Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How is Blizzard Trying to Help Our Guilds?

I had never stopped to think about guild structures being messed up before, at least, not in any way that developers could do about it. But there are so many incoming changes for guilds right now, that I thought I needed to give it another look and see why these changes were really implemented.

I think, on the outset, people just see More Stuff To Do. And it is, of course. The main way to prolong the life of a game like this is give the players More Stuff To Do. But why this More Stuff To Do?

Think about the problems that guild leaders have: players trying to exploit the guild for materials, easy carries through dungeons, a place to stick your alt where they can tag along when the player feels like it, but doesn't really contribute.  Ragequitting. People on the gripe about loot rules.

I don't think there is much that Blizzard can do to overcome a lot of the gross human nature that causes some of this. But they have added one important aspect that should help:

Guild reputation

Guild Reputation
Players will now be able to build rep with their very own guilds, in much the same way they do with "Darnassus" or "The Knights of the Ebon Blade."

Guilds are going to be able to offer a number of new services, perks and such, but many of them will really only be available to players who have made the effort to build their reputations. I don't think that building guild reputation should be terribly hard, but it will just simply take a certain degree of commitment and time to obtain.

This should limit guild jumping a bit more. I have heard my main server, Nagrand, described as particularly full of guild jumpers, but for some reason I don't believe that. I figure it is a universal issue in WoW.  Players join a guild, kind of on a whim, and if they don't see what they like, they take off again. Furthermore, players tend to quit when they reach something that they simply don't like. Just one loot allocation that they don't agree with and they are gone.

But building, and holding your reputation ought to be an incentive to not leave guilds so lightly.  Once players have reached exalted status with a guild, I think there might be more consideration than being unhappy that they didn't get an epic ring on the last ICC run.

What's more, for existing guild members who are committed to a guild, they now have a good "wait and see" meter to judge new recruits by.  Somebody joins a guild, and they will have a big incentive to get busy with guild activities, but they will have to take their own initiative in getting involved.  Or, at least, they will have more incentive to not act like anti-social cretins.

I think this does place a bit more pressure on guild leaders however. There will probably still be some of those deeply evil guild leaders who disband and transfer server with all the stuff in the guild bank. But in the same way, guild leaders will have to show a commitment to stick with running their guilds, including players in things.

Near the end of BC, I was in a decent 25-man raiding guild. We were running Hyjal, and then one day, the GM said she didn't have time to play anymore and that she was going to disband the guild. Many of us asked if we could continue running the guild in her absence, but she refused, saying she didn't want the guild to change from what she had made it to be.

I sorta understand her position, but it was pretty unnacceptable. As a result, I never finished Hyjal or the Black Temple (much less the Sunwell).  However, in a Cataclysm guild, that outcome would be completely unnaceptable. There will still be scumbag GMs who disband, but the decent ones will have a much bigger reason to preserve what they have built.

Guild Perks
The guild perks seem like a mixed bag.

Stuff like Fast Track seems pretty good on paper, but it's hardly irreplaceable, especially with the legacy items we can buy now.  And  Mobile Banking? How many times has anyone really ever felt an utter compulsion to visit the guild bank. My fear is that Mobile Banking will just enable those people who dump every stray green they find into the guild bank, thinking it is a big big help.

But there are some things that I think would be selling points on a guild. If a guild offers Honorable Mention, or Everyone's a Hero, that is kinda worth having

Though, one thing that has not yet been discovered is how difficult is it to "level up a guild"?  If it is easy, then most guilds will have all these perks, so advertising that you have perks will be as important as advertising that your guild has its very own tabard!!

But even so, most of the guild perks are for levelling stages, or at least gearing up stages: when players are accumulating rep for the head enchant they need. As soon as they are into the main raids, most guild perks stop being so useful.

Guild Achievements
I read one list of these recently that I cannot find again :( Booooo!! Most of them are related to fairly ordinary stuff. "Loot XX gold from monsters as a guild"  or "Reach Guild Level 10."  But there are some with a bit more going on in them. One of the achievements becoming known is one in which a guild should acquire one of each legendary items in game.  That is something that will take a certain amount of effort and planning. It will also have a special reward for exalted members of the guild. So I like it!

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