It's happening. I knew it would, and I've been waiting for it to happen for about 48 hours. And it's begun.
The guild is beginning to separate into the fast levellers and the slow levellers. People I ran Utgarde Keep with a week ago are plotting trips to Instances I'll be too low level for until early December at the earliest. And, surprise, surprise, sign-ups for the cutting edge content are over-subscribed, and those for the earlier instances are struggling to fill up. I shouldn't be surprised - I went through this both with the original game and Burning Crusade, but it's always a touch frustrating.
The level differential is just going to grow, too. At the moment, I should break 72 at the weekend, but probably won't hit 73 until the end of the month. I imagine that several of my guildmates will be in their mid-to-high 70s by then. I would be surprised if we don't see the first guild 80 before I hit 75.
Now, partially this is a time issue. I really don't have much available play time right now. In fact, looking at my diary right now, I'm going to get a single evening's instance-running the whole of next week. And that'll be it for playtime. Every other evening I've got something in the diary, and a packed daytime work schedule as well.
But it's more than that. I don't want to be levelling that fast.
It's going to be at least a year, and probably 12 months before we see any more levelling content, and I'd rather take my time and enjoy it. And when I mentioned this to Mrs Leafy, she rolled her eyes and muttered something about "process-driven". This is something we have to work around - she's goal-focused and I'm process-focused. She wants the buzz of finishing a project, and I love the process of doing it.
And I think just the same process is at work in my guild. Some people see the magic ding as one of the most rewarding aspects of the game, and they drive after it as fast and as hard as they can. And, for some of us, the ding is almost incidental, a side-effect of exploring, and questing and instancing. And there's nothing inherently wrong with that. Different people get different rewards out of the game, and that's one of the things that makes it so successful. But it could also lead to conflict.
Come the end of the year, some of the guild are going to be champing at the bit to get into Naxxramas and the 10-man raiding content. And some of the rest of us are going to be still working our way through the 5 mans they've run to death by then. They're going to be frustrated because they can't get enough people together, and we're going to be frustrated, because we're going to struggle to get people together for "old hat" instances.
It's a short term problem, to be sure. The Christmas break will allow an amount of catching up to happen, and I'd imagine most of the people likely to be raiding will be at 80 by February at least. But it's another manifestation of the inherent conflicts in forming a guild by relationship rather than playstyle.
By late spring, it'll all settle out. We'll be progressing through the 10 man stuff. The fast levellers will be working on their alts, and the slow levellers will be working on rounding out their gear and rep grinds. We'll reach a level of equilibrium, that will only be disturbed if we hit a real roadblock in our raid progress. But much as I'm loving Wrath right now (and you should be able to hear all about that in the next Twisted Nether), that pleasure is tempered slightly by growing (and inevitable) division in the guild.