- Beskar – Sith Empire Guild
Ever since fans saw the fully armored bounty hunter with his iconic helmet, Boba Fett on the big screen many wanted to know more about this character and his mysterious culture…the Mandalorians. This week we meet Blur and get to know more about him and the Mandalorian based guild, Beskar. First, let’s look at their recruiting video.
More about the Mandalorian based guild, Beskar after the Jump…
- Guild Q&A
Welcome Blur, to Guild Checkpoint. Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and about your gaming experience?
I’m an Australian geek in his mid 30s. That means I’m old enough to remember gaming on consoles like the Atari 2600 and the Intellivision, in addition to computers like the Commodore 64. At the same time, however, I’m young enough to browse my local gaming store and not be asked, “Hello, you look confused. Are you looking for something to buy as a gift?” I seem to be at that perfect sweet spot of old-school credibility and being at the birth of so many of the coolest trends and titles in video games over the years, whilst also being able to keep up with “the kids” of today and not feel out of step or “past it” at all. In terms of MMOs specifically, I got my start with Ultima Online back in 1997 when I was sent a review copy while working as a journalist for PC Magazine (Australia), which was one of my first ever jobs after leaving university. From there, I’ve played EQ, SWG, EQ2, Guild Wars, Anarchy Online, Dark Age of Camelot, Lord of the Rings Online, Age of Conan, Fallen Earth, Star Trek Online and Warhammer. And they’re just “the big ones” I can remember off the top of my head.
How did Beskar get its start?
Well, I’d been in the TOR community since the day it opened in October 2008 and had been thinking of starting a guild just about daily. By December 2008, I felt I knew enough about where things were going (which is to say, very little, by today’s standards), to at least put a flag in the sand and say to the community, “Hey, I’ve been around the block a few times in MMOs and know what makes a good guild. And, on top of that, I want to do something with a Mandalorian theme.” Which, at the time I might add, was a very different, almost very unique kind of background to a guild, as most of them were straight, “We’re Jedi!” or “We’re Sith!” kind of guilds. The result was that people were quick to say, “That sounds great!” and we had grown to a comfortable size by early 2009 and have subsequently stayed at a comfortable size, over the years since. We’ve been consistent.
Your guild has been together a long time really “without a game.” How has the past three years been?
Long, funny, painful, weird, rewarding, frustrating… I could come up with a list of words as long as my arm and most of them would contradict each other to the casual viewer. Looking back, I’m just genuinely surprised at the fact we didn’t go mad in the process. I suppose the aspect of new people coming along throughout that whole time kept things fresh and new enough for us to not notice the overall passing of time; at least not too much.
Would you have done things differently, now looking back?
This might sound weird, but in hindsight I wouldn’t have started the guild so early. Having said that, at the time, the end of 2008 saw the community feeling that the game had already been underway for some years, so although we were unlikely to see it in 2009, there was every chance we’d see it in 2010. So creating a guild at the tail-end of 2008 would mean existing for, say, 12 months and then we’d be on the downhill run to TOR launching sometime in the first half of 2010. So it genuinely seemed like the right time to be starting a guild. However, if I could go back in time and warn the late-2008 me that the game wouldn’t be coming out until a couple of weeks before the dawn of 2012, I would have taken at least a year off before starting Beskar. Maybe two! Long story short, there’s nothing I would change about how I created Beskar, thematically…But time-wise, absolutely.
Besides the “cool” factor of the Mandalorian culture (not race), what got Beskar to embrace that specific lore?
The Mandalorian theme is something that’s been there from when I wrote my first recruitment thread for the guild and basically stems from a few factors. The first is my love of Boba Fett. The second is Karen Traviss’ Republic Commando novels which I realize get panned by some people in the Star Wars community, but they also have a lot of fans too and, frankly, feature more Mandalorian background and language than anything that came before or has come since. And the third thing is the fact I wanted the guild to be a little ambiguous, if possible. Remember, this is back in the days when people were talking about potentially three factions and, if there was to be a third faction where the bounty hunters and smugglers and people of that nature were going to hang out, in between the Republic and Empire, that’s where I wanted Beskar to be. Of course, it didn’t work out that way in TOR.
How does the guild use the lore? Is it strictly for roleplay or does it impact guild chat i.e. language, rank system, and/or leadership?
I wouldn’t say it’s strictly for roleplay purposes, however, that’s certainly the place you would find the guild lore being referenced the most. Outside of RP, there are words and phrases you will hear Beskar members say a lot. For example, we regularly call each other, “ner vod” (pronounced “nair vohd”), which basically means, “my brother/sister” or “my comrade” in Mandalorian. Little things like that. We aren’t like Star Trek fans who speak fluent Klingon or anything! Within our forums, we have let Mandalorian words and phrases inform different levels of forum participation, such as when someone reaches 500 posts they get the title Vod/Comrade and at 1000 posts, it’s Aliit/Family. We don’t have guild officers, per se, in Beskar but the people I have to help me on the forums and who will be there to guild people in-game are called “Ori’vod” or, basically, “big brother/big sister”. So there’s certainly a Mandalorian flavour in the guild, but it’s not overwhelming and we always keep in mind that some members don’t RP or, even if they do, aren’t playing Mandalorian characters themselves.
