This has been posted a few times in this game and others, but as the guild grows so does Grievance's story of honor and perseverance. You all asked for it, so here it is!!!
Long, long ago…
Wait - different game and different part of story.
It was the year 2000 and the Kunark expansion had just launched for a revolutionary game known as EverQuest. A friend and co-worker of mine (Tras) had been pestering me for months to try out this very game. Out of politeness, I would always feign interest, but I honestly had none. You see, I was currently working four jobs and putting in about hundred hours a week between all of them. Half the time I didn’t even know if I was coming, or going. Family? That was something that I maybe got to see an hour or two a day.
Eventually things started to slow down for me, and I found myself looking at gaming magazines in the local Walmart. It was then that I read an article in PC Gamer about people making real money from selling fictional items on EBay from a game called EverQuest. My curiosity was more than piqued. People were making thousands of dollars from playing a game! Naturally I called Tras and asked him to tell me about this EverQuest.
Tras told me how to get started, and would meet me on the 7th Hammer server to set me up with some decent gear for a starting character. Unlike most games now days, EverQuest could be quite harsh and unforgiving. Having decent gear to start with definitely gave me an advantage during the early levelling stage. Within Three weeks I was hooked lock, stock, & barrel. I never even noticed that Sony had banned EBay sales soon afterward... You see I’m an old Dungeons & Dragons pen/paper player from way back. EverQuest was like a fantasy come alive for me. A game that totally plunged a player into another world!
I don't think that I slept at all for those first three weeks! Every extra second I had was spent on the computer playing EverQuest. Soon I joined a guild called Mystic Champions (Tras was in a higher level Guild at the time). They were a fun-loving guild that got together seriously once a week to raid. It was the ideal organization for a level 10 warrior to get his feet wet in a Guild! Unfortunately due to real life, I had to take a two week break from the game to attend a class at the fire academy. When I got back there were only about a dozen of us left in a Guild that had numbered well over two hundred (no kidding....usually had 40-60 people on every night). The Guild Leader had apparently given leadership to a RL friend of his (level 6 necro) after the Guild dissolved due to a huge amount of Guild drama that I guess I just never really noticed being new to Guilds and all.
The new Guild Leader Ommeron asked if me, and the others that were left, would stay and help rebuild the Guild. Being a relatively honorable person (and not really having many other options) I stayed on eventually working my way up to the position of First Officer. It was during this time that myself, Tras, & Kookus ended up being stationed together at the same fire station for a shift (God help Biloxi).
The fire department used to let us bring our computers to work so myself and Tras would always bring ours. It just so happened one day that Tras was working on my shift and the three of us all ended up together. Obviously we decided to get our game on! Kookus stayed up till 1am in the morn looking over our shoulders as me and Tras played. He was hooked immediately and went out and bought the game. His wife Kaitlyn was a bit apprehensive at first, but was soon playing side by side with us within a week. Shortly after we hooked Kook's brother Ruf (known as Ruflyfr then) on the game as well. It would be the beginning of a very long lasting friendship on and offline.
We didn't all start in the same Guild. Kookus, Ruflyfr, Kaitlyn, & Tras went to a Guild that Tras was already in. I still felt a loyalty to Mystic Champions and really wanted to give it a shot. It was during this time that we met a really nice couple named Traycee and Sparxx. They were great players, and we found ourselves constantly grouping together constantly in one form or another. After a couple months, the seven of us got together and decided to form a Guild. Sparxx suggested the name Moonshadows after an old song him and Traycee had really liked. The name kind of stuck so we decided to vote on a leader. I actually voted on Tras who was 20 levels higher than the rest of us, but everyone else had voted on me. So there I was, Guild Leader of a real EverQuest guild with no idea what-so-ever what I was doing.
Moonshadows grew quickly. We went from seven to around two-hundred members in six months. It was unbelievable! We were a pure family guild that held friendship and family values above all else. You could not go into a zone anywhere in game without seeing a fellow Moonshadow in the same zone. It was fun, friendly, and exciting, yet we were feeling like we were missing something very important in the game.
During this time we met great players such as Plizben, Sigmodon (then Luma), and even got a real life friend of mine (Theloneus) and my brother-in-law (Rexlo) to start playing the game.
It was not long before a rift started to form in the Guild. Half of the Guild wanted to maintain the family atmosphere, and half started to long for the upper end of the game. At the time we didn't realize that a combination of the two philosophies was possible. Sparxx became very vocal against turning the Guild toward raiding and soon I found myself facing a "congress" with every decision I tried to make. After a month or two of this I was done. I turned over Guild leadership to Sparxx and quit the guild. I honestly did not know if I would still play the game anymore, but when I left so did the core leadership of the Guild. We were faced with only one real choice; we decided to form another Guild.
One of the lessons we learned from this experience was that there can only be one leader. Someone has to take responsibility for the decisions made that impact a guild. Members have to see, believe, and have faith in a single leader. A leader to cares, nurtures, and guides a guild through the good and bad times. The bottom line is that Congresses and committees do not work in Guild Leadership.
The date was October 15th, of the year 2000. It was unsettling to see the impact that just a few of us had on many. We soon met in the Tunnel of Ro to decide our fate. It was long ago and some of the names of old have slipped past memory, but it was Camlain that suggested that we name our new Guild GRIEVANCE. Apparently he listened to a lot of heavy metal music, and had developed a fondness for a band named Grievance (or was it a song). Regardless, I had never heard it myself, but liked the name. It was different, but really resembled the mood of everyone involved at the time. We did have a Grievance against many things, and we would indeed make our mark before everything was said and done.
Learning from past mistakes, we locked down membership right away. We did not want to grow until we had a working charter and set of rules for members to follow. It was extremely important to us for people joining the guild to know what they were getting into before they ever hit the accept button. It is a philosophy that has lasted to this very day. If you are upfront and honest with your members and not only set the rules, but set the example of following them, you will indeed build a strong base of trust that will unite and inspire an organization to great things.
Grievance was designed from the onset to be a hardcore raiding guild. Everything we did was to better Grievance in this aspect. There was little or no time for a family atmosphere, and our personal lives suffered greatly as we dedicated ourselves more and more of ourselves toward the goals that we had set forth for the Guild. We grew slowly, but steadily. Because of our charter, our members were very like minded and we progressed at a good pace. The concept of raiding was completely new to us, so we had a lot to learn, but learn we did.
During this time we met Canamorti (Tokemn), Zrax (Tuldin), Ockow, & Tarien. They had come from another guild that had merged into us a year or two after Grievance was created.
Our raids started out modest. We would hit Kael once or twice a week for class quest armor, and then do other raids that were focused on getting our members progress toward their epic weapons. Things were going great in the game for the guild, but my personal life was a wreck. My wife hated EverQuest with a passion. Once she had even tried twenty-four unsuccessful times in one day to try to discover my password to delete my character Steelheart. If she wouldn't have been so serious about the situation, it would have been laughable. Regardless of my real life problems, things were going very well for the Guild. We were finally starting to move up into the higher level raiding zones where the big raiding guilds were raiding, and our name was becoming well known across the server. Little did we know that this was the calm before the hell-storm.
Grievance had become a stepping stone. We would guild new members, and when they hit the level cap would go to the higher level raiding guilds that were further along in progression than we were. It was a painful process to watch, but as I said earlier, we were well on our way to achieving the same level of accomplishments as these other Guilds were. All we needed was a boost, or an edge. Some sort of advantage to give us that last little lift that we needed to be where we needed to be, something game changing.
