Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
 
A limitation of the game, not the guild

The Godmother is discussing a WoW Insider community blog topic of What if WoW didn't have guilds?. It mentions the problem to "exclusivity" of guilds: "Ultimately the problem is not the Guilds themselves, but what people do IN the Guilds. This interaction thing isn't the fault of the Guild per se, but the people who run them.". And I don't think this is correct. I always thought that given the rules of the game of World of Warcraft, the people who run guilds in most cases are acting perfectly rational in making their guilds relatively exclusive and running them more like a military organization than a social club. People simply adapt their social structures to the needs of the environment.

For people who played World of Warcraft in guilds since the beginning, this is more obvious. For example the needs of the environment were different back when we raided Molten Core with 40 people. A 40-man raid is less exclusive, and in many cases much more forgiving to a single individual's mistakes. A 10-man raid which is designed to fail if a single member of the group fails necessitates a very different social structure.

If we want to "make guilds better", we first have to define what exactly "better" is. In a game like World of Warcraft where an organized team generally performs better than a team of random strangers, guild developed naturally into the social organization that makes organized teams possible. Mostly for raids, but also for PvP. Sometimes you here people advertising a "leveling guild", but those never work, because the game isn't designed to give an advantage to organized teams for leveling over people playing solo. So the only secondary function left for guilds is providing a separate chat channel for some socializing.

If you wanted guilds to be different, you would need to look for a game which works differently and where working together has different mechanics. That is the point where the discussion usually breaks down, because lots of people have no experience of games that work very differently from World of Warcraft. You would need to play "exotic" games like A Tale in the Desert, or the so-called "social games" to experience for example asynchronous social interaction, or game mechanics which reward inclusiveness over exclusiveness.

So I wouldn't say that the interaction is "the fault of the people who run the guilds". The people who run the guilds are asking relatively basic questions of essentially "why would I want this guy to be in my guild?", and if game mechanics tell them that having "Mr. Nice Guy" in their guild is likely to be more of a hassle than it is worth, they decide accordingly.

Comments:
When leveling alone in WoW you onehit enemies. If you level with your friend you can only onehit a mob if you are faster that your friend - and that meams that some classes just don't do anything if they team up with anybody.

What's most ridiculous, however, is that apparently Blizzard sees no reason to do anything about this. Somehow there must be people who like paying money for this (?)
 
If you level with a friend you can kill multiple mobs at the same time with both receiving credit. Unfortunately Blizzard also and perhaps deliberately include those "collect 10 boar hearts" quests with a crappy drop rate which deters grouping.

Indeed I find other players nothing but an irritation in most wow content. That is just how the content is designed - other players mostly hinder rather than help.

I don't like grouping for content that can be solo 'd as it limits my freedom and that of the other person to watch TV and take breaks. Hence I prefer to be in a guild purely for the chat channel and interactions for crafting.

They could make you more dependent on others so that you need to group for more content but then I would quit. Grouping up requires scheduling and being tied to the keyboard or frustrating waits when others "brb getting a drink". When wow was cutting edge I would dedicate that quality focused time to it.

Nowadays wow is just something to do with my hands whilst watching TV
(a virtual cigarette) and not something I focus that much on, so organised grouping is no longer interesting to me.

There is no problem here. The guilds are perfectly rational and so is the content. In fact as the game gets more and more dated it should focus even more on solo play with less hindrance from other players and with players using guilds as a chat room and meeting up in town to craft items and compare gear /mounts.
 
The "collect 10 boar hearts" quests get shared among party members, so if you collect 1 and others collect 9... you complete the quest too.
 
I thought the ATITD multiple guild membership was quite well done, so you could have "work" and "social" guilds.

Also in CoX grouping was a lot of fun, so you joined up in guilds to socialise rather than to conquer an obstacle. Admittedly the semi-working and almost implemented guild parts of the game might have changed that ... if they would have worked.
 
Guild Wars 2 is probably the most group-friendly game I've played, even if you don't always have well-defined invited-to-a-party groups, people will still take the time to help each other, even when they can progress just as easily solo. And GW2 does the thing where you can be in lots of guilds at a time, but only representing one at a time. But even in GW2 it seems many guilds advertise saying they have a 100% rep req, meaning that has to be your primary guild, you can't switch around every few hours.

