Guildultery

In most games, having a single character be a member of more than one guild is currently not only impossible, but probably a little distasteful to many of the players. Systems support for multiple single-char membership aside, the idea of multiple allegiances strikes folks as, at worst, rather treacherous, and at best somewhat uncommitted. If people are a little unsure about the idea of multiple out-of-game guild/tribe/network memberships, they’re even less sure about the concept in-game. (Let’s assume one-char/many-guilds is implementable — I’m not interested in discussing why it can’t be done because it’s not available, especially since it already is available in some games, such as A Tale In The Desert. It’s not MMO-coding science-fiction.)

Those aren’t entirely unjustified doubts.  If you could join multiple guilds you could steal from one to give to the other, or be unable to fulfil your commitments to one because of stuff you said you’d do for the other. But that’s a problem guilds face now and always have, even in the one-character/one-guild model; maybe we just think it makes it easier if you limit how many guild memberships a single character can have, because we’re used to the concept and because it seems simpler. After all, if I have Fred in MegaGuild and my alt Bob in MyOwnGuild, I can steal from MegaGuild just as easily as if Fred were in both. The only way to prevent that is to prevent trading between characters, and that’s not going to happen. Even in Asheron’s Call, where there was no mail system, you could either just drop stuff on the ground and log over (hopefully before it got deleted by the sweeper-mechanism), dump it in your house chest (no such worries) or pass it to a third party to hold while you do the char-swapping. Where there’s a will in MMOs, there’s almost always a way; in other words, if someone is a thief they’ll be a thief no matter how many or how few guilds they can join.

As for commitment issues: again, those aren’t new, and they’ll exist either way. I was going to say we older gamers have more calls on our time, but that’s neither fair nor true — even younger people have commitments, be it only to get to the dinner table before Mum blows a gasket; more seriously there’s school, homework, friends, and later on school, homework, work, friends, sick or not sick kids, pets… and other games. So again, whether I’m not as available as I should be because I’m nursing Jane Jr. through a cold or because I’m off doing stuff with another guild — is there really a difference?

Yeah, there is, but I think it’s more of a nuance than a real chasm. Just like with theft, being committed to one’s allegiance(s) isn’t something we generally turn off and on. People just tend to be more understanding of sick kids than they are of wanting to do stuff with another group in the same game, though the end result (player not available) is the same.

Thinking about it though, the idea that Fred might say “Sorry, I’m not going to do XYZ with you guys tonight but rather ABC with these guys tonight” does feel a little off. What, aren’t we good enough for you? Rationally though, if Fred isn’t blowing off any previously-made commitments to us for that evening, and if Fred is generally reliable about doing what he says he’ll do when he says he’ll do it, does it matter? If Fred chose to bimble about on his own all evening, nobody would care (well some might, but that’s another topic). If Fred chooses to tell us he’s doing stuff with someone else though, suddenly it’s guildultery and we get a little pissy.

I’m not arguing that unreliable people should be given free passes — I’m talking about honest, non-thieving, mostly reliable people like… well, like most of us. Part of the problem with multiple allegiances and groupings and friendships is how we react to them and not necessarily how much trouble they really cause.

For the most part, guilds aren’t really in competition with each other (in the MMOs I play, anyway — enlighten me if there are other examples). Even where there are guild leveling type systems, raising guild A has no impact whatsoever on guild B’s leveling, so it’s not like being in more than one would actively harm the others. There aren’t many infractions you could commit with a one-char/multi-guild system that you can’t already commit with the one-char/one-guild model we have now, so what, exactly, would it hurt if we could join more than one in-game group at a time with any given character?

Even in a game where you really could damage one guild through the actions of another (competitive land-grabbing, limited guild-available resources, etc — I’m thinking Shadowbane-type games?) you could probably still work multiple guild support, just with tighter rules — for instance, a character can only join another guild that’s in the same faction / kingdom / guild-alliance / whatever. I do think the benefits outweigh the possible risks, since we already face those risks using the current system.

The main benefit of multi-guilding is that we could create tighter, more focused interest-oriented guilds, or even time-limited guilds with specific aims like event-organising or whatnot. We could have a normal “we’re one big family” guild but also a “crafters” sub-guild, or even a “specific-craft” subguild. A character could be a member of a fighting-oriented guild and a member of a crafting or mercantile guild, or a member of a crafting guild and a mercantile guild… and so on. My impression is that resistence to that concept is more a matter of subjective discomfort (a mental “he likes them more than us!” reaction) than of objective difficulties, certainly not difficulties that don’t already exist.

