#engineering #video games
Laurent "Strift" Cazanove
March 11, 2021

Launching a recruitment platform for Classic guilds

For a year and a half now, I’ve been the leader of a 40-man Classic WoW guild. Classic is the reissue of the original version of World of Warcraft. Released in 2004, that game is what defined the MMORPG genre. Its latest “Shadowlands” expansion has known record-breaking sales and 17 years later, Blizzard’s game is still king of MMOs.

You got it, WoW’s a pretty big deal. But why would anyone play the 15-year old version of it? To sum it up, the initial game was mostly built around its community aspect. Everything prompts you to interact with others. A lot of enemies are too strong for one player, some items can only be obtained every few days, and most resources are limited.

Undoubtedly, what makes the game the most peer-dependent is that the end-game dungeons require 40 people — a raid — to be beaten. Forty. That’s a lot. And it’s not like you can just group up with 39 random players. A good raid requires a well thought-out mix of the 8 classes available and everyone needs to have basically the same in-game progression.

Screenshot of players fighting against Onyxia, a WoW raid boss
Players fighting the first 40-man raid boss, Onyxia.

You think that is constraining? Hang on. The 40 people now need to agree on given time frames to meet and progress through the content. If the best guilds usually clear the dungeons in one night, some can need several ones to do it — if they even manage to. The best part of it? Statistically, only 25% of the raid will actually receive rewards for their participation. The rest will just have to hope that the gods of RNG will be in their favor next time. Oh, yeah — next time means next week.

Now you have the big picture. Organizing a 40-man raid is a real management challenge. And because it’s, after all, a game, people will leave for a variety of reasons. Sometimes real life priorities will catch them. Sometimes it will be because they didn’t get that shiny, lightning-sparkling, sword. Either way, recruitment never stops.

Okay. So how do you efficiently recruit people? Well, you don’t. I mean, unless you’re the best guild on your server. Or you’re promoting your exceptional leading skills by running successful pick-up (ie. non-guild) raids. If that’s not your case, you’re pretty much left to spamming. Whether you choose to do it in game, on Discord, or on the official forums, the results are pretty much the same. Too much noise. Too much competition.

Screenshot from Blizzard’s official forums
On the official forums, a full-height screen does not even show posts older than 45 minutes.

You must be thinking, “Surely those nerds must have built some platform to help people recruit”. Well, some tried. But most platforms are a side-product of a media and do not think all recruitment use cases through. Because of poor user experience, it’s often hard for players to find their dream guild.

But the biggest issue of the existing platforms is even simpler; the content is outdated. Outdated information discourage players from using these platforms. And because guilds receive so little applications via these channels, they often neglect updating their openings. It’s a vicious circle.

I wanted to tackle these issues and help recruiters achieve better results. So I decided to help the moderators from my server community to build a new tool for recruiting. The core concept is simple; the ranking algorithm will prioritize the guilds that regularly refresh their profile. The ones that don’t will automatically lose ranking until they eventually disappear.

About page from the guilds portal website
Introducing the Sulfuron guilds portal (Translate the live page for English version.)

The goal is to bring the most value to players looking for a guild. If it does, the players will adopt it and the platform will become valuable for the recruiters in return. We recently launched a beta to receive feedback from guild leaders. The platform will soon be available for all players to access. You can already take a look here: https://guildes.sulfuron.eu

PS: My Classic guild was Astral. I'm now playing with The Last Dance.

If you want to know more, let me know! It can be about the design process behind the product or the tech I used to build a scalable website at low cost. Or maybe you just want more Classic stories? Just tell me. ;)

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