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Zombie Guilds

Have you ever found yourself stuck in a zombie guild?

When I started playing GW2, I joined the 5-6 remaining members of my ex-WoW guild. Saying “5-6″ is a bit charitable consider only three of us were still playing by the time I turned off the sub last year. In any case, we started a GW2 guild and… one month later it is back to 3-4 “active” members. “Active” in quotation marks because we have different schedules most of the time, different levels¹, and different goals.

We have not recruited any more people because… why would we? It is a guild of friends! Just like with relationships, it also seems rather irresponsible getting other people involved if we don’t have a clear idea what we want. After being a guild leader for 3+ years, I just don’t have the stomach for recruitment or the trappings of obligation anymore. And as is the usual case, if I don’t do it myself, it doesn’t get done.

We have been discussing joining a zerg guild or at least an active one. But how? How would I know what guilds exist on my server, what the social environment consists of, what kind of people they are looking for? Should we just keep joining one randomly? I got into Invictus 4+ years ago by pure happenstance: I tanked a Scarlet Monastery run back in TBC. It was a leveling guild that beat the odds and turned into a raiding guild under my benevolent dictatorship. I never handled recruitment, leaving that to the members with the proven ability to somehow be at the right place at the right time picking up the right people.

So… I feel trapped in a zombie guild. If I didn’t know my friends, chances are I would have let myself get absorbed into whatever guild blob I ran into first. But since I do know them, I care about getting absorbed into a hypothetical guild I’m fine with but they dislike. Or vice versa. There is also a residual social guilt knowing that we would be joining as a premade clique, something I hated with a passion when I was a guildmaster.

Maybe in the zerg, none of it will matter. Maybe once I take the initial plunge back into the “social pool,” so to speak, the water will feel fine. I just know the status quo is unsustainable, but it can be worse.

Ugh. I’m going to play some Steam games.

¹ I will talk more about this in the 1-month GW2 post, but suffice it to say, running low-level content with my main character actually feels worse than the traditional system of you just one-shotting everything for them. I had been under the impression that XP/Karma/rewards would be scaled up to your own level, but obviously that is not the case. So you exist in a pseudo-OP mode where you are powerful enough to make mobs trivial until they suddenly aren’t, all the while earning less than you could be. Nevermind if you have already completed those same zones.

Oh, NOW We’re Being Reasonable

Every time Blizzard makes some nice progress towards actually implementing player feedback, the actual improvements remind me exactly how boneheaded they originally were. Take, for instance, the following hotfix:

UI

  • Inactive guild leader replacement now requires 90 days of absence, up from 30 days. Ascent to the rank of guild leader is now only available to guild members at Rank 2, 3, or 4.

Oh, yeah, I remember that discussion now.

Of course, the irony of it all is that the change can be read so many different ways. Is this Blizzard (finally) responding to the player feedback lodged back before 4.3 went live? Is this Blizzard being tired of all the tickets and sleeper agent alt coups? Or is this a tacit Blizzard admission that, hey, maybe it’s not so reasonable to expect players to stay subbed each and every month? Especially given A) the two million people already out the door, and B) there are actually other games worth a player’s time to check out (MMO or not).

One such game is Blizzard’s own Diablo 3, out less than a month from now. But, honestly, it is just one of a mighty deluge of games coming out in front of the apocalypse.

In any event, I am very much enjoying this newer, more reasonable Blizzard.

Game of Dethrones

Rohan’s recent post The Guild as a Nexus of Contracts is an excellent read on the subject of Blizzard’s automatic “GM Dethrone” ability that was added in patch 4.3, and the concept of guild ownership overall. And it reminded me of the hidden depths of my rage towards this policy.

I joined the guild Invictus back when Azuriel was a level 30 draenei paladin tanking Scarlet Monastery for the first time, around a month before the release of Patch 2.2. The original GMs were a husband-wife couple who, a few months after I joined, inexplicably left total ownership of Invictus to the suave, smarmy smartass that was is myself. There was a period of time in that initial confusion when I contemplated, quite literally, /gkicking everyone and running away with the entire contents of the guild bank.

Listening to the better angels of my nature, as The Abe would say, I relinquished my power to the rightful heir to the throne, Soleste, whom shepherded us through most of the remaining bits of Burning Crusade content. In the months leading up to Wrath though, when the leveling guild-turned-10m progression guild was grinding down due to cliquish drama and apathy, I found myself once again bearing the weight of the crown.

And I am here to say: Invictus is mine.

Or at least was, until Blizzard felt good money should be thrown after bad in terms of Guild Leveling, which has probably killed more guilds than it saved in the aggregate.

I get it. Guild perks and reputation and auto-sustaining levels of guild-funded repairs gives the average member more of a stake in the guild as a whole. But it’s also bullshit. The guild will “belong to everyone” when people can vote for GM, vote for guild bank permissions, vote for bans from g-chat, veto /gkicks, decide on how loot distribution will work, spend three hours on Vent trying to prevent a drama-fueled implosions, purchase guild bank tabs, decide on guild names, tabards, and transfers.

Blizzard is not rolling out the goddamn Magna Carta here – you still can and will be /gkicked by a GM for no reason, with no appeal, at his or her complete mercy. Ownership is, to me, the ability to destroy something. And while guilds can no longer be disbanded, the membership can still be destroyed via kicking, prohibiting g-chat, removing privileges, and so on.

So what the hell is this half-measure? For every guild that is “saved” by First-Come, First-Serve succession, how many random alts of alts suddenly come into possession of a guild bank full of goods? How much residual goodwill is lost from the knowledge that everything you have worked so hard towards for years is not there waiting for you, should you return? Invictus was the sum of its members, yes. But it was also my blood, my tears, my gold, my time that formed the mortar of that structure. If I am to lose it, I want to be the one to watch it burn.

It makes no logical sense, of course. Bear the burden of leadership long enough though, bear the responsibility, and tell me it doesn’t make emotional sense.