Interestingly, one reason MMO designers might resist the idea is that it would give single characters access to a lot more storage space. One vault per guild, char is in four guilds (if the game allows it), so suddenly that char has access to four times as much vault space. As far as I’m concerned, however, the whole inventory management so-called minigame is a way to limit how much inventory has to be tracked per character — there are very few players I know who feel bag management is fun, much less a thrilling mini-game (or subgame or whatever they’re called). It’s only called a feature to make it palatable to players, and is just as much of a con as saying that slow travel shows how big the world is. (Yes, faster travel does tend to make the world feel smaller, but you’re slowing me down because you don’t want me going through stuff too fast, not because you care about me appreciating the landscape — let’s not be disingenuous.) So that space issue is really only an issue if you want to limit how much people own; and while that is most certainly based on data-storage requirements, you’ve got to wonder how valid that is since after all, most everything you can own is probably not much more than a database ID reference, and disk space isn’t exactly expensive these days, even on a grand scale. (Yeah, there’s more to it than that, but not that much, is there? If there is… again, enlighten me.)

(Some games are different — SWG for instance, where resources change all the time, are always unique, and where most items have their own unique ID… and yet SWG offers vastly more storage than your average fantasy MMO. We don’t pretend to carry all our belongings on our backs like fantasy heroes anymore, so let’s stop pretending we need such an artificially low limit on what we own, okay? /slight tangent off)

While reviewing this, it occurs to me that *I* am making a slew of assumptions myself when discussing guilds and multi-guild memberships. What a guild provides, tangibly, is what? These days the main guild perks are vault space, a name tag, and a guild channel, all of which could be accessible in games through other means. I’m not sure it’s worth making those benefits optional since they seem pretty central to the general idea of “a group of people doing stuff together,” but if there were a longer list of benefits (teleporting to a central location, access to certain areas, goodies, skills/spells, and so on) maybe an à la carte guild-options system might be useful.

So, guildultery — where do you stand? Monogamy, free love, or somewhere in between?

Actually, while we’re here, what would the opposite system be like? One account, ONE guild membership — as in, all your alts can join a guild, but they must all join the same guild if they join one at all. Would there be benefits to a system like that?

44 thoughts on “Guildultery

  1. I don’t even consider such things as “theft” or “spying” because… well, games don’t even allow such things anymore other than EVE and I don’t play that one.

    The main problem *for me* is simply keeping track of all the people. But that applies for being in multiple games too. I have my LOTRO guilds (more on that later) to keep track of, my GW guild and alliance, my DDO guild… I left my Vanguard guild so I’m back to looking there. Look at all the people I have to keep track of, and the people in the games I play infrequently who I hope remember me when I come back!

    In LOTRO recently I am actually in three guilds, all on the same server. But it’s more of a networking thing for me. I moved my main character to a different guild so I would have the opportunity to raid and do group content. But I’d also worked on creating a multi-guild alliance so we all still connect via the alliance chat. My alt characters are still in my original guild except for one who I moved over to our primary ally guild for the sole purpose of having a character there to better get to know them all not just the ones who bother to join the ally chat.

    GW does make it easy though since your guild is account-based (so is your friends list) so joining a guild on one character means all your characters are in that guild. That may rub players who prefer to pick and choose which characters are guilded or who deliberately multi-guild but it sure streamlines things and takes the pressure off.

  2. Well unsurprisingly I’m a free love kind of guy. In fact I was surprised to read your list of why people would be against the idea; those are things that never crossed my mind. But as I’ve stated on my own blog, I’ve kind of determined that I’m not much of a guild sort of person. I do my own thing whether or not I’m in a guild, making my less valuable as a member and the guild less valuable to me.

    The exception would be (obviously) games that have guild-based PvP.

    What makes me for the idea is looking at the range of guild types I see. Crafting Guilds, RP Guilds, Musician Guilds (in LOTRO only, for that type), Raiding Guilds…

    The thing is, if I’m offline with a sick kid, I’m offline. But if I’m online and in two guilds, I can hear what’s going on with both, so there’s twice as many chances to find an event I’m interested in doing. Conversely, if people aren’t limited to belonging to only one guild, then guilds will have less trouble getting members, so there will be a larger pool of members to potentially fill out a group.

    Hmm, otoh I suppose there needs to be some limits. Belonging to two guilds seems ok to me. Maybe even 3. But I suppose if a character belonged to a dozen “generic” guilds it’d be pretty weird.

    Suddenly joining a guild wouldn’t be a decision you had to really think about. Someone would send you a guild invite and you’d think “Eh, why not” and join even though you feel no particular committment.

    Hmm, maybe I’ve argued myself around to “somewhere in-between”. Maybe there needs to be a limit. Let a character belong to 2 guilds at once, maybe. So you could have a character in a “General Interest” guild as well as a “Special Interest” guild.

    Or you could look at Guilds as a concept and start fresh. What if you could create a “Crafting Guild” that really was, in terms of game mechanics, built around crafting. Maybe for every member at a crafting station at a given time, the entire guild gets a 1% buff to crafting experience. But for every member online not at a crafting station, the entire guild gets a -1% debuff to crafting experience. And the guild is limited to 20 characters. (These are just random examples without a lot of thought behind them.) That way, the guild leaders would be choosy about who they invited, but there would still be options for players who want to focus on one aspect of gameplay.

    Because yeah, right now Guilds in most games are basically a chat channel and a title for the most part, right? And some additional storage perhaps. They’re a bit more in Warhammer, and pretty elaborate in EQ2 with the addition of guild halls and all the perks that come with those, but a lot of games still seem to have guild features that are pretty anemic.

