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The Watchers : A Retrospective
Disclaimer #1: Please excuse the fact-heavy and humor-light approach to this history. There's a LOT of information to get down. To make it up to you, I posted hundreds of screenshots for your viewing / reminiscing pleasure at the bottom of this article.

Disclaimer #2: Please excuse the very Carwin-centric focus of this retrospective. Watchers was many people, not just me, but I don't know how to express the history of the guild from any perspective but my own. I hope I've done the guild and its members justice.



FFXI, Formation and the Early Months

{linkshell}{from behind}{do you need it?}

The Watchers guild was begun by Raiiden and Snickers in Final Fantasy XI on Fairy Server (lol) in 2003. I got involved when they were running a totally open recruiting campaign at the zone line of Windurst City. Shiara and I were asked if we wanted to join and after much cautious discussion we said yes, figuring we could always smash the linkpearl if we didn't like it. Then they took us out to Tahrongi Canyon where Snickers screamed at a random guy while Raiiden pushed Shiara in the dirt repeatedly and made her cry.

Despite my apprehension towards open recruiting, Raii and Snickers pulled off the most successful mass-invite I've ever seen in an MMO. In a matter of weeks they collected: Croyden, Zerol, Noolumyalu, Sandman, Lucent, Dartalion, Abiak, Shiara and myself. At some point Talash joined as well, but I don't remember how. He probably just materialized one day and used hypnotic persuasion to convince us he was there all along.

Everyone remembers Raiiden, but Snickers is kind of the unsung founder of Watchers. I remember Snickers as very funny and sassy and rude. I don't remember Snickers playing much of a managerial role in the guild, he was more of a member who happened to also be a stealth officer. Snick faded away relatively early in the Watchers lifespan (early 2006), but was always a great guy to bullshit with in /ls. I have no idea what he's up to now-a-days but I hope it's bringing him great happiness.



Other notable Watchers who joined later in the FFXI era were: Caillech, Joacheim, Maveross, Drarant, Maddog, Handir, Kobalt, Kikilesca, Sakka, Aboroth, Nekozuko, Etroth (RIP), Gannon, Lachlan, Raistlen, Tazzin, Tuptup, Aurius, Digitalgeek, Zodina, Safersephx, Fertdawg, John, Jerondiir, MagusTheGreat, LoanRanger, Mimimai, Sylphia, Risbyn and Chirachira, and of course Sniperzero.



Let it never be forgotten that during a guild event Kikilesca once bought 99 cookies from Shiara at 1 gil a piece and turned around to sell them for 2 gil right next door. The audacity!

The early months of Watchers mostly involved chatting. FFXI was a pretty boring game and chatting was vital to maintaining sanity. It took a good 6 months before Watchers started to organize into something resembling a true guild and not a glorified chat room.



Not to say that Raiiden wasn't an ambitious guild leader. At the time he imagined Watchers as a premiere Guild on the server. He paid for hosting and put together a website and forums and encouraged everyone to sign up. Here's an example of some early Raii propaganda:

quote:

by not actively recruiting we're giving other linkshells the chance to recruit new players and increase their memberbase. That's an option we can't afford. If we're going to be one of the best linkshells on Fairy, and other servers, then we have to recruit new blood as often as we can. By recruiting as much as possible we're giving ourselves a chance to grow, a chance to expand and try new things, and a chance to become a truly organized community.



Raii had the drive and the plan. It's everyone else that was lazy. Most of us leveled at a glacial pace and only occasionally bothered to post or plan anything. We were generally wary of the server populace and often distrusted new members (no matter how polite we were to their faces). Despite my ultra-slow leveling, I talked a lot, and of course I'm a smashingly brilliant sort of chap and all that, so I sort of naturally became an officer along with Croyden.



Unfortunately we DID get a bunch of bad eggs with the later recruiting drives (my theory is the early-adopters were all mature ex-EQ vets and good people, while the later generations of players were mostly 12 year old FF fans with no concept of how to behave in an MMO). We had a l33t-speaking-idiot invasion that began driving the good people away. Some people (mostly new ones) complained that favouritism was occuring and the "help” being given to members was unfairly inconsistent (FFXI being a game that required a lot of "help" to get anything done). They said certain guildies (mostly those in the “first wave”) had developed an inner circle and helped only each other. In a lot of ways this was probably true. In our defense, I think it's unreasonable for someone who's been in a guild for 2 weeks and said 3 words to expect treatment on par with a year-old member who chats, posts and contributes on a daily basis.

