Good news, everyone: I’m back with an unexpected edition of Guild Chat for you! Observant Massively Overpowered readers might have noticed that I rotate this column with MMO Mechanics and it should, in fact, be the latter’s turn this time. However, I had a great reader submission fly its way into my inbox very shortly after publishing the last Guild Chat and just couldn’t leave it waiting around gathering e-dust for a month. Get comfortable and pop your reading glasses on, dearies: This time around, we’re discussing the loss of great guildmates to IRL commitments and how to recapture the spark of the guild that once was great.
To summarise, reader Rekoor has written in about how he misses the spark of enjoying an MMO with a group of people he truly “clicks” with. Real life and the usual drop-off and break taking we see in MMO communities has left Rekoor short on the quality in-game friends front, but his gaming time has become even more precious as his time is at a premium due to full time work and a young growing family. He now needs a way to capitalise on his gaming time without hurting his friends when they do get to pop on, which also means perhaps putting the final nail in his old guild’s coffin.
Keep on reading for Rekoor’s full submission and my advice to him below, and be sure to pop your two cents into the comments!
I have been playing MMOs for about ten years now. I got my start playing Star Wars Galaxies back when I was a freshman in college and have since moved on to many adventures both in other games and in real life, such as now I have a full-time job, wife, child and another on the way. As life moves on, it’s understandable that we move on with it – whether those changes be jobs, location, relationships, or what have you. But what happens when you can’t move on from a digital relationship?
The first real guild I ever joined came with some amount of chance, as I was casually asked to join a group of players that I happened to group up with for some space-based combat in SWG. We clicked right away and I was soon let into their private voice server that one of the members owned so I could get to know them all a bit better. After moving on from SWG and into other games, the group got a little smaller due to losing touch with one another but eventually in-game names turned into first names and real-life friendships. One of the members of the group I consider to this day to be my best friend. I even finally got to meet a few of them in person for the first time last year.
We have most consistently played World of Warcraft over the years, but I have been an MMO-aholic and tend to dabble in just about everything. I would say the height of our guild camaraderie came during the end of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion when we had daily activities going on and at least 15 to 20 members on at all times of day and night, even having to turn away some members for raid nights. Since then though, there has been a drastic decline in membership and activity both in and out of game, even to the point of most of us leaving the game completely for long periods of time without having a set place we were moving on to. Since we’ve been back though, we’ve tried several attempts at revitalizing the guild and regaining what we once had in those twilight years, but it’s never been the same.
My issue is now that the guild has become stagnant. There are fond memories of what once was there, but currently I’m lucky to log in and see another person online other than my wife on the rare occasion she feels up to playing. My visits to our TeamSpeak server are met with silence. The announcement of Legion the other week sparked a little bit of interest again, but not so much so to bring back a large enough of them to play cohesively with.
I don’t want to leave a guild that I helped found, but I’m tired of having such limited social interaction in my games. I don’t want to offend my friend either, but he has even admitted that he’s probably done until the next expansion. The entire reason I play MMOs is for that interaction, and I truly miss playing with people and feeling how I felt back when we were “a big happy family” in Wrath. At the same time, I feel like if I leave I will be abandoning the hope that we can ever become like that once again. But if history repeats itself, since we have failed to do so in Pandaria and Draenor, I’d be kidding myself to think that Legion will be any different. I also don’t want to end up in another guild just to become quickly dissatisfied with it in the same way and end up right back where I am now. This isn’t really limited to WoW either, that’s just the main game I’ve played over the past ten years.
Any suggestions on how to move forward without hurting my current relationships as a cornerstone of a small guild would be helpful. Not to mention, how to find a quality home of a guild with diverse community in each game, from WoW and ESO to SWTOR and Star Citizen?
The first thing that bounced out at me in your submission is that your guild has spanned across at least two games, with some of your closest friends maybe hopping onto other MMOs with you. Perhaps it’s time to explore that avenue again to check that your problem isn’t just WoW fatigue? You and I both have very similar experiences in terms of adoring the days of Wrath and considering that time to have been the best guild experience we’ve ever had. I set the guild benchmark equally high after that, and I still haven’t found a home that’s as vibrant as my old guild was in WoW. I have, however, found amazing company in both Guild Wars 2 and Neverwinter, so I think perhaps the trick is to find a multi-game community in another MMO you play so that you can’t compare it quite so directly. The sense of newness could get a few more people back too!