It came in the form of Santa. By this I mean presents. A few of our core members quite accidentally stumbled across a game breaking duplication exploit. Not only could cash be easily duplicated, but items as well. You name it, and it could be duplicated. KEI spell, no problem. Staff of Tranquility, no problem. Cloak of Flames, no problem. It was the edge that the Guild needed to be equipped well enough to deal with the higher end mobs. For the betterment of the Guild, I chose to turn a blind eye to it. If my members were to receive anonymous gifts, then who was I to dispute it? Sure enough, we started to actually compete with some of the high end raiding guilds mob for mob. Our attrition had almost completely stopped! It was several months later I was actually informed by a friend of mine in TDE (the top raiding guild on our server) that they were predicting Grievance would become a threat to them for server dominance. We were truly rising toward the top of our game, then disaster struck.
I should have seen it coming. Those duping had gone overboard. They had attracted too much attention to themselves, and were banned from the game with extreme prejudice (I later found out a GM had caught one of them with eight Mana Stones in their bank). The blow to the guild was harsh. Several core players banned at once. To add to this Tras' real life wife decided to run off with my Shaman Class Leader. You can only imagine the drama that the guild was plunged into at the time. All this, and my wife informed me that she was going leave me because of my addiction to EverQuest. In the past when she said that I always called her bluff. She wasn't bluffing this time. I had no choice but to quit EverQuest in I wished to remain married. I gave up leadership, and quit the game.
The next day those of us that had started this game together met in real life and decided to play DOAC (Dark Age of Camelot) until SWG (Star Wars Galaxies) came out. SWG was just being talked about at the time, and was due to come out soon (although they ended up pushing back the launch date almost a year). You see, my wife didn't hate online games, she hated EverQuest. As odd as it sounds, all other games were ok with her. It was during these six months that I dabbled in AO (Anarchy Online) as well as DAOC, neither game really piquing my interest. It was also during this time that my marriage became solid, and my wife's fears of EverQuest subsided. So naturally after being bored for six months, I reactivated Steelheart. My homecoming was quite surprising. Canamorti had held Grievance together through five Guild Leader changes until eventually becoming a Guild Leader himself. Grievance had been through the ringer while I was gone, but he had been the glue and guiding light for those in Grievance to follow during their time of darkness. I cannot even presume to share his thoughts and stories here, and can only imagine the sheer determination of his part to keep the Guild alive.
When I came back I actually had no desire to rejoin Grievance. Remember we had decided to play SWG when it launched, so this return was only going to be temporary. We discussed it, and decided to merge Grievance into a guild called Steel Thunder. What a mistake that was, in less than a month after the merger, Steel Thunder disbanded due to internal leadership problems. Thankfully we had had the foresight to transfer Grievance leadership to my alt Airhead. Canamorti insisted that I take back the mantle of leadership. Apparently he had built a legend around me and the others that had left the game while we were gone, and would accept no other alternative. Once back in the driver’s seat, I next contacted ex-Grievance members that had gone to other Guilds while I was gone and brought them back into Grievance. We needed a good Main Tank so I contacted Tras, and talked him into coming back and playing Murkk (his Warrior). Overnight Old and New (new to me) Grievance became one and the results were positively amazing! We did many amazing things and life was good. Then Star Wars Galaxies launched.
The decision was made to disband Grievance and move to SWG. It was a chance to start anew in a brand new game. A chance to make a mark in unknown territory! To boldly go......... (oops....wrong story). Seriously, we dominated that game. To say we dominated it is being nice. We literally bent the Radiant server to our will. As in most games, we formed a Player Association (Guild), and called this one Syn'di'cate (wouldn't let us spell it as 1 word), SYN for short. We had correctly identified the economy as being the controlling factor in the game, so we decided to control it from day one. We assembled many of the people we had gamed with over the years and brought most of them to SWG and met many new ones such as Aurian (Caliet) & Kalon (Kalonere). We eventually built a Player Association of close to four-hundred members (remember, these were single character servers). The impact we had on the Radiant server even caught the developers by surprise. We built two level Five cities (biggest you could have) side by side and combined them into one huge city named Syn City. We totally controlled the economy just like we had planned too. We made our own rules, and the server followed them. Those that chose to not follow the rules were banned from our merchants (all the good merchants were in Syn City). Players from all over the server (and in some cases other servers) congregated in Syn. At any given time you could find 40-60 players hanging out in the town green, or in one of Syn's many cantinas. Multiple Player Associations built their Guildhalls in Syn City, and we even had a whole division run by Canamorti that literally harvested hundreds of harvesters to keep our city afloat. We had achieved control in this game in a way the developers had not foreseen, even outlawing PvP in our city. The server caved in to our demands in order to participate in our city, yet we were not happy. The content in SWG was minimal at best, and raiding was non-existent. We would find ourselves spending literally hours upon hours every day just standing in the town green doing nothing but talking to visitors and each other. EverQuest II was on the horizon, and we were finding ourselves hungry for a new game once again.
We started EQ2 (EverQuest II) with over 30 core members on day one. Players who had played different games with us over the years joined us in this new and exciting version of EverQuest. The decision was immediately made to honor the old Grievance in EverQuest by naming our EQ2 Guild Grievance as well. It just felt right! Only this time with our past experiences under our belt we decided to create a family raiding Guild. A Guild with hardcore raiding rules, but that would still maintain the family atmosphere that so many good players long for. Naturally we hit a few bumps in the road.
To say we were prepared for EQ2 would be misleading. We beta tested it and had a decent idea of the game, but were off on a few things at launch. For one thing (after SWG) we expected the economy to have a bit more of an impact than it did so we actually had a strong division in the guild totally dedicated toward crafting. Although raiding is today (as it was back then) the primary focus of Grievance, we felt strongly enough about crafting to focus part of the guild on it. Unfortunately as the guild turned and focused more and more on the early raid zones, our strong crafters began to fall off. The system just didn't work as well in EQ2 as it did SWG. Crafting had little or no impact on the end game.
We also had experienced a huge split four weeks into the game. Half the officers as well as many members wanted to abolish our family values. They wanted minimum raid attendance, and also wanted to remove people from the Guild that could not meet such attendance. Anything that didn't benefit them personally was seen as useless, or a waste of time. This included fellow members that could not level as fast as they could. Their proposed solution to this was to set level limits and remove those that could not meet them by a certain date. This was unacceptable!!! Throughout our extensive gaming career if there is one thing that I have learned, it's that you do not kick your members for trivial reasons. Grievance was set up to be an honorable Guild, and to do this would have been very dishonorable. Supporting our values, I made the decision that this was not the direction that I wished Grievance to take. Not liking my decision, this group of players left and joined another Guild. Not one of those players still plays today. They leveled up, got bored, and quit.
“So naturally after being bored for six months, I reactivated Steelheart. My homecoming was quite surprising. Canamorti had held Grievance together through five Guild Leader changes until eventually becoming a Guild Leader himself. Grievance had been through the ringer while I was gone, but he had been the glue and guiding light for those in Grievance to follow during their time of darkness. I cannot even presume to share his thoughts and stories here, and can only imagine the sheer determination of his part to keep the Guild alive.”
Thanks brother! We have been through a lot as a Guild, and not all the times were as good as they are now. You know I had only started playing EverQuest about three months before I had joined Grievance. Getting into Grievance was just sheer luck. I was too low to raid, and just a Paladin to boot. If it hadn't been for Tarien and Zrax hooking me up into RoKS (the Guild I was in at the time), and then Steel wanting Brach in Grievance (she WAS a damn good Cleric), I may not have ever even been among the honored EverQuest Grievance. So From RoKS to Grievance I'm a youth with bright eyes to the new world of EverQuest, and in a great guild, with the sun before them. Of course two months later there was the "incident", and just two more short months later I was promoted to Guild Leader. What’s an Epic again, and we need to do what now? Sadly the reason I was chosen to be the sixth Guild Leader since Steel left was due to a statement I made in the last officer meeting I had attended.
"I'll be the last person to wear the Grievance tag if I have too".
The former Guild Leader said,
"Well you said you'd be the last, here it is"
**Tokemn is now Guild Leader**
What a positive send off. Yeah, we hope you do well too mate.
