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UO Guilds, "The Syndicate" Part 2
Posted By: Feather on 04 May 2001, at 03:32 PM

This is part two of an extensive interview with “Dragons” the Guild Master of “The Syndicate”. The largest Guild in Ultima Online. If you didn’t catch the first half just scroll down or check the archives.

Feather: “Dragons” Thanks again for time. Lets delve into your Guilds Structure and your thoughts on other things.

I see from your website at:
you have four basic “order’s” in your UO Guild. One for merchants, warriors, mages and…. Spies? How much control or authority do give these order leaders?

Dragons: Our UO orders are basically organizational. We have a detailed internal organization in order to ensure communications reach all members and that there are channels for feedback to myself and the SLs. The orders exist in name and structure only and are not actually manifested in separate entities or subsets of the guild. We are one big team with everyone being treated with respect and as a friend.

Feather: There are a lot of petitions out there to make the UO Guildstones, Guild Master functions accessible to more people then just the Guild Master at the Guild Masters discretion. What do you think of that?

Dragons: Since I manage the largest guildstone in game, I have not seen any need to change how they work in terms of adding etc.. I think a feature that would allow a GM to designate certain officers to do certain tasks (i.e. you can flag someone an officer and designate what powers officers have ranging from just a title to add/remove/grant titles) could be useful. We don't have a NEED of that in The Syndicate but it’s a nice to have feature.

Feather: What advice do you have for aspiring or present Guild Masters if they want to grow their guild into one of the “top 10” of their shard?

Dragons: OSI's top 10 list is based on size. Any guild that is concerned about size is doomed to fail in the long run. So anyone who wants to be in the top 10 has already started down the wrong path with a mental attitude that will lead to subconscious decisions that will spell the guilds downfall eventually. If a person puts the time into their guild and if it has value to offer players, will thrive and maintain and be in the top 10. But the honest truth is, most guilds will never be there either by choice (i.e. they don't wish to grow larger than a certain size) or just because of the way things work. About 100 guilds fall apart in UO each day and about 100 new ones form. 190,000 or more guilds have risen and fallen since UO began. A scant few hundred have cracked the top 10 lists of all the shards added together. As another example, OSI put out a hint book when UO first came out. In there is a section on guilds. The Syndicate is listed as are about 20 others. Of them next to none are left today. Guilds, based on UO and EQ trends, come and go all the time. COMMUNITIES last. So by OSI's definition we are a guild in UO. By our definition we are an Online Gaming Community that happens to play UO currently as one of its games.

Feather: As you have played Ultima Online since “Beta” what do you think of the many changes to UO, how do you think it compares to the other online games you play?

Dragons: Actually i've played UO since the alpha. I think each online game is unique unto itself. They all have strengths and they all have weaknesses. I personally like UO's complete freedom allowing players to make any type char they want. The UO freedom even goes down to allowing players to place things in their backpacks in any place they wish rather than limiting them to certain slots. That freedom empowers players and lets each play tailor the game to their own personal tastes. Downsides to UO include bugs that have gone unfixed for years, housing problems, lag issues and lack of frequent team communication to players. All in all though, UO has been a worthwhile experience for The Syndicate and I'm glad we entered into it.

Feather: One of my “pet projects” I’m watching is “Neverwinter Nights” have you looked at that? If so what are your thoughts on “Bioware/NWN”?

Dragons: Actually we have looked into that. The Syndicate has 2 classifications (internally) for how we break up games. Major Games are games that we are in (like UO or EQ) where we recruit new members for them and focus major amounts of energy on. Minor Games are officially sanctioned games (that we might setup a chatzone forum for) like Diablo II that members play but we don't recruit members just for those games (you must play a major game to join us) and they are more for stress relief and side fun. NWN is a game that will likely fit into our Minor Games category.

Feather: Dragons I, and I think our readers are most great full for your insight. Any closing comments?

Dragons: Thank you for this opportunity. When you are a guild as large and as old as we are who is also fairly secretive about ourselves rumors and such can start and it’s always nice to have the opportunity to share factual information about us with other gamers. As you can imagine, having hundreds of people as members over years has resulted in some cases of people getting kicked out or people quitting who were mad at the guild or some aspect of it. Those type’s of people tend to be loud and vocal and will often say or do anything to get attention. Since The Syndicate doesn't participate in public flames or pissing matches with disgruntled people, some players, without articles like yours, may only read the flamboyant half truths (or sometimes just plain made up lies) shouted by some X member from ages past and think that's how we really are. Whenever I am given the opportunity to speak to those people, I just point to our track record and ask them, could we really be 500+ people strong, having survived for years, outlasting 190,000 or more other guilds and succeeded against all odds that crush some other guilds and really be what some loud mouthed kiddie moron says? The answer to that is no. Of course not. Clearly they are exaggerating, using half-truths or just making things up in order to lash out because they have personal issues.

So my closing comment to your readers would be: Take anything negative you hear about anyone (whether its us or any guild or player) with a grain of salt. The speaker of the words ALWAYS has a personal agenda and what they are saying is, AT BEST, only half the story and often times is just made up. Its the quiet, professional players who don't engage in website flames and pissing matches who form the real backbone of our quality gaming community.

Feather: Now THAT IS some of the best advice on “Flames” I have ever heard! It pertains not just to guilds but forums and message boards. Thank you so much sharing your time and experience with us Dragons.

Dragons: You are welcome. It’s been a pleasure talking to you.

Feather: There you have it folks. Wise words, from the Guild Master of the largest Guild in Ulitma Online. We can get no better source for info on a large Guild then from the Master himself…. Dragons, Guild Master of “The Syndicate” The Largest and one of the oldest Guild’s in Ultima Online.

Feather, Reporter, Markee

Ultima Online Employee Terminated
Posted By: Lord Dayno on 03 May 2001, at 01:52 AM

Woah very intresting post on the offical Ultima Online Web page. Seems like someone on the GM support staff got caught playing with fire. Read the post as stated:


On Wednesday, May 2nd, Origin Systems (OSI) was alerted to the possible misconduct of an individual employed within the GM Support Department. Upon investigation, OSI found reason to believe that this employee was engaging in activities that breached the trust that must exist between a company, its employees, and its customers. The decision by OSI management in this case was immediate dismissal. All actions that are taken by members of our support staff are logged and monitored, and we investigate all reports of GM misbehavior that we receive. We are grateful to players who bring these incidents to our attention, as these reports are used to ensure that OSI representatives are providing the best possible service at all times. If you believe that a GM or any OSI representative is behaving in anything less than the highest standard of service, we ask you to please email with the details of your issue. Only the most senior representatives of our support staff read this mailbox, and we assure you that your issue will be thoroughly investigated. We take our responsibility to our customers very seriously, and we will not allow anyone -- staff or otherwise -- to abuse our terms of service or the trust of our customers.

[This message has been edited by Lord Dayno (edited 05-03-2001).]

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UO Guilds
Posted By: Feather on 29 April 2001, at 01:56 PM

Guilds in Ultima Online

Greetings Gamers
This is the first in a small series of articles on Guilds in UO. I hope to cover most points about guilds. From starting a guild, to finding a guild that suits your style of play. I hope to cover everything from “The Syndicate” the largest Guild by OSI standards, to small guilds, (The Sacred Counsel of Chessy, my guild), to “Factions Guilds” for all you PvP’ers out there. To make this more reader friendly I’ll break the interviews up into parts. Enjoy. Now lets begin.

With me today is “Dragons”, The Guild Master of “The Syndicate”, the biggest guild in Ultima Online. “The Syndicate” is more then just a UO guild but I’ll let “Dragons” tell you about that.

Feather: Dragons, thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to enlighten us. Could we start with your personal role-playing history? What got you into RPG’s?

Dragons: I have been involved in RPG's for more than 10 years. I began playing them way back on a 300 baud modem and the early BBS' on a Commodore 64. From there I went on to playing MUDs on the Internet. And eventually I worked into online RPG's like NWN and Meridian 59. Since then I've been involved in UO and EQ as major RPG's as well as the standard single player games we all enjoy and beta testing many other online ones.

Feather: So that led you into UO? Or did you find other online games first?

Dragons: Early 1996 was a fun time for the gaming world. Until then, the premier online RPG (at least it was thought so by many) was NWN and games like Gemstones. About that time OSI began to work on UO and Meridian 59 entered its beta. I had always been a big fan of the Ultima series and so I got involved in UO as early as I could. I'm a fan of the Isometric perspective games so that style appealed to me and the prospect of playing an online version of Ultima was very tempting.

