Tobold's Blog
Monday, August 11, 2008
Guild hopping and WAR

Lots of interesting discussion in yesterday's open Sunday thread on the subject of guild hopping. On the one side there are people who think that guild hopping should be discouraged, by hitting the player, the guild, or both, with some penalty when somebody leaves a guild to join the next one. On the other side there is the argument that the system can't tell whose fault the separation is, so any penalty would be unfair.

My thoughts on that is there shouldn't be a "penalty" for guild hopping, there should be a bonus for not doing it, for both the guild and the individual player. Something which rewards the player for sticking with a guild for a long time, and something to reward the guild for having lots of loyal members. Of course in the case of separation both sides lose the bonus, so there is some sort of penalty after all. But as "lost bonus" it is easier to digest. Yes, there is the possibility that the separation was purely the fault of the guild or purely the fault of the player, and with both sides losing the bonus, one side gets punished for nothing. But then players should choose their guilds, and guilds their players, more carefully. And as the only thing you lose is a bonus you wouldn't have had if the player hadn't joined the guild in the first place, you can't really say losing that bonus on separation is unfair.

I don't know enough about the Living Guild system of WAR to say how player separation is handled there. I just know there is some kind of guild rank with certain benefits. But from what I read on various sites, the system is more a general guild rank, giving an older and bigger guild more options. Doesn't look as if the guild would lose something when a member left, and the member could regain the same or better benefits by joining a bigger guild as far as I know. Something to look at closer when the NDA drops.

But then I don't think guild hopping will be as much of a problem in WAR than it is in WoW, because WoW guild hopping is very much connected to the raid circuit. People leave their old guild and join a new one mostly because the new guild is somewhat more advanced in raiding. By a mix of luck and higher attendance one guy gets more epics out of the guild's current raid dungeon than the others, and instead of using that better gear to help his guild mates to get theirs, he selfishly uses those epics as entry ticket into the next guild and next raid dungeon. Now imagine in the next WoW expansion all the raid dungeons had the same difficulty level (the beta is currently limited to level 77, we don't know much about raid dungeons yet). If there was no clear raid progress, then leaving one guild to join a more advanced one would be less prevalent. And that is what I think will happen in WAR. If you are in a WAR guild which is strong enough to take a keep, why would you want to switch to another guild? The ability to capture a keep is the only measure, there is no Black Temple or Sunwell Plateau after that.

Furthermore in WAR guilds can be bigger than in WoW. If in WoW more than 25 people turn up on raid night, that is a problem, because then somebody won't get a raid spot. In WAR, the more people turn up on keep raid night, the better. In WoW, if you play not quite as well as your guild mates, have less good gear, and are of some less needed class or spec, you're not always welcome to the raid. In WAR it's the more the merrier; even if your contribution to the success is less than that of the other players, there are no "he wiped the raid" situations, and your contribution is always a positive one. So I think WAR will move towards larger guilds, with a more stable membership. Being available at the same time as the others will be more important than having exactly the same tier of epic gear.

Sometimes I wonder how much people really love PvP, or how much of that love for PvP games comes from the social aspects just being more inclusive. Half of the guild dramas of WoW simply can't happen in WAR, because the very purpose and gameplay of a guild is different. Any "living guild" system is just a cherry on the top of that, the real advantage is WAR guilds having naturally better possibilities to play together, with less restrictions based on progress.
I've been running a guild through boom and bust over 10 years of online gaming since UO to WoW.

I'm not seeing the need yet for the game itself to enforce 'guild hopping' with penalties or bonuses. It's poor game design in the beginning that creates the instability found in most guilds, and you touched upon that very well when commenting about the raiding circuit, and how Raiding and Loot drives a "Me Me Me" attitude in a lot of players.

In more PvP oriented games you'll often see the empowerment of the group effort, less so of the individual.

The consequences of leaving a guild, or staying are already there without any involvement with game rules. Stick with a guild and you'll reap the reward of freindships and community which pay off over the long term whether its for a single game, or for years to come.

Guild hop and act like a Superstar and all you may have to show for it is some fancy pixels till the next game comes about. Regardless, for some hardcore raiding type people, that's what they want and no system will deter that.

In any case, my thinking with WAR if there is to be penalty, would be the suspension of any in-game guild benefits for players that left a guild within a short time ago. It'd also be nice to have a record for each player, so guildmasters and other players on order or chaos can view which guilds the player has been a member of, and for how long. That alone would give GM's the information necessay to 'penalize' players they've found to be guild hoppers based on their record alone by not inviting them in the first place.
>>If you are in a WAR guild which is strong enough to take a keep, why would you want to switch to another guild?

you just get a different sort of guild hopping in this case.

in all the games that i've played that had GvG of some form, there's rampant guild hopping, either temporary or permanent. the temporary form comes with ppl joining the winning guild to get the benefits then rejoining their previous, or joining an attacking guild to try and capture the target before rejoining their original guild.

the permanent form comes with a great sucking sound as ppl leave smaller guilds to permanently join the larger guilds capable of participating in GvG. altho i love GvG events, they shred mid-ranked guilds. you end up with two sorts of guilds: small guilds made up of a few friends and a rotating cast of walk in, walk out members, and massive guilds, which take all the time the guild officers can give to keep them together.

executive summary: there's still a guild league table in GvG end-game games, and there's still a flight of higher lvl players to those guilds at the top of the table.
I like Eve Online's solution where each guild (corp) you've ever been in is shown in your character info. You can see the date when the person joined and when the person left. It's then up to the recruiting corp to decide whether the corps joined left is a good or a bad thing, and possibly contact the previous corps' leaders to find out more about the reasons for leaving and such. The players also know that all of this information is public, so makes them think a bit more about their actions.
I'm not sure of your gaming history Tobold, but if you've played any RvR or PvP focused games (DAoC, Shadowbane, etc), you'd know WAR will have just as much guild hopping as any other game.

