[GW2] Big Government Guilds

That buzz word in the title should get some attention. Regardless of your stance, good reader, on federalism and what any U.S. founders believed, the premise of “big government” is control. It’s this issue of control, or perceived lack of control, with the hinted Guild Wars 2 guild system that has the community in a tizzy.

The Guild Wars 2 guild system lets players join multiple guilds through their account and characters. My asura warrior, Guvvernator, might be in some main guild, an asura-only role-playing guild, a 6-man real-life friends guild, and a casual PvP guild. The full details of the guild system are missing, but I suspect that since I can rack up influence for my guilds, I would likely have to choose one guild as my “main,” which would receive the benefits of my activities. The others would be exclusive chat rooms with whatever other guild features ArenaNet is planning, hopefully like a guild bank.

The tizzy seems to come from guild-focused players that stick to one guild in their MMOs. Questions of loyalty, position, accountability are thrown in the air as soon as the system allows more freedom. This is the part I find a bit ironic and silly, all the negativity I have been saying seems to stem from a loss of pure control. I say pure control because a super-exclusive guild can require that they be the sole guild for a player. This, of course, makes said super-exclusive guild look like a bunch of snobby jerks that just want to destroy fun, and so said snobby jerks would rather have the developers require the players to submit to one overlord…err guild.

First, MMOs are for fun. My fun is different than everybody else’s fun (even if just in small degrees). One night I might just want to solo explore. Another night I might want to go have fun in a lowbie area. Everybody is different. Second, players that want dedicated fun are going to seek it out anyway. The high-end “raiders” (Guild Wars 2 has no raids) and PvP’ers are still going to mostly be dedicated and practice with their main guild to become a well-oiled machine. Having ancillary guilds for that raider that takes pity on her real life friends, or that PvP’er that wants to roleplay one night a week, has little or no negative effect. In fact, I would say giving them the freedom to branch out to other interests will strengthen their tie to the core.

The closest guild I ever had was in A Tale in the Desert. It was a small guild with only a rough half-dozen of dedicated players at any given time, but we were tight. Nights of grass picking and charcoal making were filled with jokes, real-life problems, and the current Egyptian gossip. Oh, and did I mention I was in at least 10 other guilds ranging from a deep well corporation to people that liked to share wine. It seems unlikely from a white paper standpoint that I would be more dedicated to my guild when I was in a dozen or so, yet I would say that was the case for nearly everybody in A Tale in the Desert.

The bottom line is that there will be players in Guild Wars 2 that still remain dedicated to one guild, and there will be players that act more like social butterflies flitting from one open community to the other based on the nightly gaming gods’ whims, and everyone in between. The worry that guild leaders have is that they will have to decide on some subjective amount of dedication or activity required. I don’t think anything has changed. Fun guilds with fun activities will attract fun people. Hardcore guilds with challenging activities will attract hardcore people. Casual guilds will remain casual and mega-guilds might be all the bigger.

If anything has to change it’s the guild leader’s perception that they ever had completely dedicated players. Those players might have had a character/account in another guild, or simply played other games (shocking, I know) on off nights. If there was control it was artificial to begin with.


26 thoughts on “[GW2] Big Government Guilds”

  1. Viva la revolution!

    …er, OK, here’s a little more. People out here in meatspace don’t swear allegiance to a single group entity to the exclusion of all others. We naturally are part of several groups, from family to work to play. It makes sense to me to adjust games to more precisely align with how humans work in the first place.

    1. Exactly! That’s why I find the backlash so weird… it’s like the naysayers want to restrict people to not have multiple circles, which is what people do normally. They want this weird control that has always inherently, and possibly accidentally, existed.

      1. At the risk of sounding pithy, I don’t think it’s wise or healthy to equate a guild within a game with an employer. We are still talking about *gaming*, right? Maybe if the guild paid me real money to play, I’d be willing to jump down that rabbit hole.

        Besides, it’s been my experience that only the most… controlling employers (*coughEAcough*) make absolute demands on your time.

        1. some guilds actually do require you to log in X number of hours each day, donate x amount of money every week etc. Which is basically like a job, hence why I only ever join casual guilds in my MMOs, where people don’t really care if I only play for 1 hour each week.

        2. I don’t mean to say that they work just like paid employment (in terms of an actual exchange of goods and services for labour), but there are significant parallels between the two.

  2. Will have to see how it works. Not too impressed with the described implementation. 10 people could create 10 different guilds with the same players just with a different guild leader. Could lead to a lot of logging on/off trying to find people.

    Also concerned about how it will play out when the game grows long in the tooth, as GW is in dire need of a mass guild consolidation. Lots of “full alliances” with only 5 or 6 people on at a time.

    1. As silly as your extreme example is, those 10 players should have each of their characters in those 10 guilds… so there is no logging on/off to find people.

      Also, this system will EXACTLY deal with mass guild consolidation in the long tooth age because you get to stay in your favorite, but dead/dying guild, and still find a guild/community with active people. You just join a new guild! You don’t even need to council with your dead/dying guild to find allies, etc. You just join yourself.

  3. i think there will be 3 different types of guilds.

