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Thoughts of a Guild Leader

Thoughts and views of a Guild Leader.

Author: maveric007

Zerg Guilds, redefining guilds as a whole?

Posted by maveric007 Saturday January 17 2009 at 11:52AM
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      Sitting in the seat of a Guild Leader for the past 6 years, I've been watching the death real guilds accelerating. From a guild leaders perspective, its becoming very concerning to see the close tight knit guild communities come to an end. No, I'm not saying there are none of us still out there. However with each triple A release, game makers seem to be pushing us further towards a mandatory zerg guild status. I've touched on this a few times with my own guild, but haven't really got into the meat and potatoes of the subject.

      First of all lets discuss what exactly a zerg guild is. As I see it, its a guild that recruits as many members as possible pre-release/ post-release in order to complete a final objective. These guilds often are the players that randomly spam you for guild invites in games and on forums "Drives me crazy don't know about you". Much of the time there is no application process other then just being logged into the game. In essence, be a non NPC and your in. Often you will see these guild reaching into 100 - 300 members in pre-release/post-release. The majority of these guilds currently reside within the WoW/AoC environment.

      Touching on the pre-release zerg guilds first, most of these guilds never last much further then a couple months post release "If not weeks". They spend a vast amount of time gobbling up any player they can possibly find on forums ect. This action in itself takes many valuable players and drops them into a drama filled often stagnant guild with very little organization. A few months later many of these players are almost forced leave the game because the game isn't what they expected. I often think it has allot to do with the environment they have put themselves into rather then the game itself. Players often enjoy the game more when they have created friends in game and have allot of access to team play "IE mmorpg". The post-release zerg crowd really isn't much different then the pre-release. Constant guild invite attempts and spamming in/out of game guild information. Over the course of my years as a GL, I have often found these same guilds create much of the drama on the server "spamming/ganking/harassment". If either pre/post guilds make it beyond the 6 month period of existence their turnover rate is so high it defeats the purpose of a guild. In order to keep a guild at those numbers with the environment they provide its a constant effort to recruit more and more. Again it doesn't matter what the quality of any of these players are, just the quantity.

      A guild used to be a tight knit group of members, who through thick and thin could accomplish goals set forth by the guild. Guilds used to end up being a family of friends in which you would actually have fun in game. Ya I did say the F word there. I think most people have lost sight on what these games are all about....Fun.... I believe a large part of the loss of fun and drama free environments, have come from the community of guilds going down hill. Unless mmorpgs start actually encouraging these guilds to exist, I fear many more will be lost.

Annwyn writes:

Nice point and I do admit that we see more and more zerg guild these days. To be honest I don't see what a company can do about it, unless it starts add guild restriction which probably won't only hurt zerg guild be real guild too.

Wether you want them to fill an application or invite them on sight is up to the leader and the company can't do anything. Of course it is true that those guilds don't usually last long and there isn't any benifit from it but that's it. All those zerg guild leaders have a similar mentality, they're either not mature enough or greedy.

Only thing I can say is :Let them be and keep making your guild better everyday so it will never fall down like theirs.

Sat Jan 17 2009 12:10PM Report
maveric007 writes:

I think with proper guild member caps in most of these games, it would push for the tight knit guild to come back. Having a limitless cap only encourages leaders to fill in as many as possible. Also removing the need for massive amount of players "ie in AoC 48 man sieges or early WoW 40 man raids".

Sat Jan 17 2009 12:12PM Report
Quizzical writes:

You try to make it sound as though guilds grabbing as many players as they possibly can is something new.  While I presumably haven't played the same games as you, I know that approach was common as far back as 1998.

It depends largely on what the purpose of a guild is.  If the purpose is to have people to group with, a small guild can't offer that.  Subdivide the playerbase into a lot of different levels that can't reasonably group with each other, and even a large guild can't offer that.

In quite a few games, a guild is nothing more than a chat channel.  If that's all it is, why not invite more people into the guild to have more people to chat with?

If a game wants to encourage small guilds, it needs to make it so that a guild has a point even if you're the only one in it online at a given time.  A Tale in the Desert manages to do that via shared guild buildings (and allowing players to join multiple guilds), but I haven't seen another game that does apart from "you get a bonus for being in a guild" type of stuff that is more nuisance than content.

