Looking Back on 14 Epic Years
By: Benjamin "Foghladha" Foley | : 2076
As we pass November 11th and say goodbye to our 14th year, I look back at the road we shared. Like any epic story, we’ve had our shares of victories and defeats, trials and tribulations. We’ve shared laughs and tears, and have survived through 3 game migrations over 5 chapters.
Of all the memories the ones that keep me going are the moments we share, full of laughter and joy. Memories of the needle in the haystack, pandora’s box and the reverse wedge, the puddle under the bridge in Scarlet Gorge, and the Fireheart Rise bridge that appears to be over deep water but isn’t bring a smile to my face, or the infamous hole in the ground in Cyrodiil that lead to a hundred or so of us repeatedly skydiving. Over the course of 14 years I have found new ways to fill the channel with laughter and the sound of smacking foreheads. So many times we have forged lasting memories from joyous times.
But things have not always been tongue and cheek. We have also been the first in the world to accomplish several feats. Slaying the Jolly Green Dragon in Dark Ages of Camelot, Killing Asha Catari inside the Defiant capital, sieging a war camp in Warhammer, being the first on our server to slay several raid bosses in RIFT, our time together has time and time again proven that the impossible is often possible with the right approach.
Looking back to our first days, I remember the profound sense of compassion and desire to help others. Gaiscioch na Anu was created due to the harsh requirements guilds imposed on their members. We created Gaiscioch na Anu as a place where everyone could belong and enjoy playing the game the way they found enjoyment.
Since then our commitment to community has continued and grown. Just as we did in Dark Age of Camelot, we still spend time with new players helping them get started in the games we play. We still host public events with no membership required. We still look out for the little guy others overlook.
The Years Between
As we close our 14th year we can recount the many victories we’ve shared over the years. Our history is lined with the epic siege nights in Dark Age of Camelot, the seas of Order troops we led in the Battle for Badlands in Warhammer Online, the massive gatherings for the Telara Saga, the hundreds that showed up for our Great Tyrian Adventures in Guild Wars 2, and the great Scroll raids in early Elder Scrolls Online. Each of these brought hundreds of random strangers together to work as a singular unit across a large spanning terrain. Through the years we have entertained thousands.
But that’s not where we drew the line. We also built a raiding side of our family that has successfully conquered the toughest raids in Warhammer Online, RIFT, Guild Wars 2, and Elder Scrolls Online. Our family from the day it was born was about Challenge. It has been about doing that which others deem impossible. You can’t raid without being hard core, You can’t succeed at siege warfare without being serious, You can’t kill that NPC in the middle of the capital city. Our family has time and time again used “Can’t” as the starting point of an epic memory. I look back at the years of putting “Can’t” to bed and proving yes “We Can”. Our only limit is the creativity of our tactics and the will to endure the hard road.
Together we’ve shared in the glory of being praised by every single major gaming news affiliate. We joined together to save a child’s life, and campaigned to have a dear friend immortalized by having a server named after him. We’ve shared in the happiest of times and comforted each other in the darkest times. Together we have overcome every obstacle and together we endure every challenges.
Leading up to year 14 things looked pretty bleak. We had already begun preparations to examine the next step to our future in case things in Guild Wars 2 and Elder Scrolls Online did not improve and many of our members left into the mist to await future adventures. There we stood on the doorstep to year 14 with fingers crossed, ambition in our eyes, and the will to endure the hard road.
Year 14: Creating Hope From Despair
This year has been a year of strife, survival, and perseverance. If you remember our State of the Family in November of last year, you’ll remember the news about Imperial City coming soon to Elder Scrolls Online, and you’ll remember how both Elder Scrolls Online and Guild Wars 2 were on a downward spiral. We announced the Seed program as a way to find a suitable replacement for a branch that wasn’t going to survive. Things were at their bleakest for our family and our active population dropped to a 5 year low.
Since then our eldership team has been hard at work finding creative solutions, pitching ideas, and planning a course of action for our survival. In addition we continued to work with game developers to get critically needed systems in place. The road ahead did not look good and with no true potential escape on the horizon we felt trapped with nowhere to run.