We got so fed up with the retardation in /g that we retreated to a different Linkshell. We entertained just dropping Watchers and joining another guild altogether. The Watchers VERY nearly died.

Fortunately Raiiden got all raged up one day and, in late 2003, stormed back into his linkpearl, kicked about half of the people, and retook his guild. It was all very controversial and dramatic at the time, but history has proven that it was absolutely the correct thing to do.



After that Croy and I put a lot of effort into trying to control guild chat, somewhat against Raiiden's wishes. The general idea was that Watchers was a family-friendly guild and a drama-free zone, meaning no politics or religion or other serious real-world talk. This was often controversial (and somewhat inconsistently regulated), but I think it became an important part of Watcher's character and culture. It prevented the “fuk yeah we raped that bitch” talk that pervades other guilds, and kept people from going to war over non-game-related issues. That said, it also muzzled a lot of conversations that people probably would have enjoyed, and gave the guild a somewhat authoritarian "HR is always watching" feel that would bite us in the ass more than once down the road.

Summer 2004 is when Watchers began to evolve into the social group we know today. With the bad eggs kicked and a pretty large number of good players online regularly, we started actually doing things together. I began writing my silly news reports on the now lost-and-gone original watchers website (some of my best work, sacrificed to the aether), and I posted funny quotes from LS chat. Lucent, Zerol, Croy, Raiiden and myself began running little events, including the popular Garrison events, various chocobo races and scavenger hunts, and organized Mission runs. Several static parties were formed, including the much beloved Cinnacookies. Everyone was spooting everyone else, and it was great.



The cinnacookies always had an empty 6th spot (occupied by Lengue in this shot), but near the end we had a paladin named Meno who came more often than not. He never really joined the shell, but he was a Watcher in spirit.

One day Zerol made an observation:

quote:

I learned to appreciate the fact that pants are not a requirement of being in a party, as when I reported to the LS that the other BLM in our party was wearing a yakuta, no wand, and no *pants*, I got several replies of "I'm not wearing pants either!



And thus was born a guild meme.

When Chains of Promathia released (October 2004), I lead weekly raids to complete the Promyvion spires and unlock passage to Tavnazia. At the time it was an 18 person instance (later nerfed down to 6) and we ran at least 5 successful runs to the top, which in retrospect was pretty serious undertaking for a little casual linkshell. As frustrating as these often were, they are some of the best times I had with the Linkshell and a taste of what was to come in WoW raiding almost 2 years later. These runs are among my finest memories of my time with the FFXI Watchers.



All of this culminated (in my opinion) in a pair of events: The Watchies Awards, run by Lucent, and the Watchers Triathalon, co-run by several people. They took place in March 2005 and December 2004, respectively. For some reason when I think of FFXI I always think of these events. They were great fun, had a huge turn-out, had tons of actually valuable prizes, and set a bar for all future social events that I don't believe was ever surpassed.



It was also around this time that Raii made us this new website, which is vastly superior to the old one. That's why all of the great old FFXI news posts and achievement lists are MIA. We tried to transfer over what we could, but a lot was lost. C'est la vie.

The "inner circle" and "not enough help" drama re-appeared on and off, to varying degrees of credulity, but for the most part the Watchers was a happy community.

Ah, but the winds of change were blowing. By 2005 the WoW Watchers guild branch was growing from “that little upstart community” to “the place where a lot of Watchers are spending a lot of their time.”


World of Warcraft : Leveling

Posted by Raiiden on Sunday Oct 31st, 2004:

quote:

We've also recently, today in fact, opened up our World of Warcraft community forums for discussions uses. Personally, I look forward to see how our WoW community takes shape. This will be our first expansion into a new game, and one can only hope it goes smoothly. Although this is new ground for us, I'm confident that the WoW community leaders and achieve the goals I've asked them to.



When World of Warcraft first came out Croyden and Talash moved over immediately to start a Watchers branch, becoming the defacto officers. I was pretty skeptical about the game (even though I bought it at launch) and I played very tentatively and slowly for a while, splitting my time between it and FFXI.



