On January 31st a few interesting things happened. Firstly Sony Online Entertainment released the alpha for Everquest Next Landmark… now just known as Landmark. More importantly this set a chain of events into motion. For some time there has been a group of loosely affiliated guilds and gaming communities tugging on essentially the same pool of players. So we might end up getting this mix of players for a specific title and then having a similar mix of players for another title down the road from this huge twitter/g+ gaming community pool. With Landmark this reached a bit of a head and someone was brave enough to stand up and say it was silly. In the opening days of Landmark, since there were no guilds (and still arent for that matter) each of these communities opted to start a chat channel. The problem is this left some people joining as many as six different channels at a time.
Scarybooster proposed a simple idea, that we all agree to use one common chat channel, and with that the Alliance of Awesome was born. It started simple in scope, but from there Zelibeli and I kinda ran with it and over the last four months we’ve built a rather large loosely connected gaming alliance. Currently we have five different groups in the AofA community: House Stalwart, Multiplaying.net, Combat Wombat, Mercy Gaming, and Dark Religion. Lately I have been talks with Liore about maybe having the already awesome Machiavelli’s Cats community join the fold as well. I have to say so far that over the last four months things have indeed been awesome. For the most part everyone has seemed to get along swimmingly and I’ve watched this group of disconnected pieces merge into a community in every sense of the word.
A Simple Idea
One of the big problems with being habitual multigamers is the fact that guilds are often transistory and it is hard to constantly muster a new batch of people to play whatever game is coming down the pipe. Additionally since not every game will end up being ideal for everyone, this means you have massive amounts of fragmentation as folks leave a given game for something new. The idea was that each individual guild would take responsibility for the reigns of the games that they were most into, and then that way as gamers we would have access to a good and familiar guild regardless of the game we choose to play. Over the coming months I would like to see this formalized into a sort of Rosetta stone for who has which guilds where and just how active each of them are.
The problem is that since we each have our own guild identities, it felt odd to constantly ask players to register an account on a new forum for each group. As a result we tried a few different things to have a shared neutral ground between the communities. The first of these efforts was the Alliance of Awesome reddit… and while it worked well enough, it caused as much frustration as it solved. Then I stumbled onto Anook and it seemed almost perfectly suited for us. It offered public and private forums, an events calendar and was more gamer social network than private site allowing folks to link everything up to the games they are streaming into the shared hub… or in the verbiage of that network a “nook”. This also lets the bloggers in our midst share our posts easily on the nooks blog, and so far that seems to also be working well.
A Unified Approach
Over the last few months we have been melding significantly. Elder Scrolls Online launch for example was the first real “Alliance of Awesome” foray, and while we still kept to the branding of House Stalwart… it was very much a shared occasion. With the launch of Wildstar, we had no real forerunner guild wise that looked to be taking up the reigns. Instead we opted to drop any specific guild branding and simply go with the “Alliance of Awesome” for our guild name. Honestly I have to say it feels very natural and I can see eventually we may drop the individual guild monikers and just do things from that standpoint.
The biggest problem I forsee moving forward is the fact that right now we are still very much utilizing two completely separate voice servers. A good chunk of the House Stalwart guild is still very happily playing World of Warcraft and doesn’t really care about any other game on the market. The rest of us are pretty nomadic, but we still are far more used to and comfortable with mumble as a communication platform. Multiplaying, Dark Religion, and Mercy Gaming have all standardized on a Teamspeak 3 server run for free by the ever amazing Saia. So I would really like to make a move to trying to use that as well and simply dropping the mumble. That said this feels like a landmine because I have no clue how to convince the WoW-only contingency to abandon mumble and make the shift over to Teamspeak 3. Also I hate to abandon Mumble myself until they have done this, because while I am not playing World of Warcraft on a nightly basis I still hold the guildmaster position and get called on to resolve issues. I want to make sure I am reachable by folks even when I am not in the same game.
The other rough spot is that we need to come up with a shared set of rules and codes of conduct. For years House Stalwart has followed a simple “three tenets” approach, and relied on guild leader and officer judgment to fill in the gaps. Zeli tends to favor spelling things out, and considering the large volume of people she has dealt with not completely organically connected… I can totally see why this would be a good thing. After years of trying to “keep things simple” but then having to deal with explaining nuance… I am starting to favor Zeli’s approach to be honest. I hate writing rules, and as such that’s why I came up with the somewhat ambiguous three that we use. I figured that using common sense folks would realize what they meant… problem is not everyone “common” is the same. The further away from the same core of friends you get, the more confusing the interpretation becomes.
Going forward I think we are going to have to just agree upon a shared set of rules, and I think so far the batch Zeli came up with for the Alliance of Awesome guild seems like a great place to begin. The biggest thing I hope out of this is that we are a living community. That we will continue to grow as we adopt other awesome people from twitter, anook, g+, or that we happen to stumble across in game. Also I hope that we do in fact get the Machiavelli’s Cats community to join the fold, and keep finding other like minded groups to rally to the cause. I would really like Alliance of Awesome to not only have an ostentatious name, but also have awesome actions to back it up. I want us to be part of the solution in the games we play, and not part of the problem. I would love to see us better each of the gaming communities we are in.
One of the things that Zeli and I have been talking about lately is that we would really like to enter Alliance of Awesome in this years Child’s Play marathon. Far as I can tell this will take place on October 25th, and the idea is to have 25 hours of live streaming for charity. I have wanted to participate in this for years, but I thought it would be more interesting if we signed up a whole bunch of streamers from the Alliance of Awesome community and have one shared channel for the purpose of the event. We have quite a number of people who stream already, and it would be awesome to give each of us like a 4-5 hour block of time to play whatever the hell we want to.
Also lately we have been holding a lot of events in various games. Right now Wednesday nights are “Faff About in Cyrodil” night, and those are pretty much only to anyone in the Alliance of Awesome community. Additionally we have been holding a Thursday night “League Beginner Night” to let folks ease into the League of Legends game. So far both events have been a blast and I would love to see them grow beyond the small number of people that we have. I am sure we will be doing something similar for Wildstar, especially with the focus on grouping in that game. I can only see the community as a whole getting better. So here comes the thing I am sure you have all been waiting for. If you are not already a member of the Alliance of Awesome community… head over to the website and join our nook. We don’t have any real requirements for membership other than wanting to be around a bunch of awesome people, and striving to be the “white hats” in gaming. If you have a large community, track down myself or Zelibeli and we can see if the entire group would be a good fit for us as well. Growing up as an only child, I always wanted to be surrounded by friends… and on the internet I try my damnedest to surround myself with as many awesome people as I can. So far I think things are going pretty well.