The elders decided the best course of action was to throw everything we have at ESO and GW2 and hope that they could fix their games before doomsday arrived. While we continued to watch the horizon we knew that our only chance of survival was to pull together and focus on what we had in front of us.
Since then we’ve managed to increase our population on the Guild Wars 2 side and we’ve come to accept that the Elder Scrolls side won’t find success trying to create large scale activities as the game is not built for that. We’ve in turn changed to focus on bringing together a core group of friendly and caring players to operate in a small scale environment. Once we stopped trying to be a big community in ESO we found the quality of life improving. We now are thriving as a smaller community with a focus on being a successful small community.
A Year of Tragedy and Remembrance
Then the news of the loss of Steve “Zurdot” Sarko and Joanne “Jexia” Ekker slammed into us in less than a week between them. Losing two long time members in close proximity of each other really hit hard. Then in the final days of October we lost a long time member and elder Shelly “Morigana” Songer to an unexpected heart complication. This year has been brutal to us emotionally. It’s never easy to lose a friend, but it helps to remember them as best as we can. We announced that we would be creating a tribute to them in our new Guild Wars 2 Guild Hall to help pay tribute to our fallen loved ones.
Losing Jexia, Morigana and Zurdot came so soon after the loss of Roger “Oldroar” Rall and reminded us just how important every moment we share with each other is. One minute we’re criftng the next minute we’re wondering where time had gone. This experience has taught us to savor the moment. Don’t get caught up in the little details that in the end won’t matter, get caught up in the moment that we share with each other and remember the person on the other end of the virtual game space.
Within life, loss is something we will have to endure. There is no way to prevent the inevitable future, and remembering our loved ones who passed on too soon will become a part of who we are as a community. It is because of this that we have plans to build a monument to the fallen Gaiscioch on both the website and in the games we play. May we keep our kindreds’ spirits alive and well within all of us, and may we reflect their life upon others so that their legacy will never be forgotten.
Building our Future
Even as the cards were stacked against us, our Elder Scrolls Online players continued to drive forward and push to strengthen the community. For an environment that forces solo play, self dependence, and lacks any real form of guild identification, our community has done exceptionally well at unifying the players that we have and pushing forward. Our “recruit by action” credo proved to be our biggest foe as without words nobody knows you exist in Elder Scrolls Online.
The elders have been hard at work on a solution and a new way for us to operate as small to medium sized community in games in the future. This solution involves rebranding small divisions of Gaiscioch as GSCH to begin to brand our small scale communities with a familiar acronym yet give it the freedom from the main chapters to be able to promote and recruit as needed. Each brand will have it’s own guidelines and etiquette guide to help control the public image of our community. This in turn will allow communities like our Elder Scrolls Online community to flourish as a small scale version of Gaiscioch with the same beliefs and ideals, but without the restrictions we place on the chapters.
Starting in November 2015, we will be turning our Elder Scrolls Online into a Legacy Chapter which will retain all of its website support except it will be run on a simple time based event participation system. If the Legacy Chapter surpasses 300 active members once again it will have the option of becoming a full chapter again.
On the Guild Wars 2 side, during the summer months ArenaNet announced Guild Wars 2’s expansion set to launch in October. They additionally dropped the Free-2-Play bomb on the community sending a huge rush of new players into the game. The Heart of Thorns Expansion also brings an all new Guild Wars 2 WvW Battlefield and adds Raiding to the game. Membership over the summer had a slight decline but from what we’re seeing over the fall we’re surging with new blood and returning faces.
Both games have a future with our family, and even though we will be operating our Elder Scrolls division on a smaller scale we will continue to support many of it’s core chapter features including character claiming, invite management, marketplace support, and it will have it’s own simplified way of claiming leadership and participation. For Guild Wars 2 we are looking at some all new adventures in Raiding and a brand new WvW map to explore. This year has gone from despair to excitement and the future’s looking bright.
A Look Back At Our Accomplishments 2015
During the past year we’ve taken several steps to improve the quality of life within the community. We added email reminders to try to keep in touch with members that are drifting away. We added the all new Loot Vault where people can buy games and loot with their excess family vault credits. Additionally we’ve laid the foundation for the new Guild Quest system that should add an additional spin to the donation system.
