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Next Gen MMORPG Guild Features - What do you want?


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#1 Digo

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 03:10 PM

(This was going to be a reply to another thread about the state of WoW in Naxxramas, but I think it's a good topic and worth its own thread. http://forums.elitis...php?id=9046&p=3)

I'm basically playing the normal game now because I'm needed, I've been entrusted with precious Frost Res gear and I don't want to screw over 39 other people like my predecessors have.

I understand the game's gotta be about moneysinks to combat inflation, but right now it's getting dangerously close to the breaking point. If some people don't want to play because they can't afford to play because of potion requirements and repaircosts, I'd say you've pushed us too far as a developer.

This should be framed above the desk of every MMO designer. Guilt became the primary motivator that kept playing EQ. People logged in because of their friends, not because the game was so fun. My entire guild quit en masse during Gates of Discord and just played WC3 till WoW was released.

Now, I think the designer perspective is "well that's what guild banks are for." Yet this simply isn't the case for many people. It's expecting too much from people who are playing for stress relief, not more administration on top of their 9-5. (Sometimes I feel more like an HR manager than a raid leader.)

I don't think that as a designer, you should be expecting people to go out of game for anything that becomes such an integral part of game play for any tier of player. (Excel, DKP sites, etc)

If I were designing a game whose goal was to steal raiders away from WoW, there are 4 key elements on which I'd focus:

(Assume the actual raid content is as good or better than WoW.)


1. Simple, intuitive guild bank feature.

- Checklist menu permissions for your officers to deposit or requisition gold or items.
- In-game logs that document all transactions in big, clean text. (Name, amount, date, note)
- Built-in mail function to make covering repair costs easy. Members mail in their repair bill, you just reply from the guild bank interface and reimburse them on the spot.

2. Guild Housing supports raiding.
- Allows creation of in-house merchants.
- Tradeskill support. Got a large batch of potions to whip up? Drop off all the mats at once, pay a small service charge, get them all created instantly. Logging in 30 minutes early to make all the potions for the raid sucks.
- Recipe library. How many of you have rare recipes that will never allow you to switch out of that profession? Store them in the guild library. Only players that previously knew them will be able to reacquire them. This prevents exploitation.

3. Invest in your guild.
- Putting gold into the guild bank earns interest. Give your players additional incentive to strengthen their guild. Farming sessions aren't just about endlessly refilling a bucket with holes anymore. To curb enormous guild banks, it becomes auto-taxed once it reaches N amount.
- Herb gardens. High level herbalists can now extract seeds from plants. Plant them in your guild's garden/farm/estate to grow a higher yield batch of herbs. Harvesting them yields no additional seeds. Seeds must be obtained in the world, or purchased from players.
- Access to additional vanity and prestige items such as tabards, cloaks, mounts, battle standards.

4. In-game DKP management.
- Simple database entry feature that uses XML for customization.
- Allow players to track attendance, loot, and anything else (dark glare deaths!) the guild needs. Keeps players in the game and not relying on external administrative applications. DKP is here to stay. It's going to be a part of any successful item-based MMO, so rather than burying their heads in the sand, devs need to accept it and find a simple, intuitive way to track this information in game with quests (easy tutorials) that teach players how to use it.

The reality is, many players are very new or very bad at this, and it sours a lot of people to the endgame. So when they're soured and with no place left to go, they quit. Designers need to help their players achieve success. My roommate is part of a new raiding guild that's run like a bunch of monkeys fucking a football and it really turns him off to raiding. He's skilled enough and likes raiding, but doesn't want to deal with a system set up by and run by inept managers. Who would?

In short, get players back in the game and reduce as much external administration as possible. Make it fun to raid, rather than a second job, and you'll help kill the stigma attached to "hardcore raiding" that alienates so many potential subscribers.

FOCUS: What features do you want from your next gen MMORPG that will keep the game fun and not turn it into a job?

