WOO II - Guilds
Guilds are the game designer's easy way of organizing group activities. Guilds are useful and important ... but ... there are many players who prefer to play solo - and many of these belong to guilds. It's important not to confuse guild membership with a desire for group play ... solo venues such as Questing are essential to the success of the game.
Types of Guilds
Guilds exist for different reasons. Some are groups of friends who want to play together. Some are groups of people who don't like one another much, but who want to win and don't really care about the social aspect. Many are just random collections of players who want guild perks with little to no social interaction.
Groups of real world friends who want to play together can make that easier to do by forming a guild. These are often people who see one another outside of the game. Friendly guilds are usually rather loosely organized, aimed at fun rather than success, and fairly small in size.
Groups of players who want to organize teams for various venues - mostly Dungeon Raiding, though there are some Arena and Rated Battleground guilds. "Pro" guilds usually have very strict membership requirements and insist on a high level of play with little tolerance for failure.
Very large groups of players who may have a real-world connection ... e.g., all students at the same University ... may have an in-game connection ... e.g., all druids ... or may simply have collected over time as members invited other players. Mega guilds generally do a little bit of everything, and seldom do any one thing extremely well.
The institution of guild perquisites has given rise to a new kind of guild, one that has a core of "key" members and a large contingent of "associate" members who are only in the guild to access the benefits that come to members of high level guilds. The key members run the guild, doing extensive recruiting to keep their numbers high enough to qualify for the top level rating. The associate members do not participate, or participate only lightly, in guild functions, but their solo efforts contribute to the overall guild rating.
NEw: Default Guilds
The inception of Life Paths gives the game operators the chance to invite every player to join a guild. Thus, when a character selects a Life Path, he or she automatically receives an invitation to join the Raider, Crafter or Fighter Mega-guild. These guilds are responsible for organizing events and activities for their members in order to help them enjoy the game and progress in their chosen Life Path. In addition, the new players get access to guild perquisites, learn what guild life is like, and learn the difference between good and bad guild citizenship.
From the game designers' point of view, there is considerable value in this approach. Every new player would start out with a "home" base, which ought to improve retention in the game. As a default guild member in good standing, players would find it easier to move on to their next guild. Players who are friends, having seen what guild management looks like, would find it easier to start their own guilds.
If effect, this would be a form of customer relations. Most likely the guild leader would be a game employee while the officers would all be experience game players, possibly attracted by offers of perks or discounted game play. Guild members would be encouraged to bring the game problems to the guild before opening a Game Help Ticket, and the result could be a reduction in Help activity.
Of course there are certain problems with huge, generic guilds such as these. They can be somewhat impersonal. Abusive, annoying and other "problem" players would need careful handling ... since it would be counterproductive to "kick" them. And the sheer size of the endeavor would probably require a staff of full time guild officers. However, the officers need not be Game employees. They could be longstanding players who are willing to manage the default guilds partly for the prestige, and partly for whatever special rewards the game might offer.
New: Special Service Guilds
These guilds provide "tours" of dungeons and battlegrounds for players who do not normally enter these venues. Membership is by invitation from the Game Masters only. Guild members are paid in currency and receive access to special weapons and enhancements in return for their service.
Members of this guild are all expert Raiders who have been recruited to conduct tours of the various dungeons. Some players never see the inside of any dungeons, and even those who do raid often do not see what the successful completion of the most difficult dungeons is like. These tours would work like regular dungeon runs, but with the leader having certain powers to limit damage, resuscitate dead players, and so on. Loot would not be available, though completion of the tour might be rewarded with a commemoration of some sort.
Tour leaders (and aides, as some larger raids might need more than one guide) would be rewarded with currency, special titles and honors, and unique enhancement items. For many, though, the experience of showing off their knowledge of the dungeons, and the power to control the dungeon action, will be quite satisfactory.
Epic Warfare Simulations
Members of this guild are all expert Fighters who have been recruited to manage teams of non-fighters in mock battles and the Campaign level.
These are not meant to be tours of the battlefields, although some players might use them that way. Rather, they are meant to be instructional activities that teach players the tactics and strategies of the various battles.
There will certainly be expert fighters who are willing to lead these simulations, but there might not be sufficient demand in the audience.