Sat Jan 17 2009 12:29PM Report
maveric007 writes:

[quote]In quite a few games, a guild is nothing more than a chat channel. If that's all it is, why not invite more people into the guild to have more people to chat with?[/quote]

This is exactly what I'm talking about. That's not really a guild anymore nor should it be called one. I do agree with you that zerg recruitment has been around for a very long time. However this style recruitment has actually begun replacing regular tight knit guilds. I think by simply reducing the amount that can be inside of a guild that would actually mean you need to recruit the right people. Doesn't fit for all games, but would take care of the issue in most.


Sat Jan 17 2009 12:43PM Report
ghstwolf writes:

MadnessRealm- A game's guild structure could be used to limit zerg guilds without hurting smaller tight knit groups.      maveric007- if we agree the appeal of an MMO is it's ability to bring about epic battles (50-200 a side), then limitless caps are good. Quizzical- I agree in full. 

Sat Jan 17 2009 1:01PM Report
Quizzical writes:

In many games, reducing the number of people allowed in a guild would make it so that the guild system had no point at all.  What's the point of joining a guild to find people to group with if it can't have enough people for you to find people to group with?  At any given time, most of the players in a guild will be offline, and most of the ones that are online won't want to do whatever it is that you want to do.  If you can thus only group with a tiny fraction of the players in your guild at any given time, if you want that tiny fraction to add up to several people, the guild needs to be huge. 

Sat Jan 17 2009 1:02PM Report
maveric007 writes:

If you need 200 people in order to have active people in the guild, then you would be in a zerg recruited guild no doubt about it.(these players haven't been recruited for time zone/play time/activity thus not online when others are) I'm not talking about limiting guilds to 20 or so people, however there should in fact be a cap thats not in the 100's. As for epic battles show me a game that can use over 100 people in one guild for an epic battle then thats a game that should not have guild caps.

Sat Jan 17 2009 1:09PM Report
Ciano writes:

I disagree Quizzical. I don't know what games you played back in 1998 but I don't remember Zerging as being common in 1998. Speaking only from my personal experiance in Ultima Online, it was extremely common for guilds to have a trial period. People who wanted to join were usually either subjected to a trial in combat or were only invited after a referral from another member.

I don't remember Zerg guilds becoming common until the release of Shadowbane and other games where there was no hard cap on guild numbers. It's a real shame because people who join zerg guilds only do it to be a part of the strongest group. If all guild leaders adopted a strict set of criteria to allow people into a guild, guilds were probably be higher quality in general. Unfortunately this will never happen, games like Darkfall and Shadowbane will go to those with the most numbers in combat. Quantity over Quality is usually the formula for success and it's a shame.

Sat Jan 17 2009 1:14PM Report
Quizzical writes:

Suppose that an average player in a guild is online for 2 hours per day.  That's certainly substantially active.  That would make it so that at an average time, 1/12 of your guild is online.  If your guild has 50 active players, that would mean that at an average time, you had 4 players online.  That's hardly enough for a 5-man, 6-man, or 8-man group, let alone a big huge raid.  And even that assumes that everyone in the guild wants to do the same content at the same time, which generally isn't the case.

In many games, different characters on the same account have to join a guild separately.  If an average player in your guild has 5 characters, then a cap of 100 characters means you only have 20 players.


I guess I was off by a year on my 1998 figure.  What you call zerg guild were common in Chain of Command in 1999.  They were common in Infantry in 2000.  The soonest I played any other MMO with a notion of guilds was 2003.


Sat Jan 17 2009 1:33PM Report
maveric007 writes:

Suppose you recruit players who are in the same time zone rather then have this group of 50 spread from PST/CST/EST. Rather then having 5 on at any given time you then have 30 or so on at your peak given times. This has always been the case with any guild I have run or been in. Being selective by who you recruit does in fact allow you to have your player base on at times when most are available. You are correct you won't have 30 - 40 players on 24x7 but even with a guild that peaks out at 150 you may not have 30 - 40 at any given time. By a Guild Leader selecting the proper types / timezone / classes / activity level, they are able to position the guild to have quite an appropriate amount of people on. Another main topic I will be posting soon is running a Semi-Hardcore guild. With this type of guild classification the GL is able to balance different player types to maximize guild players activitly level and grouping ability.

Sat Jan 17 2009 2:22PM Report
Ciano writes:

Well you have to understand that back in 1997 and 1998, people who played MMO's often did it for several hours at specific times. Usually guilds were built around a core group that all played at similiar times. Thus inactivity didn't matter because if one personal was inactive they usually all were around the same time period. In Zerg guilds these days you end up with too many people playing at different times and so it looks like half the guild is inactive at any one time. It gives everyone a bad impression of the state of the guild.