    Anyone reading this a big FF XI player? As I recall, that game had “guilds” in for the form, literally, of chat channels, and you could belong to several of them.

    Anyway, I’m rambling all over your blog so I’ll hush for now… 🙂

  3. I suppose you could rework the tables of any major game such that all players are guild agnostic and the guild itself tracks it’s membership. Would be a quick fix to allow players to join any number of guilds.

    1 (item slot) * 1000 (players) = 1000 (data points)
    2 * 1000 = 2000
    2 * 1010 = 2020
    12 * 1000 = 12000
    12 * 1010 = 12120
    48 * 1000 = 48000
    48 * 1010 = 48480
    2 * 3000 = 6000
    12 * 3000 = 36000
    48 * 3000 = 144000
    My brother pointed this out to me when I was thinking of player written books. The more data you have associated with a single account, the wilder the changes in your database with population growth and decline. Lets say for instance you have a server farm and partitioned off a hundred and fifty gigs for database space per server. You also went ahead and planned out building space and server space to handle another five servers. You launch, and find yourself in need of seven more servers, you’re already pushing past the upwards limits of your databases as log in queues don’t actually reduce the total number of accounts on the server. You rush the five back-ups on-line but now you have a problem… You need two more servers, maybe more if the growth keeps it current curve. Now you have to remodel the building or buy a new building to house the expanded server farm, which won’t be just two machines since you need some redundancy.

    Of course most of us who’ve seen this industry know that those are bad investments since there is about to come a big downturn. If they don’t make the investment though, they may precipitate the downturn, or make it considerably worse since they can’t possibly maintain stability as is. Also the downturn isn’t guaranteed, just highly likely.

    By limiting inventory space fairly severely, especially for those first couple of months, you can limit the impact caused by vacillation of the player base. So it’s not really the amount of data that worries people, it’s the precision with which they can predict their data needs.

    Personally, I’m not particularly phased by any of the guild debates. I’d just point people at the clans. Join a forum, set an in-game tag, worked damned well for a long time for people who spent more time playing together than any of the current crop of MMOs will even allow. Best of all, if your clan was monogame, you joined another clan in a different game. When the mood struck you to play away from your clan, you’d find a server to hang out on and meet people who you didn’t have to be in a clan with at all.

    If anything the problem with guilds is that they tend to be too large and too spread out to be an association of people who actually play together. Rather than being an organization for the benefit of a group of friends, they become an organization for the benefit of some nebulous clique you may or may not know anything about. At which point, sure they might as well be social networking sites. But then, multi-game clans have already been dealing that problem for a long time now with… mixed success.

  4. Great points all. I love seeing other people’s takes — it makes me less worried that, wordy as I am, I can only present a couple of angles in a post (trust me, I’d love to cover something from all possible angles but even if they occur to me, I just write too wordily to make that feasible; besides, it gives y’all some cool stuff to add).

    @ Pete — this is the last blog EVER where you’ll be castigated for long comments. As for rambling, Tangents Are Welcome Here (TM).

    Being a member of a dozen generic guilds *would* be kinda odd, though some people really are just that gregarious I’m sure. I suspect multi-guild membership would tend toward the more specialised though. I saw you argue yourself into limits, but why? Because it seems odd? That’s part of my point — what multi-guild might actually mean and how we react to the idea are interestingly different. It’s like cheating on someone… and yet, objectively, it really isn’t.

    @ Sara — “If anything the problem with guilds is that they tend to be too large and too spread out to be an association of people who actually play together.” So true! I wish I’d articulated that myself. Guilds ARE getting bigger because we have the means to administer them much more easily now, but you can get lost in the sea. Surely smaller-group side-memberships would only help that. You could be a member of a super-guild but also of several smaller, family guilds.

  5. Wow. Lots of stuff here. I’ll do two comment posts. This one is on the data stuff and the next on the guild stuff.

    Data management is one of the leading causes of server side lag. So that is definitely an issue when designing a game. There are several ways to design it though. It also depends on your data managers or developers on how that data is organized. Limitations come on a game by game basis. So it’s hard to make a sweeping judgment that all games should be able to allow this amount of space or that amount of space. Usually when a developer limits space or tells you they can’t do something it’s usually because their database design won’t handle it. But yes, they could have designed their database better.

    SWG did decent data management. They had no choice because of the design of their player-based economy. It wasn’t just the crafting system that caused SWG to build out data the way they did. It was their goal of allowing every object to be salable within their system. Well, since every single object would stand on its own, that allowed them to design such a rich crafting system. It also allowed them to build a better storage system.

    Take WoW for example, the need to limit each player’s inventory due to their crafting system. It seems kind of counter productive due to all the loot that drops in that game, but it is necessary. Here’s why…

    Stacking. WoW has stacking on most perishables but not on final products. A stackable item in a database is one data entry with a field for quantity. A bloomin’ onion with a quantity of 1 or 25 is still one entry in the database with an algorithm tied to adding or subtracting the quantity. When you craft a final product in WoW it is a brand new item. Craft 10 swords, you add 10 new swords to their database. They had to give incentive for people to get rid of them, hence freeing up the database. So they limited storage.

