Welcome to the alliance guide. I will go over what you should consider before creating one, and in the process of creating it. These are what I believe to be important aspects: Community, Core Team, Recruitment, Place of Belonging, Schedule / Activities, and Presence (Being active). I will be talking about those, and more. If you want to skim, read the summary at the end to have an idea of what you should know. Any feedback or suggestions is encouraged and appreciated.
Have a core team before beginning the alliance intent on building the foundation of your alliance. 3 should be a minimum, and 8 should be a maximum. Reason being, the less people, the faster communication travels in between them. More than that, and communication between people takes longer, and increases the chance of misunderstanding. (Kaufman, J. 2010) It's also daunting to new members to see an abundance of staff, because it'll make them feel left out. If you have only yourself, you have much more work to do. Having a core team will show other prospective members that there is promise to this new alliance.
You want to set out the alliance identity, goals, and guidelines ahead of time. People will join you for why you do things, and not just for what you do. If they find your alliance to line up with their own values, then they will be interested. You must also have passion and a vision for your alliance, as it shows that you care for it, and they will find interest in that, as something they can believe in. I find it more tolerable to have three simple rules, rather than a whole set of rules that may seem daunting. Yet, it is important you set those out so prospective members know what you expect from their behavior. Either share the same goal together, or work to help each other with individual goals, but with the intent to help each individual unlock their true potential with that goal.
Most importantly, you want to put a great amount of thought into the name of your alliance. It should have meaning, and relate to the identity and values of your alliance. Having it also be short and simple, while fulfilling the identity and values, helps it be memorable, and easy to search. You want a name that you and your alliance can be proud of, and comfortable with, on the top of their heads.
You want your community to be active, socially and activity wise. Activity wise, you'll want to be running activities consistently, or you may make the mistake of causing members to feel lonely and have no one to share their experiences with. This is easier to manage, because you and others may usually love the game enough that you'd be running activities either way, you just have to make sure you make the time to invite others, and be patient and courteous. If you see a alliance member log on, and they are speaking in the alliance chat, invite them, because you want to set a an example of being welcoming. Once you attain more members, it may be likely that your party becomes full. This can be a slight issue, but you can either drop out of the party, and pair up with that lone member to accompany them. You can also have them join as a multi-party, yet they wouldn't be able to join your party in the final area. When it comes to Emergency Quests, this may not be a problem, but they will not have a party boost, unless they have more alliance members with them, or put a party maker down for randoms to join them.
If the chat is silent, it won't be appealing as a social outing. I suggest a prompt that asks each individual their plan and goals for the day, as soon as they sign in. Good questions to ask are 'what are you up to' and 'what goal are you working towards'. Keep the conversation going, and easy ways to do so besides those two questions, is with any question. Here is an example: I ask one of my team mates what they think of a mimic doll I have, which repeats anything that has been said in close proximity to it. It's best if the question is relevant to the game in some way, but if conversation leads into a tangent unrelated to the game, that is fine. Good questions unrelated to the game can be 'What are your hobbies?' and 'What have you been doing besides PSO2?'. What's important is that you are talking actively as a team. Conversing is a social skill, after all. Here is a link to a guide on small talk:
Type of Alliance
You should know what type of alliance you want to make. Some types are social alliance, RP alliance, Raiding Alliance, Beginner Focused Alliances, etc. There can also be a fusion of more than one. You should choose what you are most interested in before proceeding.
Social alliances would focus more on the community aspect, and active chatting is a must for this. They would generally raid, and focus on builds, but would prioritize other aspects such as hanging out in the lobby, in the alliance headquarters, or a team mates room, chatting in-game. The activities would simply be the medium that facilitates more discussion and opportunities to get to know each other and grow bonds. The activities are simply there to be shared between them. Being top alliance wouldn't be their primary focus, especially if they are able to get the job done, while enjoying the content through out.
RP Alliances would focus on role playing as their character, living as them. Primarily, this means they are acting as their own character, but it is fun to do so, and finding others that are interested in doing the same. This is where imagination and creativity comes in. They act, and at the same time, create a story on the fly when they do so. They may take the roles serious, and not interact out of character, except if the situation calls for it. (Life Emergency for example) They may also take their time in character creation, because they will be able to have a vast amount of tools to create the exact character they want to perform as.
Raiding alliances would focus on being as optimal as possible, and being good at the game. They would focus on DPS, Survivability, game knowledge, and skill. They would derive fun from winning, and being good with their character and class can make them feel good. Naturally, they would be competitive in nature, which is the type of fun they'd possibly look for. They may also prefer to use expert matching in Ultimate Settings. (Which requires a title for completing a Solo Training: Phanatical Phantoms with an S-Clear, and a title for completing T: Destroyer Of Light with an S-Clear) They will also focus on minimum requirements for equipment, to ensure that their members are not only playing well, but being geared well for every situation they may encounter.