#2 Praetorian

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 03:27 PM

Great post -- much like Rane's post that inspired this. I can certainly say that in our guild, a lot of that sentiment exists. I'm not sure a smoother guild interface directly addresses the issue of players logging on out of obligation (if stuff Necro-Knight's Garb, Stygian Buckler, and Harbinger of Doom were BoE and we could sell them for 4-digit gold on the AH, that'd do more to put food on the proverbial plate than a fancy banking interface) but all of the above suggestions are solid. We had a similar discussion like this in the past where the "guild herb garden" idea figured prominently. I'd kill for in-game DKP tracking through the guild interface. Set up three automated DKP-tracking systems: Fixed-price zero-sum, accrued per hour with bidding, accrued per kill with bidding, and then have a wildcard "Custom" option that would just let players manually adjust values in-game.

Basically, Blizzard, or any MMO company approaching this question, needs to recognize that guilds are going to be an important part of the gaming experience, from the ground up. In WoW guilds feel like an afterthought. We get tabards and two chat channels. That's it. A guild is one of the most important part of any player's experiences, whether it's the small guild of 15 friends from school/work that forms the core 2-3 players his 5-man runs before he adds PUGs or the raiding guild to whom he feels real loyalty. Did Blizzard really think that, as they planned 40-man raids and Battlegrounds, people would not naturally be forming guilds? When they looked at EQ and the players they were wooing to come over to their game (and hell, when they reflected upon their own MMO experiences as players), didn't they see that?

As I said in the last discussion on this topic, which I'll try to dig up in a moment, Lineage II, for all its flaws, is one of the few games that realized that, from the start, guilds were going to be central to the game. In their beta, before there was high-end content at all, and before a lot of quests were implemented, there was a fully functioning guild system with a bank and mechanics for "leveling up" the guild to enable access to things like guild housing and wars between clans.

That's really all it takes. Digo, I'd love to see all of the above ideas implemented into WoW, but in terms of "next gen," I think designers need to recognize that no matter how good their game is, there will come a time when what keeps people playing is the people they've met and bonded with along the way. And they need to design around that reality, instead of ignoring it. The practical solutions are almost secondary to the theoretical concept in this case.

Edit: http://forums.elitis...pic.php?id=7977 -- post #7 and onwards

#3 Maynard

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 03:30 PM

I don't think it would be beyond the scope of a game like WoW to have the ability to generate on-line websites for raiding guilds. The game already reads and records PvP ranks and has it's own complex forum software - why not a barebones WYSIWYG editor with some additional server-side functionalities for generating DKP pages? I've seen a few guilds that have been quite strong, but by virtue of chance alone haven't had a member with the tech know-how to make a decent website.

In terms of finding gold to support raids - I would love for Blizzard, or the next MMO designer, to take a leaf out of EVE's book. A large guild should be able to act as a corporation to some extent. Gold-making skills become central to a guild's success, rather than a time-sink.

Currently casuals can farm herbs that can support raiders. Yet, conversely, raiders can provide very little for the casuals (paying copius amounts of gold for farm-status loot doesn't count). Why not have bosses drop items that help casuals make exceptionally powerful craftables? This is at the absolute most simple level. Even more extreme, a guild could have "tiers" of players, with casuals at the bottom level joining large guilds and farming mats to support that guild (Imagine: Soulbound - Guild). Of course, "farming mats" neednt be a chore, we could be talking about drops that they just pick up along the way in 5-mans or even PvP-earned tokens. Non-raiders could even form guilds centered entirely around the generation of income, that provide materials to the raiding community, who in turn could offer raid-only materials used to craft very high-end BoE epics.

Remember when you heard about "bind on pickup" as a way to counter farming? The problem is that WoW is currently so counter-farmer that there's not really such a thing as a legitamite entrepreneur. Of course, it's hard for a game developer to play 'economy god' and create an infrastructure that would create a fair, balanced, and multi-faceted economy. But when pulled off, the natural mechanics of game economies solve all problems.

