Supergroup Showcase: The WildCards

The strongest heroes in Champions Online often need a hand, and that's why there are Supergroups. We here at Ten Ton Hammer understand the importance of player communities in online games, and that's why we've chosen to showcase a different Supergroup every couple of weeks. This week we delve into what makes The WildCards tick.



JoBildo:
I’m here with Dao Jones from the WildCards, one of Champions Online’s
premier Supergroups.  Dao Jones, welcome to Ten Ton Hammer, and
thanks for taking time out of your busy day beating bad guys to do this
interview.

DAO JONES:
Thanks Jo. And thank you for the opportunity to shamelessly promote
ourselves on your fine website. I’ll make sure the second half of
the payment hits your paypal account as soon as this interview gets
posted.

JoBildo: Tell us (that is the
entire world or at least those reading this) a little bit about the

WildCards.

DAO JONES:
I’d like to start by mentioning that I had never even
heard of the George R.R. Martin novels of the same name until
we started recruiting. That I formed a superhero genre guild called
the “WildCards” while being completely unaware of the (apparently
quite popular) series of novels about superheroes called
“Wild Cards” is rather ironic, albeit sublimely so. The name was
originally suggested to me by a fellow guild member (he himself had
used it in a Battletech PnP game long ago), and it sounded snappy, so
it stuck.

I get asked about that connection
at least once a day, so I figured I’d just get it in print for posterity.
Kinda cathartic, really.

Beyond that, the WildCards are the
Champions Online branch of the Unrepentant gaming community,
which got its start in Age of Conan. We believe the games you play aren’t
as important as the people you play them with, and my goal with the
‘Cards was to provide a casual, fun environment
for people of a like mind.

JoBildo: How would you guys classify
yourselves?  Are you a tight-knit role-play guild, a PvP focused
group?

DAO JONES: I believe we can best be
classified as “iconic rock star celebrity superhero sex gods”, which
is what we’ve got printed on our stationary. But beneath our stunning
lack of humility lies a guild of what I like to call
“fellow travelers”. As I mentioned previously,
the WildCards aren’t about anything other than
“having fun in good company”. To that end we dabble in a little
of everything. We almost always have a group of people PvPing at any
given moment, and on the weekends we like to round everyone up and go
beat on the “mega threats” like Grond, Kigatilik, Mega-Terak, and
the bosses of some of the harder open missions in the game.

But
beyond that there is no focus. We disagree with the idea that a guild
should constrain or limit your ability to enjoy your hobbies, and to
that end we don’t require or restrict how people play. I liken us
to a bunch of friends hanging out at a bar: maybe a group of us are
off playing darts, or badly singing karaoke in the back, while the rest
of us drink at the bar and attempt to see who can commit the most memorably
stupid act of the evening.

While I understand that guilds in
games choose a focus to help attract
a certain type of player, we have taken the opposite approach:
we focus on the players, and allow the guild to shape itself around
their interests. It works better than you’d think.

JoBildo: How’s the Supergroup
run?  I mean, is it managed a certain way?  What’s the leadership
like, and how do you guys delegate authority?  Basically, as I
used to ask the Age of Conan clans, are you more Hitler or more Gandhi
when it comes to how things are run?

DAO JONES:
If you ask me, I would say I have the
fortitude of Rasputin, the foresight of Winston Churchill and the temperance
of Gandhi. If you ask my guild, they would assert that I have the fortitude
of Gandhi, the foresight of Rasputin, and the temperance of Winston
Churchill.

The guild is run as a mix of laissez-faire
anarchy intertwined with occasional
bouts of benign oligarchy. (Sorry if I sent anyone running to Wikipedia
on that one.) I’m a strong believer that if you recruit the right
sort of people a guild should basically run itself, and the WildCards
do that in spades. (Pardon the pun.) The
“leadership” (myself and six officers) are generally only needed
during the recruiting process; beyond that there isn’t much to do.
Our position is one of service – not power, and I really consider
my only “job” as guild leader to be ensuring that the membership
has the kind of enjoyable environment and camaraderie that they deserve.

JoBildo: How many WildCards are
there these days?  Do you guys spend time across more than one
game?  I noticed you guys dabbled in Left 4 Dead… is anyone dressing
up as a Boomer for Halloween?

DAO JONES: I think we have
several members who already tend to spew bile on a daily basis
– metaphorical and otherwise.

At last count we had 230+ individual
members in the WildCards, with new people looking us up every day. I’m
very proud of the fact that the 'Cards have a sizeable international
element, and we have quite a few members who hail from the UK, Sweden,
Belgium, and parts surrounding (as well as all across the
United States and Canada).

Since we are part of a larger gaming
community we are active in other games. Currently,
“official” Unrepentant branches exist in LotRO (Brandywine server)
and Aion (we already have a level 3 Asmodian legion
rocking on the Azphel server). We try to keep involved in Steam games
weekly, although the recent launches of our CO and Aion branches have
cut into our L4D, AA3 and TF2 time. Individual members also dabble in
almost every MMO out there, and we’re already planning to have a presence
in upcoming games such as SWTOR Online.

JoBildo: One of the trends we
see with some of the larger guilds in most MMOGs is the hosting of server
or guild-wide events.  Is that something the WildCards ever do? 
Are you very active in the community, or do you mostly keep to yourselves?

