Tag Archives: Guild Levels

Should Guilds Have Levels?

According to Blizzard the answer to that question is no, guilds should not have levels.

We got guild levels as part of the Cataclysm expansion, 25 of them, along with perks to go with those levels.  Those levels were not easy to acquire back then.  During Cataclysm our guild only managed to get to level 2.  Granted, we left not very far into the expansion, but we were there long enough to see that progress was going to be slow.

10% Exp Boost! Just what you need in WoW!

And it was work to get that far!

Earl, who actually kept playing WoW while we were away got us to level 3 pretty much on his own over the course of 18 months.

Blizzard revamped leveling with Mists of Pandaria, turning the dial probably too far in the other direction, as getting a guild to level 25 went from something you needed an active raiding guild to accomplish to something I probably could have done solo between the launch of the Siege of Orgrimmar and the coming of the Iron Horde.

We got the guild back together just after Siege of Orgrimmar went live and popped up from level 3 to level 25 relatively swiftly.

It was enjoyable.  It was nice to see those levels show up and get those perks unlocked.

TCLevel21

It was something to celebrate, something that we could all help out with even if we were just doing quests with an alt.  I thought it was great stuff and some of the perks were quite worthwhile.  As a guild we were especially big on the perk that added some coin to the guild bank every time a quest was completed.  It didn’t raise a ton of money, but it made for a nice guild repair fund.

But, with the coming of the Warlords of Draenor expansion and the 6.0 pre-expansion patch, Blizzard has removed guild levels.  We still have a few of the perks.

Twilight Cadre 6.0 perks

Twilight Cadre 6.0 perks

Some of the missing perks have just been made part of the game.  The speed between flight points perk got generally applied if I recall right and among the stats squished was the amount of experience you need to get to level cap, so the exp boost effectively went there.  Others, like our little guild bank filler perk, disappeared completely.  It seems that people were spam inviting new players to exploit them for this perk.

Blizzard took a while to make guilds something more than a name floating over your head and a chat channel.  We didn’t get guild banks until… was it with Wrath of the Lich King?  And then with Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, and Warlords of Draenor Blizzard fleshed guilds out more with levels, turned it to easy mode, then threw it all away.  Bascially, over the course of four year, we went from no levels, to level 25 being a sign that a group worked hard, to level 25 being a sign that you had people playing, to no levels again.  Boom, gone, we’re done with that idea.

Which is odd, because guilds having levels isn’t exactly a rare thing.

EverQuest II, for example, went live (before WoW) with guild levels in place.

Our day one guild on Crushbone

Our day two guild on Crushbone

Yes, the whole thing was convoluted in that way that only SOE can manage on a first try.  You earned guild experience by acquiring status, but only designated “patrons” in your guild could earn experience for the guild, and the more people (or patrons) you had in your guild, the less of their status went towards guild experience. (Alts were thus not allowed in the guild, but when we made an alts guild, our guild leader got mad at us.)  And if one of the partons left the guild, they took their applied guild experience with them.  I remember our guild leader Wooflin being incensed when Oteb the Traitor, who we had vouched for because he was in our TorilMUD guild, left the Knights of the Cataclysm just after we had hit level 15, which at the time was the level where we got a status mount.  Whoops, no mounts for us until we earned back that guild exp.

Eventually SOE fixed some of the crazier bits and the whole thing settled down.  Earning guild exp got easier, but the fact that they kept piling on levels so that the guild level cap was always somewhere around the character level cap, meant that only the larger, more active guilds could expect to be at level cap and indulge themselves in all of the perks.  Gaff and I managed to ramrod the guild we created on the Freeport server as part of our ill-fated EQII instance group adventure to level 30 mostly on our own so we could have a guild hall, but after that the level curve continued to ramp up and we capped out at 42.

But even at lower levels guilds got identifying marks, like guild cloaks.  Small guilds can still have some nice things.

Shades of Twilight guild cloak

Shades of Twilight guild cloak

And as much of a pain as the guild levels were during the early days, I also remember them fondly (now).  They represented a point where the guild was working together to accomplish a goal.

While I would readily agree that a guild should be more than just what the game mechanics dictate… a guild is a social organization and if you feel yourself constrained by just having a chat channel then maybe you aren’t doing it right… having game mechanics like guild levels that a guild can work on together and which reward the guild can help build the social bonds without which you are just a bunch of avatars with the same guild tag floating above your head.

And it isn’t just EverQuest II.  While EverQuest never went the guild level route, other games have guild levels.  Some of them are similar, as with Rift, where you get perks and guild tasks you can work on together.

Tell me of these perks!

Our perks page early on

Others are of… more dubious value.  In Lord of the Rings Online kinships (guilds) have levels, but they are based on the age of the guild rather than anything anybody has done.  So at this point, having not really played LOTRO in over a year, all of the kinshipss I am in on various servers are at max level, more due to neglect than activity. (See my guild review for details.)