Well it was like all the parents and adults had suddenly left. I remember in a great hour of need I sent Steelheart a mail on our website. Hell I didn't even know who Steelheart even was really, just some name from a legend. Lo and behold I got a mail back. I had that thing saved for a long time too. He basically told me to always do everything for your members. Never let them down, and remind them every day that you believe in them and the Guild. Well we never gave up, and steel finally returned.
Shortly after Steel returned the decision was made to merge into Steel Thunder. Hey I said we survived, I didn't say we flourished much. Basically Steel Thunder was a guild very much in the same position as we are in EQ2 now. They were the fifth Guild on 7th Hammer server, and were raiding in the Planes of Power expansion. It was like leaving the front lines to go back home, a home that had flourished since the launch of the game. All the stress of the last six months just melted away as successful raid after raid went down without a hitch. They really had their stuff together, and we just ate up every bit of knowledge we could. Then two months later Steel Thunder decides to just disband. Good grief! Good thing me and Steel felt so strongly about the Grievance name (and our heritage) that we saved the Guild name on an alt. The rest of EQ is as we say is history. Best part was that the epics were several expansion back, so a Paladin was now the best class for tanking. Never will forget those Chardok raids! Hours to set up, and in the last hall I'm getting pumped up to tank, when one of the sixty or so raiders forget which is their left, and drops through the trap on top of the King wiping the whole raid. Remember how amazing it was to see hours of work and then have sixty raiders drop in like five seconds? So three hours later after getting our corpses, we troop home vowing to return. That happened all three times that I did that raid, but we got it done for every cleric that wanted one that spring.
SWG, now that was an interesting experience. LJAllstar's (then Ahrimano) brother-in-law was the developers for that game, and we had a lot of the inside scoop. After countless hours on the phone with my now best bud Steel talking about how important resource management would be, I got stuck with the job. It was a full time job online. I put in 40+ hours a week mining, tracking and grabbing samples. Then turning around and sending Guild wide mails about resource shifts, the stats, and resource locations I had found in high concentrations. Talk about a payoff! We had the biggest city "complex" on the server, were known everywhere we went, hundreds of members, and of course bored to no end.
So here we are now, one of the best, back in the guild we love. We are a guild that has never given up and never lost belief that the sun is before us, the clouds only behind. We have so much before us, and we're already well on our way.
This guild has much to be proud of, and over the years we have proven that a family can survive and flourish if you never forsake honor, or your friends.
So much history to go into. I joined Grievance in EQ2 after my former guild merged into Grievance in August or so of 2005. I'd played the original EverQuest until my eyes bled, more or less, and I was actually on the Radiant server that SYN was in SWG, although I'd never hooked up with the folks there and left somewhat early on.
(Grrr! A SYN harvester! Grrr!)
But in Grievance, I found a home surrounded by friends and family. Like all families, there was the occasional argument, sometimes serious - but you only get that mad at people you like /chuckle. But first and foremost, was a sense of community that was often lacking in any Guild short of my very first EverQuest Guild I'd ever been in - the willingness of folks to drop what they were doing, roll up their sleeves, and come and help when a member needed help.
When Steelheart's work schedule IRL started to have him absent, essentially, for weeks at a time in the late spring of '06, several of the officers (myself included at the time) started picking up the duties as we could. It was a stressful time for Grievance - some of our officer corps at the time had major real life issues with each other that were beginning to affect them, and the people around them.
Steelheart approached me in August of 2006 about taking over Grievance for him, because he wasn't able (and, in fairness, hadn't been for months) to do the work involved with leading a raid guild with over 60 very active players. Grievance has always been organized along a quasi-military line, with the leader being the final word - listening to the advice of officers and members but in the end, that leader has to make the decision and stick to it - with total responsibility for his decision, which is a little spooky sometimes when you're trying to keep a guild with a lot of very individualistic players running.
I'd led a guild in EQ1. I'd led one in Dark Ages of Camelot. You would have thought I'd have known better, but I guess I'm a glutton for punishment. What the heck, I said, "Sure."
Today, Grievance is a high end raiding guild that STILL keeps track of the family values at the core of our beliefs. We face some of the toughest critters in the game, with enough left ahead of us that there's still some exciting challenges ahead to conquer. At times, there have been "crises of the faith" between our intention to stay a "family guild" and still win the tough content at the end - sometimes, these have led to Guild drama in the past, and I don't doubt it'll probably happen again eventually. However, Grievance, I think, has successfully struck the balance between these two ideals, and our members' willingness to work toward both of these things makes me proud to lead a guild of such folks - good times, headaches, and all.
Grievance is born in World of Warcraft
"Steelheart approached me in August of 2006 about taking Grievance for him, because he wasn't able (and, in fairness, hadn't been for months) to do the work involved with leading a raid guild with over 60 very active players." ....... Yukino
Couple months had now past since leaving EverQuest II. My real life schedule had thinned out quite a bit and we were growing restless again. Rumors had been circulating about a game called Vanguard designed by the legendary Brad McQuaid. Many of us held Brad to a legendary standard. After-all, the original EverQuest was his baby from back in the day, and anything he touched would surely turn to gold!
VSOH was a complete disaster. Nothing and I mean nothing in that game worked like it was supposed to. To make matters worse, the system requirements to run the game were so intensive that many of our members just could not play it. To do so would have meant spending well over a thousand on a new rig. Just about everything in game was borked in some way or another also. Crafting was so brutal that most players would have gladly shoved bamboo under their fingernails rather than endure a moment more of crafting. We watched Grievance drop from 50+ active members online any given night to less than four online nightly in less than a month. Just about every single promise Brad had made the community was broken, leaving most of us extremely disappointed. After six months of trying to make a broken game work, myself and most of those that were left declared ourselves done!
It was during our time in VSOH that we met Bear & Syzz, two of the most giving and helpful players that I have ever had the honor and privilege to game with. Even though most of us weren’t currently playing any games, some of us still hung out together in real life and talked about games past and games yet to come. Me and my family would frequently visit Bear, and it was on one of these trips that I was introduced to World of Warcraft (WoW). Bear was actually going to show me the Pirates of the Burning Sea (PoTBS) beta, but the server was down so he logged into WoW to show me a bit of that game. Being a diehard EverQuest player I was a bit skeptical at first, but soon found myself enjoying yet another online game. After I left his house I went straight to the local GameStop and picked myself up a copy.
Not long after I started playing WoW that Grievance was formed. We utilized much of the current EverQuest II charter for a starting point and then modified it slightly to fit the game. Old faces like Tras, Zrax, Trinadie (and her hubby), Kookus&Kaytlin, Theloneus, Canamorti (Kronicly in game), & even Kalon started playing it with us. Most of these players had left EQ2 Grievance due to real life obligations at the time, but found that they had more time to play yet another game. We set the Guild up to be a family raiding guild just like the one in EQ2 Grievance, and began looking forward to our first raids. Before long we were doing 10-mans and learning the ropes!
During all this, Me and Grenideer (the current Guild Leader of EQ2 Grievance at the time) decided to bring the entire family of Grievance (both WoW & EQ2) closer together by merging both Guilds onto the same ventrilo server. It was a brilliant idea that I can't take credit for by myself, and immediately contributed toward everyone feeling that they are part of something much bigger than just one game!
Unfortunately our euphoria was short lived. Several of those that had started playing with us once again were finding themselves having less and less game time due to life. In addition to this, some of the other members that joined us for WoW now had their eye on a new game Age of Conan (AoC). It was not long before we were having trouble filling out raid in game, and many members were now becoming disenchanted with the guild, as well as the game. Due to this, with AoC on the horizon, over half the guild ended up departing for a different game (which lasted them a month), leaving Grievance a shell of its former self. Most of us left didn't mind this and continued to play with long time friends just enjoying the game for what it was, knowing that when the time was right we could easily rebuild back into a great family raiding guild quickly if needed!
