Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Time for Better Guild Recruitment Tools

shot: Hestiah
I was browsing the Guild Recruitment forums as I often do, and I came across a thread called "A Note to Blizzard." Since the title promised a departure from the LFG/LFM content found in most threads in the forum, I ventured in. The "note" turned out to be a suggestion, and by the looks of the responses, a quite popular one: 12 pages (and counting) of assent. How the hell have the forums survived? I had to chime in myself.

The author points out how Blizzard is attempting to make the game more social. They cite the S.E.L.F.I.E. camera and Twitter integration, but go on to assert that Blizzard has overlooked a key step in this process. They feel Blizzard needs to provide players better tools to find others with shared interests in game.

I have to agree.

I play in a small, casual guild that's been around for about a year and a half. We established who we wanted to be early on; the challenge was connecting with other players who wanted what we offered (and what we offer is still fairly niche). For that, we had some tools provided by Blizzard at our disposal: in-game chat, in-game guild finder, realm forums, and guild recruitment forums.

We've never utilized Trade Chat to promote our guild. To me, it's kind of like walking into a bar at closing time and asking if anyone feels like driving you home. You might get a taker, but you probably won't. If someone jumps at the opportunity, you might get the designated driver, but you're more likely to get some inebriated jerk.

No thanks.

That leaves the guild-finder tool and the forums. The guild tool is sort of just...there. If used, players who know of the tool's existence can find you, but there isn't a lot of space to describe your guild and thus may be difficult to convey what you're all about. As an individual player, you can't use the tool to put yourself out there like guilds can; your only option is to browse the guilds who've listed themselves.

The forums have brought us the most success, but that involves a hands-on approach. We'd monitor our posts---both on our realm and the guild recruitment forums---on a daily basis. At the same rate we'd also trawl the forums seeking out players who expressed a desire for something that resembled what we have. Part open-call, part head-hunting.

We've had greater results with the thread on our realm forums; part of that is because our server has a high-population, so the pool of players is pretty large. That, and the fact that almost all of the players who see the thread will already be on the realm, meaning they won't have to consider the cost of a server transfer to join up.

The guild recruitment forum is nice in that unlike the realm forum, everyone who visits the guild recruitment forum will have a shared focus. But it has its drawbacks, with competition being one of them. The forum is a constant stream of new posts by guilds looking for more, or by players looking for guilds, as well as old posts being "bumped" for visibility. A new post might enjoy an hour or two on the front page, but it will soon be buried in pages of pages of advertisements and requests, some months old.

Sadly, there are no sub-forums, either. Categories like Horde, Alliance, PvE, and PvP would go a long way. This only contributes to the noise that interferes with guilds and players finding what they're looking for.

I think a player's guild can be a major attraction in this game. I know I've stayed active during content lulls partly because of the people I play with. I'd imagine it's the same for a decent portion of the player base. I'd love to see more robust tools to help players with shared interests connect more easily. As the author of the thread that spawned this post said, some simple filtering options (like this player created on his own time) would be a good start if a complete revamp of the process isn't something easily accomplished. Players and guilds alike could find better fits with greater ease.

It seems like a win-win for both Blizzard and the playerbase.

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