Finding a thread without the word “guild” in it on an MMO forum is like trying to lick your own elbow; very very hard. Most of us MMO:ers have at one time or the other been part of a guild and we all carry with us as many different opinions on the matter as there are keys on a keyboard.
In this issue of Inside Hyboria I´ll turn on the juice to see what shakes loose, let´s get to it.
The first guilds we´re formed in old India back in 2000BC where craftsmen with similar traits could join and learn from elders. Though as gamers, we usually think of a more medieval concept where guilds sometimes formed for more insidious and treacherous reasons, like the infamous Assassins Guild and such. There´s also alot of mystery shrouding some of the historically interesting guilds such as the Freemasons or the Illuminati who are rumored to have a hand in more or less everything political in the world today.
Guilds have formed in games since the multiplayer mode was invented. A guild today though, is something wildly different from what it used to be as it´s a constant evolution. From having guilds that are purely ingame unions to full-blown multigaming societies, we´re on the verge of corporate intentions where money is involved. There´s even a guild who trademarked the word “Syndicate” and threatens to sue those using that word in their guild name…the word “Nazi” comes to mind and I do hope there is no place for such abuse in the world of Age of Conan and the fine community surrounding the game, shame on them.
Age of Conan´s developer Funcom has realized the importance of guilding and instead of having it as an additional toy, it´s considered a main feature. AoC is built from the ground up with guilding as a base foundation. I can´t wait to see what kind of political and social mishaps will develop throughout the months of gameplay with all the interesting guilds and their different motives. It´s clear that the AoC guilds will come in more professional and ready than any predecent MMO seen so far.
Looking through what the AoC guilds has to offer, I´ve compiled a list of what a modern MMO guild should have to stay competetive:
1. A good base concept
Whether it be an RP guild or a PvP guild, a global or just a timezone-specific one, having a clear cut concept is great for a new potential members first glance. It´s the number one reason a potential member decides to join the guild; like-minded people.
2. Basic logistics
Having forums for in-guild communications is a minimum for any modern guild, it´s just impossible to run one without it. Gone are the days where it suffices to have a MOTD (*) in guild chat. Having a presentable website with a purchased .com URL fronting those forums is also something most established guilds have today. Using a voice chat client like Ventrilo or TeamSpeak is excellent but still not the norm as some guilds (especially RP guilds) prefer not to use it cause of immersion reasons. Having a voice chat client is IMO a must for successful PvP though.
3. Great leadership and structure
A guild lead by one or more experienced leaders is absolutely vital for piloting the huge aircraft that is a modern guild. Without a vision and a personal drive, you´ll have a vehicle without an engine, simple as that. A great leader knows how to make best use of the members and how to get everyone together. Usually the task of leading a modern guild is too heavy or too diverse for just one person so having the responsibility spread out on 2-3 ppl is usually a sign of a well-managed guild (of course this is on a case-by-case basis).
Structure is also very important. How it´s done is up to each and every guild and I´ve seen as many different approaches as I´ve seen guilds so it´s up to the potential member to scout out a guild for a fitting structure, rank and recruiting system before he/she applies.
4. A solid and active member base
And by that I don´t mean numbers, I´m talking about those dedicated people that have stayed with the guild for a long time, the core members who makes that extra effort in staying up late just to help a newbie gain an extra level. I believe clan hoppers to be vermin who are undermining the guilding process. If someone leaves cause the guild is not fitting, that´s something else, I´m talking about those that won´t even spend time getting to know the members of a guild before applying for another.
5. Strong ingame presence
Of course having a strong ingame presence is of utmost importance for any guild. There´s no use in having a guild unless it´s established when the game goes live. Wearing a guild tag gives respect and makes the other players remember you and where you´re from.
Thenoobcomic.com´s view on how some “leet” guilds have tacky generic websites.
Never during my MMO “career” have I seen as many established, friendly and professional guilds as with Age of Conan. Beside my own, guilds like The Hand of Set, The Showhawk Clan, Varangian Guard, Primal Instinct, The Free City of Lochlainn and The Eminence all offer what looks like a great setup and a solid member base. Mind you, I haven´t been in personal contact with all of them but my opinion derives from my time spent on the official forums. Just a minimum level of (healthy) flaming, otherwise a good and level-headed crowd I must say. Most guilds I´ve checked out has a very reasonable approach to recruiting and the goals for which they aim and there seems to be a guild out there for more or less everyone. If you want to learn more I´d suggest you visit the Warcry forums or read Mr. Ixolite´s guild column that comes out on a weekly basis.
Wexx from The Darkest Hour says:
“-I prefer a small tight guild, but the number one priority as far as I’m concerned is not player skill. It is the person and how they interact with their guildmates. Also, I find it a bit boring if everyone is cut from the same mold so variety is nice as long as they aren’t conflicting. At any rate, I’m sure you’ll find plenty of guilds that will give you a challenge in PvP, but there will be a ton more that probably won’t fit the “good” standard you want. But then each to his own. That’s why people are allowed to form guilds right?”
