By now many of us have been playing MMOs for more than a decade, and over the years we’ve tallied up a number of ideas on how to improve various functions in MMOs. One area of discussion revolves around organized groups, aka: clans, guilds, player associations, corporations, supergroups, linkshells, etc. I’ll use the term guilds as a global term to reference these as a whole. Guilds hold a special place in my heart. My first guild experience was a linkshell in Final Fantasy XI where I met the best kind of friends anyone could ask for. Without my linkshell, learning to navigate FFXI would not only have taken ages, but also wouldn’t have been nearly as fun. I always seem to gravitate toward group-play when I game.
Guild leaders have been speculating that while MMOs are evolving, guild support is being left behind, and the allure to running a guild continues to decrease. We’ve all either heard or personally experienced the feeling that running a guild can become a full-time job and gobble up leaders’ play time. If guilds were easier to run more people might be inclined to lead, so imagine this column as a suggestion box specifically to streamline guild functions. What would you jot down and throw in the box?
With such a diverse group of MMOs out there, players are able to sample different types of guilds. When you’re jotting down your suggestions, are you inclined to improve one particular MMO’s guild functions or improvements that any MMO could adopt? To get the ball rolling, I’ve interviewed an Australian guild leader who had some ideas he thought could improve guild support for World of Warcraft specifically, and thought these suggestions could help leaders run their guilds more efficiently. Let’s dig in, and take a look at his point of view:
Specific Player Permissions:
- Implement the ability to assign specific players permissions. I like to keep ranks simple and concise; if we have a “Raiding” rank, for example, it would be ideal to assign a couple of members of that rank extra permission: e.g., bank permissions. Not only would this reduce the problem of having the “Raider Leader” rank, and the “Raiding” rank, which clutters up the rank list, it also means that if the Raid Leader doesn't show up, a raid can still go ahead knowing a few members have permission to access the materials they need. Raiding is only an example, as the idea can be applied to any rank and even just stock standard members. If there was a member who isn't officer material but is on all the time, then allowing them (and only that player) the ability to invite would be ideal. Again that stops having to have a separate rank for one or two players just so they gain one extra permission within the guild. Due to restrictions in rank permissions a list could end up looking like ours:
Default Invite Rank Selection:
- The ability (via a check box and drop down selection) to nominate what default rank a new member will be added to. Most guilds, including mine, have a “naughty” rank: a rank with no permissions other than seeing guild chat and serves as a place to put a member in isolation to protect the guild—often used if an account has been hacked. This rank is usually the lowest rank in the list. This means however, when a new member joins, someone has to manually promote them to the next rank to give them stock standard membership permissions. To be able to select “Rank 4” or “Member” (whatever the guild leader has called his/her ranks) as the default means that members can be invited and start off in the correct rank, but still maintain the lowest low rank for isolation.
The ability to select (via check boxes) multiple members to be deleted/demoted or promoted. At one point my guild had 700 members. We noticed a large portion (say 200 or so) were clearly inactive—having not logged in for 3 months or more. This meant my officers and I spent a vast deal of time clicking each player, clicking remove, rinse, repeat. I've had to do this a few times over the years and it takes a lot of time. It would be really efficient if I could go down the list, tick, tick, tick and hit a button that gives me the option of Remove, Demote:
, Promote .
Collapsible rank list:
- When viewing the guild member list, implement the ability to hit a +/- button against each section (a bit like with professions) to hide certain ranks. Scrolling through hundreds of names often means I miss the person I was looking for.
- The ability to search for a member. Often I have members ask me to change a note on their alt character, or remove it, change permissions, etc. Again with 700 people looking for a member name can be difficult. There is the auto fill in mail function, so I'm sure this could be applied to the guild window as well.
Message of the Day:
- Message of the day to appear AFTER all the add ons and notices have loaded. Even with a slight delay. The message as it currently stands seems to be lost amongst all the pre-load stuff. Also the ability to type a few extra characters would be great.
- There was an add-on back in the Burning Crusade that was fantastic called GuildML I think. It allowed the user to select rank, members of the guild who’d been online in a specific date range, or simply all the members of the guild. It would import it into a mail window and you could type your message. It'd then send off a mail to each member based on the selected criteria. Sadly with changes to the mail system to stop spam, this add-on is permanently broken. Adding something like this back in would be super useful.
- Having the option to mail the guild (or selected members) is a vital communication tool. The calendar doesn't really work as people miss it, or forget to accept that they are coming. To be able to send out reminders via mail is crucial. Even from a general guild notice point of view. I used to mail the guild once a week with reminders either about raids, or to check the bank for new items.
- This option could be a selectable permission across the ranks, that way a designated leader could mail the desired ranks updates or time changes to the raid. Guilds need communication and sending them off to a guild website doesn't suit everyone. As a guild leader, to be able to send say all my officers/raid leaders/recruiters a small token of appreciation at Christmas time via mail and a bulk message would be nice. I would think that the load on servers for mail would be minimal as it'd be a permission-based allowance and only within the guild, not just to anyone.
Guild Request Invite:
- Currently the only notification we get is a small number next to the “Request” word on the tab once we have gone into Info. If the Info tab could flash once or twice to show new requests, this would allow me to have a visual indication that people wish to join.
- Having a “Last Online” under their name and showing when they were last on, or even currently online would be handy. As it stands I have to go through the list and manually invite or send a message, it is a “pot shot” most of the time to see if they are on. A lot of the time I get “Player not found.” This means I have to spend my play time sending invites out every 30 minutes in the hope a player comes back online. If I could see they were last on an hour ago, or are currently online then I wouldn't have to waste so much time and could send them a message to co-ordinate an invite time. It would also give an indication of how frequently they play. This tech is already in the game as we can see such information via the guild window for current members. So pulling that data for a player over into my Requested Invite seems possible.
- Streamline the design into one window that pops out alongside the current member list (this allows for cross referencing). By pressing Guild Control button, we can be presented with a better laid out interface with tabs across the top: General (info, motd), Rank Permission, Bank Permissions, Notices (here guild mail can be housed), Requests, Rewards, Tabard, etc.
For some players guilds won’t make or break their MMO experience, but for others it is the crux to the whole game. Great leaders invest their time and energy in an effort to help their members succeed. Sometimes our leaders never intended to lead but each day they tackle the job!
We’ve seen various approaches to guild systems, but which MMOs have captured intuitive systems that should be more widely adopted? There are quite a few discussions that point to MMOs like GW, Aion, SWG, EQ2, and Rift that have elements of great guild support. Which would you build upon, or which would you combine to create a widely adaptable system to improve guild formation, growth, or longevity? Let’s tally all the great support that exists and could exist and help broadcast them to become even more widely known.
Every week, Holder’s Dominion author Genese Davis opines about MMO gaming, the issues the genre faces, and the power of shaping online worlds.
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