How to Recruit Like-Minded Players Into Your Online Guild

6 05 2009

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After playing through several different allegiance oriented MMORPGs, including Asheron’s Call, Everquest, World of Warcraft, and many others, I have discovered one important thing: people tend to be selfish. Though the intended idea of an MMORPG is teamwork and fellowship, most of the time it tends to be the exact opposite. Many players seem to try to get the most out of you by asking for favors or free items to help progress their character. Others will join an allegiance for the primary purpose of using its services and then leave once its usefulness has expired. Just how can a guild leader avoid these situations? Well, it is simple. Just do a little research beforehand and follow the tips after the jump.

The first step in creating a great guild is to find the purpose behind it. Have you played the game enough to truly understand how things are run? Do you have enough friends and supporters to help create the foundation for the guild? Will it be primarily PvE (Player vs. Environment) or PvP (Player vs. Player) based? All these have to be thrown into the equation before you follow through. Too many leaders create a guild without having the proper backing and then wonder why their group fell apart only after a week or two. Get in touch with people that have guilds of their own and ask them for advice. Each successful captain of his or her ship has a story to tell and experiences to share, which are sure to help you on your quest to create the ultimate guild.

Now step two is all about presentation. Depending on the game you are playing, there are several little appearance features that you should take advantage of while forming your guild. For instance, if you are playing Asheron’s Call, be sure to get a nice villa or mansion in an interesting or exotic location. Decorate the front and inside of the settlement in order to show off your experience and tastes. If you are playing World of Warcraft, design a cool looking tabard (cloth worn over the breastplate) that represents the identity of your future allegiance. If you are a PvP guild, go for a darker looking tabard with a fierce animal or weapon on the cover. If it is PvE oriented, have a lighter color like blue or green that represents exploration and adventure; or hey, it can even be pink with bunnies on it to show that your guild is mostly for laughs. Whatever you decide is ultimately up to you, and the decisions you make will be the guiding light in reaching other like-minded people out there.

The third step is incredibly important and it all depends on who you know beforehand. A good way to ensure that you find the right people for your guild is to make it “invite only” for the first few weeks. This means, only invite friends, family, and the people those two groups recommend. Run a few quests, raids, or PvP sessions with these new recruits and see if they pan out the way you expect. As you continue to get more and more members through this method, you will establish a positive reputation for having a unified group. More and more free agents will be drawn to this and seek a chance to get in on the fun. The longer your guild is around, the more people will look to join it. Now the next part may take some extra work and may not be for everyone, but if you can find the right connections, it will be worth your while.

You probably guessed step four, as it is the centerpiece for a lasting guild relationship: the website. Though one could say that all a guild has to do is just meet in game, you have to remember that there will be times where that is not possible. In the MMORPG world people have agendas, appointments, work, school, and so on. Also, some of your guild mates may not have access to a computer that has the game downloaded on it. By having a website, players can meet in an easy to access venue to discuss pretty much anything. In fact, a better term to use instead of website would be message boards. And unless your friends are spoiled brats, they probably won’t mind if you don’t have some elaborate website with interactive graphics attached. I personally recommend either Provision or GNU for your message board choice; primarily because they are free and easy to operate. Hooray for free things! All in all though, there are dozens more to choose from, so just surf the internet or ask a guild mate that specializes in Information Systems for assistance.

Step five is communication and in a game like World of Warcraft that revolves around instancing and questing, it is essential to have some live chat going. Ventrilo and TeamSpeak seem to be the popular ones these days, and from personal experience, neither are difficult to set up. It will require you getting access to your own private channel (which may cost a few dollars depending on the program) and then relaying the network address to your guild mates. Naturally, a headset and microphone are important as well, as they are the keys to communicating on the channel. Yes, hearing lots of people all at once can get annoying sometimes, even more so if someone leaves their microphone on with their music playing full blast. Luckily, that is what the ignore button is for.

Okay Mr. Leader. You now have a background, establishment, website, communication service, and means of accepting people into the guild . . . now what? Well, just do your thing. Based on the game you are playing, run whatever it is that interests you and your guild the most. Have polls on what everyone would prefer to do at certain points in time. If you are a raid based guild, have everyone leave a note on when it would be most convenient for them to get together. If your guild is predominantly PvP oriented, then just assemble a group every time you are on, or just join a previously started one (hey, you’re the leader, you shouldn’t have to ask to get in). Also, be sure to let the achievements of your guild known when you do something groundbreaking. If the MMORPG you are playing has a primary message board, post on that. Partnering with other guilds is also a great way to establish contacts and make connections. It’s all about who you know, both in the real world and the fantasy world.

