8/5/2012 5:43 PM
This being a Guild Wars 2 website I’m expecting quite a few people reading this post to be waiting for release day (so close!). Some of you may be considering the first moves you’ll make once you get in game and planning to start a guild for the first time. This week’s post is aimed mostly at you as it’s all about how to get the ball rolling on making your guild without a game to play, and taking a look at ways to develop your out of game presence.
A common goal
Part of my last entry was on understanding exactly what it is you as a leader want to get from and achieve in a guild. This was for good reason as once you can articulate this it gets a lot easier to be able to go to other people and let them make informed choices about their involvement. When you're doing it, you have to be honest with yourself and think about details of what you enjoy doing in game. Think about what you may want from a guild in a year or two’s time. Write it all down and get it into some organised form. Congratulations, you’ve set the goals of your community!
Once you have a firm idea of what you want to achieve, it’s time to try to find other people who share your vision. A good place to start is existing friends who are looking to play the same game as you. Tell them what it is you're trying to achieve and ask if they'd be interested in being involved. Even if they don’t share your enthusiasm, ask them if they have know anyone they think may be interested. If you’re a member of any social networks, you can try to drum up support there. Finally, you may be able to post your idea on fansite forums or similar but check the rules of the site or contact an administrator before you do.
The first few members
After finding someone who’s interested in what you want to achieve, it’s time to build yourself a mini community. The aim in this stage is to get 4-6 likeminded people talking to each other. If you’ve managed to snag a group of friends who already know each other to join your guild, you get a free pass to the next section! Otherwise, stick around.
To make the challenge seem a bit less daunting, you can go about it in quite a methodical way. Get to know interested parties on their own, and then introduce them to each other. You can do this on instant messaging platforms or in other games. Get people to talk about themselves - their interests, likes, dislikes, good and bad experiences. Disclose some information about yourself. Once you feel like you're getting on well, ask them if they know anyone who'd be interested in joining your group, and start the process of getting to know them. This will probably take a while to achieve but it's the basis of forming a close group that provides a stable foundation for later success and will help pass the time until you can start playing.
If you find someone isn’t working out or doesn’t click with others in the group, don’t invest extra time with them. Find someone else and start the process over again. Eventually, you’ll end up reaching a critical mass where it gets hard to maintain these relationships in real time, and that’s when it’s time to make a nest on the web.
Making a home
When it comes to guild websites, there are 2 main routes to go and it all depends on how much web development experience you have or want to gain. There are pros and cons either way so make sure you research your choices thoroughly.
If you have very little in the way of web development skills, there are a number of companies who specialise in guild websites that you can explore. Enjin
is a prime choice as it appears to have all the basic features you could want. Guild Launch
is another and I'm sure there are more. Usually they’ll offer you some basic space for nothing but will charge for skins and optional extras. They’ll also limit you by only being able to use what they supply. As a result, you’ll probably end up looking like a load of other guilds on the same platform. On the plus side, they’ll take care of updates and will help promote your guild on their recruitment platforms.
If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous and either know your way around a server or want to learn how, you can choose from any number of free forum platforms
to use to power your community (check the sub-articles in the link for feature comparisons). There are no absolute right choices when it comes to which platform to use, but look carefully at the community that surrounds each software as they will be your first line of support for problems and additional upgrades. When it comes to a domain and hosting there are free options out there, but if you’re in it for the long haul you may want to consider purchasing a nice domain name and some paid hosting. Going free isn't always the best option with hosting! The downside of going this route is that you’ll need to look after your software on your own, rolling out any patches that come along, but you’ll benefit from a load of freedom and being your own boss. It’s my preferred route.
Whichever way you choose, it’s important to understand that an online platform does more than just house your discussions with other guild members. It’s also a useful recruitment tool to help inform people who your guild is and what you’re about. Pay attention to layout, colours and the words you put around the site as it may be what puts someone off hitting that application button. If you’re the researchy type, look at a few articles on branding - this is essentially the process you’re going through.
A pet peeve of mine is visiting forums that have 30 rooms and posts in only 4 of them. Don't do it - it draws attention to any lack of activity and that discourages people from getting involved. Start with 2 or 3 rooms at most and add more as more people talk about different topics.
Use what you have to your advantage
There is a major advantage to starting to make your guild without having a game to play in and that is that you're forced to wait until you already have a community before you're required to have a name. We'll be talking about group symbology in a later post, but having a symbol that everyone can get around (like a name) is an important part of making a community. With this in mind, it's a good idea to get your close group to help you pick the guild name. You should lay down some ground rules when framing this discussion to avoid ending up with a name that will make you cringe a few years later though!
You should also get them to help you in other ways. If someone has web development skills than yourself and you don’t particularly want to learn, ask them if they’d like to take charge of the website. Get some input from others on text, colour and layout as it will score you brownie points even if you decide against their advice. However, don’t overload people with too many options or too many questions - you’re there to lead them and it’s ok to make some decisions for them.
Keep the momentum
Once you have your online platform it's time to encourage it to become something that people visit every day. To do this you'll need to get people into something called the feedback loop, which is where they revisit a forum or site to see responses or reactions to things they have posted. Encouraging them to post is your challenge.
What you can do
Think of 5 questions that you can ask people in real time and on a forum that will start a conversation. They should be open questions that encourage people to reveal a bit of themselves and invite discussion rather than closed questions that require a yes or no answer. They don't need to be related to the game you're hoping to play together. Examples include "What was the first game you played?", "What area of Guild Wars 2 are you most looking forward to?" or "Tell us about the last movie you saw".
Pop them in the comments and help out other leaders!
3 comment(s) so far...
By Tilion on
8/5/2012 7:37 PM
Re: First Steps
I am in love with the way you are putting your thoughts down on the paper!
As you said, this is an extremely useful post for all of those people that are looking to settle down on something these last few days prior to release.
By Hyperion on
8/5/2012 9:53 PM
Re: First Steps
Really useful guidelines. I can see the phases moving along, even with the Dragon Arena ;)
Thanks for the blog post, Tasha! Waiting for the next piece now!
By Loulaki on
8/13/2012 2:58 AM
Re: First Steps
oO this guide the way its formed fits not only for wannabe guild masters in a game, but and general in our common life xD
awesome read !