot of time in guild organization together, ... we made a successful transition into a social raiding guild around March 2007. As much as we wanted to enjoy our game, we also wanted to make progress and see endgame content. With the great efforts of the whole guild, we made one of the fastest progressions on our server, becoming one of the server's Top 20 guilds according to Bosskillers in a few months only.

WotLK transition took a bit more time. As all our players in our guild are 18+, have jobs, families with limited game time, we waited till everyone got considerable amount of time to level at their own speed before posting any raid content. None of this became an obstacle to move on as a guild together. Now, we farm Naxx-10 and -25 plus the one-boss raids. At our two-year guild anniversary (Feb. 15, 2009), we cleared EOE-25 as well, clearing WotLK content.

They tend to say that social raiding guilds tend to fall apart quicker or less progression or harder to manage, but I do think that Legend of the Alliance is a good example of how to maintain a WoW/real life balance and experience endgame content in a fun, enjoyable, relaxing way.

How would you characterize the guild today?
Legend of the Alliance is a social/raiding guild. Although our guildies come from several backgrounds and cultures, the main characteristics of our guildies are social and very helpful, and we enjoy our game by having a good time together. Raiding has always been our secondary objective.

All our members are above 18+. Average age of the guild is around 30. Some examples of the professions of our guildies: engineers, doctors, lawyers, workers, IT specialists, students, cooks, cameramen.

The common language used within our guild is English. This is also the common language on our server in general. Our guild consists of people across the whole of Europe, through three time zones, (mainly) the UK, Holland, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Croatia.

We see from your web site that you have an extensive guild member ranking system.
Raiding costs time, effort, preparation, organization and patience. Experienced raiders understand the frustration that accompanies numerous wipes while a team learns to work together on new content. That frustration can be caused or compounded when inexperienced, improperly equipped players end up in a raid that they are not suited for when other, more appropriate players could have come to the raid instead.

Therefore, we have introduced a ranking system in our guild in TBC which allows us to create a logical progression within the guild for the members that loosely corresponds to their skill and equipment level. This helps us all identify if a player is suited for Kara or if they could solo Sunwell. We have assigned class leaders to assess the person's performance, gear and raiding capabilities to give them a certain guild rank.

The current ranking is as follows:

  • Social member

  • Senior member

  • Naxxist (10-man content -- level 80; some level 80 heroic dungeon experience; show some gear improvements from WotLK quests, dungeons or crafted items; gear properly gemmed and enchanted)

  • Legend (25-man content -- the achievement The Fall of Naxxramas; Imba score of around 400; frost resistance set for Sapphiron)

  • VIP member (ex-officers of LotA)

  • Assistant officer (assistants of raid managers and class officers)

  • Class officer (first contact point for members, instructor for new members)

  • Raid manager (organizer of raids, leader or assigner of a raid leader, loot manager/loot master)

  • Vice presidents (bank management, technical management, guild management when GM is not around)

  • GM

What's a typical weekly guild schedule?
In WotLK, we usually plan three nights of 25-man raids: Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings. The rest of the nights are free for members to post 10-man content. We have strict time schedules for evening raids: 20:00-23:00 server time. These times were chosen by taking the three time zones of our raiders into account. The time planned is usually sufficient to finish some raid content but also not affect the real lives of guildies.

From time to time, we plan some TBC instances with players under level 80.

As most of us are people with families, friends and jobs, not all our members can afford to play seven days a week. As Legend of the Alliance, we never require people to attend or sign up for a minimum amount of raids, nor is it compulsory to attend raids.

We encourage the people to sign up for the raids if they are available and want to raid. If we don't have sufficient sign ups for certain raids, we either convert 25-man raids into 10-man groups or have an evening of other activities which will increase the social interactivity in the guild. We believe it is the social aspect which keeps a guild together in long-term, not only progression in raids. We usually have a very good atmosphere during raids, even at wipe nights. It's our common principle that we don't raid with pressure, we all have fun all together, and no one is told off if someone makes a mistake.

What is the guild working on right now?
Currently we have cleared the WotLK content and doing achievement runs, including Sartharion with drakes up.

Is there anything else you think has been instrumental in the guild's long-term success?
We have a very active guild website with excellent tools that are quite unique in comparison to many other guild websites, which was designed and coded by our officer Frankers.

According to Frankers:

  • Application system Our application form simplifies the process of recruiting by simply asking the name of the applicant and a few questions about why they want to join. After submission, the system generates an application form that includes Armory and Imba data, so that officers can get a one-stop, quick view of the applicant and their abilities.

  • Videos Our system automatically embeds videos from URLs pasted into posts using a system I wrote called AME. It's juicy stuff, really.

  • Roster There are a few roster systems out there, but none I particularly liked, so I wrote an AJAX-powered system that displays filtered results in a grid or card view. The roster is updated automatically from the Armory and Imba.

  • Alt control I struggled for a while to create a method for easily linking alts and mains together, and think I finally got it right in our new Toon Manager. The system automatically links alts and mains in throughout various areas of the site (i.e. in each post header, in post text and even the raid calendar).

  • Raid calendar We use GroupCalendar for our raid and event scheduling. Officers automatically sync up GroupCalendar and our raid calendar using a unique batch uploading system. My theory is that the less people have to do to keep the site updated, the better.

  • Wow to go We run a light version of the site for mobile devices, for busy officers on the go.

  • WoW Insider feeds We have a forum for Specific RSS feeds and mainly rely on feeds to fill the WoW news forum.

Your guild is so organized! What's ahead for the group?
We are looking forward to gear all our raiders to be ready for Ulduar once it comes out, run achievement runs and get 3-D Sarth down. WoW is the main and only game the guild plays.

Best of luck to LotA -- we're sure it will accomplish what it sets out to do!


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