The Leader of my last guild has quit World of Warcraft. She’s still in touch, still socialising with the members of a guild she worked so hard to build into a friendly, social hub in game. She moved to Final Fantasy XIV for the story, because there’s more to do in game that isn’t raiding and for the player housing, a feature that allows Free Companies of players (Guilds) to have a (guild) Hall. The attraction is that this can be an in-game social space, much like a real life pub or community drop in centre.

After playing Warcraft for nearly twelve years myself I’ve always got an eye on games that could be my post-WoW MMO. It isn’t going to be Guild Wars 2, it wasn’t Elder Scrolls Online, maybe it will be Final Fantasy. After playing the game a few weeks I have some observations. Right down to the key-binds Final Fantasy is a very WoW-like MMO. It has combat classes, quests, professions, world quests (‘Fates’) Guild leve’s (more difficult, more rewarding quest content) instanced, scaling dungeons and raids. The differences seem superficial and skin deep.

Take professions for example, you level your professional skills and craft increasingly more complex items. The only discernable difference is that with wood working I understand I can craft furniture for the ‘Guild Hall’. The wood working animation is certainly more impressive than the rubbing hands together or anvil tapping of WoW. That does speak to early immersion in the game, but thankfully there is a ‘quick synthesis’ option so you don’t have to spend all day watching your character craft basic wood into usable lumber while you do something else…play solitaire, check email or twitter, eat lunch.

Go there kill things, or kill to loot things, come back, turn in quest, get another…so far so WoW. Depending on your point of view it’s a celebration or condemnation, but Final Fantasy is World of Warcraft with a less cartoony, better game engine. The story, the lore of the world is in many regards has less finesse and less sophistication than WoW. Each of the races in Warcraft have a rich back story and with any story of war one side’s tragic losses and atrocities are the other faction’s great victories.

Why is this place always empty…?

…Or like this?

So I reflect on why my friend has left a game in which she has friends for another that is essentially very similar to start again from scratch? A Guild Hall sounds like a great idea…chars hanging out in a shared in-game space while their players chat in voice chat. However, I’ve had fun and laughter with people on voice chat when I wasn’t even in the same game with people never mind in the same shared in-game space. It’s not like you’re actually face to face when all your chars are in the guild hall, we cannot smile, nod, roll eyes, wince, raise eyebrows, wink at one another…there is no real body language that so enriches face to face interactions.

There is plenty of quality content in WoW for non-raiders. In fact raiders have been whining forever about stupid shit in game for non-raiders that detracts and distracts from the serious business of raiding: pet battles; LFR; 5 mans; mythics; timewalking; flower picking; fishing; engineering; mounts; transmog; world quests…indeed the whole two days of ball ache, levelling through another ten levels at the beginning of a new expansion. Never mind having to wait for casual, guild slacktards to get max level for that first raid! Which brings me back to why she has quit on her guild.

I think my friend’s real issue with World of Warcraft was twofold. Firstly, I’m not sure MMORPG is really her thing. The killing mobs, clearing dungeons bit anyway. Essentially story is just an excuse for adventuring. Lore is simply a backdrop, a tapestry to give a shape and rationale for what is essentially a tedious and repetitive grind. Get quest, kill or collect, or kill and collect, or kill to collect, return, turn in, get rewarded, collect new quest, which is often to go back where you were and kill/collect something else. And repeat.

Cooperative play really brings this to life. Either in a 5 or 4 person configuration or larger groups, coming together and doing things cooperatively either against the AI (PvE) or other players (PvP) is what makes gaming rewarding. It can be casual and laid back, social and fun, but it has to be challenging and cooperative (or it’s just FPS). I don’t think my friend really enjoys or is enthused by challenging group content. More importantly, I also think that she found herself in a guild that was totally unsuited to her and what she wanted out of Warcraft. Essentially she found that she was somehow the Guild Leader in a semi-hardcore, raiding guild and slightly sidelined at that. I’m always saying not happy in your guild: move on. However, it’s not so easy when you’re the guild leader and founder. Sometimes it’s easier to blame the game and move to another.

The officers often don’t help. Some guild officers will just log on, lead a raid, log off. The same may also take a break eight weeks into ever raid tier when the team have cleared heroic the first time. One officer in your guild will burst a haemorrhoid trying to solo grind all the material required for the raid team and coax, cajole, bully everyone else to contribute to the guild in this way. They’re not contributing to the guild though, they’re not encouraging working together in some cooperative push for the good of the guild. What they’re doing is servicing the raid, many of whom, like the raid leader only log on to raid, but expect all their raiding mats and repairs. Why? Because without the raid and raid leader there is no guild, whatever the social snowflake nominally running the guild thinks.

This is the mistake she made right from the get go. The idea of having a nice, fluffy, friendly guild that has social nights where people play WoW-Bingo, go on treasure hunts and have puzzle nights and also raids hard and does PvP is an awful one. Yeah, on paper a jack-of-all-trades guild is awesome, in practive it’s master of none. Being master of none people will leave to find one of the better ones of which there are inevitably many. Or one side wins out and the other two aspects go to hell in a handbasket. In my friend’s guild the raiding won out. Because raiders. They flirted with selection, they even still do a measure of it. Only on heroic, progress nights. Any scrub casual can raid on the normal nights. I still say I can almost see the point of selection for Mythic progression…but even then…but a guild that tries to filter it’s best into a raid for heroic progression, I hate to sound elitist, but since they started it, what a bunch of scrub losers. Heroic?! LMFAO

I can see why you’d go to Final Fantasy frankly. You’re beating your head against a brick wall trying to get a guild predominantly made up of anti-social, semi-elitist raiders (I can name them if you like), to engage with other guildies in non-raiding socialising. They’re not interested in you beyond what your player power is a how valuable you will be in helping them get what they want out of the game.

Then there’s your officer team. The raid leader…he leads the raid and subtly manipulates you to make raiding decisions (something out of your remit and interest range anyway) than actively discourage the kind of people you want for the guild you’d like to have: social, friendly, sharing, cooperative. One officer is rabid brown nose who only got the rank for all the selfless work he did supplying the guild bank and servicing the raiders. He’s so rabid and enthused he can’t leave the Guild Message of the Day alone “Come on all guildies lets do the good thing for the good of all and be all positive!” or some shit. The guild bank seems to have cornered the market in Slabs of Bacon though.

Your only other officer, the Drama Queen, constantly complains you’re doing it wrong, won’t delegate and that he has no role and never wanted to be an officer, especially now that it’s clearly an honorary title and he cannot influence the way the guild is or how business is conducted and /ragequits after getting into a slapping girl fight with the rabid fanatic officer.

Yeah, I’d be tempted to quit and start another guild, perhaps in a new game. However, while you’re in the guild house planning the next social night and dusting the bookcase you crafted yourself be careful about what your co-guild leader / officers are doing with raiding. If you run raids, you should have a team that reflects the nature and composition of your guild. Or sooner or later you’ll be back where you started and maybe even considering returning to that other game that, despite it’s lack of guild housing, is pretty much the same really.