“So how do we do this?” I ask Alex. We’re driving home from his second MMA class, which was on Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, a cardio intense grappling martial art. It left him pretty exhausted.
“Water,” he demands. “You give me water.”
I hand him the bottle, which he begins draining.
“How do we do what?” he asks in between gulps.
“Find our eighth member for the guild. You said it would be hard?”
“Ha!” he lets out a derisive laugh. “That’s not just hard. That’s impossibllllle!”
I think he was doing Luke, but he still has some water in his mouth and it comes out as “impwossable.”
After the jump, Alex and I go on a recruiting mission
“We’re in a tough spot right now. Once we start to get going and clearing operations, we can build a reputation on the server as serious dudes,” Alex says. “People will start flocking to us. But until we have eight, we can’t even start. It’s like that book, Fahrenheit 451.”
“You mean Catch 22?”
“Whatever. They both have numbers, same thing.”
We get home and hop on Vent and I see most of our guys are on, spread across the three guild channels — PvP, Questing, and Instances. I gather them together to brainstorm ideas. Mike, one of our healers, offers a suggestion: constantly spam the general chat with an advertisement.
“I did it in WoW and it totally worked. Sure, you get four or five bad people for every good one, but you just have to seed the baddies out,” he explains to us. “After a month or two, you’ll know which they are.”
That doesn’t sound very appealing. “We’ll leave that as a last resort, Mike.”
“What about the server forums?” asks Sair, one of our tanks. “Can’t we use those?”
“There are no server forums,” Alex tells him. “Well, not technically. Like two days ago they added grouped server forums – five or six servers share one. We put a thread up the first day, but haven’t heard anything. I don’t think anyone is really using them.”
“That’s dumb,” someone says, and a chorus of voices agrees.
No one really has any other intelligent ideas, so I decide to try something out.
“Okay, here’s what we’re going to do: no playing with guildmates in 4-man instances for the next three days. PUGs only.”
My announcement is immediately met with a series of groans.
“But the loot!” Mike exclaims. And he has a point.
A PUG is a pick-up group. Finishing an instance with a pick up group and getting something out of it is an uphill battle. Where the enemy has artillery. And you have a stick. Not even the pointy kind. PUGs are about minimal teamwork, poor communication, selfishness, incompetence, and swathes of wasted time. Everyone who plays MMOs has a story about a terrible pick up group. Mine is about losing out on an X-3000 heavy repeating blaster pistol to a Jedi Sentinel that can’t even use guns. When I asked why he took it, he told me, “My companion needs a new one.”
It’d take my guildies twice the amount of time to complete instances in a PUG as it would if they grouped together. Hell, they might be able to finish an instance together in the amount of time it takes to even form a balanced PUG. My little experiment could end up being a giant waste for everyone.
I turn to Alex, whose PC is next to mine, looking for some assurance that this is the right move. He shrugs his shoulders.
“You guys want an eighth member?” I continue down the path. “Then we’re going to have to go out there and find one. You play with an unguilded person who displays any semblance of knowing what they’re doing, ask them to go to the website and fill out an application.”
I still hear resistant mumblings.
“Okay, how about this?” I try. “Whoever can get the most people to apply gets 250,000 credits, straight up. And we’ll give you another 250k if we accept the applicant. Think of it like a social quest.”
When I get home from work three days later, Alex is waiting for me with the apps we’ve gotten. From what my guildmates have been telling me, they’ve been referring people left and right; I expect to see a stack of them.
There are four.
“It might as well be three, actually. This guy is from Australia. He won’t be able to make scheduled raid times,” Alex tells me, holding up one of the sheets.
Applicant #1 wants to main tank. I know this because his answers to all of our questions mention this somewhere.
– How long have you played MMOs? “Since WoW launched, where I was my guild’s main tank.”
– Would you be willing to change roles to fit the guild’s needs? “Assuming the guild needs a main tank, yes.”
– What’s your favorite candy? “Reese’s and I want to main tank.”
We already have two tanks, both of whom would get seniority over him. He goes in the no pile.
The candy question is something I came up with when I was an RA – it’s basically an idiot check. Freshmen boys are stupid and will often write weird and creepy responses to even the simplest question because they think it’s funny. As an RA, it’s a great tool to know who to keep an eye on. With recruiting, I can just reject someone if I don’t like their response.
Applicant #2 has little MMO experience and has never raided before, but is excited to learn. She loves Star Wars, loved the Knights of the Old Republic games, and likes being social. Her application just reads bubbly. And to top it off, she’s a scoundrel, a class we don’t have in our group, which means there won’t be any crossover with loot. I think she’s exactly what we’re looking for.
“Next,” Alex says.
“I kn- what? Are you kidding me? She’s perfect,” I say.
“No raiding experience? We need to hit the ground running – we can’t be spending time gearing her up and teaching the basics. Down the line, sure, but not right now as our eighth member.”
This is annoying, but I can’t argue with him. He’s the raid leader so I have to trust his expertise in that area.
Applicant #3 has an amazing resume; lots of raiding experience in WoW, EQ2, and Rift. He even ran his own guild in Rift and was also a raid leader in WoW.
Everything looks good, but then I get to the idiot check. His favorite candy? “Hot tamales…if you know what I mean!!!” That’s exactly how he wrote it – with the ellipses and the italics and the three exclamation points.
“Yeah,” Alex agrees.
“Hot tamales are a candy, right?”
“Yeah, they’re like cinnamon Mike and Ike’s.”
Clearly we do not know what he means.
“Is it like a… like a sex thing?” Alex asks. He says the word “sex” in a hushed voice.
“I guess.” I actually have no idea.
“Well… he has raided a lot.”
“So let’s bring him in,” Alex says.
“I’m not so sure.”
“Do you want to raid?”
“Do you want a weirdo in our guild?”
“A maybe weirdo.”
“Alex, this guy probably isn’t worth it. That’s a creepy answer, I think, so it’s best to just move on.”
“Move on to what? That’s the last application. Listen, MMO players can sometimes be a little awkward, especially raiders. I think that’s all this is.”
That seems reasonable, and a quick google search of “hot tamale sex” doesn’t bring up anything conclusive. If we’re going to let this guy in, though, I want to get something out of it.
“Hot Tamale can join, but only if we let the scoundrel girl in too, as an alternate,” I say.
“Good,” I say. Any victory over my brother is a major one. “Now who do I owe money?”
“You owe me five hundred thousand credits for the most apps and Hot Tamale and Mike two hundred fifty for the scoundrel.”
“I owe you five hundred thousand? Can’t you let it slide? For old time’s sake? We’re brothers.”
“Can’t do it, Rudy,” he says as he walks away.
Rudy Basso, an accountant with an English degree, is living proof that your major really doesn’t matter that much. His series Farming Vader will appear here every Friday. You can find more of his writing (and occasional acting) at Cows Come Home.