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Nomads in a virtual world

"A nomad wandering a desolate wasteland, Conceived in the mind of a woven world. Surrounded by habitual creatures of a dark cult, Of fickle fashion and agonizing arrogance..." -Ralfe Poisson

Author: Kalin

::The player's fault::

Posted by Kalin Saturday September 15 2007 at 2:38PM
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UO was a breakthrough.. EQ made you sense the freedom of a virtual 3D world... DAoC was the best... AC was this.. SWG was that.. FFXI ruled.. blah.. blah.
Now, there's a discussion to be had here that could go on forever.. and it has been. The 3rd generation game that never came. Or did it and we missed it?
We had high hopes for Horizons, great expectations for Dark & Light, and those of us who beta tested Wish still regret its loss.
Lineage 2 was a commercial success, yet who was really satisfied from it as the "successor of legendary games"? Who can claim that for WoW?
Archlord was stillborn from the launch, and even Vanguard -Saga of the dissapointed thousants flopped.
Ryzom, Rubies of Eventide, the neverending development of Darkfall, CoH and CoV, Guild Wars.... the list is long and... empty.
Masses of players stormed games like Hero/Knight/whatsamacallit Online, Rappelz, Sword of the New World, 2 Moons, etc.
Silkroad claims a 12 million count memberbase. Well, try play it for 2 days to see what its about.
I did.
In fact, I played all the above games with the adition of 12-15 more, numerous betas, asian titles that nobody heard of (and some of them -nobody ever will).
Yes, I'm one of those people who still search for the absolute game. I have been in the beta test of Myth of SOMA and the beta of DAoC a year later.
I played Lineage2 while it was still under Korean beta and Japan alpha.. I've spent 3 years helping (or so I thought) to develope D&L and Wish. My list goes on as well..

If you ask me what game I loved, it was hands down DAoC. True, it's an opinion but it's MY opinion. That's what I happened to be playing at a certain time
when I was still new to 3D mmorpgs and everything could still amaze me. I had friends in game, a great guild (top 3 on our server) and life was grand!
Then why did I leave? What was missing? Grafics? Sure, but I tried it again after TOA expansion with an improved engine and still I couldn't stay long.
The players where too litle, the adventure too long to gear up and reach the top 10 PvPers (I was always competitive you see), but -above all- it was an already played game.
I craved for something new. A new thrill, a glorious saga, where I would jump in the game just in time and have a chance to be one of the best on a game where thousands
would play. The funny thing is..... I dunno why.
Why does any of us have to be one of the best? Why do we have to have so many factors in our favor in order to play a decent game?
"I didn't get into beta, so I lose the head start others get..."
"I can't afford to pay for items so my char gimps out.."
"I didn't find a good guild when I needed it, so now I can't keep up.."
Whatever the reason, the result is the same: "this game sucks!" -these words spread out faster than a disease.

Often, many of us "old, experienced, mature, players" (sic) involved into brainstormings of creating the perfect game.. Yes, I did too.
Did any of you see that "perfect game"? A useless and vain project. There are still guild leaders who pride themselves of being advisors of a sort
to developers on this or that game... Fools. Don't you see that what developers really want is the community beating each-other with sticks for a
favorable spot, thus keeping the interest up? Sure you do, what you are really after in return is beta accounts for you and your guild.
You still need that head start and -oh, let me guess.. you opose server wipe at launch :P

Well, you know what? the developers all over the world already KNOW what a game should be like.
They too have seen EQ, DAoC, AC, SWG, Shadowbane, etc etc. One would think it's not hard to take a successful game and take it to the next step...
Then why Mythic makes WAR instead of DAoC 2? Why Vanguard instead of EQ 3?
Because we want something new! We want it fast to cover our boredom in the stale mmorpg world out there. We want it diferent than anything else, so we won't complain
that it "stole" elements from this or that... and to top that, a copied feature offered, isn't as good as... -insert older game name- had.
Because thay can't use DAoC's skill system or Wish's spell-weaving, or EQ's boss raids, or... They have to earn their pay.
Even a simple NPC 3D model copied means 10 less hours of paycheck. Virtual world engines? A dozen, but nobody uses them because it will take time and money
to draw each tree from scratch. It's an industry -get it through your system already! Ferrari is a great car, but nobody imitates it. You think it's the copyrights?
Let me asure you, they're easily bypassed. Besides, what copyrights would SOE violate to use elements of an older SOE game? Or Mythic? Or Sigil? Or PlayNC?
What is Aion compared to Lineage 2? What are the major diferences? Why the new title? What are the differences between MU online and Soul of the Ultimate Nation?
Really... THAT different eh? :P
Start asking yourselves the obvious questions.

