Multiple Guilds system sounds great

Guilds are simply too important.  That’s a topic I wrote on early last year and one I still agree with 100%.  MMO’s are being designed around needing a guild instead of being designed to facilitate the formation of a guild; there’s a huge difference.  Without a good guild, or when a guild breaks up, it’s often the catalyst for account closure.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I quit more MMO’s because of guild related issues than I do because of the game itself.  However, it -is- the game itself causing that problem!

A guild unit should never be allowed to have that much power.  I would like to see MMO’s move away from the guild as the primary unit completing content.  I want my guild to simply be a label I place on myself signifying my association with a group of players.  It’s like being apart of clubs in college or joining the Elks or local NRA.  I actually like the idea of allowing players to belong to multiple guilds only because I like the idea that this may diminish the importance of or power of the guild unit.

Note how I am not talking at all about guild drama, vying for that the role of someone’s favorite guild, loyalty, or any of the drama related issues.  Those only exist as symptoms of the problem I hope will be fixed when a game finally releases that devalues the role of a guild.  Guilds should be your FRIENDS and not the people you feel can get you furthest in the game.  It’s ridiculous that a game’s design can punish you for playing with your friends if those friends are not as active or choose not to play the way you do.  No one should ever feel trapped in a guild because of the way the game plays.

Honestly, I want to see what happens if the guild idea (as we know it now) is done away with completely.  Allow players to form their own associations and keep track of it themselves.  Again, shift the ‘power’ to the player.  “My guild’s not doing anything tonight” should read “I’m not doing anything tonight”.  I remember going down into SI dungeons with members from dozens of guilds in DAoC.  I remember Darkness Falls Legion runs where there was zero emphasis on any guild and it was entirely your realm forming a massive group and attacking a boss together.  Guilds still existed and players were still very loyal to them, yet it did not translate into how the game was played — neither PvP nor PvE.

Guilds should not be all or nothing.  It’s time they once again be more about your friends and less about your end-game.

  • Amen, with bells on, to all of that.

    Additionally, this is why “guild alliances” are not the solution to the problem of a game’s design punishing you for playing with your friends. If your friends aren’t well-suited to being in a raiding guild with you, then your friends’ guild almost certainly isn’t well-suited to being in an alliance with your raiding guild.

    There are exceptions – e.g., in my early WoW days, I was in a guild with a mix of US-timezone and Oceanic players. This later separated into two guilds, one in each timezone. If WoW had formal guild alliance support, we would certainly have been allies, and that would have been great.

    But in the far more common case of “I want to play with my casual buddies sometimes, and I want to raid sometimes”, alliances are not the answer, no matter how many times I see the idea floated by people who see GW2’s solution as unnecessary.

  • I just want to note that FFXI had a guild system that is much like the one you are describing here. They were called Linkshells and you could have as many as you could carry(provided the members allowed you to have one).

    All you had to do was equip one and you would now have that linkshell color over your head signifying that you were currently participating and/or chatting within it.

    Many people had different linkshells for different occasions such as finding groups for level ranges such as from 50-60 or for different high end events that needed organization. They were simply equipped as needed.

    This was also great for when a linkshell had little to no activity or people were leaving; instead of the linkshell disbanding and people quitting the game all they had to do was equip one of their other linkshells.

  • WoW ruined all that. Too much elitism in MMOs nowadays. I was also a long time DAoC player and remember the days of realm pride. But even towards the end of DAoC’s heyday the elitism of “8-mans”, which I was a part of and have never been able to reproduce sadly, came about. MMOs seem like they were so innocent now looking back and today they are just ruthless havens for elitism. Everyone wants to be in that one guild on the server that everyone knows and they doing anything to make that happen. Blah I’m just rambling cause I’m bored and there’s nothing good to play right now. Sorry I feel like that old man now yelling at the kids about playing on his lawn and telling stories about walking up hill through the snow both ways to school.

  • “Guilds should be your FRIENDS and not the people you feel can get you furthest in the game.” that’s only works if you have friends. Many ppl play mmos to witness some remnants of social life wile doing the only thing they love– play video games. Present company included, of course.

  • So you’re telling me you lack the ability to make friends in-game? I never said they had to be your friends in the real world.

  • I am not sure how I feel about the multiple guild memberships but overall I tend to agree with your proposition…I am always in favor to give power and control back to the player 🙂

    I tend to think that it isnt the guild system that needs change per se but the absolutely controlled content that is specifically designed for group or guild play. Group Instances…raid content for 10, 20, 40 people…that puts emphasis on guild play.