What has happened on every server I've played or seen is, there will be one or at most two guilds per faction that are the most hardcore or whatever, who will dominate keep captures (or whatever it is). They will have the time and organization to exploit any loopholes in game design (log in traps, keep raids at off-peak server times, etc). They will go out of their way to ensure they never directly confront their equivalent in the other faction.

Every mid-range guild will be unable to compete with these top guilds, and will be stuck w/ whatever scraps they don't want.

Think of it like original EQ's PvE scene. Since everything was open world, 1 guild could dominate everything on the server, and no one else could even get involved in that part of the game until the lead guild moved on. WoW and other games solved this particular problem with instancing, which made at least the possibility of different guilds coexisting much easier.
Quoth Tobold: "If you are in a WAR guild which is strong enough to take a keep, why would you want to switch to another guild?"

Also Quoth Tobold: "In WAR, the more people turn up on keep raid night, the better."

Bingo. In non-instanced PVP, there is no such thing as "strong enough". If you've got a medium-sized guild, you may have enough to beat the NPC's guarding the keep, but you won't be able to fend off the large guild that comes to defend it. So there's always going to be a larger guild for players to jump to.

Meanwhile, with numbers mattering, your people have got to show up when your keep is at stake, which means attendance, dedication, and yes, perhaps even performance, matter. (Plus, you need to be doubly concerned about whether that newbie you recruited is actually a spy logged into the enemy's vent server.) So there are just as many incentives as raiding guilds have to want and demand the best (and/or for the most hardcore players to jump to a guild that's closer to their standards).
It'd also be nice to have a record for each player, so guildmasters and other players on order or chaos can view which guilds the player has been a member of, and for how long.
A superbly simple solution, Scott. Just make guild history open and let others judge you by it. No complicated penalties, just making it possible for players to use a bit of common sense.

"Hmmmm... I see you have been with five guilds in the last two months. Why was that?"
Sometimes I wonder how much people really love PvP, or how much of that love for PvP games comes from the social aspects just being more inclusive

This will be the true test. No MMO has been so PvP focused as WAR, and if they have, their success is lukewarm (unless someone can show me a more successful MMO than DAoC or L2 (and yes, I know L2 is popular in Asian countries)

Time will tell if the PvP is enough for long term commitments. It could be that this is the jolt the industry needed.

As to the "Living Guild", we have seen the benefits of "level" type guilds in EQ2. But, then the disadvantages.
So many new guilds would form on a weekly basis, make it to level 20, then disband or fall apart.
There were a handful of upper level guilds.
Their system of XP toward levels though caused more group oriented activities, and this is one aspect of WAR I like.
No penalties existed for EQ2 except guild levels which would start to take longer without that group focus.
Players leave, then the guild founders until new members are added.
Anyways, I guess the waiting game begins.
Guild hopping is certainly fine as it really has no adverse long term affects. "Good" players will ulimately gravitate toward "good" guilds. There is a guild food chain, so to speak, and every game has had one.

On demand server transfers and name changes are the real killers of the community.
Tobold said: But then players should choose their guilds, and guilds their players, more carefully.

And that's the paradox in and of itself. By implementing any type of bonus system you will penalize one side or the other when a player leaves a guild.

Like it or not, but the "me, me, me!" aspect that someone else mentioned is very true about MMO's. Guilds are made up of individuals, and each individual has some goal or motive for being there. It's up to the guild leadership to provide the means for it's members to achieve those goals and, if it cannot, then those players will leave for greener pastures, as they should be allowed to do without penalty or blemish to either side.

Contrary to popular belief, a guild does not "own" anyone.

Sven said: It'd also be nice to have a record for each player.

I've been asking for this for years now. It would be the simplest form of player check that would benefit both sides of the issue. Guild Masters should understand that most players are looking to advance in both content and gear, and if a guild cannot provide a player with the means to accomplish that, then the player should be allowed to leave without either side taking any kind of hit.

Having some form of record that showcases a players overall performance, stature or ranking is the way to go in my opinion, but it should only include "factual game data" and not any kind of human input or opinion, which would protect the player from personal biases of any kind.
I bet one of the reasons guild hopping is a current topic is because so many people are dealing with it now in WoW. Summer time always seems to bring a lot of guild hopping as people scramble to find guilds that aren't hit as hard by traditional summer usage drops. I wrote about this on my blog recently here:

In general, I can't see penalizing people for guild hopping as a terribly good idea. Unless your game is role play oriented, the fact is that guilds are just glorified parties, and have very little reason to exist beyond the purely social.

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