Virtues: Which historical figure do you admire most?
Dragons: There are many great historical figures that I like. All of
them have their good and their bad points. If you explore their bad points,
and consider ways to avoid them and if you utilitize their good ones, you
can achieve greater success when using them as a model. General George S.
Patton, Julias Caesar and Alexander The Great were all outstanding generals
who's attitudes, and aggressive tactics still inspire military tactics
today. Much of online gaming is using group tactics to accomplish a goal
very much akin to a military unit taking group or defeating a target on the
battlefield. Lessons from those three great
generals lend themselves to online gaming battlefield success.
Virtues: Could you please give us some background on how squads are
formed, squad structure, and purpose?
Dragons: Squads are
formed by the guildmaster, Dragons. They are created based on the needs of
the game. In Everquest, for example, they were formed around different
races since in the early stages of the game, those races were mostly
isolated from everyone else. The squad structure has a squad leader who
handles day to day squad level operations and communications. Often there
is a squad Lt. and sometimes a squad event coordinator as well. Squads
primary purpose is communication. To ensure every member has easy access to
a guild leader who has easy access to the guildmaster. This ensures that
all issues are resolved and that every member has a voice and an avenue for
feedback, ideas and concerns. It also ensures that important guild
communications are disseminated to all members in a timely fashion.
Virtues: What's the biggest advantage of the squad system in practice?
Dragons: Communication and organization are the primary
advantages. Members have a clear avenue for feedback. A clearly defined
chain of command. And important guild communications get out to all
Virtues: Have you had any major problems with squads? Could you please
give us some examples?
Dragons: The only real issue squads could pose for a group would be
if a squad leader were lax in their duties. We have checks and balances in
place to ensure that doesn't occur or that if it does, the squad leader is
replaced. Picking the right people. Ensuring standards are met. And
setting new and higher goals for the whole team to meet, ensure major
problems don't arise. About the worst issue that could arise would be for a
member of any rank to get mad over a guild policy and quit. That has next
to no impact on a guild of our size, structure and longevity so its not a
Virtues: How do you keep squads from breaking away from the main guild
body and going independent?
Dragons: Squads are not independent entities. People don't join a
squad. They join The Syndicate. They are assigned a squad for
organizational and communications purposes. We function as one team and
don't segregate people by squads. So there is no concept of a squad
breaking off in the guild as it stands today. Squads are merely
organizational entities for communications purposes. One of the most common
misperceptions about us is that people think squads are actually little
guilds operating under some global title called The Syndicate, which is not
even close to reality.
Virtues: How many people are active in the SIC (Syndicate Intelligence
Dragons: The SIC varies in size over time. At times it can be as
low as 10-15 people or as large as 50-60 people.
Virtues: How are they selected?
Dragons: Id rather not go into how we decide who is and isn't a
correct resource to place in our intel group. To do so would compromise our
ability to pick the right people by making it easier for a counter intel
agent to get into the group.
Virtues: Could you tell us what the people involved with the SIC do?
Dragons: The SIC is in place to look out for the Syndicate's
interests. That can range from seemingly mundane (but important) tasks of
monitoring key cat boards, to active in game intel gathering to infiltration
of another guild and becoming a full member of them and relaying information
back to us. There is an old adage to keep your friends close and your
enemies closer and as such, we have agents in nearly all guilds hostile to
us. Some have been there for months or longer riding along and keeping us
informed of their plans as they relate to us or our
Virtues: Could you share an SIG success story?
Dragons: Id rather not go into specifics. The SIC has been
responsible for destroying enemy guilds from within, taking over enemy
property and bases and alerting us to plans to cause us harm. Since The
Syndicate is an honorable, anti-pk guild, our enemies are typically
considered anti-social players by most others and so we also pick up
information that other honorable guilds are targets and we pass that along
to them as we learn it so they can prepare for hostilities.
Virtues: How are the SIC operatives kept loyal?
Dragons: That's not really an issue. By limiting an operatives
knowledge of other operations.. by recruiting the right people.. by treating
them with respect.. and by having safeguards in place to ensure they aren't
playing both sides of the fence or working against the guild, loyalty isn't
an issue. Some will quit over time, but that's part of gaming and not an
issue or concern.
Virtues: Have you had any major problems with SIC members?
Dragons: SIC members operate independent of each other and without
knowledge of other members. So the worst that could happen is that someone
would supply false information. We counter that by having some safeguards
place such that we can verify any information we receive on any major
threat. So supplying such information merely gets the person caught and
removed the first time. Other than that an agent could quit, but that's the
nature of online gaming. People come and go all the time and that's
not a problem or a concern.
Virtues: What games is The Syndicate looking to in the future and why?
Dragons: The Syndicate is very open about future games out there.
deep into its beta now and we are certainly looking heavily at that. AC2,
EQ2, Horizons, Warcraft Online and several others are all floating around
out there. We maintain a staff that watches MMORPG development, interfaces
with development teams, ensures we have mass numbers signed up for all major
betas etc... so we are informed on all major games coming down the road. We
evaluate our current games and if we need a new one, we move to it. If we
don't, we pass on it.
We are a fantasy MMORPG guild so our future game choice is limited to
those gaming types. You wont see us in Star Wars Online or something like
Virtues: Have you looked at Asheron's Call / Asheron's Call 2? Any
Dragons: The first AC didn't fall at a right time for us. We were
heavily involved in UO and EQ and the game only had minimal interest in the
guild. AC2, given its current development schedule may well come at a
better time for us. we are watching it. It does have some very nice things
about it including nice graphics. We continue to watch it heavily and will
be looking forward to reading more information as it becomes available.
Virtues: What was the Syndicate's darkest moment? Could you elaborate
a bit? How was it handled?
Dragons: The Syndicate is a very old guild. With 6+ years under
our belt, we've had our share of bumps in the road to compliment years of
astonishing success. None of them were really "dark" though. Occasionally
some quits the guild because they are unhappy with it, its leadership or its
policies and they wish to explode on the guild verbally or perhaps to form a
counter guild. Sometimes they take a couple friends with them. That may
cause some stress or tension with some members for a short while, but it
quickly fades and never seriously affects the guild.
With 525+ members, 4000+ applications to join a year, a very highly
structured team with detailed and frequent communications who is focused
around being a team of friends and having fun, those kinds of issues have an
affect on a limited number of people causing short term stress that quickly
evaporates. The end result is a guild that rallies around its flag, grows
more unified and stronger. If we hadn't had some bumps in the road we
wouldn't have evolved some of our policies or become as unified and as
strong as we are today.
Virtues: Where do you get the statistics on your guild page?
Dragons: Statistics like that come from several sources. First
off we have a number of members who, over the years, have helped us conduct
statistical studies on other guilds as well as on our own. That has been an
invaluable source of information. Second, some of our members are/have been
game developers and staff and that has provided us insight into those areas
as well. Third, there was a very nice thesis study done on EQ players that
contains far more information than that. I don't have the site handy but it
was well known in the EQ community for demographic information. Fourth,
over the years we have had members on many news site staffs and run a number
of polls and forum topic questions designed to gather than information.