Steelheart Returns To EverQuest II
Sometime shortly after AoC launched, Grenideer contacted me. He was sorely stressed out from running EverQuest II Grievance and needed some advice. Yukino had just upped and disappeared three months prior, leaving Grenideer in charge of the Guild. Grenideer was (and still is) a great leader and motivator, but had no stomach for the drama and politics that always comes with running any successful guild, especially a guild that successfully mixes family values and raiding. He was, quite frankly, at the end of his rope and in his words “About ready to just give leadership to anyone who would take it.” We discussed who he could give it to, but as he had already figured out himself, there was no one ready to take over the mantle of leadership. In jest I offered to come back and lead again and he immediately took me up on it. At the time I was very apprehensive to do this because I had been gone from EQ2 for so long and much had changed. I suggested that I come back as an unknown alt so that I could help evaluate what was going wrong in the guild, at which point I could get a feel for things before stepping into those shoes once again. Grenideer wasn't sure about this and thought that me coming back would boost morale in the guild as a whole. To be honest I was hoping that I could help Grenideer fix the problems within the guild then return to WoW Grievance within a month or two.
It didn't happen that way. I logged in Steelheart for just a few minutes to transfer some plat to the alt I had intended to use and was made Guild Leader on the spot. Ironically, I thought that there would be a ton of upset members over this, but almost everyone was overjoyed to see me. Someone in guild chat even said something about a new era of Grievance was about to begin. Little did we all realize what that era would mean for the future of both Grievance Guilds.
A week had passed and I was only just realizing just how bad things had gotten while I was gone. Once again, Kronicly (Canamorti) stayed behind to rebuild a Guild (being WoW Grievance this time) while I took care of business. EQ2 Grievance was in horrible shape. It was amazing to see that such a successful raiding guild had so many problems. They had forsaken a lot of the family values that had made Grievance, well Grievance. Best I can figure, the downhill slide had started with Yukino and had just gained momentum over the past few months. They were currently barely crewing out raids, and to make matters worse, most of the officers had alts better raid equipped than half other member’s main characters. These were signs of true issues within the Guild, and needed to be corrected immediately. Unfortunately many of those that were reaping the benefits of said problems were the Officers at the time, and became very vocal when I started putting things right. I'm not sure what they were thinking when I came back (something about a figurehead), but they got way more than they bargained for.
You see, one of my core beliefs is that the Guild Leader and Officers of the Guild should ALWAYS be accountable to its membership. This means that EVERYTHING needs to be done fairly and openly. Guild policies should be in black and white not shades of grey. Anything to the contrary will (and did) lead to distrust and loss of faith. Something those that put their own agendas ahead of the Guild's will never understand. Needless to say, within three months of me returning, twenty-two of our best geared players left and created their own guild. Naturally those that had been in charge when I came back, put themselves in charge of their new Guild.
Now both Grievance Guilds were in the rebuilding stage.
Actually the rebuild of EQ2 Grievance went a lot smoother than the one in WoW had gone (took them a few months longer). We immediately appointed new officers to replace the old and started raiding again the next day. Liette became my Executive Officer, and eventually one of my very best friends. She and her husband Woopnyo have stood by my side for many years since, and I have no doubt many more in the future. Both are leaders in their own rights in the Grievance organization, and both have had a direct hand in helping build the organization to what it is today.
Interestingly enough, many old members that had quit playing EQ2 due to some of the unfairness that had been going on returned to the game within weeks of the split. Grievance was once again a family oriented raiding Guild that held the player (as a person) above all else. Today our EverQuest II Division is once again a very successful raiding guild with many active members that each holds the same values dear to their hearts that Grievance was created with.
Grievance Becomes One
Almost a year had gone by since my return to Grievance in EverQuest II. What had been a rocky start now had blossomed into a very capable Guild that raided end game raid content four times a week. We had managed to beat the odds and help all of our members finish their Mythical Weapon Quests, and move into the new content smoothly. Grievance’s EverQuest II Guild was not only successful, but thriving!
Grievance’s WoW Guild was also faring well. Old faces like Tras, Bear, & Rat had returned to the Guild, and were actively helping grow it so that they could begin raiding. Kronicly was rapidly becoming the leader that I knew he was capable of being. Under his leadership the Guild there was truly beginning to flourish. It would not be too long until Grievance had a strong presence in both games!
As for me, I moved up into an administrative role with Liette so that we could better help the Guilds and those in them. Our first task upon doing this was to put the finishing touches on our upcoming Real Life Get Together. These events had been going on in one form or another since EverQuest, and this one coming up was looking like it was going to be the largest yet! Once again we would be hosting it at my personal residence, so everything needed to go off without any hitches. Last thing we needed was to anger Mrs. Steelheart with any more inconveniences than necessary. She was not happy with these things being held at our house, but tolerated them regardless because she knew how important that they were to me.
The next thing that we needed to do was to figure out what we were going to do about upcoming games like Star Trek Online, Aion, Rift, and Star Wars the Old Republic (this last one had not been announced yet, but everyone and their brother knew it was coming out). These four games were going to launch within the next two years, and it didn’t take a rocket scientist to know that Grievance would have a presence in each of them.
Finally we needed a web site of our own. Since EverQuest we had been using a fantastic service know as Guild Portal. At the time (and for many years afterward) it filled our needs just fine. Now that we had two fully functional Guilds, with four more in the wings, we knew that we needed to find something else that would be more specific to our new needs. Without having anyone to turn to at the time, I began to teach myself how to build a website.
Aion launched in North America on September 22nd, 2009. As predicted, a Grievance Guild was formed shortly thereafter in game, and Bear was chosen to lead it. Myself and Liette chose to play part time when we weren’t working on other projects. It was a beautiful game, and being able to glide (you earned wings at a certain point in game) in game was absolutely amazing. Unlike a few previous MMOs, Aion had a relatively semi-smooth launch. Sure there were a couple issues with lag and a crash here and there, but for the most part many enjoyed their first day of game play. It also helped that this game had already launched in Korea a year (or maybe two) before.
Within a week of the Guild being created Grievance had around eighty active members. It was our largest launch to date at the time. Bear was doing an excellent job leading it, and it looked like Grievance was going to be in Aion for a long time. Unfortunately that was not to be the case.
When Aion launched, they touted a new form of game play called PvPvE (Player Vs. Player Vs. Environment). This meant that as a player you would eventually encounter combat with other players whether you wished to or not. Up till this point, Grievance had played on PvE servers. Even in Star Wars Galaxies players had the option to not engage other players in combat if they did not wish to. Aion changed all that. Less than two months into the game Grievance began losing members at a record pace as they got into areas where they could not avoid combat with other players. To make matters worse, the money grind in the game was insane. Crafting at the higher levels cost an insane amount of in game currency to craft even a single item, and the gold sellers knew it. You could not go into any safe area in the game without seeing gold seller spam in chat. It was so prolific that many to this very day still wonder if NCSoft might have been turning a blind eye to it on purpose. Being that Grievance had (and still does) a strict policy against buying/selling in game currency, it put our Guild behind the curve with those that had less scrupulous morals. Throughout it all Bear held fast and the Guild was now doing end game group content together for armor drops (there were no actual PvE raids at the time).
After another month had past, I began to notice that Bear was spending a lot of time in the World of Warcraft channels in Ventrilo (we now had two WoW Guilds) while his officers and members remained in the Aion channels. Concerned I asked him if everything was ok, and he informed me that he was just checking out some things with the newest expansion that had launched. Making a mental note of it at the time, I asked him to let me know what he thought about it and went back to working on the website. We’ve always encouraged our members to check out other games if they wished to. We would rather have them playing in another Grievance Guild than leaving Grievance entirely. It was not long afterwards that Bear approached me and said that he was done with Aion. His wife Syzz had decided that she really wanted to go back and play WoW again, and Bear naturally wanted to play it with her. Tras agreed to lead the Grievance Aion Guild when Bear left, but the damage had been done. The PvP issues, gold grind, and having a semi-absentee Guild Leader had taken its toll on our members there and they were done. Grievance’s presence in Aion lasted a whole four months.