    What the devs at SWG did was create a great hierarchy system and used object oriented programming the way it was meant. They gave everything serial numbers and made everything stackable, with some exceptions, of course. Each serial number was a spot in the database, each serial number had a quantity tied to it, with algorithms for adjusting quantity however depending on how the items were used.

    But, even if you broke that item up in several stacks, it still remained just one entry in the database. The only thing that would change was ownership. So a crafter could mass produce hundreds of the same item and hundreds of people could own one of them, but each object that had that serial number pointed back to just one entry in the database.

    Sorry…I’m geeking out. But once you get into a data design, it is hard to get out of it without breaking things. So sometimes they just have to go with what they have.

  6. @ Makk — I appreciate the education. I know just enough about deeper computer stuff (like data and programming) to make a tit of myself, and possibly to train other people. Those who can’t and all that. 😉

  7. So, guildultery — where do you stand? Monogamy, free love, or somewhere in between?

    The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of a guild harem.

  8. Your points about guild and multi-guilding are spot on. Most of what you suggest exists already, just on an individual player level.

    And individual can add friends and block people with relative ease in most games. That’s basically the same as adding people or banning them from your guild. An individual can build his/her own network of players with this simple system.

    Why this system hasn’t been extended to guild tools is beyond me. Sure WAR has an alliance system, but it doesn’t go far enough. I think alliance systems need to allow for individual guild members to ally with other people regardless of guild.

    Instead of a guild tool, there should be an overall alliance tool. When you create a guild and then form an alliance (with a guild or individual), that allows everyone to access the alliance tool. This way communications could be handled through the tool, item sharing could take place and whatever else. However, I believe special perks and such should be left at the guild level, in order to make them unique.

    An alliance system would allow guild members to put out APBs regarding other players in the game. Having a player or guild join the alliance shows he’s fine to group with. Putting a player or guild on ignore allows the alliance to see a player or guild may be trouble.

    An alliance system could also allow for smaller guilds to band together to form a larger network. Why is this important? Well, it’s sappy. But people, especially guild leaders, tend to be sentimentally attached to their guilds and guild names. In EQ2, I and my co-leader were.

    Then I tried to recruit by going to guild leaders whose guilds were in rough shape. They wouldn’t leave their guilds because they were attached. They would have loved some form of alliance, though.

    Ultimately, we decided to join a much larger guild with our mains. That was rough, but we kept alts in our other guild to preserve the name. So there is another point to being multi-guilded. Never underestimate alt guilds, there are tons of them…especially in older games.

    It’s also for this reason that I don’t think having one player part of multi-guilds would fly. Damn loyalty. But wrapping it up in a well done alliance system I think would work.

  9. @Ysh – I know you that you know, that’s why I geek out a little more on your blog.

    Of course, I could have wrapped all that up by just saying that SWG used a form of DIKU MUD data management that worked well. WoW fugged up with its data build and it would hurt to fix it. But what else would I have done with my morning? LOL

  10. @ Pete – In FFXI we had linkshells as a form of “guild” people would belong to several of them, but they usually had a specific purpose, i.e. Sky raids.

  11. Thanks H00LiGAN… I thought it was something like that. 🙂

    @Ysh: “I saw you argue yourself into limits, but why? Because it seems odd?”

    No, because with no limits I fear that joining a guild would become a trivial decision, which in turn would devalue the concept of a guild. Which is also true if a player could be in 2 or 3 guilds at once, but there the devaluation is limited. Of course maybe these fears are unfounded because a guild leader would still have to issue an invite, and good guilds would still be selective as to who they induct.

    I wonder now though, if everyone is visualizing this the same way I am. The way I see if, if my Character is in Guild A and Guild B, I’ve got a Guild A chat channel and a Guild B chat channel running at the same time. So I can easily talk to people in both guilds. I can enter both guild’s guild hall/housing. I can choose which Guild Name to ‘wear’ at any given moment (much like selecting a title now).

    Which brings up the slight problem of chat management growing more cumbersome.

    But an alternate way of handling it would be like a toggle. So the Character is in Guild A and Guild B, but I have to have one or the other guild “on” at any given moment. Is there any benefit to doing it that way? Chat management issues go away, but again, that’s trivial…

  12. Camaraderie…

    it’s the essential building block of any group/organization/guild. We join groups/organizations/guilds because they cater to a purpose of which we have interest. For the most part, those purposes can be attended to on an individual basis (such as non-guilders will attest). The purposes that we can not attend to on an individual basis can still be taken cared of through cooperation of individuals of which we have not built a rapport.

    Idealogical belief, fulfillment of a purpose and building camaraderie are all attributes of a guild. The third can only be completed through dedication, and time.

    Similar to dating mulitple people at the same time, you can never fully commit and give your all to both. When you’re ready to do so, something has to give. Inevitably, someone gets hurt, not so much do to subjective discomfort (nicely coined btw) as it is realized lost. A realized lost of time, commitment and energy spent building a mutual trust and emotional affinity with someone.

