Welcome to the 15th edition of Reloading…
“Do Lipton employees take coffee breaks?” – Steven Wright
Everyone can use a feel good moment to start the afternoon. Let’s go with this…
Community, guilds, and player interaction are all terms that are tossed into the MMO discussion blender, chopped to pieces and poured out, usually the worse for wear and invariably without any consensus as to what the right approach to this excruciatingly important aspect of gaming is.
Everquest built community by brute force. You had to cooperate or you simply couldn’t play the game. If you wanted one of the great, dare I refer to them as epic items in the game then you had to play nice and cooperate with others. Camping the Flowing Black Silk Sash or acquiring Journeyman’s Boots was not something that came from chaos. Players lined up all civilized and polite to take their turn (most of the time). It built community. You had to be a decent character or you were done. Nobody would group with a jerk and there was no way off the island.
Fast-forward to the new World of Warcraft guild recruitment system. I click on a button, and page through dozens of guilds, most with poorly written descriptions displayed in a box too small to allow for an real insight into the psyche of the guild in question. I can request that up to 10 guilds allow me into their hallowed halls. Really? 10? If you are desperate enough to make 10 requests then you are probably joining the first guild that spams trade chat with an advertisement anyway. Save yourself the trouble of clicking on the guild button.
Guilds now have different levels which provide different perks. The higher the level the more perks you attain by joining the guild. Does anyone else see how this would kill a community?
Inevitably, small guilds with low guild levels are going to have a harder time recruiting new players. If they can’t recruit new players they will eventually die off and their members will go to…. wait for it…. to the guilds with capped or high guild levels. Blizzard intentionally or not, has created a system that rewards large guilds with perks while the content development team has created a system that rewards small groups of 10 or 25 players.
For whatever the reason, communities larger than 125 individuals (Raph Koster says 250 is the number), inevitably break down into sub-communities. Is this what Blizzard was after all along? Essentially we have small nation states that self-govern on each server with enough upside from the perks to keep the players from bailing and starting over. Instead of 20 guilds running 10-man content we have one guild running 20 groups of 10-man content. Is this better that what we had? I’m not convinced.
Share your thoughts on guilds, community, and the personal aspects of MMOs.