I actually think I'm a little off topic at this point :P

#4 Whitemane

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 03:33 PM

A per-person incurred repaircost is tracked and after a raid is finished you can choose to refund a % of that and the system will automatically reimburse all raiders % of their repaircosts for the evening. I hate mailing 40 people gold by hand :(

Also I'd like a system, much like Allakhazam, but instead something that is run and developed by the developers of the game. They know it's going to happen anyways, ala Allakhazam. Hopefully they would also consider allowing for serving forums for guilds and maybe even options like TeamSpeak / Ventrilo. The added costs of this could be handled over the subscription service. These things cost money and all serious guilds will need them and at the moment the cost is centralized on one person mostly. A guild could simply opt for the different things they want and being a member of that guild would simply increase your subscription to the game a bit, allowing all guild members to share the financial load instead of pinning it on one guy.

#5 Digo

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 03:58 PM

In terms of finding gold to support raids - I would love for Blizzard, or the next MMO designer, to take a leaf out of EVE's book. A large guild should be able to act as a corporation to some extent. Gold-making skills become central to a guild's success, rather than a time-sink.

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#6 Viator

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 04:06 PM

I'd kill for EQ2's guild functionality. Heck, I'd argue that EQ2 is a better pure Diku experience than WoW in some ways but it has alot of screwups. But the guild stuff? Sony nailed it. People had a reason to help everyone in their guilds no matter the level difference. A great ranking and banking system. If you're talking purely about guild functionality then a damn fine system is already out there and not next gen.

If any game is going to dethrone WoW it's not going to be by taking the raiders though, at least not in any sense of current raiding as we know it. It'll be a grindless endgame which isn't really out there right now. Guild Wars tried before falling flat on their faces (oh, the smoke we beta testers had blown up our asses ont hat one!). So when we say "What are the raids going to look like next gen if there's no grind? AND WE WANT NO GRIND!" what we're actually looking for is the grindless endgame. I'll be interested in seeing how Warhammer (end game is endless war for endless war's sake) and Conan (cities and bar brawls and boobs) shape up. I love WoW and I love raiding but I'm not doing it for another ten years, you know?
Mages have a set time that they want you to ask for food, and that time is pull #4 of the night. You may notice them putting a little snack table down before the raid, that's them cooking the food for you to demand on pull 4. --Nork

#7 Digo

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 04:14 PM

WoW already eliminated the grind. Pardo's "killing with purpose" principle and an easy leveling curve solved the problem. The only grinding that exists now is:

1. Reputation (kind of fixed in TBC, sorta)
2. Consumables/Gold (feeding the war machine)

#8 Lanky

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 04:24 PM

Currently casuals can farm herbs that can support raiders. ...
a guild could have "tiers" of players, with casuals at the bottom level joining large guilds and farming mats to support that guild (Imagine: Soulbound - Guild). Of course, "farming mats" neednt be a chore, we could be talking about drops that they just pick up along the way in 5-mans or even PvP-earned tokens. Non-raiders could even form guilds centered entirely around the generation of income, that provide materials to the raiding community, who in turn could offer raid-only materials used to craft very high-end BoE epics.

That is a solid point about guild relations. Currently in WoW we see a distinctly two dimensional relationship between guilds supported by game mechanics: Either you raid PvE together for loot, or you raid PvP together for fun. Farming as a guild for another is simply a zero gain massive pain activity that is not done. Implementing an economic impetus for guilds to literally structure themselves around "feeding" a hardcore raiding community would be amazing.
It caters to the semi-casual nature of many players, who may not want to raid all the time, or simply can't , but do wish to partake in that aspect of the endgame. Having more and more items or mats become BoE in endgame instances, and also less useful to a pure raiding guild would help to facilitate such a relationship.

#9 ooj

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 04:36 PM

Guild housing is the one im most interested in because of the potential pvp implications which imo is the weakest part of the wow experience to date. There's a ton of people playing wow who started with pvp desires and just got sucked into the raiding cycle. Being able to put together a fun pvp raid after some pve raiding against an opposing factions guild house sounds like time better spent then ironforge marathon laps or org bank top dance offs. It would be hell to implement I bet but potential benefits are worth it.

as for the aside about warhammer I have been following it because im looking for a better pvp mmorpg and im confident bliz will improve wows pvp with the expansion and upcoming patches before warhammer is even close to release. So far warhammer looks very lost with its direction.