Aside from an awesome Deadmines "raid" in the first week, and the odd planned 5-man by Croy and Talash, the WoW guild barely behaved like a guild at all for the first few months. Chalk it up to “linkshell mentality” – but we really treated the guild like a chat room for a long while. Of course WoW's focus on soloability probably had a lot to do with it as well.

It wasn't until a number of people began to hit end-game, late in the Spring of 2005, that the endless D1 farming began and we started to act like a proper guild, grouping up, planning events and ultimately recruiting. I recall a legendary 6-hour Blackrock Depths run one Sunday afternoon, during which several of us leveled from 58 to 60 and we cleared the entire instance with no spoilers, no maps, and no clue how to play our respective classes. It was probably the single best dungeon dive in all of my MMO experiences.

Between launch in late '04 and the beginning of the “real WoW experience” in the summer of '05, we picked up Horun, Memnon, Armageddonit, Blast, Xiath, Melic, Progenitor, Antonin and Kamery. Also: Nooly, Caill, Joa, Mave, Raist, Maddog, Sandy, Ghala, Dorant and Zerol were very active, having hopped over from FFXI. Joa specifically forced us to run Stratholme (live side) about 1000 times.


I know, that's Scholo. I couldn't find a good old Strath Live pic

Because of our MUCH tighter recruiting standards, the WoW Watchers branch had a different character from FFXI. The guild was never very large and was always very close-knit. Event attendance was roughly the same as in FF, but instead of having a wildly varying crew every week it was the same 10 people day in and day out. This approach had strengths and weaknesses to it. In some ways it lacked the energy and vitality of the old linkshell, which seemed more like a public school (varied, colorful, unpredictable) than a private club (stagnant, cautious, reliable). It also gave us a sense of xenophobia: we were almost afraid of grouping with anyone outside of the guild. On the plus side the WoW guild was warmer and fuzzier and overall more productive, and there was MUCH less day-to-day drama since everyone was fundamentally friends.

Voice chat (using some weird old program that I no longer remember) started being used and we stopped typing so much (farewell, quotes!) and heard each others voices for the first time. I remember being told by several people that they "thought I'd sound different." If you ever want to make someone feel self-conscious on vent, give that one a try.


World of Warcraft : Vanilla Raiding

By the first of August 2005 we had become interested in “raiding,” which at that time meant Upper Blackrock Spire. Onyxia and Molten Core were written off as out of the question completely.

UBRS had no player cap and you could take 40 people if you wanted. I remember a ludicrous 20-something zerg raid through that zone with utterly chaotic loot ninjaing at the end. Whee!

We rarely had enough people to fill an UBRS raid by ourselves so Croy explored alliancing with another guild (I was hesitant and nervous). We first teamed up with Eventide (yes, THAT Eventide, lead by Ciderhelm) but for whatever reason the alliance didn't last more than a few weeks. We then hooked up with Dreams of Ysera, an alliance that would become a fantastic team for the rest of the Vanilla era. Good call, Croy. I never would've done it.

Farming UBRS for my Draconian Deflector (and Maddog's stupid Beaststalker gear) was tremendous fun. We came up with such insanely unnecessary CC plans in those old runs, usually involving Horun/Tom/Bran doing acrobatics to ice 2+ mobs at once while someone kited the big guys around the Beasts room. In the same situation today we'd just AE tank/nuke the whole group in 15 seconds.

Oh, Naivety, you were a blessing more than a curse.



In September 2005 Zul'Gurub launched and we teamed up with Ysera to raid it. This was the first ever genuine WoW-Watchers raid (UBRS, strictly speaking, is not a raid zone, we just took a buttload of people). The first raid wasn't a total bust, though it was full of death, DCs, server problems and general cluelessness. We managed to kill Snake and Bat (by exploiting *cough*) which ain't half bad.

But overall it was sloooow going in that zone. The people in Watchers weren't raiders and they weren't used to chain wiping, struggling, and spending time and money to make progress. We had many, many weeks of bad attendance and frustration.

