Sunday, May 29, 2011

Character Audits

Lisa: Well, I know. But as the employer, it is your job to make your employees feel that they are part of the decision-making process.
Dave: Is this something you learned from that stupid book on Japanese management techniques?
Lisa: You don't actually have to LISTEN to them. Just pretend to. It helps to create a more harmonious group energy.
Dave: Again, is this from that stupid book on Japanese management techniques?
Lisa: This is just a standard management technique that has been used by personnel supervisors since the days of Ho Lu, grand emperor of the Wu dynasty. 


An idea that I have been kicking around is a "guild character audit" system. It's similar in philosophy to co-worker evaluations that some companies experiment with, wherein employees are (generally) randomly assigned a fellow co-worker and they provide evaluations of that person once a year or several times a year or what-have-you. Generally, the person you evaluate is not the one evaluating you (reducing though not eliminating the chances of collusion). It can be a secret as to whom is doing who's evaluation or, on the other end of the spectrum, the person does the evaluation (after some prep time) in a session with the co-worker they are evaluating (and the manager, usually).

I am not here to laud or condemn the practice in the workplace. However, I think this could be a valuable tool within a guild to keep everyone accountable for being up to par for raiding while distributing the work to ensure that everyone is held so accountable.

The idea is not that guild members will critique each other's game play. One could do this, but I am not suggesting it and I think it probably is a poor idea, for reasons which I'll go into briefly at the end. What I am suggesting is that each guild member is randomly assigned another guild member to evaluate the night before, or two nights before, a guild raid. The evaluation will essentially be a character audit...checking that gear is gemmed and enchanted, all glyph slots are being used and that spec-appropriate gear, gems, enchants and glyphs are being used.

Now, let me quickly clarify something. This is not supposed to be a discussion or debate on the best way to gear/gemchant. This is supposed to be a cursory pass to ensure your evaluation target is not doing anything grossly wrong. If your evaluation target is a mage and he/she has stamina gems or a dodge enchant...that should be red flag. If a prime or major glyph slot has been left empty, that should be a red flag. If he/she is a plate-wearing DPS but has equipped an epic with parry on it, red flag. This is purely meant as a way for the "collective" of the guild to be aware of all potential issues that could hamper the guild in a raid. Perhaps the person has a good reason for doing something that most would view as completely wrong. At least it's a known issue and they can explain to the raid leadership what they're doing and the raid leadership can approve it or not.

Of course, the guild master or raid leader or an officer could do all of the character audits. However, that could be extremely time-consuming. Especially when it comes to something like a DPS using a glyph that boosts an ability that his/her spec does not even use in their rotation. Such a mistake is clearly as bad as overlooking an empty gem slot, but it wouldn't be obvious to someone who doesn't know much about that class. This is the second aspect of such a system. If the person you draw to audit is a hunter, for example, you should check what spec(s) he/she is using and get a minimal understanding of how that class-spec works.

Let's be clear: the idea is not that you have to become an expert with the class. But knowing that the survival spec uses Cobra Shot instead of Steady Shot to regain focus and therefore a survival hunter glyphing Steady Shot (a shot never used by survival) is essentially the same as an empty glyph slot would be a good idea. Whether they are using the optimal glyphs should not be your concern. This allows for rather sophisticated parses of basic competence (not theorycrafting debates) while not requiring one or a few people to understand every class.

The reasons I do not think it is wise to let this turn into an evaluation of game play/raid performance are two-fold:

One, it puts the focus of individual raiders in the wrong place during raids. The only way to even remotely be able to critique the play of a fellow raider is to watch them play, consistently. You may get flashes of other people in your raid while you're killing dragons, but your focus should be very much focused on your own play, not on evaluating another person.

Secondly, and more importantly, not everyone is good at or interested in communication. To put it more frankly, a lot of people are jerks. Giving them the sanctioned ability to tear into someone else is a bad idea. Gameplay is to some extent opinion-based, and everyone has an opinion---and many people express their opinions in a non-ideal way. The character audit is not meant to be opinion-based. It's meant to be largely a question of facts: either a piece of gear is gemmed and enchanted or it isn't. Either the glyphs empower abilities that that spec uses, or they don't (again, no comments on whether they are the "right" glyphs...only whether all the glyph spots are used and pertain to the abilities that spec uses). It probably could be boiled down to a checklist, and it removes opinion from the equation. Leave overall performance evaluation (in the numbers and in handling mechanics) to the raid leadership--hopefully individuals chosen because they have good communication skills among other things. 

The main idea behind this system is that a raid is a collective endeavour and everyone "owes" doing their best, within their time constraints, to make it successful. This system should not be uncovering failures every week. That is not what it is about. It's about recognizing that everyone has a responsibility to everyone else, that the raid group is always fully aware of all matters relevant to the raid group and therefore each individual is accountable for carrying out that responsibility. Ideally, this system will encourage people to ensure that their gear/glyphs/gemchants are always in good shape, so that they don't get red flagged by their auditor, and the audits are passed week after week...leading to a smooth raid week after week.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm... I wonder where you got your example from... :P

    A long time ago I suggested to my fellow officers the possibility of doing regular character and performance audits. (Regular so that people would get constant feedback rather than only being approached when something was wrong.) There was some enthusiasm for the idea, but I think we completely forgot about it. (I know I did, and it was my idea!) Maybe I should bring it up again.