    Even FFXI with it’s “linkshell” system had to succumb to the same attributes, just on a larger scale. In FFXI the entire server was basically a guild. No matter what race you played, you all had the same purpose and ideals, you had to build camaraderie with everyone you came across. At the time I played (2003-2005) there was no such things as soloing in the game (I’m sure that’s still true to date.) You had to group for EVERYTHING and you would be in that group for hours at a time b/c it would take you that long just to get your grind session going. The “linkshell” system was nothing more than a way to take the guild (server) and split it up into more specialized parts.

    Camaraderie is the “x” factor behind the entire argument, that’s my stance.

  13. I think your asking a very hard question. People do things for strange and sometimes very odd reasons. It’s also very subjective to ask if a guild is hurt when members are part of multiple guilds with several different characters. Some will say it hurts that their friends and fellow guildies find it necessary to get their enjoyment out of the game without them and others, because the very nature of their guild is casual, might not even notice.

    It’s all a matter of opinion. In the past, I have had toons in several different guilds at once before. Sometimes because I want to keep up with people in a specific guild, or I have moved on and want to experience more of the game and at other times because I’m too lazy or don’t wish to alienate people by removing toons from a guild. Do I think it’s wrong… at times yes, because it shows a lack of respect of people in a specific guild, especially if they depend on you for their advancement in the game. Other times, I think it’s ok, because everyone needs space and people dont’ want to always social with certain people all the time.

    Like I said, you ask a hard question.

  14. One word for me – loyalty. My first experience with MMO’s from DAOC, and it was a huge guild, but it was hugely successful we were like number 1 on the server for realm points.

    We had a motto – Guild, Realm, Self.

    How can you devote your time in making you and your guildmates the best players they can and you can be if your running with a different crowd.

    I have the same problem with altiholics. Sure you have 8 level 40 toons, but how good are you at those toons, how good is that gear.

    In WoW I had like 5 level 70’s they were decent. One day I’m sitting on my warrior, and I look at a fellow warrior and just was astonished at his gear, but that was the only toon he played. He concentrated on that one toon, and got to where he was.

    I feel the same thing about relationships in real life as well. Loyalty, respect, and dedication go a long way.

  15. What exactly does a “guild” mean, anyway? Perhaps since it means different things to different players, the means by which they are used or implemented should be similarly varied?

    I was a member of a big crew (guild) in Puzzle Pirates, but got tired of the drama. I joined a much smaller crew, and made a one man crew with an alt. The few people I cared to keep track of I added as Friends (Hearties in PP).

    Other people use these MMO things as their social network, and, as in real life, most people have different social networks, even if it’s something as simple as “work, friends, family”. It makes sense to me to be able to differentiate that in a game ostensibly based on social constructs. (Otherwise, why play MMOs at all? Single player RPGs offer better game design, convenience and cost, and Counterstrike offers better skill-based PvP.)

  16. …so to throw my geek hat in the ring, it’s entirely possible for one person to belong to several sufficiently organized groups. Their Venn diagram shows them at an intersection between several groups, rather than merely a binary state of [guild/notguild].

  17. @ Tesh — nicely put.

    In real life I intersect with many different groups, and can be a member of a church group, a school group, a garage band — and the loyalty/availability problems that might raise are identical to the ones raised in-game. We handle them in real life, so why does it cause such discomfort to be a polyguildist in games?

    Part of that, I think, is that we know and yet don’t know the people at the other end of the screen, which is very different from real life (mostly). Maybe something to think about tomorrow. 😉

    @ Oak — “It’s all a matter of opinion.” Not 100% I don’t think (there are objective issues we can pull out), but to a large extent, yes, I do believe the single/multi-guild thing is subjective. That’s why I asked you all what you thought — the responses have been really interesting, too, within the limits of silly blogs and blog comments (as opposed to us all sitting in a pub and debating this in a more immediate — and possibly inebriated — fashion).

    @ theerivs — I understand what you’re saying, and I thought I’d touched on it but it turns out my comments on raiding guilds were yesterday, heh. Oops. My approach to guilds is largely as social networks right now, because I’m not a raider and not even much of an achiever. I utterly agree that deep-focus guilds should and would have more stringent limits on how much you can focus on other stuff without becoming a liability to them.

    As for Makk and his popcorn, I think he’s waiting for me to react to your dislike of altoholics. /grin. However, to each his own — and again, high-achievement, high-brag-rights guilds don’t like alts and I understand why. I’m not that kind of player though.

    There are enough of you visiting now who don’t know me that I should probably do a “what kind of player am I/are you” post — start thinking, cuz you know I’m going to ask you to define yourselves. 😀

    It may or may not be tomorrow. I’ve been laid low all day with some kind of nausea-bug (and all the porcelain-god praying that involves). Only reason I’m typing this is because your responses were all so interesting. Thanks all for stopping by and sharing! (I’m utterly fascinated by social networks.)

