De-emphasize Guilds

I have very strong opinions about guilds, and tonight I need to offload a few of them.  Guilds are a close association of people with the same goal.  I have always believed very strongly that a guild should resemble a family of people who care about each others well-being in and beyond the game.

De-Emphasize GuildsGuilds are not the primary entity — that’s supposed to be the player!  Guilds shouldn’t be mandatory, but if I don’t belong to one then chances are I can’t do anything, let alone see end-game content.  Content is no longer designed first an foremost for the player, or better yet the entire server community; content is being designed for a close-knit exclusive groups of players who act more like a military team than a group of friends.

Guilds have too much power over the player these days.  I remember when guilds weren’t about how many members they had or what content they beat first.  Did you sign up for the dragon raid? Awesome, you get an invite.  Did your guild show up to help in the defense of the realm? Awesome, your guild contributed and you guys rock.  The individual mattered.  The individual was catered to.  The individual held the power.

I feel like players these days care more about what the guild can do for them than what they can do for the guild and its members.   I have witnessed literally dozens of people leaving many different guilds because they can ‘get ahead’ somewhere else.  While some of that can totally be blamed on horrible people, if the game is designed for players to need a guild to advance ahead then it becomes harder and harder to blame the individual for conforming to the game’s design.

I would love to see MMO devs de-emphasize guilds and allow them to become social constructs once again instead of being determinants of gameplay.  Let players belong to a guild with their friends, a group that plays at a time best for them, is fun to hang out with, and isn’t necessarily the best.  Let there not even be a way of saying which guild is the ‘best’. Let people be apart of guilds that best match their play styles and their goals, but have the gameplay and content not even be a factor. Guilds should be the group you want to be tagged with, not the group that’s going to get you ahead.

  • I thoroughly agree with this and have tried to envision ways to circumvent the natural elitist guild zerg domination approach to today’s games.

    My ideas have been a bit radically anti-guild though, much more like a monopoly-busting rule set that favors individuals playing within spontaneously developing structure, largely as massive PUGvPUG.

    While this might appear inferior to guild organized dynamics, I must say some of the best times that I have ever had in MMO’s have been in PUG’s as I have had to be most innovative given that I had no assurance someone was covering my back. Of course my enjoyment level instantly transformed into frustration upon running into a pre-made group, hence the anti-guild angle.

    PUGvPUG game mechanics would be surprisingly difficult to implement though as people are quite crafty at metagaming work-arounds. In any case I am curious to hear what people who also support your contentions might suggest as game mechanics.

  • I agree with the idea but I cannot see how it can happen. In my experience, when people can progress to the top alone, they usually never socialize and on top of this they can easily become “jerks” since they have nothing to lose. This is how humanity is.

    What you speak about is a “magic era”. The era when MMOs just appeared and everyone was happy just for logging in and ride their mounts. Everyone was kind and full of excitement, trying to meet people, trying to chat with everyone. Sadly this era has passed for good.

    True thing is that the less the game require grouping/guild for progress, the more the jerks you ll meet to ruin your game/immersion.

  • @John: Players shouldn’t be able to progress to the top alone, but progression shouldn’t be limited to just the guild unit. I may write a follow-up that says “Emphasize Server Community”. In the days of EQ and DAoC people joined up and did content as a server, not as a guild. Anyone could go if you signed up. Only lately has the content be designed for guilds instead of servers.

  • It really is the function of if people can cooperate and through cooperation multiply their individual power. Once you have that and the game is deep enough small scale “elite” guilds, squads etc will form and they will squish pugs. DAOC was a very deep game, group of guys who played together for a while in an 8 man could re-roll on another server and easily dominate much higher RR pugs.

    The zerg is the solution here, people who do not play in premades need to be able to form zerg and have a lot of stuff they can do that is fun. WIthout this mass the game will die, but it is not really possible to make them competitive vs a dedicated premade group in a small scale fight.

