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The Guild Counsel: New game, new guild, cold feet - now what?

Karen Bryan

There's an eerie similarity between gamers and guilds when it comes to game launches. The day a game goes live, there's often a huge rush of players, elbowing each other as they gobble up content. But as quickly as they arrive, some players decide that this isn't the game for them, and they move on.

The same is true for many new guilds. If you consider the size of the Star Wars: The Old Republic pre-launch guild database, for example, there were over 78,000 guilds signed up to deploy, but the total number of guilds still active today is undoubtedly only a fraction of that. In some cases, guilds that signed up probably never got off the ground, but in other cases, it's possible that the guild soured on the game. Now, it's one thing if you're just one individual who gets cold feet, but it's much more complicated when you're the guild leader and you've got a roster full of members tagging alongside you. In this week's Guild Counsel, we'll consider what you should do you do when you've made a guild in a new game and then realize the game just isn't your cup of tea.

Do you really hate the game?

Before making the jump and hitting the "uninstall" button on your computer, make sure you've considered other possibilities for why you're not enjoying the game. Is it your class choice that's not fun, and if so, is there another class you'd like better? Is there a certain zone or level range that's a little stale, and can you stick it out long enough to get to better content? Is there a bug or game mechanic that's annoying you, and if so, can you tolerate it long enough for it to be fixed? Sometimes, one issue with a game can cloud the overall experience, but it's important to remember that the grass isn't always greener in other MMOs.

You've decided you're done -- what now?

The easiest thing to do is just quietly disappear and walk away from the guild and the game. But that's not the right thing to do. If you built the guild before launch, there are probably a few who actually bought the game because of the guild, and they deserve at least some sort of heads up on your plans. It's good to have a chat with everyone, along with a written mailing or post on the guild website explaining how you feel about the game and what your intentions are. Members probably won't be happy, but it's better that they know right away so they can examine their options as well.

Be careful how much you intervene

There's a fine line on what your last actions should be as you prepare to leave. You should work with the guild to select a new leader if the guild is going to continue on without you. Also, if you were the one paying for and running things like guild websites or chat servers, you'll need to work out whether to turn them over to someone else or have them start fresh. Beyond that, it's best not to micromanage, and it's also wise not to get involved in swaying members' opinions on whether to stay or go. As much as you might want to build a guild in another game with guildmates, persuading them to follow you is basically poaching, and that's a big no-no.

Don't burn bridges

While you owe it to the guild to be upfront and honest about your intentions, avoid getting into details and drama with guildmates. You don't need to go into specifics on why you don't like the game, and in a way, you probably shouldn't because it opens the door to back-and-forth arguments that put you on the defensive and usually end up getting heated. And don't be surprised if you end up on the receiving end of a few barbs as you leave. Try to avoid firing back, though, because you never know when you might cross paths again. If you steer clear of drama, you'll probably retain some respect from members, and you'll have an easier time building and leading a guild somewhere else, should you decide to try it again.

Be more cautious about making a guild in "that next big game"

If nothing else, buyer's remorse in guild leading is an important lesson to learn. Guildmates will probably be understanding and give you a pass the first time it happens, but if you become a repeat-offender, they'll be hesitant to keep following you, and they'll lose trust in your judgment. Next time around, consider waiting a month or two after launch before making the guild, or if you have a set group of friends whom you'd like to build a guild around, try to get them some time in beta so you can get a feel for what it will be like. Just remember not to burn your guild out before the game even launches!

One of the best pieces of advice for running a successful guild is to keep the peaks and valleys as smoothed out as possible because rollercoaster rides tend to be harmful in the long run. But sometimes, guild leaders forget to apply that to themselves and to the eagerly anticipated games on the horizon. It's fine to look forward to a certain game in production, and it's even better if you have a network of players who are ready to join your pre-launch guild. But remember that every game has its share of warts, and "new and shiny" can also feel a little grindy here and there. It's worth taking the time here and there to remind yourself of what made the game attractive in the first place and whether that's reason enough to stick it out. And of course, don't forget your guildmates. In many cases, playing with friends can make any game more enjoyable, and once you step away from that, it's hard to get it back.

Do you have a guild problem that you just can't seem to resolve? Have a guild issue that you'd like to discuss? Every week, Karen Bryan takes on reader questions about guild management right here in The Guild Counsel column. She'll offer advice, give practical tips, and even provide a shoulder to lean on for those who are taking up the challenging task of running a guild.

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