Getting Into A Guild (Part 2)

The+Guild_0This is a continuation of a poll I posted last week, asking readers for their most common method of finding guilds.  Here’s a breakdown of the results, along with my personal experiences in these areas:

29% Research or Post on Forums

This was by far the largest percentage, which surprised me just a bit — I would’ve thought more people hunt around for a guild in game, but I guess not.  For some games I have certainly prowled the forums, especially prior to launch (what else is there to do?), and agonized over which guild to apply for.

Note to guild leaders: I admire and respect a guild that does have an interview/application process, but there’s a limit to how insanely tedious that process can become.  When you’re forcing me to jump through a week-long series of hoops to join your little club, chances are I’m going to head over to a competitor guild and enjoy it more.

22% Go To Whatever Guild Their Friends Are In

Nowadays, this is my most common way to select a guild, via friend networking.  It’s sometimes frustrating when you have good friends in more than one guild (or worse, in more than one guild across different factions or servers), forcing you to choose.

15% Are In A Multi-MMO Guild

This certainly makes things easier, for sure.  For instance, I was briefly a member of The Old Timers Guild (OTG), who would create a chapter in most major MMOs whenever they launched.  There’s little to no stress about finding a guild when you have one guaranteed pretty much wherever you go.  The only problem is finding enough members to support all of those games.

14% Sign Up From In-Game Guild Recruit Messages

Even though these are often frowned upon by more “serious” guilds and people who hate guild recruit spam, it certainly does offer ease of access.  I truly wish more MMOs would include features to let guilds post recruitment messages on some sort of in-game bulletin board, to help cut down on the spam but assist players in finding a guild home without resorting to forum hunting.

12% Go Solo, No Guild

Fair enough.  I see a lot of guildless players, enough to know that a guild isn’t a necessity for all.

6% Seek A Guild Through General Game Chat

I used to do this in games like WoW, because an interesting and well-posted headhunter notice would sometimes get the eye of the guilds I was specifically seeking.  I’d usually get laughed at when I’d be requesting the attention of guilds who were “mature, friendly, helpful and have a quirky sense of humor”, but I’d also get private tells from folks saying “Yup, that’s us, and you need to belong as part of our guild!”

2% Start Their Own Guild

Whew… I started a guild once, and it was work, work, work.  Then again, having a great vision for a guild, coupled with a handful of trustworthy officers, could culminate in a terrific group of players — netting you satisfaction unlike anything else in the game.

Living the Apocalypse

darktwrv32One of the reasons that I’ve gotten so into Fallen Earth is that it’s tapped into a longstanding fascination of mine: post-apocalyptic settings.  I dig movies like Doomsday, Mad Max and (naturally) Solarbabies, watch TV shows like Jericho, and I’m an avid reader of “quiet Earth” books like The Road, The Stand, The Dark Tower.  Zombies, plagues, weather abnormalities or whatever — just give me a contemporary setting where 99% of the population has gone bye-bye and the remainder are carving out a new life in the wasteland, and I’m hooked.

Setting makes a HUGE difference for me in gameplay.  For instance, while I enjoy fantasy titles, I have never really fantasized about being in those worlds.  There’s no part of WoW or LOTRO or Guild Wars that has made me feel as if I was finally living out my favorite dream.  On the other hand, when it comes to science fiction or superheroes or post-apocalyptic madness, well, those have a long-standing contract with my imagination.

I’ve often made fun of people who can’t think past generic fantasy names like Drizz’t or Legolas or Gandalf for their character, but I understand why they do it.  For them, they’re finally able to live out what they’ve always imagined, and that’s the experience they want.  It might be what everyone else is doing, but it makes them happy — so be it.

My journeys across the wasteland of Arizona are enriched by my imagination and fond memories of the genre.  At times, I look at the crumbling buildings, the rusted cars, and the downtrodden inhabitants and feel a tinge of despair, for a world that has gone away and left behind nightmares, hard work and uncertainty.  Last night I finished up a series of quests in Odenville and was about to leave for good, when the quest giver told me that I was actually talented at commerce and should stick around, make a home in the town.  For some reason, that connected with me — that I was going to have to say “no” and resume a nomadic trek across the desert, whereas if I was actually in that character’s shoes, I might feel the pull to really set up shop and carve out a comfortable existence.

The thing that does keep me going is that I really want to help these NPCs.  I want to make this fallen earth a better place, even if it’s subject to MMO conventions where my actions make no difference whatsoever when the quest is done.  When I came across a small camp of people who had been run out of their town by mutants, I went in with guns blazing just to recover a wedding ring of a woman whose husband died protecting her.  I am the vengeance of the apocalypse, the savior of petty wrongs, and a force to be reckoned with.