Just remember that a guild is what you want it to be. It should stand for what you enjoy doing the most, what your beliefs are, and the people you choose to accept. Like-minded individuals will always find their way into a guild that is kind, accessible, and full of opportunity. The more you bring to the table, the more people will line up to get their fill. No matter what the game, just make sure you routinely check on your guild, your website, and the communication server; nothing like one of the three going wrong right before a meeting or guild event. I’ve definitely learned that the hard way. Nevertheless, no matter what you do or where you go with your guild, just remember one last important thing: have fun with it.





How PvP Combat Has Affected the MMORPG Genre

15 04 2009

This is a slightly updated re-posting of my popular article about MMORPG PvP.

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“The present – World of Warcraft”

Player vs. player combat (PvP) has certainly evolved over the last ten years. From split-screen play to online connectivity from all over the world, the concept of being able to play against other people rather than a computer is ingenious. There is a certain competitive quality that emerges when two humans throw down that just can’t exist in single player games. As time has gone on, this feature has infected several genres, including: first person shooters, platformers, real-time strategies, and even role-playing games. No, I’m not talking about traditional ones like Final Fantasy or Breath of Fire; instead I mean the division of role-playing that took the world by storm, the MMORPG.

The “Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game,” or MMORPG as it is commonly referred, is pretty much just that. These games usually require a dial-up or broadband connection, allowing you to then enter an imaginary world where you can play alongside thousands of other people. Chatting, role-playing, participating in quests, exploration, all of these are usually the most popular aspects of an MMORPG, and it is real easy to get caught up in the madness. Over time though, players began to grow tired of mindlessly trudging through brain-dead AI and began yearning for a chance to battle each other. In the mid-to-late nineties several MMORPGs began utilizing this feature. One in particular, was the underrated Asheron’s Call.

Just like any other MMORPG at the time, whether it was Ultima Online, Runescape, or Everquest, the main attraction of the game was the player vs. environment (PvE). Exploring vast worlds with friends, working together to beat quests, and just chit-chatting the day away was always what we would do the most. Yet, soon after we had spent hours upon hours of building up our characters, there was something that each of us wanted to prove; who was the “stronger” player. Any of us could defeat the computer controlled monsters, but what we wanted to see was who developed their character the best. Thankfully, Asheron’s Call offered a player vs. player feature, and even though we were on a white or “PvE” world, the game offered a chance to become a “player killer” for a short amount of time. That is when the fun started.

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“The past – Asheron’s Call”

Spells flew, swords swung, and bodies dropped, ah the carnage that ensued. Thanks to Asheron’s Call’s use of realistic physics, players could dodge spells or arrows, and use the environment to their advantage — all in real time.

No turn based fighting or techniques that act like homing missiles, just good old fashioned twitch-based contact, similar to that of first person shooters. Asheron’s Call was truly ahead of its time and paved the way for advanced PvP combat in later MMORPGs. Dark Age of Camelot followed up with a unique PvP style that incorporated class based combat and actual objectives. These included stealing particular relics, capturing towns, and competing in events similar to “king of the hill.” Later, console based online RPG games such as Phantasy Star Online would introduce player vs. player combat. Though limited, it featured quick based combat and knowledge of how to counter particular weapon types. As time went on, more and more MMORPG companies grasped the importance of a PvP feature and just why it was needed in a genre supported by millions of people.

Speaking of millions, does World of Warcraft come to mind for anyone? Using the popularity of their franchise name, making an MMORPG was probably the most intelligent thing the company ever did. Thanks to the Warcraft title and the work they put into the project, World of Warcraft has sold well over 10 million copies – meaning well over 10 million players. And just like many MMORPGs before it, Blizzard introduced a PvP system similar to Dark Age of Camelot‘s. Though a little less polished due to the rough balance of some of the classes and the lack of a true “physic” system (Asheron’s Call), there was plenty on the table for any newcomer to sink his/her teeth into. Objective based battles, worthwhile equipment rewards, and quality graphics all brought the experience alive.

Yes, while every company making an online game should consider player vs. player combat, there is also another factor they need to consider: balance. An issue in most MMORPGs today is the lack of balance consideration when updating the PvE or PvP. The two definitely do not go hand in hand, and with each update, the player base may become separated based on the two different styles of play. For example, a PvE player may want their particular class to do more damage to a type of monster, yet if this change takes place, it may affect how much power that player may have over another human player. Knowing what types of changes and alterations should be made before each patch is something that every MMO company needs to look into beforehand; as it has led to the collapse of many titles in the genre.

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“The future – Darkfall”

In the end, player vs. player combat continues to evolve in the MMORPG genre. In upcoming games such as Star Wars: The Old Republic and Darkfall, the PvP that is being promised is expansive, with the latter having infinite possibilities. Whether it be objective based, faction based, or a total free-for-all, PvP will always be needed due to the competitive aura it creates. Also, games that have this style of play tend to have more last-ability than others, as it just happens to be an extra thing to do when the primary part of the game has been beaten. Nevertheless, the genre is still young, so anything can happen. After all, it is a genre that requires a little imagination on the part of both the developer and the player.