It’s amazing how being around a good bunch of people will change your perception of a multi-player game. If you can form groups easily, then group content is great fun, and the most difficult thing about it is working out how to get everyone to the same place at the same time. Contrast that to the fate of the player who cannot find a group; left alone and unloved, facing content which is simply impossible for him/her to even attempt.
And now understand that this has been an underlying thread in MMOs since their earliest days. It wasn’t such an important part of MUDs, where you could probably find plenty to do on your own. But the notion that you would need a group of people to complete a lot of MMO content has been core for a very long time.
You could put together an ad hoc group by announcing your plans on local channels. Or even paging people halfway across the world if they were the right level and class, to see if they were interested (I remember being a dab hand at doing this in DaoC). Or you could join a guild – a community of players whose goal was to be able to form groups easily. They might have had other goals too, but once you were in a guild, you had another way to make groups. You could ask on your guild channel too. And players who were less able to form groups did feel left out and second class.
Games have moved on since those days. Solo content is no longer a dirty word. But still, joining a compatible guild is a good way to meet other players and find a ready source of people with whom to attempt group or raid content. And, as I said at the start, being in a good community will completely change your perception of a game.
I wrote a post last week asking how people had found their current guilds. So here I want to talk more about the guild finding process, and how different ways work better for different players and different types of guild.
There are two main ways of finding a guild, other than starting one yourself. I call these push and pull recruitment. Push recruitment is when you find the guild yourself; maybe you advertise that you’re looking, go play the game and see if you meet anyone you like, or get a recommendation from a friend. Pull recruitment is when a guild goes out and looks for players, maybe they advertise in game or on a bboard and you answer an advertisement.
Just play and see who you meet
In Push recruitment, the player takes the lead. You take the initiative to go out and do the activity you like and see who you meet. Explore. Play the game. The guild you are looking for might not be actively recruiting, you’ll have to go and find it. The downside is that this is a very random way to find a guild. If you happen to play on a day when no one from a particular guild is around, you won’t meet them. This may not matter. Aside from the platonic notion of The Perfect Guild for You, there are probably plenty of potentially compatible guilds around.
This is by far the most organic way to find a guild. You don’t have to search bulletin boards or decide what you want out of a game. Just go and play and find people who are doing the same thing and see if you can join them. It’s also by far the most natural way for a newbie to find a guild. Since a newbie, by definition, may not know what they want from endgame or even how to look for a guild out of game.
In fact, the newbie experience is really affected by whether or not you can find a suitable guild easily by doing just this. We were discussing the newbie experience in EVE Online in comments last week, and the guy who was recruited instantly into a friendly newbie guild (edited to add: Sorry Copra, I was tired when I wrote this and forgot to go back and check the name in the comments) had a much more positive experience with the game than those who were not.
Here’s some examples of finding a guild by just playing the game that readers gave last week.
I started getting recruited by folks recruiting me. It basically came down to pugging and getting recruited by some of the better players.
Tufva also noted:
My noobie hunter (first char) was doing some group quests in Stromgarde with the help of my husband’s mage, when we stumbled across another hunter and a warlock doing the same quests. We completed them all together and afterwards I got a whisper asking if I wanted to join their guild. And that’s that.
I didn’t have any friends playing the game when I first started, and levelled my way to 80 via a couple free and easy casual guilds.
My experiences: most raiding guilds and communities I were in I’ve got by being invited by a friend of friend to their run or pugged as a replacement for a missing guildie, asked can I stay and was let in.
i found a guy online the same time I was (usually pretty late), and we just consistently were farming the hell out of heroics. I joined up with his guild
Asking a friend
The great thing about guild recommendations from friends is that you will know at least one person in that guild. So it isn’t like going in blind with a bunch of random strangers. And the second great thing is that you can explain to your friend what you want from the guild or from the game. You have someone to talk to who may not actually be involved in running the guild so hopefully they can give you a clear idea of what the guild is like.
The other great thing about asking a friend is that it works just as well for newbies as for seasoned raiders. If you are new, then probably you are just looking for a guild where you know people. But equally, if you are an experienced and long term player then you may know many other similar people who can give you much more focussed recommendations.
