Greedy Goblin

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Size does matter

Larísa wrote a post about guild XP and achievement system, bashing Blizzard for designing these elements for huge guilds. She worries that her raiding guild will fall behind and only huge guilds will be competitive. She also perfectly points it out that it's not some random by-product, Blizzard definitely wanted it. They designed the whole system around the concept of mega-guilds:
  • The XP is additive, or at least if the daily cap is reached, non-negative. Having one more member helps, no matter how little he contributes, unless you reach the cap every day easily
  • The guild achievements are grindy and number-friendly. Catching 50K fish is something that an 500+ account guild will get in few weeks without trying, while it's out of reach for a strict 10-men raiding guild. I'd like to emphasize that guild achievements are not fluff as they give guild XP that ignores the cap. So a huge guild can reach max guild level very quickly.
  • They removed the guild-talents and the guild-bound items that were present in earlier designs. Both would give characteristics to a guild. Blizzard openly wants "everyone are invited" guilds.
Why? The answer relates to the core idea of a successful large-playerbase MMO: "boosting". I told thousand times that it's not easiness or accessibility that makes an MMO large. Of course if 99% of the mankind could not get pass lvl 10, that will be a niche game. But simply making it easy does not make it successful, that's what Blizzard learned the hard way in WotLK, the first expansion where the playerbase did not grow. If the game is easy, then people will solo and get bored.

The majority of the players are socials who want their peers to like and respect them. If they are simply ignored, they won't feel "fun". With WotLK Blizzard reached the state when /trade pugs are more successful than most guilds. /trade pug is totally a-social and wants to be a meritocracy. GS+achi are terrible measurements, but definitely some kind of performance measurements. The pugging philosophy is good: you worth as much as you perform. Its implementation is terrible.

However Blizzard hates pugging for its philosophy. The "i play 4 fun" kid wants to be liked for his person and not judged after any kind of performance. To gain social players, they must make social circles ("guilds are group of friends" by Ghostcrawler). By the raiding changes they killed the 25-man pugging (since it's mutually exclusive with the 10-man guild run). With the guild achievement and XP system, they encourage/enforce players to include every living body into their "group of friends". So the random M&S will get into guilds and he is tolerated there.

While he is there for the fish he catches and the XP he grinds, he believes that he is accepted for his person, he is among friends (he is a self-delusional social, what did you expect). He can be proud of our great achievements and progress, even if he did not contributed to the latter. You know, we killed the LK, not the 10/25 people who were actually there. Hey, they can even chat with their "friends" when not playing.

Blizzard wants big "fun" guilds where everyone is accepted, where everyone is a friend and where you can always hang out with friends.

With the guild changes they will encourage/force (depending on the value of rewards) to include at least the non-offensive M&S. After all, they contribute to the goal. Unless they actively ninja or behave so terribly that they make the guild a bad name, you can have them in low ranks. They can even be muted without knowing it: every raider has the ability to see the officer chat, and it is the real guild chat, while the guild chat is ignored (or switched off) by raiders. So it is only a fun channel for M&S.

However there is a loophole in every M&S-helping system. The raiders+M&S system is prone to drama, due to middle-case people. For example a raider wants his M&S brother to access the officer channel or makes drama when other raiders laugh at him. Also, if someone is present in both channels, laughing with the M&S on /g and at them on /o, it's only matter of time when he does an awkward misstell. The M&S on the other hand can turn into ninja any time if he gets disgruntled or "dishonor" the guild by telling anal jokes on /trade with guild tag.

The only fool-proof and administration-proof system is the a-social guild what is simply a glorified pug and exists for the rewards. The rise of /trade 25 man raiding shows that people are ready to go a-social if it's properly rewarded. My guess is that slowly but surely there will be one huge a-social guild on every server/side. However it's not a tragedy for Blizzard, as the "slowly" may last long enough to cover an expansion.

Stolenlegacy found this specimen (why, why, why do they always have such names):


Andru said...

I can't believe you didn't spot the obvious solution.

Paid guild XP grinders. You want to be a small 10 man guild, but are left behind the huge guilds? Make a special rank within the guild, don't give them any privileges, and hire random people to grind XP for you.

