PETROGLYPH NEWSLETTER                                                                  NOVEMBER '09 ISSUE


The Syndicate

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 ( 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 shelf.


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 appealing.


You can check out The Syndicate's website at: