Groups, Guilds, Raids and Battle.Net

For 4-6 weeks now I have been contemplating greatly on these subjects even came up with a few catchy titles to call posts about several of them at a time. In this time we have heard a bit more information about the future of some of these topics. Additionally I have seen some other information about similar issues in other games that I follow. So rather than trying to tease apart these topics I am just going for a single summarized post. The previous titles were: “Groups, Guilds and Raid IDs”, “The New Battle.net – A New Hope or Phantom Menace”.

All of these topics orbited a concern of mine with regard to Cataclysm. We need more things in WoW to bring players together rather than to stratify them into discrete types. This massive categorization may have resulted prior to TBC, however my highest level character was 54 at launch time for TBC. So if it existed in classic WoW where it was a “Raid or Die” mentality for any form of progression, I do not really know.

In Wrath you can progress relatively well if you are willing to go at a slightly slower pace content wise through PuG-ing. So guilds only really benefit as an organizational tool, even then the tools for guild organization are more outside the game than in it. Don’t get me wrong I like and appreciate where the in game calendar is going.

From the other MMOs that I have played and read up on I will list a few general concepts that hope we see in Cataclysm.

  1. Break from the 1 character/1 guild paradigm. (I think this is one area where Battle.net could really play a major role.)
    1. Move to a more direct 1 Player/Many Guild system such that the permissions of any player is the sum of their characters. So you don’t have to play Alt-Tango to get stuff between guilds and alts. When you go to access a bank or any system where you have different characters and or roles, add an intermediate interface that allows us to select the “role”/Character that we draw permissions from.
    2. Another great improvement would also be to extend all non-purchased(IRL Money transaction) BoA items to be Battle.net Account Bound rather than WoW Account Bound, it would rock for collector’s editions to also work but I would rather have Heirloom Items and instant Gold/Item transfers between WoW accounts under the same Battle.net account work first.
    3. Oh and on the subject of guilds, put in a feature to allow GMs to rename a guild, prior to guild Banks not a big deal. Now after 1000s of gold have been sunk into a guild bank that is an unacceptable loss for no good reason. Especially since all it really amounts to is an update to 1 field in a DB, if the DB is even remotely normalized.
  2. Improved AH, if nothing else move each AH to a Cross/Realm per Battle-group based system. This will help stabilize economies on old versus new, and low versus high population servers.
    1. Move away from the stack based unit of quantity for materials in the AH. 1 Character can place one auction per good per price. So whether you sell 10 stacks of 20 infinite dust or 200 stacks of 1 infinite dust it takes 1 entry in the DB and only gets translated into stacks when being mailed to the person buying the materials.
    2. Add a will buy X number of Y good at Price Z into the AH, the other have of a buy/sell market. This will also help keep prices from dropping below vendor, or at least add a little extra stability into the AH.

I could go on here but I first I want to make an observation/comment about Battle.net. If the vision of what Battle.net is/will/could be is even a part of what I am hoping it to be then it will be one of the best trans-gaming community support structures ever built. I really have high hopes for it, in some ways maybe not with WoW but with a future Blizzard MMO, Battle.net becomes the place where people meet/chat and greet, the game is where they just go to play. Even further the characters could be tied to some meta Battle.net structure such that Character/Server becomes meaningless. The server is just that a server to run a shard of the game world. Thereby when a Battle-group or server goes down characters and everything else are still available to any other server to run on. You would then just have servers you prefer to run on because they are in the closest data center to you but you could still play anywhere. Now if “your” server goes down you are screwed so to speak. Not really for me as an alt-o-holic but for the average player. It is this dream/vision of what Battle.net could be that led me to the title I mentioned in my first paragraph.

That grand dream being said, realistically it is not going to happen, or at least not anytime soon. If at any time I would expect something like that coming for the “next-gen” MMO that blizzard has in the works. I also would hope after Starcraft 2 is released and Battle.net is more tested that friends within the same Battle group would be able to cross-realm invite for at least 5 man dungeons if not raids.

What all of this has in common is the need for Blizzard to create new and more ways to bring players together rather than splitting them up into different sub-groups. This is the main reason I really think that guild alliances need to be made. Maybe a charter with 100g fee and requires GMs from 2 guilds to “sign” the charter. Then the alliance could be formed and it would act as a super guild structure. Then you could have the “leveling guild”, “casual guild”, “RP guild”, “pvp guild” and the “raiding guild” all under the same banner. They would each keep their own channel but members of the alliance could “guest” into the guild channel as well as share an Alliance channel. Furthermore there should be no reason or restrictions made such that 1 guild could not belong to multiple Alliances, a 1 guild to many relationship. So 1 guild could be in a PVP alliance, Raiding Alliance, RP Alliance ect… Allowing a many to many relationship may be hell on the DB or conceptually for some but allowing the player base to truly group/ally/stratify as they see fit is in the end the best way to go. Then real analysis about the player base could be made by looking at how the players on a given server organize themselves. If at some point cross-realm guilds/alliances were ever possible to be formed it would be interesting to see how the player bases on different battle-groups organize themselves.

I apologize if this post is a bit all over the place. There were several large and complex concepts that I was attempting to express. It was also written over the period of a few days when I had time to tackle the issues. I will most likely come back to some of these concepts at a later time.

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