Leadership in Albion Online is a world which is wide, wild, wily, and wise. Often the interactions and perspectives of leaders and diplomats happen outside of the view of the common line member and gatherer. This interview is an attempt to bring some of that hidden perspective to light.
As part of my interview process with the significant leadership, diplomats, and shot callers of Albion online, I used a standard set of questions for each person that is being interviewed. These views and expressed opinions are their own and, except where the interviewee is the alliance leader, are not reflective of the views or official position of their organization at large.
The following interviewee is none other than Hirihito.
Voltel: For those who are unfamiliar with you, who are you and what do you do?
Hirihito: I am the head of the diplomatic services at POE and I run a few other programs like the Rent-A-Territory service.
Voltel: What can you tell me about yourself and what you do; i.e. your role in your Alliance?
Hirihito: My job is relatively simple, keep everyone up to date on the situation and mediate disputes. Since POE is a international alliance (we have players from Russia, Poland, France, North America, Latin America, Brazil and Portugal), this is harder than it sounds and I have a fabulous staff that makes sure nothing is lost in translation. Beyond that I make sure that alliance rules are enforced, discord is kept clean and everyone has a good time.
Voltel: How’d you get your start in Albion? Did you start with planning to help run an alliance?
Hirihito: Actually, I got my start running around in the yellow zone. I didn’t really get involved in alliance affairs until well over half a year after launch (Around December of last year)
Voltel: What, for you, was the hardest part of running your alliance? What do you struggle most with now?
Hirihito: The most difficult part of running a successful alliance is keeping everyone civil. In POE we believe in democracy, one guild, one vote, but that means there are often heated debates when issues become personal. Its important to focus that energy on something productive rather than degenerative.
Voltel: How does diplo currently – or continue to – shape your day-to-day and the experience of your members?
Hirihito: For the rank and files the diplomatic service is mostly to mediate small issues, stuff like “someone took my hourly chest” (a small open world loot drop) or “someone took the loot from my kill”. On a more macro scale we deal with new guilds applying to POE and help shape rules that affect everyone. There are lots of ways in which it impacts the average player.
Voltel: From the high-level, what’s the unspoken or unsung role of diplos and leaders that most people don’t get to see?
Hirihito: Well most of our activities are pretty open and we prefer our members to know what we are doing, we think that fosters a healthy and trustful environment. If I had to talk about one role that most people don’t get to see diplos doing, it would probably be the discord purges. With any large organization there are always people coming and going and part of the POE diplomat’s job is to make sure that spies don’t stick around with our bi-monthly purge.
Voltel: Do you ever feel leaders are sometimes in the position of creating more problems than they solve?
Hirihito: I mean I won’t speak for everyone, but personally my IRL boss is a jackass (I hope he doesn’t read this but then I don’t think he reads English). The same applies in game, leaders often have different personalities, and these often clash to the detriment of their guilds. There are a lot of talented leaders out there, but they often need someone to tap them on the shoulders and point them in the right way.
Voltel: Let’s talk regional – A lot of recent attention has been paid to Mercia and their residents. What are your thoughts on the region and the diplomatic and political situation?
Hirihito: The situation in Mercia is still in flux. SAVE has recently allied with Squad in an attempt to push out POE from the black zone. However now that their alliance has seen some moderate success the internecine conflict is beginning to spring up again. I think that there will be a lot of territorial changes in Mercia soon.
Voltel: Does the situation in Mercia differ greatly from Cumbria and Anglia?
Hirihito: Mercia as a continent has always been in flux since there is so much value in controlling those zones. In Cumbria you have two well established alliance/guilds (POE and TC) which has historically controlled the zones. In Anglia the zones are worth so little that it is often not worth fighting over and as a result many NAPS (non-aggression packs) have been formed and there is very little fighting.
Voltel: By your assessment, are their problems that leaders and Diplomats are incapable of solving?
Hirihito: I think that when you play a MMO the intentions of 95% of the player base is good. A person would have to be very sociopathic to want to demolish the organization he is a part of (without good reason). I think that as long as you sit down with good intentions you can make sure those “good reasons” never occur.
Voltel: Do you feel that building alliances and coalitions in Albion through diplomacy is largely misunderstood?
Hirihito: I come from a slightly different gaming culture than those who play Albion where the diplomatic culture is more advanced. Right now, I would say that Albion diplomacy has not progressed out of the stone ages and that policy is mostly designed by one or two warlords and that the rank and file is rarely consulted on issues that pertain to them. Likewise, the majority of diplomatic decisions are very personal and petty, and conflicts often spring up because person A dislikes person B rather than because of genuine economic or political needs. I think as the better guilds continue to emerge diplomacy will become more fleshed out and the tribal diplomacy (of chanting around the fire) will be replaced with a more cost-benefit analysis style of engagement.