Manifold Mischief

Mission reviews, essays, and documents of record regarding The Matrix Online. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Sugar Shack 39: What Makes a Clan Great?

MxO is full of things happening. Player events. Wars at Mara. QA mayhem. Clan mergers. The game changes and players change. Some come, and some go. People gin up controversy about trivia and players leave in disgust. Who wants be assaulted every day by the latest charges of exploiting and trashtalk? We need to have clear strategic goals for ourselves if we are not to be distracted by provocations such as this. In the past my clan, The Collective, has let itself be distracted by twits and trivia, to our chagrin. Here are some suggestions we’ve developed to help keep our eyes on the goal.

We need to remember what makes a clan great in this game. We need to look at these and ask ourselves how we are striving for excellence. Responding to baiting from perpetual foes (and I know I have been on rare occasions guilty of indulgence in these areas) will not earn leadership. Other things will. I can think of eight, and talk a little bit about them below. Clan greatness comes from these factors, and yes, I will include PvP. Naturally, this is not to say that every clan needs every one of these to be great. It’s just that if a clan has no more than one or two of these, its days may be numbered.

1. Longevity. We must be around to be acknowledged. We must last and have steady inflow of new blood to replace those who are repulsed by Brewko or burn out or are overcome by life. This seems obvious, but some clans I considered great at one time have fallen by the wayside. A clan must attract new blood by being present ingame and by presenting itself well in the forums and other venues I explore below. Hint: endless trashtalk is a sign of Tourette’s Syndrome, not greatness.

2. PvP. PvP is not necessary to being a great clan, as The Sirens and The Devil’s Advocates have demonstrated. It can, in fact, contribute to being a scummy clan, as RIP and dolts the world over have shown. However, PvP, to contribute to greatness, must show a clan at its best. Otherwise it’s just a bunch of banzai kamikaze wannabees (i.e., zergs) which does not reflect well on a clan. It seems like many of us have made progress in this respect. But we all need more practice, planning, and discipline. And trashtalking your adversaries to bait them into hating you to fight you…enjoy it while you can, ‘cuz when you start middle school, it stops being cool.

3. Diversity. Some clans attract nothing but PvPers and people who want to be feared and hated. I say, let them have the violent and the insecure! A great clan satisfies many types of people. If people as different as Nanohaxial and Seraya have been satisfied in TC, then we have truly been successful because we have a broad base of talents. If we have different types of people, we will attract different types of people, and earn the respect of different types of people. If we are nothing but a PvP clan, we are weaker than we need be. If we are nothing but a role-play clan, we are weaker than we need be.

4. Community Events. Also, Story Events. When a clan organizes community events, as the Sirens and the Kings of Never and Fallen Horizon have done so well, and when others even just participate in them, we show we care about the community and reaching out to others. Others appreciate this. This is one way The Sirens have been so successful, even though they hardly ever PvP, and don’t even obsess very much about levels. Yet they are a great clan. The more community events a clan attends and sponsors, the better off it is. As someone once said, the only thing worse than being seen and talked about is not being seen and talked about.

5. Classiness of Members and Their Posts. Compare posts by various people on the MxO forums. Who’s articulate? Who’s worth reading? People judge clans by their words. What do ours on the forums say about us? Silence is not an option, or someone else’s blather will be all people see. Few people from jerk clans post in the forums. Even fewer post intelligently. My own clan is blessed with some great posters, like Lucen, Sattakan, Garutachi, Melt, and Calliente. Other clans have great posters, like Symmetric, Alicethepattern and Ic3b3rg. Just really impressive. In posts I work to craft a distinct style of speech (except when I’m mad) because it contrasts so much with 3l33tspeak. It helps us to stand out and be different. Stupidfly did this too, of course, but in the opposite direction, “keeping it gangsta”. What this lacked in classiness is compensated for in the next item on the list.

6. Name Recognition. There is no such thing as bad publicity. Well, maybe that’s not completely true, but you can see what I mean.

7. Recognition from the Devs. How many clans have achieved this? Fallen Horizons certainly has! Midnight’s name is hard-wired into the game! Upstream’s alter ego, Downstream, appears in numerous missions. Few others have achieved this. This is one of the most sublime forms of greatness: recognition and affirmation by the gods. I’m not sure how to achieve this, and hope that Midnight can enlighten us.

8. Community Service. Contributing back to the community takes many forms. Think of all the radio stations rocking away out there. The great writeups many people have done on CR 2,0, attributes, and abilities. My neighborhood exile mission reviews. Weaselgrrl’s countless, creative, witty posts. DrippingCheese’s witty posts and sigs. Kings of Never’s great events. These are all examples of giving back. Ages ago, helping new players was a big thing; when we have more new players I hope this returns as well.

Each of us has skills and energy, as do our crews. If we choose to, we can focus them in areas which achieve and demonstrate greatness. If we focus on these areas, others will froth and foam, but in impotent insignificance. If we reduce ourselves and become a one-strength clan like they are, we will lose all pretence to greatness.

Most important for every leader and captain here, we must CHOOSE which strengths to enhance for our clan. We MUST NOT choose by reaction and in effect become what someone else chooses for us. In the case of The Collective, some adversary clans seek to reduce us to PvP rag dolls. But there is much more to us and to our clan than this. We are absolutely stupid if we only become what someone else wants us to be. Everything begins with choice, and leaders must choose the types and routes to greatness which best suit their clans.

I held off for months on making this available outside the clan, since thinking along these lines can give immense strategic advantage over others. But at this point I think we are all better served by numerous strong, great clans, and I share this in that spirit.