Of course there was also wackiness. Who can forget Maverros's "mouse dying," causing him to autorun into Bloodlord and insta-wipe 20 people on the last attempt of the night. Or the exploding bats that don't explode any more since last patch, I heard. Or the lava donut. DoY and Watchers started up Aegis chat, which became sort of a second /g. ZG raiding truly kicked ass.

I consider this time to be the highlight of the WoW Watchers social experience. There was a kind of warm unity that is easily seen in the news and forum posts that year. People posted many times a day. I was putting up news articles weekly and they were, if I do say so myself, really damn funny. /g was a constant stream of inanity and we had a plethora of quotes, in-jokes and hilarious moments that I have, sadly, long forgotten. Though I do remember being surprised by a pickle once or twice.



We persevered. For a full year we raided that damn zone off and on, sometimes with DoY and other times without them. We ultimately mastered it, killing every boss including Hakkar on Sept 16th 2006, and feeling damn good about our fancy selves. For a lot of us (especially those without EQ backgrounds) this was a transformational experience. Raiding changed from being an uncertain untouchable to an exciting possibility, and the mentality of many members shifted from "I'm content to farm blues" to "I don't care if I die a hundred times I want that phat loot."

Naturally not everyone experienced or agreed with this shift away from our once-casual mindset, but it happened, and it brought changes to the guild over the coming years.

Ysera began raiding MC and Ony near the end of 2005 (overlapping with much of our ZG progression), and a bunch of us joined them. It was never really a cross-guild event; more like a DoY event that often included a half-dozen Watchers. But it was still a defining part of the Vanilla WoW era. Gabriel was always a great leader and a fantastic guy to play with. I hope that he is happy with whatever he's undertaken since leaving Cenarius.

In 2006 Ahn'Qiraj launched to a luke-warm reception. We killed about half of the bosses in the zone but attendance was unexcited at best and we never completed the raid until after BC. Mostly there was apathy over the hard fights, bad drops, and somewhat uninteresting zone design. Considering that we were (involved in) killing Ragnaros with DoY, the motivation to struggle against the much more difficult Kurinaxx for a few downgrade blues in an ugly slime trench somehow didn't have much appeal.



By this point the FFXI Watchers was having a hard time staying above water. Lucent took over as leader and did his best, but too many of the old crew had either moved to WoW or moved to Sky LSes. A brief attempt at revitalisation before Aht'Urghan with the "WatchersIII" LS sort of sputtered out, but Lucent still deserves credit for holding down the fort even after most of its defenders had wandered off.

It was also around this time (the end of 2005) that Raiiden began to fade out of the guild. I think Watchers had gradually changed into something that was no longer exactly his, or exactly what he wanted, and he decided it was time to move on. I take a lot of responsibility for fostering that change, though of course it was not deliberate.



Raii and I sometimes had differences over the direction the guild should take. But the fact is: Raiiden MADE Watchers. He created it, he stacked it full of great people, and he saved it when it was about to die. He paid for and built both websites and forums. He created this community and we have him to thank for these many years of the best Internet camaraderie there is. Everyone who ever enjoyed their time in the Watchers guild, or enjoyed the people they met through this guild, have Raiiden personally to thank for it. I tend get a lot of the credit due to my continued leadership, but it cannot be forgotten that I just managed the franchise. I did not, could not, and would not have built this guild from the ground up. Raiiden did.

In November and December of 2006 Watchers ran two excellently successful Watchers-only 20-man MC raids, which marked the close of another era. A short week later the Burning Crusade arrived, bringing with it level 70, outlands, 25-man raid caps, and most importantly: Karazhan.



Many other people who joined us during the vanilla WoW era, but weren't mentioned previously because they weren't in the first launch wave: Tom, Bran, Deline, Dracoz, Tigerion, Redaxe, Myrlas, Beans, Niknak, Xanefius, Nutmeg, Abrams, Seton, Confuscious, Aiwass, Beliala (RIP), Gnectar, and Solara.


World of Warcraft : The Burning Crusade

The Burning Crusade era is a tale of tremendous hope, tentative progress, discouraging set backs, positive resurgence, and ultimately motivational decay that brought us to our second "almost disbanding" moment of drama and disagreement.

I consider BC to be a low time in Watchers history overall, with one shining positive in the form of Karazhan.

