Guild Update: Summer break

Our small Elder Scrolls Online guild will take a summer break from the end of june to the end of august. By that, we mean that none of the recurring events (leveling DC characters together, exploring Cyrodiil, the monthly guild meeting) we do will take place during that time. We’ll still be playing ESO and we’ll probably meet for a dungeon run from time to time, but we’ll be on hold, essentially. While this is a somewhat risky move, as it might look like activity is going down and we’ll have to reconnect and get back into our rhythm after the break, i feel it’s the right thing to do for a couple of reasons.

Oh Italy, how i miss you!
Oh Italy, how i miss you!

It’s not the season for in-game commitments

It’s summer. Real-life activities turn up very regularly- be it holidays, parties, events, simply meeting friends, the will to do something outdoors or simply the heat that drives us away from the pc. There’s a lower motivation to sign-up for an event and actually taking part in it.

Experience

In my experience, planned events for summer days get cancelled often due to a lack of participants. Sure, there might be people signing up, but more often than not, there’ll be cancellations on short notice and i’d end up with just one or two other players taking part. There’s nothing worse you can do for your guild’s morale than cancelling events- usually, when i schedule one, i’ll see it through even if only one other person shows up. The second you start cancelling events, they’ll seem less important to your members and soon they might choose to simply not turning up even when they signed up for an event.

That’s much worse than simply deciding that one type of content or a particular time (like the summer months) are off limits for you and your guild.

Recharging the batteries

When you set up weekly events, it can get exhausting. For the members who participate, surely, but all the more for the guild leader, as they are the person who has to commit to the schedule as well as each individual event they set up. While i’m always having a great time when an event starts and we are playing together, sometimes i’m not in the mood to play just minutes before. Maybe i’d prefer to watch something, spend time with my wife or read a book.

So a time where i don’t have to think about running events frees up a good chunk of time for me- and this is important to recharge my batteries and stay motivated to provide scheduled events. By the end of the summer break, i’ll be looking forward to get the guild going again, and i have quite a few plans for the final four months of this year.

The move

Furthermore, my family will be moving in the end of june. Not far, just about 15km (9mi) away, from a rented house into our own. There won’t be much work to do, as we hired a company to make the actual move and our new house is in a good state. However, we have to do a few things here in the rented home, maybe painting the walls a bit, and getting rid of furniture and stuff we don’t take with us. I expect to be busy with the move at least until mid-july, maybe the whole month.

discord

Staying in touch

The most difficult thing to achieve during the summer months will be staying in touch with the guildmates- we are a young guild, after all, and while bonds are continuously growing stronger, they are still building up. So the summer break also holds the potential of throwing us back a bit.

What can you do to stay in touch with guildmates if you have a very casual, small and social guild?

Encourage forum usage. I’ll prepare a few activities that will take place asynchronuously in the forums- things like screenshot contests, storytelling, sharing our appreciation of the game we’re playing come to mind. There’ll be forum titles to go along with these activities.

Encourage use of Discord. Voice chat is a funny thing in our guild, actually. We have the opportunity to make use of it, but rarely do so. I can only remember being on Discord for an event once. In the upcoming guild meeting just before the summer break begins, i’ll emphasize again that Discord will probably be the second most important community hub for us. I mean, there’s chat channels in addition to voice chat, so there’s that.

More casual ingame events. While i won’t commit to it, i still aim to meet up for a dungeon run or other group activities every once in a while.

Enjoying other games. Quite a few of us are big fans of The Secret World. Besides ESO, TSW has the biggest chance of seeing a group of us playing together. As with the casual ingame events, i won’t commit, but chances are we’ll form up a group once or twice during the summer break.

This should do it- i don’t want to overstretch as that would be counterproductive, but i do hope that this will work out in giving us a break for a couple of months while still feeling connected and looking forward to playing together from september on.

Monday Quick Notes: Dual Wielding LFG, new chars in Elder Scrolls Online

Dual Wielding LFG edition

This was so much fun. I love writing in coop-mode with Ironweakness, so having three others join us made this whole thing even more fun. Of course, reading my own entry now feels as if i…overshot a bit. The others kept their posts shorter and more on point, while my mind wandered- as it tends to do. I feel like i still didn’t mention everything this topic has to offer so maybe there’ll be follow-ups.

I really hope we’ll do that again- maybe with others, the same people or even simply more, but we’ll see. This exercise alone made me think about the possibilities of multi-blogger sites and/or a Discord channel for bloggers. This connection to others is what makes blogging so great at times- and it’s one reason for me not to blog in my native tongue.

I actually tried to find german bloggers writing in german, but all i found were quite old entries. This is strange, though, because i think germany is the biggest MMO market in europe. The only “private blogger” i know of is a new guildie, but i haven’t given up yet. So if you’re reading this and maintain a german mmo blog, tell me about it in the comments, please.

Elder Scrolls Online

Tempest Island

We formed a guild group for a random dungeon again. Thankfully it didn’t take the dungeon finder tool 40 minutes to get it started and we were lucky to find us in Tempest Island, the group dungeon of Malabal Tor- so actually not one of the more sophisticated. I wasn’t tanking this time, so things went a lot better than in our first run. We were still having some trouble and i really have to improve my skills in dungeon-delving, because more often than not, it was me lying in the dirt.

Nuria needed a drink after this.
Nuria needed a drink after this.

Tempest Island centers around the Maomer once again trying to summon storms and bring chaos into Aldmeri Dominion lands. The dungeon design in ESO is impressive- they’re vast, many times contain indoor areas as well as the outdoors, and they’re atmospherically dense. I’m looking forward to seeing more of them.

It became clear, however, that i need to look into my Templar build- something’s not working there. I’ll probably develop Nuria into a full-blown Magicka Templar.

More characters

I have quite a few characters in the pipeline:

  • Nightblade Blood Mage / Leech Healer – i love the idea of leech healing. Or healing by doing damage- it’s the ultimate dps/heal hybrid. I need one for our guild’s leveling group in the Daggerfall Covenant and i’ll probably create another one for me
  • Dragon Knight Tank – i don’t like tanking, but if we’re going to do dungeons in our guild, i’d like to be able to provide us with a tank
  • another Templar – depending on how i change Nuria

In the end, i’d like to have one character for each armor class, be able to tank, dps and heal, do all the crafts and have lots of combat variety (stamina/magicka/melee/ranged etc.). I still have the goal of getting the Dragon Knight to 15 this month- it’s not too late to achieve that. Other than that, my DC Nightblade needs to go to level 8 in the next two weeks.

The Guild

Weekly update here, as i’ve seen there’s some interest. Granted, i don’t do the topic of guild management much justice by always making it part of my Monday’s posts only, and i’d like to do more, but not as much has changed regarding our current goals compare to what wrote last time.

What’s changing, though, is that activity is picking up within the guild. We were joined by three new people in april, with all three looking to be very good fits. I’m especially happy that we were joined by Everskies, who even picked up blogging again. Our planned activities of doing Cyrodiil PvE achievements and leveling characters in DC will start in the next couple of weeks, attendance of events and of simply “being online” at night is rising and we now also have secured access to the guild bank- which means, even if we seperate ways with “inactives”, we’ll be more than 10 accounts in the guild.

So, it’s an exciting time- the guild project is picking up steam and getting shaped now.

Monday Quick Notes: ESO, EVE and the guild

Elder Scrolls Online

Last week saw me seriously returning to The Elder Scrolls Online in a normal manner- by that i mean questing through Greenshade instead of just doing random things on guild night. And it pulled me right back in with the expertly crafted questing experience. I’ve also made good progress taking Nuria from Level 28 to almost 32 in a week. The birthday cake helped, of course. I could have progressed even further if i would have played on friday night instead of having a guild meeting. The downside is that i’m outleveling Greenshade and maybe even Malabal Tor a bit, seeing that it starts with level 32 and i’m not done with Greenshade by any means. I guess i’ll be 35 by the time i’m ready to move on.