Perhaps Star Trek Online would turn out a bit better…
It was during Grievance’s time in Aion that we met Crawl, Durins, and Amburn.
After Aion the need for an overall governing body for Grievance became apparent. One person (that person being me) could not possibly run an organization the size that Grievance was becoming and expect to keep up with everything. After multiple phone calls to multiple people it was decided that Grievance would utilize a semi-Council type government. The Council would make the day to day decisions for the organization, and the Progenitor (that’s what they chose to call me) would give the final stamp of approval on them. As with the original creation of the very first Grievance Guild, an organizational Charter would need to be drafted. This was the only way that we could officially pull all of the Grievance Guilds under one umbrella.
As fate would have it, it turned out that Yllskyn (one of our EverQuest II Officers) had some pretty extensive talent at developing these types of documents. I had been working on an initial version for the last few weeks prior to this (it was fifteen pages), and when he saw it he immediately knew what must be done. His advice was to keep it simple and informative. It’s advice that I’m still glad that I took to this day. The document would cover how Council Members were appointed / elected, play nice policies, Guild formations, treasury guidelines, and errata for when we would have the need to make amendments.
Initially the plan was for each Guild Leader to have a Council position (at the time we had four Guild Leaders), but I could foresee this getting out of hand a few years down the road. We were growing at a steady pace, but it was inevitable that we would branch out into other games in the future. Five years from this we could very well be in well over a dozen games. This meant that the amount of Council seats would never be stable as Guilds (games) came and went. After much discussion we settled on a single Guild Leader Representative that would serve a year long term and be elected each year by their peers (the other Guild Leaders). In addition there would also be a Member Representative that would serve a six month term, and be assigned by a Guild Leader. This was based on a rotating list ordered from oldest to newest Guild in Grievance. The remaining Five Council positions would be appointed by me, and would be lifetime positions for as long as said appointee thought that he/she could continue to meet the obligations of the Council.
It was decided that each Guild would have representation on the Council. All seven positions were filled and we were ready for our first meeting. We set a date (somewhere around the end of December) and began making preparations. The first meeting would be Council only. We knew it would be a long one because this would be the meeting where the Council would ratify the charter. Each section (and sub-section) would need to be voted on by the Council for the document to be official. Yes, it would be a long meeting, but worth it. To me it felt as if we were about to create something very special, something that could quite possibly outlive all of us. My excitement was through the roof, and everyone else seemed to share it. Well everyone but one.
Canamorti’s representative did not show up to the meeting, nor could he or his representative be contacted in anyway. Thankfully we still had a quorum, so the Council voted and decided to go ahead with the meeting. As predicted, it was a long meeting that lasted four and a half hours. By the time we were done everyone was totally exhausted. Exhausted, but excited. We had done it! Grievance was no longer a loose collection a Guilds baring the same name, it was a single multi-gaming organization that would put family, honor, and loyalty above all else! We scheduled our first State of Grievance Address (and Council meeting) for the end of January and adjourned. Now all I need to do was figured out what was going on with Canamorti’s Guild.
Honestly I should have seen the warning signs. I was so caught up in trying to pull everything together that I missed them. Looking back they were painfully obvious, and clear as day. For whatever reason, Canamorti had decided that he did not want to be part of an overall Grievance Organization. He took his Guild and left. My first instinct was to go after him. I actually owned the Grievance Trademark in the gaming world, and the legal system would be on my side. It might take some time and money, but we could make sure that they didn’t bare the name Grievance anymore. Yllskyn advised against it. His concern was that it could be perceived poorly by the rest of the gaming community if our first official act after becoming an official organization was to immediately go after another Guild (whether they bore the name of Grievance or not. Reluctantly I took Yllskyn’s advice on the matter. It turned out that it was the right call. It took a few years, but that Grievance doesn’t really exist in the gaming community anymore. Those that left pretty much quit playing games, or dispersed into other Guilds.
On a personal note, Canamorti was my friend. Hell, his and Punki’s daughter is my Goddaughter. Over the years he had become a brother to me and someone I could rely upon when everything else was going to crap and back. There were times when I used to commute from Pensacola to Biloxi to go to work when he would stay on the phone with me the whole trip so that I wouldn’t fall asleep driving after pulling an all-nighter gaming. It hurt me deeply for him to leave like he did, and because of it the friendship was permanently done with. Angry, I threw myself totally into helping build a solid base for what was going to be an amazing organization!
Regardless of the drama, we were ready to bring Grievance into a whole new era!
From the onset we took the idealism that if we had a decent amount of members that wanted to play a new game, we would make sure that they could play it under the Grievance tag. We felt that it was important that our members had the option to game with Grievance no matter what game that they were playing. Once enough interest was shown in the game we would add a forum for it on our forums, and then create a channel in our voice chat for it as well. Our first test for this came in the form of the highly anticipated mmo Star Trek Online.
Star Trek Online (STO)
On February 10th, 2010 Star Trek Online officially launched, and thousands of eager players took to their command chairs hoping for a true Trek experience. Unfortunately Star Trek Online had a horrible launch. Cryptic had severely underestimated the amount of people who would be playing it, and their servers were now on severe overload. Many of us couldn’t even stay logged in to the game for more than five minutes at a time. The lag in the game was so horrendous, that several of us decided to wait until the next day or two to log back in to it. Regardless, the Grievance fleet was formed, and Dangwiggums became Grievance’s official Admiral in game!
We actually launched this game with around fifty Grievance members on day one, but in less than a month that number dwindled to less than ten. Due to the game having several bugs, limited content, and actually not being a finished product; our members just quite honestly lost interest in it. Most either went back to the Guilds that they had been playing with, or decided to take a game break for a bit. Dangwiggums hung in there for another couple months then completely vanished. The whole ordeal caught us by complete surprise. This was Star Trek. This was one of those games that you would have expected to be around forever! Unfortunately for Grievance, that wasn’t looking like it would be the case. By the time we reacted and began recruiting outside of our current membership it was too late. The Grievance Fleet was officially dead.
Today Grievance actually does exist in STO in Embassy status with a handful our members logging in every so often to get their Star Trek fix. The game itself is doing way better than it did at launch in the form of content and actual game play. It may never have the popularity that it did five year ago, but there’s still enough interest in it from the gaming community to keep it going for now.
Battlefield Bad Company 2
About a month after Star Trek Online had launched, Crawl approached me with the idea of getting Grievance into the FPS genre. Not even having a remote interest in any type of shooter I was skeptical on a personal level, but really couldn’t see a reason for us not to at least explore the possibility. I asked him to present it to the Council at the next Council meeting (which was in just a few days). At the meeting, the Council unanimously approved the creation of the FPS clan, and in no time we had several members gleefully fragging their foes on the battlefield.
Another month had gone by and the organization was still doing fine. Most of our members had migrated back to either World of Warcraft or EverQuest II, and everyone seemed happy and excited about the future. Both Guilds were raiding and their members were enjoying the games that they were playing. My wife had been really wanting to go back to South Africa (where she’s from) for a few years now since our last trip, so we decided to take a family trip. The last time we had been, it had just been me and her. This time we would take my boys along and make it a family trip. Only problem was that I had this nagging feeling that something horrible was going to happen while I was away. I couldn’t shake it, and a week into the trip I received the phone call that I had been dreading from Liette.
