Tag: guild management

Guild Update: Summer break

Our small Elder Scrolls Online guild will take a summer break from the end of june to the end of august. By that, we mean that none of the recurring events (leveling DC characters together, exploring Cyrodiil, the monthly guild meeting) we do will take place during that time. We’ll still be playing ESO and we’ll probably meet for a dungeon run from time to time, but we’ll be on hold, essentially. While this is a somewhat risky move, as it might look like activity is going down and we’ll have to reconnect and get back into our rhythm after the break, i feel it’s the right thing to do for a couple of reasons.

Oh Italy, how i miss you!
Oh Italy, how i miss you!

It’s not the season for in-game commitments

It’s summer. Real-life activities turn up very regularly- be it holidays, parties, events, simply meeting friends, the will to do something outdoors or simply the heat that drives us away from the pc. There’s a lower motivation to sign-up for an event and actually taking part in it.


In my experience, planned events for summer days get cancelled often due to a lack of participants. Sure, there might be people signing up, but more often than not, there’ll be cancellations on short notice and i’d end up with just one or two other players taking part. There’s nothing worse you can do for your guild’s morale than cancelling events- usually, when i schedule one, i’ll see it through even if only one other person shows up. The second you start cancelling events, they’ll seem less important to your members and soon they might choose to simply not turning up even when they signed up for an event.

That’s much worse than simply deciding that one type of content or a particular time (like the summer months) are off limits for you and your guild.

Recharging the batteries

When you set up weekly events, it can get exhausting. For the members who participate, surely, but all the more for the guild leader, as they are the person who has to commit to the schedule as well as each individual event they set up. While i’m always having a great time when an event starts and we are playing together, sometimes i’m not in the mood to play just minutes before. Maybe i’d prefer to watch something, spend time with my wife or read a book.

So a time where i don’t have to think about running events frees up a good chunk of time for me- and this is important to recharge my batteries and stay motivated to provide scheduled events. By the end of the summer break, i’ll be looking forward to get the guild going again, and i have quite a few plans for the final four months of this year.

The move

Furthermore, my family will be moving in the end of june. Not far, just about 15km (9mi) away, from a rented house into our own. There won’t be much work to do, as we hired a company to make the actual move and our new house is in a good state. However, we have to do a few things here in the rented home, maybe painting the walls a bit, and getting rid of furniture and stuff we don’t take with us. I expect to be busy with the move at least until mid-july, maybe the whole month.


Staying in touch

The most difficult thing to achieve during the summer months will be staying in touch with the guildmates- we are a young guild, after all, and while bonds are continuously growing stronger, they are still building up. So the summer break also holds the potential of throwing us back a bit.

What can you do to stay in touch with guildmates if you have a very casual, small and social guild?

Encourage forum usage. I’ll prepare a few activities that will take place asynchronuously in the forums- things like screenshot contests, storytelling, sharing our appreciation of the game we’re playing come to mind. There’ll be forum titles to go along with these activities.

Encourage use of Discord. Voice chat is a funny thing in our guild, actually. We have the opportunity to make use of it, but rarely do so. I can only remember being on Discord for an event once. In the upcoming guild meeting just before the summer break begins, i’ll emphasize again that Discord will probably be the second most important community hub for us. I mean, there’s chat channels in addition to voice chat, so there’s that.

More casual ingame events. While i won’t commit to it, i still aim to meet up for a dungeon run or other group activities every once in a while.

Enjoying other games. Quite a few of us are big fans of The Secret World. Besides ESO, TSW has the biggest chance of seeing a group of us playing together. As with the casual ingame events, i won’t commit, but chances are we’ll form up a group once or twice during the summer break.

This should do it- i don’t want to overstretch as that would be counterproductive, but i do hope that this will work out in giving us a break for a couple of months while still feeling connected and looking forward to playing together from september on.

Growing a small social guild

Since we’ve founded our fledgling community/guild, i’ve been wondering whether it is possible to build up one of those 10 years plus communities in this day and age. I know there are many great guilds out there, but i do feel the climate has changed and creating a long-lasting guild where bonds between members only grow with time is harder now than it used to be when the MMORPG community had about 3 very different MMORPGs to choose from. Today, not only do we have a billion MMOs to choose from, but the games themselves also allow players to be part of multiple guilds. Players change games more often, and when they try a new game they might seek out another, already established guild in their new game instead of trying to grow the guild they’re in or taking guildmates with them.

I’d like our guild and community to grow, in connections as well as numbers and possibly even games later on and i’ve been thinking about ways to reach the goal to be “that guild” at some time- where people would say things like “this weekend a few guildies and i are trying out game xy together”.

It’s a journey

A longlasting guild can’t be built up in a year, and we all know that. What i’ve seen though, and struggle with myself is that it’s kind of hard to be patient. It’s looking hard right now- we’re seven people playing Elder Scrolls Online right now and attracting members is difficult- i feel it’s because of size, related ingame-features- we’re too small to even have a guild bank, after all and the fact that we openly describe ourselves as being casual players who don’t play every day. If you were to join our guild, chances to build a dungeon group spontaneously on the fly while you’re logged in are about zero. If you were to ask in our forums, though, i’d bet you’d get a group of players willing to join you in the next couple of days, depending on the availability of our members.

Of course, this isn’t something we’re used to nowadays- and in the end, it’s easier to simply use the group finder to tackle a dungeon. When i played WoW, building a group with the guild was the easier way to go (no lfg tool then), it’s the other way around now and with us. In the end, we all have to be patient- the guild leaders have to be while still trying to offer “more” in terms of trying to grow the community, and the members themselves, because right now, we’re almost more a friends list than a guild where you meet someone everyday. With our 7 players, it’s still entirely possible to log in and be the only player online in the guild. Normally, i’d say that 10 online players in the evenings is a good number.


Shortly after release, growing fast isn't hard to do.
Shortly after release, growing fast isn’t very difficult.

It’s very easy to grow in new games – in my experience you’ll reach a critical mass quickly if you recruit for games that aren’t released yet. I’ve seen the foundation of about half a dozen guilds before a game was released- at that time, it’s mostly the guild-type that attracts new players, not the current state of the guild. You can start recruiting for a game soon to be released while having only two people in your roster- if you do it in a timely fashion, you’ll have 20 to 50 members as soon as the game releases. Because nobody cares if you’re only two when there is no game to begin with.

In a game like Elder Scrolls Online, it’s harder, because the players want their guild to offer something- a guild bank, players to group with at all times and a guild trader would be nice, as well. There aren’t as many non-guilded or new players, as well, since the game has been out for a while.

In addition to the ingame-features, the community has to grow, as well- we’ve changed things up a couple of times, already. If you’re four people who know each other well, there’s no need to have many rules and regulations. I think a good guild needs to adapt- have its vision set, but alter the ways to get there. There’s a bit of trial and error involved here.

And lastly, “that guild” you’ve played with for five or ten years has to last that long to become just that. You can’t have this done in a year, per definitionem.


All guild advice you can read will tell you how important recruitment is. I’d say it’s depending on what type of guild you want to create. In a game like ESO, building a simple, big social guild doesn’t really require anything outside of the game- you take in who’s interested and weed out inactives and troublemakers. If you want to stay somewhat small and prefer to build up connections with your guildmates, however, recruitment gets difficult, even in small social guilds. Because not being a troublemaker is not enough- the personality of a recruit has to fit into the group, and because this won’t be the case every time, you mustn’t be afraid to decline people. Which is even harder to do in a social guild- “it’s not personal” doesn’t work here, because it is.


You can have fun in small numbers, as well.

This is why i like Enjin so much right now- because applications aren’t public. We set up a form with a few questions (“What MMOs have you played recently?”, “How much time do you spend in MMOs a week?”, “Do you prefer voice or guild chat?”, “What are your ingame goals?”). The officers can then review an application, ask the applicant some questions and hopefully get answers without anyone knowing what’s going on. For us, we’ll take in everyone who understands what we are and is aware of differences between us and their preferred play-style. For instance, if you’d apply and check “Raids” as an interest, i’d possibly tell you that this is something we’ll probably not do anytime soon, if at all. If you check the box for playing more than 30 hours a week, i’d tell you that this is much more than the rest of us are playing. If the applicant is ok with everything, we’ll try and see if the glove fits. If there’s no reaction three days after i’ve asked some questions, i’ll simply reject the application- mostly without giving an extra reason (i feel that has been given by the questions asked), but sometimes i’ll even go into the official forums and suggest an alternative guild that might be a better fit. So far, it’s 50/50 – i accepted three applications and rejected three, as well.