When BC first came out, in January of 2007, everyone was psyched. Massive new content, abilities, reps, items, etc. This was the first time we'd seen Blizzard's approach to a mass content expansion and it felt comprehensive and impressive (an impression that would dwindle later, but was held for several happy months).



From the very start I had eyes only for the endgame. Me, Deline, Croy, and a few other watchers absolutely plowed through BC leveling content, running several 5-mans a day and generally freaking out all the time.

By the time Watchers had an end-game force ready for Karazhan, a group of us were already well geared in heroic armor and keen to get moving. I don't want to imply that we were becoming "a raiding guild" because we were still firmly casual players. But raiding was mostly how we spent our time and how interacted. We evolved into a bit of an oxymoron: A casual raiding guild.

Our first Kara raid fell on April 11th 2007. Moroes "went and made a mess" of our raid for about 2 hours, but our ZG-trained raid mindset motivated us to go back for more. And more. We killed a Karazhan boss every week, on average, for a month, before hitting the brick wall that was the Curator.

In April 2007 DoY collapsed, unable to make a smooth transition into BC after Gabriel's departure. Fish, Finial and Osh joined our guild, solidifying our 10-man raiding force.

After a month of increasingly disheartening Curator wipes, we just sorta beat him one day. With no deaths. And we never again had any troubles. I don't know what changed exactly, but it seems like the fight collectively "clicked" and the challenge instantly evaporated, a Watchers-specific phenomenon we would see repeated many times in future zones. Our first piece of Tier gear (earned entirely by watchers) was awarded to Nooly on June 1st 2007.



We downed Shade of Aran the next week (June 9th) with almost no trouble, and then chain wiped to him the following three weeks. Wtf?

After that it was smooth sailing. We reached Malchezaar pretty quickly, who is possibly the most poorly designed boss encounter in WoW. We beat him on our first night of REAL attempts in only a few tries, on September 1st, 2007. Even months later we would sometimes chain wipe against him due to the lame coin-flip nature of his fight.



Up until this point, BC was great. We had some tension with the rotating "benching" system used to determine who got to raid on what night (Kara being a 10 man and Watchers typically having 16 interested members). But I think most people understood the situation and I don't remember much real drama beyond occasional whining. We even got 2 raids going simultaneously a few nights.

Things started to get rocky when we got it into our heads that we were capable of killing Gruul. We often had 20-something players online and it did not seem like a major stretch to fill out 5 slots with puggers and get ourselves some sweet 25-man loot.

This proved optimistic (to be polite). We did in fact defeat Maulgar, and there was much rejoicing. But Gruul was simply too much. After 2 weeks of failed attempts attendance dropped sharply and we were forced to return to Karazhan. Sure, we ended up back where we started, but with the added stink of disappointment.



The trouble was: I didn't want to be in Karazhan. We'd BEATEN Kharazan. I wanted to see SSC, the Eye, The Black Temple. BC's segregated raiding model was showing its weakness. But we still had fun: checking out the smiley face under Kara, doing Arenas on Dracoz's PvP night, and chatting it up in guild about Clefthoofs on Derigibles.

To my great excitement ZA released in Nov 2007. But it proved to be HARD. Too hard. We had moderate success, downing a few bosses and getting a few nice drops, but overall guild interest was low and attendance was often comically bad (ie: 4/10 showing up).

A few months passed and I grew frustrated and, after some loot disputes in Karazhan that I believe were borne more of boredom than actual anger or unfairness, the officers decided to cancel all future Watchers Sponsored Raids until WotLK. The logic was: nobody seemed to have any fun, we made no progress, and the raid timing was interfering with social lives, so why even bother? In early Fall 2008 we pretty much stopped Watchers raiding.

This was a mistake, and an example of our earlier top-heavy mentality causing us grief. I was making decisions for "the guild" based on my personal boredom and frustration without properly considering the ramifications of my actions.

With no organized guild raiding anymore, the people who still DID want to raid just made their own (a static, essentially). Unrestricted by guild rules, drama instantly arose along with a sense of "who's in charge?" Various nonsense that doesn't bear repeating was argued over and key members of the guild /gquit, only to return a week later, and the whole situation was unstable and tenuous enough that a guild collapse was a genuine possibility.