Feather: So how did “The Syndicate” come into being?

Dragons: Throughout my gaming career I have seen guilds come and go. I saw things they offered that were good but I also saw bad things. I had gotten to the point in my gaming career and games had advanced to the point where playing solo only would get a player but so far. I wanted to go further than that. I wanted to create a community within a community. A powerful group that could accomplish any goal. That wanted and offer to its members things of great value beyond the game. Things like friendships that could last for years, communications tools to enhance the gaming experience and relationships with game development companies, through our reputation, that led to fun beta tests and future games to explore and conquer. So from that The Syndicate was born.

I wanted a highly organized structure so that we could grow large yet no member would be left without an avenue for feedback & idea submission and support. I wanted clear goals and values (which changed and adapted over our history but always had friendship and teamwork at their core) to shoot for. And I wanted to promote a winning atmosphere so that we could and would overcome all challenges presented to us.

Feather: “The Syndicate” cover’s more then just Ultima Online how does that work?

Dragons: That is correct. We currently exist in UO and EQ and will expand to other game's in the future. We also play things like Diablo and Diablo II on the side. We are able to do this for several reasons.

First, we have a chain of command in the guild that is followed. I am at the top of that chain of command as guildmaster and ultimately the decisions rest with me and hence I am held accountable for the rightness or wrongness of them. Having that single point of accountability is key because it ensures fair and consistent values across different gaming worlds. Second, we have the same set of core values no matter which game you play. Teamwork, friendship, quality recruiting only, maturity and professional conduct. Third, we have a very good communications system including our own private IRC server, a very active and private chatzone with multiple forums, daily guild-wide updates written by myself to keep everyone informed, bi-weekly squad updates to supplement those and a liberal use of ICQ and email to keep everyone informed. It certainly requires work to keep a guild of 500 people going in multiple gaming worlds but we have a very talented staff of squad leaders to assist me and we only recruit quality people who believe in our values, have a solid game knowledge and who we know. So by sticking to a quality first recruiting strategy and having a great team to back me up, we are able to take on several gaming worlds at once. We do limit ourselves in how far we push things so that we don't overextend ourselves beyond our capabilities.

Feather: Who did you manage to grow “The Syndicate” in Ultima Online so large? Many guilds “implode” when they grow larger, it seems to be one of the major downfalls of small to medium size guilds. Growing over 100 members seem to be the death of many guilds.

Dragons: Yes size is usually a killer for guilds. Most guilds get large and implode as you said or have massive infighting or really are not a team at all. They are just a mass collection of names on a stone. The secret to our success is, we don't focus on getting big. We set HIGH standards for recruiting and we only take the best people. We get about 4,000 applications to join us each year and only take a very small fraction. We only take people we know. We only take people with a level of game knowledge and experience that we set (and it changes over the life of games) and we only take people with strong core values. We place recruiting back in the hands of the members and empower them to lead us to future success. So by that we get everyone involved and we only take team oriented, friendly and outgoing people. However that's only part of it. We also have a very detailed and very solid communications system. I do things as a guildmaster every morning that take 2-4 hours but keep everyone on the same page. We also have a very strong leadership with one person ultimately responsible for the decision hence we have consistent, objective standards fair to all and not subjectively applied to different people which breeds resentment. We also have alot of intangibles that are hard to put into words. Making a guild like ours is literally a 1 in 200,000 shot so it’s not an easy thing to do. That's not to say there aren't other very fine guilds out there, there are. But it’s a very rare guild that is as large as we are and as old as we are and as unified as we are.

Of course, that's not to say there aren't issues. Managing 500+ people will result in some issues. Sometimes a bad apple gets in. Sometimes a person decides they don't like an organized guild. Sometimes a person decides the rules that are needed to run a 500+ person guild aren't what they need and lash out at the guild leadership. Sometimes people make a play for power. Whatever their reasons no guild will be perfect for all players. But we pride ourselves on keeping true to our standards and having a HUGE success rate with members. Sure, there exist X number of members who dislike the guild because of getting kicked out for breaking rules or because they rebelled against something in the guild they didn't like, but any group of 500 people for 5 years will have the occasional problem person(s).

Feather: Much as I hate to do it! This is the end of part one of the interview with “Dragons” of “The Syndicate”. I’ll post the other half in a couple days where we’ll get into how “The Syndicate” is organized .

Feather, Reporter, Markee

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