I am rather sure that this will be the solution chosen by small hardcore guilds.

Mixing M&S and hardcores never worked. In Wrath, LFD showed this, and the utterly huge number of official forum threads where M&S cry: "These filthy elitists kicked me because I did 1.5k DpS!!!"

M&S guilds may not game the system since they want to be 'fair'. But be certain that progression minded small guilds will bypass this system.

I am half expecting for the following macro to appear in the starting area.

"Serious 10 man raiding guild LFM people to level under our guild tag. Will provide for mounts, skills and bags, every levels."

I am also half expecting them to use another channel as guild chat, while letting the lolling M&S to use guild chat as their personal turf. Either that, or enforce strict standards of behavior on guild chat.

Carson 63000 said...

Damn, I've clearly been away from WoW for too long: I had to stare at that image for about 30 seconds before it clicked why Xxslayer was such a moron.

Squishalot said...

As long as people care about the guild name under their name (and as long as the 'elite' guilds are elitist about the people having their name), the giant guild will never occur.

@ MotD: What's the issue here, the fact he's looking for tank/DPS for Flame Leviathan? Not making any accusations, but the top half of the pic can easily be forged from a different week, or from a a leftover weekly quest from the previous week. A much more compelling argument would have been other people in /trade calling for raid members.

And regarding his name - the top Korean Starcraft player for some time was a guy called SlayerS_'Boxer'. It's meaningless, which makes it 'ok' in your books, right?

Drakenrahl said...

If I remember right blizzard had said that only the top 10 active members of the guild will contribute to the guilds EXP, not sure how it works for achivements, but having 20 or 20000 members really won't make that great of a differance when leveling your guild. True the more members you have the more likely that your top 10 will have made a larger contribution because you have a larger pool to draw from, however it's still competative.

Alrenous said...

As much as the removal of guild customization encourages invite-anyone guilds, it also drastically reduces the opportunities for drama to arise.

Someone has to choose which customizations to make. This someone is basically going to get what they want, which would spur resentment among the members who didn't get what they want.

Though I suppose the guild talents would have ended up much like regular talents, and there would be some optimal build. An asocial guild could have just had this build...but then, the situation is exactly like this situation, where every competent guild has exactly the same talents.

Anonymous said...

@ Drakenrahl

Recently they have removed top 20 contributors and leave only daily XP cap.

Bulbasaur said...

I couldn't give more than a damm about this stupid guild achievements. Really. And I refuse to give more than a damm about all people complaining about this changes. Do the guild rewards have any legendary item? Do they have any special key to unlock absurdly difficult encounters? So why do we have to care a bloody minute about this stupid thing?

If I really want to have a lion's mount I'd rather go to a zoo and get banned.

Anonymous said...

To be fair, there are tanks involved. Perhaps one fell through the floor and he needed a replacement.

As for guild XP, the "perks" are fluff. Pointless. The only really beneficial one is Mass Resurrection. What else is there? Extra rep? Nice, to be sure, but you're still going to kill Al'akir regardless if you get an extra 20 rep for the kill.

andrew said...

im sorry but have u seen some of the guild achs. get a battlemaster in guild of all classes, get a gladiator in guild of all classes, get a grand marshal in guild of all classes its gonna be harder then ur making out

Anonymous said...

Hard to make a judgement on this until the value of raids for guild exp is known. If clearing all content on hardmode is enough to put you close to the weekly cap then guild size becomes irrelevant to a progression raiding guild.

Anonymous said...

Today's screenshot was not very funny simply because I have seen multiple people doing exactly the same thing every time Flame Leviathan is the weekly. Same way if you join a weekly pug for Razuvius, there is a good chance that the leader and half the raid don't have any clue about the crystals on 10man, which leads to some not so very hilarious wipes when somebody just decides to pull. I'm really not sure how this is even possible since you would think the amount of these people would go down over time as they actually do the bosses, but perhaps they are always replaced by new specimens.

Jana said...

Large guilds will level considerabily faster just because of:

"XP earned from guild achievements does not respect the daily cap. In other words, you will still get the xp even if you are capped."

