The Magic Formula for Running a Furcadia Group
24 February 2007
This is a talk about Emmie's formula for running a successful group on Furcadia.
Emerald Flame: My talk is titled "The Magic Formula for Running a Furcadia Group!" I expect there will be good information for both new and old Groups and Guilds.
Emerald Flame: In late 1997, I found the magical world of Furcadia. I made my first dream within weeks and quickly had a dream full of bright and imaginative friends. In those days official Guild Charters were in their infancy and roleplay was game-wide, after all 50 players online at once was a big deal. The trouble with roleplay on all maps was that there weren't "safe" places for new players.
Emerald Flame: I decided I wanted to give something back to those around me and make something for my "group" to do. We got together and formed The Circle, a neutral help and friendship guild with a mission to support each other and help other furres when we could. We made a permanent place, or dream as we call them, called Sanctuary. This was a neutral ground and a quiet place for all furres to come for help and to make friends.
Emerald Flame: We became Chartered, made back story, built roleplay systems, helped new players, "ringed" new members, and basically had a wonderful time. Sanctuary quickly became one of the most popular places in Furcadia and we'd often have up to half the players online in our dream.
Emerald Flame: Those were glorious, crazy, mystical days and one of the most influential experiences in my life. I've since gone on to study online community and to form the volunteer Beekins. I've learned a lot about running groups in Furcadia and I'm here today to share my magic formula!
Emerald Flame: You too can build such a group in Furcadia and form your own online community. The magic spell for building a successful, online guild is much like the definition of a noun: people, places, things and ideas, all those wonderful idea!
Emerald Flame: PEOPLE, or Furres if you prefer:
Emerald Flame: People are what guilds are all about, the gathering together of furres with similar interests to work towards common goals. However, there are a few tricks to getting and keeping the right people to make your guild successful.
Emerald Flame: First you must realize that before you start a guild, it's best to have an established group of friends and acquaintances to draw from. I don't say this lightly. You need to be known and know people.
Emerald Flame: If you don't, work to build this first before thinking about starting a guild. Meet people, make friends and introduce yourself to well-known players and staff. Be friendly and follow the rules, even if your guild idea is "dark", remember that Guilds are out of character organizations. Join a well run Guild or volunteer with the Beekins. Meet lot's of people and learn all you can to be the best player you can be first.
Emerald Flame: Once you have your own circle of friends to draw from, you are ready to start talking about forming a Group.
Emerald Flame: If you are going all out for a big Guild and dream, there are key "types" of people that you will need to set up and run things. Most importantly, you will need at least one person who is charismatic and can draw others. Preferably that person is you and you have good leadership skills.
Emerald Flame: Then you will need your creation team. You need artistic types for writing continuities, making patches, and maybe drawing the art for the website. A good dream builder and a person who can program quality Dragonspeak is also a must.
Emerald Flame: You will also need someone who can do really nice webpages and possibly another who knows bot programming. It's nice to have someone with a server or 24/7 connection to run bots and webpages too. Group Packages will help you with some of this and some furres will be able to do multiple tasks, so don't be discouraged.
Emerald Flame: Another very important group of members are your "staff" that are on a lot and help you run the dream day to day. I cannot express enough how important it is to have members that are devoted and in your group's meeting spot all the time to talk to those who come by. You will want players in charge of security and uploading the dream if it goes down. There should be someone to organize activities and oversee them. You will know better who you need when you know what your group is about.
Emerald Flame: I will not say which of these members hold the most importance, as each and every one is essential to making and running things. Its best to have more than one that can do each kind of job, as you will lose many as you build and operate. It's just the way of the net.
Emerald Flame: However, I cannot stress enough how important it is to be good to your people and to make them feel useful and included. Praise their efforts but don't be afraid to say if things might need changing a bit to meet expectations. They will want what looks best too.
Emerald Flame: You should not try to do all the building yourself, but spread out the work so they feel it's their guild too. This may make things take extra time, but it's well worth the effort and time involved.
Emerald Flame: Gather PEOPLE around you and work as a team to form your Group.
Emerald Flame: PLACE:
Emerald Flame: Many on Furcadia associate Groups and Guilds with the dream they run. I want to reiterate here that Guilds are more about people, than the places and your dream is not your guild, the furres that come there are.
Emerald Flame: However, there is still great importance in place. Humans, by nature, like the familiar. They like to have a place to call home even if they have a tendency to roam about.
