I have never really had experiences with big guilds. I dabble in many many games but my home for the majority of my MMO life has been the Virtue server of City of Heroes.
City of Heroes is a reasonably casual game. You can hop on to either side, grab a random mission from the Police Radio or Newspaper (assuming you don’t have a contact with missions) and hammer it out quickly. Design aspects were taken and further expanded upon in Cryptics Champions Online and to an extent Star Trek Online. As a result of this casual nature, I have never had the experience I hear of with World of Warcraft guilds where courting them is a multiple week long process. I never really had much interaction with many guilds in Warhammer either. The one that I did join which wasn’t just a collection of City Of Heroes friends merely asked that I play with them a lot rather than a little. Given that more often than not I no longer played with friends at that time I had no problem throwing my various alts in.
However recently in City of Heroes old players have come back from the wilds of Champions Online and here is where I get to the point.
There once was a group. I shan’t name it, though anyone who knows me can guess it, so as not to come across as bashing anyone. I had a wonderful time in the group and made many friends. Some of them persist to this day, some of them I have had the fortune of meeting in person. The group was active, had allies, had stories and had fun. With so many people back in those heady days coming and going in City of Heroes there was a vibrance to the Supergroup. People came and people went but the core of what the roleplay group was remained.
As time passes though, so too do people. Eventually the group withered and died. There were brave attempts at restarting it to be sure. There were good ideas and good intentions but in the end, if no one can give the time to the group, the group does not exist. That is the core of my belief regarding Supergroups. Perhaps with hardcore guilds where it takes months to gain entry, where they are a heavy investment in time, money and effort, there is a greater sense of permanence to the guild. Perhaps in those cases it is about the tools and utility of the guild rather than the people. As I said, I don’t know having had no experience. Supergroups though are all about the people. In a casual game with so many coming and going and having so many faces (ahhh altitis, my bane) the time between a group being one you remember fondly and one being filled with strangers who have little link to the original ideals can be quite small.
In the end the casual nature of the game contributed to the death of the group. Some older hands retried it in Champions Online and it seems it has either diverged from the memory of the original or the game itself does not hold the interest of everyone. Why do I say this? Well those same souls are back in Paragon City and trying once more to recreate the group. The name was never the group. The ideals or roleplay reasons for it were never the group. The group was made and immortalised in peoples memories by the people themselves. They’ve moved on, the groups season turned. I just hope that in trying to bring it back again, people do not tarnish their memories (surely rosily coloured by nostalgia at this point) of what they had by the imitations attempted.
They say you can’t cross the same bridge twice because of the water flowing beneath. I suppose you can’t join the same casual dream twice either.