#10 Sicks

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 04:52 PM

This casuals supporting raiders in a mutually beneficial relationship sounds like a lot of the contests some guilds have. Especially during the AQ opening event races I know a lot of guilds held farming contests. It was a very arduous ordeal dealing with all that mail, but hey I got a lot of greens to DE for my lowbie's enchanting (150 at level 13 ftw). The prizes were a free run through MC with 4 friends and taking anything you wanted, except Legendaries. It was one of the most enjoyable Molten Cores I ever ran, seeing people be genuinely excited about winning items there, and they got damn lucky on the drops, winning Rogue walked out with like 4/8 NS, and a Perdition's. Was great, I'd love to see an easier way to do this. Sorting all that mail was such a headache. If they ever do design a guild bank they should increase stack sizes, or perhaps make stacks stack in 20's just in the bank. Right click the stack of stacks and get one stack. :3
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#11 Vhal

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 05:15 PM

DKP is here to stay. It's going to be a part of any successful item-based MMO, so rather than burying their heads in the sand, devs need to accept it and find a simple, intuitive way to track this information in game with quests (easy tutorials) that teach players how to use it.

I don't find this assertion compelling. The current setup for raiding games effectively mandates it, but it's easy enough to imagine item-based raiding systems that do not.

Is there, in reality, a compelling reason to continue with raiding sytems that require DKP?

(I'm not saying the current "EQ and derivatives" raiding setup is bad, just that I don't think it is necessarily the only way to do it.)

#12 Vhal

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 05:17 PM

... In fact, look at the Arena system.

You have what amounts to a raid (if only of 5 people maximum), and a team that 'raids' as a team, with limited spots throughout the week.

The reward is currency that each member of the team can use on their own. The guild (or, team, in this case) management system is determining who gets the spots, not who loots whatever drops.

#13 Viator

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 05:20 PM

WoW already eliminated the grind. Pardo's "killing with purpose" principle and an easy leveling curve solved the problem. The only grinding that exists now is:

1. Reputation (kind of fixed in TBC, sorta)
2. Consumables/Gold (feeding the war machine)

I'd argue that being forced to do MC long, long after it's either fun or challenging to gear up for the next level (and then repeat with BWL) is a pretty heinous grind. I'm optimistic that their release of several raid instances of (presumably) the same rough level of difficulty/gearing requirements should alleviate that somewhat; you'll have a choice of where you go on a given night without an in your face gear cockblock. 25 man cap might help alot, too, as you won't be forced to gear up as many people. No way of knowing for sure quite yet but it seems they're moving in a good direction with it.

And all Warhammer has to be is DAoC without the bullshit to sell me. I'm also a two MMOG guy most of the time: WoW and wherever I choose to get non-WoW stuff in my MMOG. My opinion may be a little softer since I have no compunctions about multiple subs.
Mages have a set time that they want you to ask for food, and that time is pull #4 of the night. You may notice them putting a little snack table down before the raid, that's them cooking the food for you to demand on pull 4. --Nork

#14 Rz

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 05:20 PM

3. Invest in your guild.
- Putting gold into the guild bank earns interest. Give your players additional incentive to strengthen their guild. Farming sessions aren't just about endlessly refilling a bucket with holes anymore. To curb enormous guild banks, it becomes auto-taxed once it reaches N amount.

I love all your suggestions except this one. I've played in games with interest in bank accounts before - it's absolutely terrible and creates massive inflation. Even if you auto-tax it, people are just going to be spreading the money around, creating shell guilds, etc to avoid the tax. Not to mention the destructive effect it has on the economy - rampant inflation.

Everything else you suggested should be implemented yesterday.

#15 Digo

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 05:25 PM

Interesting idea. Let's weigh the pros and cons.

