There a many MMO games out there, many of which have built in functionality for clan/group/outfit. For the most part you start to play a game and you get invited to join up to one of these groups.
If you decide at some point to start your own here are some lessons that I have learnt in the past few years playing MMO's and managing an active group.
First a little background.
Way back in January 2005 I started to play a massive-multiplayer game called Planetside after a gaming friend told me all about it and I got a free trail key. Within the first couple of days i'd been invited to an outfit within the game.
During the summer months there was a lot of activity and teamwork within the ranks of the group. By September time the top-level command had reduced the amount of time they played. Another member and myself attempted to keep things going and promote teamwork whenever possible. We hosted a teamspeak server and ran a simple forum system to allow communication between members.
The straw that broke the camels back was the lack of appreciation we gained from the top level members who infact demoted us to make way for a new 'ideal' structure and management.
So on October 17th 2005 ChaosNC was born, created by Dok, MK and myself.
The three of us had only a handful of ideas in mind but we felt that they were a solid basis with which we could move forward.
Our main goal has always been 'Have fun'. If we made the group too structured and limited, then it isn't fun and people will end up leaving.
Our second aim was to have multiple leaders, rather than just 1 top level person commanding the whole group, we decided on three people to allow discussion and debate over items that concerned the group.
Rules make up the backbone of the group and they should be brief and exact. You can and should expand on other group guidelines elsewhere but try and keep the basic ones in plain sight and make them easy to understand.
For example our rules have altered a little since the start of the game but only to clarify the meaning of them, our rules currently state:
- No Teamkilling!
- Squad Leaders MUST use Teamspeak and actively lead the squad.
- Public attacks and personal abuse on other players / Outfits is strictly prohibited.
These rules are simple and directly state what we expect of each member, a higher ranked members of the group should examine any breach of these rules.
Before introducing a new idea to the whole group, ensure it has been discussed by the leaders first. We managed this by opening up the discussion to include members from next level down in the group structure. This insures that we haven't missed anything out and that our senior members were buying in to the proposed ideas.
If you are still unsure then try a group-wide poll/vote on the subject.
Now there are certain things you don't think of the first time you start up an ingame group, there are many pitfalls that you can and can't avoid. I'll start to detail a few of these so you can get a feel for them.
It's acceptable to think you will start off small. If you are actively inviting new members this number can grow extremely fast and can be quite difficult to manage. Make sure you have your rules/guidelines in place and make sure people can see/read them.
If you work as a team ensure everyone know their roles, if you have new players try and take the time to explain the game if they are very new and/or the way your group works. Don't expect everyone to automatically understand everything you expect of them outside of the main rules.
If you have veterans in the group suggest scheduling some training sessions and tips/hints guides.
Try and gain access to a Teamspeak or Ventrillo server, this can help you to rally members and can be useful for high ranked members meetings. Not to meantion the fact that Voice comms always a bonus in any game. But beware of give members to many rights at the start, only give it to those people you trust.
If you need to remove a member do so quickly, also make sure that you inform other members of thhe reason why you kicked someone ( if they aren't that clear). Don't keep quite about it unless they is a very good reason, else you members will be wondering if it's their turn next.
Active Leaders / Subleaders
This is a difficult goal to reach, you need to have the right balance of players at the command level to keep things ticking over. As i said before if all the top ranking members stop playing can the remaining officers manage without them? If you have hardly no body playing at the command level think about demoting some of them and moving up some trusted active players. If member see that nobody is leading them, they will leave without a second thought.
There is little you can do you avoid getting problematic members but you can reduce the amount of disruption and damage to the group by identifying them as early as possible.
You will always get these people in your group if you are actively inviting. At first they will seem like an all-round nice person but you will start to get indications something is up. Look out for people that always what to be the first to obtain something, the example I can give is the squad leader function in Planetside (Squad Leaders earn different XP to others in the squad, harder to obtain).
There will be time that we all have a laugh and joke on teamspeak or on the forums. Keep an eye open for people fooling around with members on teamspeak or in game especially if higher ranked members aren't around.
“While the cats away..”
You need to be careful with veteran players; they can cause a lot of damage to a group. Remember that a veteran player has a lot to offer you and your group but they can also bring a lot of bad habits with them, like teamkilling spawncamping or killstealing.
Ok so you think we'll kick the player out, but be careful the player may have made some allies among your ranks and will drag them out too. Also a veteran player may try and blacken your name and tell lies about how/why they left. Also unless you know the person very, very well don't give them too high a rank within the group.
Here is a quick list of the items I've discussed above:
- Set clear guidelines that are easily followed, don't over complicate matters with too many details.
- Ensure members know whom to contact if they have a problem and avoid publicly airing disputes.
- Promote members that show dedication towards the group and those that have stuck by you
- Always give members a second chance. If they screwed up once they may not do it again. ( Unwritten Warning)
- If you have to remove a member from the group, explain to the other members why and give your reasoning. Don't keep them in the dark unless you absolutely need too, it can breed ill feelings and mistrust.
- If the top-level members aren't activate ensure that you have dependable senior member that can handle problems or report them to you if not.
- Give members input on ideas and hold senior member meetings to discuss issues and ideas when possible.
- If a new member joins ensure the higher ranking members greet them, also ensure they read the rules and supply help if they need it.
- Remember new members may not be suited to your group, if others within the group comment on this, keep an eye on them.
Thanks for reading this guide I hope it will help you to manage and plan your own groups' future.
We'll tomorrow will be the 'official' last day of a website I set up in December 2004.
It's had a funny live, started off as a community website for people I had met online, first it was a pretty open entry system and then after about 6 months swapped to an invite only system.
There were good and bad points to these methods, the latter was in retrospect the one element that secured it's demise. In it's popular phase it would see 100 forums posts a day from over 30 members, sadly towards the end the underbase sank to around 10 active members per week.
I've half written a post about managing online communities, detailing the good and bad. One day it will make it's way into my blog.
And onto a lighter topic, my redesign of my clans website KhaosClan.com.
I have tried to deliver 2 themes for users to choose from, one of them is Light and one Dark. Although, truth be told they are both greyscale with varying tones to match the name. in addtion to the new themes I also whated to come up with a new logo/title bar that would give the whole thing a new feel.
So after playing around the chaos star, a logo that we have stuck with for sometime now. I was about to give up and start thinging of something new, when I accidentally dragged the “K” of Khaos over the star and instantly stumbled apon a way to revamp the old logo.
So after a good few hours of tweaking, redesigning and more tweaking, the final version came to life. So for your viewing pleasure i present the final logo/title.
I'm very happy with the way it turned out to be honest, I wasn't sure the 'K' was going to intergrate and be noticable. But thankfully it shines out wonderfully.
As you may or may not know Dok and myself play a MMOFPS/RPG called Planetside, it has been running for nearly 3 years now (launched May 19th 2003). Until now has always been a subscription game with the odd 14-30 free day trails floating about the place. Set to launch today (23rd) is a Planetside Demo named Planetside reserves (FAQ).
If you want to see what planetside is like before downloading the client then check out this video (8mb/16mb – MS Media Player 10) created by player MarcoPolo as part of the UK fans guerilla marketing campaign.
If you are going to play then drop me a line chaoticdecimation[at]chaosnc.com or pay my outfit (ChaosNC) a visit at our website, we will be glad to show you the ropes, answer any questions you have and run a teamspeak server for use in game.