Sat Jan 17 2009 2:23PM Report
Quizzical writes:

If everyone in a guild plays during the same short window and not outside of it, then most of the time, you might as well be unguilded.

If guilds can only take players who are willing to schedule their life around the game in order to reliably be on at the same times, that means that the large majority of people who play MMORPGs can't participate in a guild.  I don't think there's much money to be made arbitrarily excluding most of your potential playerbase from playing a game without much benefit to the few who remain.

The issue isn't that different people play at different times.  It's that the same people play at different times.  If I'm going to play a game for a few hours in a day, those few hours will probably come in chunks of an hour or so, and could come anywhere from about 10 am to 4 am (and occasionally outside of that window, too, but that's pretty rare).  I don't know what the peak time window for my own playing time is, but I'm probably on less than 1/3 of the time in that window.

Sat Jan 17 2009 2:31PM Report
Ciano writes:

Like I said. Most people played during specific times. Back in 1997 the MMO crowd usually consisted of people who played at specific times. They didn't base their life around the game, they based thier gameplay around their life. Usually the after school/ afterwork crowd played based on timezone. Then you had the people who worked different shifts usually played with crowds from other itmezones.

The casual gamer is more prevalent these days and play in chunks. Well if your rationalization for zerg guilding is that you want people to be on at all times then you will always have an inferior guild experience. You will never feel like a tight community because you will always be playing with random people. It's just the nature of it.

Better guilds consist of people who play at similar times. They get used to playing together and they get used to working as a team. People who don't get used to that have no reason to be in a guild other than protection or raiding. It isn't a guild, it becomes a collection of people who play only to accomplish a specific goal and then they go back to playing solo again.


I'm not advocating the exclusion of people for any specific reason. All I am saying is that guilds that form based on common playing times will be a better experiance for the members. People will always be on playing together. Guilds that form just to have as many people as possible will never feel like a real tight knit community.

Sat Jan 17 2009 2:51PM Report
Quizzical writes:

If I can only play a game during a small subset of the real-life times that I might want to, then it doesn't matter what guild experience I'll get.  The entire game will be awful.

You're advocating a guild system that is an important part of a game, but is only accessible to people who reliably play at particular times of the day.  That is advocating a system that pointedly excludes most of the players who play the game.

If you want a small guild now, even in a game that allows zerg guilds, what stops you from doing so?

Sat Jan 17 2009 3:31PM Report
maveric007 writes:

I think you've pretty much derailed the entire point of the orginal content. Your also assuming that because you don't have 200 players you will have no one to play with. Unless the guild is made up of 20 extreme casual players, this point is just not true. The math provided to prove the orginal point is stretching it quite a bit.

Sat Jan 17 2009 4:00PM Report
Quizzical writes:

What sense does it make to decry the existence of large guilds while ignoring the reasons why they exist?

In order for small guilds to have much of a point to most players, it is essential that guild members be able to do guild activities together without needing to play the same blocks of time.  That takes very unusual game mechanics.  A Tale in the Desert does it, but I'm not aware of any other game that does, apart from games with guild systems that are more nuisance than content. 

Sat Jan 17 2009 4:10PM Report
Revel writes:

This reminds me of the zerg tactic converstion, among others. In war, numbers meant everything. You would never turn away someone willing to wield a weapon assuming they fit the basic expectations of the guild.

Similar to those who criticize, say Order or Destro, for zerging or keep hugging. I am certain that people who lived in an era that required fortifications would not take a castle or tower, and then run outside to fight in the front yard, and only take numbers equal to the attackers. Ridiculous.

Sat Jan 17 2009 4:16PM Report
Quizzical writes:

I should hope that the objective of a game is not to simulate real-life war as closely as possible. 

Sat Jan 17 2009 4:37PM Report
Revel writes:

Isn't that rather the point? That is why I think so many folks want to see a great sandbox type game. I know I do.

I currently play WAR off and on, and the fun for me is in trying to coordinate large groups of people in using effective war tactics. The actual combat is often fun as well, but personally, I love to play at war. The more realistic the better.

Sat Jan 17 2009 4:54PM Report
toddze writes:

Hey man I agree 110% these newer MMO's are suporting guilds which the more members you have, the better chance you have at end-game. Its mainly more so in the PvP aspect of games wheres there seiges, and just plain mass pvp. In PvP the more members you have the better chance you have at succesful guild PvP thus you get these huge guilds. If we ever see a pure PvE game again the zergs will be close to gone as long as the boss fights dont require 100's of members. As long as the PvP seiges and what not allow for big numbers then guilds will always recruit like mad.

