Mar 10, 2012

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Council Chambers: Lady R’s View of the Guild Summit

Council Chambers is all about the ins and outs of guild leadership in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Each week, we’ll look at running and managing a guild through good times, bad times and everything in between.

For all those who did not get a chance to watch the live streaming of BioWare’s Guild Summit, Reedyn and I here at Ask A Jedi will do our best to get you as much information as we can about the event itself, game updates, and some of the news to come out of the game.

While the Summit itself was designed for guild leaders, a lot of the content being discussed Tuesday concerned the big patch 1.2 update, and the content included in that.  There will be some significant updates and improvements to guilds, in particular the inclusion of guild banks, with other much-requested features coming in future patches.  It sounded like after guild banks, the number one feature guilds sought was the implementation of an in-game guild calendar, and the design teams said they’ll definitely be working on this for a future patch.  No dates yet, other than “Not 1.2”.  Other items such as being able to invite people to groups from the guild window, better guild navigation and features, and some sort of guild logo that players can wear or display were also mentioned.

A lot of the discussion also focused on the Legacy system – which probably merits its own entry, as it is very complex and includes an extensive list of new features.  The Legacy system will introduce multiple self-casting buffs, unlocking new species/class combinations, and then convenience features such as powerful gear for lower level alternate characters.

Finally, a significant amount of information was presented about some upcoming changes to PvP and PvE.  In PvP, two of the more noteworthy items were the removal of Ilum for an indeterminate amount of time as the world PvP is re-examined and repaired to work more closely in line with what the developers had initially intended, and to also address many of the issues and concerns brought about by the community in the last major patch.

In Operations and Flashpoints, there will be a new Operation with roughly the same number of bosses as current Operations, and with adjustments to difficulty levels coming across all Operations.  What is currently considered Normal Mode will become Story Mode, and is designed for the very casual players who may not be regular raiders but still want to see that aspect of the game’s story.  Gearing and progression will be largely moved to Hard Modes and Nightmare Modes, and the challenge of Nightmare Modes significantly increased to truly make these encounters…..well, nightmarish.  An additional Flashpoint that completes the Rakghoul story from Kaon Under Siege will also be implemented, allowing players to learn the ending of that event and also to gear up in a more challenging flashpoint for the end game crowd.

Guildy, But Not Guildy Enough

For my part, I found the Summit very information and helpful, but felt like it could have focused a bit more on the guild aspect more.  In some ways, while I had fun and learned a lot, it felt a bit more like a “1.2 Update” event rather than something specifically designed for guilds. The small size and one-on-one time with the development team was fantastic – so definitely far beyond what one could expect at a PAX-type event or a future BioCon (for which there were many enthusiastic demands).  However, the content felt much more like a reward to active and loyal guild leaders more than the opportunity to really meet and get feedback from guild leaders about what they need, what they like, what they do not like, and some of the guild-based reactions to potential features such as a guild leveling system.

In the future, I’d recommend additional aspects like breakout sessions with guild leaders, and perhaps more options to discuss actual guild issues – for instance, not only what are the game features people most want to see for guilds, but also some more community-building sort of things.  For instance, when the Guild Headquarters was closed in early January after launch, guild leaders were told this would be reintroduced – but no word followed on when, if that is still true, or what will happen to the former Guild Headquarters.

I also would have liked a better dialogue with some of the guild leaders on how many of the “down the road” features that guild leaders actually want.  For example, there was mention Tuesday of some sort of “guild progression”, which sounds an awful lot like guild leveling.  As we saw in the entry from two weeks ago, guild leveling is something that has a lot of strong emotions from the guild communities, both positive and negative.  While I was there as a fan site representative rather than a guild leader, my inner guild leader would have welcomed some sort of round-table with other guilds to discuss with the developers whether this is something the community wants and needs, or where we would like to see efforts placed in terms of supporting the guild.

So all in all, while the event was a fantastic opportunity to interact directly with the representatives from BioWare, meet a lot of other fantastic players and guild leaders, and learn a lot about some of the upcoming changes in patch 1.2, it also still didn’t feel quite as guild-centric as I had expected.  That said, people gave some fantastic feedback about all sorts of aspects of the game, and I fully expect the writers and developers to take that feedback into account as they continue building a bigger, better Old Republic for us all.