And it does not matter that there are "hard" guild achievements, since a generic Lolarthusdk will associate all his guild-achievements as his. Being in a guild with 10x Justicars achievement will boost his ego even if he is a pathetic keyboard turner.

Dàchéng said...

Anonymous@10:56, the reason that the amount of people who make terrible mistakes against Razuvious doesn't go down is, I think, this:

They don't notice that 2 of their team are mind-controlling Razuvious' companions.

Since they don't notice this, they make the same mistakes the next time, and keep making them until somebody tells them what the actual fight mechanic is. The same issue can be seen with Flame Leviathan. Some people get through these fights without having the slightest awareness of what is actually going on.

These are people who just target the boss, wait for somebody else to start attacking said boss, and then mash buttons until the boss goes down or the team wipes. Many people are unaware of special fight mechanics and just rely on heavy DPS to get them through. They target Marrowgar or Lady Deathwhisper and never change target or position until either they or the boss is down. There are tanks or melee who pull and fight bloodbeasts, or healers who try to heal themselves through bloodbeast attacks instead of running from them, or ranged who fixedly target Saurfang and ignore the bloodbeasts. They never notice their team moving about in fights like Festergut and Rotface (assuming somebody hauled their sorry asses through Saurfang).

Such people are in for a wake-up, I hope, when the Cataclysm happens.

Jack said...

Xslayer and Xslayerx were probably already taken!

Anonymous said...

Even though someone says that it was removed, I am going to comment on why the top 10 contributors would still make large guilds gain xp faster. The smaller 10 man raiding guilds may not have 10 people online on days that are not raiding days so will still get smaller amounts of xp.

The larger guilds are almost guaranteed to have at least if not more than 10 people log on and do capped amount of xp each day.

Larísa said...

And... yet another "Larísa" is appearing as a commenter. It's not the "original" one. Just wanted to say that.

On topic: It will be interesting to see how far min-maxing competative raiding guilds are prepared to go to make sure their guild level as fast as possible. Keeping a dark mass of socials just to get up the numbers? Hm. Maybe. But the risk for drama and unnecessary hassle is always aroundt the corner. I still have my doubts that it will be common practice.

Oscar said...

"The rise of /trade 25 man raiding shows that people are ready to go a-social if it's properly rewarded."

People are ready to go equally social if it's properly reward. Even you, right? From my point of view, the difference between asocial and social is very thing and merely a philosophical discussion - after all why would anyone asocial play a MMORPG?

Brandon said...

Mixing M&S and hardcores never worked. In Wrath, LFD showed this, and the utterly huge number of official forum threads where M&S cry: "These filthy elitists kicked me because I did 1.5k DpS!!!"

TheGrumpyElf said...

All I am hoping for is some change to allow my banker to get tabs 7 and 8. I need tabs 7 and 8 but my banker rarely if ever leaves a main city. I would never get the guild experience needed for getting them (unless they changed it again) and there is no way I am going to recruit a whole slew of people for a guild that I have no intention of ever being more then a bank.

As far as my guild goes, we are not changing a damn thing. We are not about to go recruiting every tom, dick and harry that comes along just to get guild experience higher.

The last thing a group of raiders needs is some whiny little crap asking for runs through this and that all the time. If you want runs use the dungeon finder or join a leveling guild.

I can already see ads like this in trade.

/2 Guild need fishermen? I fish for 2 hours a day. Will join for fee.
/2 I craft gems all day long. Need a cutter to get the achievement, message me with offer.
/2 I can level a character from 1 to 85 in 4 days. For 5K I will join your guild and level any class/race you need for achievement.
/2 Need a female dwarf for achievement? Message me with offer.

Oh wait, we see that one already all the time.

I am a bit in between on if I like it or not yet.

Anonymous said...

Did you ever stop to think that maybe you don't NEED TO HAVE every single guild achievement in the book?

Did you ever stop to think that maybe you don't NEED to be the server-first to GuildLevel25?

So what if someone decides to forge a mega-guild and power their way to level cap - how does that negatively impact you?

BFD, says I.

Anonymous said...

Size only matters if guild leveling speed is slow. Why bother to mess up your guild if the only reward is hitting max level a week earlier?

