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Why we will all fail...


tsp_maj
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This is just a philosophical discussion started by an old Pirate. 

 

Hundreds of guilds will start the game; new guilds, old guilds, small, large, and from all manor of games or ideas will begin the game with huge ambitions of glory.  Few will survive past the first six months. 

 

Instinctively, those of you that know this type of game are already assuming that I'm talking about the casualties of war.  While I do believe that guilds being "defeated" out of the game is a real threat that needs to be addressed that isn't what this is about. 

 

Our community is old, stemming back to table top games, MUDs and old favorites like UO and even Shadowbane.  Its possibly the oldest gaming community alive today.  Through the years we've slowly grown as younger versions of ourselves have realized the alluring draw of meaningful conflict.  We have tasted ultimate victory, and also bitter defeat.  Guilds created over a decade ago still proudly rise to each challenge.  Challenge is the key word because through challenge and strife comes strength and unity.  Members of these guilds have digitally bled together and are the online equivalent of a band of brothers.  In essence, the game matters far less to them than the guild they fight for. 

 

Why does this mean failure?  Times have changed.  Through the years our ranks have been swelled with the product of modern MMO's, fluff.  Instant gratification seeking, entitlement oriented gamers looking for maximum rewards with no effort have infiltrated the best of us.  These people are the foundation of our failure.  The ones that will quickly fill our forums with "this game sucks" and quit shortly after. 

 

The truth is this game, like all others, will not be for everyone.  The average guild is so diverse now that at least half of its members wont even enjoy the game.  All of us will see a rapid decline in membership as a result, and this can cause an incredible amount of stress on guild members and leadership.

 

First Key to Success:  Prepare your guild for a rapid fall-out post launch.  Explain to your members that this game wont be for everyone and ask that they respect those that are still enjoying the game by leaving quietly.  Constant posts in private forums about "this game sucks" is the beginning of the end for every guild.  Recruiting players that survived this initial gauntlet is the first step towards the top. 

 

This effect is multiplied by what I mentioned earlier.  For our most loyal members, the guild is more important than the game.  If the guild is losing members and its looking like it's heading towards failure then these members will stop having fun and follow suit. 

 

The guilds that survive this phenomenon are now sitting on the edge of a black hole waiting to be sucked in.  Numbers are down, moral is low, and action is critical.  Lets pause for a moment to talk about what you can do to help prevent this prophecy.  Many new guild leaders, or even experienced guild leaders will make an incredible mistake to start the game.  Anyone that has played RTS games before knows that an early offense is often the quickest way to success.  Those that focus on purely defense are usually easy pray.  This is also true in a GvG MMO.  Guild leaders will often envision a "perfect" time to start fighting, after they have farmed for their city walls, after everyone's skills are up to 100 and after sunset on the 212th day of the 13th year.

 

Second Key to Success:  The time to fight is now.  Come out aggressive and push the limits of your members.  Once a few of your members start complaining that you're "fighting too much" then that's your sweet spot, keep it up.  Your members will be inspired by combat, the thing they are playing the game for, and usually end up being stronger than those that are bored grinding away the game.

 

There are two types of guild leaders that people will follow.  There is the charismatic leader and the results based leader.  Both of them serve their members and not the other way around.  A charismatic leader is the kind of person that people just enjoy playing with.  They make the game fun through their actions and act as a lynch pin holding the guild together.  A results based leader is someone with a plan that leads the guild to success.  Some people will gladly follow an a-hole as long as he leads them to victory, while others need a more relaxing environment to bring out their potential.  Know your members and figure out how to empower each of them to be at their greatest.  

 

"Low activity" is an illusion, you might as well consider that all non-active members are just that.  I cant tell you how many complaint threads I've read about "low activity" over the years.  No matter how nicely you put it, or how loudly you yell, you're not going to convince people who recently decided to stop playing to suddenly start again.  They are lost, move on.  Its the guilds job to make people want to play, the players don't have a job, this is a game. 