Beskar is rolling on a PVE server correct? I am also in a guild playing on a PVE server. Do you or Beskar ever feel looked down on by some of the gaming community?
We are going to a RP/PvE server and, yes, there are times when I feel that the PvP community looks down upon PvE guilds for not being hardcore enough. You get people spouting nonsense like, “World PvP is the only realistic way to game! It’s stupid to have two enemies near each other and they can’t fight!” and you feel like sitting them down and explaining how that philosophy is absolutely wrong. I can think of plenty of cases, for example, where two enemies won’t fight because of where they are, such as the main street of a big city with 1000s of witnesses, yet if you put them in a dark alley with no one around, and they might go at it without a moment’s hesitation. Which makes the concept used on PvE servers — whereby people are safe in some areas and vulnerable in other areas — actually MORE like real life than an open world PvP server where people fight in places that are sometimes unrealistic if we’re going to get down to what’s “realistic” and “unrealistic”. Of course, you can never convince a hardcore PvP gamer of this, but the reality is there for anyone who looks at the facts with an open mind. So, long story short, I do feel that the PvP community looks down its nose at PvE guilds like us, but as their whole philosophy is wrong, I couldn’t care less. At the end of the day, I encourage people to simply enjoy their gaming and, for any normal person, that can be achieved quite easily without having to put down other people, and what they want to do in their gaming. Live and let live. It’s not hard.
Beskar is a very unique guild in some of your rules and management. In the guild’s FAQ, you explain how Beskar is a “sandbox” guild. Can you explain this as it relates to ranks, raiding arrangements, and guild decisions?
No problem. What we mean by “sandbox” is that, just as a sandbox RPG or MMO lets you play the game your way, we want people to carve out their own niche in Beskar. For example, you can be a member that just wants to PvE — and that’s fine. You might want to be a member that PvEs and RPs — and that’s fine, too. You might be a PvP-only kind of person — and, again, that’s fine. Whatever combination of playstyles you want to bring to the table is fine by us. This also enables people to change their playstyle over time. Someone might come to us as a rabid PvP fan but, over time, fall under the spell of operations (raiding). Or they might get a taste for RP and think, “Hey, I am loving this!” and start to RP more. These kinds of combinations, or changes in combinations, are very hard to achieve in a guild that’s like, “We are a hardcore PvP guild…” or, “We are a hardcore RP guild…” and, in those scenarios, people aren’t going to even get in the door to discover that they might like those things unless they are into them, and can prove that to the guild’s satisfaction, from the start. In Beskar, meanwhile, what we hope is that we offer enough variety that someone can play what they want to play, and be who they want to be, but not be limited and feel closed in by those choices over time, either.
The guild has an age policy and also one for characters names. How have these rules come about and have they helped keep the maturity level good?
The age policy came about in early 2009 via a guild-wide vote. We always had a sense that we wanted older members before that, but putting it to a vote was the final word in the matter. Why? Because, as a group of “older” people (and by older, I mean folk in their mid-late 20s, 30s and 40s), we don’t discount that some under 18s can be wonderfully mature and a delight to talk to but, broadly speaking, they’re just at a different point in their lives than we are. We had to draw a line in the sand somewhere, so we settled on 18. In truth, our applicants are usually a lot older anyway as most under 18s, or even 20 year olds, will look at the amount of writing on our website and/or our application process, and just throw their hands up in the air and not want to go through it, anyway. The character names policy, meanwhile, is something that comes directly from me. I have always had a problem with people who name their characters in silly ways in MMOs. And it’s not just the part of me that likes to RP, either. I see MMO characters as being something to take pride in, so when people want to call themselves, “Jedi’Killah” or “ILikeRapMusic” or “Beer’Drinker”, I look on that person as having no respect for their character and, if they have no respect for their character, what else don’t they have respect for? Over the years, I’ve found a lot of people feel the same way as me on this issue, so I had absolutely no problem making it clear from the start that, if you want to be in Beskar, you need to have a character name that feels “Star Wars”. In both instances, yes, I feel this has helped keep the maturity level “up” in Beskar as an older person, who wants to name themselves seriously, will usually have other serious thoughts and desires when it comes to TOR, too.
Beskar has the attitude that the members make the guild, what it is, and Beskar helps by offering the tools for guildmates to better communicate. Is this a fair observation?
Absolutely. I have always held the view that members make a guild and so that’s the attitude I try and instill in Beskar because, at the end of the day, a guild without members is just a shell. People might be familiar with the phrase, “style over substance” which I think can be applied to a fair few TOR guilds out there. They get the flashy website happening and the music pumping and they talk the talk, but where are the members? Where is their output? Where are their conversations? What have they created? I think such guilds lull their members into a false sense of what their guild is all about, ie: they see the flashy website with the music pumping away and think the job is done, yet the job hasn’t even started! Guilds are all about the members, and what they do, and how they interact — not how flashy a website can look. We will take the “substance over style” route every time.
