One side effect of getting hacked seems to be that I lost my guild membership. Presumably this happened as a result of Oleari being deleted. At first, my reaction was that I had to get back in. I mean, I was almost halfway to raising my guild reputation from Neutral to Friendly! And that took a very long time, due to my inability to participate in guild activities. Guild rep works more or less like any NPC faction reputation, which is to say, it’s completely automatic and has nothing to do with what your guildmates actually think of you. Nonetheless, it’s significant: to some extent, it governs perk access. There are special tabards you can wear that increase the rate at which you gain guild rep, but your rep has to already be at least Friendly for you to buy them, a sort of semi-permeable catch 22.
There was some evidence that I still had my accumulated guild rep in some kind of dormant state, and could recover it by rejoining. But in order to rejoin, I would have to contact someone in the guild, and the only person in it I actually know had been inactive for over a month. Which in itself was perhaps a sign to let it go.
There’s also the fact that the guild had reached its level cap. I think I mentioned guild levels once before. They’re a concept that came in with Cataclysm. Various activities, including just completing quests, give experience to the guild as a whole. As a guild levels up, its members get perks like increased riding speed and diminished wear-and-tear on equipment and the like. Some of the perks help members gain reputations faster, but it’s not clear to me if this applies to reputation with the guild itself. I suppose that a powergamer would want to be in a level 25 guild all the time in order to have all the perks, but to me, the whole point of having a system of levels is to level up. I actually felt a little cheated when I logged on after three months and found that my guild had managed to reach level 25 without me. There’s no sense of accomplishment in reaping the benefits of what other people have done.
And there, I perhaps show why I’m not ideal MMO material. I mean, a lot of people do take pride in other people’s accomplishments, in simply being associated with the group that accomplished them. Consider fans of sports teams. Or consider Alternate-Reality Games. I like the concept of ARGs, but they’re really designed as team efforts, things that can only be solved by people sharing information, which always feels to me like spoiling the puzzles. I’d rather figure things out on my own, you know? Or if I’m going to be part of a team effort, I want to know that my own efforts were significant to the result. One of the most satisfying MMO experiences I’ve ever had was participating in the construction of the first Megalopolis in A Tale in the Desert, an undertaking that required no fewer than 49 participants, because it was made of 49 segments, and each segment had to be slotted into place by a different person. But as well, all of the 49 people were working together on the materials needed for those pieces — mixing cement, cutting gems, etc. — because no one got credit for their part until everyone did. (When the final piece was put into place, most of the participants gathered in front of the structure to watch. Then we all gained a rank in Architecture simultaneously, and the resulting pyrotechnics were enough to crash the client.)
So clearly, if I was going to be in a guild again (and really, it’s something of a waste to not be in one), it was going to have to be a new, small one that I could actively participate in growing.
Finding a guild to join is not hard. The mere fact that Oleari was nearly level 70 and not in a guild meant that she was getting frequent invitations from strangers. (Possibly the fact that she’s a healer helped.) But I wanted to make sure I was joining a guild where I could make a difference. Fortunately, there’s a newish built-in tool for this: the Guild Finder. I had never seen this before, because it was added after I joined my previous guild. The button for it sits in the same slot that, when you’re in a guild, brings up the guild details. It’s not really adequately documented: the list of actively-recuiting guilds lists a few numbers without explaining what they mean. One was clearly the guild level (as it never rose above 25), and another seemed to be the membership count, but the third took me a while to puzzle out: it’s the number of guild Achievement points it has. Achievements are another area where getting them is more appealing to me than already having them, so I wanted to find guilds with low level and Achievement points, but more than just a couple of members: I don’t want it to fizzle out underneath me.
Finding such a thing could have been made simpler with a better UI, one capable of sorting by different fields, like a Windows directory listing, but no, the UI designer here decided to go with pretty rather than functional. But I did find a few, and even got a reply from one, a new one that had just been created the day before. We’ll see how it goes. The membership was about 20 strong when I last checked, and an encouragingly large fraction of them were below level 85.