 

Third Key to Success:  Empower your members, share what you know, and show them your vision.  Look out for exceptional members that are eager to take charge of something and let them do it.  This motivation, almost regardless of its direction, is what will create greatness within your guild.  Along with this, find the person that disagrees with you most, and has a desire to lead, and make them second in command.  I cant tell you how many great ideas I've had that were wisely shut down by someone that is super critical of the way I think.  This also gives you some degree of control over their power to contest your decisions, and a strong relationship will form.

 

Finally we've come to the end of this long thread.  Even if you follow those three keys to success you'll still fail.  That's just the nature of the beast.  People drift in and out of games like this and eventually you'll wither away.  Pre-established guilds typically only last so long in a game because they come in with their pre-conceived notions and unique set of ethics that may not mesh well with being successful. 

 

Forth Key to Success:  A guild created in-game will always win.  Take all of the remnants of some of the top failed guilds and create a new guild and you'll have unlimited success in the game.  These are the people that put up with all of that other stuff and still kept playing.  Those of us that recognize this will seek to recruit these types of players before our own guilds go under.  If you've done things right and you still have something left to offer these players at this point then you may see true success in the game.

 

Ultimately though success is judged by the player.  A guild that starts the game and quickly conquers all but rapidly falls apart could be considered successful, and probably would be by most.  Just lasting forever, while an impressive feat, isn't considered "success" by everyone either. 

 

   

 

Edited by tsp_maj

Maj, Keeper of Da Plank - The Shipwrecked Pirates

 

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What an excellent post.

"Camouflage is the color of fear..  I have no need to hide from my foes.. I have no fear of death.  My colors I wear openly, they proclaim louder than any words, "I am proud to live, I am proud to die."

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I just have to add....the last thing Maj said is probably the most crucial of all the excellent points he made, imo...

 

if you have a good core that agrees on what they think is fun, and always keep that in sight...then no matter what, you're having a good time

 

that's what all of this is about, isn't it?

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let the Code build the World and it's Laws....let the Players build the rest...

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Undervalued post, lost count of how many "elite oldschool shadowbane guilds' came back to SB and got trounced in a few fights/sieges then simply gave up.

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Undervalued post, lost count of how many "elite oldschool shadowbane guilds' came back to SB and got trounced in a few fights/sieges then simply gave up.

 

I think a lot of that was for three factors present early on: #1 the amount of gold farming it took to build a decent city with guards and crafters plus #2 the brain deadening boredom of gold farming and #3 the fact that more often than not the guild was crushed by one of the server zergs - yes, some did pick themselves up to fight on, but most didn't see the point when you had 100 member guilds being crushed by zergs that outnumbered them ten to one.

 

Wolfpack dealt with Number 1 and 2 by upping the amount of gold you can earn, adding mines, etc. and also smoothing out the brick-by-brick tedium of upkeep; cities became easier to build and maintain.  Unfortunately, the early damage had been done.

 

Number 3 you can argue is just another barrier to overcome.  You heard that a lot in Shadowbane as well.  But being faced by much larger opponents helped dissuade small and medium guilds from persisting.  If a small group came back, it often did so by joining one of the zergs.  The few that didn't became well known and respected, but were not real factors in any sort of Game of Thrones way.  There were exceptions, but usually this was how things went.  

 

I think they will definitely deal with #1 and #2 easily.  The last one is more difficult, since it is player driven.  The tendency for servers to devolve into a two-sided war and then, once one of the zergs prevails, a dying server, will need addressing.  People being people, when you add real risk of loss to a game, then people look for ways to reduce risk.  The same thing that motivates people to join a guild in the first place - strength in numbers - also motivates guilds to join or form zergs.

Edited by cemya
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Such a good post, so many valid points. I don't think all the guilds will fail but a lot of guilds will definitely be tested and are every time a new option is offered in the gaming community. The days of solid loyal members are very rare. I would love to find a guild to call home myself. Great observations and advice Maj, very impressive.

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Oh my, this is why you are one of my favorite people. Great points. I have little to add which speaks to the thoughtfulness here.