Thank God for expansions! Watchers limped into LK with a lack of focus and energy (but, thankfully, with a majority of our players. Only one or two people had actually /gquit.)



It's kind of telling that I'm having a hard time identifying any memorable or hilarious moments from this period, excluding the non-stop fun that was early Karazhan. If it seems like this became a history of the ups and downs of raiding, that's because there wasn't much else happening. I remember Katala's two events: the Tonk-Off and the fashion show, which were both great. Beyond that I feel like we were on auto-pilot for months, and much of the "life" of the guild had drained away into failed raid attempts and end-game boredom. We were still friends, but the motivation to be online was low since there was very little of interest that we could do together.

On the bright side, during the BC era we added the following fantastic Watchers to our ranks: Finial, Oshara, Quaffle, Tweakey, Jaspin, Pillowpants, Prelsey, and Ladros.


World of Warcraft : Wrath of the Lich King : Naxx through Ulduar

When Lich King came out in late November of 2008, it revitalized the guild more than I had dared to hope. The promise of a full suite of 10-man raids, paired with truly compelling leveling and 5-man content (something that BC generally lacked) brought the Watchers' online numbers up to levels not seen since the ZG days.

After the excitement of new zones wore off and everyone hit 80, it was raidin' time again. We decided to handle it a bit differently: On Wednesdays an "open" raid would be run in a fashion similar to the old ZG style (come one, come all). On Friday a "closed static" raid called Section 8 would run, containing only the hardcore members of the guild with limited or no benching. This plan met with surprisingly little controversy (I expected a revolution over the idea) and it worked ~gloriously~ well for a very long time. There's no question it was superior to the Karazhan benching system for almost everyone involved.



The Wednesday raids had great fun tearing up Naxxramas, killing Malygos and laughing at Archavon. Silliness returned in the form of non-stop Ventrillo pun-telling, goofy Naxx battles (dance you fools!), and hopeless-but-entertaining achievement farming. The forums lively upped themselves and that good old WoW obsession burned back to life.

The Friday raid focused on Ulduar with unrelenting energy. For months we raided Ulduar with a remarkably consistent group, killing bosses frequently, challenging hard modes, and generally feeling like true top-end raiders for the first times in our WoW lives.



For a short while we were the 3rd most accomplished guild on the server (10 man exclusive).

I personally consider the Ulduar era -- battling Yogg-saron, overcoming hard modes, unlocking the Algalon quest chain -- to be the highlight of the Watchers raiding experience. I never before felt such a high level of vitality, promise and excitement in our ability to progress. Attendance was rarely a problem and overall raid "performance" was often exceptional.

But some of the love was quietly draining out of the guild. I can't put my finger on the whys, wheres our whos of the situation, but we became increasingly serious and businesslike. Most people logged on to raid and logged off immediately afterwards. Joking and warmth subsided, replaced with a more raid-guild-like focus on achievement. The silliness of lava donuts and screenshots of gnomes hiding in pots never materialized in Ulduar and, perhaps, that was a sign of things to come.

Personally, I think the reality of playing the same game for 6 years, and of growing older and becoming less impressed by goofy MMO antics, was starting to wear on us.

It needs to be mentioned that for much of the WotLK era Horunskeith ran the guild. I just ran raids. It was Horun keeping up with the guild bank, inviting people and keeping track of their alts, posting events on the calendar and being available for questions or problems. It was critical work that someone had to do, and often thankless. So thanks, Horun!

Zerol also deserves recognition for maintaining and funding watchersonline.com for the past several years, even after RL took him away from us in-game.

And personal shout-outs to Katala, Bran and Drac for acting as advisers, to Oshara for keeping me in flasks, and to Del for being a giant stinky bahr.


World of Warcraft : The Colliseum and Icecrown Citadel

For me, Watchers began its downward arc almost on the day 3.2 was released, early September 2009. The Coliseum raid instantly failed to generate excitement and we cleared it on our third night of serious attempts. Attendance became an issue almost immediately afterward. I personally felt very little drive to log in outside of raid night, especially once it was established that the "Grand Trial" version of the raid was not accessible to us without better gear (which we did not have access to).