Right, very true but certain guild types are just doomed to fail. Much too dictatorial guilds as well as much to loosely lead guilds, i.e extremes, are usually not very long-lived along with the poorly set up ones with their weird rules and unlogical guidelines. (One example I saw was a rule where you had to be level 10 to join but IF you joined before beta, you wouldn´t be thrown out! Simply stunning logic eh? )
Several guilds choose to announce their presence before a game is out, same with Age of Conan. Some carry over from other games, some form specifically for it. There´s nothing saying one is better than the other, it´s more up to what I´ve spoke about earlier; structure and leadership. Not everyone condole this though, considering forming ingame after launch to be the only valid way and there´s some debate going on about it right now in thread in The Guild Hall on the Official forums. My own opinion goes along the lines of what Masonox of The Headhunters Guild says:
“-Pre-formation allows for a creative idea to become physical. It allows for testing and modification till a working infrastructure is established. It allows a social aspect that engages thought on what kinds of goals we wish to achieve as a group, brainstorm sessions, communication, socialism, and focus.”
“During this time, a name is established and presented to would be future gamers. This creation of a “core” allows for greater visibility when time of launch does arrive. Those that spent some odd months before the release of a game, have gotten to know each other, have discussed ideas, and have set plans in action.
Pre-launch guilds have guide lines, rules, directions, interviews, applications, reference to past experience and so forth.
When you have this, you have it all. These guildmates would be more likely to work together and move together with “less selfism” that you may find in pick up members.”
In every game, you´ll find those that refuse to join a guild. Reasons are many and I guess I´ve had a few months of soloing myself but to me an MMO is just more fun played together with friends, new and old. If anyone reading this column is a soloist, please post your views on it here ´cause my experience in the matter is not very vast as far as reasons go.
Spying (or “moleing”) happens now and then which is a laughable attempt of infiltrating another guild. It´s really a complete waste of time, I mean this ain´t the Pentagon after all. For example, our guild has a complete open enviroment and if anyone wants to come take a peek on how we run things or when we´ll be in the PvP areas, go right ahead we´ll be more than helpful to show you the ropes. Spieing is a dieing thing though and it´s probably extremely rare nowadays.
It´s my prediction that Age of Conan will feature the most intense combat an MMO ever had. Add guilds to the mix and you can multiply that feature times ten. Can you fathom standing on a hill, looking out over the battle field and seeing that enemy guild speeding across the plains, swords drawn? Simply amazing (and strangely arousing hmmm…)! While the combat part speaks for itself, I´m hoping for drama, politics, deceiving and alliances made and broken. Of course we´ll see our share of mercenary guilds and assassins guilds (guilds for hire) that usually never present a very big influence on the overall guild situation. Another sure-fire thing to happen is the rush for the first city and battlekeep, which usually falls into the hands of the larger guilds. Me personally find no excitement in the rushing, it´s more interesting to see what guilds city stands the longest which again is a direct result of planning and leadership and putting the right people in the right positions. The fact that we will be able to build cities and battlekeeps in Age of Conan will bring guilding to a whole new level, also so ´cause the prestige classes gives bonuses to the guild and its city which will impact gameplay in the end.
Being part and also a founding member of a guild that´s going on three years and that has has carried over, I know we have a working concept and I wouldn´t want it any other way. Still, I consider the ingame recruiting to be extremely important as you know the possible recruits will actually own and play the game and you have the chance to play a few missions with the person to see what kind of caliber he/she is made of. We have the approach that a few simplified ranks is the best way to go and the best way to incorporate the strengths of our members for the good of the guild.
Being part of a guild is an amazing thing; you get to meet people from across the world, share in their laughter and pain, learn things you never dreamt of learning and having a blast at the same time. How many nights haven´t been spent, sitting in Vent and having hilarious conversations? How many nights haven´t been spent, running through missions and dungeons? How many great nights haven´t been spent winning and losing in PvP? All thanks to joining and taking part of a guild. If reading that doesn´t bring a smile to your face, you need to join a guild right now! There´s also the fact that in a guild you might get to lead a group of people, something few are awarded with in real life. Or you can even take that experience and apply it to your everyday life and work.
In conclusion, there´s a guild for everyone out there and I´d suggest you go looking for one that fits you right now so you don´t miss out on probably the best time of your gaming life. Be active and be open, you´re as big a link in the chain as anyone else and it is YOU, the member, who makes the guild what it is. That said, I want to take the opportunity to thank all the guilds surrounding Age of Conan for your dedication and friendliness and especially the members of my own guild along with the other members out there for sticking to your guns through thick and thin.
Thanks for reading this issue of Inside Hyboria, have a great night!