Rat, the Guild Leader of our World of Warcraft Guild had gotten into a heated argument with Bear and the rest of his officers over the loot rules for the Guild. In anger he had GQuit and given leadership to Bear. With him, his wife and a third of the Guild left. Grievance in Wow was back in the rebuilding stage. There honestly wasn’t much that I could do from South Africa, so I trusted the Council to make the decisions that they needed to in Grievance’s best interest. Like it or not, this would be a good test for them. Thankfully when I got back we still had a WoW Guild. The Council had done a great job at keeping things together. It had been rough for them, but they had passed their first real test. Now we could concentrate on growing the organization, and hopefully along the way make some great things happen.
Shortly after I got back from South Africa, a game that I had been following on and off announced that they were not too far off from starting biweekly beta testing, and from the looks of it would start in about six months. I had been following this game on / off for a few months now, and knew that we would have several members interested in playing it. Fromm all appearances, it really looked like this was going to be a big game for Grievance.
It was decided early on, that in order to give our members choice, Grievance would be partaking in both factions. This meant that we would need two Guild Leaders since each Guild would be on a different server. I would lead the Guardian faction on one server, and Crawl would lead the Defiant faction on another. I felt very comfortable with Crawl leading a full-fledged Grievance guild. Since he had joined Grievance not only had he been an Officer in Aion, but he had led our Battlefield Bad Company 2 Clan as well. He was a good choice.
Rift was going to have twenty-five man raid zones, so we knew right off the bat that we’d need to build two decent sized Guilds (remember that we were going into both factions). We put up a recruitment post in each faction’s forums and our members helped keep them relevant. Myself and Crawl started turning recruitment into a game between each other. If someone posted on the official Rift forums that they were looking for a Guild, one of us (sometimes both) would send them a quick polite message about looking into join Grievance. The results were astounding! In the span of four months, Grievance’s membership catapulted from one-hundred fifty members to eight hundred. These new members weren’t only joining us for Rift, but for some of the other games that Grievance was active in as well. On launch day we launched two full Guilds with over three-hundred members in each. It was truly an amazing time for the Grievance organization!
Although over the years Grievance’s Rift Division (both factions were eventually allowed to be in the same Guild) has definitely had it’s up and downs, but today is still one of our largest and most active Guilds. Rift has proved to be a game that many Grievance members (both present and future) will continue to enjoy for many more years to come.
COG Is Born
One of the amazing things that came out of Grievance’s presence in Rift was our standardized recruitment message that we still keep updated in each game’s official forums and use to this day.
Not long after Rift had launched, one of our Members,Bellyphat, came to me with an idea of rewriting our recruitment message, not only for Rift, but for all games we would be playing. I was intrigued with the idea, and after running it by Liette and a few others to see how they felt about it, asked him to come up with something. A few days later Bellyphat approached me with his first draft. The concept was mind blowing! The title of each recruitment post would read “Tired of Guild Shopping? Join Grievance!”The body of the post would contain a brief description of Grievance and our beliefs, and then a list of games that we were currently playing. It really made perfect sense. Why else would someone be perusing Guild forums other than shopping for a Guild? Obviously as we all know now, it was an instant success!
Soon afterward it became apparent for a Division within Grievance that’s sole purpose would be to be our outreach to the rest of the gaming community. In a past conversation, Liette had actually foreseen that we would eventually have a need for this, but the time wasn’t right. Now the time was perfect! I immediately called Liette and we began brainstorming on how we could make this work.
The concept was to have an overall director that would help all of our current (and future) Recruiting Officers get on the same page as far as recruiting. This would be accomplished by not only standardizing our recruitment message, but by standardizing the whole recruitment process as well. Recruiting Officers would still be responsible to their Guild Leaders first and foremost, but would act as conduits between their Guilds and this new division. The question was, what were we going to call this new division? Liette’s husband Woopnyo didn’t hesitate, and suggested that we name it COG (Community Outreach Group). It would have its own symbol, a cog with the Grievance G in the middle of it. This icon is actually still Liette’s favorite icon to this day. COG was officially born!
A Galaxy Not So Far away
Over the last couple years we began to notice a trend. Whenever we actually took part in the active leadership of a Guild, it seemed that Grievance would suffer. Not in a horrible agonizing way. The Guilds were doing fine, but the overall organizational progress would start to slow down for sure. When we devoted our full attention towards the overall organization, not only would the Guilds still flourish, but the whole organization would as well. It didn’t mean that we couldn’t play games anymore, but it might be better for the organization if we continued to concentrate on it, and start to grow us some new Guild Leaders.
On December 20th, 2011 Star Wars the Old Republic (SWTOR) officially launched after a highly published lengthy beta. Well lengthy for MMOs now days anyway. Again we decided to launch with two Guilds for the same reason that we did with Rift before. Memo was to lead our Imperial Guild, and I would be leading the Republic Guild. Like the Rift Guilds, each would be on a different server so that both Guilds could have the name Grievance.
Wait, what was that about concentrating on the organization and not leading anymore Guilds???
Honestly I had tried, I really did. Lyanna was slated to be the Republic Guild Leader. I had had no intentions of leading another Guild for a very long time, but that wasn’t to be my (or Liette’s) fate. Three weeks before SWTOR launched, Lyanna informed me that she would not be able to lead the Guild due to some real life issues that had come up. It was too close to launch to throw another Guild Leader in her place, and honestly we didn’t have any fall back options. It just never occurred to us that this could happen, and due to our fancy new recruiting message these two Guilds were going to be Grievance’s biggest yet! Without any other options at the time, I once again stepped into the Guild Leader shoes with Liette as my Executive Officer.
SWTOR was an interesting game. In a lot of ways many would consider it a failure. Due to the way that the game was designed, many players reached level cap within the first month without ever really trying. This combined with an amazing epic story line for each class, led to players hitting max level, finishing their storyline, and then quitting the game believing that they had finished it much like a single player game (think KOTOR). What they nailed was the raiding. To this day I firmly believe that SWTOR has the absolute best raiding in the MMO world today as we know it. They absolutely perfected the art of raid progression, not only within a single raid, but with the progression of the different raids themselves. Whoever designed SWTOR raid progression deserves to have a medal pinned on their chest and given one hell of a raise! For the next year and a half we stayed in SWTOR and had an absolute blast!
As predicted, even though the Guilds were doing great, we weren’t progressing the organization as we should have been. We needed to be figuring out ways to help make Grievance self sufficient instead of relying on donations. We weren’t going to be able to do that for our members leading a Guild. Something needed to change.
Once we came to this decision it wasn’t hard to leave SWTOR. Padraic stepped into the Guild Leader job in my stead, and has been a remarkable Guild Leader. Myself, Liette, & Kujio began making preparations to create a business side to the organization in order to start generating income for Grievance with the end goal being that our members would eventually be able to profit share in some form or another with the organization once we reached the point where it was self sustaining. Originally there were going to be five LLC members, but due real life conflicts two of them elected not to become members. I can’t help but look back with a bit of sadness on what they have missed out on. It’s not often you get a chance to make a direct difference (for the better) in thousands of people’s lives. That’s what it’s all about. Making a positive difference as a team with an amazing family (in Grievance’s case a very large family)!
It took us a few months to put everything together and finalize the paperwork for the LLC. During this time several games launched, each with a shiny new Grievance Guild to go with them. Some of the more notable games to come out were Guild Wars 2 & the first launch of Final Fantasy XIV. More and more members were joining our family, and more and more projects were being put on the table to help move Grievance into a self sustain position. On the Sunday morning of Grievance’s 2013 Real Life get together, myself, Liette, & Kujio gather around a table at the beach house and finalized our agreement. Liette and Kujio would later step down from the Council (it would have been a conflict of interest otherwise), and Memo and Padraic stepped in. Memo would assume Liette’s original role of Council President, and Padraic would step into the Scribe position. This was going to be a new era for Grievance!
