Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

13 August, 2018

When a guild grows too large
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 11:55 PM

One of the big sins I mentioned in my last post was how guilds grow too large. This becomes a problem because the feeling of the guild changes, and this affects how people look at the guild. Especially if a guild starts as a small group of friends, it can be disconcerting when you suddenly look around and find that the guild feels so impersonal.

Let’s look at why large guilds can feel so different when they grow too large.

Culture changes

One of the fundamental problems is that when a guild grows too fast the culture changes. A small group of friends may want to keep things small and friendly, but each new person needs to be inducted into this culture to make sure they’ll abide by it. But if you grow too fast, you might get some people who don’t follow the culture. And when you get enough people who don’t follow the culture they start to create their own culture, which can be in conflict with the main culture. For example, the new group may cling together in a clique, separating themselves from the “small friendly” core group of the guild.

Worse, this can become a problem when new leaders/officers don’t follow the culture. A person promoted from that clique in the prior example may agree that things are small and friendly, but in the context of their clique instead of from looking at the entire guild. That person might then favor their clique over the rest of the guild, causing conflict.

And there’s no easy way to handle this. Sometimes it can be hard for you to tell if the culture is being respected or not. As in the example above, the officer can still see the culture as described without being able to see the larger picture. You can be surrounded by people who value the culture but not see that others in the guild don’t share that culture from outside your group.

Leadership failures

This comes in two forms. The first is when leadership can’t handle the pressure of a so many people. A sudden growth of the guild can cause a lot of pressures and demands on time from the officers when new members who need help. A patient person who handled the responsibilities of a smaller guild may suddenly find themselves unable to handle a greatly increased workload. Such problems can become a reason for officers to leave for a while, causing them to become out of touch with the rest of the guild.

The second is when you have conflicts between officers, especially as you add more to handle the influx of people. Even if you have a consistent culture you can still have disagreements and conflicts. And if people avoid conflict it can be hard to address the issues when they show up. When these conflicts grow, they can create schisms between the leader and officers that reverberate within the population of the guild. In many cases this could cause leaders to leave and confuse players, in the worst cases it can cause schisms between groups in the guild.

Loss of purpose

This can seem odd, but your guild can lose it’s purpose if it grows too fast. Say that your game requires 20 players to run raids. A guild growing from 23 players, a core group with a few to substitute in, to 36 people, not quite enough to field 2 groups, will have problems. Because some people will either get left out or will lose interest in raiding, which will have a change on the raiding purpose of your guild.

You can also think about this in terms of a RP. A group may have a purpose to RP a tribe to start with, but if you bring in more people who aren’t interested in RPing a tribe, this can dilute the purpose of the group. As the purpose gets weakened, the group loses purpose and can lead to less satisfying RP for the group, especially for the group who want to RP the tribe. You can also see some of this as a failure of culture in some ways as well.

What do you think? Can you think of other ways that a guild growing too fast has hurt it? What do you think could have been done to avoid it?


  1. So, what, in your opinion, is too large? How fast is too fast? Hpw can I tell without trying it first?

    Comment by John Dougan — 16 August, 2018 @ 11:22 PM

  2. Great question, but unfortunately I think it’s one of those “it really depends” situations.

    Consider the following factors:

    1. How established is the group? An older group may have more trouble integrating new people than a fresh group can.
    2. How active is the leadership? More active leaders can handle a larger influx of people.
    3. How cohesive is the group? A more unified group of people can introduce more people into the culture.
    4. How complex is the culture? A social group where you’re trying to avoid assholes can handle more people than a raiding group that needs high performance from the group members.
    5. What kind of people are joining? People who are more willing or already familiar with the group take less effort than randos.
    6. What has happened recently? A recent problem may distract from getting the right people or getting people to understand the culture.
    7. Is there a good opportunity? Maybe you have a good opportunity to add high quality people all at once. You’ll probably need to work harder for a bit to get these people part of the group.

    Consider these issues as you’re looking to grow. I don’t think there’s really a good “one size fits most” answer, but it’s something you just have to pay attention to on a continual basis.

    Comment by Psychochild — 17 August, 2018 @ 2:18 PM

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