Why don't we ever stick by a game and help it grow? Why do we go with the masses?
To be the devil's advocate, Dark & Light kept sending me offers to return and see what they did with it, but I never did.
DAoC's newsletters, Anarchy Online, Eve Online, etc etc, they all try to stirr our interest once again.
Vanguard had a very bad start, but the game had potential. I expected a great game from Sigil and my dissapointment kept me from being patient.
I saw the bugs and the unbalances and I left with the rest of the fleeing playerbase. But left to go where? Did I think that some free asian grinding game
would be better than Vanguard (even with the bugs)? I found out the hard way that I was wrong... But to go back to Vanguard? It falls under the category of
"allready played game" for me.
I am wrong and I am stupborn and I am too proud to go back to a game of which I spoke ill in the past...
And if my own ideas and concepts are so great, why didn't I ever join Planeshift's making? (an open source free mmorpg made by players for players)

I sit here bored, waiting for Age of Conan to launch. But you know what? I won't join the beta testing this time.
I won't read about the game any further than I already have. I won't even join the AoC forums to play it "wise and mature guild leader".
This time I will look at it with fresh eyes once more, like I used to do back when I was still enjoying games.
I will not brakedown skill trees and swing timers, study area maps and mob spawns and frequencies, I won't even consider class effectiveness and possible
group tactics or make guild plans of owning towns and forts.
I will just wait and play it when the time comes. And maybe I will gain back some of my lost naivety and amazement with the simple things.

But if you are not too stubborn as I am, maybe you should look again at the game list. You'll find that the games you always enjoyed to play are still there.
Like old clowns with a bitter smile who have seen better days. Used and abandoned. Pay them a visit. Give them a chance.
All you have to lose is grinding in some never-ending "free" game without purpose.
If some new and worthy game launches, you won't miss it. But playing anything and everything just in case they might be good and you miss your head start
is frustrating -isn't it?

Get your heads straight and down to the point. Free games are like some old arcade titles we played to pass the time: no major point or goal.
When we wanted serious adventuring we'd load a RPG, or an adventure, or even a shoot'em up (God! I still remember my 1st Doom game-night)
Pick a fun, simple, free game for the times you're bored, or absent minded, and pick a game that meant something to you and your friends for serious dedication.

PS> For the record, I haven't played ALL the games I mention (just most of them), I'm not too uptight with competing and I like the anime look on some casual games.
But I assume a side to get my point out. I also kept many thoughts out of it, in order to maintain some logic in it all.

How does a good leader handle his guild

Posted by Kalin Saturday September 15 2007 at 7:10AM
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An intro to this would be long and pointless. So straight forward and without the crap:
* You need to have convictions.
What you think or believe in, is the only way some people will relate to you. Learn to consider all players
as individual personalities who have their own judgement. Offer them your cup of tea flavor and if they like it too
you have a group going. The base of everything is a common ground of understanding. YOU -the leader is the binding glue,
not the game. Offer your points of view with conviction and dedication.
If you are the type of person who doesn't state his mind clearly just to avoid conflict /criticism /rejection, you will
never gain respect.

* You need to earn respect
Earn is the key word -not demand it. Nor facilitate it through elaborate structures of officers who worship you.
They will affect the croud for a while, yes, but sooner or later they will abandon you themselves, since you never earned their respect.
When you speak your mind, stick by your words. If you did wrong accept it. Don't apologise or ask for forgiveness.
Just be a man and accept you made a mistake. Things will happen to land you on your face and -no matter how hard your nose is- you'll bleed.
Get up, wipe off, straighten your posture and acknowledge the blow. Sometimes humor might help you, others it won't.
If you claim you're a strong player, you have to prove it. The members that  look up to you to be their champion will grade you on
any and every encounter. When you are facing an offender, stand your ground. Confront him. Punish him. Even if he's right at his offense,
show him that there should be another way to bring it to you. In other words demand manners. If he wanted to correct your wrong, he'd simply
speak to you. He offends you because he simply wants to make you lose face and humiliate you infront of others. Deal with him swift and desisive.
If he's a member of your guild, ban him. If he apologises publicly for the incident, decide on your own what you wanna do.
Don't cut him slack because he's popular or because he's competent and you need him or because you fear the others will dissaprove.
You are the institution of the guild and this must get across clear and solid. I'll say it again -demand manners towards everyone!

