Tobold's Blog
Thursday, June 26, 2008
The one-dungeon guild

A reader wrote me with an interesting solution to the guild hopping problem in World of Warcraft. You know, people leaving one guild to join another guild which is one dungeon further in the raid circuit, speeding up their progress, but slowing down the progress of their original guild in the process. As this behavior is widespread and hard to stop, why not turn it into an institution: The one-dungeon guild. You'd have guilds like the Karazhan Dragons or the Knights of Serpentshrine, and all that guild does is organizing raids to the one dungeon they were made for. Once people have all the loot from Karazhan, they quit the Karazhan Dragons and join the Knights of Serpentshrine without guild drama, because now this is what is actually expected of them. Others might opt to stay behind longer because they like Karazhan as a place, or prefer smaller raids, and become the experienced raid leaders in the Karazhan guild.

Spinning that thought further, if a guild is simply a means towards a specific goal, and not a voluntary association of likeminded people, there is really no reason why we need all that complicated manual application, invitation, and vetting process. If third-party website can tell you what raid dungeon you're well-equipped enough to visit, then so should the game itself be. Quitting the Karazhan Dragons and joining the Knights of Serpentshrine could be done with the press of a single button in-game, as long as your equipment score qualified you for Serpentshrine Cavern. Why go through all the bother of lying on your application of how loyal you are going to be to your next guild, if all you want is get ahead in the raid circuit?

There would even need to be only one guild for every dungeon, preferably with in-game tools like raid calendars and easy raid slot distribution. Why have lots of small Karazhan guilds, each failing to get 10 raiders together on bad days, if you could have one big Karazhan guild that organizes a number of raids proportional to the number of people interested?

If now you are thinking of organizational details and the administrative problems this could cause, you fell for my sarcasm. Because I think that in spite of there being a trend towards guilds that are only there to get you to the next raid step, this trend will kill MMORPGs in the long run. If you compare single-player RPGs with MMORPGs, you'll find that the single-player games often offer more features, like a storyline for example. The reason why so many more people are playing MMORPGs than single-player RPGs is that MMORPGs offer you better interaction with other players. There is a well-known phenomenon of people already being bored with the game they are playing, but staying in it (and keeping to pay monthly subscriptions) because of their friends and guild mates. Turning a guild into an impersonal machine with a single purpose diminishes human interaction. If guild hopping is popular, it is a sign that there should be more rewards to guild loyalty, not that guild hopping should be made easier.
Do you have any data to back your statement that guild hopping is a widespread phenomenon? In my experience, guild hoppers aren't that common, people tend to stick with their guild as long as it progresses at a reasonable pace. Of course a guild stuck in Karazhan won't be able to retain its members who will join 25-man guilds.
This is not a bad idea with some additions:
1) DonĀ“t call them guilds but find another name
2) Make them auto-join based on level/gear/key-reqirements
3) have them for raid-zones, group-zones, overland-zones - anything you might want to find other potentially interested & capable players for
4)Have a player constructed/maintained structure (like guild hall) assigned to the zone giving the players in that "guild" even more purpose
5) Allow multi-guild membership but allow players to deactivate/leave/re-join at will
In my experience, guild hoppers aren't that common, people tend to stick with their guild as long as it progresses at a reasonable pace.

That's true. Guild hopping only seems to be a problem for ancient folks like me. While people do switch guilds more often than it was used to be in older games, it's not that much more to actually call it an issue.

Things will change a lot in Wrath for this paricular topic. It will change the raiding community much more than the change from 40s to 25s.
As a system for sheduling server wide PuGs, the system that you describe has merit.

Allow exactly twice as many of each archetype as are needed to sign up for each slot, sign up order determines who gets auto-invited if they show up to the raid entrance within a designated start time window.

Also, instead of random drops that get rolled for, everyone gets a token at the end they can trade for whatever one piece they want. Or one token per boss that gets cleared, or whatever.

The main problem I see is that the odds of having a good raid leader on a PuG are pretty low.

But I can see where a system similar to what you describe could actually be good for the health of a raid heavy MMO as long as it were separate from the guild system.
Oh, my kingdom for an edit button.

What I was missing that these "raid associations" or whatever would have in game scheduling boards that have slots for every instance in the correct gear and level range.

Alternately, don't have associations at all, just have in game sign up boards for every instance.
In my experience, guild-hopping usually happened when a member progressed faster than his guild. This easily happened in classic WoW, where the class-specific random drops meant that members of a certain class could get their full sets in the matter of weeks while other classes had to wait for months. Moving to a token system diminished that effect somewhat, but didn't eliminate it. WotLK, with it's unified-stat system will diminish that effect further .

