2014 Gaiscioch State of the Family
Celebrating 13 Years of Epic Adventure!
The Gaiscioch Family has been through some great times, and some tough times. We've experienced all kinds of situations and scenarios and do our best to plan around them and adapt to the ever changing community landscape. When I created Gaiscioch na Anu in Dark Age of Camelot I never imagined that 13 years later we would be on our 5th game and have a community this vast.
I never thought of myself as the "leader" type, I merely hated seeing the common "PuG" be treated like the unwanted stepchild when they largely contributed to the realms success. I created Gaiscioch na Anu as a place where all players, the best of the best, and the laid back spam the keyboard and hope something works type, could all be included in adventures, memories, and laughter. Over time we have evolved into something I could never even begin to imagine.
This year we had the pleasure of doing something we've never done before. We launched a digital magazine. This 100+ page digital magazine has been read over 15,000 times and has featured some legends of the MMORPG scene. But we are just getting started. 2015 will kick off with our newest issue "New Beginnings" and will feature an extensive array of MMO previews that feature elements that will change the MMO scene.
Gaiscioch also won their first flag football tournament they've ever competed in and raised over $5,000 for the Children's Miracle Network during this years Extra Life Charity Event. We also held our largest public community event to date featuring over 700 weekly participants. While this year has been one of strife and perseverance the Gaiscioch family has endured and strengthened because of it.
Through the years we have made so many friends and supported so many different styles of play. In the early years choosing a game to migrate to was easy. We had only a few options and only one clear path. As time passed we were confronted with the reality that we will never be able to satisfy everyone's needs and playstyles, we began to work with the Gaiscioch Matrix, a 4,335 point benchmark to try to maximize the potential to provide an environment in new titles that would both nurture members of old and welcome members of new.
This matrix lead us to Elder Scrolls Online where we learned one very tough lesson. Even though things are in game during testing doesn't mean they will make final cut on live launch. Very core systems that were essential to our survival were cut pre launch or simply not finished. We stumbled along as best as we could however our numbers and player satisfaction speak for the end result. Our numbers plummeted after launch, even more than usual for a traditional new game launch. It has been a constant decline since and we have yet to have a single week where we have gained more members than we lost. Players sign off and travel to other lands in wait for something better.
Finding new players in ESO became an even more difficult task. With no face, no means for public community events, and no way to communicate across guilds we were an invisible presence that people encountered every day but had no clue who it is they were playing with. This has made recruitment near impossible as a family that prides itself by recruiting through action not words.
While I don't regret taking the family to Elder Scrolls Online the effects of the anti-social nature of the game has taken its toll on the family. While ZeniMax Online Studios is hard at work bringing improvements to the game, it is unsure if it can breathe new life into the product.
At this point attendance at our major family events has dwindled to less than 20 people per event, and the future of the chapter looks grim. ZeniMax needs to implement some pretty massive changes by the end of the year if we have any hopes of saving this chapter.
In the end it will be a test to see if ZeniMax can tackle these issues before our active population drops below the 250 mark. If they can turn this around I am certain there will be a bright road ahead, but they must do so before time runs out.
Guild Wars 2 on the other hand seems to be like a fine wine, maturing with age and gaining a stronger presence. We had quite a dip pre-eso but since then numbers have stabilized and we are showing signs of slight growth.
Overall it has become apparent that even with our matrix we need a failsafe in case that we have a game that removes key factors from the game pre-launch. RIFT removed siege warfare, Guild Wars 2 removed alliances, ESO removed alliances and large scale PvE objectives (The original Adventure Dungeons). To address this we have refined the Branch Selection Process.
The Gaiscioch Branch Selection Process
The lessons we learned is that even the best laid plans can be shot down in a moments notice and we needed to come up with the "Seed" concept. A trial phase to see if the hype measures up to expectations and if player satisfaction is still there 3 months after launch. Because of this all new potential chapters will receive a 3 month trial period where we will monitor and measure activity among the community and determine if after 3 months we want to officially declare our new seed a full branch.
If core systems are removed post testing and it no longer meets the base requirements for our family to survive we will look to other options and destinations. If the game meets or exceeds our expectations we will officially declare it a branch. We will be considering any matrix before the launch date a pre-evaluation and rerun the matrix after the first month to compare the scores and ensure that the seed still meets the minimum requirements.
So some of you might be asking what's the difference between a seed and a branch.
The Gaiscioch Seed
A Gaiscioch Seed will have minimal support systems in place. It will have a basic leadership and fellowship system and a forum but will not have refined objective listings, marketplace support, or character system. In this period of time we will evaluate the possibilities for large scale public events and prepare for full branch conversion.