We’ve launched several of our own livestream series including the Streams of Epic Adventure, The Siege War, Smitty Streams, Fog’s Side Quests, and we have begun turning the monthly summit into it’s own livestream. On the video side we will be launching Guild Systems Deconstructed on Wednesday nights exclusively on YouTube beginning in 2016. This web series will feature 12 30-Minute episodes per season and review guild systems and what makes an effective community system. Between the Magazine, the Livestreams, and the Web Series we’ve seen a huge boost in tweet and share traffic and have found several new members to the family who were introduced to us through these channels.
In game, the Gaiscioch Family in ESO has taken on some of the toughest raid content and conquered everything they have set their sights to. They continue to progress through the raiding content and have really found their footing as a small scale raiding core.
In Guild Wars 2 we hosted our largest public community to date in the form of the Great Tyrian Adventure Legendary Edition where we gave away 7 Legendaries, 3 Precursors, and hundreds of exotic weapons and armor sets. Over 800 people participated in this 4 time per week event. After it’s conclusion we brought the raffle to the Sanctum of Rall WvW scene by adding the commander on deck system which rewards players for playing WvW in the form of weekly and monthly raffles.
The Road Before Us
As we say goodbye to year 14 and hello to year 15 there are several improvements to our family on the way. With games cracking down on guild size it’s getting more and more difficult for communities like ours to exist within a game. With both Elder Scrolls and Guild Wars 2 we’ve had to look for creative solutions to get around the guild limits. However ultimately neither side was able to endure this cap and we bleed out several members right out the gate dropping our membership to the 500 range from well over a thousand each game.
Many of our members now roam the wildlands of gaming and play all sorts of games together. It is apparent that if we are to thrive we must diversify and find ways to include more players in what we do outside our core chapters.
Our next year is going to be focused on bringing classic Gaiscioch back into the fold and keeping our members playing together wherever that may be. We want everyone to feel as an important part of our community and continue to stay in touch with the family. We’re creating a new way for players to continue to play together in remote games away from our main chapters. In addition we are restructuring our Tree system to allow both large and small scale adventures.
The New Gaiscioch Family Tree
The Trunk (Our Website)
This is the core of our community. Regardless of what game you play or what you’re doing, the website is your central connection point to people, activities, and news. This is where you unlock new features by advancing your rank, communicate with others, and plan activities with friends. Each member only needs to register once and every game they play is linked to the same Gaiscioch.com account.
The Branches (Our Chapters)
These are our primary chapters focused on creating our brand name and image within the gaming space. All of these will maintain a population above 300 and be focused on creating large scale public community events. All chapters will clear a pre-launch compatibility evaluation and also a post launch compatibility evaluation. These will be our main focus as a community and our main source of growth.
The Roots (Our Legacy Chapters and Retired Chapters)
Our family’s roots go deep. Think of our roots as our history. Each of these games was special to our family as they once housed a full chapter for years of our existence. Legacy Chapters remain active with the full use of the Gaiscioch.com website. Additionally they will have the option of being renamed “GSCH” to allow them to function by the looser GSCH guidelines for small to medium sized communities or remain as a Gaiscioch to abide by the large chapter guidelines. As long as 2 or more elders continue to be involved and the chapter maintains an active membership above 100 the chapter will retain it’s full website support. If it drops below 100 it will become one of our twigs. Once the population has retired we will retire the branch. If a Legacy Chapter gains in popularity it also has the option of being reactivated and brought back as a branch once again.
Introducing Our Twigs! (Social Adventures)
This year we will be launching an all new way to enjoy the Gaiscioch life with others. In the form of GSCH Social Adventures. The Social Adventures will be focused on capturing the random games we play with friends and rewarding players for engaging in these games together.
There are 4 types of social adventures.
- Grand Adventures - 100+ Active Players
- Epic Adventures - 25+ Active Players
- Social Adventures - 5+ Active Players
- Open Adventures - Spur of Moment, can be anything from 4-Player Cooperative Console games to MMOs.