Emerald Flame: Your group's meeting spot does not "have" to be inside of your own map; it can be any place your group usually meets. The trick being, that you have someplace that you are usually at and where your members hang out together. Someplace that is always there.
Emerald Flame: If you do not have the means to run a map 24/7, you may want to establish a spot somewhere on a main map to meet all the time and just have your guild dream loaded for going to for role play, meetings, etc. This is actually not a bad way to draw new members also.
Emerald Flame: Guild dreams are your other option and I've learned a fair amount on how to make them work over the years. Next month I will be giving a talk on how to build a good quality dream to run as your Group dream or public establishment.
Emerald Flame: First, it is essential that your dream is kept in the same spot or close to it, preferably all the time. Members and visitors need to know where to find you. Carefully consider where the best place for your group will be before you choose your location.
Emerald Flame: Next, it is important that your guild dream become established as a "place". There are a few tricks to this. One is to give it a name separate from your guild name and load the dream with an alt of that name. That way furres always see the name and know where they are. You can always put your Group title under it. (Make sure you get the alt names of both the group and the dream)
Emerald Flame: Now, plan your map carefully. People will develop a fondness for certain places in the map. Give areas in the map names and weave them into your continuity. Don't make a change in the map unless you can give a good IC story as to why the change was made. For this reason, I suggest you start with a smaller map and let it grow as your guild does.
Emerald Flame: Make sure the start has a good teleport system to areas in the map, but never underestimate the IC power of walking from one place to another. This brings reality in and makes furres feel comfortable. Label areas with signs or in some other way if at all possible. Make a tour of the map on your webpages for new members to become acquainted with it.
Emerald Flame: Having an original, well made patch can be a huge boost to a new dream or a pick-me-up for one that is flagging. Make sure there are special and unique thigns to do in your dream and quality dreamweaving and DragonSpeak. However, on the note of map size and download size, more is not better, quality and conservative downloads is much more important. Furres get lost in a huge map and no one has fun.
Emerald Flame: Also try to pick an appropriate upload spot or main map spot for your group. If your dream is persona play, load in AI. Roleplay groups should load in Imaginarium. Social dreams belong in Acropolis. I'm sure you all know that if you are an adult with an an adult theme to your dream you must load it in Furabian Nights.
Emerald Flame: If your group is on a main map, this is important also. Make sure the conversations you want to have will be appropriate to the dream you are meeting in.
Emerald Flame: In all, remember that continuity, interest, and a sense of belonging to a place is what will keep furres coming back.
Emerald Flame: Things:
Emerald Flame: I've already touched a bit on the things you need for a guild in "people" and "places" but let me expound a bit here.
Emerald Flame: I would be remiss if I didn't mention Group packages at this point as well. A Group Package is a thing that I have very carefully designed to help make running your own Group much easier and much of the things listed above and below will be easier if you have one. Even the free version will be helpful! You can read my talk about them at http://www.furcadia.com/tenth/gp_talk.html
Emerald Flame: The quality of the support items you have and make has a direct correlation on how others see your guild and therefore on how successful you will be. Group Packages, webpages, guild dreams, bots and communication methods are some of the things you will want to have.
Emerald Flame: The first thing you will need though is a plan of action! You and your members will want to study how other groups are set up and read a lot of webpages and make a plan on how to get where you want to be. Write it all up and and make sure everyone agrees. In the case of Group Packages, this can be the basic form you fill out.
Emerald Flame: Next you need a webpage to post this on. The webpage is often a prospective member's first impression of you. It's important that you have a quality page that is interesting and informative, as well as reflective of your "theme". It's even better if you have special features or "tricks" that bring furres back to your page and gets them to bookmark it.
Emerald Flame: Member message boards and calendars are handy too. Try to think of anything that would be helpful or interesting for your Group members and add them there. Remember though, webpage updating can get very tedious, try not to put in things that have to be changed very often like a complete member's list.
Emerald Flame: As mentioned before, you need a dream or established meeting spot. Be sure to enlist members to help with this and give ideas. DragonSpeak and patching can do amazing things these days. Try to get Masters in these areas to help you make your space especially entertaining and cool. Remember, you may want to attract a lot of visitors as well as keep your members happy.
Emerald Flame: If you choose a Guild dream, you will may want one or more bots to run the dream. They can keep stats on the members and add a lot of fun and interest. Other third party tools can be very helpful as well. Ask around, there may be a programmer out there looking for a nice group to join!
