Guild Systems: A speculative post

Recently I was directed to David Bass, Senior Community Coordinator at Bioware for the SW:TOR team. His job is largely based on trying to assist guilds looking to form up for SWTOR and asked me the following question.

We haven’t quite begun talking about guilds in an official manner yet, though that’s coming fairly soon. Right now, I’ve been getting in touch with guilds mostly to gather some initial feedback. What sorts of features do you and your guild feel are an absolute necessity at launch? What features are those that you consider “nice to have”?

Well this got me thinking about what are the core game features that a guild needs, expects, and in my case what I would like to see based on known aspects of the game we are all anticipating.

This was my response.

David,

I’ve been putting a lot of thought into guild management having run a guild twice (The Church in SWG and an unrelated guild in WoW), and the prospect of what a guild needs and wants can be daunting. Considering my experience and upcoming responsibilities I have to say the way the guild system will work is of particular interest to me, though I realize that while nearly everyone joins a guild, a minority are probably concerned with their mechanics. Here are some of my thoughts divided into needs/wants/wish lists.

Needs

Formation: I’d consider the ability to form a guild quickly and inexpensively to be a need, especially for a launch guild before anyone has any credits. The prospect of a “guild charter” being either prohibitively expensive (forcing players to forgo spending credits on other things like training or gear) or the charter requiring unusual effort (I heard Conan required players to all be present in some far off location to form up) seems like an undue burden to place. Something akin to the WoW play 10silver/1G and have 4-5 charter signatures now seems reasonable. I would prefer that the ability to sign a guild charter (should you have such a system) be able to be done remotely so I could use the “holonet” to secure any necessary player commitments if such a system is what you guys intend.

Communication: I think it is expected and standard to have an intuitive guild chat channel members have access to immediately upon joining the guild.

Access Levels: The ability to set ranks, and permissions to those ranks (ie ability to invite, gkick, promote/demote)

At its core this is all that is really absolutely necessary for a guild to exist in any MMO. Everything else just enhances, strengthens or flourishes those core aspects.

Wants

Shared Resources: Ideally there will be some kind of guild vault/storage locker. I don’t really mind if it starts small and grows with costs associated with it as a money sink. Ideally we would be able to have members who are operating in a cooperative crafting arrangement, or helping to gear the guild in craftables, could use the
guild storage space as a safe no hassle transfer point for hard goods. And in a manner which doesn’t affect personal storage space (ie self bank/mailbox quotas)

Titles: The ability to set intra guild titles. These don’t have to be seen by those out of guild, but when I walk by a guildmate and see in front of his name above his head “Bishop Furiel” that would be really cool. If you could also have a vanity title which would be applied to one person and not require a rank like Arrican the Sith Slayer or
Dentist Cuspar that would be awesome. Allows for community building if somebody did something really memorable in the guild and you wanted to immortalize it.

Taxes: I don’t know how it would play and effect the overall gameplay, but if a guild could set some nominal tax rate to go towards the guild bank account. “Maybe set a max rate allowed of 7-10% to prevent officers interfering woo much with their members money making”. And ideally this would be something that would happen automatically off credits received via missions/quests/looting. Within my guild specifically it would just be called a tithe, but the basic principle is taxation. The real decision is how you’d implement this. Option (a) you get paid unguilded 100cr for a mission, but in a guild with a tax you get paid 90cr and 10cr go to the bank. Option (b) you still get paid the 100, but the guild gets “bonus” money like the current WoW guild perks system. Lore justifications could be, especially if you have a guild level system, that NPCs are paying a “premium” because your group of heroes has a reputation for being so good at their jobs, and as we all know if you want “Havoc Squad” you have to pay what Havoc Squad is worth.

Security: I don’t know if Bioware is going to take a cue from Blizzard, but authenticators (either keyfob, or as an app for smart phones), and the ability to set restrictions on shared resources based on whether an account has one is a huge feature I personally would like. My wife’s WoW account got hacked while I was GM and I was really
worried about the amount of damage that could have been done.

Guild Perks/Levels: I don’t know if you guys are thinking about it, but I think that these type of systems help keep people from guild hopping as much, and can help build community. I’ve been pretty impressed with the WoW guild levels/perks they have implemented in Cataclysm, and would love to see similar things in SWTOR.

In Game Calendar: Having the ability to have a group calendar in game I have found very useful in games. Especially if that calendar can be used to send event invites to people. Features like the ability send event invites based on rank, or some other division would be useful.

Alt Linking: In a game with the anticipated replay of SWTOR I forsee many players including myself playing multiple characters. If there was a way that when a player joined a guild on his alt that it would have a note field or something just listing “Oh hey Arillius is the alt of Jounville” it would be very nice. I would say the default would
whichever toon linked has the longest standing membership in the guild. The ability for an officer to break that link (ie mom and kid share an account and play at different times) would probably be necessary.

In Game Want Ads: This isn’t something I’ve seen in another game, but probably wouldn’t be hard to implement on a player’s guild menu UI. A place to put in guild in game ads for in game products or service. For example a guildmate could put an ad up “Want to run Flashpoint XYZ, hoping to get the blaster from third boss” and if people see it they may do it, or decide to plan it. Or maybe “WTS: surplus scrap metal. I have 100 units of titanium. If anyone in guild wants it let me know before friday or I’ll just AH it” Basically it serves as a concise short in game BBS to get guild interaction where the guild calendar would be inappropriate. And would be useful for guilds that have a player base where some players frequent the guild forums, and other people don’t and instead just log in and play.

Wish List

Capital Ship Guild Halls: Yeah I know everyone is asking for them, but that would be really cool. I don’t see my guild getting massive, so we could settle for a smaller cruiser or frigate.

Shared Factory: I’m not sure how this one would work out, but if a guild could coordinate and automate some assembly functions for cooperative crafting that would be awesome. What I’m thinking is let’s say Furiel and Vesp are working together. Furiel’s crew makes subcomponents for some other item Vesp’s companions do final assembly on. It would be great as part of the crew skills system for Furiel to say “Okay Vette I need you to make X of these parts” like he would normally do, but be able to add the command “And when you finish deliver them to guild member X”. This would also be great for players who are helping out their guild crafters by being gatherers of raw materials.

EPGP: As I’m sure you’ve played WoW I’m fairly certain you know of EPGP, if not you can google it and get the gist. If there was an in game configurable EPGP/DKP system for raiding guilds that would be great. I know that there is no “perfect” loot system, but having something that was more sophisticated than need/greed would be great.

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