I still need to refocus on Nuria’s crafting abilities, though- she’s deconstructing items and researching traits all the time, but i don’t think she created armor or weaponry since…forever. Crafting in ESO is quite complex- my guess is that, to create something really useful, you would have to create the armor/weapon with a good trait and a good enchantment. Enchanting, however, is one frustrating craft to level, as you usually don’t find that third type of artifact. But i’ll look into doing more crafting with her soon.

Elder Scrolls Online really needs to add downleveling to zones as the game is quite easy by now, anyway, and being of a higher level than the quests you’re doing just adds to that. I continue to be very happy with the game, in fact, i feel it’s a rabbit hole i’m diving into deeper and deeper. Elder Scrolls Online is the first MMORPG since WoW where i want to add something external to my gameplay experience, ranging from podcasts, maybe even books and finally, i want to know more and have found a way to get what i want- the really great Lore series by Shoddycast i discovered via HeadBurro Antfarm. I’ve watched the first two episodes yesterday and learned a lot about Daedra and Aedra.

Jita is quite busy.
Jita is quite busy.

EVE Online

Speaking of crafting- EVE online was a surprise. It wasn’t on my radar at all when news began to heat up about World War Bee. I haven’t played since i wrote last, but i got the additional 30 days for 10€. As i’ve mentioned, for now, i’d like to do some trading, but my first shy steps into this area have been confusing. EVE’s economy is vast- with hundreds or thousands of different items to trade and thousands of places to trade them in. Even with using online resources, i had trouble finding out what and where to trade.

I feel like trade might be one of those things where knowledge of the game’s inherent systems might be a good thing. So i’ll continue to try and have trade as a primary focus (as you don’t need to know how stuff works to buy low and sell high- it’s simply more difficult to find out what to trade where), but will take sideway-looks into other areas like producing stuff (ships, maybe?) and maybe even combat via missions to get a better understanding of the game.

As is usually the case, i find EVE to be utterly impressive. One commenter on Massively Overpowered wrote that EVE is the one game where the devs took the concept of MMOs and ran with it. This is the game that has everything- if only it were a fantasy MMORPG, maybe with a bit more restrictive pvp (not much, though) and a company that doesn’t let their community loose on each others, this would be that game for me. BDO isn’t EVE in Tolkienland, though, so there’s still only EVE being EVE and i haven’t decided yet if my space travels will continue after those 30 days.

thead4

The Guild

On friday, we had our monthly guild meeting. I wasn’t surprised to see poor attendance, with only three people turning up- including myself. On the other hand, i know one had something come up on short notice and one fell asleep (that happens to me from time to time, too), so we could have been five. Still, it’s this i’d like to change- and there’s only one way to do it, in my opinion: positivity. Create and share awesome experiences and our love for the game. Continue to offer stuff and make the guild be and feel alive.

So we talked a bit- i don’t want to get into too much detail, but in the end, this were the results:

  • we ditch Teamspeak and move to Discord as Chat & Voice client
  • we’ll have three guild activities running, all on different rhythms
    • as i said, we need more continuity on guild night, so we chose to vote on the activity we want to tackle first and see it finished before switching to something else. This will occur on a weekly/biweekly basis
    • level characters together- everyone in the guild who’s interested is invited to join us as we level characters together through the game. This will occur when everybody who mentioned an interest has time
    • dungeon nights will probably occure more often than the leveling of characters, we’ll look for groups in our forums and it will happen when/if four people are available/signed up. I’m still thinking about making this another regular event, but honestly, i’m at my limit when doing one thing a week.

That’s mostly it- well, i want to work on the homepage a bit to make it more attractive- the decision on whether to stay with Enjin or move on our own site has been postponed for now.