    1. small social guilds: i think most of us will be part of a social guild, where your friends are, where you trust ppl, where you tell that your new job sucks. Those guilds are very familiar, but not exclusive. Every member may have different interests, pve, pvp, rp, all. The members stick together because they are friends, but you can still join other guilds. Maybe there is the idea that you prefer playing with that guild, but you don’t have to.
    social > function.

    2. big community guilds: big, specialized guilds, for example big RP guilds, PvP, Dungeon/Raiding guilds. Those are mostly communities of purpose, where you don’t have to know much about the ppl, where you don’t have to be friends or trust those ppl (lend money for example). All members of those communities have the same interests: find RP ppl, find a group for Dungeons, PvP and so far. You know, when you log in into this guild, all ppl there are doing the same thing as you do or want to do it.
    function > social.

    3. medium sized specialized guilds: hardcore PvP guilds for example, Tournament Guilds, RP-Order guilds. You have to know the ppl because you play the whole time with them, they have to be sorta social, you can’t become the number 1 if the members hate eachother. Maybe they only accept ppl who aren’t in another guild already. Joining such a guild means that you dedicate yourself to the greater goal of the guild, such as become the number one PvP guild. There is no time for other activities.
    social = function.

  4. I loved being a Guild Leader in GW. The whole gaming experience changed once I became one. My guild (hello to ex-Elite Mercs btw!) was the Hard Mode / Title Hunting type, we had two guilds (both maxed) and most people knew each other, especially those from our main guild that stood together for most of the time.

    It’s awesome to know 80%-90% of your guild members, what they like to do and what they don’t. This is what I’m going to miss the most in GW2 because you won’t be able to say “NO, YOU ARE MY MEMBER AND YOU STAY WITH US!” and even if you could, I wouldn’t do that. Even I would like to be in multiple guilds at the same time.

    1. I think that eventually you will find an orbit synchronous with others, even if you are in multiple guilds.

      I wish more people played or understood A Tale in the Desert because it so perfectly applies. Even if the structure is going to change (slightly) the people you play with really won’t.

  5. Brilliantly written article that expresses my viewpoint on the subject without the heavy-handedness that I would have inevitably used.

    There is only one editorial change I would make;
    “If there was control it was artificial to begin with.” – change artificial to illusionary and it’s absolutely perfect.

    If you’re not concerned about *controlling* other players then the proposed guild system for GW2 has no negative affect on you whatsoever. If you ARE concerned about wanting to dictate to other players exactly how they play the game… you’re in the same boat as the folks who complained about not being able to “gank” other players in open world PvP; There are plenty of other games already out, or coming out soon, that have the design flaws you’re looking for… go play them instead. That style of play is not being designed into GW2.

    For those who complain that they need the super-organized, highly regimented, controlling nature of their previous guilds in order to accomplish high-end raiding… exactly how much “raiding” do you think you’re going to be doing in GW2? You’re still viewing this through the perspective of an old paradigm. You won’t need that type of highly restrictive guild structure to be successful and have fun experiencing content in GW2. The ease with which players can form ad-hoc groups and work together… even in the large scale dynamic events… and combined with the absence of the old “trinity” class design… makes the presence of stalinistic regimes unecessary.

    The new, less restrictive guild system is paired with the new, more fast paced style of game play. If you’re not a control freak, and you’re still worried about the guild system then you’re probably just still thinking about old game mechanics and systems that are NOT in GW2.

  6. I think the multiple guild thing is a great idea. I should, since I’ve been suggesting it since at least 2002.

    As a player of many characters in every MMO I get stuck into, frequently on several servers, I have habitually joined a variety of guilds in the same game. I’ve also been part of, and run, chat channels that served a quasi-cross-guild function.

    Being able to join the same characters to multiple guilds is a great improvement on these workarounds and it’s one of the features of GW2 that I hope ends up being copied a lot.

  7. As a guild leader of a large GW guild with a long history in the game, I don’t think I have enough information about the multiple guild concept in order to have a good opinion.

    In general and on the surface, I agree that the concept is a good one for players and guilds. No guild can be all things to all people, and probably several guild leaders have lost players who need to max out faction to faction farming guilds, or stronger PvP players to more PvP guilds. Being able to retain players with specific types of expertise is very important to the life of a guild.

    However, player retention is important because the individual strengths players bring to a guild find expression in guild activities. Will a player who likes PvP do any PvP in the social Guild X if casual PvP Guild Y offers hot and cold running PvP? I’m not sure. Will the players who like world PvP get a group going in the social guild, or will they immediately jump into their world PvP guild? Again, I’m not sure–but the path of least resistance would suggest that it’s easier for a player to jump into an already-organized activity than to dig deep to organize an activity already.

    What I would like to see, though,with the multiple guild memberships, is that alliances are stronger and more meaningful than they were in GW1. I would also like to see better communications among guilds than in GW1. For example, players are supposed to be able to choose which chat they can read. Can they not read multiple chats? This would, I think, help with guild cohesion.

    At any rate, while I generally see multiple memberships as a positive, I think that there may be pitfalls as well, but I’d have to learn more of just how guilds operate.