For example, anyone who has been around the raiding track a few times will know that raid guilds do fold and reform. People leave. People join. If you have been in that kind of community then you probably do know people in a lot of different raid guilds. They’re also motivated because if their guilds are recruiting, then they also are on the lookout for experienced raiders who want a new home.
Examples from last week’s comments:
I blog with Aurdon, who is the husband of my real life best friend. If I hadn’t started helping out with his blog, I’d never have gotten to be friends with him independent of his wife, and I probably wouldn’t have landed in his guild when mine broke up.
The only guild I’m currently in is in DDO, found by hanging around with Van Hemlock.
I was brought into my GW guild by my significant other at the time. Although we are no longer together, I had the opportunity to make friends with all of his friends and we are still guilded with a great group of people.
However my real in-game home game when someone I trusted (a certain undead warrior tank) mentioned their guild on a RP server.
That was me and in this case, I knew him iRL and knew that he was unhappy on his server. We also discussed what he was looking for, and it was very easy for me to recommend my guild. I think it’s worked out well :)
Finding a guild through an existing community
Sometimes you’ll find a guild because you’d like to play with a community of people you already know, or who have common interests that are important to you. It is most likely that this type of guild would be a social one, but that doesn’t preclude more hardcore gaming. A large well organised social guild could easily have subgroups who focus on hardcore raiding or PvP as well as more casual members.
Examples from last week:
My guild is one of two Livejournal-based all-female guilds on the US-Bronzebeard realm. I read about it in wow_ladies, which is the largest WoW Livejournal community, and when my previous guild fell apart, my SO and I joined that guild. We don’t recruit as such, but we’re listed as community guild in wow_ladies.
I think I’m probably in a strange position – I tend to find guilds through real-life links. I’m lucky in that I know a lot of people in the general RPG community in the UK, so I tend to join guilds that I know people in.
I’ve mostly found my guilds through either knowing someone in guild in RL or searching forums and/or Google searching for LGBT-inclusive guilds.
Amongst previous guilds, there was a rather splendid guild in WAR tracked down via an equally splendid blog devoted to it, shame the game didn’t quite work out, but it was a good few months.
Herc the Merc:
Two of my 80s are in a very large “Fan Guild”, formed by the hosts of a podcast.
Went and searched online and found out there is actually a guild on the US-Realms that uses my mother language as a primary communication method in the guild, and guess what? the raiding progression is actually good.
(Bear in mind, Paragon are also a single language guild and no one would say that their raiding progression was poor :) )
After two years, my guild collapsed and I was recently looking for a new home and found one through one of the blogs that I frequent.
Start your own guild
If you are mad or naive or full of boundless energy and enthusiasm, this is the best way to try to create your perfect guild from scratch. I don’t know anyone who would really recommend it as the best way to find a guild, but don’t let me put you off. As a way to meet people and get to know a game, it may be unbeatable. And also, even if the guild fails, you may still end up with a good friends’ list. It can be a very positive experience, whatever happens.
I am one of the founders of my current WoW guild. I was never an officer, but I have been there – on and off — from day 1 (which actually was day 1 of the game in Europe too.)
It was a late night, crazy, crazy grand plan idealistic sort of thing. A couple of us discussing what we truly wanted from WoW, a dream. And then we formed it. We spent time looking for the right people and the right people brought more to us
AoC – we started a guild but it will probably fall by the wayside. I started it in partnership with a real life friend whose interest has flagged.
I formed a guild with some friends from the paladin forums. It eventually died, but I made some friends in it and followed one to a couple guilds after that.
PULL recruiting – answering adverts
All the methods that I’ve discussed above are really for social players. You either want to play with people you know, play with people who share similar interests or life experience, or are confident in your ability to make friends in game or even form your own guild.
But what if that isn’t your priority or you don’t know many people? Or what if you are looking for a much more specific type of gaming experience from a guild? Or even, what if you are playing a game where guilds like to keep their numbers down so the best way to join is to wait for when they have space?
Equally, what if you are in a guild which has very specific requirements for players. Maybe you have a schedule, or only want certain specs/classes, for example.
