It’s a fairly crappy day here in Oklahoma. It has been raining nonstop for weeks, and the ground is roughly the consistency of chocolate pudding. The combination of overcast day, pounding rain, and my seemingly lack of solid sleep last night have put me in a mood not exactly conducive to creativity.
Once more I am dipping into the well of ideas, known only as the Blog Azeroth shared topic. In public channels and forums you often find someone asking for “A Good Guild”. Copra from BA posed the question… “what is a Good Guild from the standpoint of a player looking for guild OR from the standpoint of being in the guild?”. Several of the regulars have now answered the call, but for some reason I guess I have saved the topic as an ace in the hole for a day much like today.
It’s the people… stupid!
Last night I found myself thinking those exact words as my friends slowly filtered offline to get some much needed sleep and bit by bit I found myself with little reason to be logged in at all. It was too late to start anything new, having just pulled out of a 10 man Ulduar run. As a couple of my best friends decided to call it for a night, I came to the stark realization that my enjoyment in the game is almost entirely tied up in the people that I play it with. My guild is my extended family, that I have collected over the years. So the most simple answer to “What is a Good Guild” in its most basic form is, “Good People”.
If you build it, they will come… eventually
A good guild is like a snowball rolling down a hill. While in motion it has it’s own gravity, drawing in players left and right. However if it reaches the bottom of the hill and is allowed to stagnate it quickly melts and crumbles around you. Just like a snowball you have to have a bit of good stuff gathered together before you can start it rolling in the first place. Every guild needs a core to build upon, and a successful core is usually a group of close friends. Finding the core group to build the guild around is the easy part.
The next step in guild evolution is the part that everyone seems to get wrong. If the core stays a cohesive unit there is no room to grow. In a game like wow you are locked to only being able to do things in fixed units of 5, 10, and 25 players. If the core group is unwilling to be split up there is no room as new players enter the mix, and continue to feel as though they are outsiders. Each of the core members must be willing to branch out and meet new people, as a result bringing many of them into the growing “clump”.
Some players fit well into the mix, others don’t but you have to have faith that the ones who understand the purpose will stick around and help the group grow. The next important tenet is to make sure that you allow the guild to grow at the pace it needs to. Every guild needs a fresh infusion of ideas from time to time, but just like in life it’s weakest point is during one of these growth spurts. If too many new people enter the mix at once, you risk fragmenting a once close unit into a bunch of individual cliques. It’s important to instead let the guild expand at the rate that seems natural. There are going to be moments of rapid growth, but it is important to make sure you incorporate these new members into activities to let them gain a better foothold.
Staying in Motion
A guild that stays in motion, stays together. It is important to develop a strong sense of community, and reinforce this each time new members join. It is important to try and go out of your way to work new players into groups and activities, to let them carve out their own niche in the guild ecosystem. It’s important that the members have a sense of ownership in the guild’s direction. The sense of community is reinforced by structure, and even in the most freeform of gatherings you need a strong backbone to build upon.
The Warders of the guild community are its leadership. Building a strong group of officers is the greatest challenge a growing guild has. You need to find officers who are willing to get their hands dirty and make positive change on the community. At the same time you must carefully choose members who can handle the responsibility of carefully nudging the group without bending its will and purpose to their own desires. You will often find that the best leaders are the ones who have reservation about accepting the position. These are the members who most understand the challenges that the mantle of responsibility will present.
Building a Guild, Not a Raid
In 2004 I took the responsibility of forming House Stalwart at the release of the World of Warcraft on the Argent Dawn server. It was not a job I necessarily jumped into with great gusto, but I wanted to play this new game with people I enjoyed. Based on bad experiences with tyrant guild leaders, I felt that I had to protect this fledgling community from ever letting that happen again. I felt that I didn’t have it in myself to dominate the lives of others for my own personal gain.
With a group of close friends we sat about to gather up friends and comrades from various other games we had played throughout the years. Drawing them all together under one banner with the purpose of providing a relaxed low drama community to be able to enjoy this new game. We set out to build an extended family, not a raid group, and I feel that’s a key distinguishing factor. I feel that building a successful community and building a successful raid are two separate but not exactly join goals.
A successful guild is built around a sense of community, shared destiny and joined purpose. At its core is a center of friendship and camaraderie. The structure and leadership reflects the goal of binding disparate players together in a cohesive union. A good guild is a group of players that enjoy the company of each other.
A successful raid is built around a sense of achievement, shared skills and joined purpose. At its core is a center of worth ethic and goals. The structure and leadership reflects the goal of binding separate players together into a cohesive work unit able to execute orders for the good of the collective raid. A good raid is a group of players with similar skill levels, competitive drive, and shared goals.
Know your purpose
At their core the two are similar,but you can immediately tell that the cores of each are grounded in very different places. It is important for you to know your personal focus and the focus of your guild. I chose to build a guild and not a raid, and then in turn chose to build a raid independent of guilds. House Stalwart has the clear focus of trying to be a good guild, in which players feel comfortable and happy to be part of the larger unit. Duranub Raiding Company has a similarly clear focus, trying to be a good raid in which players feel like they are actively part of the success of the whole. Each serves a very different purpose, but each exists successfully independent of the other.
I think one of the issues that shipwrecks many raid guilds is the attempt to be too many things to too many different people at once. Guild drama is a horrible thing. Raid drama is can be atrocious. Raid Guild drama, however can reach near post apocalyptic levels that can from time to time shake entire server communities to its core. Loot brings out the worst in everyone, and not having that distances between guild and raid means often that when things are not going well, there is no place someone can escape the ravages of war.
What is a good guild?
A Good guild most simply is a gather of good players. Players who work together well, have common goals and common ethics. The average player looking for “A Good Guild” in public channels, are simply looking a free ride in order to achieve whatever goals they personally have. A true good guild, is however neither something that serves the player or that the players serve. It is a community that experiences both the good and the bad, and somehow comes together, after it all, still working group as a group. A “good guild” is a very rare thing in an often time self serving game like this. When you find one, you should hold on with both hands and try not to let go.