We’re opening up the family to create a new style of adventure in the form of small to medium scale adventures. It’s our hope that we can help keep people playing together in various games from around the gaming sphere. With the creation of the “Social System” players can earn social points which add to their family vault credits. So essentially by playing Wildstar with other family members you can buy that new greatsword you’ve been saving up for in Guild Wars 2 or you could snag a game from our loot vault. Additionally all official GSCH adventures will have Social Experience earnable in each game along with levels to show off your expertise in each game. Earn experience by organizing and participating in events within adventures.
The Role of Twigs in the future of Gaiscioch
We are evolving our Seed program into the twig system. All games we are evaluating for chapter potential will be a twig before being eligible to be a chapter. We will examine its ability to allow our community to thrive and if it looks like an eligible candidate, we will run it across our compatibility matrix and evaluate its potential for success. If it is decided to be a good fit for the family we will officially brand it with the Gaiscioch name and migrate all GSCH members to the official branch. This will allow us to enjoy all of the new titles we’re looking at as a family instead of just a selected choice and leave the potential for twigs to become chapters open to which ones actually perform best.
This new system will allow us a better way to retain members and keep them involved in the family. It will let us share oddball adventures in strange and wonderful places and we as a family can explore many horizons together.
It is important to note that the Social System is built around players, not in game guilds. Players can choose to be in the official GSCH guild or they join or form another guild and still use the social system. All that is required is a total of 4 Gaiscioch members doing something together. The guild tag above their head does not matter.
As we explore new worlds on the Streams of Epic Adventure we will setup new guilds and add them to the list of official adventures and allow players to begin earning experience towards their game levels to earn titles and achievements on their profiles. The adventures that draw a lot of people will advance from social adventures to grand adventures and unlock new features. Those that perform poorly will phase out over time and only be found in the full directory for those looking for a spur of the moment revisit.
Upcoming for Guild Wars 2
We will be bringing our Great Tyrian Adventure back in 2016 in a 2 season back to back mega event. In season 4 we will be calling it the Conquest Edition and focus entirely on WvW.
In Season 5, we’ll be titling it ‘Into The Brink’ making use of the new content in Heart of Thorns and taking on large scale coordinated assaults. Additionally, look for some Rare items showing up on the Gaiscioch Loot Vault such as precursors, weapon skins, and other desirable weapons and armor. We are looking for new ways to reward Gaiscioch members for their long term commitment to the family and we’ll be bringing some of these new developments to life over the course of the next year.
Upcoming for Elder Scrolls Online
With the help of the lovely Prissy, we will be transitioning the Gaiscioch chapter to the GSCH legacy chapter and changing our focus from large scale events to small to medium sized events. We will be adapting to the growing demand for dungeons, raids, and other small scale content and placing our focus there. We will begin approaching new members through the use of forums and private whispers and will begin to grow and solidify a core group that can enjoy ESO for days to come.
Upcoming for The Family
Over the next year we’re already lining up our Extra Life Charity event, our Double Up Charity event (Spring), and also planning our 2016 Pax Prime Gaiscioch 15 Year Celebration. Once we have the official dates we’ll be placing info about this meetup. We’ll be wrapping up our second year of publishing Gaiscioch Magazine, and closing our first year of the Streams of Epic Adventure. As a community we’re looking at a strong year of growth and should see increases in population in our chapters and our new adventures.
Overall I look forward to 2016 in hopes that we can bring back many of our long time members and rekindle those priceless adventures.
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About the Author
Benjamin "Foghladha" Foley
Benjamin founded the Gaiscioch Social Gaming Community in 2001 and has since been the founder & activities director for this well known community. His role has gone beyond just running the Gaming Community and now includes running the Athletics Program in Portland, Oregon, as well as acting as the Managing Editor of the Gaiscioch Magazine, and is the Lead Producer on the Gaiscioch Livestream Productions. Additionally he networks with game developers to form relationships between Gaiscioch and development studios.
His experience in publishing dates back to helping his Grandparents who operated a printing press for over 40 years. In high school and college Benjamin excelled in journalism and played an active part in the school newspaper. Benjamin currently works full time as the director of technology for a franchise trade publication & education company.