The added bonus of finding a guild that encourages hopping between MMOs is that any of your friends who are inactive in WoW but are still playing MMOs will be able to join you in many of the games you play, should they decide to join up with you. I’ve not been as committed to WoW as I was, and I logged in a few weeks ago for the first time in ages. I still miss my old raiding guild that I ran there, and I don’t play nearly as often as I did, not because of real life drains on my time but because the magic is somewhat diminished without that guild. Multi-game guilds almost always have great scope for further growth, too, so if you and some friends decide to try a less popular MMO, you could ask the management if they’d mind you setting up a chapter of their guild in your new game too.
Hell, maybe your guild could be the next big multi-game guild to rock the MMOscape? With the right push in the right game (hint: GW2’s base game has just gone free to play and the game is relatively light in terms of time commitment, so it’s an easy sell), you could get back some old faces while making room for some new ones too. Adding to your core group rather than starting from scratch would be far more comfortable for you if you can assemble any of the old crew that is willing. You sound too busy to run your own guild, Rekoor, but for other people reading in a similar bind that do perhaps have more time, take the leap to create the community you’re craving.
This is a small point, perhaps, but I’d urge you not to cut in-game ties entirely with your existing friends, even if they don’t play very much these days. As much as I’ve said that taking at least your best friend with you is a good idea, I think you should stick with your roots in at least a symbolic fashion by leaving some alts that you actively use in your old WoW guild. That way, your finger is on the pulse so if Legion does prove to be different for your group and your friends come back in a big way, you’re present enough to know straight away and plan your time accordingly. If your best friend is agreeing that those days are likely over permanently, though, you are best moving along.
Even if nothing changes, keeping an ear to the ground means that you’re there whenever friends do decide to take a wee peek back into the game. Ensure that you really commit to keeping active on those alts, otherwise you may offend those you’re wanting to stay connected to by seeming to snub or placate them with inactive alts. Free seven-day return trial passes get handed out like sweeties, which usually encourages at least a few nostaglic folks to come back to Azeroth for a week. If they see no one is around, they’re not very likely to get the Blizz-bug back again, now are they?
You’ve asked for advice on finding a new haunt for your MMO adventures, and you listed several games that you’d like to bounce into. I wrote a whole Guild Chat on the subject that will give you some basic pointers, but I have some specific advice to add on for you too. With a new baby on the way (ZOMG congrats, by they way!), you’ll want to find a guild that is sensitive to that. Avoid guilds that don’t run casual periphery content for those who can’t make the main events, and ask if social and alt events are put on a calendar somewhere before joining. That will give you an idea of how willing they are to engage those people who, like you, find time in short supply and high demand. Find your new guild in much the same way as you found your first one, if you can: Run content, and if you click with a guilded group, ask. Offer to PUG and see if you slot in well.
You’ve already hinted at this point yourself, and I was so glad to read that you got to meet some of your guild members. Many of my old WoW guildies are local, but I even had one of my Swedish friends over for a big visit. I’m hoping another one or two will come over for my wedding too. If you find a group of people that are really special to you, it doesn’t really matter where you met them and if you still engage in that shared activity or not: Hold onto them for dear life! Life gets busier and people get even more isolated in our switched-on screen-dependent world, making real friends a fantastic thing to have.
Arrange Skype catch-ups, take trips to meet each other, and keep on being that support network for each other. My heart lights up each and every time an old guildie from the Wrath days hits me up on Facebook or Steam, and we still use the same stupid in-jokes and give the same pep talks to each other as we always did. Leaving behind the guild and those days isn’t the same as leaving behind the people and friendships!
Over to you!
I’ve given Rekoor my advice for finding a new guild to call home, but I’m sure you have your own list of tips and perhaps the offer of a guild invite to throw his way. What do you think? Should Rekoor stick to what he knows and accept that it’s much quieter than he would like, or should he start again with a new guild? What advice would you give to someone who is trying to fill the void left by a once-great but now-defunct guild? Let Rekoor know in the comments.
Thanks to Rekoor for submitting this query!