Wheels and ladders

Two things.

First, this: Drakkashi’s Ability Wheel for The Secret World, shamelessly stolen from Sheep The Diamond on whose post I found it.

I haven’t logged into TSW in two weeks, for various reasons to do with work and other exploratory procedures (small world, since Dragonchasers seems to have gone through a very similar experience just recently). On the bright side though, I haven’t had that little Subscription Gremlin sitting on my shoulder telling me I should be playing to justify the cost of my sub. In that respect the lifetime sub is very liberating – I realise I’m still paying and that it’ll take a while to actually ‘pay for itself’, but psychologically I don’t feel any pressure to play simply because I need to justify the expense.

For me at least, a single (admittedly large) one-off payment has become a thing in the past and now I’m playing the game for ‘free’. Which means that when I can’t or don’t log on for whatever reason, I’m not feeling as though I’m wasting my monthly fee.

I still miss the fact that I haven’t had time to give the game I’ve waited so long for, but I also know it’ll be there when I have time to pick it back up. And of course the first monthly update should hit tomorrow, if they’re still on schedule. I admit I also haven’t been checking forums.

Second, this: Zubon’s post about Asheron’s Call allegiances and patronage. AC was my first MMO and I’m always interested in posts about it, but I think Zubon may have represented only one side of things. The comments section for that post is rife with “eww, this is creepy!” type reactions, and I’d like to show the other side of that.

In a nutshell: In Asheron’s Call, allegiances were pyramidal. Every player in an allegiance had a ‘patron’ (the player ‘above’ them in the hierarchy) except the ‘monarch’, who sat at the top and was effectively the guild leader, and any player could have ‘vassals’ (players directly ‘below’ them in the hierarchy). Vassals passed up a certain amount of experience to their patrons who would pass up some of that to their patrons and so on up the “chain” all the way to the monarch. There was an equation for it, so it wasn’t a simple 1 for 1 or even 10 for 1, but that’s the basic system.

The allegiance setup is odd, looking at it from the outside now, though coming in to my first MMO I had no clue and it seemed perfectly normal to me. Yes, there were allegiances set up explicitly to wring as much xp out of the system as possible for the maximum possible pass-through. But the vast majority of allegiances I knew were really bog-standard guilds with a different name and slightly different mechanics.

The guild I joined in Asheron’s Call is still the guild I’m in these days, even though we’ve long moved on from the game. Joining was about playing with like-minded folks and NOT about how much xp you could generate for the shark-like gestalt. Effort were made to match newbies with like-minded patrons if they didn’t already have connections, to make sure they’d be tied to someone whose playstyle and availability matched their own. It’s about as casual and laid-back as a guild can get, and even in AC there was no talk of having to produce xp or needing to do X, Y or Z to be considered useful.

In any case, how is this substantially different from raiding guilds who require their players to be online on certain days and for a certain amount of time in order to run certain raids and obtain whatever loot it is they’re after?

Personally I’d rather be passing up virtual xp to a virtual patron than have to give my guild my real-life phone numbers so they can make sure I’m adhering to my raiding schedule. Now that’s creepy.

Sucker for a happy ending

I talk a lot about being an introvert, a hermit, a soloer for most of the time I spend in games — and while lately I’ve actually been more of a duoer, the basic principle still holds: when I’m mucking about in game, I prefer very little company. It has to be just the right company or I become crabby, overwhelmed, prone to profanity and just generally turn into a bitchy pain in the ass.

What only other introverts seem to understand, however, is that this doesn’t make me unsociable or anti-social — quite the contrary. I’m extremely sociable, it’s just that my terms for it aren’t the same as those of your average extrovert (who, making up statistics as I go along, seem to make up the bulk of the MMO population). I have a huge personal space requirement, both in real life and in virtual life. Some people get that, and others just stand on my character, or sit in front of me staring at my (virtual! FFS!) boobs and drive me to frothing annoyance.

There’s more than one way to be sociable, and one of the ways I’m sociable is by socialising in chat. And specifically guild chat. WoW wouldn’t have held me 2 weeks when I came back if I hadn’t been able to hook back up with my forever tribe, the Knights Who Say Ni — and with a subset of friends I hadn’t “seen” (you know what I mean) in years and had missed a great deal more than I’m usually willing to admit. Hell, I’ve known some of these people for over a decade now, whether I’ve met them in person or not — and one day I swear I’ll make it to an RL guild meet; I’m tired of missing out on those Las Vegas high jinx!

So when I caught Larísa’s post just now over at the Pink Pigtail Inn, I was only half surprised to find myself sniffling a bit as I reached the end of the post. It’s well worth a read, as the Pink One’s stuff always is.

We’re nothing without our friends, and I’m a little tired of explaining that how I spend my time killing shit has zero bearing on my social abilities.

It’s not what you’re playing, it’s who you’re playing it with.

PS – If you’re the one who stole my ability and desire to do walls of text, gimme it back! These short posts are just… weird.

(WoW) Huntard no more!

I can’t believe it took me so long to find this site. Well actually I can, because it’s me and because I can be pretty oblivious sometimes — and, as I shamefacedly admit, because my theorycrafting usually comes down to “Ooo shiny!”

However, since Eloise is now 85 and *gasp* doing Tol Barad PvP battles on a pretty regular basis (ahem, 5 in the last 24 hours), I’m going to have to pay at least a little bit of attention to what she’s wearing, how she’s specced, and what she does with her abilities. Yeesh, this is WAY too much like hard work.