    I like the idea of throwing together a dungeon…making it hard as hell and let the players figure out how to do it…if they need 10 people…great…if they fail…bring 5, 10, or 30 more. I remember the old DAOC dragon hunts, or where we leveled up on monsters that we smashed in giant groups…you just needed to get a good hit in and you got tons of exp. Even the ML levels did that well (I know people hated them).

    Events are way too scripted these days because game designers want to design their silly mechanics into the game and wow everyone with “Look what I can do”…too much script, too much control…it is lame. Anyway, I think these tight mechanics are what puts an emphasis on guild play.

  • An excellent entry – I agree 200% with you.
    For most, other guild members are only tools they have to use to get better gear and trinkets – and not friends.
    I recently stopped raiding in WoW for personal reasons, and several “nice” people turned into … err how to say … “asshats”? overnight. You don’t raid, you’re useless, you’re treated like a second rate citizen, if you see what I mean.

    I plan to play SW:TOR casually, only with my friends, my REAL friends. If it doesn’t give me access to raid content, I couldn’t care less. And I hope Guild Wars 2, despite its name, will cater to the soloer and small family guild player.

  • When we’re talking dungeon lockouts, I agree, people should not be “forced” to do stuff with their guild.

    But (in newer MMO’s) playing with my guild, who have also become friends, allow me to get alot further in dungeons and raids then I’ve gotten in any pickup group so far. Simply because I know them, their playstyle, strong points and weaknesses.
    So yes, I prefer to play with my friends/guild, and it sucks if they can’t play, simply because im more succesfull with them.

    But, looking at EQ99, I group with random people every time, and having a blast and be succesful aswell.

    Which makes me think its more a content issue then a guild issue maybe?
    Or am i missing the point completely? 😉

  • It’s a content/gameplay design issue. Guilds have become too powerful as a result. Until the design changes, guilds have to change. If content goes back to being the way it used to be then guilds will change with it.

    Seeing as no one ever strikes out to be different these days in the content department, changing how guilds work may be an alternative solution.

  • Just throwing this out there. how do you guys feel about implementing Guild only dungeons? I know this is sort of the opposite thing keen is talking about but it would suit the hard core guilds to challenge them with guild only content, pride in your guild etc. I am not saying make the loot better or whatever in there but just a different option for guilds to do content for them.

    Too many guilds are just there in name and dont have a union of sort beyond the name above their head. Just a thought to actually make people more social and less solo all the time..

  • Guild only dungeons force people to be in guilds. It also forces people to be in guilds that can do said dungeons. Like you said, it goes against what I think guilds are all about. I think it’s wrong for people to be punished by their guild decision.

    I’m from an era in gaming where guilds were families. These were the people that supported you as a person, not as a player. It wasn’t what the guild could do for you; What could you do for the guild?

    Content should be very open and inviting as far as participation goes. That does not mean it has to be easy. It can be difficult and exclusive while still allowing players to form a group and head down to tackle a boss. Keeping in mind, this is also a mentality I have formed from an era without instancing.

  • that’s a key component there – an era without instancing. widespread instancing (maybe instancing at all) changed everything, and while that is another subject for discussion, I believe the fundamental way it shifted the community away from interacting with the people around you as a whole to only engaging with a select few has played a very significant role in the state of guilds.

    That’s what makes discussing mmorpgs so complicated (and interesting.) The systems are so intertwined. I blame instancing for a lot of the great losses mmorpgs have suffered, though.

  • I rarely agree with anything you right Keen, I still read your blog every day though cause you’re a good writer and MMO’s are my passion. However I fully 100% agree with you in this article.

    Guilds should be about friendship, life-minded individuals, comraderie and good old fashion having fun. Most themepark MMO’s promote the exact opposite in their elitest guild structures.

    Yet another reason in a long line of reason in why GW2 is changing the genre for the better and turning heads. I long for the day for the demise of the hello kiddie wonderpark attraction themepark MMO’s. Dont forget theres a huge difference in casual and obscene hand holding.

  • @Zederok: I am just keeping GW2 in the back of my mind but havent actively kept up with the development but does it really look like it will put some challenge back into the MMO genre? Do you have some examples?