Also, I just like killing mutants.  Who doesn’t?

The Barrens Chat Hypothesis

This states that the first few weeks following any MMO’s launch will see a large increase of trolls, troublemakers and flamers populate general/regional/zone chat with inflammatory arguments that typically revolve around sex, religion, politics, Chuck Norris and a 3rd grader’s understanding of how the world actually works.

Then things get better as their stupidity kills their brains and they lose the ability to type.

LOTRO: Siege of Sherwood Forest

robin-hoodWow, it’s been a while since we’ve talked about LOTRO in any way, shape or form on this blog, huh?  That doesn’t mean I dislike the title — on the contrary, it’s one of the more solid and interesting fantasy MMOs out there.  I just hit a point where I didn’t want to progress any further, and with the ongoing expansions, I felt hopelessly behind.

But if LOTRO is your bag, you’re probably happy today to hear that the new mini-expansion, Siege of Mirkwood, now has a launch date: December 1.  This is obviously the result of last year’s statement by Turbine’s Jeffrey Steefel, who promised a new expansion every year from now on.  This seems to be cheating that promise a bit — a much smaller expansion, sort of a glorified chunky content update — but at least they did get something out (or hopefully will) by the end of 2009.

Also note that Turbine is bringing back their $199 lifetime subscription, which is still a good deal if you’re into the game, as LOTRO undoubtedly has many years of life left to it.  If they had done this earlier this year, I probably would’ve bit, so I guess I’ve saved myself a couple hundred bucks.  They’ve also added a couple of really sweet incentives:

  • Any current or former player who renews or upgrades their subscription to any multi-month plan by October 31st gets the Siege of Mirkwood digital expansion for FREE!
  • All players can pre-order the new LOTRO Adventurer’s Pack which contains 2 character slots and one shared storage slot that allows players to share items with all of their characters on the same server for $19.99 and get the Harbinger’s Cloak which provides 8% speed boost and the Dusky Nimblefoot Goat mount for FREE!
  • Starting today, existing Lifetime Members who pre-order the LOTRO Adventurer’s Pack get the Siege of Mirkwood digital expansion plus two in-game items (Harbinger’s Cloak which provides an 8% speed boost and a new mount) for FREE!

I can’t argue with their promotions — Turbine’s always putting out excellent deals for both LOTRO and DDO!

TOR Opens The Door For Beta Signups

I’m sure nobody else will post this today, so I guess it’s up to me: Star Wars TOR has officially announced beta signups, and you can go here to throw your name into the hat to be a tester.  There’s also a vague FAQ thing that tells you more or less what you could’ve figured out without it.

So am I going to sign up?  Hm.  I’m actually leaning toward “no”.  I mean, it’s all exciting and whatnot to get into any beta, but that comes with a lot of baggage as well — having your opinion of the game diminished by beta bugs, “spoiling” the launch experience, and spending time with characters you won’t get to keep.  Then again, curiosity is near-irresistable!

Tuesday Tidbits

signupsBecause sometimes you don’t want to talk a lot about one thing, so you spread the linguistic love around.

Apparently Funcom is laying off 20% of its workforce, a move that will undoubtably (further) shake confidence in the MMO developer.  What’s worse is that this will bump The Secret World’s development back a few month at least.  Past the tragedy of folks losing their jobs, this is disappointing because it seemed as though Funcom was starting to pick up a lot of good press and word of mouth concerning TSW, but a story like this will only infuse past rancor toward the developer (i.e. “Failcom”, etc.).  Here’s hoping TSW will rise to the surface nonetheless — it really looks like an intruiging title.

If I was still playing KOTOR 2 (which I am not — my interest tapered off, and now I’m waiting for Dragon Age for my next single-player RPG fix), then the news of the beta of the Restored Content Project would be of interest to me.  KOTOR 2 had to rush to ship by a certain date, which meant that the developer had to cut a lot of content from the end of the game, giving it an abrupt tone.  Players have since taken this cut (but available) content and been working at restoring it back into the full version.  Good for them.

Speaking of The Old Republic, apparently BioWare slipped (or did they?) and briefly posted a notice concerning testing signups for TOR.  It was quickly taken down, but there’s like a million hawks watching that game, so the news (and screenshots) are out, and the only question is if (a) this is real, (b) if it’ll be officially announced this week, and (c) how many catfights will ensue over getting into this beta?  This is notable because it will represent a milestone on the way to launch, and perhaps indicate that launch is closer than we suspected (for my money, I’m voting fall 2010).