Beginner Focused Alliances would focus on teaching new comers about the game, and would also strengthen their own members to the point of being able to teach and lead future prospective members new to the game. People here generally would enjoy helping others, and also simply enjoy learning. These types of alliances will also try to be encouraging and welcoming, to grow a shy member's social abilities to the point where they may feel comfortable moving forward, whether that be continuing in the same alliance, or a different type of alliance that may help with their new goals they want to progress towards.
You can have fusions of a social and beginner focused alliance, or a raiding and RP alliance. You just have to consider that will take more time and investment from you and the alliance to focus in those different areas, as opposed to an alliance with one type of goal. Now, if you ever consider to change the type of alliance mid-way, after your alliance has gained steam, you have to be careful. You may risk losing some members, because the type of alliance may be what allures them to your alliance. It's sometimes the price you have to pay, if you realize the new direction, is one you would want to go in. Just remember to stay true to yourself, and your alliance. Thinking this through before creating it, may help you prevent having to revise the type of alliance it would be.
Generally, you are the leader, and it is important to have good leadership skills to go along with the creation of your alliance. If you do not have previous experience with leadership positions, then you will learn to lead as time passes in your alliance. You have to expect problems to come up, and you will be the one who has to decide how to solve them, on the fly. This is why it helps to have guidelines you can refer to. Do not be lax with your guidelines, and be consistent with how you act with punishment and evaluations. Otherwise, this will simply cause problems down the line, which you want to avoid. If you don't have any guidelines set up, then you have to simply lead by example, of how you want the group to evolve into. If you post NSFW content in your chat (symbol arts), then your community will see that as a welcome action. (Those that are interested in posting those) Remember to act in line with your own guidelines, otherwise members may be confused.
Now, it is important you have your core team, assist with leadership responsibilities as well. You want to delegate, because it is difficult to do everything on your own. You want to trust them enough to be able to handle problems in the same manner you would. You generally want them to be good at organizing activities, recruiting, and conversing at the least. Otherwise, you'll have to take on these roles yourself, which shouldn't be feasible in the long run. You'll also want to be good at those tasks yourself, and build up those skills within your core team as time progresses. So the next few paragraphs will apply to yourself as well.
Organizing activities is as easy as them being present, and being willing to ask the team who would like to do a particular activity. Example: "Hey guys, I'm currently in a party of 2, we have two spots open right now. Who would like to run World Engulfed in Shadows?" They get a response from two team mates that would like to join. Then their response should be "Alright, join us on Block 17, we'll be in lobby."
Recruiting will require for them know what the alliance needs in terms of what type of member they are looking for, and to make decisions based on that criteria. They have to be just as methodical and thoughtful as you would be in recruiting. They also need to have charm, as being likable, means the prospective member will be open to joining them because they would feel comfortable around them. You want to make sure they aren't too pushy with their recruitment tries. It's best to be a fisherman, rather than being a shark. (Widener, C. 2008) By this I mean, you want them to express that they are recruiting, and that they feel that prospective member is welcome to join if they like. Yet, they shouldn't push beyond there, if they give a maybe or a no. It is a negative look on your alliance if your core team nags a player beyond that response. With time, they should be able to determine if a player seems to have a desire to join, and can use those tells to help them consider whether or not they may be open to joining. They should be on the same page with you in terms of recruiting on the field and through recruitment posts. You want your core team to be sociable, because then they will be creating a foundation of discussion themselves, and not just yourself. New members may be shy, but you want your core team to be more engaging and approachable. This will then encourage newer members to be more comfortable as they get to know the core team and each other, and will make them be willing to be more engaging themselves.
When it comes to making calls, the first step is to make one. Do not hesitate, or at the very least, ponder it, but use your best judgement, and act. It is better to make the wrong call, then make no call at all. You would learn from it. For example, you may come to a situation where two members don't like each other, and they bicker. You can't force people to like each other, but you can tell them to stop bickering. This is why, it is important to consider your own members opinions on prospective members before recruiting more, which I will go over in the recruiting section.
Most importantly, you have to be there. Be active, and have a presence. You are the sole person to give the alliance a direction, and without you, they may feel lost. After time passes by, the community will be like a family, and without you at that point, will be minimal, because they know each other by now, and are accustomed to each other. Yet, if you have to step down, they will still need someone to give them direction, and that would most likely be your core team / staff at that point in time. If you are inactive for 30 days, your team manager would automatically gain the team leader role.
Schedule and Activities
Be clear about your schedule, and what activities you plan to do as an alliance. It's very important, so that members know when they can join, otherwise you would have to use a seeking channel, and ping members who are around if they'd like to join an activity. UQ's are an easy way to build a schedule around. You can also do both. Having a schedule is important, because it can also give members a habit, and it's easy to stick to a habit once it's established. (Ziglar, Z. 2011) This requires consistency from your own part, and remaining active early on. Otherwise you won't create habits if you flake more often than not.