I do that because i’ve seen guilds with a similar vision failing to decline applicants, growing too fast and therefore building no connections between the guild and the respective players. The communities might have 300 members, but that doesn’t mean anything if the forums are used only by 30 and the whole community discourages their leader from creating an ingame guild because it would be inactive after a month anyway (yes, i’ve seen that happening).

Stability and Perseverance

I think it’s also very important to show stability and perseverance in building the community. OK, so maybe a monthly guild meeting for four players who meet each friday anyway is a waste of time- maybe it will be for seven members, as well. But thinking “i’ll do stuff like this when it matters” sends the wrong signal to the members of the community- it tells them “we’re not real, yet”, so the culture you want to see your guild having needs to be built in from the ground up. Try, and if nobody shows up, try again. Maybe change things up a bit. This is a clear sign that you’re serious and in it for the long haul. I’m also a huge proponent of telling the guildies what the next steps are in growing or strengthening the guild- while i’m almost always somewhat disappointed when asking for feedback (you’ll probably not get any), i think members appreciate it when their leadership shares its plans on following through with the vision.

And because we’re lucky in how MMORPGs are designed nowadays, it’s always important to see if you can find something worth doing in terms of ingame-goals for your whole guild. For instance, tomorrow we’ll be going to Rkindaleft, one of two public dungeons in Wrothgar. We might be able to do it, or maybe not, but it’s nice that we can do something worthwhile together despite being in the level range of 11 to VR10, with 7 players.


Before i go, though- what’s your opinion on this? Is it easier or harder to form a small guild with strong bonds nowadays? How would you go about it- any tipps to share?

Things i’m looking for in a guild

These days i’m pretty much a FF XIV exclusive player, but i have to take the fact into consideration that i didn’t have much time to play lately. Things like these happen when you have a toddler in the house- if he doesn’t sleep well, so do you. If he doesn’t feel good, you’ll be glad to go to bed early in the evening. This has been my last week or so. I did get into Final Fantasy XIV, though, and did some things.

For one, i’ve been continuing the main storyline and i am now only 2 levels below my Arcanist class level- so there might be a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m also catching up on my Botanist and Weaver (levels 20 and 19, now) and, thanks to that Massively Overpowered article, i realized i missed out on the challenge log until now and got access to it yesterday. The challenge log is pretty much the same as the daily achievements in Guild Wars 2, only on a weekly basis.

Guild Wars 2 event

To be totally honest, though, and i hate to think about that, but i’m of a mind to reroll somewhere. See, i’m on Shiva, which is what you might call the “german server” in Final Fantasy XIV. I also joined the Free Company of the multigaming guild i’m part of and they’re a small, relatively tight-knit group of friendly, dedicated FF XIV players. For some reasons, i’m not really happy there- to put it short, the heavy use of voice chat makes the FC chat quite silent, everybody’s at max level and i don’t really know anybody. I also don’t know what we’re up to and there seem to be no activities geared towards getting to know each other better while being on different levels.

This general sense of unhappiness is always dangerous for me: i’ll start thinking of ways to improve the situation, maybe make a suggestion or two to the guild leaders while thinking they’ll be annoyed by me and sometimes, i even fantasize (again!) about founding a guild on my own- which is a stupid idea, i haven’t got the time. Last time i tried (Archeage), it was a huge failure. So maybe i’ll start looking again in the close future.

Now why would that possibly mean moving to another server? To be honest, i’ve found most german guilds to be basically the same thing: they’ll say “real life comes first”, “casual friendly”, “RP friendly”, “good community”- and when you take a closer look, it’s people playing a lot (by my measures), always hanging in voice chat, ignoring everyone else (doesn’t have to be on purpose), no roleplaying and the recruitment process basically consists of writing a “hello” post of two paragraphs in their forums and getting in.