  18. Ysh, as much as I appreciate a good pun and fun wordplay, perhaps the title of the post is throwing some people off on tangents? Certainly guild membership is akin to marriage for some folk, but the metaphor doesn’t quite fit for the “social network” direction that we’re going.

    *shrug*

  19. Oh, and good luck with your worship. I find the porcelain gods to be fickle beasties. 🙁

    I’m looking forward to the “Hi, I’m Ysh, and I’m a * player” thread and the discussion thereof.

  20. @ Tesh — I’d argue that it *does* fit, because many of the reactions I’ve heard when I’ve floated the idea of letting single characters be in more than one guild at a time have been akin to suggesting that that would be like cheating on your “main” guild. That was the starting point of what I wanted to explore, because I suspect that’s a subjective “be in our clique! don’t be in that clique!” reaction rather than a less-subjective acceptance that grownups have many friends and many networks, and games might want to start reflecting that in how they allow us to organise our in-game social networks.

    Also, it was eye-grabbing. I don’t usually bother, but it tickled me. I should have known to follow the prime rule of writing: “Murder your darlings.”

    Ugh. Me sick. Thinking not good. See you all tomorrow.

  21. Gotcha. Just observing, not complaining. I guess that theerivs’ comment is what made me think of it. I’d have never thought of a guild as anything even remotely as important as my relationship with my wife or family.

    Even in game, I don’t place anyone’s needs before my own; I’m paying to play, not getting paid to do a job. I might indulge in random acts of kindness, like taking aggro of a roving kitty off of a panicked Gnome as I wander past, but that’s because I’m a nice guy at heart. It’s just a game. When it becomes an obligation, it’s time to leave.

    *shrug*

  22. Now, I’m confused. Is the premise that One character can be a member of multiple guilds, or that you can have multiple characters in Multiple guilds? I think I have gotten lost somewhere.

  23. @ Tesh: “The needs of the one, outweigh the needs of the many” 🙂 That’s exactly the play-style I have. If I want to help someone out as I ride past, then I do it, but I don’t feel obliged to do it. Like you said, we’re paying to have fun, and not getting paid to help other people have fun.

    @ Oak: I think both are valid points within the realm of discussion that Ysh opened up. Initially, I’d say that the one character in multiple guilds is the main focus of the discussion but like any beast of this nature it has spawned multiple adds and they’ve run off to aggro different topics. Err… I think I’ve been playing far too much!

    Eric

  24. @Oak…the I think the main focus was a character being a part of many guilds. But, you know some of us, we go off on tangents. And sometimes we tend to transpose character and player. But I think it was your main being part of multiple guilds.

  25. It *is* interesting to see the way different people treat guilds. I’m dumbfounded, personally, at the suggestion that being in two guilds is like cheating on a spouse!

    To me a guild’s closest analog in the “real world” is a department at work. You see the department from outside, think it looks interesting and like a place you might fit in, so you apply to that department. Assuming you are accepted, you settle in and get to learning what the department’s expectations of you are. And at the same time, you meet the other members and start to get to know them. Maybe you become friends with some of them, and maybe not.

    But the major point is, you’ve joined a group of people working towards a common goal.

    Which is why I like the idea of being in more than one group: I have more than one goal.

    I’m “loyal” to the group for exactly as long as they’re “loyal” to me. It’s a business arrangement and we should both profit from the association.

    And if I decide to go off and help out another department somewhere, as long as I keep meeting the expectations of the first group, no one has any issues with that. We’re all part of the same company (in this analogy, the ‘company’ is the entire playerbase who are all working towards the common goal of improving a character and exploring a world).

    Mind you I’m not faulting other people’s concepts of what a guild is. Just sharing mine.

    @Tesh: “It makes sense to me to be able to differentiate that in a game ostensibly based on social constructs. (Otherwise, why play MMOs at all?”

    Now you’re foreshadowing my next rambling diatribe at dragonchasers!!

  26. Wow! What a can of worms you’ve opened Ysh!
    To those that have stated so, I don’t believe anyone has gone off on a tangent. Everything I’ve read to this point has been very much within the confines of the base argument.

    @Oak: The premise of Ysh’s argument boils down to the division of time and attention between multiple in-game social networks. You will notice his post mentions “commitment or commit” mulitple times. Even the title, an obvious wordplay on ‘adultery’, refers to commitment as Ysh stated in response to Tesh above. With that said, it really doesn’t matter if it’s (1) character in multiple guilds or multiple characters in multiple guilds. Both represent a division of time and attention between multiple in-game social networks.

    @Makkaio: The transposition of character and player has not played a role in any of the above comments. What I saw was the comparison of social constructs and the networks within those constructs, but by no means did I witness anyone dis-illusioned with real-life.

    @All: Speaking of social constructs. If we are to categorize social groups using “real life” as the parent then you can not objectively deny that “gaming” is not a part of real life, and therefore should be subject to the same attributes as any other “real life” social construct, regardless of the degree.

    For example:

    Tier 1: Real Life

    Tier 2 (Social constructs):
    Family , Friends, Work , Religion, Gaming, Sports, Culture, School, etc.