In the past, the camaraderie of the Watchers experience would have made up for this content shortcoming, but as mentioned above our relationships had become fairly businesslike. Certainly I enjoyed everyone's company, and there was still friendly joking in Ventrillo, but I was no longer likely to linger online for 2 hours after a raid just to chat. A lot of the old crew had taken breaks or quit entirely, so that essentially only S8 was online with any regularity. The end result was a sharp drop in the "total hours played" for many guild members, leaving the guild deserted for 90% of the week. The hope was that Icecrown Citadel would bring us all back. And it sort of did.



Icecrown released to great fanfare and, though the raid-zone formula was beginning to become transparent and therefore less engaging, it was a great instance for the first few months. But attention spans were already drifting. I encountered medical problems with the tendons in my forearms that made it genuinely painful to play, and I became quickly frustrated when we wiped, or when people didn't live up to their maximum potential.

"If I'm here doing permanent damaging to my wrists in order to tank properly, the least you can do is get out of the fire!"

This of course is unfair. Mistakes happen. The real problem was that I was playing when I should not have been. So I quit. I found ICC raiding to be frustrating, redundant and, most importantly, physically painful and possibly long-term dangerous.

After that a slow decline of waning interest, unreliable attendance and unclear leadership afflicted the guild, and S8 specifically. It was only a matter of time until some major fracture occurred. The amount of energy it would take to truly rebuild (recruit, reorganize, reinvigorate) was gone from everyone involved.

Now almost half of our most reliable raiders have transferred off-server, and another third moved to different guilds. The nails have been hammered. Watchers is no longer a raiding guild. It is a heavily casual chat-room of a guild used to pass time when doing boring tasks and enjoy the company of people we've spent many years with. In short: it has come full circle. Back to its roots. A linkshell.




Conclusion

The problem with Rise and Fall stories is that they always end on a down note. :(

But Watchers was not, and is not, a down thing!

The Watchers is the best Internet community I have ever been a part of. I've met more than a dozen people who I consider genuine friends. People I look forward to chatting and playing with again. People I would love to meet if I'm ever in their neighbourhoods. People I will never forget.

And Watchers is not dead and gone. It will remain as a guild on Cenarius for as long as I am playing this game in any capacity. 5-man parties of Watchers will indeed descend into the dungeons of Cataclysm and will goof around on Watchers Ventrillo, which I have no intention of canceling and invite you all to use for any purpose at any time. You can even share the log-in with puggers, I don't care, I can always just change the password.

Most importantly: The alts (or mains) of ex-members are always welcome to re-join, and friendly chattery will certainly ensue.

If Watchers ever raids again it will most likely be in a scattered, casual and infrequent capacity. And that's okay. That's where we're at now. That's where we started and it wasn't so bad back then.

Thank you, everyone, who made these 7 incredible years of gaming. Thank you for sticking with us during the hard times. For voicing your opinions when things needed to change. For defending us when things didn't. For giving up your Friday nights to kill saucy undead waiters for months on end. For enduring slow progress. For tolerating my jokes. For being yourselves and letting everyone else be themselves.

Thank you for making Watchers what it was, is, and will be forever.

I'll see you online after the Cataclysm. Don't miss it!





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SCREENSHOTS:
Hundreds of disorganized screenshots from all eras of Watchers history. Enjoy!

Final Fantasy XI Screenshot Dump
World of Warcraft Screenshot Dump
12 Sep 2010 by carwin
2 comments

by Lucent @ 16 Sep 2010 04:48 pm
I think I was the person behind the camera in all the FFXI screens?

Holy crap. Do we have any record of The Watchies Award Ceremony???

I still use somebody's quote from the Spire runs at work whenever somebody tells me they need to use the restroom, "BRING A BUCKET NEXT TIME!"

BTW all, I started up a guild on Thunderhorn with 5 people I work with. Some of us transferred toons over, but all of us started a new toon. My new one is lv32 and our lowest of the group is 30. I would absolutely love to have any and all of you come join me with a new start. It's a mix of the original FF linkshell feel and Outback Steakhouse. "Have fun. No rules. Just right. Outback."

PM me for my email! PLEASE!

by Lucent @ 16 Sep 2010 05:33 pm
Just wanted to say I've spent the past hour reading through the FFXI screenshot dump, checking out the quotes and I'm crying I'm laughing so hard.

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