Most drama I've been involved in online has hinged around guild memberships and rules, so that's a negative. But I find that I make new friends in games that promote being in a guild, while in guild-less games I might play 3 months without bothering to speak with anyone new.
 
Rugus, when was that fixed? Last time I teamed up with some one for questing I had the issue where we needed twice as many of these damn things to drop and the drop rate was atrocious. Combine that with loads of other players swarming around competing for the mobs and it was a nightmare.

It's been a while since I grouped up whilst questing though!

Does that only apply to MOP content or has it been fixed on quests say in Outland if you are levelling an alt?

I assume they fixed it on the "pick 10 flowers" quests too?
 
Hmmm I wonder how much experience you people actually have with WoW guilds, as the comments seem very different from my experience.

WoW is extremely vast, with a ton of different activities, the same reflects on guilds. If you plan to do HM raiding, it's no surprise that the guild you will need is run tightly. You need people who perform (or people waste entire evenings seeing the same person fail), and you need people who can guarantee being present (or people waste entire evenings waiting for the group to be full).

Beside that you have guilds who focus on social and "being online and doing stuff together", which can range from running a old dungeon, hunting for some rare pet, leveling battle pets all while chatting nicely on TS about what you did during the day.

The two are not exclusive, the two are not in conflict. Where things go wrong is if you join a social guild and then expect HM raiding or if you join a raiding guild and the expect social activities. When I read some posts (Tobold's comes to mind) it seems to me that people want challenge and engagement, but without the associated requirements. It just doesn't work in the long run.

@Nils: WoW questing is solo-roflstomp by design. It's not designed to be challenging, you can just follow the quest lines and read the story of each zone while you casually disintegrate some poor mobs nearby. This is because they want players to be able to reach the level cap easily and without requiring grouping and because every major patch classes get redesigned, and rebalancing all the content so that it's challenging when on-level would be a nightmare. And a useless nightmare, because it's only a small minority who cares about it. Forget about the nostalgic postings on the forums: Blizzard has the statistics on what people do ingame, if they spend massive development time on one part, it's because most players do it (or try to do it).
Grouped leveling was present in LotRO, it was the quests nobody ever did until 20 levels later when you could solo them, because finding people to group while leveling is easy in a new game, but near-impossible in an established one. BTW if you want challenge while leveling, go solo dungeons.
 
As I was working on a response that turned into yet another "what's wrong with WoW" rant, I realized that once again we have the dichotomy of two different types of players being catered to in the same game, but not equally. I really have no idea anymore who plays WoW because they actually think its fun, vs. those who play because it's familiar territory and the biggest hangout. Seems to me that in the end Blizzard knows its players, and has sacrificed focus on many others (such as myself, a casual, very slow, mostly solo player who's into a challenging leveling experience but does not engage with the endgame) in favor of those people who see the 1-90 process as some sort of marathon where the fastest man wins.
 
It is amusing how other players in WOW are an annoyance by design: competition for mobs, resource nodes, boss drops, raid or rbg team spots (to Blizzard's credit they did start to add inclusive content such as world bosses and 5.2 rares)
The reason for this unhealthy (IMO) social dynamic is the arbitrary game design decision that rewards are tied to group performance and group size is limited, thus it is in each player's best interest to monitor the performance of every other member of the group and replace the weakest link with a better player.
I suspect that the infamous "wow community" would become a lovely bunch of fellows if you put them into a game without exclusivity mechanics built-in.
Whether this game would be interesting to play is of course another question...
 
I loved the multi-guild feature in A Tale in the Desert. I could be in 1-2 social guilds and then join guilds focused on specific task or test. I would love if games like WoW implement that kind of system
 
Ultimately, guilds just give a convenient structure through which people can organise into groups using the game's own UI. People could do the same thing without the need for guilds if they really wanted to, but it's much more convenient for the players if these features are already part of the game...
 
@Nils & Helistar

This is something that has been discussed on this blog before. You are assuming the easy "rofl-stomp" of a WoW veteran leveling their 5th+ character, decked out in heirloom gear. Vanilla WoW, played by a true newbie (and at the time, probably new to all MMORPGs), was not the same experience. Anyone else remember escorting that damn mechanical chicken that ran faster than you?
 
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