I’m also happy to say that we grew by one new recruit, bringing our ingame guild to 10 players. Ingame, we are reaching our critical mass now, with 5 of us playing quite regularly the chances that you’ll log in and find yourself the only one being online are slim now, the goal being about 10-15 active players. Yesterday evening, we were four…and i’m still expecting another application soon.

So, all in all, with patience, a focus on positivity and creating good experiences while sharing them in the forums/homepage, i am very confident that our guild will become active and alive some time this year.

Guild Update: activity and recruitment need to go up, more continuity on guild nights

Yesterday evening saw the first login to Elder Scrolls Online, or any MMO, for that matter, since we’ve returned from China.

Zharyon

That’s the name of our guild- yesterday, a commenter here made the connection between this blog and that guild, so i think i can tell now. I would have done it soon, anyway. Why we’d use such an unusual name? Well, it’s kind of a long story that i’ll probably tell when/if i make an official introduction post here, but to make it short- google it. We wanted a unique name that wasn’t descriptive like “Order of Light” or something- we wanted a name that wasn’t taken but still somewhat good on eyes and ears and we came up with that. It has been used a couple of times, but i think 800 results on Google is ok in terms of uniqueness.

That fear i expressed when i was sick and had to cancel guild events the last time i got sick? Well, turns out that two weeks of going to China might have made it true. We were only two players logging in, with a third one patching up on a night where i had planned to venture into a dungeon (to be fair, i scheduled that event more or less as a trial for organizing dungeon runs without consulting anybody else first).

We need bodies

The thing is: casual, social, tight-knit or not- we need to up the game a bit. We need more life in our community- or at least i do. 3 of us more or less only log in when we have a scheduled activity, i haven’t seen two recruits in quite some time, so in the end, our roster is at about 3-4 players who log in from day to day (but usually not daily). That’s not enough. We’re spreading ourselves to thin there. So i was beginning to think how we can gain a bit more traction without, you know, either disbanding, looking at another direction and/or recruit every Joe or Jane Doe that comes along.

I think the homepage might be one good way- disregarding whether we’d move to selfhosting and/or wordpress or not, it needs a bit more work to look attractive and show off who and what we are a bit better (if someone reading this wants to offer their feedback on what makes a good guild website or knows of some examples, i’d be happy for pointers). There’s one advantage in WordPress: it shows content much better than Enjin does. Let’s say other members would be interested in contributing to a “guild blog”, WordPress would be much better in handling this than Enjin is.

Of course that’s just a dream- in my experience guild members don’t like to contribute in this way. But still, it would also be a pretty good excuse for myself to sometimes post in german if i’d like (although, of course the activity would still be much lower than here). Still, it’s nice to dream- i love coop-blogging and multi-blogger sites and maybe, one day, some kind of project will come out of this.

Another thing i was thinking about was to simply cross voice chat off the list- now i know what you’re thinking, but with germans? “No Voicechat” guilds are actually quite popular- there are several communities that have this as their sole USP. We don’t use our server anyway and with Enjin only 5 slots come with the basic paid version of the website. So in the end, i guess it’s either moving to Discord or crossing it off. When i was looking for something like this in some english community, i drew a blank. Don’t know if this was about the game or maybe there’s just no market for these kinds of communities in the english speaking community.

We need continuity in our guild evenings

Another thing that propped up was that up until now, we’ve been dabbling in everything on guild night- we were in Cyrodiil, ran a dungeon, went to Wrothgar, the Thieves Guild and so on. What i’d like to do starting with the next guild evening in about two weeks is giving it a bit more structure- select something, then take it from the beginning up to the end. For instance, if we chose to start with Wrothgar, we’d stay there until we’ve finished all the content. Judging by the fact that Orsinium is supposed to have 20 hours of storyline content, that would probably take us ~15 weeks. Still, better quality, more continuity- i think that’s where we need to go.