    Server community is very important though, the trick is to get interestes of zergers, 8manners and soloers to all allign and compliment each other

  • Nailed it, Keen. I’m all in favor of guilds. Been in many, led a few. They should support my individual play and allow me to support the individual play of others. They aren’t supposed to become the play.

    This is why I now only join/run micro-guilds with a handful of people I can be reasonably sure want to play the way I want to play

  • Keen I am really interested to see your “Emphasize Server Community” article :). BTW if someone cannot reach the top alone and he will need a guild to reach that extra 1% power he will still feel that the game Emphasize on guilds cause people always wanna reach the top and the will make a big deal about that +1% power.

  • @Keen In EQ, only the lower end people did content as a server. I would argue that the term elitist jerk came about from the top end EQ raiding guilds, whom withheld all information to the general public as controlling information meant a monopoly on raid mobs.

  • For a second I thought I was reading the wrong blog. I’ve been saying for years, decades now that I look back, that content should be open to all. What normally would be a raid event should have a means for solo and small groups to complete as well. Should the rewards be the same? In the end yes, but maybe balance that with time to obtain.

    I want to accomplish things in games that allow me to feel powerful and like I contribute but using my preferred play-style of solo or small group/duo. Obviously talking PvE as I don’t believe PvP should exist with the same rule-set as a PvE server/game.

    The most fun I have ever had with a guild has been on less reward-focused endeavors usually found as secondary parts of a game like crafting, trade, and housing. In fact the best social experience I ever had was working with a group of people to build a city in Star Wars Galaxies and helping it to come alive with entertainment and commerce.

  • I agree with your topic Keen.
    But the cause of this could very well be in the design of the game.

    Where all but the most efficient elitism guilds can progress and those that want to have fun and a tight friends feeling are left with scraps.

    Of course content should be made for those that want to achieve real bad, but most of the content should be made for the majority of people.

    That does not mean it should all be piss easy. No I think more in the terms of for instance 1 dungeon with a casual difficulty.. a normal difficulty (more loot) and a hard difficulty. (no extra loot, but if you do manage to finish it you get a special cosmetic skin for your weapon or hat as proof you finished it… like a displayable trophy)

    That way everyone can enjoy content and play the game the way they want.

    Why is it that playing just for fun is an alien concept to so many people these days?

  • @John: I’ll write up my community content focused post today if I can get some time after taking today’s finals. I haven’t had time to think lately.

    @Darkstyke: It eventually turned that way, no doubt about it. However, for more than the first year on my server things were done on a public server-wide basis. We did Nag, Vox, PoF, PoH, PoS, and even PoG sometimes as a server. Toward the Velious era things began turning more towards guilds.

    @Curious George: What would make you think you were reading the wrong blog? I’m one of the biggest proponents of social gameplay. I’m constantly preaching about the older days of SWG city building and DAoC public content. I’m right there with you.

    @Zyler: The biggest point I made was that game design was the cause of the problem and that most players behaving in this way are doing so because the game pushes them in that direction.

  • @Keen I did read your whole topic, but I probably brought what I wanted to say it in a bad way in the second line of my post.

    I’ll try better next time ^^

    Its probably hard to understand to those that have not played “back then” Where guilds where just a group of friends.. you know friends you made in the game itself or from outside the game that also happened to play.

    It should be an extra to spice things up, not a requirement.

  • Totally different server experiences then. It sounds like you were on one of the rotation servers, which for some people was abhorrent while others loved it.

  • My first MMO was DAOC…best MMO ever, but I can’t say if that was bad thing or blessing, because all MMOs I played after it were worse and less enjoyable…and social component been less and less important is big part of it.

    5 years after I stopped playing it, I still remember 100s of friends and enemies (and even find them in other MMOs if they kept similar names), but after each new MMO I remember less and less names (for example, I can probably name 5 people from Rift).

    Playing GW2 right now, and just as your article pointed out, I feel tempted to leave my small guild because I need bigger one for a lot of content (alliance system as in DAOC maybe would provide a solution)