About a leading guild in the MMO community
1) Can you fill our readers in on a bit of the history of The Syndicate?
The Syndicate (www.LLTS.org) is among the oldest and largest online
communities to have ever existed. Founded in 1996, we are home to more
than six hundred adult members. Our average age is roughly 35 years old
and we require new members to be at least 18 years of age. We started
as a gaming guild with a focus on the 'upcoming' MMO Ultima Online. We
evolved into a virtual community of friends who's purpose is to grow
the camaraderie of our guild through our common passion; gaming.
2) There are tens of thousands of guilds in the gaming world. What makes The Syndicate different or unique from them?
The Syndicate is not a guild. A guild or clan is typically defined
as an entity that exists for the purpose of playing a specific game or
collection of games. The Syndicate is a virtual community that uses
gaming as a tool to grow our friendships.
That difference aside, we do a great many things that are not common
to a typical guild and the sum total of them is completely unique to
us. We have our own studio of Prima Games (the industry leader in
strategy guides) and write many guides for them. You may find our name
and logo on the cover of some of the strategy guides on your office
We host our own annual conference (SyndCon) which began in 2002 and
is attended by more than 150 members and a couple of dozen developers.
We have formal consulting and testing relationships with a number of
developers and are often involved in games well before there is even a
beta sign-up form on a website. We are featured in the MMO documentary
Second Skin and on G4TVs MMO Report.
3) I understand that The Syndicate hosts annual conferences each
year. That seems rather unique for an online group. Can you tell us
more about those? What kinds of guests do you have and what sort of
things go on?
The conferences are probably our single best thing that we do. They
started in 2002 as an experiment to see if we could get people from the
virtual world together in real life and if that would have a positive
impact on our community. It turned out to be an outstanding success.
Putting faces to names pretty much eliminated drama, fighting, issues
etc... and the guild, while 600+ people large, is basically a giant
team of friends.
Each year we pick a new city and we spend 5 days there along with a
number of invited guests. This past year's conference had a number of
awesome guest speakers and guests including John Smedley of SOE,
Richard Garriott (aka: Lord British), Curt Schilling and Bill Mrochek
of 38 Studios, the folks from Prima Games and Playxpert, Heatwave
Interactive, KingsIsle, Ten Ton Hammer, G4TV, Beef & Pie and the
list goes on.
We tend to do tours of local developer studios; feedback sessions,
round tables and workshops for game developers; Alienware sponsors a
LAN party; an annual guild meeting and a massive charity raffle.
4) The recent MMO documentary Second Skin film featured you in it.
They briefly described the process to join The Syndicate and likened it
to "getting into Harvard." Is the process really that strict and how
does it work?
The process to join The Syndicate is pretty strict. Our philosophy
is that we are only looking for people who share our play style and
values and who have compatible personalities and compatible goals in
gaming. To recruit anyone else does them and us a disservice since on
group can be all things to all people. In order to determine if someone
truly meets that criteria we need to know them really well.
So our core requirement is that an applicant be close friends with
members such that when they apply, we can do a fair and detailed
analysis of whether they would fit in with the guild long term. We all
have friends that we like alot but wouldn't necessarily hire to come
work in our companies and the same holds true for membership in our
community. By keeping that focus and never waivering from it, we end up
with a very stable group and virtually no turnover or drama.
5) You have been around as a very large community for 14 years.
Most guilds have relatively short lifespans. What tips can you share
with aspiring Guildmasters on how to make a long lasting community?
Focus on quality recruiting first and foremost. Decide what your
guild mission is. Decide how you wish to achieve that mission. And then
recruit only people that directly contribute to that goal in the manner
you wish to achieve it. There is alot of perceived pressure in games to
"complete content rapidly." As such you can go to just about any
recruitment forum for just about any game and see hundreds of guilds
recruiting X class for their guild.
If the goal of the guild is to burn hot and then burn out quickly,
that method can work. If the goal is something longer lasting then very
careful recruiting is critical. That can make it hard to start out and
take quite some time to reach critical mass but once there you end up
with a very stable core guild that can last for many years.
6) So what do you think about Mytheon? What appeals about the game to The Syndicate?
Of course the information about Mytheon is somewhat limited at this
point but what is available is really interesting stuff. It seems to
combine a number of aspects that appeal to wide audiences such as
"collecting stuff". Take Ultima Online for example. It has been around
well over a decade and one if its driving principles is you can collect
lots of stuff. Diablo is another great example. Mytheon capitalizes on
that by having hundreds of things you will want to collect and, in
fact, need to collect. That will be one of its defining aspects and its
a player mechanic that is very popular.
The Syndicate is a tight-knit group and we generally do most
everything as a team. So the team/group aspects of Mytheon and the
ability to quickly group up and go do something fun, in a relatively
short amount of time (or for hours on end if you want) is very
You can check out The Syndicate's website at: http://www.llts.org