Instead of having the eldership team focus on the marketplace and other core systems out the gate we will be focusing them on growing the family. Once we are stable and decide that's the place we want to call home, we will build the infrastructure.
After the 3 month evaluation process, if we have the numbers (500 Active Members) to support a full branch and one of the 2 branch slots are open we will make the official announcement that we are forming an official chapter and branch.
As an added bonus, having this 3 months prep time allows us to index live data and also produce videos starring our own family members rather than just chopping up pre-release footage. If the demand is there we will commit for the long haul.
Requirements for Seed Consideration:
- 250 Active Members Interested
- Meet or Exceed a 70% Pre-Evaluation Matrix Score
- Score 100% on Required Feature List
Requirements for Closing
- Does not meet minimum requirement
- Membership shows decline within 3 months.
- Membership does not exceed 500 Active Members within 3 months
- Does not Meet or Exceed a 65% Post-Launch Evaluation Matrix Score
The Gaiscioch Branch
A Gaiscioch Branch is an official chapter of the family. This grows from a seed once it reaches 500 active members. A branch must maintain at least 250 active members at all times to keep it's branch open. Branches will have full website support including marketplace, refined leadership and participation, and character lists.
Requirements for Branch Consideration:
- Exceed 500 Active Members
- Score 65% or higher on it's Post-Launch Evaluation Matrix Score
- Must meet 80% of the Core Eligibility Requirements
- Previous Branch must have less than 250 active members. (Does not include Tribute chapters)
Reasons for Branch Closure:
- Active Population drops below 250
This brings us to our next question.
How Are Games Chosen To Be A Seed?
The first step is to analyse feature lists and gameplay mechanics to locate suitable potentials. Once we have a list of potentials we then poll the community to see which games they are interested in. The ones with 250 or more people interested will then be investigated by the Eldership team and a pre-evaluation will be conducted. Additionally we will work on building developer relations and getting a pioneer team in to evaluate its potential.
Once we have the comparison matrix for each potential available we will compare the features and decide which is the most suitable for expansion. At this point we will prepare the title for becoming a seed.
Where do we go from here?
The future right now is very uncertain. Our Elder Scrolls Chapter hangs in the balance hoping for a hail mary pass by Zenimax. Population has declined to a critical level and participation at our oceanic event is non-existent. We will be returning our Saturday Oceanic event to Guild Wars 2 until demand returns.
Our Wednesday Night US Primetime ESO Event will continue however we will be changing the format as we do not have the numbers to be a formidable force on the battlefield. Our events will be held on Thornblade and we will work as a havok team where we can and also clear one quest hub per week rotating between them so that everyone can get their achievements and the lower levels can gain some strength.
We will continue to keep the Elder Scrolls Chapter open until January 1st where we will see where our numbers are at and assess the potential for recovery. If improvements haven't been made and population has continued its decline we will close the chapter and devote our attention to securing a future home. Fortunately Guild Wars 2 offers us a stable home for the time being.
The Distant Future
In the coming year we will be traveling temporarily through several games. We have comprised a list of games that we will investigate and evaluate for branch potential. At the moment that list is 12 games but we are continuously watching the horizon for a place to call home. The Eldership team will be evaluating them and narrowing down the list to a handful.
For the time being, we will have our Guild Wars 2 home base and bring our traveling circus to a new game every 3 months until we find a home. A new leadership system is under construction that will allow people to lead time based events where you punch in at the start of your event and punch out at the end of your event. This will award you and your followers a set amount of Leadership and Fellowship. This system will be used for all of our Seed expansions as a temporary portable leadership system.
If by chance we stumble on a game where we thrive, we will grow roots, officially announce our new chapter, and call it home for the foreseeable future. This is a far from ideal setup however we are left with few options at this time and no clear path. We hope that by exploring other worlds we can build our numbers and eventually find the home we are looking for. Worst case scenario we act as a traveling circus for a year bringing enjoyable events to various games. Hell, can't hurt the magazine any to feature various games right out the gate.
This next year is going to be a real test of perseverance and will be full of adversity. I want to encourage you all to be sure to bond together, go make fun happen wherever you are. When we find that suitable home we will let you know so that you can rejoin the family in their new ventures. For those coming along for the ride, thank you for your continued support and the next year should be an interesting one.
Slan Go Foill!
(Goodbye For Now)
Benjamin "Foghladha" Foley
Ceannard De Gaiscioch Treubh