The thankless life of a guild leader in a MMO

Everything you need to know about guild leading can be summarised in  that the #1 piece of advice most existing guild leaders give to someone who is considering it is “Don’t do it.”

It is terrifically fun to build and run a guild, but it can also be crazy stressful and your guild members will typically not care as much about the guild as you do. So similar to running a business, except you’re not paying them to be there, at least not in hard cash. Or making a profit.  (I wonder if a F2P business model where guild leaders pay ‘good’ players to join them and charge ‘less good’ players would fly, I’m sure the hardcore would enjoy it.)

What certainly doesn’t help is when the game design favours soloers over group players. In fact, any aspect of game design that rewards individuals for individual achievement over social or group achievement is practically begging players not to bother being loyal to a guild. I have seen similar developments in real life and wonder if we’re heading toward a job market where the majority of people will be self employed and employers will pick them up on temporary contracts as needed. But in any case, game devs these days hate guilds and are actively trying to harm them. They may not say so, they may not even know it themselves, but they’re moving to a world where there will be automated ways to do all the things guilds used to do for players and you’ll be able to do it without talking to anyone if that’s what you want. And in WoW, a new player will probably get a silent invite from a huge guild full of perks just for turning up. That’s not a guild, and certainly not a community, it’s not even an anything.

It’s a shame because guilds are and have always been one of the prime examples of player created content in these games. Just understand if you are a guild leader that the devs could be helping you more, and they’re not because they are valuing individuals over player communities.

Anyway, back to guild leading, and raid guilds in particular. Syl posted yesterday a set of home truths for raid guilds and he’s right on the money. I used to be very involved in running raids in MMOs, I ran huge public raids in DaoC, I was a class leader in a 40 man progression raid in vanilla WoW, I’ve run 10 man raids, etc etc. I presume I was a decent raid leader, or at least good enough. Yet when I got bored/ burned out, I didn’t take a break and then start running another raid, I joined someone else’s raid instead.

I do feel guilty about that in a way. I knew all the pain and burnout that goes with raid leading and I was happy to let someone else do the job that I didn’t want to do (any more.) And inevitably, they faced similar stresses about filling raids and guild drama – much less stress in a more social raid group, actually, but still present – and I … sat back and hoped that the leaders would be able to deal with it better than I did.

I suspect that for a lot of raid guilds, the flim flam that you  find on progression raiding blogs about how professional you need to act, how you should design your application form, how badass you need to be to new recruits and how you have to whip your raiders to make them perform better will not address the base problem of not having enough regular raiders in total. Or of what to do when the content is just too hard for your players. Driving away the guys who do turn up isn’t going to help unless you have replacements on tap, which you don’t. They won’t have easy answers for these problems because there aren’t any.

It might be more useful to talk, for example, about how we used to turn a blind eye to the priest who always turned up to 40 mans in shadow spec even though he was healing because dammit, at least he turned up. About how we felt when we’d spent ages trying to get friendly with people and they just pissed off when they got ‘a better offer’ from another raid group. And why it is that most guild leaders would advise anyone considering it not to bother.