Apologies for posting one under another. I've been scribing this answer in a separate file, and it got a bit out of hand. I think that it also concludes my typed characters pool for 2021.
Arman wrote: ↑
17 Jan 2021 06:20
Stats are always interesting. Context is important though.
So why do people think the top five guilds are so active? I have my own thinking on this, but I'd like to hear what others think.
Tough question. For me it ultimately comes down to a healthy balance between supporting and elevating current members vs. being a reliable, viable (and available) choice for the rest of the community.
To achieve that, in my mind, all guilds should meet 3 conditions - I'm gonna call them "3 Laws of Serve Your Purpose
" to have a fair chance of being reasonably active and – perhaps more importantly – to be a career path for the character. I also think all guilds that have been active in the recent years share these qualities (through combination of code and internal approach). There's of course additional question – what to do to make the spread more balanced out, but on that subject - later.
== 3 Laws of Serve Your Purpose ==
I. Guild must be able to sustain chars rotation.
II. Guild must be realistically available for potential new members (accept new members in a timely fashion, allow progression within the ranks).
III. I & II must stand true at all times; regardless if current members are actively playing or not.
These 3 rules stem from asking myself the following questions: “what makes guilds derelict?”, “why the spread is disproportionate to such a huge extent (wealth distribution vibes)?”, “what stops guilds from being reinvigorated?”. I tried to limit myself to 3 things that I believe are most impactful causes that are tightly knit together. Where a problem in one area resonates and causes chain reaction in the other 2.
== My 3 Guild Killer Candidates ==
No. 1 Downward Spiral a.k.a. Feedback Loop
This one is fairly obvious and the pattern is well known to all of us. Guild starts losing active players (RL, exhausted interest, balance, wars, etc.) and drops below critical mass. Then it gets desolated almost in an instant (with occasional surges of activity). Players rotation is interrupted, social bonds are broken, it all starts falling apart.
Internally - there's less prime equipment in racks, fewer interactions, fewer people to team with. It gets pretty lonely and you lose all benefits of working as a unit and sharing the fruits of your labour.
Externally - in conflicts with other guilds, you are more likely to become oppressed. With little chance of fighting back. Potential recruits have harder time to be signed in, while looking at a dubious prospect of becoming a badly bruised punchbag.
No. 2 Recruitment and Progression
At some point activity drops so low, it becomes exponentially more difficult to successfully sign in new chars and make them stay, as even if they are accepted, they cannot progress in the guild. There's a good chance they would even have a hard time finding out who's on the council and how to start applying.
That's only the beginning of their struggle, though. Potential new members will then have to jump through hoops that are on fire, lined with poisonous blades to somehow get a hold of people that barely log on. They will be trying to adjust their RL life schedule, hoping against better judgment that they'll be able to go through recruitment process in a foreseeable future.
The obvious problem here is – it has nothing to do with gameplay, RP, behaviour and is solely based on somebody else's activity. All of that to be a part of a desolated guild. It kills any sense of progression, locks time and resources and is bound to fail. So potential chars, essential for guilds to remain active go... “Ehh... I'll just become Merc or SoHM, both are nice guilds. One day perhaps, if something changes.... and then nothing ever changes”.
Side note (players attitude):
This is certainly controversial, but I think it cannot be left out in the discussion. There's probably something to be said about pseudo-elitism, that some players seem to have adopted at different stages in different guilds, locking them to inner cycles of friends&families (perhaps at a pretense of “roleplay” and “high standards”). There also might be a matter of whether members of the guild have a genuine and honest interest in treating it as anything more than a private clubhouse and whether they feel any need or display willingness to have new people in.
To what extent the last argument is valid... I don't know. I do know however, that while it's fine to bring in people you enjoy spending time with outside of Gen, it's important to stay open minded and make room for those who are not a part of that circle, but want to roleplay certain character. And I think that last part – about being able to choose path for your character, realistically pursue it and execute it is very important.
Guilds shouldn't be some ego-boosters, but places that welcome new members; as long as they are dedicated, don't break the rules and their characters maintain integrity. I think we grew a bit obsessed with who the puppet master is rather than how the character acts. It shouldn't matter if it's somebody's second, provided that person is serious about their characters. It creates a lot of unnecessary tensions.
No. 3 Power vs Accessibility & Restrictions
Some guilds are simply weak and they don't offer sufficient compensation (if any) for the limitations they bring as part of their theme or code. Others viability shifted vastly with introduction of imbuements, special bug, levels explosion, weapons inflation and nearly infinite herb availability. Good examples could be SU and Kenders. Paired with already low player count in their ranks it is far less likely for them to attract new players.
Finally, for many people it will be a matter of convenience and that freedom of choice. Which is perfectly fine and necessary. I may want to be a Merc with no restrictions, every possible layman combination, my allegiances are my own and I build my char from there. Thing is - when this option is so enticing why would I go for... here you can pick from the list, knowing all the issues you will run into.
Conclusions (and common deonominator)
To wrap it up and put it in other words. I think what makes guilds successful in terms of activity is the fact that... well... you can be those things (power aside for a moment) and let the character grow in that structure, actually roleplaying your character with a fitting playstyle (skills) and progression within the ranks. Your character is not at the mercy of someone who might have not the slightest interest or inclination to even respond to your application and if they even had the best intentions, they were last seen 2 weeks ago for 30 minutes.
I think there are many Mercs or SoHM that would've chosen different guild, if they had thought that it's achievable to be accepted in reasonable time frame and then move through the ranks (provided they are active and don't act like a... well I don't have any metaphor... a jerk). That they won't be ignored, because they're not friends with someone outside Gen or because their char is a second. Some of them would've been SU, some of them Clerics, MM, Knives, Knights or PoT.
In my view the only sensible and achievable remedy is to open part of all guilds on Genesis as auto-join, starting with those least active. The initiates, recruits, or self proclaimed followers of certain gods, etc., they should have a realistic way to pursue all those paths that Genesis offers, within those guilds and certain play-styles associated with them.
They can have their own, thematically appropriate quarters, limited access to racks, libraries and rooms, but all guilds should have automatic progression system, that may be sped up or slowed down by guild Council. If someone plays actively for half a year, contributes to the racks, follows guild rules, there's no reason why they should be gated from becoming a full member. Least of all, gated by inactivity or lack of outside Gen connections.
As for Councils, they should get decaying influence points. They get points for being active (logon time, rack points, xp gained) and performing council duties. They can then spend influence points on removing rotten apples from the guild or bestowing their grace/ showing interest/ marking talents to speed up progress in the ranks of promising prospects and members. This in turn should increase influence generation rate of the Councilours.
I am convinced some kind of semi-automatic system is the only way to go forth if we are to have dead guilds reinvigorated in a lasting fashion, be serious about it, and for the spread to become at least a bit more even.
Council's main objectives should be strengthening the bonds in the guild, politics, recognizing promising members and removing bad eggs, while others should be able to realistically pursue their goals. And introducing some sort of semi-auto join and progression system is - in my opinion - the only way to satisfy 3 laws I mentioned at the beginning, and the only way that in the long run can break the impasse.