There are two things that really keep me interested in a game beyond the core story and fighty stuff. Certainly, these are important in their own right, but there needs to be more to really maintain my interest.
One is crafting systems. I can spend hours crafting and not doing anything else, if the system really allows it. Aion was best for this to date, letting me craft and level while not actually having to go out and obtain materials. I'll get into the crafting system for Guild Wars 2 at a later time, bit it is interesting, and I enjoy it.
Second, and in the end most important, is guilds. Not that the system the game uses for guilds is a vital part of the experience (though having an interesting one makes being in a guild more fun), but really the fact that I'm in one with my friends. Of course, different games have different systems for how guilds work. Since I'm very interested in Guild Wars 2, and am planning on dragging many of my friends and guildmates into it, I figured I'd investigate how the guild system works.
So as it stands, the core guild is a simple enough thing. You can create a guild easily, currently free in beta, in your guild panel. Each guild can currently contain 100 members total. This is a small number, but I'm assuming that it's accouns and not characters. The inherent alt-itis of some of my guildmates would fill this up too fast. Also, 100 is still really low. I'd expect them to raise that before launch, if not lift the limit entirely.
So, yeah, you decide to join a guild, you get an invite and bam, all of your characters are now in that guild. I almost wrote "for that world" there, but remembered that you will only have the one home world, and can't create extra characters on another.
The guild has the usual structure, with a GM, some officers, and then members. GMs have all the rights to do whatever they want, while officers have limited abilities beyond what members have. Nothing revolutionary there.
As the guild gains members, and as the members engage in events, PvP, or other content, the guild gains Influence. This is a currency that the GM and Officers can spend to enhance the guild's capabilities, as well as just improving the quality of life for the guild's members.
There are four categories of enhancements you can purchase with Influence:
- Politics - PvE enhancements, as well as the ability to display guild emblems
- Art of War - PvP enhancements, with a focus on improving guild WvW effectiveness
- Economy - Increases character gains, such as XP, Karma, materials and drops.
- Architecture - Guild vault right now, but likely Guild hall stuff at a later date.
In order to activate an enhancement, your guild must have researched an appropriate level of the category this enhancement is in. For example, Getting a Guild vault with 50 slots requires Architecture Level 2.
An oddity of this system is the time it takes for permanent enhancements to be implemented. You don't spend 1000 Influence on a Guild Vault and suddenly have access to it. You have to wait several days for it to be built. I'm undecided on my feelings about this. I enjoy time components in crafting, as it adds an odd semblance of realism to the process, so it seems like a neat idea for guild enhancements as well. On the other hand, by the time you pay for a guild vault, you'll want to fill it immediately.
Another oddity in this system is that many of the enhancements you can purchase with Influence are temporary. You can purchase an enhancement from Politics that increases the Influence gain of all members, but it only lasts 24 hours.
With this in mind, it seems to me that Influence is not something you just sit on and blow in one large sum when you reach a certain benchmark. Instead, it's a regular currency that flows in and out of the coffers. It actually adds a new layer to being a a guild officer, in which you are also trying to utilize your Influence efficiently to increase the fun and effectiveness of your guild mates. I can see this being very stressful.
I'll Take That Keep
Guilds have further capabilities in WvW. They can actually take keeps as their own. I'll be honest here, i have no clue how this works. WvW is more appealing to me than standard PvP stuff, but PvP is just not my thing.
However, I'm curious what it is that makes a keep belong to a guild. Certainly, you can spend Influence in the Art of War category to improve the lot of your guild members when they are in or near your captured keeps, so that seems like something worthwhile. But if two guilds work together to take a keep, who gets to claim it? This seems risky, to add this kind of internal competition to the act of mutilating other enemies.
The biggest change that ArenaNet has added is the ability to be in multiple guilds at the same time. At a glance, it seems easy enough. You simply get invited into another guild, it's added to your pane, and you have whatever access to that other guild that the officers give you. In a way, it functions much like Circles for Google+. You are not limited to one circle of friends, so why should the game system limit you? Initial impressions sound like it's a great idea.
There are two issues with being in multiple guilds, one that is handled as part of the system, and another that I'm uncertain of. I failed miserably to join a guild in the last beta, despite being invited to about five different guilds as part of my login process. Seriously, I think they sent invites before my screen had loaded.
So the first is Influence gain. This is simple enough to handle. You can only represent one guild at a time. while you are representing that guild, you are affected by any guild buffs they have purchased, and any Influence you gain goes to that guild. This seems simple enough. "I fight the Soldiers of OverHere, today. Let them enjoy the spoils!"
The second, and the one I'm concerned with, is guild chat. I'll be honest here, guild chat is vital to me. My guild is what's kept me playing WoW far beyond the period of time I would have expected. I still play, not because the game is _that awesome_ but because my guild is. I log in to chat with them. Being able to join my WoW guild as well as being part of a guild made up of my friends who are part of some other guild seems like it would be magical unicorn time. If I'm able to be in guild chat with both at the same time.
It seems like being in mutltiple guild chat channels would not be difficult. In just about every MMO in existence, you can be in multiple chat channels at once, and they are clearly labeled so you know which one is talking. As of the last beta (according to the wiki, since I was a lame guild member and did not join my guild during beta) , you were only in the guild chat for the guild you were currently representing. This seems like a horrible oversight to me. It's almost like being in only one guild, and then ditching your friends to be in another guild when you want to just talk to those other guys. I don't like this, and think it needs to be changed.
The devs have mentioned that they intend to have external access to guild stuff. Specifically mentioned (in the wiki article) are guild calendars to schedule events, access to guild chat through a web browser, and smartphone apps that allow you to do... things. Magic things, I guess. Maybe spend Influence for your guild while sitting at work.
These are all nice ideas. I wonder, however, if your access to any of these will be limited based on current guild representation. I don't see why it should be the case, but the chat thing has me worried.
The truth is that I really want this game to be awesome, not just for me, but for my guild. I joined my guild in WoW before Burning Crusade was released, and it became my digital family. As time has progressed and that game changed, we lost several people to other games, real life, kids, what have you. It's looking like we might finally have a game that will capture the interest of all those people I've missed in other games, and I just want to have that group again. I don't think a cool guild system will magically do this. A cool game might. But hey, I'm an officer in this guild, and so I research everything to make this game the best experience for my friends and guildmates I can, including how guilds work. I share with you, because I can.
Also, because Syp linked to me today, and I had to write something or feel lame.