* You need to show respect
In the same aspect, you need to show your good manners and respect to everyone.
From your recruits, to your members, to your enemies. In languages where plural is used in conversations as a means to show respect,
when someone speaks in plural to you, you respond in plural in return. If you don't it's considered a sign of rudeness.
Likewise, when you respect someone and they're decent and polite, they respect you back. If you show respect to a rude guy and you speak
as you should, it's aparent to all around that you're the gentleman. You win the game of verbal conflict by simply dusting off the pin on your tie.
However show caution to exsessive displays of respect or overacting. At some point respect and courtessy border to subservient manners.
And overacting respectful will only point to just that -you are acting. Respect others honestly and plainly.
There's something to respect in everyone. It will take you 5 minutes to bring all you know about them in mind and see the true reason why you should respect each of them.

* Handle well your memberbase
Some people look good on forums. Others don't even visit. Some debate well on channels while some are just good friends to trust and rely on.
The most successful PvPers I met rarely read or posted on boards. They rarely spoke in group hunts and when they did, they had nothing brilliant of
cosmic consequence to say. Achievers, min-maxers, socialisers, explorers, carebears, RolePlayers, saviors, etc... It's all in the mix.
Even if you run a narrow focused guild and your members are quite alike, they'll have secondary desires and playstyle atributes that will differensiate them.
Think through about them. Consider their needs and characters. Facilitate groups of similar needs and tastes. Above all -LISTEN to them.
When they come to you for their needs or disputes or questions, don't discard them as commons. Because they're not commons. They make you who you are,
don't ever forget that. The guild will not last long by your ideals and stature only. It's the players who shape it in the long run.
How do you handle all member needs and requests? That's what you have officers for.

* Handpick your officers and assign them useful tasks
Starting to shape your guild structure by numbers like "a tree of 3 high officers, 5 sub officers and 7 group captains" is a poor way to do business.
Sure, whatever guild structure games offer you is somewhat limiting, but you don't always have to follow what looks good on paper to some developer.
It's simple, you do what you can with the staff you got. If you have a very social and verbal guy, then you got yourself a Public Relations officer.
If you got a very likeable and friendly figure, you got a Recruit Officer or a personel manager. A knowledgeable guy on game mechanics, a portal-man (someone who frequents game portals)
a webguy who makes website, and handles forums, a javascript mapmaker, a seasoned PvPer, an explorer who makes item /mob /location lists, a crafter of renounce,
a patient trader, or an ex leader with beliefs close to yours -you've got your staff. Sometimes the same guy will match 2-3 of the guild needs, and more often
you will lack these people. Look around for valuable guys and try to recruit them. When you get 1 of them you open an officer spot. So numbers are not quite set -are they.
So, depending on the features you want your guild to have, you appoint officers. I can already imagine many of you recognising common "best" practices.
Well, all this is good if you have covered your basic need: help your members play a fun and worry free game.
What you should have is a personel officer who gets a kick out of solving relation problems, a seasoned gamer who's willing to help with game knowledge,
a socialiser to handle your guild to guild relations and GM /community relations, and yourself as a leader who trully understands that you're the glue that binds.
The leadership of a guild is more often like a public service office, rather than an elitistic family of kings and princes.
You're not in the army. People play games to have fun. Why would anyone (anyone that you'd value and respect anyway) want to bow down to your own majesty?
Help them, have fun with them and eliminate problems at their making to keep a loyal memberbase.
Sometimes, all the tasks mentioned above can be done by typical members. You don't have to make them officers for that.

