Friday, March 24, 2006

Tools for End-Game Casual Guilds

I think that Blizzard needs to implement certain tools to help the casual guilds overcome barriers that prevent them from raiding. A few tools would go a long way to making the game more accessible to all players. All these tools can be done out of game, but if they were in-game it would be a lot easier and intuitive to accomplish. The fact that a tool is out-of-game is itself another barrier.

Also, these tools don't necessarily have to be very complex. The bare minimum should be good enough.



1. Allow guilds to form alliances

The biggest barrier to endgame raids is the lack of numbers and class balance. The easiest solution is to form guild alliances, where several small guilds team up to tackle the raid instances. An alliance would be created at the guild level, with officers or guildmasters being able to commit their entire guild to the alliance.

The option to form or join an alliance would only exist if there is a level 60 in the guild. Otherwise, alliances would be overused in the lower game, and you'd probably start getting 10 guilds of 5 people forming an alliance that would have normally been a guild of 50. Alliances are aimed at the endgame, and should probably only be available at endgame.

Guilds in the alliance would get a common channel, and share a common schedule (see suggestion 2).

2. Have a schedule where officers can post raids

Raids need to be scheduled. If there is one place in-game where the schedule can be seen, it will be a lot more effective than getting people to visit a website. A guild needs a common schedule, and a guild alliance needs a common schedule. It doesn't need to be very complex. Date, time, and event is good enough. The ability to do sign-ups would be amazing, but is not strictly necessary.

3. Have a base loot system with memory

Almost every raid guild uses a memory-based system to distribute epic loot (DKP, Zero-Sum DKP, Suicide Kings, etc.). I think that if Blizzard included a default system, that would be good enough for most guilds' purposes. If a guild felt that Blizzard's system wasn't good enough, they can always make their own system, as they do now.

I would suggest Spend-All DKP as the default system. Every time an epic drops, each player gets a point. The loot box that pops up has two buttons: Spend and Pass. If you hit Spend, and you have the most points, you get the item and lose all your points.

It's a simple and relatively fair system. Blizzard only needs to keep track of one additional piece of information: the amount of epic points that a character has. As well, the system would work across multiple guilds or guild alliances, as your point total is now inherent in your character, rather than tallied by the guild.

4. Have a guild bank

A guild bank, accessible by multiple people and with contents visible to the guild, would help guilds pool resources in order to accomplish goals. This would allow a casual guild to better work together. Right now, guild banks tend to be extra characters created by the officers. Such banks lack transparency which--in addition to trust issues--means that a lot of members are not aware of the contents of the bank, and are unable to take full advantage of it.


I think that these 4 tools would go a long way to enabling casual guilds to do raid content. Each tool lowers the barriers to entry for a casual guild, and makes it more likely that more people will experience the raid content that Blizzard puts so much time into.

11 comments:

Thoma said...

Some of what you want is already in game and some of it is better done by third parties. You can create in game chat channels already. The metaguild I used to belong to had one as a main, one for apps, and one for each class.

Guildportal can do much of the calander work you propose, and can be set up to work with only DKP trackers. And there are plenty of open source DKP trackers...or even excel and posted PDFs.

GSH said...

The more work something takes, the less likely it will happen. Secondly, if it is in-game, it will be used more than if it is out of game.

A bad in-game interface will be used far more than a good out-of-game interface.

For example, take looking for groups. If you've ever used the Call To Arms mod, you will see that it is a superb LFG interface. Yet everyone uses the LFG channel, because that is 'good enough'.

As well, there is a certain permanence to in-game tools. If you form an alliance with a guild, and the alliance is listed on your guild interface, and your members are automatically added to channel, it's better than a more nebulous system that is set up.

Most people stick with the base game. Very few use out of game tools.

Thoma said...

Not true at all. Meeting stones are a horrible in game interface and are never used. Same with the Inn's and LFG. People will use what ever interface is the least work vs usability. Given the ability of GuildPortal to be easily customized with the ability to add forums....it blows away anything short of Blizzard doing an out of game interface the same way.

GSH said...

I disagree. Meeting stones are not used because there is a better *in-game* interface (the LFG channel).

Guildportal does a lot, but it's still a lot of work to make your members go out of game, and go read the website. I believe that a simple calendar listing that can be referenced in game would be used far more than a guildportal calendar.