Happy with what we have, but still have a way to go

We’ll have a chat about all this in our coming guild meeting (friday), i’m eager to see the results of this discussion and take some of that to action. See, i’m happy with what we have- we’re basically six semi-active to active players who like each other and share a very relaxed view on things like progress, wiping, online times and such. There’s no need to change that, it’s actually the opposite: we’ll try everything to keep it that way. But that doesn’t mean we have to stand still- we need to evolve, improve, gain some numbers in order to actually be more than a part of a good filled friendlist.

Travel Log: Rkindaleft

We’ve finished Rkindaleft tonight. All in all it was a nice, if not very challenging, experience. But i have to say- i love public dungeons. The whole experience reminded me a lot of public dungeons in Everquest 2, a part of that game i really like. Granted, you won’t get lost in there- its design is too linear for that- but it’s big, it took us about 90 minutes to finish, it’s beautiful, offers an interesting storyline and a few boss fights. Here are a few impressions of the dungeon.

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Growing a small social guild

Since we’ve founded our fledgling community/guild, i’ve been wondering whether it is possible to build up one of those 10 years plus communities in this day and age. I know there are many great guilds out there, but i do feel the climate has changed and creating a long-lasting guild where bonds between members only grow with time is harder now than it used to be when the MMORPG community had about 3 very different MMORPGs to choose from. Today, not only do we have a billion MMOs to choose from, but the games themselves also allow players to be part of multiple guilds. Players change games more often, and when they try a new game they might seek out another, already established guild in their new game instead of trying to grow the guild they’re in or taking guildmates with them.

I’d like our guild and community to grow, in connections as well as numbers and possibly even games later on and i’ve been thinking about ways to reach the goal to be “that guild” at some time- where people would say things like “this weekend a few guildies and i are trying out game xy together”.

It’s a journey

A longlasting guild can’t be built up in a year, and we all know that. What i’ve seen though, and struggle with myself is that it’s kind of hard to be patient. It’s looking hard right now- we’re seven people playing Elder Scrolls Online right now and attracting members is difficult- i feel it’s because of size, related ingame-features- we’re too small to even have a guild bank, after all and the fact that we openly describe ourselves as being casual players who don’t play every day. If you were to join our guild, chances to build a dungeon group spontaneously on the fly while you’re logged in are about zero. If you were to ask in our forums, though, i’d bet you’d get a group of players willing to join you in the next couple of days, depending on the availability of our members.

Of course, this isn’t something we’re used to nowadays- and in the end, it’s easier to simply use the group finder to tackle a dungeon. When i played WoW, building a group with the guild was the easier way to go (no lfg tool then), it’s the other way around now and with us. In the end, we all have to be patient- the guild leaders have to be while still trying to offer “more” in terms of trying to grow the community, and the members themselves, because right now, we’re almost more a friends list than a guild where you meet someone everyday. With our 7 players, it’s still entirely possible to log in and be the only player online in the guild. Normally, i’d say that 10 online players in the evenings is a good number.

 

Shortly after release, growing fast isn't hard to do.
Shortly after release, growing fast isn’t very difficult.

It’s very easy to grow in new games – in my experience you’ll reach a critical mass quickly if you recruit for games that aren’t released yet. I’ve seen the foundation of about half a dozen guilds before a game was released- at that time, it’s mostly the guild-type that attracts new players, not the current state of the guild. You can start recruiting for a game soon to be released while having only two people in your roster- if you do it in a timely fashion, you’ll have 20 to 50 members as soon as the game releases. Because nobody cares if you’re only two when there is no game to begin with.

In a game like Elder Scrolls Online, it’s harder, because the players want their guild to offer something- a guild bank, players to group with at all times and a guild trader would be nice, as well. There aren’t as many non-guilded or new players, as well, since the game has been out for a while.

In addition to the ingame-features, the community has to grow, as well- we’ve changed things up a couple of times, already. If you’re four people who know each other well, there’s no need to have many rules and regulations. I think a good guild needs to adapt- have its vision set, but alter the ways to get there. There’s a bit of trial and error involved here.