I do have to applaud the initiative that the TOR team displayed with this event, reaching out to the community and setting up an event on this scale. It’s something that very few MMOs have done – in fact, the only one I am aware of offhand is EVE’s efforts to work with a player-driven council to get feedback and address community concerns.  So on that, well done!  Given this was the first of its kind, I doubt anyone expected it to be perfect – and I think there is room to improve if a second guild summit is held next year, with some more breakout sessions on features with guild leaders, so that it really can feel like a dynamic exchange – but even getting this much was head and shoulders above what many other games provide.

Got a question for Council Chambers?  Drop a line to Lady Republic at or post a comment here, and you may see your guild questions answered in a future column!

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Mar 1, 2012

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Council Chambers: Whose Guild Is It?

Council Chambers is all about the ins and outs of guild leadership in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Each week, we’ll look at running and managing a guild through good times, bad times and everything in between.

This week’s topic comes from a question that a coworker was talking to me about with respect to his guild. He’s been a long-time member of “That Other MMO,” and after twice being in raiding guilds that suffered from chaotic or badly handled leadership changes, he finally decided to start his own guild about a year and a half ago.

All was well for a while, the guild was happy and making good progress, things were stable and quiet, but as time wore on and TOR drew ever closer, he found himself losing interest in his previous love. So, like many of us, he made the decision to pull up his stakes and move to TOR full-time. Except, in his case pulling up stakes turned out to be quite literal – he announced his decision to disband the guild he’d founded in That Other Game when he left.

Now, for him this seemed the logical choice. Twice prior to founding his own guild, he’d been in other guilds that had been great under one leader, but foundered or failed under the new leadership. However, his decision to disband has caused huge amounts of chaos and turbulence for his current officers and guildmates, in what otherwise was a very stable, successful guild. He came to me asking for advice because he truly doesn’t understand why the other members are upset. Yet to the members, they can’t make sense of his decision whatsoever – and in fact, most of them find it very selfish.

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Feb 22, 2012

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Council Chambers: No “I” In Guild

Council Chambers is all about the ins and outs of guild leadership in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Each week, we’ll look at running and managing a guild through good times, bad times and everything in between.  

First, let me say – from a spelling perspective, yes of course I know there is an “I” in guild. The title comes from the famous expression of, “No “I” in team” – we’ll overlook the fact that there is in fact a “me” there.   Ahem.

Last week, we talked about the Guild Summit and what kinds of questions you’d maybe be interested in learning more about. While I got a lot of feedback about the game as a whole – which likely will not be addressed at the Summit, as it is specifically and solely about and for guilds – I’ll definitely keep my ears open for news on any of the topics our readers asked about, as well as doing my best to cover the event as a whole.

In the feedback and comments from that entry though, a very interesting – and sometimes passionate – debate ensued about what a guild actually is, what it should provide to its members, what its members should provide to it, and all those issues related to those things. It got me to thinking about this topic, and what guild membership really means to people. So this week, let’s look at what a guild actually is, and how that matches up to what players think it ought to be?

This is every guild, right?

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Feb 16, 2012

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Council Chambers: Breaking and Fixing Things

AAJ Goes To Austin

A week or two ago, BioWare announced plans for an upcoming Guild Summit, to gather leaders from a number of the more famous guilds and the community as a whole to talk about the status of guilds in The Old Republic.  AAJ will have two members there – Reedyn, our Healing columnist, will be there on behalf of his guild, and I will be on site representing Ask A Jedi – so in lieu of this week’s advice, I would like to ask all of our readers out there what questions you have for the BioWare team that I can present on your behalf, or what information you are hoping to get out of the summit so I’ll know what to look and listen for.

Questions, Please!

Please post any questions or issues you want to know more about at the summit in the comments below, and I promise I will gather them all up and see what I can do about getting input.  We will be soaking and poking throughout as much of the information as we can while on site, bringing you as much news as possible about the plans BioWare has for guilds in TOR, and also asking any questions or raising any concerns you have about guilds as well.