  8. “a super-exclusive guild can require that they be the sole guild for a player”

    Of course. You can compare this to the current “one guild per character (not player)” model.

    Most guilds won’t give a damn if you have an alt in another guild that you play sometimes.

    Super-hardcore guilds might. Certainly I imagine a world-first-chasing raid guild wouldn’t be too impressed if you were casually levelling an alt with your friends’ guild instead of eking out whatever would give you another 0.1% efficiency on your main.

    Storm in a teacup, this one. I daresay that the “guild-focused players that stick to one guild in their MMOs” will continue to stick to one guild in GW2. But plenty of other people will benefit from this excellent design choice.

  9. The founders intended restricted government. Basically the federal government should be in charge of foreign policy and leave the rest to the states.

    With every character on account being technically in the same guilds, wont’ be able to have racially or profession exclusive guilds. Which is a shame because real guilds would be based on professions.

    1. /dap

      Also we don’t know those specifics. They’ve said you CAN autojoin, which doesn’t mean MUST autojoin… also guild leaders of purist guilds could easily kick out the riff-raff… of course I would assume most people that want to join a purist guild will only do so with their “pure” characters. It’s the troublemakers you gotta watch out for.

  10. My only concern with this new guild system is that if/when they do decide to implement Guild Housing, it’s not hardcore pvp or 100k+50 ectoes, like in the early days of prophecies, it didn’t really work out for small casual guilds. I plan to start a highly casual guild for college and over members who don’t have the time to log in every week or even every month, and I’d like to give them the same amenities as every other guild without going hardcore raider/pvper myself. A guild bank will certainly help alleviate this problem, but I’d like to offer it completely for free to draw new members. Still, it’s nice to know I’ll be able to join a big WvW mega corporation when my guild eventually goes dead, and at the same time, I’ll have a fallback with guild resources available when I get tied down with studies and can’t log in for months at a time.

  11. Not to much to add here. GW2’s guild system reminds me of FFXI that I played for a number of years. They also allowed you to be in more than one guild at any given time, while only being able to see guild chat of the guild you represented.

    Guilds were formed to do specific things. There were Event linkshells, Social linkshells, End-game Linkshells, Hardcore Linkshells – Linkshells = Guilds btw -.

    Each one had their own set of rules that you had to abide by but it was up to you to accept them and be committed. Hardcore shells achieved their goals and social shells thrived.

    So to me, it’s a no brainer, it worked for FFXI and I dont see how it can’t work in GW2.

  12. “If there was control it was artificial to begin with.”

    Great summary there. I’ve read a bunch of blog posts and many more forum posts about guild polyamory, and a minority of them have been critical, but every single purported negative is not unique to a guild polyamory situation. “But people might not be completely loyal to their main guild and might spend time with other guilds” is no different from “but people might not be completely loyal to their main’s guild and might spend time on alts in other guilds, other shards, other MMORPGs, games in other genres, and hell, going bowling/drinking/camping with buddies/families/whatever”.

  13. As far as I can see, the only problem that everyone is having with this multiple guild idea is that members will just swap around, without caring and leaders will have no control.
    IMHO if there was some reward for influence ‘donated’ this would make it more meaningful to remain loyal to a guild (or guilds). It could be something like, after 100,000 influence donated (idk what sort of numbers and how fast they are obtained, just an example ;P) then you get some cool reward (non-exchangeable, similiar to HoM rewards) or you progress on a title (or both of these rewards). BTW this would be influence to one guild, so the reward would start over on different guilds.
    Just my 0.02

    1. If members are swapping around it’s because the guild is providing no value beyond access to other people. That is the guild’s fault, not the system’s.

      So actually if that is the fear, then this system, like Tib says below is going to kill off mediocre, everything guilds.

  14. If you can toggle each guild chat separately this will be fantastic for those little social guilds – their players who do higher-level stuff will be in guilds organized around that content as well, and when the pvp guild (for example) is short a couple of bodies the word will go out through the social guilds, drawing more people into content they might not see otherwise. Another point – the raid guilds I’ve been in, the core raid team always felt like a subgroup within the guild anyway. They spend so much time together that they usually end up being tighter than the guild at large.

  15. A better (and more apt) title would have been The Death of Wal-Mart Guilds.

    Many of the guilds that try to be a bit of everything will die out. In its place you’ll have your favorite restaurant or coffee shop you and your friends hang out at, and a bunch of boutique shops that are open 24/7.

    Walmart sells low quality pvp, or doesnt have the type you want, or has bumbling know-nothing associates ready to “assist” you? Goodbye Wal-Mart, Bob’s PvP Hut does it better and does it all the time.

  16. In many cases, a guild is nothing more than an excuse for the guild leader or a few officers to play with the features of the guild system, and this leaves out the other members. The boss gets to have a guild bank all to himself, and play with the guild hall building system, but everyone else is out of luck unless they start a guild of their own. This leads to a proliferation of small guilds with only a handful of players that are isolated from the rest of the community.

    I myself occasionally make “alt-guilds” with all my characters so that I get access to the toys, but that means I can’t do much with other people. Naturally, that tends to defeat the purpose of an MMO. Multiple guilds could let players “have their cake and eat it too.”

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