The 15-Year-Search for a Guild & Still Searching
After my fourth can of Coca-Cola I had lost all track of time. I was captive to a new experience. Not even when I dabbled about in the depths of the hellish catacombs of Diablo, I was always disconnected from the game. But as day light broke over my shoulders from the window behind me, I had realized I had spent the entire night drawn into a game – forgetting I had a physical self, and thinking I was actually that character on the screen.
The year was 1997 and the game was Ultima Online. I understood then the power a well-crafted game could have over its users, and how it can consume the mind, the body, and the spirit. But ultimately I was alone. Though in a game-world populated full of people and a random encounter awaited me around every corner, it had not occurred to me that people banded together to form larger organizations. Call me naive if you will, but I really didn’t know people did that sort of thing.
The first time I really encountered the phenomenon was with the addition of The Abyss Server. Created as a Halloween event for Ultima Online, the server turned then game complete on its head. Allowing players to transform into monsters via random portals scattered throughout the world and engage in brutal, pointless, and deliciously sadistic Player vs. Player madness. Now the server was only available for a few days, but those few days remain engraved in my memory to this day.
For it wasn’t the idea of player controlled monsters that excited me, it was the ultimate joke that the most powerful monsters in the game were humans. Special portals existed in key cities which transformed people into super-strong super-humans. Each character had highest stats physically possible, and was hand-given an infinite supply of regents. Other portals provided weapons and armor, but really no one used them. Everyone was just going around in death robes and helmets, filling the screen with numerous blips of “Corp Por”, the Energy Bolt spell; “In Vas Mani”, the Greater Healing spell; and “Rel Por”, the Teleport spell — and that was it.
A simple execution of infinite stats and supplies created a mad house of death and destruction. Yet in the madness the seed of order germinated. I found people banding together and forming factions on the fly, overnight entire cities fell under the control of organized player groups leading to mass battles on roof tops and in the churches as these warring factions fought to control the portals which birthed their outrageous powers. The streets literally ran red with blood, and bodies littered the roads. So much death filled the streets the death robes were stripped from bodies and used to create impassible walls to barricade doors and choke points.
Needless to say, it was fun — a LOT of fun. It was my first real taste of guild vs. guild style warfare on a massive scale, and since then it has been difficult to really find something to fill the void. So many games came close to it, so very-very close. Dark Age of Camelot was one of those games. The multiple factions did provide the numbers, but the onscreen lag I experienced and sheer amount of work I had to put into creating a character drew me away. Planetside was far better in its execution of putting people into the action much faster, and while I devoted myself to the military style massive PVP — in the end something was still missing.
Countless games followed, and I kept searching for that something that would fit my taste for large scale war and cooperation that didn’t require I sacrifice my life at the altar of fun. I’ve bounced around to many games, like an alcoholic visiting every bar in the city only to find they are all out of liquor, and it’s Sunday, and I’m in Salt Lake City for some reason. The itch hasn’t been scratched. I’ve not much of an FPS fan, and while the instant drop into brutal PVP is promising, it doesn’t have that kind of flavor I look for. I even tried AION, but that too required too much work to create a character, and half-way through raising that character I had to deal with murderous players gimping my process. Was it really too much to ask for a game to let me have fun, throwing around powerful spells and knocking heads with other fool-hardy, blood thirsty players only after a few minutes of turning it on? So far, it seems that way.
I’ve tried so many games. While they all seem to be so close, nothing really gives me that feeling that I don’t have to really break my neck to play with people who just want to have fun. So I suppose that’s why I’m here, writing this article in reflection. Because it unpacks my own inner desires of what it is I thirst for, and why it is I seem to have found myself captivated with Guild Wars 2. What it is that seems to scratch the itch, even when the very first Guild Wars failed so miserably to do so? All of these World vs. World videos being pumped out by the press of course!
I don’t know how many I’ve watched. I’ve lost track of time really. I know I’ve seen enough to have clocked in at the very least ten hours of solid gameplay in WvW alone. On top of that add another ten hours of watching basic gameplay. My experience with the game has not been hear-say forum posts or articles; I let the real McCoy speak for itself. And in the midst of it I find that I’m seeing a lot of what I experienced in Ultima Online, I’m seeing people shoot up in level quickly to jump right into the guttural fun of throwing abilities and spells at one another.
This is not the annoying FPS style of FURY; this is not the gun blasting, gunship peppered lands of Planetside; this is not the zerg infested frontiers of Dark Age of Camelot; this is Guild Wars 2 — a game which pretty much combines several formulas from several games and marries them rather expertly to create an extremely promising product. No, this does not mean that Guild Wars 2 is perfect and flawless; I am not saying that it is hands down everything I’ve ever wanted in a game; I am not saying that god is in his heaven and all is right with the world! I am saying that of all of the games I’ve played, this one looks like it has what I’ve been wanting, and that is why I’m going to buy it. I want to see with my own eyes, and determine then whether or not I should be overjoyed or disappointed.
Even if the game isn’t solid outside of the gate, who knows — maybe with a few patches it’ll be up-to-snuff, much like any other game out there. Now the only thing that remains is finding an organization that really speaks to me, you know, the kind of guy who plays casually but daily and still desires stern organization that isn’t like a job. You read that right. Maybe if it’s not the game that fails me, it’s the player base! With so many servers, so many worlds, so many peoples and a huge influx of new blood that comes and goes as the air is full of the lethal chemicals of new-game-smell — how do I find where I belong?
In some instances I’ve tried to make my own guilds, and make my own little pocket of players who have a good time. But let’s face it, I’m older now, I don’t have that kind of time and I really want to experience Guild Wars 2 in a way that really helps me experience the roles of warfare: the tactical stuff. Scouts, Squad Leaders, Spies, Commanders, etc: yeah, that stuff! Surely somewhere over the rainbow, someone-somewhere is putting together a guild for Guild Wars 2 that’ll kick off sometime in April. As the Open Beta Events begin and we’ve all dished out our $80 — we’re as hungry to sink our teeth into the game as the box of donuts we just bought to hold us over for the weekend. Where are these people? Where can I find them? Where are those who are just like me, who thrive in the fun of a semi-serious gaming experience that requires so little time?
I seek you out. And hopefully you seek me just as eagerly. For even if Guild Wars 2 fails and is an utter disappointment beyond all measure, all the world cracks in two, and the stars fall from the heavens — there will be other games, but I do not want there to be other guilds. I never really found a place where I belong. Hopefully this game will help me find a good group of people, for that is what really makes a game like Guild Wars 2 really worthwhile. Let me enjoy the game, and let me help you enjoy it too. Whatta-ya say?
Some additional details: US players, CST time zone, runs a business, working on MA degree, has microphone, uses profanity loosely and only when situations are pretty tense.