From my perspective, I’m really looking forward to learning more about the overall plan and visions for guilds and communities within The Old Republic.  I am as excited as the next person about the possibility of guild banks and guild housing or ships, so I will definitely be on the lookout to learn more about these features.  I would also like to hear if they intend to implement a guild leveling system, as I have some fairly strong – and not favorable – opinions on these based on my experiences managing a guild elsewhere when these were rolled out. Allow me to say a bit more on that, as an example of a “good idea gone horribly awry”…

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Feb 8, 2012

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Council Chambers: Take Me To Your Leader

Council Chambers is all about the ins and outs of guild leadership in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Each week, we’ll look at running and managing a guild through good times, bad times and everything in between.  

Hello, and welcome to this week’s Council Chambers. We took January a bit “off” in terms of our primary purpose of guild leadership and advice, to spend some time focusing on new or prospective guild leaders and officers and cover some basics about how to start a guild and look for people to help you with that project. This week, it’s back to our core mission of working with guild leaders, officers, or members to help solve their guild challenges and dilemmas.

Chief of Staff

Since we ended our last entry talking about officers, I’ve decided to pick up again with an inquiry that concerns guild officers – and in particular, officer burnout. Overworked writes,

I’m having a blast playing SWTOR, but after just two weeks, I’m getting a little something like burn out due to my guild. This guild has been a labor of love for me, and was truly driven during the pre-game to create something special that would attract tons of members and be a really successful guild to last for years to come.

Even though I’m not the GM, I was the one in the forums trying to create energy for the guild, get members involved in creating the guidelines, decide how the guild would work and interact with the rest of the community. Now, the game has launched, and on top of all the work that goes into setting up the guild, I’ve discovered that no one was doing anything to recruit – so I’ve taken up that job as well, spamming in general to help grow our membership. I feel like I’m running the whole guild by myself, and even though it’s small right now, I feel like there’s a ton of work to be done if we want it to succeed.

Am I making a mountain out of a molehill here, or is there something I can do to encourage the others to step up? How do you cure officer apathy?

Officer apathy, officer burnout, officer inactivity – while these may all happens for different reasons, the end result is often the same. There’s still a ton of work that needs doing for the guild – recruitment, forums maintenance, scheduling, roster maintenance, member management, plus any other activities that the guild runs – but for whatever reason, there are fewer hands on deck working on it. This often results in those remaining officers shouldering more and more of the work to keep the guild afloat – and the frequent result of that is even more officer burnout, as those officers become overwhelmed and can no longer keep up.

So, what’s an overworked officer to do?

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Jan 31, 2012

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Council Chambers: Good Officers, Apply Within

Council Chambers is all about the ins and outs of guild leadership in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Each week, we’ll look at running and managing a guild through good times, bad times and everything in between.  

To wrap up our Guild Formation series, I wanted to spend a little more time talking about officers – in particular, what to look for when hiring or promoting them.  (You’ll notice this nicely dovetails into the next couple entries about guild advice!  So stay tuned.) For the majority of TOR guilds, you’re just getting started in this new game – for some of you, your guild was established through the Guild HQ before the game launched, for others your guild was ported over from another game, and for some of you, your guild may be a brand new one formed since launch.

Regardless of how you got your start though – good officers really can make or break a guild.  You want officers that are responsible, fair, active, and reliable.  To make it even more tricky, being an officer isn’t even a paid position! Even so, having reliable officers that you can count on to manage the roster, deal with issues when you are offline or not around, and who can support you and the workload that goes with running a guild is a tremendously vital asset for any guild leader.

Let us begin by looking into the qualities that seem to make a good officer.  This can be tough – some are easy to measure (time online, for instance), and others can be harder (how does one measure maturity?)  Ultimately, it’s going to be a combination of observation, current officer consensus (for guilds that already exist and have officers), and a bit of sixth sense or gut hunch thrown into the mix.  Below is an initial list of qualities I usually request from prospective officer candidates.

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