Nothing quite puts the “multiplayer” into Massively Multiplayer Online RPG, quite like a guild. Done well, a guild can span many games. But what is a guild? What’s it for? And how does one go about building and maintaining one? Funny you should ask…
-Begin at the beginning: Who, what, and why
Before you start designing heraldry or making plans for matching gear, it’s important to decide what kind of guild you actually want. To do that, you have to figure out what you want from a guild, what you hope to achieve, and just how much you’re willing to put into it to get there.
Do you prefer guilds that are small and intimate? Then consider building from the people you already know personally, online or off. Or do you envision an enormous guild, with a complex hierarchy and overflowing with a never ending stream of new recruits?
Whichever you choose, tightly-knit, world-dominating, or somewhere comfortably in-between, there are a few things to keep in mind.
-Build slowly: Nobody likes the shouty spam guy
We’ve all endured them, the idiots that populate town squares and imperial halls alike, shouting their guild pitch ad nauseam.
Don’t be that guy. Everybody hates that guy. That guy is a jackass. Stable, long-lasting guilds are built slowly and with care. Taking on anyone and everyone is only going to result in a whole lot of guildies that don’t give a damn about the guild beyond getting a leg up in-game so they can jump ship when a better guild comes along. And the few recruits that do care will soon become disillusioned by the overwhelming numbers of those who don’t.
-Commit: guilds need to be maintained.
Whatever your ultimate goal for your guild, (tightly coordinated, regularly scheduled raids, or large numbers for ‘round the clock, on-call back-up) as guild master, you need to be there to see it through. As with growing viable crops or raising considerate kids, success takes time and effort. So, if you aren’t willing to make that commitment, your guild is doomed before it starts.
That doesn’t mean you can’t delegate things, however. Assigning certain task to your officers is a good way to take some of the pressure off you while making them feel they’re making an important contribution. Be considerate though, ask first. Don’t just dump your chores off on your fellows and call it a day, or you may soon find yourself sitting in that grand hall all alone.
-Play to your strengths, and theirs
Every gamer has his/her own style, skill set and motivation for playing. Even smaller guilds can benefit from taking those things into account and assigning classifications (and even sub classifications) to its members. Said classifications, however, have little to do with preferred character class, so don’t focus o’er much on those.
Instead, talk to you members, (radical!) and find out what brings them to the game in the first place. If you’ve got a few who prefer PVE to PVP, then classify them as questers. If the reverse is true, you’ve got yourself some soldiers. Those two over there? The ones who find grinding for materials to be relaxing? They’re your seekers. Make up whatever names you like, but, having those classifications will not only help you keep from irritating your guildies by continually misapplying their talents, it will also help you when finding new recruits and maintain crew balance in your guild.
Also remember that not all skill contributions need to be of the in-game variety. If a member has limited game-time availability, but is willing maintain the mailing list, or the web site, that’s a worthy contribution.
-Be realistic: guildies come and go, deal with it
Lives change and people move on. Guildies that were once available at all hours, ready at the drop of a gauntlet to join an impromptu raid, will eventually move on as well. A smart guild master knows this. And while there is often some sadness when losing a member of the team, (it is a breakup after all, however minor) it doesn’t do to take that loss as a personal indictment. It really IS about them, not you.
Conversely, when it’s time to cut someone loose, be fair, be firm. Maybe they’re not pulling their weight. Maybe they’re causing dissention among the ranks. Maybe they’re just not a good fit. It happens. Whatever the reason, if a guildie has to go, then they have to go, and you’re the one who has to make it happen. And you thought being The Boss would be easy and fun. Feh!
-Know when to walk away
All good things must end, and the bad ones do too. For every successful guild will come a day when it’s time to sell off the furniture and close the guild house one final time. And for a guild that just never seems to quite get off the ground, that moment looms as well. The decision to walk away is never easy, but when it’s time, you’ll know it in your gut. Obey the feeling. Believe me, no matter how hard it seems at that moment, it’s still easier than trying to keep a sinking ship afloat.
Acknowledge the good times and the bad. Treasure it all, then say goodbye. Then take a break. You may decide to start something new one day and you’ll want to be well rested. After all, creating something as complex and wonderful as a guild is hard work.
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