Well, you might want to advertise. And players looking for guilds might want to read those adverts and apply formally. This type of arrangement is much more like looking for a job than looking for a community, although social guilds do also advertise – mostly to reach less social players or players who’d like to be more social but aren’t sure how to find the right guild.
You’ll see from these examples that people who answer adverts are often a very different personality type from those who just go hang out in game and see who turns up. But also, experienced MMO players who are starting a new game and know that guilds will be important to them may just prefer to speed up the process of finding one by checking adverts as well as playing the game.
Players who have very specific requirements may also find that skimming through adverts is a good way to make a shortlist. But don’t expect adverts to give a full range of guilds – bboard adverts on official forums tend to be dominated by the more hardcore guilds that are looking for experienced players.
This is particularly notable for WoW in which about 90% of all advertising guilds on the official guild recruitment forums are looking for hard mode ICC raiders. Clearly there are far more guilds with spots for experienced raiders than there are experienced raiders looking for guilds right now.
But there are other places to find adverts also. Social guilds in WoW are more likely to advertise on their server forums. Guilds also may advertise on trade channel or on other related websites. For example, because competition to recruit experienced raiders is so high right now, hardcore raid guilds who want to get an edge may also pay to advertise on more focussed sites like Elitist Jerks and Tankspot.
The guild website itself can also function as an advert and many guilds will have a section explaining whether there are vacancies and how to apply.
WoW – first/only guild, found their website with a random google search. Guild of Awesomeness, the name totally sucked me in. Very well written casual mission statement. Was looking for a mature, casual guild to access group content once a week.
(Don’t be misled, this player had very specific requirements from a guild, and a web search and a well written mission statement helped them to find it. I’m not sure if this counts as an advert so I do apologise for that, Bristal.)
I found it through a recruitment ad in the official realm forum.
Eve – they have a very good forum recruitment board. I had a number of quite specific requirements and looked through a lot of options before I picked this one.
After I determine the level of seriousness that I wanted when it comes to raiding, I then check out their schedule regarding how many days per week and what time zone they’re primarily scheduling in. After that, I like to see what the atmosphere is like. I’m 45 and hanging around a bunch of people acting and talking immaturely isn’t what I’m looking for.
Once I have the type of guild I want, I look at wowprogression, guildox, etc. to target guilds that look like possible matches. I then visit their website and try to get a feel for their schedule and atmosphere. After that, I might inquire about membership or try to get in a few raids with them in pug situations for a mutual evaluation.
Repeat until you’re able to find what you’re looking for.
I looked for somebody posting a recruiting message that was close to what I was looking for. Then I would talk to the recruiter and ask a bunch of questions to see if not only I would be a good fit but, more importantly, if their philosophies were a good fit for me. Eventually I found one, but I was extremely fastidious until that point.
I went server hunting first, then took a look at the top guilds from each of my short list of servers, and applied to the best of them that met what I was looking for in terms of progression, maturity, longevity, and raid schedule.
As for the specific tools I used, first I hit wowwiki.com to get the location of each server’s data center (wanted the closest server to home I could find to minimize latency, and it cut it by around 75%). From there, I knew I wanted a PVP server with good balance, or slight preference towards horde, with a fairly competitive race to server firsts. So I hit wowprogress.com to research that. From there, I took a look at the top handful of guilds on each server on my short list. Suffice to say, a well-maintained website and active forum was a clear advantage in my search.
I ended up applying to four guilds, and got accepted to my top pick this past week.
In summary: different people search in different ways
I could write a 5 step plan in how to find a good guild, but from reading this post you’ll see that different types of players prefer to search in different ways. They all seem reasonably effective. I feel that guilds based on existing online communities (fans of podcasts, members of the same bboards, etc) have been growing in popularity over the last few years.
But the new player experience is so dependent in some games on finding a good group of people to play with. It’s amazing to me that more MMOs don’t put in better tools to help out. EQ2 does have a decent in game guild finding interface – I don’t actually know anyone who successfully used it though, all the EQ2 players I know found their guilds through friends.
Blizzard have said that there will be better tools to find guilds in Cataclysm. What those will be we do not yet know, but it’ll be a boon to less social players or newbies to the genre who don’t yet have that network of links, and aren’t interested in answering hardcore recruitment adverts.