And then there is EVE Online, which turns the whole thing on its head.  In Soviet New Eden, guild levels you!  Sort of.  There are skills around running a corp, the EVE version of a guild, as there are skills for everything.  So while corps do not have levels, as your corp grows the CEO must level up the appropriate leadership skills in order to accommodate the change.  So The Mittani, CEO of Goonwaffe, which has 2,500+ members, might have had to train into Sovereignty, one of the Corporation Management skills, which takes more than 50 days to train to level I.

And I don’t even begin to know how alliances… groupings of corporations… work in New Eden.  But that is straying off the point.

Guilds having levels and such is a reasonably established thing in the MMO market.  And, in my experience, having levels that people can contribute to helps bring a guild closer together.  So I am somewhat disapp0inted that Blizzard has decided to dispense with the guild level thing.  Yes, we still have guild achievements, and those do actually unlock things.  But those are also somewhat focused.  You have to go do a specific thing in a limited group.  There aren’t a lot of them you can help out with by leveling an alt… a couple, but not a lot.  Killing a damn tauren rogue in a battleground, for example, would get us another achievement.  Do people even roll tauren rogues?

Anyway, I wish Blizzard would revisit the guild levels idea again in a future release.  And, Blizzard being Blizzard, if they do I am sure they will model it on an implementation that is already out there and working.  So the question is, who does guild levels best?  Who is totally winning on the guild levels front out there in the world?

Momentum and the Dubious Draw of Double Experience

Momentum.

Momentum is a surprisingly important, if somewhat nebulous, concept in an MMORPG.

At least it is important for me.

I tend to be about the advancement part of the game, something that tends to feed on itself.  Successfully moving forward makes me want to continue moving forward.  Thus momentum, of a sort.

And once lost, it can be difficult for me to regain.

I often have trouble getting back into an MMO from which I have taken a break.  I return to find my characters sitting, ready to complete the tasks I have totally forgotten about over the intervening time, usually in an area that was new to me at the time which makes me feel lost, often in a game that has seen changes and updates since I last played.

At that point momentum can be hard to regain.  I not only have to come to grips with where I left off and what has changed in the game, but also seemingly simple things like how to play my class.

And the game itself can make coming back harder or easier.  Every class in EverQuest II, for example, has so many skills by level 30 that it can be very difficult to come to grips with playing your class if you have been away for a while. (WoW, on the other hand, has considerably fewer skills, but Blizzard has a habit completely changing how some of them work once or twice a year.  Same issue, different method.)

Often I just end up creating a new character in order to get into the game and to get that all important momentum.

So part and parcel of SOE being down for almost two weeks was a complete loss of that momentum.

This problem was compounded by the fact that I seemed to gain some traction in Lord of the Rings Online very quickly thanks to the task system.  It helped boost me out of an area where I had forgotten the landmarks and into a new zone.  That alone helped me get momentum with my hunter.

So when SOE staged their unexpected (and certainly unforeseeable through any communication Sony put out) Saturday evening recovery, there was a question in my mind as to whether I would be able to get back in the saddle with the same enthusiasm for the game I had felt two weeks previous.

There did not seem to be anything in SOE’s welcome back incentives that resonated.

Yes, there was that extra 30 days of subscription time on top of being credited for every day they were down. (Which they rounded up to 15 days even though they were only down 13 by any reasonable reckoning.)  That was a good thing.  Thank you SOE.

And even Silver and Bronze accounts, which represents 3 of the 6 people in the group, got upgraded to Gold accounts for the next 30 days.  That too was a nice touch.

But paying for a game does not always bestow enthusiasm.  My last few months of EVE Online stand as an example.

They did launch the city festival.  That really doesn’t do much for me, and I have to admit I thought that was something they were going to do anyway so was tough to count as an incentive.  Yes, we got all the city festivals at once and a bunch of new stuff to buy, but it wasn’t like it wasn’t going to come to pass in any case.

I’m not sure what the “loot bonanza” is nor what the return of the original Aether races means to me.  Maybe I should be excited about these two items, but somebody will have to explain why.

And even double experience is a bit dubious at this point.  We are trying to keep the group together in levels, so extra experience is like free ice cream when you’re already full.  Yes, EQII has options for the leveling too fast problem, with both the ability to turn of experience as well as being able to divert it into alternate advancement.

But Campell, my troubadour, already had the slider over to diver 100% of experience into AA.  He is closing in on 40 AA points, which seems like a lot for a level 20 character.

No, it turned out that the hook to at least get me interested in getting back into the game was double guild experience.

As a single group guild (just six of us) some aspects of being in a guild can be quite beneficial.  While we have stars in our eyes when thinking about getting a guild hall some day, the guild bank is a right now, useful item for the group to hand around items.  While the initial size of the bank is small, it gets larger (it doubles in size) if we can just get the guild to level 10.

It gets bigger again at 20, and I seem to recall at guild level 15 we get access to certain status mounts and items, but 10 looks like an obtainable goal.

And it is that simple, obtainable goal that has gotten me back in the saddle in EQII.  Gaff, Potshot, and I have started working on writs to get make this goal that benefits the whole group a reality.

Will that provide the momentum to get my head back in the game?

I cannot be sure, but it is a start.