* Use Point systems
Acknowledging the fact that people need recognition for what they do, implement a Guild Contribution Point system as oposed to a DKP (Dragon Kill Point -wrongly adopted as a generic Raid Point system).
The ones who contribute in ways beyond their typical membership behavior, should be rewarded. Naturally the seasoned leaders will see the need for a Raid Point system as well in conjuction
with this -more- social system, so you could set plainly and transparently what each system's points can buy.
An idea would be to reward raid points with raid drops and social guild points with items from the guild coffers like crafting materials, money loans, or stashed items.
Maybe even titles. Make sure to periodically round up the points so that they don't stack too high.

* Consider your consistancy
Time zones and work hours will often mess up your perfect world. Spouts who whine, babies that need to be fed, bosses with deadlines, parents and in-laws who visit,
buddies who need support or just beer nights. The worst example of bad member timezones could be an English guy who's never online when all US members play
and who always protests that the guild is dead. Nobody can blame the poor fella but he unknowingly becomes a generator of bad influence and brings down the guild mood.
So a) Zone your guild. Equalise the members and even them out into timezones upon recruiting. It's very hard later on to support the "lonely" dude.
b) Get extras. If you have your mind set on a 40-members guild, get 52. Cover your absences with 2 extra groups that can mingle optimally.
c) Name meeting times for any guild activity. Keep an online calendar if you can. Let people know how to arrange their time because eventually they sleep, go shoping,
watch TV, flirt, spend time with family etc.
d) Keep a weekly guild meeting to discuss important matters and always hold a guild hunt after it. Players like to be involved in matters as long as they don't
waste their day on it. But if they know that discussions, promotions, item hand-downs and guild photoshoots are held in pre-arranged times, they handle their game pursuits accordingly.
Personally I always dedicate the guild hunt of the weekly meeting for guild coffer needs. That way I avoid member taxation and mandatory item donations.
It's a fun hunt that's meant for the whole guild to play together, not an EXP event or a raid or even a loot oportunity. It's meant to be FUN. Pure and simple.

* Keep your enemies closer
Guild to Guild relations are important. They are what grands you friends and foes you can respect -and you know what they say: "the value of my enemy measures the value of my victory".
They are your interactivity in the widespread of the game's community. They are not just enemies -they're YOUR enemies.
Learn the leaders at 1st. Who do you message when guild frictions arise. Then learn their officers. Then their most valued members. Lastly learn their worse mannered members.
The later will be your most often friction point.
Try to mesure up against good guilds by arranging friendly wars. Your members will learn to play together better and win-or-lose
you'll all have fun. Do not fear to lose members to another guild by socialising too much. If you lose a member like this, you would lose him anyway someday or another.
Don't let worries and petty fears get in your way of contributing to shape a better game community -it's a shame and injustice to yourself.

*You can be King Solomon
Be fair and just to all. Guild mate or unknown player -doesn't matter. Do the right thing, or rule as you should and then you see what it takes to patt both sides in the back.
Give the chance to each side to explain their point of view and pay both their dues. Then show with actions that there are no hard feelings. You are not wise when you
act wise however. They came to you to hear them out because they both value your position or respect you as a person. Don't slap them in the face for doing so.
Keep in mind that most times both sides will be right in the concept but wrong on the spot. Distance yourself and imagine the case with 2 puppets instead of the actual people.
Brake it down to the fundamental principals and rules of human interaction. Speak your mind firmly and elaborate.
And close it down. As the saying goes, the buck stops to you. You are expected to be the desision maker, the organiser and the ultimate principal in a guild.
Nobody else you can point them to, and if you don't deal with it, nobody will, so don't push the dirt under the carpet.
It will be there for you to deal with so put it out of the way as soon as you can and be as fair and just possible.

kept the most important advice for the end...

Don't forget that you also play to have fun. You won't serve any purpose if you burn out. If things frustrate you too much, appoint a temporary successor and take a brake.
Hunt casually or group with strangers, do a pleasant quest (if such things still exist), or flirt around. Keep daily hunts for the sheer fun of it and explain that
EXP or loot is not your priority. If you prefer, power-grind while semi watching TV now that you have no guild chat to worry about, do anything you want -but get it
out of your system. And when you feel relaxed and ready to return, put on your best suit, a fancy smile and arrange another guild war event, or a naked party in a dungeon ;)
Hehe, what can I say? I write this guide as it suits for me, you find your own best practices.
If you ever need help or advice I'm at your disposal, sometimes you don't want answers you just need to let it off your chest and as you speak you also make up your mind.

Thanks for reading that long
See you all around.