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Mini Essay: Guilds and what they can be

FlashmanFlashman Member, Founder, Kickstarter
edited May 2020 in Community Creations
There's no right forum for this, but it's a creation of mine, so I choose to leave it here.

Earlier today I took two separate IMs within the space of 10 minutes from some old friends; guildmates from a couple of decades ago who have gone on to be solid 'Facebook friends' for me as we moved away from gaming together and they're both in the US and I'm all the way down here in Australia.

These IMs weren't pleasant. They were to let me know that a mutual acquaintance; a member of that same old guild which united us, had passed away. As he was a relatively young guy; in his early 40s as far as I remembered, I was stunned by this. It also got me thinking about times past. Indulge me...

It was 2001. Star Wars Galaxies was under development. It still had another couple of years before it would emerge. I'd been active on its forum and caught the eye of a guy who wanted to start a guild and, as a canny operator, he saw someone like myself who seemed to live and breathe the forum 24x7 as the perfect recruiter for this group. I thought that sounded like fun, and became his first member.

I'd never been in a guild before. My experiences in Ultima Online and EverQuest had been quite weird and solitary ventures. But I knew what a guild was; and I was quite fascinated by the concept. This is a period where even the thought of a multiplayer RPG was pretty exciting, so a group of virtual pals to play with was really cool, too.

For what felt like an age I toiled away, recruiting for the group. A website appeared. It was cutting-edge for the time as the guild leader had actually contracted a web designer to make a bespoke design for us. A forum arrived. It was a social hub par excellence. Whenever I wasn't at work, I was pretty much on that forum.

Over those couple of years, the guild grew and grew and because the forum was the social nerve centre of it all (remember, this was the early 2000s; we weren't on Discord!), people got to know one another really, really well. It was the first guild experience for almost everyone there, and people were very open and caring.

The game finally arrived and the guild played hard. When interest waned in it, the guild started playing other titles. Guild Wars... EverQuest 2... Age of Conan... Lord of the Rings Online... and more. That solid foundation built for Star Wars Galaxies had created the perfect "home away from home" where we could all game.

More time moved on and members got married... got divorced... had babies... lost family members... it seemed we were experiencing every possible angle of the human experience as people in their 20s became people in their 30s and beyond. Gaming became less important for quite a few members, but the guild pushed on and on.

And although it's glossing over 1001 other aspects, that guild is still active. And, for most of that time, run by the chap who passed away today. You see, after the original guild leader moved on, and his able lieutenants like myself had administered the group for a time, this chap stepped up and made it his own.

He wasn't one of "the originals" but he'd been around long enough, and outlasted so many others, that to the majority of the guild there was no one older. He was the boss. He was The Man. They had no idea who people like I were; we'd long left the stage. But that said, the guild had never quite left us.

And that's why, when I got the IMs today, I was sad. This was a guild I hadn't gamed with for many years. This was a guild where I couldn't name half a dozen people on its current roster. And this was a guild leader whom I'd butted heads with as I was leaving, and he was coming up the ranks. We weren't great mates.

Yet I sit here tonight, thinking about him. Thinking about how deeply unfair it is to pass away in your 40s. Thinking about that guild that gave him so much pleasure to administer; far longer than the original crew, like myself, ever administered it. And these thoughts have driven me to type out these meagre lines.

Because here's the thing. Guilds today are often places where people drop in, drop out, see what the guild can do for them... and that's it. They are a means to an end. And that's fine. Not everything's meant to last forever. Some guilds are leather jackets you can wear for decades. Some are t-shirts that will be worn out by next year.

But for me, this guild I was involved in was a leather jacket. It might not have been one I wore lately, or even wanted to put back on. But it's one that I couldn't get rid of, out of my wardrobe. It's one that meant something to me. And even after all the years, and the occasional harsh word, I was still proud to think about.

So as we all line up for Ashes of Creation, and count down the time until launch, and guilds are formed, and branches of existing guilds are fleshed out to welcome new members, I wonder how many of you are - unknowingly - embarking on a guild adventure that might last a decade or two, in one way or another? I'd like to hope that some of you are, because it's something that can profoundly change your life. For the better.

Thanks for reading this far. I just needed to get some thoughts out, about guilds, about how special they can be, and about how I've interacted with them in the past. And I want to dedicate what I've written here to Chris/Relan, who has passed. The Jacket (that's an in-joke worth a post all on its own). Husband to Kristy/Starzia, who was also one of our guild members. And a good friend to so many people in the guild, and beyond. Safe travels... wherever this life leads next. And when I eventually play Ashes of Creation, let it be in a guild that gives me even half the feeling that the old guild did... and I'll be a very happy man. That is for sure. Thank you.


  • VentharienVentharien Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    Sorry to hear about your old guildy. Memories like that can make even an ok game unforgettable. Hope you get to experience it again in Ashes.
  • FlashmanFlashman Member, Founder, Kickstarter
    Thanks @Ventharien it's had me thinking a lot about 'the old days' this week. What I wrote was only the tip of a very big iceberg, but I had to balance it with what was appropriate for a forum that doesn't have much to do with that time, outside of being another MMO. It's been nice, on the whole, to look back... and conversely to look ahead and hope Ashes will provide a lovely new experience, too. Both the game and I the people I meet.
  • When I ran a guild in another MMO (thousands & thousands of people passing through) it definitely kept me playing for much longer than I would have.

    It took years of building it up but only 10 minutes of tearing it down when it was obvious it's no longer fun and kind of pointless running it.

    So I can identify with your story quite a bit. Made so many friends but most I have forgotten.

    Just the way I am I guess.

    Fun times... :)
  • FlashmanFlashman Member, Founder, Kickstarter
    edited May 2020
    Oh without doubt @LegendaryMage there are people who came and went in that guild... and people who came and went in guilds I ran after that... and I wouldn't recognise them by name today. But some people really make an impression, and some gaming memories really last. I remember the first time a group of us went into open beta for LotRO which was basically the live game as they weren't wiping characters, just limiting us to the first 20 levels, and the crew I played that with was fantastic. We ran around the map like total Tolkien geeks having the time of our lives. Never had an experience quite like it before or since. Yet another memory rising to the surface for me.
  • Well, another chapter is starting here too eventually. :)
  • MakinojiMakinoji Member, Warrior of Old, Kickstarter
    edited May 2020
    I am very sorry and can deeply relate to your story.
    As I use to run a few guilds as the GM in the DC universe online and in TERA online. I have had several members pass away during the many years apart. Although we didn't game together anymore, we still had a FB page with our old guild members.

    I honestly still recall the long nights of raiding and or just doing random events with all those great and wonderful characters. Literally where my character's origin began. Hopefully other allies will continue to write this journey until I meet my demise, then someone will be writing about the great times they had with me and my persona.

    I'd give those people who are guild hopping a chance though, it takes a while to really find your footing with so many personalities being thrown around. I wish those souls the best of luck, it's a joyous thing once you do find your place.
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