Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Strange Package

There was a strange package on my porch.

Oh hey look, it's my EQ2 Chains of Eternity Poster!

I need to get a frame for it.
Someone signed Firiona's tatas!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Who YOU Callin' Casual?

There is a misconception floating around that decorators are casual players.

It's true that a lot of us aren't as interested in combat. Some of us may have never been on a raid before, and there are just as many of us who don't have capped level combat characters as there are those of us who do.

And yet, decorators tend to be some of the most hardcore players. Yes, you heard me correctly. Decorators tend to be some of the most hardcore players.

Let me repeat that in case you missed it.

Decorators tend to be some of the most hardcore players.

Not all of us raid. Not all of us roleplay. But all of us spend hours and hours and hours and hours lining things up just right. We go short on sleep to adjust a fireplace just where we want it. We craft, quest, raid, and writ endlessly to obtain the items we want for our homes. If we don't raid, we pay raiders for what we want. We farm tirelessly for materials during holidays--and EQ2 has a lot of holidays!

Decorators (from what I have observed) spend the most SC out of any other group of players. We buy houses. We buy furniture. We buy home expanders. We buy more houses. We buy more expanders. We buy character slots to host characters specifically for the names of house zones. My character list is full of them. Hello, Library, Town, Hallway, and Abode! We buy appearance armor not only for ourselves, but for mannequins to place in our homes, or to dress our guild hall guards with.

We spend anywhere from a few hours to a few months on a single zone in the game--the house zone we are working on. Have you ever heard a raider say, "Yeah, it took us weeks to down XYZ mob?" Guess what? It took a decorator months to get a house ready for publication, and a raider will likely only spend a few hours a week raiding. So their weeks turn out to be less than 24 hours of play (Yes, I know that they can spend longer than that getting a raid down, but for the most part, I'd say 24 hours is a safe average). To put that into perspective, I spent four hours working on the grand staircase in Blazewolf's hall. Four hours. On a staircase. And I'm fast at using the circle tool. I shudder to think of how long it would take anyone else.

Let's also consider the time to gather materials for a house. It's true that we have guild harvesters, a pack pony, and a goblin. But sometimes you need more. My dojo alone (the Homes and Tomes Credit Union) took 23 eucalyptus lumber and 30 brellium ore! It's a tiny little space used exclusively for holding special harvests and apprentices.

I took Jazabelle, grabbed a harvesting potion, and spent about three hours harvesting eucalyptus. Brellium took another three hours. That's six hours of harvesting just to obtain the materials for furniture for a tiny space (and I'll admit I came out of there with extra eucalyptus and brellium, but we can always use more rares in a crafting and decorating guild).

So the next time you think of a decorator as casual, think again. I've spent on average of 120 hours per house I build. That's a long time.

Decorating is hardcore.

Monday, February 18, 2013

What Is It Like?

I was chatting with a friend in another guild late last year. She's a decorator (of course), and she's in a hardcore RP guild.

"What's it like?" she asked me wistfully as we each engaged in our respective play of choice for the evening, she at some tavern somewhere, while I meticulously aligned tiles in one of my warehouses.

"What's what like?" I resized the tiles and stacked them again, trying to neatly fit the maximum number of tiles in the minimum amount of space.

"What's it like being in the only decorating guild around?"

I was quick to reassure her that Homes and Tomes isn't the only decorating guild around. There are others. Homes and Tomes just happens to be one of the largest, with a member list that spans servers.

I am asked this question in various way rather regularly. Sometimes it's someone who wants to know what the guild is like because they're interested in joining. Other times, it's someone who wants to start up their own decorating guild, but they aren't sure if they want to invest the time and effort. Still other times, they're people like my friend--wistfully looking in, dreaming of life in a guild where saying "How many times the scale do you move a tile to line them up perfectly?" isn't met with confused silence.

Sometimes I get a variation of the question that focuses on me instead. "What's it like leading the only decorating guild around?" I had someone ask earlier this week. Once again, I assured them that Homes and Tomes isn't the only decorating guild around. And then I had to explain that it's work.

Like running any other guild, running a decorating guild is work. You are responsible for ensuring that there are no conflicts of personality within the guild. You are responsible for the people you promote to officer. You are responsible for the events that your guild runs, even if you have no hand in organizing them. Your guild's name is on the tag, and you need to make sure it's represented properly.

In some ways, running a decorating guild is easier than running other types of guilds. For the most part, decorators tend to be soloers--decorating is a solo playstyle. While you can (and most of us do!) engage in conversation while decorating, the act of decorating itself is entirely single player.

Decorators also tend to be self-starters. We're a group who has to come up with our own ideas, find the materials to go with our ideas, and build what we envision. It's more common to hear a decorator say, "Does anyone want to join me for an instance?" instead of hearing the dreaded, "So, is anyone running an instance?" from a follower.

The hardest part of running a decorating guild is the management. We're a guild full of crafters, whose crafting serves the purpose of decorating. Unlike most other crafters, we use all tiers of material constantly. Our harvest depot has a revolving door.

How do you measure who's participating in a decorating guild? You can't go by the number of homes a person has done, or the number of commissions they've taken. You can check the status they've earned and donated, but that's only one small aspect of participating. How about the items they've given to other guildmates? Or when they stop their own projects to give advice to someone else? Add in the fact that Homes and Tomes isn't pure decor, because we also encourage roleplay, and we have a few people whose only interest is combat, and you have a guild that's very hard to administrate for.

Then there's the commission aspect. I'm regularly contacted by people looking to commission a member of the guild to build their home. Over the past two and a half years of the guild's life, numerous individuals have spoken to me about hiring a member of H&T to build their homes. Guild members' mailboxes are full of "So-and-so is looking to hire a decorator" mails that have been sent out to the guild. Once I've sent out the mail, I then have to follow up and find out if the person has been contacted by a decorator.

We finally got around to putting up a commission form on our website to help streamline the process a little, but it's still a lot of followup work.

But let's get back to the original question. So what is it like being in a guild where someone can ask "How many times the scale do you move a tile to line them up perfectly?" and hear the answer, "2 times, unless you're working with the dark or light frozen tiles, or the petrified bone tile"?

It's a place where you're guaranteed to share interests with everyone else. It's a place where you can converse while working on your home. It's a place where the puns flow thickly, and innuendo practically drowns you.

There's very little drama, for which I'm grateful, since we're all easygoing adults.

It's the best feeling in the world. It's home.