Activities will be what your bread and butter for what you as an alliance, do together. This helps create shared experiences, that can help create long lasting bonds. An easy list of activities to consider for a start, is UQ's (Urgent Quests), RQ's (Recommended Quests), Daily Orders, and Ark Missions. Generally, activities will be done to gain Exp, Meseta, or Rares. You and your community can decide on the order, but generally, since Urgent Quests always are for a limited time during the day at a set time, you'll want to prioritize those. Then in between those time slots, Daily Orders can be the next thing, so you can work on getting daily boosts and Meseta.
Next, you can focus on Recommended Quests, if you and your alliance are at the required level to do so. These can help with leveling. It all is preference and based on the goals of each individual. Arks Missions will have Daily and Weekly Goals that you would be advised to complete as an alliance, and it also gives you rewards you'd want to farm over time. (Such as items and Meseta) There are many other activities to consider, but this is a good start for those new to PSO2. If in doubt, simply run a free field, which are quests that can be freely explored, and lead up to a boss. Even better if there is a purpose to doing said free field. (Either because it is your favorite, or there is a particular drop you are farming from there, or a client order can be fulfilled in that free field area)
First consider inviting any friend from you environment. Anyone you know that has an interest in PSO2, that may not have an alliance yet. These you know you can trust the most. If not possible, recruit any mutual friends, because it's better to recruit someone that is semi-random, rather than totally random. Someone you have spoken to only once, but have shared an experience or place, can fulfill this as well.
Next, if it's someone completely random, it is still better if you shared a common experience with them, so you have an idea of their character before involving them in the alliance. For example, I put a party maker down in EQ's, and look for anyone that seems to be open to conversing, and is enjoyable to talk to. If the person sticks around, and seems to be a good fit for the type of alliance I want to make, I then ask them if they are looking to join an alliance, and give them the opportunity to join mine, and I leave it at that. Another example is someone you've talked to on the forums, who seems to have a similar mindset to you, said something you agreed with, or simply had a good back and forth with you. You can simply private message them, referencing that conversation, and ask them if they'd like to join you.
Then, to ensure prospective members have more of a personal bond to the team, having them invite a friend, makes it so that they have more reason to stay, since they have more of a person connection, through that friend, and it can grow. You just want to ensure that, that friend also is a good fit for the alliance before going that route.
Finally, your recruitment post is an important part of your recruitment process. You will want to format it in a manner that is easy to digest, and looks aesthetically pleasing. This will be your first (and only) opportunity to convince any prospective member to consider joining that are looking through recruitment posts in a forum. You can have it be super detailed, or short and concise. Yet you will want to list the important aspects. Your recruitment post will be an extension of your alliance's name and identity. It's the image of your alliance, but in words. This is why it is important to put great thought into the initial post. Remember to use formatting and bullet points to make things easier to read. A banner at the top would also be nice and sleek.
Overall, you'll want to recruit people you feel are good prospective members, and you don't want to invite just anyone. It is better to slowly recruit quality members, than to quickly recruit an abundance of members. You also want to recruit members that your current members are comfortable with, as you don't want to create friction within your own community. Features like the team tree being maxed out, would be enticing for members, but generally you don't want that to be what allures people. You want that to be an extra benefit, you want the values and identity of your alliance to allure people, in addition to the people in your alliance. The people are what is important. Generally, you'll want your alliance to be active socially as well, which is why I look for people that talk. You don't want a silent alliance.
Place of Belonging
Generally, you want to have a voice communication server, and an alliance website, if you are serious. Otherwise, simply having a voice comm server with text channels, will suffice. (This would usually be discord, but some people may still use Teamspeak) Having an alliance website makes you seem more serious and appealing as an alliance. When you create an alliance, you are creating a small community, for people to reside. Here, people can get to know each other, when they aren't in-game. In addition to shared experiences within the game, sharing a space outside the game, can also create trust and bonds that can last for a long time.
In summary, when you create an alliance, you are creating a community, and you want that community to have a name, identity, purpose, and vision. It is important to have a core team of trusted members / staff to help you with the foundation of the alliance because it is difficult to do so alone. Eventually, you must expand, so recruiting is an important aspect to any alliance or guild, and quality trumps quantity here. (Friend / Family > Mutual > Random with shared common experience > Totally Random) Since it would be a community, it would make sense to have a place of belonging, that being a voice comm server and / or an alliance website. Having a schedule, helps members know when to come around to join an activity with others, and being consistent, makes the timing a habit, important to a social activity that occurs in the long-term. Finally, it is important your alliance be active in terms of chatting and playing, because there is no point to belonging to an alliance that rarely talks or rarely plays. If you ever are lost in terms of what to do, you can always look up WoW Guild Guides, as those can relate to PSO2 and similar activities.
Key Aspects to remember: Community, Core Team, Recruitment, Schedule / Activities, Place of Belonging, Presence (Being active)
Sources: WoW Guide, Ultimate Guide To Small Talk, Widener, C. "The Art of Influence: Persuading Others Begins with You." (2008); Kaufman, J. "The Personal MBA: Master The Art Of Business." (2010); Ziglar, Z. "Pick Four." (2011)