And lastly, “that guild” you’ve played with for five or ten years has to last that long to become just that. You can’t have this done in a year, per definitionem.

Recruitment

All guild advice you can read will tell you how important recruitment is. I’d say it’s depending on what type of guild you want to create. In a game like ESO, building a simple, big social guild doesn’t really require anything outside of the game- you take in who’s interested and weed out inactives and troublemakers. If you want to stay somewhat small and prefer to build up connections with your guildmates, however, recruitment gets difficult, even in small social guilds. Because not being a troublemaker is not enough- the personality of a recruit has to fit into the group, and because this won’t be the case every time, you mustn’t be afraid to decline people. Which is even harder to do in a social guild- “it’s not personal” doesn’t work here, because it is.

 

group
You can have fun in small numbers, as well.

This is why i like Enjin so much right now- because applications aren’t public. We set up a form with a few questions (“What MMOs have you played recently?”, “How much time do you spend in MMOs a week?”, “Do you prefer voice or guild chat?”, “What are your ingame goals?”). The officers can then review an application, ask the applicant some questions and hopefully get answers without anyone knowing what’s going on. For us, we’ll take in everyone who understands what we are and is aware of differences between us and their preferred play-style. For instance, if you’d apply and check “Raids” as an interest, i’d possibly tell you that this is something we’ll probably not do anytime soon, if at all. If you check the box for playing more than 30 hours a week, i’d tell you that this is much more than the rest of us are playing. If the applicant is ok with everything, we’ll try and see if the glove fits. If there’s no reaction three days after i’ve asked some questions, i’ll simply reject the application- mostly without giving an extra reason (i feel that has been given by the questions asked), but sometimes i’ll even go into the official forums and suggest an alternative guild that might be a better fit. So far, it’s 50/50 – i accepted three applications and rejected three, as well.

I do that because i’ve seen guilds with a similar vision failing to decline applicants, growing too fast and therefore building no connections between the guild and the respective players. The communities might have 300 members, but that doesn’t mean anything if the forums are used only by 30 and the whole community discourages their leader from creating an ingame guild because it would be inactive after a month anyway (yes, i’ve seen that happening).

Stability and Perseverance

I think it’s also very important to show stability and perseverance in building the community. OK, so maybe a monthly guild meeting for four players who meet each friday anyway is a waste of time- maybe it will be for seven members, as well. But thinking “i’ll do stuff like this when it matters” sends the wrong signal to the members of the community- it tells them “we’re not real, yet”, so the culture you want to see your guild having needs to be built in from the ground up. Try, and if nobody shows up, try again. Maybe change things up a bit. This is a clear sign that you’re serious and in it for the long haul. I’m also a huge proponent of telling the guildies what the next steps are in growing or strengthening the guild- while i’m almost always somewhat disappointed when asking for feedback (you’ll probably not get any), i think members appreciate it when their leadership shares its plans on following through with the vision.

And because we’re lucky in how MMORPGs are designed nowadays, it’s always important to see if you can find something worth doing in terms of ingame-goals for your whole guild. For instance, tomorrow we’ll be going to Rkindaleft, one of two public dungeons in Wrothgar. We might be able to do it, or maybe not, but it’s nice that we can do something worthwhile together despite being in the level range of 11 to VR10, with 7 players.

 

Before i go, though- what’s your opinion on this? Is it easier or harder to form a small guild with strong bonds nowadays? How would you go about it- any tipps to share?

Travel log: Orsinium sights

Tonight, our guild group has been to Wrothgar, again. I have to say, i love how we can simply set off out of the city and go exploring. We tried to follow quests, but were soon distracted by stuff we saw in the landscape- and also, because Edu is one difficult boss to kill.

On our travels we saw a museum, fought and were killed by Edu, maybe a Goblin boss, i don’t know, because we didn’t see him for all the ogres he sent our way, an arena where Orc clans settled their war, a giant statue of Malacath and Coldperch Cavern, a delve in Wrothgar. And also, a lot of beautiful sights.

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