Sunday, June 6, 2010

Balancing Guild Rewards

DDO's guild airship/housing has gone live on the game's test server, and players have dug up the list of rewards. All of this is obviously very subject to change (at the moment, the most efficient way to level your guild is to farm kobolds for reknown items in level 1 quests, which was not the design intent), but we're seeing enough to get some idea of what the trends are going to look like.

Guild rewards are a challenging design area. On the one hand, players are supposed to want the perks that come with being in higher level guilds (otherwise, they wouldn't really be rewards). On the other hand, guild features are supposed to enhance the guild experience and encourage players to form social ties. If the perks to guild membership are too substantial, the developers risk creating an incentive to leave your guild for the largest, least personal guild you can find, so long as they have the requisite perks.

What's on your airship?
That said, the perks in the DDO version don't look that game-altering. There are the requisite bankers, storage boxes, auctioneers, and teleports, but I've never actually felt that I was really missing these perks in the game as it stands today.

There are "crafting" stations, used to combine raid drops into raid gear, but it seems like players with access to the ingredients should be able to reach the crafting stations as well - from what I've heard, the limiting factor is raiding enough to get the materials, not actually going to do the crafting.

Finally, there are a variety of miscellaneous buffs, the most significant of which is an exp bonus that goes as high as 5%. These aren't trivial, and may be more important for players who are working on the tougher true resurrection exp curve, but nothing I'd panic over missing out on.

I'm still a bit concerned that the system as is heavily favors large guilds, which appear to have more rapid access to the most powerful rewards. Even so, if you look by comparison to EQ2, where guild rewards include teleportation to multiple locations in every zone in the game and the complete elimination of the need to harvest as a prerequisite for crafting, DDO's rewards don't feel overly game-defining.

Choices for guilds
On the plus side, low-key rewards also mean that DDO guild leaders dodge a bullet in terms of deciding what to put in their guild's limited amenity and crew slots on their airship.

If there's one thing that concerns me about WoW's upcoming Cataclysm, it's the guild talent point system. EQ2's rewards are massively significant, but there aren't that many of them, so even a small guild can quickly obtain the most game-affecting ones. If WoW's housing-less take on this type of system features more choices, and some of the choices force guilds to choose between, say, raiding and leveling alts, that could have some very unfortunate effects on guilds. Who makes that kind of choices? The officers? The whole membership? The members who contribute most to guild leveling/exp? These are tough questions that could make guild features more divisive than beneficial.


Gevlon said...

I disagree, exactly because Blizzard found the "gear for everyone" scheme. While gear is a large buff, it does not divide the playerbase since everyone can get gear.

One can give powerful guild rewards AND not divide the players simply by letting every living body have all rewards in visible time.

The "best" WoW guild may get the best guild rewards a month faster than a completely social guild full of casuals, but the latter will get it all too.

Green Armadillo said...

This will depend on how many rewards there are compared to slots. If there are only a few rewards worth having, and everyone can get them, then yes, rewards for everyone. When they say "guild talent tree", though, that makes me think that you might not be able to have it all, in which case your choices will matter regardless of how quickly you unlock them.

Anonymous said...

As far as Cataclysm goes, I don't think we have enough information on the Guild Talents yet to really analyze what effect it will have on the guild/game/players.

As far as DDO is concerned, it doesn't seem like the guild perks are TOO neccesary. The 5% exp bonus, is quite a nice perk. I've never raided in the game, nor had to use any of the crafting station stuff so I can't really comment about all that.

The fact that the most efficient way to level your guild is farming Kobolds in level 1 quests does seem to be an issue that needs to be fixed. That just seems silly.

I don't think EQ2's guild leveling system hurt the game at all. Though, iirc, it was in the game at launch, or.. early on in the game. I can't remember. But that could be the reason it had little effect.

I think choice should be a part of a guild's "life" just like you have casual guilds, raiding guilds, RP guilds.. etc.

Making the choices depends on what the guilds focus is. A casual guild probably wont take a talent or perk that allows for a +5% increase in gold drops from a raid boss if they don't raid much.