DAO JONES:
This is definitely “on the agenda”, if you will; we did this frequently
in both Age of Conan and Warhammer Online with much success. Quite often
when we gather in force we encourage other people to join us; we’ve
taken down the Mega-Destroid several times, and every time we throw
it out to the zone to join in. As far as
“formal” events go? Well, let’s just say the idea for a
“(semi)naked foot race” across Millennium City has been floated
a time or ten amongst our members.

JoBildo: If you guys are recruiting
new members, can you tell us what exactly it takes to become one of
the WildCards?  What’s required of a prospective member?

DAO JONES:
Well, we have a concrete 18+ age requirement, and most of us are in
our late 20s to mid 40s. Beyond that I’ve only ever asked three things
of our members, and the people who want to join us: 1) Have fun, 2)
Be cool, and 3) Help your fellow guildies. Because the
‘Cards succeeded beyond my wildest expectations (I had expected maybe
25-30 people in the guild at peak, and we’ve seen well over
ten times that number interested in joining us to date) I had to implement
an application process, but this is much more an opportunity to show
off your personality than it is a job application. (Unless your jobs
require questions like “what is your zombie plan”, and
“tell us the story of why you will no longer drink <fill in name
of liquor>”.)

The WildCards are a laid-back, no
drama guild. We're not looking for awesome players or hardcore fanatics;
what we want are people who will add something to the conversation,
you know? My saying usually goes "the ones who get it, get in",
and while that sounds extremely vague I guarantee you that every member
of the 'Cards knows exactly
what I mean.

JoBildo:
One more question, and this is the all-important one for fans of the
game… what do you think are the most pressing issues in Champions
Online today?  What, since we know Cryptic’s out there listening,
would you request they work on before anything else?

DAO JONES: I'm going to start by saying
that I think Cryptic are a solid bunch. I always felt that they did
right by City of Heroes, and so far have done an excellent job with
Champions Online. If there is one failing that will be the millstone
around their necks that drags this game to the ground it will be the
lack of community the game engenders amongst players.

As the game currently plays teaming
is usually more trouble than it is worth, and beyond the occasional
grouping to tackle a tough boss the preferred mode of play for the majority
of the player base is to solo the content. Missions cannot be shared
between teammates unless all have progressed to the exact same point,
and the content is generally so easy that bringing even two people into
an instance means an uninteresting cakewalk.

On the guild side (something obviously
near and dear to me) the guild management tools in this game are the
most primitive I have ever seen. I can't sort by a player's "@
name", we are only given four ranks to work with, and there isn't
even a way to see last login dates; something that has been a

given in MMO guild management for longer than I can recall. On
top of all that we are limited to 250 characters (not players) in a
guild. Given that games such as this one inspire
experimentation in even the most focused player, this means
that even mid-sized guilds need to restrict the number of alts players
can have on their roster. This leads to unnecessary alt guilds, which
begins to fracture a guild's sense of community.

The poor guild support and lack of
grouping incentive in Champions strikes me as the largest threat to
their long term success. Nerfs come and nerfs go, but if people don't
feel like they're part of something greater in an MMO, then that MMO
becomes nothing more than a single-player game with an incoherent story
and no sense of inclusiveness.

JoBildo:
Alright, that concludes this Champions Online Supergroup Showcase. 
Thanks so much Dao for taking the time to answer these questions and
letting the community know everything they could want to know about
the WildCards.  See you in Millennium City!

DAO JONES:
Thanks for the opportunity to preen/rant/chat. I should probably inform
you that - per unspoken guild regulation - I have conducted my part
of this interview with my pants off, and a beer in my hand.

Stay classy, Millennium City.



OPENING STATEMENT: If you're
looking for the biggest, most hardcore elite team of butt-kickers ever
to step into an MMO then you can just keep looking, cupcake. We're the
other guys - a bunch of casual folks who play MMOs on our terms. We're
about having a good time in good company. We play with our drink on
and our pants off, and we don't care who knows it.

RECRUITMENT: 18+ to apply.
We have an application, but honestly, this isn't a hard guild to get
into. If you're an interesting, easy-going
big kid with a cool personality you're gonna do just fine.

PVP: Absolutely. Especially
now that we're not fighting the same
@#$%ing cookie-cutter builds every match.

ROLE-PLAYING: We don't discourage
it, but we don't practice it.

ALT POLICY: Until Cryptic
gives us more than 250 characters per guild we only allow one character
in the WildCards. However, we have an alt guild (the Discards), and
will keep creating new alt guilds so long as we have WildCard alts that
need a home.

INACTIVITY POLICY: If you
can't be bothered to log in once every few weeks we'll probably kick
you. But if you let us know ahead of time
you'll be fine.

COMMUNICATION: We maintain
a website as a central location for our gaming community. In addition,
we have a vent server for those chatty folks that want to schmooze in
more than just guild chat.

WEBSITE: www.unrepentantgaming.org

WE DO NOT WANT: People who
type "u" or "ur" instead of "you" or "your/you're".
Seriously. I hate you people.

RECRUITMENT INFORMATION:
– Our official forum recruitment thread, which has everything you
need to know to hook up with us, including the fact that I prefer Belgian
beer, and all of my officer corps readily accept bribes in return for
"favors" (negotiable definition of that word):
http://forums.champions-online.com/showthread.php?t=28518


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