Unfair loot distribution systems can cause guild-hopping as well, but I see that as natural selection. Fair guilds have an easier time in retaining their members, and unfair guilds will splinter and die.
I have to admit you had me convinced Tobold. In my current state of mmorpg ennui I find that it is not just the games themselves I am bored with but the whole effort involved in guild interaction. On the other hand I am quite enjoying the effortlessly casual social interaction you get from multiplayer shooters like COD4 or Gears of War. I think I would enjoy raiding more if it was as easy as pugging but with more skill involved. Your tongue in cheek suggestion might actually achieve this. Am I alone in feeling like this? Surely not given the popularity of the more casual forms of social gaming.
A guild raiding only SSC... can you imagine how boring that would be? :)
Tobold I have taken the liberty of christening this Pick up Put down Guild the PUPDoG and I have credited you with its invention here. I know you were only joking but I really think it is a great idea.
blimp guild hoppers are more common that non guild hoppers. I was in a really good guild my first year or so and sat around wondering what everyone was whining about.

But the problem is just like in real life there are only so many good leaders willing to work that hard. And it's hard work to run a guild. And BC made guilds smaller but didn't increase the pool of good leaders. On top of that invalidating all the old content just reinforced the screw everyone else I have to see the content before the next Expansion mind set.

If your in a good guild or server where guild hopping is rare. don't ever leave because no matter how bad it gets it'll be worse in your next spot.
Unfair loot distribution systems can cause guild-hopping as well, but I see that as natural selection. Fair guilds have an easier time in retaining their members, and unfair guilds will splinter and die.

Random loot kills good guilds too. My druid went an entire year without a single upgrade. We got 4 for 7 druids on one year. And it was just random bad luck for us.
Raiding Alliances.

More common in the US servers than Europe, but does almost exactly what you want, a cross guild level / gear based raiding framework with DKP associated with the player carried across their different raiding groups.
I like your cute, tongue in cheek way of underlining a discreet design flaw and saying what would happen if we catered to it? :)
I like the idea, even if you were being sarcastic. As someone else has suggested, it could be a seperate grouping from your social guild (call it a union, since it's organized for labouring thru dungeons). You can join if you have the gear, there's signups, you can stay or go as you please. I think it would help people get into content they might not otherwise see.
I actually remember things like this pretty much forcibly happening in games where you had open world pvp and instances because you'd have to guard the spot you were "raiding" in so that other guilds didn't take over them while you still needed items from them.

You were practically forced to stick to the instance you were doing until it was your turn to challenge the guild that was currently trying to grind the instance that was the next place above yours (like SSC if you had just done Karazan :))
Did somebody suggest this already? Super guilds, or alliances. The ability for a guild (as an entity) to join an alliance of like minded guilds. We had an informal version of this on Perenolde called the Small Guild Alliance (it's probably still there). It had its own channel and I think a website. The channel was used as a LFG tool and the website was used for signing up to larger raids. This let smaller guilds still progress on their own track, but members could access other content if they wanted to through the alliance. Great for family and friends type guilds without the need for members to disjoint themselves from their communities to explore different content.

Joining the SGA wasn't automatic, guilds had to apply formally. I was never in a guild that was a member, but that didn't stop me from joining their channel and responding to their LFMs. They were invariably a better class of group than your typical PUG.

Of course, before WoW implement this sort of thing formally they'll need to implement better guild management tools first, which are long overdue.
I also dislike guild-hopping, more of a problem when you are directly affected than necessarily a wide-spread problem destroying the games we play - I feel that game desing is as much a part of the problem as the individuals themselves.

Regarding the "one instance guild", I was particularly impressed by the system in EVE Online which enables you to join/quit several NPC factions which have a "guild channel" if you will through which every player belonging to that faction can chat. I see this as one of the most exciting developments in MMOs (regardless of EVE's age)- enabling (volunatrily or involuntarily) guildless players to nevertheless belong to a "community" of players and thus not remain isolated and prone to guild-hopping in search of content and/or contacts.
(I made a similar comment in a really old thread, not realising I had stumbled on an archive).

People have every right to guild-hop. If you're not running a guild people want to be in, why should they be there? Make a better guild, and get used to the natural selection.

This game is a much, much friendlier place when guilds have to compete over players, rather than the other way around.
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