Theres a simple way to fix this Zerg guild crap. Its really pretty simple, set a nember for the guild and if they exceed the number the entire guild gets a debuff to weaken all its members some, the higher the number the stronger the debuff. So that way the smaller family oriented guild can still compete with the zerg guild. lot of storys could be made to make the idea fit like a guild has a power source and to many members drain to much power thus making them weaker.

Sat Jan 17 2009 6:38PM Report
Quizzical writes:

toddze, that would only create artificial advantages for players who can spend more time on the game, beyond the intrinsic advantages to that which they already have.  That's just a way to unbalance and destroy games. 

Sat Jan 17 2009 6:47PM Report
toddze writes:

Continuing on what i was saying the debuff should be balanced for the zerg guild and the guild which obeys the number set for them. so no matter the size of the zerg guild, the normal guild can always compete. That way zerging is still a viable tactic. But if a guild chosses to be a zerg guild then they always better be in a zerg group. Look at it like a school of fish, together they a strong but by themselves they stand no chance. zerglings shouldnt have the best of both worlds. 

Sat Jan 17 2009 6:54PM Report
toddze writes:

Quizzical I am just trying to figure out a way that in the PvP aspect a smaller guild can compete at the highest level in end game. Say a castle seige and guild A owns it with 200 members, and guild B likes smaller oriented family type guild, and guild B has 60 members. theres no way that the 60 man guild can compete effectivly, thus they are left out of major content because they dont want to be in a 200+ man guild to own a castle.

Thats why I quit playing alot of MMO's because I dont like being in a zerg guild and the smaller guilds that i prefer (60-75) cannot compete against the sheer numbers of a zerg guild thus I miss out on some content because i refuse to join a huge guild. Numbers shouldnt determine the outcome

Sat Jan 17 2009 7:05PM Report
Ciano writes:

Either I suck or you are misunderstanding me. I am not advocating one particular style or another. I am simply stating that guilds from 1998 were smaller tight knit communities than they are now. Zerg guilds may provide more people to play with, but they have a lower quality social experience.

The only thing I am advocating is that people take time to get to know the people they invite to their guild. It really doesn't matter how big it gets as long as you invite people that you get to know instead of spamming invites to everyone you run across. Mass invitation is a sure way to end up with a mostly inactive guild.

Sat Jan 17 2009 8:38PM Report
Quizzical writes:

If a game's guild versus guild combat mostly consists of which side can get the most players to show up at once, then that game has far more serious problems than zerg guilds.

If you want a debuff based on how many players the guild has show up locally at a given time, fine.  But for a guild to be debuffed based on how many players are in the guild but offline or even in a different part of the game world would make no sense. 

Sat Jan 17 2009 8:48PM Report
maveric007 writes:

I think there are lots of options here on how a mmorpg could resolve zerg guilds. However I'm going to stick with the main point of, zerg is in fact killing guilds as a whole. I understand as a casual gamer some may have issues with my main point in this thread. However I have not seen any proof that getting rid of zerg guilds would hurt mmorpgs as a whole. In fact it may bring many back with solid membership and an increased playerbase. I'm sure many will ask why, but I have already outlined this in the main topic above. I understand what your saying quizzical but I'm just going to have to disagree with you. Zerg guilding is in fact killing guilds and mmorpgs as a whole.

Sat Jan 17 2009 10:01PM Report
sh4dowst4lkr writes:

so true, i remember having a great guild in EQ2 but it died, and nowadays its just hard to find a good guild ingame anymore..

Sat Jan 17 2009 10:09PM Report
Zer078 writes:

This is coming from  one of Maveric's  officers in aoc.  The days of the mass raiding days are over, as much i loved EQ ROK era  and the whole raiding of at those times with 70+ players. Hell i still take notes of questing and stuff.  Despite all the problems vanguard had at launch would that "hardcore MMO" work in today market?!  Most likely not. For Raiding the days of need close to 100 players are over. There is however a game im looking foraward to tho AION with its 54 man raiding. There is rarely  a case for a need of more then 35 players  for most raiding in todays  modern games (post 2004)

Sat Jan 17 2009 10:33PM Report
cpoustie writes:

I personally think the comments have brought out precisely why zerg guilds are taking over MMO's.  I'm not philosophical enough to ponder whether it's game design or player mindset but the fundamentals follow.