Besides, if all the tools exist and are easy to use, why aren't there more casual guilds taking advantage of them?

Thoma said...

I don't know. I know every guild I've been in has used one, from guilds small enough to field one sixty, to the current guild I'm in which is starting BWL. I think there is a perception that you must install 85 programs to raid and so people don't bother looking at what they really need. I'm not even sure that you need what you have in your list.

We're a pretty casual guild and we pretty much ignore a calander. If we get 20 people on we'll do ZG, or AQ20. 25 people and we'll do Ony. On the weekends we do MC.

To raid you need the following:
1. Teamspeak or Ventrillo.
2. Nothing else.

CTRA can help. But you can live with the raid UI. Decursive is nice but I've done it by hand too. Having a guild website is nice but not required. We use our cores as we get them, our crafters hold them to make gear. The metaguild I was in did random rolling for loot.

Everything beyond that is nice but not a requirement. And we even run with 3 or 4 people not on vent.

GSH said...

None of these are strictly necessary. But I look at the endgame and see that 70%+ of 60s do not raid. The question becomes how to get some of these people to raid.

If a few in-game tools would make things easier, reducing the barrier to entry, why not implement them? Better than spending effort making another huge dungeon that very few people will see, imo.

Thoma said...

What keeps people from raiding are the myths about it. It's not UI. It's not Dungeon design. It's people thinking that they need a "leet" guild, eighty five mods, a ton of money and no life.

Maybe if you want to run with Death and Taxes you need those things but for a small guild or pair of guilds, it's not that big a deal to get into MC. If you want more people to raid then destroy the myths instead of renforcing them by saying that Blizzard needs to add these things to the UI.

kev said...

I think all your idea's are great, but I highly doubt Bliz will implement any of them :(

I think if Bliz actually does something about the meeting stones that nobody uses that would be a huge deal for alot of people.

I've never been in a guild "alliance" or "metaguild" but does leadership become a problem? Who has the final say in decisions that need to be made? I think having multiple leaders usually causes conflict.

GodsOfLust said...

I remember reading a rumor that Blizzard would be implementing meeting stones differently at some future point. Signing up at a meeting stone essentially subscribes you to a channel for the meetingstone and a /who -like listing of channel members. I think this would go a long way for non-raid content.

5-man content is currently sometimes hard or impossible to do ... it is at least not always "on tap". Running a 20 or 40 man raid instance with pickups is even harder: 1. you need 20 or 40 men, and all the raid-guild people dont count, they're busy already running the instance (actually, up to about 50% of them get excluded by time or preference of someone else in-guild. So 1/3 of the raid guild members probably could still count towards this goal). 2. You need coordination - PUGs on my server usually struggle to do the easier raid content, mostly because people don't know how to work together and even more people don't know what to expect. 3. You need people who aren't already saved to an instance. It would be hard to impliment, but the number one thing I think Blizzard should do is to find a way to exclude people from instance saves if they dont run regularly.

GodsOfLust said...

I remember reading a rumor that Blizzard would be implementing meeting stones differently at some future point. Signing up at a meeting stone essentially subscribes you to a channel for the meetingstone and a /who -like listing of channel members. I think this would go a long way for non-raid content.

5-man content is currently sometimes hard or impossible to do ... it is at least not always "on tap". Running a 20 or 40 man raid instance with pickups is even harder: 1. you need 20 or 40 men, and all the raid-guild people dont count, they're busy already running the instance (actually, up to about 50% of them get excluded by time or preference of someone else in-guild. So 1/3 of the raid guild members probably could still count towards this goal). 2. You need coordination - PUGs on my server usually struggle to do the easier raid content, mostly because people don't know how to work together and even more people don't know what to expect. 3. You need people who aren't already saved to an instance. It would be hard to impliment, but the number one thing I think Blizzard should do is to find a way to exclude people from instance saves if they dont run regularly.

Levi said...

In Burning Crusade there is a very nice LFG interface and that will go a long way to getting casual guilds into raids if they want to go. There will still be issues with raiding due to the PUG nature of the groups that come out of that tool. Also Blizz should implement some sort of *in game* Vent so there are no arguments about who's vent server to join or "go download vent". People would use it much more if it was in game and this one factor would allow casual guild or PUGs to raid.