Why does this type of guild management strike some gamers as odd? Why don’t more guilds take this approach of having members take charge and make their own raid/operation times with fellow members etc.?
It could be a number of reasons. The big one, I guess, is that a guild leader has come from a guild that was run in a certain way and so now that they’re in the big chair for themselves, they simply don’t know any better. To them, guild members are there to be commanded and making every guild member get online at 8pm on Thursday night, with the threat of expulsion if they don’t show up, is “good leadership” to their way of thinking. Personally, I find that kind of thing to be stupid and not really a recipe for creating happy members, especially over a long period of time. While Beskar certainly has rules about attendance in general (for example, if someone doesn’t post on our forum for 14 days without a prior excuse, we’ll assume they’ve lost interest in us), the concept of compulsory attendance at events, and similar, is still alien to us. We understand that people have lives, families and jobs. And, not just lives, families and jobs but different timezones, too! Why on Earth would I demand that someone get up at 3am in their part of the world to join in an event or get booted? It’s nonsense. Our whole philosophy is based around empowering members to be in charge of their own destiny. As I say to them, I’m providing a top-class forum, chat server, voice server and all the cool people they could ever hope to play with, but the next step is up to them. If they want to raid at ‘x’ time on ‘y’ day of the week — great! Post it on our forums and see who replies. Over time, people will start to see who’s in their timezone and, perhaps more importantly, who’s typically around when they want to do certain activities during the week and groups will then start to form within Beskar organically, rather than be dictated by one person, whether that’s a guild leader or raid leader.
Now we have covered rules and policies, how does Beskar promote fun and having a good time, especially having been together for almost three years?
Good question. Let me say upfront that I don’t think there’s one sure-fire way to keep all people engaged all the time, but I think the smartest thing we ever did was to have selective recruitment so that, from the start, all our members are basically pointing in a similar direction. Basically, we’ve taken in people who are (i) forum savvy, (ii) hugely interested in Star Wars and geeky things in general and, (iii) comfortable with the idea that our forums are rated “PG” and not the place for profanity, pornography, politics, religion and so on. This has created, from the outset, a forum community that feels safe. It feels comfortable. There’s no fighting. There’s no sarcasm and putting other members down. There’s no sense that if someone’s been in Beskar six months longer than someone else that it makes them a better member. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not sitting there in starched shirts and sipping cups of tea, but we’re certainly different to what I would call “the average” MMO guild out there. And people have really responded to that. Whatever people do in their day to day life — and we run the gamut from university students to blue collar to white collar to the military — when they step inside the Beskar forum, they’re all equal. They’re all playing by the same rules. And I truly believe that when you strip away a lot of the nonsense that goes on in MMO guilds and let people be who they really are, with no need to fight for their place in the group, or defend themselves against attacks, you get happier members who just want to have fun with each other.
What part of Star Wars: The Old Republic, are you really excited to see and play? What concerns do you have for the game as it is now?
This one’s easy for me because, despite having been involved in beta testing for some time, I still haven’t taken part in an operation. Given that raiding will be one of the primary end-game activities, I’m really keen to get involved with that so I can get my head around operations and be a resource for my members when they get there, too. Concerns-wise, there are a few. I wonder if the space game, for example, has genuine legs to hold people’s interest? I also wonder what the additional aspects of the Legacy system will be? I know that what’s been announced in that area, so far, has delighted and disappointed in almost equal measure. I’m also thinking about future expansions and how long they will take to produce, given they will have to be rich in story and voice acting? While Bioware hopes that rolling other classes will be a component of end-game for people, I’m not so sure. Personally, I’ll be doing it because I’m loving the storylines on both the Empire and Republic sides, but I know a lot of MMO gamers won’t be as interested, or forgiving, in that area. So there are a few concerns. Obviously I wouldn’t call them huge by any means and, indeed, I’ll go on the record as saying that TOR is the greatest MMO I’ve ever played, but to pretend that I had no concerns would be a lie, without doubt.
Is Beskar recruiting? If so what steps should a potential member take to apply and where?
Absolutely! Broadly speaking, we’ll be recruiting until the guild hits around 100 members so if people read this and then look at our member list and we haven’t hit 100 yet, we’re still recruiting! If people are interested in knowing more, I’d suggest starting off with visiting the Beskar website and digging around the site, but specifically in the FAQ and ABOUT sections; that’s where you’ll find the most information and “next steps”.
I want to thank Blur for his time answering my questions and sharing all about the Mandalorian based guild Beskar. All the best to Beskar as SWTOR gets set to launch.
Would you like to have your guild highlighted on CRR? All you need to do is submit your guild’s name and website in an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. See you all next week!