  • Agree 100% Keen. I personally would like to see grouping (by “group” I mean any player group, whether a guild or the current combat group) be more dynamic and player-controlled. I.e. groups of any size, not limited to an arbitrary limit like 6, 10, 25, whatever. And guilds can be created anytime, without a minimum number of members; e.g. if I and three of my friends want to create a guild, we can do it, without running around spamming guild invites to try to get some arbitrary minimum.

    Also, something I’ve been thinking about… I’d like to see “guild” as a term get applied back to the traditional usage, i.e. it’s a “Warrior’s Guild” or “Wizard’s Guild” or “Carpenter’s Guild”. Then other groups would be “clans”, “squads”, “platoons”, “teams”, “families”, etc. — whatever that particular group decide to call themselves. It’s definitely much more realistic to have varying circles of association and loyalty. For example, a player could be part of a world-wide “Mage’s Guild”, while being a citizen of the “YeOldePlace” city-state, as well as a member of the “Blackmoor” family (which is perhaps the group of close friends). Eh, not the greatest example perhaps, but I think you get what I’m saying…

    In real life, people have so many different associations: family, friends, other friends, church, school, neighborhoods, work, hobby groups, teams, cities, states, etc. The current MMO guild implementations are so limited and lame by comparison.

  • I’m not sure I agree here but I’m going to think as I type (enjoy!).

    For me a guild is a collection of friends that share a similar goal for the game. I’m in a casual raiding guild that likes advancement, we are min/maxers and formerly hardcore. When we play, we want to focus on the raids because that’s what we enjoy.

    I guess in some ways it can become a representation of your ideals for the game. Ultimately, your involvement with a guild is up to you and you alone. If a guild has too many requirements for you or focuses on something you’re not interested in, then you shouldn’t be part of that guild.

    You’re almost asking the game devs to handle the social organization mechanics for you so you won’t have to handle it yourself.

    A guild is also a convenience mechanism for communicating with people you choose to associate with. I don’t see what is preventing anyone from simply creating channels where you can talk with people. There doesn’t have to be a ‘guild’ with a roster. You could have a friends channel, a family channel, a mages’ channel (it’s own little community), etc. You don’t need any more tools for them unless you want them to be more?

    Do you mean almost like player made factions? Mages’ Guild that only Mages are allowed into? The guild advances in level granting mages benefits? Adventurer’s guild where you can group up for something? Raider’s guild? PVP/Warring guild?

    I suppose these could be more grounded (less abstract) versions of LFG, Dungeon Finder or Raid Finder while also providing some benefits and alternative gameplay (politics – yay). Votes for ranks or leaders or hostile factions.

    It could be interesting…

  • Just to clarify: When I said “traditional usage” for the term “guild” I was talking more about the real-world usage. From Wikipedia:

    “A guild (German: Gilde) is an association of craftsmen in a particular trade. The earliest types of guild were formed as confraternities of workers. They were organized in a manner something between a trade union, a cartel, and a secret society.”

    As related to computer games, certainly these could be player-created, but I was coming at it with the assumption that these “Guilds” are already a part of the world setting, with NPCs, headquarters, alliances, etc. Players could then join these Guilds, based on class, skill-set, associations, etc. (and perhaps be able to expand and control them at some point). (The first example that comes to mind, of this in a computer game, is Daggerfall and the other Elder Scrolls games.)

    To be 100% clear, typically these would not be player-created friends guilds or raid guilds, but rather would be guilds of common classes or professions: warriors, thieves, mages, weapon-smiths, gold-miners, horse-breeders, weed-pickers, etc. which would already exist in the world setting.

  • Quote: “A guild is also a convenience mechanism for communicating with people you choose to associate with. I don’t see what is preventing anyone from simply creating channels where you can talk with people. There doesn’t have to be a ‘guild’ with a roster. You could have a friends channel, a family channel, a mages’ channel (it’s own little community), etc. You don’t need any more tools for them unless you want them to be more?”

    Quite true. However, as I see it, there are huge differences between a formal guild/group and a simple communication channel:
    1) Group property ownership. Players (and NPCs for that matter) have access to money, items, gear, buildings, vehicles, animals, etc. that are owned by the group.
    2) Group goals, quests, alliances, feuds, etc… There is just so much more potential with formal grouping, beyond mere communication.

    I think the key thing about formal groups that can never really happen with simple chat channels: they establish circles of trust. E.g. you join the hardcore raid guild, because you trust them to take you on some hardcore raids. (And in turn, they let you join because they trust that you will contribute appropriately to the guild’s activities.)