Winter Comes Upon Grievance
As we entered 2013, Grievance’s membership was growing at a fast and steady pace. Our overall membership was somewhere around 2500 members at the beginning of this year, and everyone was having a blast in the games that they were playing. You see, there are no Guild Leaders like Grievance Guild Leaders. Grievance Guild Leaders are cut from a special mold, and not only promote our tenants to their members, but set the example by living them as well. You won’t find any Guild Leader quite like a Grievance Guild Leader! One of these Guild Leaders was about to be in for an unbelievable challenge. The problem was that none had any clue what was heading our way. Four months later on the last day of April, Cryptic Studios opened up Neverwinter Online to the public as a free to play title.
I can’t say none of us (although I did) were expecting it. Memo had been telling me since the beginning of March that this was going to be a huge game for Grievance. The figures just didn’t support it at the time. Naturally we were running our standard recruiting message, but from all appearances it wasn’t going to be as big of a launch as Guild Wars 2 was the previous year. We had just shy of four hundred members join us for one Guild with that game. Which isn’t anything to sneeze at for sure, but it did set a new bar to measure things by. It wasn’t for about two more weeks that we realized that this launch was going to be like none another that we had been through before. In the span of two months we ended up adding over seven hundred members to our family during the launch of Neverwinter. It was crazy!
We learned a lot during Neverwinter’s launch. For one, Memo was the absolute best choice to be the Guild Leader for our Neverwinter Division. He’ll still argue this to this day, but he was the absolute best choice. Under his leadership, the Guild managed to remain stable throughout this period of rapid growth. In addition to this, he was able to make on the spot decisions that not only kept the Guild running smoothly, but also became standard for Guild launches. One of the ideas that he had was to create a separate TeamSpeak channel for new recruits to go to when they first joined our TeamSpeak. Since there was always an Officer in this channel, new recruits had no issues getting accepted to the Guild in the actual game. Another thing that he did was to let his members know that it was ok to take a break from the game (if needed), or even jump into another game that Grievance was currently playing in and join them in there as well. He understood that most players now days seldom stick to just one game for more than a year, and imparted to his members that they never would have to look for another Guild again if they didn’t want to. Grievance wasn’t your standard fly by night organization that would disappear in the next year or two.
Through his leadership and encouragement the majority of members that joined Grievance to play Neverwinter are either still playing it, or playing another game with Grievance. Many of them have become Charter Members, Officers, and even Guild Leaders as of this writing.
It was actually nice not having to lead a Guild for a change. I helped when I could, and was there if anyone needed me for anything. I even jumped in and played part time every now and then, actually for once getting to enjoy a game as a player. It was a good feeling that was made better knowing that Neverwinter’s leadership had everything well in hand. We were actually able to start several organizational projects during this time that are nearing completion today. One of these projects was suggested by Thalan, whose proposal was for us to rebrand COG in order to give it more outreach to the public. Rebrand COG? It was working fine. Members were joining Grievance in droves and absolutely were having the time of their lives playing with Grievance. Why would we ever want to do that?
Turns out that it was just what we really needed too. COG had kind of been floundering lately as an idea outside of recruiting, and Thalan correctly envisioned that it could be so much more than it was. Taking his advice I consented to him, Nionya (who would become the next COG Director), Pokeypillow, and a couple of others to take COG in an additional direction. COG would still serve as a recruiting tool for Grievance, but would now also set foot in to the world of social media! Honestly it was a brilliant idea. Soon not only were Grievance members streaming games live, but also doing a few newscasts on some of them as well. Nionya was a natural, and people absolutely loved watching her do these casts. Hell, I even taught myself Twitter (well I had a lot of help and called it twerping for months until I got the hang of it) and joined in on the fun! Now Grievance was becoming not only well known in the gaming world, but in the social media worlds as well. Once again Grievance was stepping into a whole new era!
Not Your Average Fantasy
In August of 2013, Final Fantasy XIV (FFXIV) re-launched. Yes, you heard me correctly. Even though the game had been out awhile, it was pretty much a dismal failure. After much thought, Square Enix decided that the game needed to be fixed and launched again. To say I was skeptical would have been an understatement. Most games that fail, usually fail in the first few months after released. To re-launch one was unheard of, and to my knowledge had never been tried before. There was no way this was going to end well. Interestingly enough, we actually had a good many of our current members that were excited to hear about this. After gauging interest, we decided to throw up our recruitment posts and see what happened next.
FFXIV wasn’t one of our bigger launches for the time, but we did have a couple hundred new family members join Grievance to play it with us. A few weeks prior to launch when we realized that this was going to be a large Guild we began looking for a Guild Leader to lead it. Kujio had been playing the beta and agreed to step in and do the job. Unfortunately shortly after launch his work almost doubled his hours and he had to step down. Our Embassy Director Foxtrot agreed to step up in his place and help continue to build the Guild for those that were enjoying playing this game with us. For the first couple of weeks everything seemed to be going fine, then all hell started to break loose.
A small group of players with their own agenda had joined Grievance and were causing a ton of trouble. It had been a long time since any of our Grievance Guilds had seen extreme drama, but here it was staring us right in the face. This group of players made their own rules and didn’t care about any of Grievance’s play nice policies. They would swear in whatever TeamSpeak channel they chose, purposely not include fellow Grievance members in their activities, and even tried to form a sub-leadership under Foxtrot. It was complete chaos. It seemed that every time one fire was put out, two more ignited to take their place. To make matters worse, we really needed Foxtrot elsewhere. He was doing us a favor by taking the reins of this Guild, but his primary responsibility Grievance was to manage our Embassies (smaller Grievance Guilds in other games). I could tell that all of this (in addition to managing eight embassies and starting two more in other games) was wearing heavily on Foxtrot, and knew that we needed to do something fast. The Guild was really monopolizing his time in a way that we had not anticipated. After conferring with Liette, Kujio, Memo, and Foxtrot, it was decided that Ghibli (his Executive Officer) would take over leadership so that Foxtrot could continue his regular duties for Grievance.
Unfortunately Ghibli wasn’t as prepared as he thought he was to handle the issues in this Guild. Being the new leader he gave everyone a clean slate. Within a few weeks of taking over leadership he became an absentee Guild Leader. Due to this, myself and Memo were forced to take a direct hand in handling some of the remaining issues and basically trying to give the remaining Officers some type of Guidance. It wasn’t as bad as it had been, but it still seemed like there was something that needed to be dealt with in FFXIV almost every day. Soon even other Guild Leaders and Officers from other Guilds were having to basically babysit our Final Fantasy community. I was over it. I called Memo and informed him that I was going to recommend to the Council at the next Council meeting that the FFXIV Guild be disbanded permanently. Naturally Memo being Memo had one last idea. He recommended Twistbeard.
This would be the fourth Guild Leader for this Guild in about as many months, and to say that I was over enthused about the idea would be a drastic understatement. Memo had spoken highly of Twistbeard, and if Memo liked him then there must be something to him. Seeing him in TeamSpeak the next day, I requested to speak to him and immediately knew that he was the right man for the job. Now if only I could convince him of that. Seriously, who would have actually wanted this job at this point? The damn position seemed to be cursed. After a few days Twistbeard agreed to accept the position. He loved FFXIV and Grievance, and didn’t want to have to separate the two of them. I was ecstatic, but informed him that this was this Guild’s last chance. If he couldn’t get it under control then we were most likely going to wipe our hands clean of it. I assigned him Vedrana as his Executive Officer and let him know that I would be keeping a close eye on things.
Got to hand it to Memo, the man nailed it. Twistbeard not only got everything running smoothly in FFXIV, but today it is one of the most active and prosperous Guilds in the Grievance organization. Damn good job!
The rest of 2013 went by with little or no issues. Grievance continued to make strides toward becoming self-sufficient, and all of our Guilds were running relatively smooth and drama free. 2014 was right around the corner, and we were looking forward to several major launches coming out that year. It was going to be a great year. Well kinda.
