Friday, July 25, 2008

15 thousand Kodo - What a load of dung!

I've had an extremely busy couple of weeks at work. It has not been a fun time at all. So, here's the Wow-itized version of why I haven't been posting recently.

I work for a number of Guilds, mostly as stable master and chief herdsman. If there's anything related to mounts or pets, I'm the guy to come see. Each Guild is run slightly differently with different objectives set by the guildmaster and officers. Each guild has certain guidelines and rules set by Bliz that we all must obey but there still remains a fair bit of autonomy in each guild. I get to spend roughly one day each week working at each guild HQ.

Some time ago, Bliz decided to issue a subsidised mount to guildmembers. The current batch of mounts are old and are due to be retired. Normally, we would have a small number of mounts delivered at any one time. We would have plenty of time to train up the new mounts, kit them out in guild livery, round up the old mounts and collect old equipment for return. Guild members would be given a bit of training on how to use their new mount and say a final goodbye to their old one.

This time round has been a comedy of errors. Bliz spent so long renegotiating the contracts with the suppliers that the oldest batch of mounts are now long past their use-by dates. Some of these poor arthritic old creatures are limping along on two legs, or are half-blind. Most guild members look after their mounts and equipment fairly well, but even with careful tending these older ones are slowly dying. These mounts are kept long past the end of the lease term, but Bliz is still billing each guild member, in some cases for a nearly dead mount!

The contracts were signed so late that instead of one smaller batch every six months or so, we are now getting about 40% of the total herd turned over at once. Bliz has made a bulk deal with a knackery, so ALL older mounts must be rounded up and returned. The deliveries of new mounts and the return of old ones was initially scheduled to take place in only 5 days- about a quarter of the time allocated for previous changeovers. Various stuff ups at the supply and delivery stages means that less than a third of the mounts have actually arrived.

Since each guild is different, each mount needs a certain amount of re-training. This can take anywhere from a couple of hours to a day or so for each mount, though several can be being worked on at once. A bit of work also has to be done removing any customised equipment off the old mounts, often moving it to the new ones before handing them over to the guild members. The new owner also needs at least a bit of training in handling the new mount.

Guildmembers were offered a choice between a grey kodo or a green raptor. Most had had a kodo previously and selected the same again. The trouble is, the supplier has used a different training method on the kodo. Kodo's trained in the older method were supposed to be available also but this has not yet happened. The new training means I have a lot of extra training to do to integrate "new" kodos into our existing herd. It seems the new training method really breaks the spirits of the new mounts and they must be extensively encouraged to play along nicely with the rest. At any moment they can turn around and savagely break things.

Adding Raptors to the herd is also somewhat problematic. The raptors themselves are great, sleek, obedient beasts, but they have different feeding and housing requirements, and the riders also need lots of training. Each raptor requires roughly twice the work that a generic kodo does. As far as I know, no raptors have yet been delivered, since a different supplier and delivery company were used. A fair number of additional raptors are expected.

So, the delivery of new kodo has been a shambles. Instead of all new kodo arriving at once, several deliveries of one or two kodo at a time are being made. I was at one of my guilds when the first batch of two arrived. It was such a cantankerous beast that it took about 7 hours of individual training to settle down enough to put into the paddock with some of our existing herd. I didn't even get a chance to start on the second one. Other stable masters have reported that not only are they only half-trained, but that in some circumstances can break down. I suspect this will mean yet more training will have to occur on each mount, but worse, these feral new kodo may have passed on their bad habits to existing mounts.

Today was the last day of the original scheduled delivery period. That, and the return date, have been extended... but not by enough. Basically, there is 5-6 weeks worth of work involved for a smooth transition, which could be done in about 4 if rushed. I think we are being allowed only 2 weeks to do the lot, and as I said, less than a third of the mounts have arrived. One message from Bliz today seems to demand that old mounts MUST be returned ON TIME, even if a new mount has not arrived or been trained for use yet. There will be a lot of very pissed off guild members if they are without mounts, possibly for weeks at a time!

I work for a very large organisation. Individuals within that are often talented, dedicated people. Most of my fellow stable masters are highly skilled, efficient and dedicated practitioners of their art. We are copping a lot of heat from frustrated guildmembers exasperated at the long delays and excessive pressure from Bliz to basically achieve the impossible.

What a load of kodo dung.

Bliz, you suck!

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