Andenthal said...

I'll leave a comment here similar to the one I left for Larisa on her blog.

This is nearly identical to the player leveling system. You get achievement points for doing stupid stuff (catching 50k fish), that don't do anything, and aren't a prereq to anything.

You also get experience which makes you a more powerful player (guild). These do have actual uses. But the thing is, just as in a player can not level past 85, no guild will be able to level past the max either.

Some players will hit level 85 30 hours after Cataclym's release, while other might take a month or more.

Some guilds will cap out on experience in 3 months, while others will take 9 months. In November of 2011, no one will remember who was the first to hit level 85, no one will remember who was last. It will be irrelevant as all will be level 85, and working on other things. In November of 2011, no one will remember which guild was the first to get insta-guild-mail, it's pretty likely that all will have it by then.

Since there is a cap, all guilds will get there eventually. This will not change how guilds work in the long term. Short term mileage may vary.

Conghaile said...

It seems to me that a lot of even the most hardcore guilds have large social contingents. Friends and family members are often accepted into guilds on the implicit agreement that they won't disagreeable personalities, and the explicit agreement that they won't be let into raids unless they apply for a position, trial, and succeed.

Still, it's impossible to argue against your assertion that the guild XP system is heavily biased against smaller guilds. How biased is just a matter of how low the weekly cap is. Achievements having to do purely with numbers are exempt from the cap, but their potential value is at least finite.

Bristal said...

"I am half expecting for the following macro to appear in the starting area.

"Serious 10 man raiding guild LFM people to level under our guild tag. Will provide for mounts, skills and bags, every levels.""

I think the formation of large social guilds with something to do beside raid would be a GREAT thing.

The macro SHOULD read:

"Social, fun loving mega-guild looking for any & all players to level and fish under our guild tag. Will provide for interesting drama and ulimited anal jokes in guild chat."

PuG problems solved.

Lighstagazi said...

@Oscar - Depends on your definition of social play then. I believe Gevlon defines social play by using play as a tool to be social (defined by purpose). You seem to be defining it as play that involves other people, and thus becomes social innately (defined by action).

By either definition though, people will still experience both sides of it. How many people dislike RealID because it means they can't play Alts without people bugging them?

@Anonymous 17:11 - I don't believe the problem Gevlon is showing here is that guilds need achievements for the achievement points or for the pride/glory. They need it because it's "uncapped" XP growth. There are 3 factors that will determine if it's an actual issue: the value of gaining levels faster, how much faster achievements can (reasonably) level a guild, and how long it takes without achievements.

Forging a "mega-guild" and doing something useful is not the problem. The problem to me is rewarding the local "zerg guild" on your server noticeably faster than the "serious" guilds, by virtue of numbers. I see it causing 2 problems: promoting a "zerg guild" phenomena as an ideal, rather than a function to fill an unfortunate need, and also giving mixed or incorrect signals about the quality of guilds (as people begin to use guild level as a measure of merit for a guild).

Now, I don't know enough about how it currently works, and none of us know how it will work at launch or at 4.1, so I'm not very concerned. But those are the ways I see it being a bad thing, if it does turn out that way. Worst case though, it just seems like a tuning change to "fix" it, which seems even less worrysome.

Anonymous said...

Beta & subject to change but for now:

@Bulbasaur & anon: Have you read all the guild perks. In a game where people do a lot of effort to get exalted for a slightly better enchant, then I think the guild perks are enough to sway people.

How about "For Great Justice" - 5% more Justice Points and another for honor points??? (the new replacements for emblems and hk) That right there should be enough to sway people to not be in a small guild that can not hire levelers. So you think people will be fine with getting 100 Emblem of Triumph replacements when if they were in megaguild they get 105???

But mass rez, mass summon to me, access guild bank remotely and instant intra-guild mail will save some time; perhaps enough for an extra boss attempt or two per week? Double flasks per cauldron, twice the duration for those flasks, more gold from looting mobs, less cost from vendors.

I see no way those can be considered fluff or irrelevant to almost all raiders.

Small guilds are doomed; I do like Andru's solution.