And finally, because Sony doesn’t just want to keep us guessing with EverQuest 3, it’s now out that they’re possibly/probably working on Planetside 2.  I never played the game, and considering its small population, a lot of people didn’t, but there’s a rabid group of fans that continue to tout this game to this day, so I bet they’re in a tizzy over this.  I just have to wonder what SOE hopes to gain from developing a sequel to a low-pop MMO, if they indeed are.  I would imagine that a complete overhaul of the game, a la Ultima Online’s Kingdom Reborn, would be more appropriate and useful.

Bah! Humbug! Aion!

Epic_Movie_2007_012Some of the readers of Bio Break have wondered why I grouse in the direction of Aion, especially since I don’t play it.  Partially, I enjoy tweaking the nose of other gamers who hold their favored pet up as nigh-perfect, because if they’re going to be so critical of games I play and oblivious to anything faulty of their own, then they’re asking for it.

But that’s not it, not really.  You see, if you’re having fun, enjoying Aion, then I am pretty happy for you.  Truly.  I think that bottom-line, we all just want to find a game or games where what we need is laid out for us, and another successful, popular MMO can only help the genre.  Plus, as my mom once told me, you don’t make a lot of friends by trashing what other people like.  Aion is not for me, personally, because I don’t like the look, there’s absolutely nothing new that’s attracting me to the game, and I have quite a lot of other things to keep me occupied.  But that’s me, not you.

What worries me, and why I couldn’t let this go, is that Aion’s launch and rise to fame seems indicative of our current MMO culture that seems to prize familiarity over all else.  That we are more willing to reward developers with our subscription dollars for returning to well-trod territory than to take risks, to try something new and different, to add more variety and challenge.  Of course, I bagged on Darkfall earlier this year for almost the exact opposite reasons, so maybe I’m a cantankerous old man who just needs a punching bag now and then (and let’s face it, it is darkly gleeful to not like the “in” thing now and then).

I think the telling point will be, as it always is, about six months from now, once the shiny gloss has worn away and players determine whether they’re trying to resurrect their WoW career in another game, or if they’re still thriving on Aion for what it is.  I still don’t think that NCSoft should get a free pass for its server queue snafu (it really irked me that people were willing to let this slide if it didn’t affect them, even though there was tons of evidence that queues were incredibly out of control for lots of others), but that will indeed settle down with time.

So I guess I’m just going to put this out there and say that I’m going to let whatever misgivings and Scrooge-like feelings against this title drop, barring any notable news, because it’s in bad form to close out a month of great new releases by trying to pick a fight where none is to be had.  Aion players, enjoy your ride, and never stop demanding the best.

Leaders and Legacies

Michael Scott smallIn seminary this semester I’m taking a class on biblical leadership principles, which has really gripped me as an interesting topic.  One of our first assignments was to take a DISC assessment test and analyze our own leadership style from it.

My results weren’t very surprising to me: I’m mostly a C/S (careful, steady), someone who likes the status quo, who is a good listener, slow but steady worker, creative and yet introverted.  There’s actually a lot of leaders who are introverted, I’m discovering — being introverted doesn’t mean you’re anti-social, it just means you’re wired to lead in a different style.

I was struggling with the question of whether or not I was a born or a made leader.  I say “made”, but I’ve asked others and several have said “born”.  Either way, I’ve noticed that over my life I’ve stepped up to take leadership roles when nobody else does, although at times I am more than content to follow others if their leadership is better.

While I think many people like the idea of being the big boss and “in charge”, the truth is that leading is work, takes more time, sometimes only offers a headache as a reward, and is a heckuva lot harder than following.  MMOs provide an excellent field study for this, since the people who step up to lead (guild leaders/officers, group leaders) are in the minority compared to follower personalities.  When we’re playing a game where the bottom line is figuring out the easiest and fastest way to advance, sacrificing your time and energy to lead kind of goes against the grain.

I don’t recall any MMOs where a leader of a group is outright rewarded by the game more than the rest of the team.  Sure, there are perks such as choosing where to go, what to do, how loot is distributed, and bossing people around, but from the game’s perspective, a group leader is treated exactly the same as a follower.  You’re not given a reward for successfully leading 20 groups through a particular instance, you don’t get an XP bump for superior leadership, but you do get blame for not leading correctly.

Similarly, guild leaders and officers have certain perks that help to compensate for their increased effort of managing and running a guild of insane personalities, but it’s often just a labor of love on their behalf and a call of leadership.  I don’t think any of them would say that their in-game duties are relaxing or energizing, although there may be moments where it is personally rewarding and socially engaging.

I tend to be more of a follower in MMOs, just because I assume too many leadership roles in real life and need a place where I can trail behind a dungeon guide without thinking too much about where to go or what to do.  I try to respect and compliment good leaders I encounter, because I know that they’re often taken for granted by the rat race.

What are you in game?  Leader or follower?