Pro:
- Eliminates need for DKP if everyone in the raid receives a token
- Poor itemization per boss is eliminated (no more "wtf was the itemizer thinking?" bosses)
- Less potential drama
- Nothing rots, ever

Con:
- Delayed gratification. People want gratification NOW from killing a boss. "Wee! We killed C'thun for the first time after weeks of work and we got 5 tokens that I can redeem in 3 months!"
- Reduces desire to work on the hardest stuff if all it drops is more tokens. Why not just farm the easiest bosses from every instance every week and PVP the rest of the time? The desire to be the best doesn't cut it for most people.
- While the concept sounds good in principle, basic human psychology suggests it wouldn't be as popular as "kill now, get instant reward" itemization.

#16 Vhal

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 05:33 PM

Reduces desire to work on the hardest stuff if all it drops is more tokens. Why not just farm the easiest bosses from every instance every week and PVP the rest of the time? The desire to be the best doesn't cut it for most people.

It would seem obvious that a decently designed system would work on more than one kind of token ;)

#17 Grayson Carlyle

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 06:03 PM

So every 10 kills, each player gets 1 piece of loot. That's still a big problem. It also makes it far more difficult to advance if noone is getting any gear upgrades.
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#18 Decker

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 06:05 PM

How about just removing alchemy from the game? The need for temporary buffs comes from the availability of temporary buffs. Remove all non-class specific temporary buffs and we're golden. Players will have to enchant their gear/learn mechanics. Only items I think should remain are HP/MP pots. Make them vendor buys (all levels) similar to the "combat pots" from the PVP vendor.

Leave world buffs in and we should be okay. I'm sure we're all aware that having world buffs won't make any sort of difference if you can't dodge a dark glare/thaddius charge. They're for the most part just an item to put us over the top on those 1% attempts. This will make the end game raiding at least somewhat acceptable. I have no problem with maintaining gold for repairs, but honestly...what do people spend more money on? Consumables or Repairs? For me it's not even close, but I'm a Hunter after all ;)

#19 Copernic

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 06:12 PM

The new Loot system for the casual end-game works on this kind of extreme-token system. Running on hard mode nets about three-four tokens, one per boss. 25 tokens per loot item, or something like that.

1. It's easy to imagine how the system can be scaled to match raiders. Lets say that the release of Emerald Dream introduces Tier 6 for raiders. Blizz can simply add a new tier of loot for casuals at vendors, with a higher token requirement.. or even the same token requirement. Certainly people will complain about how cheap a solution it will be, but it DOES work in terms of eliminating the growing tier gap. Alternately, you can add a new 5-10 man, place a new token in it, and make the new items require that + 20 regular tokens.

2. EVERY class will want to come to each dungeon, now. My Paladin has never had any enthusiasm for LBRS. My Warlock has no need for HuStrat. So on, so forth.... and god forbid there not be any good Warrior drops in a Dungeon. Makes it unrunnable. Now, there's automatic class balancing.

3. Extended replayability. These Dungeons can be run ad infinitum, a big Blizzard goal.

4. Much better then a Rep system. I think we can see this system as kind of a mix between the horrible ZG/AQ20 method and the random-drop traditional method. Rep systems are terrible because there's no sense of progression, the reward takes for-freaking-ever, and after you get that first Primal Idol you don't need any more. Random-drops have low replayability -- once you get the drop, you're essentially done with the Dungeon. This mix-matches... clearly Blizz was moving towards this system in the Argent Dawn token system.

#20 Vhal

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 06:15 PM

So every 10 kills, each player gets 1 piece of loot. That's still a big problem. It also makes it far more difficult to advance if noone is getting any gear upgrades.

The system does require a bit of reworking to work out well -- 10 Razorgore tokens and everyone gets their bracers doesn't necessarily work.

Things could be mixed up; progression fights could heavily depend on resistance gear or very specialized gear (e.g., progression_boss_2 uses ae "terror". Gear exists with the ability "Reduces the duration of terror by two seconds."). Then this resistance (and/or overspecialized) gear is available very cheaply from easy boss tokens. So, for example, you might be able to buy a tier2 piece with ten Razorgore tokens, but have the option to pick up multiple pieces which would increase your viability against Vael, Firemaw et al for one or two tokens.




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