There’s really not a better way to describe this section. To many this period in Grievance will always be referred to by the year instead of all of the events that transpired within it. 2014 was the year that we saw major MMOs like Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) and WildStar launch to huge fanfares, only to last a few months before the majority of the player bases in each game left to go play something else. Grievance was actually lucky in this aspect that our ESO Guild actually survived during this process and is still active to this day.
2014 will also be known as the year that Grievance’s membership literally doubled. With the huge launches of ESO, WildStar, and ArcheAge; it brought thousands of new family members into the Grievance organization, many who either still currently playing the game that they joined for or are currently playing other games with Grievance. To me 2014 will always be bittersweet. It wasn’t that it was a bad year for Grievance, quite the contrary; it was absolutely one of our best years ever.
Somewhere around April, one of the games that we had been keeping an eye on for the last couple of years went into pay-to-play Alpha. What this means is that the company (in this case Trion and XLGames) decided that in order to generate some extra revenue they would go ahead and start letting people buy the game in advance, and offer different packages that players could buy. $150 would get a player immediately into the alpha, and the two other packages would allow players to participate in the beta when it launched. Obviously the game that I am referring to is ArcheAge.
I’m going to be honest here. I really had no interest in playing this game. Sure it was probably one of the most beautiful games that I had seen in a long time, but the PvP aspect of it did not interest me at all. Interestingly enough, after chatting with Deuce and Arthidon about it, I decided that I would wait until Beta to check it out. I was busy enough with the overall organization and did not want to get seriously involved in another game. As fate would have it, that just wasn’t in my cards. Deuce and Memo conspired against me and chipped in to get me an Alpha. Yeah, it was a lot more fun than I anticipated.
Ok, so I liked the game. It was something that I could see myself playing on and off for the next few months whenever I needed an administrative break. It was semi-sandbox, had a great ecosystem, and the ship to ship combat was amazing. You could even build unofficial cities by setting up farming and housing plots next to each other. Now we needed to find someone to lead it. At first I would have bet the farm that this was going to be an Embassy, but after being in it for a couple weeks I knew instantly that this one was going to launch as a full Guild. I could see where this game was actually going to be the sleeper hit of 2014.
My first thought was that Memo would be perfect for this one, but he was in the middle of going back to college and just really didn’t have the time. Neither did Nightangel. This was going to be tougher than I had thought. The scary thing was that both suggested that I needed to lead it. Having led the Star Wars Galaxies (SWG) Guild, they thought that I would be perfect for it. That and it looked like it was going to be Grievance’s most complicated Guild yet far as in game dynamics. No way in hell. I wasn’t going to lead another Guild. No.
As fate would have it, a month later I found myself leading a brand new shiny ArcheAge Guild. Seeing that I had somehow found myself in this position yet again, I called Liette and asked her to be my Executive Officer. I literally consider her my XO for life, and even though she was pregnant at the time, she agreed to it. It just wouldn’t be right without her by my side. Honestly if she would have said no, I would not have led it. We’ve been leading Guilds together for so long that I really couldn’t have done it without her. Now that that was taken care of, I reactivated the old First Officer position and asked Memo if he would be willing to assume that position. Even though he was slammed with school, he agreed to do it. We next threw up our recruitment posts, started doing news casts on the game, and even did some massive in game alpha Guild events to attract new members. We knew that since this was going to be a PvP heavy game that we would need a large player base. It would also be one of the largest Officer cores that a Grievance Guild had had in years.
It wasn’t long before we had a very large Guild. In addition to adding new members to our family, we had several longtime Grievance members like Kookus, Kaitlyn, Maddcovv, Kelle, Bear, Sumladar, & Diacese join us for ArcheAge as well. We even took the award for the largest Guild in attendance at that year’s get together. It was good time! Unfortunately this was going to be short lived.
One of the Officer positions that we knew we needed to fill was that of the Warlord. The Warlord in a Grievance Guild is basically that Guild’s PvP General. I knew that Gormesh has recently stepped down as ESO Guild Leader due to events going on in his business (good events), and asked him if he thought he would be done with them by launch. He assured me that this would not be a problem and would join us around the beginning of July. When July came there was no Gormesh. To make matters worse I was beginning to worry about him because he had ceased to answer any of my phone calls. By end July I had no choice and promoted Chrysamere to the position of Warlord. A month later I found out that Gormesh had had a severe medical problem and would not be returning to gaming anytime soon. I knew that we had made the right decision in going ahead and promoting another Warlord, but still felt ill about the whole thing. One of our family members had had a major medical issue and I had only found out about it a month after the fact. I was sick to my stomach.
Just prior to launch, Trion released a list of servers. We chose the Salphira Server based on the fact that it was looking like it was going to be a medium to high population server. This would be perfect for us. Nope, it wasn’t. A couple of days before launch it was declared the unofficial Brazilian server, and it was too late for us to switch. It wasn’t that we had anything against anyone from Brazil, quite the contrary; Grievance is a huge international community with members from literally all over the world. The problem was that in a PvP centric game we knew that it would lead to factions within factions. I didn’t want to confuse our members with a last minute server switch, so we decided that we would stick it out on Salphira. This was a huge mistake.
When ArcheAge launched we went in there like gangbusters. Within two hours we had the majority of our plots set up, and the machine that was Grievance began churning out resources for our crafters. Before the end of the first week we were doing 150+ man trade runs on a regular basis. Our trade runs were epic! Imagine an unending train of Grievance members moving together from one end of the map to the other. It was indeed a site to behold! Things were going great, and we were preparing slowly for the opening of the North. Once the North opened we would go claim our castle, and leave our mark on Salphira. Four days before this was to take place my Grandfather passed away. It was totally unexpected. To make matters worse, the funeral would take place on the exact day that the North was to open up. I had no choice. I was going to have to step down as Guild Leader. It was what needed to be done for the good of the Guild. After talking to Bear, who was a long time Grievance member and our current Raid Leader, I promoted him to Guild Leader. Liette and Memo also officially stepped down as well. It was a smooth transition, and the Guild was more than ready for the battle of the north.
Trion really screwed things up (either them or XLGames). The Northern continent should have been opened up at launch. Instead, in order to be fair to the smaller Guilds they elected to open it up six weeks after launch. What ensued was a massive lag fest with hundreds of players disconnecting and not being able to log back in again. There were so many players vying from the four castles that all of them weren’t rendering correctly for others. This led to mass confusion, and eventually a very disgruntled player base. Grievance failed to get a castle, and morale was at an all time low. To make matters worse, due to bad decisions, and bad advice from some of his Officers, Bear somehow had managed to make Grievance one of the most hated Guilds on the server. Within two weeks after assuming Leadership, Bear stepped down and Spin was promoted in his place. Through Spin’s leadership (and with a great Officer core) Grievance is once again respected and liked by most of the Salphira server. The Guild is doing well, and its members are having a great time playing the game together.
Once the dust had settled in ArcheAge, I realized that once again the organization had suffered while I was off leading another Guild. 2014 had just really proved to be a year where everyone had a lot going on in their real lives. My Grandfather had died, Liette had a very cute baby boy, Memo was consistently buried with schoolwork, Kujio was working almost eighty hours a week, and most of the Council had real life stuff going on as well. Everyone was just plain busy.
Finishing What We Started
As I sit here and look back on 2014 I realize that the accumulation of events had been building blocks for what Grievance has become today. We enter this year with a re-energized Council, A new COG Director (Marissya), a new Marketing Director (Raitha), and a very excited membership! Tomorrow is our State of Grievance Address, and I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am for it. Tomorrow will be the beginning of a whole new era for Grievance! Tomorrow will mark the day that we dug in our heels as one cohesive organization, all focused on one goal. Tomorrow we will step forth, and in 2015 we will finish what we started!
I can’t wait to write about this next year!