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With Friends Like These

Michael Bitton Posted:
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MMOs are about all manner of things for different people, but the one aspect that differentiates the genre from anything else is its emphasis on community. While this emphasis may have waned or taken a different shape over the last few years, it’s still the most powerful force an MMO can have going for it. Frankly, MMOs live or die on the health of their communities.

While having tons of individual players are important to any MMO community, it’s the strengthening force of guilds that really knit a server together. Guilds provide a place to call home amongst other likeminded players. Guilds also put on events (often involving other guilds on the server) and help foster relationships between players that persist for months, if not years.

It’s unfortunate, then, that Star Wars: The Old Republic didn’t launch with much of an emphasis on guilds. Indeed, I noted the anemic status of TOR’s guild features in our official review. But all is not lost for guilds in The Old Republic. Even before the game went live, BioWare noted that development of the game’s guild feature set was the highest priority item on their list for post-launch additions. If you’re unfamiliar with the status of guild features in The Old Republic, well, let’s just say you won’t even find basic amenities such as a guild bank available.

So, where do we go from here? Well, it looks like the aforementioned guild banks are certainly in the cards, as we recently saw a work-in-progress version of the feature as part of a video detailing what players can expect to find added to The Old Republic over the coming months. While guild banks are a basic addition, there have been some hints as to what BioWare may want to add for guilds on a bit of a larger scale. For example, we’ve heard the developer mention guild capital ships on a number of occasions. Keep in mind, this isn’t a confirmation of anything, but BioWare seems to be just as excited about the idea as players are.

The most reassuring news for guilds didn’t come from the aforementioned video, but from BioWare’s recent announcement of a Guild Summit set to take place next month. We’ve heard them talk the talk, we’ve seen a bit of the walk with the tease of guild banks, but the upcoming Guild Summit is really the most serious gesture BioWare could make to let fans know they are taking the development of guilds seriously. I’m sure BioWare has their own ideas and guild features in development as we speak, but the upcoming Guild Summit will be a great opportunity for the developers to actually meet the players leading these guilds and get their input on what they feel are the features most important to them and their guildmates.

We’ll be at the guild summit along with many of you, but I wanted to take some time this week to discuss a few guild features I’d love to see in the game myself and open the floor up for your own ideas.  My favorite implementation of guild features was found in Mythic’s Warhammer Online, where I briefly lead a guild of around 45 players. WAR had a robust guild feature set, including the requisite guild banks, schedules, ranks and permissions, as well as new additions such as guild leveling that offered guild-wide rewards, and even the ability for guilds to stake claim on Keeps found in open world RvR. The more active your guild, the faster it would rise in the ranks, and the benefits for highly ranked guilds were great. The concept of guild leveling has taken off quite a bit since WAR made its debut in 2008, as games like World of Warcraft were eager to put their own twist on the concept. Just as well, I’d love to see guild leveling in some form make an appearance in Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Content designed with guilds in mind would be a nice addition. Mind you, I’m not asking for content exclusive to guilds, but being able to make your mark on the world as a guild and not only as an individual would be a welcome addition. I’d love to see guilds given the capability to stake claim over certain areas or resource-granting objects in PvP, and I’d love to see guild-based achievements for PvE content.

Eventually, if BioWare does pursue the guild capital ships feature, it would be great if guilds could conduct raids on each other’s ships. I’m basically thinking of City of Heroes’ underdeveloped base and base raid feature, which at one point allowed players to design and customize their base with a number of aesthetic and defensive additions. Why defensive additions?  Guilds could acquire certain powerful objects and house them in their base, opening up the base to attack by other guilds, who could in turn secure said objects for themselves.

Ultimately, The Old Republic has nowhere to go but up with their additions to guilds, and so the fairly blank slate nature of the game’s current guild offerings is oddly encouraging in a glass half-full sort of way. BioWare is clearly interested in making major additions to guilds, and it looks like they’re really opening the floor for your feedback in helping determine what those additions and direction end up being.

You’ve heard some of my crazy ideas for guilds, but now I want to hear yours. What guild features would you like to see BioWare add to Star Wars: The Old Republic? Share ‘em with us in the comments below!


Michael Bitton

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB