The number one most exasperating aspect of running a raiding guild by far was struggling to create consistent attendance. I will be brutally honest here: it was making me a pretty bitter person by the time I left WoW, and in retrospect it was the reason I should have quit earlier. I don’t, however, know how to avoid it in the future.
Summer, and the last contentless summer of WotLK in particular, were the worst times of all. I and the handful of other dedicated folks would show up 2-3 days each week with new people or only 21 folks in the raid, and sit there in the sun and the heat trying to make some progress and keep up morale. It got to the point where I was taking the absentees personally.
Look, I’m getting angry just writing this! Augh, you fickle bastards. Every time you disappeared because it was summer or you got bored of old content or you just wandered off to something more shiny, it sincerely hurt my feelings. It got to the point where I just had to stop caring about the guild or raiding because I would literally start crying at the prospect of another 21-man spring/summer roster when a month earlier we had 35 signups.
Ahem. Anyway. Looking at the situation now with fresher eyes, the truth is that people are going to disappear for periods of time. Heck, I think a month off here or there is probably better for longevity overall.
I have seen a lot of talk lately about how people can and should play more than one MMO at a time (which is true), but that means folks will probably favor one over the other when there’s new content. Heck we are double secret casual in RIFT, and we still have people who are on for every night for two weeks and then don’t log on for a month, only to show up again later. Maybe it’s just lack of interest. Maybe it’s work or other real life issues. Despite my ire, I don’t really mean to imply that people have inconsistent playtimes because they’re jerks — clearly there are many valid reasons, including “I’m not having fun right now,” however much it has aggravated me in the past.
But as I look ahead to SW:TOR and now at RIFT, it makes me wonder how one can design a guild that takes into consideration that outside of “world first” levels of focus people are going to wander off. How do you build community and incorporate some level of group activity (from SW:TOR’s 4-man groups to 25-man raids) if you have no way of knowing who will be around from one day to the next? Some ideas I’ve seen previously:
1) Have a really big guild. Having, say, 30% of your guild disappearing in the summer stings a lot less if you started with 300 people.
2) Don’t organize group events at the guild level. Leave it to the members to organize their own friends and schedules.
I’m not sure if I like either of those. A really big guild is a pain to manage and it makes it tough for people to get to know each other. I was actually wanting to move to something closer to the second style near the end of my tenure in WoW, but it has the problem of creating cliques and I find that members are sometimes not inclined to organize their own fun.
So how do you make a guild that a) has a good community; b) has at least occasional pre-organized group events; c) works WITH the fact that players tend to wander off when they’re bored or busy, instead of against it? And doesn’t make the guild leader cry? If you find an answer… if there IS an answer… let me know, preferably before SW:TOR goes live. ;)