Emerald Flame: Advertising is very important for getting new members. Use the forums and hold events that you can announce over the News Channel. A booth at Groups and Guilds Day is good advertising too, of course! Make sure all your members put the group webpage in their desc and talk about how wonderful it is to people as you do other things in Furcadia.
Emerald Flame: You will need a way to get in touch with all your members, and while some Group Packages will give good ways to do this, you may want to do this on your own. This can be done through developing e-mail and/or IM lists with all their names, or posting things on a forum.
Emerald Flame: On this same note of communication, regular meetings of all members should be held. You will get best attendance if you let furres know ahead of time what meetings will be on and always hold the meetings at the same time and place.
Emerald Flame: There are a lot of advanced things that your creative members might want to implement as well, but these have more to do with what kind of Group you want to make yourselves. They might include special patches, proxies, radio stations, roleplay systems, events, webpages, newsletter, etc. Just be sure to include your members in developing these things to help establish a feeling of community.
Emerald Flame: IDEAS:
Emerald Flame: Now we come to the heart of a group, ideas. These are the concepts, stories, continuities, and goals that bring people together and are the reason for establishing the Guild in the first place.
Emerald Flame: These goals can be as simple as making a place to chat with friends or as complex as establishing a whole roleplay system and continuity and running quests. You can build back-story based on a favorite book or movie or create a helping guild for new furres or those who need to learn more.
Emerald Flame: Your imagination and ingenuity are the only limits! However, I do have some suggestions and warnings to help you find a theme that will be successful.
Emerald Flame: To start with, be genuinely interested in what you want your guild to be about. If it's all about wolves and playing them, know your subject and create some interesting stories to draw others to your play. Be creative and find something original that few have done before.
Emerald Flame: In Furcadia Guilds are broken up in three main types: Socializing, Persona Play (playing characters without major rules) or traditional Roleplay (with set rules and stats.) You need to choose which area your guild falls under and keep to that generalization.
Emerald Flame: When I formed the Circle, I had no clue what I was doing and one of my biggest mistakes was trying to encompass too much. We were a social and help guild who also persona played and were developing an RP system. In 9 years we never really did get the RPG going and our burn-out rate was high.
Emerald Flame: You should think carefully about how much time you want to put into this and make sure the kind of group you form fits well with your expectations. Not every good Group is huge and hard to run. Some are small groups of friends chatting on main maps. Some are huge Guild dreams with hundreds of players. Most are someplace in between though and quite happy there.
Emerald Flame: I study the server log information a lot and it's interesting to see that while there are some really big dreams that draw huge crowds, there's hundreds of roleplay dreams that have between 5 and 15 furres in them during peak times. This is where the proverbial roleplay has gone. It's just too difficult to run a good roleplay if the group gets too big. Don't bite off more than you can chew.
Emerald Flame: If you really want one of those huge Groups with 200 furres at peak, you must find a way to match people to people. The two largest dreams in Furcadia when I looked recently were a "slave" dream and a dogpound dream. Both of these use almost the same mechanic to match up furres who wanted to roleplay with each other. Then those smaller groups go off and roleplay together.
Emerald Flame: What ideas do you have for matching people up?
Emerald Flame: You and your team will want to think hard about how to design your group and activities. Make it about something you'd love to do. Pick something current and of interest to many or at least to the group you want to play with.
Emerald Flame: Try to stay away from copying others or doing anything to upset other Groups. Stay away from controversial themes like religion or politics or you will spend all your time fighting off harassment instead of enjoying yourself.
Emerald Flame: I'm always amazed to see the new things furres come up with. Put those ideas to good use!
Emerald Flame: CONCLUSION:
Emerald Flame: Now you have the magic formula of people, places, things and ideas that make up a successful Furcadia Group.
Emerald Flame: Setting these things up does not guarantee that the guild will be popular. I have to say what I have learned most about running a guild is that it takes a lot of hard work and persistence. You have to stay with things even when your best friend leaves the guild, your patch goes corrupt, or your webhost deletes the site and you have to start from scratch.
Emerald Flame: Keep the vision and above all else, have fun and create the magic and wonder that captures the attention of those around you and gives you and your friends a place to call home.
Emerald Flame: Thank you for listening in on our event channel to the Groups and Guilds Day today! Have a great evening!