Unlike me, most people reading this will never get to know perfection. But don't be jealous, my younglings, as you are the lucky ones. Take it from one who knows - perfection isn't all it's cracked up to be. The journey in life is far more important than the destination.
It's important to have goals in anything you do - from work and hobbies, to catching Pokemon - if you don't have a goal, it can be difficult to stay motivated and keep going. Imagine then if, like me, you have reached the absolute pinnacle of your life, and achieved a superhuman level of greatness. Everything comes easily to you - you pull all the hottest chicks, you win at every sport, you always have a snappy response when someone unwisely tries to challenge you. Sure, it may sound great at first, but without a challenge life soon becomes tedious and unfulfilled.
I often find myself wishing I could trade places with the common man. To know so little, and to have so many opportunities to overcome obstacles in my life - what a blessing that would be for me now. But alas I am cursed with perfection, and all I can do to ease my suffering is use my curse for the good of others, and help to make their journey as challenging and ultimately rewarding as possible. Ahh, the calling of the Guild Leader!
"Everything is so shiny and new! I'M SO EXCITED!" - level 1 players.
Whenever we begin something new, such as a new game, we have a whole world of opportunity in front of us. The more we play and learn, the less we have ahead of us to look forward to. This may initially seem obvious, but it's actually something to think about. We will all, as individuals, have different tolerances that determine how we measure our advancement and enjoyment of a certain activity. Progress is rarely linear, and some will power through slower periods of gain, while others will wilt and give up early.
Just look at any MMORPG with a heavy level grind at launch. So many players give up before they even make it to level cap, and that's where these games traditionally begin to get more involving, especially at a guild level. When Cyrus launched in Aion in September 2009, we had 71 excited members signed up who had each followed the games development, participated in multiple Beta events, and decided this was the Next Big MMO for them. We were set to rule the world. But three months later, only 19 original members were still active, and of those only 8 had made it to the level cap. That means 52 members had quit or been removed for low activity.
This was obviously a very frustrating time for us as a guild - the mechanics of the game and the sheer level grind kept our members separated for much of the time, with early guild events being limited to timed Abyss PvP (which sucked) or Rifting - both of which slowed down ones levelling speed even further. This was especially hard on members who had more limited play time and already felt behind the levelling curve. There was group content to be had while levelling, but splitting everyone into groups of 6 for three months isn't what we had in mind when we all decided to play a "massively multiplayer" game.
However, despite the obvious failings of this specific game, why was it that some members were able to power through these early difficult times, while others fell at the wayside? How can we, as a guild, identify those qualities in someone outside of a gaming environment so as to improve our membership stability going forward into new games? And would it have been possible to improve the experiences of those who quit early to such an extent that they would have also made further progress in the game?
THE NEEDS OF THE ONE
"No Spock, you're wrong. And that's why you are in there dying, and I'm out here banging Uhura"
When new applicants seek to join our guild, they are required to submit an application and answer a series of questions. It is at this moment that most candidates will promise the world in terms of their enthusiasm for a game, their complete availability for our scheduled activities, and their unparalleled determination to become "the very best ever". Surely nothing will stop them as they strive to achieve legendary status on their realm!
Unfortunately, as we have learned over the past 7 years, the number of applicants who actually live up to their promise is extremely small. It is, after all, far too easy to write a great guild application and make promises far beyond your capabilities, and to even believe that you will deliver on what you say. But in reality, it all comes back to your own tolerances when dealing with the many obstacles that are put in your way, and how you deal with both your own and the (game) world's imperfections.
A strong sense of community is very important for a guild, and this is often seen as the answer to keeping members active beyond their natural expiration date. And while that may be true in the short term, once the seeds of indifference have been sown, there is only ever one outcome. I can't count how many times I've been told by a parting member that they aren't leaving the guild, they are leaving the game.
So we know that community alone isn't enough - we must do more if we want to survive long term in one game with a stable membership. What else is required to keep everyone interested and focused beyond that which the game itself delivers?
Everyone should be more like Barney. Accept challenges, and write your own playbook!
Each member, as an individual, must be fully engaged in their own sense of progression, and the guild should facilitate both their challenges as well as their accomplishments. It is not enough to simply leave everything to the game - we must set ourselves new and greater challenges that will stimulate a higher level of commitment and passion.
We must inspire each other to constantly move forward with our goals - to stand still is to let the rot set in. We must each repeatedly ask ourselves what more we can do to further ourselves and our guild. We must play with purpose, with desire, and with commitment.
We may also have a little fun occasionally. Just saying! BRING MOAR OCTANES, AND LIFT THEM HIGH!!
DEFINE SUCCESS, WELCOME FAILURE
"I haven't failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work" - Thomas Edison
As I alluded to above, the game itself is simply a toolbox. It will provide us with a set of abilities, activities and objectives to accomplish both alone and together. And of course we will want to choose the best toolbox we can to start off with. But to be a successful guild in the long term, we must look beyond the game and plan and execute our own activities and objectives. We must set our own obstacles, and define our own success.
We must also be prepared to welcome failure. Too often I see motivation dip when things don't go a certain way, but these are the moments that should inspire us to greater heights. As I said at the beginning of this article, perfection isn't all it's cracked up to be - how boring would it be to win all the time, and if you did, how long would you bother to keep playing?
Failure is an obstacle for us to overcome, an opportunity to improve, and a rare chance in life for us to see ourselves for what we actually are. We have in the past used failure to restructure our guild, to refocus our efforts and to raise our game - and this is what led to our most successful and dominant period of gaming. If it weren't for our initial failure, we would never have reached those dizzy heights, and our victories would never have tasted so sweet.
LEAD THE WAY
A king cannot win on his own - every piece is important. Well, most pieces - some are just cannon fodder.
Strong and wise leadership is essential, and in this instance you are all truly blessed that I am here to guide you. But despite everything that I can achieve as a Guild Leader, I cannot control your imperfections as a human being.
I accept that you have probably exaggerated on your guild applications. I accept that, at some point in the future, you will let me and the guild down. And I accept that you will do all this from your own sheltered perspective, not ever knowing how much I tried to help you be a better version of yourself.
But until then, while we share these fleeting moments together, I ask you to ponder on what I have written today, and share your own thoughts and experiences on the subject matter. Don't speak generally - be specific, be personal. What inspires YOU. What in this crazy world matters to you? Why are we here? How do we want this all to end? Is success even important to you? What, for you, is success in Camelot Unchained, and what are you REALLY prepared to do to achieve it? How mentally tough do you think you are to withstand the inevitable and unavoidable initial disappointment in a game we have been waiting so many years for?
I AM SPARTACUS!
"This isn't the right part of the movie for this quote, dumbass!" - everyone.
There are so many pieces required to make a strong and successful gaming guild. It's not the community, it's not the core membership, it's not the scheduling or the leadership. It's you. Each and every one of you. You are Cyrus. And if that doesn't mean something to you, we will all fail.
Well, almost... What I mean is YOU will fail. Cyrus will of course go on, but if you aren't here with us, does that really even matter?