    So, Ysh…yes, as part of “real life”, you can intersect with many different groups and be a member of a church group (religious construct), school group (school construct), garage band (cultural construct), etc. Just the same as being a member of a gaming group (gaming construct).

    To use the comaprison of ‘guildultery’ to intersecting social constructs is not fair. You would have to compare having (1 or more) characters in multiple guilds to being in multiple families, or playin in multiple garage bands, or going to multiple churches.

    Hopefully that all made sense.

    Anyway, back to my original point from my early comment. It’s all about the camaraderie!

  27. I don’t think it’s possible for one character to be a member of several guilds at once, being that the purpose of a guild in the long run is to help people progress through the game and complete specific goals along the way.

    Loyalty would be a big concern. An example would be, if you cheered for more than one NFL Football team or had more than one girlfriend or spouse. You can’t possible be able to full fil the goals of one guild without letting the goals of another fall by the way side. If Guild A wants to quest and raid on the same days as Guild B, how can you make both happy if they are both depending on your character to be there to help the guild advance?

    If it’s a matter of guilds not having enough members to accomplish goals because they lack the membership, then guilds need to think about doing what MMO companies do when population is down on specific servers…you merge with another guild.

    Being a member of a church group, a swimming club and a book club isn’t the same as being the member of 3 church groups, or 3 swimming clubs or 3 book clubs. A guild in an MMO at it’s very heart has the same goals as every other guild, to level your character and see content together…how can a character do that, if the same character is busy doing it with others in another guild?

    Now, having three different characters in three different guilds is a little different in that, the leveling of one character a guild, doesn’t impact the goals of your other characters in other guilds. (Man this gets confusing at times lol) However, the time you devote to character A in Guild A, will detract from the time spent with Character B in Guild B, but as long as you manage your time wisely and you join guilds that work within your time issues, then your not being disloyal to anyone.

    I hope I didn’t confuse anyone.

  28. “A guild in an MMO at it’s very heart has the same goals as every other guild, to level your character and see content together”

    That’s the sticking point. Not every guild has the same purposes. People use guilds for different reasons. (And if your guild is using you, there’s something out of whack, as far as I’m concerned.)

  29. Well, I have to argue…the core of every guild is pretty much the same….even if the guild is a social one, like say the guild I’m currently in, CoWs represent, you try to play together, keep the characters within the same levels so you can group properly and try to progress the characters upward in levels even if your at a slower pace than others, your still moving upward…I mean if your not at least trying to level your character, why are you even playing an MMO in the first place? And why would you want to be a member of more than one guild as well if your not advancing the character to some degree. See this all feeds back into the same arguement.

    I mean, if there is another purpose for a guild or playing a character to begin with, I’m all for it, hearing about it. Even if all your doing is crafting, at some point you have to level the character to obtain specific items needed to craft. You join a guild or a group of people to do things together and social, otherwise why be in a guild?

    If your character is in a second guild, they will probably want to do the same thing, and if the schedules are different then, you might out level the people in Guild A while playing with people in Guild B.

    Guilds are run by people and people as nature would have it, tend to use other people, it’s the very nature of the social beast.

  30. I disagree quite a lot with your assessment of what a guild is for and why we all play games, Oakstout. In many cases, I play games to craft — in SWG I played to craft, to build a business, to provide stuff others might want or need, and levelling was (and is) an entirely secondary concern.

    So no, I don’t agree that “advancement” is the only aim of a game and the only aim of a guild.

    I join guilds primarily for the social aspect and for the social tools it provides. Levelling is, to me, extremely secondary.

    If I were in a — for argument’s sake — levelling guild and in a crafting guild at the same time with the same character, I really don’t see how anyone could object to my spending any of the time I haven’t formally committed to one or the other. My guild does NOT have a 100% call on my time — no guild does. What it *does* have a right to expect is for me to uphold its values, to consider its needs as well as mine, and to do what I say I’m going to do. Outside of that, if I choose to do stuff with guildies or with friends who aren’t guildies (for instance, guildies in guild2, in the multi-guild example), that’s nobody’s business.

    The day a guild tries to tell me when to log on, what to do when I log on, and who to play with is the day I quit. Then again, I don’t join those guilds in the first place.

    A guild is NOT a marriage, so maybe Tesh was right in criticising the title. However, many people do react as though a guild is a marriage and even looking at non-guildies or other guilds is a sign of high treason.

    We’re not talking raiding guilds here, we’re talking social constructs. And really, if I want to be part of two garage bands or two church groups, that’s okay too as long as I meet the commitments I make. Meeting one’s commitments is just a part of being a responsible human being — beyond that, I really think the arguments against multi-guilding are some sort of weird proto-jealousy.

    Not ranting at you Oak — actually it’s good you’re presenting another view 😀

  31. I have to say, my argument has been based on the current MMO that I am playing. Other MMO’s might be able to accommodate the one toon joining two or more guild situation more effectively. Vanguard and EQ2 are heavy into crafting, so being a part of a crafting guild only (guild A) and a raiding only guild (Guild B) wouldn’t conflict with each other.