 

I wouldn't go as far as to call it a caveat to your second lesson, but something incredibly important for guilds to consider, is to be calculated about your strikes.  Whether we want to accept it or not, we are dealing with people and communities.  This implies a very complex social interaction that will color exactly how you go about "being aggressive". If you merely look internally (your guild) to find inspiration for your behavior, you will fail regardless of your approach.

 

I'd add a lesson here, Observe and leverage the political landscape. Then use it to your advantage.

 

While it is important for guilds to keep energized, have a major goal they're moving to, and not become complacent: There is absolutely a time when it is necessary to "wait and see" how the situation develops.  Aggressiveness, when needed, should be applied correctly as a martial arts master, instead of incorrectly as a flailing drunken idiot swinging at someone in a bar who made a wise-crack at him. The first year of Shadowbane is a graveyard of guilds who did not take this lesson to heart.  Even more difficult for them because by most measures they were "unbeatable", yet every server had a story about how the evil empire fell.

 

This, frankly, is why I anticipate a lot of historically competent guilds failing right out of the gate.  In addition to the inevitable flush of soft members Maj referred to, a lot of guilds will make the mistake of over-estimating their own ability based on a legacy that is antiquated.

 

That leads me into another lesson I'd add here - What got you here won't get you there. Come into this with an open mind.  Don't assume any truth about previous games/experiences still applies. The guilds that will ultimately succeed are the ones that have the highest ability to learn. This requires a level of humility that most guilds historically do not have. Do the research, respect your enemies, and keep an eye on the political situation. To my earlier point, if you come out with guns blazing and haven't done your homework, you will not survive.

 

The last thing I'll say is a minor addition to Maj's last point about building your guild: Be explicit about what qualities you want in your guild members. An example for me is, I don't take people in who have a low capacity for learning (related to my other point). Even if other guilds you respect start to fracture and break, don't just take those people in wholesale.  Make sure their behavior is consistent with your values.  One good guild member is worth 10 band wagoners.

 

Lulz, did I say I had little to add?  WALL OF TEXT LINDORN OP

Edited by lindorn

Your milkshake lures all the fine folks to the yard. Verily, it is better than mine. Surely it is better than mine. Would you teach me, or would you levy a fee? - Integ

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And all of this together is also why I'd love to talk about a bunch of us merging and starting something new.  We'd have a lot of experience and a much larger roster out of the gate. Easy for me to say though because DC at this point is just 5 or 6 dudes hanging out and having a beer ;)

Your milkshake lures all the fine folks to the yard. Verily, it is better than mine. Surely it is better than mine. Would you teach me, or would you levy a fee? - Integ

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While I like the gist of this post, I disagree with the notion of success.  You can do all those things, and still fail.  Success is not guaranteed, and it is definitely not easy.  That's a good start to becoming successful, but there are so many factors it's hard to pinpoint.

 

The best advice I would give is to find people that fit your playstyle, remember it's still a video game, so you should be enjoying yourself in victory or defeat.

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While I like the gist of this post, I disagree with the notion of success.  You can do all those things, and still fail.  Success is not guaranteed, and it is definitely not easy.  That's a good start to becoming successful, but there are so many factors it's hard to pinpoint.

 

The best advice I would give is to find people that fit your playstyle, remember it's still a video game, so you should be enjoying yourself in victory or defeat.

 

Everyone should take a moment to consider what Ganked said here.  Thanks for posting this.

Your milkshake lures all the fine folks to the yard. Verily, it is better than mine. Surely it is better than mine. Would you teach me, or would you levy a fee? - Integ

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Everyone should take a moment to consider what Ganked said here.  Thanks for posting this.

 

yeah..it's not like someone else said it in the fourth post...

 

i know i know...i'm still a smartass

FIQw0eP.png

let the Code build the World and it's Laws....let the Players build the rest...

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yeah..it's not like someone else said it in the fourth post...

 

i know i know...i'm still a smartass

 

 

Hey hey I was pointing toward the point about being able to do all of these things and still fail.  But yes the point about a strong core and finding fun is also a great one!

Your milkshake lures all the fine folks to the yard. Verily, it is better than mine. Surely it is better than mine. Would you teach me, or would you levy a fee? - Integ

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