Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Building A Successful Guild Part 2: The Framing

Welcome back to our investigation of how to build a successful guild from the ground up. As you will recall from Part 1, the foundation for a successful guild has been set with proper guild leadership and officers. Today we discuss the next step of guild building, which is having a proper framework for the various activities of your guild. As always, you can appreciate that building a framework for a guild is much like building a framework for our house, so liberal showing off of construction pictures continues!

After placing guild leadership and officers in power, your next step is deciding just what your guild needs to cater to. For smaller guilds, there may be one or two aspects of the World of Warcraft game that you group to focus on. One example is a hardcore raiding guild, which typically runs 30-40 members in order to have enough front liners and substitutes to consistently run 2-4 raids per week. Those small guilds are perfectly OK having a house framed for one to two rooms overall because that's all the members are interested in. However, as a guild increases in size, more thought has to be put into how the different focuses of your members will be accomodated. I liken this to the process of planning the number and size of rooms in a house. My wife and I only have 1 child to date, but we are building a house that will last us a decade or longer. Thus, we must plan rooms for future children and build enough rooms to accomodate our future needs.

Is this my room? Wow!

So if you are planning a raiding guild, then there's not a lot of thought that needs to go into the framework. However, most people reading this will be members of much larger guilds. Off the top of my own head, a large casual guild will have members who may be interested in each of the following things: PvP battlegrounds, PvP arenas, PvP twinking, endgame raiding, casual raiding, achievement hunting, leveling and questing with multiple characters, roleplaying, and perhaps even other aspects of the game I have missed! Even if you start out by just catering to casual raiding and leveling characters, eventually your membership will grow and have these other interests. Rather than having them skip off to another guild or in my analogy, buy another house, wouldn't it be better to plan ahead and build the proper framework at the beginning to be able to support these varied interests? I believe so.

Each room in my future house has been planned with as much care as possible, meaning each room has a purpose and is sized and designed to serve those purposes. Thus, we have a large great room or family area because this is where we will spend most of our time together as a large unit. For most guilds, this "great room" will be endgame raiding, whether casual or hardcore. You need to ensure that there's enough framework for the raid group or raid groups to be organized and run. This means electing officers or members to become raid leaders and assistants. These raid leaders will be tasked with all the minutae that the guild leader and officers may not be able to handle for each separate group of members in the guild, such as scheduling raids, notifying members, deciding rosters based on signups, and actually running the group on raid night. There's a lot to worry about, so you'll need trusted people to be the framework or the walls of your guild.

In addition to the great room of the house, you need to make sure you have a framework for all the remaining interests. If PvP content is not that important to your guild, then perhaps you only have one officer who organizes guild-sponsored PvP events for those players. In other words, make sure you have the room for PvP, but don't waste time making it the second biggest room in the house if that's not where you see your membership leaning. The same goes for achievement hunting, roleplaying, and all the other niches I listed above. The key is to have someone always in charge of those areas. For smaller interest groups these can be handled by existing officers from the foundation of the guild, but for larger interest groups you simply have to elect members to lead these fronts. Otherwise the guild leadership will eventually forget one part of the playerbase and will not be able to accomodate their needs, thereby leading to part of your guild moving out of the house. This brings me to another point. You know what's missing in the above picture? Insulation.

Putting this insulation in ensures that everyone who is only interested in certain activities in Azeroth can focus on those without being dragged into other activities or groups. If you have a messageboard or forums on your website, organize it so that the roleplaying folks have a place to roleplay, the PvP content folks have a place to organize arena teams or battleground grinding, and the PvE content folks have a place to organize raids or achievement hunts. Nobody wants to fish through 20 raid announcements to read one roleplaying entry, and vice versa. You also need to ensure that different people are accountable for the different interests of your guild, thereby insulating the problems if they do occur. Obviously you have doorways between these insulated rooms in order for people with shifting focus to move around the guild as they see fit. So with all of these metaphors in place for the framing of a guild, let's take a quick look at my own guilds and how they accomplish this aspect of the successful guild business.

In the Illuminati, we have a messageboard on our website that does split the various interest groups into rough categories so that they may communicate more effectively. There's different rooms for planning group questing, 5-man dungeons, and 10/25-man raids. There's a separate section for roleplaying as well as another for encounter strategies. While our guild does a little bit of PvP content, we don't focus on it so we don't include much of a framework for discussion and organizing events in that realm currently. As for placing people in charge of those areas, we have Cantique who writes regular roleplaying entires for our website and also encourages RP activities. We have a small handful of raid leaders who are in charge of scheduling and running weekly or monthly events for engame raiding, as well as one event leader who runs more fun events or achievement hunts. These leaders are completely separate and insulate the different interest groups in the guild. Although The Illuminati is definitely slanted towards PvE and roleplaying, there's the proper framework of people and communication alleys to meet these objectives.

In Alea Iacta Est, we obviously need a framework on a much bigger scale. If The Illuminati is building a $100,000 house, AIE is building a $5 million mansion. even though there's a lot more framework required, AIE provides just that on their website and with their leadership. The AIE online forums have six clear categories: general communication, PvP/Battlegrounds, Raiding, Roleplaying, Class Forum (caters to class-specific strategy), and Professions (like our own bartering or auction house within the guild). As far as running raids, the website lists 33 different raiding groups which cater to different times and days of the week. Each of these raiding groups has an independent webpage on the AIE site and independent leadership you can contact to get involved with that raid group. Everybody is insulated where they want to be, and there's leadership in position to organize those achievement hunts or raid teams or battleground pre-mades. There needs to be independence to run these events and members are given that independence by allowing them to organize groups in the forums or start their own raid group website on the AIE site. So the AIE guild successfully chugs along thanks to the proper amount of framework to hold such a large group of people with every interest you can imagine in the game.

Again, the framework is a bit more exciting than setting a foundation, but it sure does not seem sexy or fun yet. Nevertheless, to keep your future house ready for your family's needs, you need to plan your rooms and frame/insulate accordingly. In a guild this means putting the proper members in place to organize the interest groups and providing proper communication channels for the varied interest groups to express themselves in. In life and in Azeroth, it's better to plan ahead than accomodate/fix later.

Now that I have a finalized plan for this series, I can confidently say that we will be covering outside appearances and membership recruitment next time. The final two parts will follow, covering securing your guild and putting those finishing touches on a successful guild. See you next time!

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