    But in a game like WoW, where a majority of the guilds have the same goals, mainly leveling up characters and reaching end game together, then being a member of two or more guilds wouldn’t work. I would say there definitely would be a conflict of loyalties. I even know some guilds that won’t let you have multiple toons in other guilds because they feel it detracts from their guilds goals if your not playing with them. Again, I agree with the statement that, “if your guild is using you, there’s something out of whack,”.

    But sadly, this is more the norm than the exception. Would I like to see a system where you could be in more than one guild…sure…that would be great. Will it work currently with most MMO’s having goals that create competition between guilds to be the first to reach end game status and get the great gear…NO! But as Ysh is fond of saying, you don’t have to join a guild for the sole reason to level and reach end game, you can do it just be social, as long as you find a guild willing to let you be the exception rather than the rule. lol

  32. Also Ysh, you used the statement:

    “If I were in a — for argument’s sake — levelling guild and in a crafting guild at the same time with the same character, I really don’t see how anyone could object to my spending any of the time I haven’t formally committed to one or the other.”

    and I agree with it, mainly because you would be in a guild that had separate goals. But there might be an issue if you joined two guilds with the same end goal, especially if being good at say “Crafting” helped advance the guild in some way, like it does in EQ2..then your time would be valuable to both guilds and splitting that time so your helpful to both might be hard, but not impossible.

  33. @Oakstout, here’s some examples of kinds of guilds you might belong to:

    1) A Guild. Just a typical guild, full of people focused on leveling their characters and getting through content.
    2) An RP Guild: Members here are working together to create and act out an elaborate RP storyline. Levels are totally irrelevant to them. The only gear they need is social clothing.
    3) A Music Guild: Members here are part of a band that puts on concerts. Probably only found in LOTRO since afaik it’s the only MMO with a system that allows for playing music. (Some conflict potential with the RP Guild here.)
    4) A PvP Guild. Maybe you’re in a big generic guild full of folks you get along well with, but that isn’t into PvP. So you join a pure PvP Guild, and the members of this Guild do nothing but team up together to do PvP 2 nights/week.
    5) A Crafting Guild. The folks in this Guild are interested in coordinating their various craft skills in order to create top-end gear.

    I’ll grant you that there’s no (or at least, very little) reason to have a character in two leveling guilds at the same time, though.

  34. I’m all for “free love” in the guild scene.

    I see guilds as a tool to help me find other players to play with. The more guilds I can be a member of, the more people I can play with.

    Yes, there will be people who join a large number of guilds and are not very active in many of them. There will also be hardcore dedicated players who are only in a couple of guilds and are very active, obeying guild schedules and such. Either approach is fine since it lets the individual player play the way they want to play.

    Compare this to the current guild system. Say I want to experience the raiding content in WoW, I have to join a raiding guild, but they will have a pre-set schedule and agenda that will either be too demanding for me, or not be demanding enough, depending upon how ‘hardcore’ I am. Either way leads to nerd-rage (either mine or the guild’s).

    In a multiple guild system, there is a much vaster resource of players to draw from, which will lessen the nerd-rage on both counts.

    People are still free to form their ultra-hardcore exclusive clique guilds and bitch about who hasn’t logged on for a whole 12 hours. The rest of us won’t care that we can’t get into such a guild, since we’ll be off doing whatever the hell it is we want to do with our $14.95 a month anyway. The clique guild shouldn’t care because clearly we were not hardcore enough and would not have adhered to their raid schedule anyway.

  35. @Tesh — FF XI might have a music system… I played that one so long ago and for such a short period that my memory of it is all but wiped.

    I came back with an example for Oakstout that is a very feasible situation.

    So say a player is in a Guild, and really likes the players and enjoys doing PvE content with them. But one day he goes and tries PvP and decides he likes it. Not so much that he wants to focus exclusively on it, but he’d like to do more of it. He communicates his enjoyment of PvP to the guild, but no one else is all that interested in it.

    The way things are, that player has the choice of a) giving up on PvP, b) doing PvP with random players, or c) quitting the guild he enjoys to go find a PvP guild.

    Under a multi-guild system, he could *start* a PvP guild, and find people just like him: people who are in PvE-oriented guilds that they really enjoy, but who would like to do some PvP now and then with a regular group. No one has to leave their “home” guild, and everyone has their needs met.

    If the argument is that the player is being disloyal to his guild for spending some time PvPing with his new secondary guild, well, wouldn’t the same thing apply if he was PvPing with random people?

  36. “If the argument is that the player is being disloyal to his guild for spending some time PvPing with his new secondary guild, well, wouldn’t the same thing apply if he was PvPing with random people?”

    The answer is yes, but only if they knew your were on line doing that and not hanging out with them doing it. That is why I always have a toon that no one knows about so I can be by myself without a lot of people bothering me…when I’m feeling anti-social. lol

    Man, I just can’t stop responding to this subject…it has me reeling still. lol

    Thanks YSH…I have to say, this has been one of my more enjoyable topics on any blog, including my own. lol

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