1. It's a 'me first' generation, foremost in players minds is 'what can i get out of this'.

2. The 'majority' (speculative sure) believe that if they can only play for 30 min chunks then they should be rewarded for that, which flows into

3. There is no sense of economy of time, players fully expect even if they can only play for 30 mins they should have the same gear, achievements etc as someone who can play 5 hrs a day.  What job do you work where you can work 30 mins and get paid the same as the guy in the next cubicle gets for 5 hours?

Sun Jan 18 2009 2:41AM Report
Ciano writes:

"What job do you work where you can work 30 mins and get paid the same as the guy in the next cubicle gets for 5 hours?"

Street bum comes to mind.. Some of those guys make upwards of 30,000 a year.

Sun Jan 18 2009 3:05AM Report
Ephimero writes:

This is all about the game, if it's dumbed down 40 will always beat 30, if it's a good PvP game, 30 might beat 40 easily if organized, that's one of the reasons why I enjoyed L2, I was in a tight knit guild and we won epic battles nobody should have won considering the number odds.

Limiting numbers like AoC sieges or WoW battlegrounds? No thanks, I prefer dynamism, even if Im never in the zerg side, I dont want to know how easy the battle will be before entering, and sometimes, battles are a bit more even and fun if the enemy has greater numbers.

And Zwe078, Im also looking for Aion due to its limitless battles and the limited ranks system in order to fight the zerg better.

Sun Jan 18 2009 5:36AM Report
neonwire writes:

The reason all of these zerg guilds flourish in games like WoW and AoC is because the guilds are irrelevant to the game. Organisation is not required and neither is intelligence or good manners. The majority of the guilds I have come across in these games seem to be comprised of snotty nosed children and arrogant childish teenagers.......and there are LOADS of these guilds around......and each one is as irrelevant to the game as the next.

Its a shame really because I am currently playing WoW and it would be quite nice to get into a polite, respectful and mature guild but unfortunately all of the guilds seem to advertise themselves as being mature so it doesnt seem to mean much. As the only real benefit from being in a guild seems to be that getting a group to play with is quicker and easier then I become used to just totaly ignoring all of them now and just group up with random strangers (usually jerks) to get things done when I need to. I just avoid guilds like the plague because I cant be bothered with the annoying nonsense that virtually always follows.

I briefly encountered a guild recently who agreed to help me get through a dungeon. Immediately one of them started telling me that I shouldnt play a Warlock because they are gimped and that a rogue is much better.....blah blah blah. Their whole conversation while we went through the dungeon went along this line. Basicly I was hanging out with a bunch of teenagers which is something I would never do in real life as I'm an adult. It was pretty bloody annoying. On top of that they all just wanted to rush through the dungeon at ultra-high speed with their high-level toons. It got me some epic gear but the Fun element was totally not there at all.

I often get randomly invited into shitty guilds like this by people who know nothing about me. I always decline because I just cant be bothered to have any dialogue with them. As a result I often find myself playing these games solo which rather defeats the point of the whole online experience.

Maybe when mmos start becoming more complex to play and provide an actual reason for guilds to exist where good coordination & intelligence carries a reward and zerg mentality gets punished then we might start seeing these crappy zerg guilds fade away. Unfortunately games like WoW are perfect for the braindead masses.

Sun Jan 18 2009 8:52AM Report
Quizzical writes:

As far as "mature" guilds go, the problem is that the word "mature" has two different--and opposite--meanings.  One is as in "rated M for Mature", promising a lot of stuff that many people would find offensive.  The other is people who find no need to indulge in such prurient appeals. 

Sun Jan 18 2009 12:44PM Report
maveric007 writes:

I agree with that last statement quizzical

Tue Jan 20 2009 12:21PM Report
eldanesh117 writes:

Zerging can also go in another direction.

I was actually invited into a zerg guild myself, on a game whose name eludes me, when I was still relatively new. Suffice to say, the profanity between the guild leaders just simply appalled me. Coordination was nonexistent save invading the PvP Room with 15+ level-capped members. The guild wouldn't do a straight guild war; all they would do is the repeated mass-ganking. They didn't care about the guild much at all; they'd help, but if you screwed up, you were out the door. I witnessed that fact as another person who joined before me subsequently was given the boot for "QQ'ing"... but not before the entirety of the guild leadership unleashed their ugly little 12-year-old sides.

I left the guild shortly, found a new guild with plenty of cool peeps, and pretty much just hung with them the rest of my server life. We never had a single guild war, all we did was have fun. We did instances, sat and talked, who invited people who ASKED to join the guild (not the other way around).

Guilds are about FUN, not only with those you know, but with those are new to the guild as well.

Tue Jan 20 2009 8:38PM Report writes:
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