Hanging out in Kingsmouth

I’ve seen something else when i was in an international guild – the one where i stole the “free-to-play game travellers” project from i do in the multigaming guild, but there have been other issues. So, what would i want out of a guild?

Real real-life friendliness

I can understand the will to not have too many inactive accounts in your roster, but to me, this contradicts the part where guilds want to build a “tight-knit” community. Say i join a guild, everything’s nice and cozy, then i don’t get to play for 2 weeks and get kicked out of the guild. Why would you do that to a “friend”? Wouldn’t you be happy to see him or her return to the game at one point in the future?

Moderate use of voice chat

This one is hard to measure, but while i don’t think one should found a “no voice chat” guild, i’ve always found it hard to connect to guilds/people who are constantly on voice chat. They’ll play and talk in their group, guild chat will be silent and there’d be no chance for me to get to know the players.

I couldn’t tell you why i don’t like to use voice chat- i think it comes down to these reasons: when i have time to play, that means i’m in my “free time”, which doesn’t take a huge part of the day. So i’ll want to relax, maybe talk to my wife, maybe listen to music/podcasts or maybe, when our son has trouble sleeping in that time, i just don’t want to take the chance to wake him up. So while i don’t have a strict “no voice chat” policy, you’ll almost never find me launching voice chat in the same moment as a game. Usually, i launch it because of group activities where everybody else is on voice.

When i’m somewhat comfortable in a guild, i might launch it more often, but it’ll never become standard procedure. And if i’m in a guild where everybody already is on voice, the guild chat is silent, chances are i’ll be quite a loner.

Active guild chat

This is somewhat connected to the point above, but i’ve seen the empty chat in other guilds, as well. As one could imagine, since i write about MMORPGs on a blog, i like to discuss things- game-related, community-related and so on. Guild chat should be active, there should be something to read and/or contribute to. If i’m a new member, i won’t start conversations- i’m new, after all. As an introvert, i’ll always watch the other members first and see where i fit in. If there’s nothing to read and/or there’s only achivement/item spam or functional ingame-requests (“anyone want to do a dungeon?”), i find that boring.

Level-agnostic activities

There have to be ways to get to know each other and take part in guild activities that aren’t depending on characters level. There are a lot of things one could do- for instance, one time i tried to organize a guild market- everybody who wanted to participate posted some items (one set) in the guild forums he or she wanted to offer to other members, posted the required materials, maybe collected some stock before the event and all “passive” participants could go to that market and get these items made for them by either providing the materials themselves, buying them from the auction house or maybe because the crafter donated them.

This was great!
This was great!

Or one could do a simple guild meeting somewhere in the game world- maybe in different places everytime, or maybe with a weird twist (the international guild i was part of had a guild meeting with only dead people in TSW).

As i said, there are many things one could do, and to me, providing these events is essential to build and maintain a great guild.


Now, isn’t that funny, how i can just post what i want out of a guild here? I can almost hear you sigh and say: well, just do it yourself, then. I’ve tried- and here’s another thing i saw when taking the role of guild leader: most members won’t give you credit, offer feedback or help you out in doing/providing these things. I’ve found that many players mainly join a guild to reach ingame goals, which is fair enough, but when your guild charta says something like “we value our community higher than ingame goals”, well, then that implies something else- at least to me.

So there has to be some common sense in recruitment. I’ll be honest; i haven’t found the right way to do it, either. If you grow slowly, chances are your guild will be empty before it’s full, if you grow too fast, you’ll have lots of active players who don’t know each other. If you make potential members jump through too many hoops, it might put off people who would be great additions to the guild roster. Saying “no” to applicants or kicking someone who doesn’t really fit is a tough thing to do- i had a hard time doing that when i had to, but i think it is very important for the longterm-health of your guild and community.


So i don’t know, maybe i’ll go looking for something like that, although i do think the people in my guild are friendly people and that there is a good core and two of my oldest “online gaming” friends are members there (they won’t play FF14, though, or at least not both of them), and while i wouldn’t like restarting, it feels to me as if i’d get so much more out of Final Fantasy XIV if it wasn’t such a lonely affair. Yes, i solo often, but that’s not quite the same as playing alone.