Thursday, 28 June 2007

Lookin' for somethin' you ain't quite found yet

(Part three of "teams, friends, guilds, other players and stuff")

(As a quick semantic diversion, I'm using "guild" in these posts as a shorthand for guild/supergroup/kinship/other game-specific term, and the general ideas carry over to other groupings too; players with common in-game chat channels, voice comms, message boards, instant messaging etc. There's possibly the nub of another deep social treatise in there, "What is a guild?" (or "When is a guild not a guild? When it's ajar" *badum tish*), but I'll spare you that for now.)

The conclusion of Part Two was that guilds are a Good Thing(TM), on somewhat nebulous philosophical grounds involving dilemmas and ethics, and wombats and hatstands were in there somewhere for no adequately explained reason. So! How to find one? One option, of course, is to start your own. This, frankly, involves such an awful lot of work it makes me feel faint just contemplating it. I just plugged "How to start a guild" into Google, on the off chance there was some pithy advice I could nick, I mean, er, be inspired by, and within the first couple of pages was "the Psychotherapists' Guild can help you find a therapist", which sounds about right to me. Good, successful guild leaders truly have my utmost respect (and a high burn-out rate).

Another option is to boldly adventure away, strike up conversations with those you meet on your travels, and band together with like-minded types. A while back in World of Warcraft, I was running around Westfall. I'd teamed up with someone for some quest, the Defias traitor probably, they were a decent player, we chatted a bit between ambushes, they asked if I wanted to join their guild. I figured "why not", what's the worst that could happen? (You can see where this is going, can't you?) So the next day, I log back in, I'm at the Sentinel Hill inn, and I see a message on guild chat, "NEED HELP 4 QEST", or something equally literate. Normally I'd run a mile from requests like that (or possibly run a mile towards them, to really build up momentum for a decent charge, but then you remember you can't actually hit them so it's all a bit of waste), but the guild log showed the chap was in Westfall, and I was in Westfall, we're similar levels, heck, why not show what a fine and helpful guildmate I was. "I'll help!" I pipe up, "pop me an invite". No invite is forthcoming. "NEED HELP 4 QEST", goes the guild chat. At this point, I see the chap running down the hill. I wander over, stick a buff on him, and send a whisper (in case he hadn't spotted guild chat) indicating my willingness to assist. Off he runs down the road. "NEED HELP 4 QEST", goes the guild chat. With a sigh, I set off after him, preparing to once again offer help when he stops, turns around (slowly) and yells "STOP FOLLOWING ME ZOSO" (I can't actually remember if that was a whisper, in guild chat, or maybe even shouted zone-wide. I might as well make it the latter, for comedy anecdote purposes.) Strangely enough, I didn't stick around in that guild...

Now, I'm not saying it *never* works, but it's bit of a lottery, depending on bumping into like-minded players. An alternative is to hit up the ol' game forums/fansites, and have a browse of recruitment threads. Weighing those up isn't always easy; pretty much every guild recruitment post says their aim is to "have fun". And I'd always thought, yeah, sounds good! Having fun, that's what I'm after as well, sign me up! But then, having fun means different things to different people, which seems pretty staggeringly obvious, but I only really twigged when someone pointed it out. I mean, nobody's going to start up a guild, and proclaim that their objective is to endure several months of grinding misery, detesting every moment, then quit the game, smash their PC up with a hammer and become a hermit. Least, I've never seen that guild advert... No, everyone's out to "have fun". But fun for Geoff is the achievement of getting a server-first kill of a certain boss, and the associated dedication that would require, whereas fun for Steve is logging on and having a good old natter in guild chat while killing a few goblins, and fun for Kev is taking all his clothes off (his character's clothes, that is. Well, maybe his clothes too, but until they integrate webcams with MMOs (or "The Doom Apocalypse Time Of Hideous Doom Imagery Of Doom" as it would be known in hindsight) we thankfully don't know) and /dancing on the bridge outside Ironforge bank. Geoff and Steve aren't going to have much fun unless the rest of their guild are of a broadly similar mindset (Kev doesn't care, he's busy /dancing); Geoff's too focused on damage, threat and healing to reminisce about 80s kid's TV shows with Steve, and Kev's vocabulary is pretty much limited to /saying "LOOOOOOLLL" anyway.

Still, so long as the recruitment post doesn't solely consist of "Join us and have the fun, oh yeah!", you should at least find a few potential matches to your play style that you can investigate in game, or on the guild's website (if they have one).

Course, there's plenty of other ways of finding guilds too; real life friends already in guilds (or starting new guilds with them), work colleagues, people who read the same web comic...

So, you found a guild and got an invite. What now? Find out next time on... teams, friends, guilds, other players and stuff!


Elf said...

But fun for Geoff is the achievement of getting a server-first kill of a certain boss, and the associated dedication that would require,

To be fair, a guild that has that kind of goal wouldn't that they are out to 'have fun', even if they derived their fun from server-first kills, if only because that sort of person would know the type of dedication needed to achieve what they want. I think it's safe to say you won't get in to a hardcore guild by accident.

Zoso said...

There's a direct inspiration for that, but I can't find the specific post any more (it was on some official game forum, or guild forum, or blog, or... somewhere). It was somebody posting a list of what "fun" meant to them, and was basically stuff like constantly tweaking your talents to squeeze every last bit of DPS/healing/survivability, analysing every fight to work out if there was a better way of doing it, remapping your keys and UI for optimal functionality, etc etc.

Now "fun" was probably a bad choice of word, as it rather suggests "not serious"; "this is how I enjoy playing", or "this is what I gain satisfaction from" might've been better, but that was the way they phrased it. The point I was driving at is that people can use the same word in different ways; "hardcore" for example, as in that "hardcore guild"; some would say anyone who raids in WoW is hardcore, others would say there are casual and hardcore raiders, and still others would be appalled at the suggestion that anyone in "World of Easycraft", the "kid’s game for people that could not hang" could possibly be "hardcore".

So, no, Geoff and Steve are hardly going to end up in each others guilds by accident (except possibly via some hilarious farce involving mistaken identity, a vicar and a couple of orang-utangs), but there's definitely scope for confounded expecations (... and then I got off the bus, ah!)