At first, I didn’t know what I would want to write about, but then it hit me: I actually already had a draft sitting in my endless pile of unfinished drafts that fits the topic. It’s not that I didn’t like it, I simply forgot it was there.
Before Guild Wars 2 got released, we had wondered whether we wanted to create our own guild or join another one. We had also considered whether to make a German guild (seeing how we are Germans and us German-speaking folks often get their own set of servers to play on) or an international one. We ended up joining Dragon Season instead. With the exception of Lord of the Rings Online, we had previously always been in German guilds in MMOs. My game clients had usually been set to “English” (if that was the original language the game was made in), but within the game, I had played on German servers with German people. It’s not just because it’s easier to communicate if you’re all native speakers. It’s also because you do share a common culture and Germany itself isn’t such a big country. If you get to know people that you like, meeting them in real life isn’t usually too difficult to do.
So, being in the international (with mostly EU folks, as GW2 does separate their player base like that) guild that Dragon Season is, meeting people from the guild is much more difficult to do. We were lucky to meet a few fellow guildies at gamescom last year, but that’s about it. Still, you want to do more than “just” playing the game as you’re doing that every day anyway. Talking on voice chat is one thing and always fun. But what we do in the guild is to have a guild party at least once a year.
A few weeks ago, we had our summer party in Guild Wars 2… yes, it was just a few weeks ago, as we actually did it when it was autumn already or close to autumn. :p As is always the case with such things, a few people could not be there, but all in all, I would say it was a success as usual. I did not have as much time preparing as I would have liked, though.
We always celebrate by doing a few games and handing out prizes to the winners. Unfortunately, games always restrict you in what you can or can’t do compared to the real world. For example, I would love to put the prizes in wrapping paper to have a few extra seconds of the winner wondering what it is. But the games themselves are quite limited as well, as everybody who has ever tried to organize some or participated can probably imagine.
After having done three of those parties, I have found that costume brawl is actually a fun way to battle for a prize. There may not be much skill involved, but it’s fun to watch, at least. Some costume brawl items come with extra skills, though, especially the ones bought on the gem store. Also, some people may not have costume brawl items to participate (if that is the case, here is our only slightly old guide to get them without spending gems). So, I put down the cauldron that I can summon with the broom from the witch’s outfit (bought in the gem store). I love the cauldron, because everybody who just passes by can click on it, gets transformed and can participate in costume brawl. There are five possible transformations and this makes it a little more even.
Our rules for costume brawl: You become a costume brawl champion if you have scored 25 points. That champion then has to run to a predetermined spot to be declared the winner in our game. I chose to do it that way, because with the POWs and BAMs, it’s sometimes hard to spot who became a champion first. That way, they not only need to become a champion, they also need to realize they did and get their character over to the spot. Much easier for us to judge who is the winner. It may be a problem in larger groups or if you put the predetermined spot far away from the group, because some characters walk faster than others with special skills or items. So far, this hasn’t been an issue for us.
Find the NPC
This year, we did not play “Find bookahnerk” as we usually do. Bookahnerk could not actively participate in the guild party due to some exams he had had to study for. In the past, he went to a certain spot or a certain NPC in the town we were having our party in (Lion’s Arch and Hoelbrak were used for this). I gave out one hint (e.g., when we had our party in Lion’s Arch: “The sour loser…“) and the participants had to find the NPC and /bow at it. This is done, so we know for sure they aren’t just passing the NPC without knowing it’s the one they are looking for. Bookahnerk standing near the NPC also helps the participants because they know they are in the right spot – and it helps me to see who is there first without having to go there myself. Of course, nobody is allowed to party with bookahnerk or they can see his position on the map. It is also advised to turn off your commander’s tag if you’ve got it. ;) The downside of this game is that as long as the participants are looking for the NPC, communication is limited. You can use map chat or guild chat – but the latter only works if every participant is also in your guild and the first one means taking over communication space with people who may not be interested in what you are doing.
The classic game we always play is the easiest of them all: A trivia quiz. I think of questions I can ask, usually related to Guild Wars 2 in some way. Some are funny, some are lore-related, some belong to the “real life part” of the game – e.g. “When did Guild Wars 2 get released?”. The tricky part here is how to gather the answers. In-game mail gets restricted after sending two mails. So, if you have more than two questions at a time, you need to pause for quite a while in between. If you tell people to just use “say”, it’s less fun for everybody as one person shouts the right answer while the others may still be trying to guess. Another issue is typing speed. Some people can just type faster than others and I don’t really like having to exclude people from winning because they type slower than others. Latency may be an issue as well. So, no replying in “say”. I chose whispers during our last party and for me at least, it worked quite well. I sometimes missed a whisper, but altogether, it did not cause any issues: I have one extra chat tab only for whispers, so scrolling up, I could see all messages. Because of the aforementioned reasons, I also don’t take the first correct reply for the winner. Instead, I say that the first four or five correct replies will get thrown into the pool and the winner will be randomly selected. I know people have not been happy about this in the past, but I like to think it’s more inclusive and gives more players a chance at winning something.
Guess the NPC
This quiz also works quite nicely with NPCs: Instead of having players run to an NPC that I hinted at, they only need to tell me the NPC’s name. This also doesn’t limit you to NPC standing in the same map (so in order to avoid issues with people getting onto the same map again when they return). Last time, I changed that game a bit and gave out hints with decreasing difficulty. I started with some very vague hint: “We do not know that NPC’s hair colour.” – The next hint limited the possible answers a bit more: “The NPC is a human.” – For this game, I let players write in “/say” who they think I’m talking about. One guess per player per hint. So, when a new hint is given, everybody can write one more guess. This makes it a bit easier, as everybody can see the guesses that were already said and they know which NPC is not the correct one.
The problems with games is most of all the awkward limitation Guild Wars 2 poses on its players when it comes to communication. 2 mails only within a short amount of time and then you’re blocked from sending more mail for what seems like an eternity. Another issue I’ve ran into in the past was that I was muted from the public chats, because I had been too spammy, apparently. Of course, organizing and hosting the party and its games means that I write a lot in /say and getting muted quite frankly sucks. The alternative would be using a voice chat, but this would exclude those who cannot use voice chat for whatever reason and the random guests who were just passing by and decided to stop and play with us. Additionally, this is about building a community within a game.
Playing games together would be much easier and probably also more fun if we could all just sit together in a room and do so. However, being in an international guild with players from lots of different countries, this is simply not an option. The second best is trying to work with what a game is giving you in order to play together and have fun. Guild Wars 2 could probably have a bit more to help with that, but it does have enough to make it a worthwhile and fun evening.
I think having guild parties like this does help to feel just a little bit closer together, even if we’re actually really far apart from each other. It’s by far not the same as being in the same room and playing a game like spin-the-bottle or whatever, you can still do something fun together. For me, these are always important events as they also remind me of why I have chosen this particular guild and why I’m still in there and help keep it running.