ArenaNet has called guilds in to question. Not all guilds. The very active, very big guilds are having no issues plowing right ahead to unlocking all the mission types at the pace of a few months (or less!). It’s the small guilds that are having problems. It’s the small guilds that feel threatened. It’s the small guilds that are now forced to reflect on whether their community actually reflects ArenaNet’s mechanical definition of a guild.
So what is a guild? Well I would say Guild Wars 2 has two definitions. The first is the objective definition, where players can open the “G”uild menu and click “Create Guild”. Voila, a new guild is born. Yet this is the lowest common denominator of a guild. The subjective definition is whether the guild contains activity to generate Influence, the guild resource, to reasonably progress along ArenaNet’s guild progression track.
Guild Self-Evaluation Question #1: Is your guild a mechanical construct or an active, social hub? This is not a trick question. Yet, I feel ArenaNet’s guild mission system has thrown that question directly at each guild. I am sick of hearing “my # guild” with regard to guild mission discussion because in Guild Wars 2, it is irrelevant how many members are in the guild. Are those members actively representing the guild? Do those members play together? If the only reason for the guild is a chat channel with extra banking, that is a mechanical construct. The guild progression system in Guild Wars 2 does not reward the lowest definition of a guild. ArenaNet has created costs that only a guild with meaningful participation can afford.
There are two costs involved in unlocking the content of guild missions. The first is Influence, the guild resource that is generated based on guild activity. It’s a simple system, with little in-game explanation, where the more a guild plays together the more Influence per time is earned. This first cost is based on long term participation. I feel any small guild with active, guild-grouping participation can realistically unlock the guild missions. It will take effort, focus, personal wealth, and time, but I still feel it is reasonable. The second cost is the short term participation of beating the guild missions to get Guild Merits.
It is the second cost that will make or break guilds. Guild Self-Evaluation Question #2: Does your guild have the manpower to take down a Tier 1 Guild Bounty? It is the Guild Wars 2 version of a raid’s DPS meter. Without alliances and better communication tools than the ones in game (Ventrilo, RaidCall, etc.) a small active guild is, in my opinion, going to have trouble with the very first Tier 1 Guild Bounty.
A Tier 1 Guild Bounty involves taking down two champion-level targets hidden across Tyria. Dulfy, epic guide master, has rallied her community to create a fantastic guide to seeking out these targets. The in-game information hints that Short-Fuse Felix is in Diessa Plateau, and his pathing takes him all over the zone. Take two entire zones with two champion bounties, a small active guild, and a time limit of 15 minutes, and I feel that it is going to be a great challenge to beat a Tier 1 Guild Bounty. Rallying the countryside for added power is simply not something to rely on in the short time limit, especially since all non-guild members get is a basic event completion.
This is where I feel that the argued “tight-knit” guild is going to get called in to question, and this is where I hope ArenaNet iterates on their guild mission system. Beating a Tier 1 Guild Bounty twice is the bar to unlocking any other guild missions. The Tier 1 Guild Treks, which are the next guild mission in line, seem easily completed by a small, active guild (find 5 locations in 20 minutes). I am actually surprised that the Guild Treks and Guild Bounties weren’t flip-flopped in the progression. I guess Guild Bounties do seem more exciting and give Guild Commendations (another personal resource), but Guild Treks still require some modicum of communication. There would’ve still been a bar, albeit smaller, in starting out guild missions with Guild Treks.
Psychochild commented on this distinction already. Small guilds that pass Guild Self-Evaluation Question #1, and are therefore healthy to the game and server, but do not pass Guild Self-Evaluation Question #2 are going to feel slighted. I feel that for Guild Bounties, the entry level to all guild missions, should have had a less intense Tier 1. Perhaps it is just a worthy challenge in ArenaNet’s eyes.
Regardless, the last big update in Guild Wars 2 turned The Eye every single guild. ArenaNet in a way put an objective number to what was otherwise a very subjective ideal: the health of a guild. Going forward, every guild now has a score that is going to be referred to in recruitment, alliance making, and retention. In a way this might be good because it gets active players looking for active guilds. It just hurts a little too.