Next thing you know I’ll be doing heroics and raiding.


Anyway – if you’re a huntard in WoW, this — Warcraft Hunters’ Union — is a lovely site. I’m sure there are tons of lovely hunter sites out there, but this happens to belong to a guild that also happens to be on my server, Icecrown, so they’re extra-special lovely.

That’s all for today, I have about a million words of reading to do and a million people saying “L2P nub!” to avoid.

Halp! I need somebody, halp!

Okay, that title was maybe a little more histrionic than I intended.

WFS’s Gordon made me laugh yesterday when he said “Time to start an alt” — just taunt me a second time-a why don’t you?

My name is Hyperbole and I am an Altoholic.

The long and short of this post is that it’s a shameless begging post. I already have my 9 alts made (duh!), a few of whom date back to 2004 and whom I can’t bring myself to reroll while the rest are fresh off the cookie-cutter line. I can’t put them all in Knights Who Say Ni because, well, that’s just greedy — I’m not the only altoholic in town and I already have 3 or 4 chars in the guild as it is, which is probably more than I should. Ni has an alts guild, but, meh.

Okay fine. I just want my own damn guild bank. Happy?

Cue begging: if anyone (well, 3 anyones) has a spare character slot and can make an Alliance char on Icecrown for as long as it takes me to get the 3 signatures we need, I’ll be eternally grateful and, um… will say something nice about you every week till August 2014. How’s that for a deal?

EDIT — Okay, blogging power and Twitter power are sometimes rather awesome. Many thanks to Shawndra, Stargrace and @R0NlN for the guild-creation help! There’s nothing quite like being helped out by total strangers (physically-speaking) to remind me why I love my MMOs. It’s not the game, it’s the people. <3

I’m a chump for virtual real-estate

With a name like GUILD Wars, you’d expect at least semi-decent Guild Halls in this game — but damn, these aren’t just halls they’re entire islands! There’s something for every taste, from simple pre-Searing to moody-Goth via bow-down-to-my-Imperial-power Eastern.

And because I can’t help acting like Twoflower whenever I visit a new game (or revisit an old one, for that matter), here are a couple more screenies. Sadly you can’t go into all the cool-looking buildings up on the cliffs of the Imperial-POWA Guild Hall, but it still looks the shiz. I smushed them down to 1440×900 but can provide 1920×1200 if anyone wants a larger size to download. I’m using Imperial-POWA as my desktop right now, though that’s changing daily as I take more screenshots.

I can’t afford a guild hall yet, of course — I’m only a noob! — but oh, someday. Something to save up for!


I vont to be alone (with my God of death and my guildies)


All About Eve concert here tomorrow!



Declaring my independence

Maybe if I post this on a weekend, and a holiday weekend in the US to boot, nobody will notice and my rant can slip by unnoticed while still satisfying my need to get this off my chest.

(Post-publish edit: my rants seem to work better than I expect. A lot of this is tongue-in-cheek — I’m usually very much a compromise, negotiate, see-the-other-side type person, but that kind of thing makes for boring ranting. I’ll do a nice rational post later this week, honest. Apologies also to those whose posts I use as springboards — they’re just idea-bouncers. I’m not implying any of you are bastages or asshats or indeed anything but interesting, although our opinions may differ. If I didn’t find em interesting and thought-provoking, I wouldn’t be reading your blogs.)

Various people have done some fascinating posts about guilds — here most recently, and here and of course a fair few of my own (I guess I write about this a lot: here and here too) — as well as some very intense and interesting posts about grouping and soloing (Spinks has two I particularly liked: this and that) and I’m seeing an interesting but disturbing trend. “Solo is bad, group is good,” and “guilds are for groups.” Corollaries to this are: “solo lacks social-skills” and “solo is only solo because a) they don’t know what’s good for them and b) they don’t know how to make friends and/or how to play,” and finally “guilds are for raiding.”

None of these are entirely true. I remain deeply puzzled and saddened by the fact that players who prefer to group sweep my kind of play under the rug and refuse to even attempt to understand that their preconceptions may not be entirely accurate. Do I think all grouping players are wannabe Sergeant major activity-fascists who want to tell me what to do every second of the playing day? (Only when I’m ranting.)

Now, I don’t actually want to just rant. I want, one last (I promise) time, to try to foster some kind of understanding. You may not LIKE how I play, but I really would be grateful if you could at least try to see it from my point of view and not assume it’s bad. Just once. It’ll do you good, like grouping.

Here’s why I mostly play solo.

1. I play at odd, usually early-morning hours when there aren’t many other people around. This actually started when I played in the UK and most of my online friends were either working (UK) or still asleep (US) — I’ve almost always worked from home and that’s just how my schedule pans out. In the afternoons I’m usually working and in the evenings I’m usually doing something with friends and/or other halves. Yes, I do have them.

2. I’ve got a lot of distractions. Work is one — as I said, I work from home, which means I’m prone to getting work calls and/or having to deal with work emails and stuff like that. I’ve also got pets who distract me (in a good way) and housing stuff that also distracts me (in a less good way — laundry, cooking, bills, all that happy crappy). I don’t compartmentalise my playing and my non-playing into discrete and utterly separate chunks because I’ve never had to, nor do I feel the need to. What it does mean, however, is that I go AFK a lot — not always for very long, but usually unpredictably… and sometimes I don’t come back at all for a couple of hours. That’s murder on any kind of group activity and it’s not something I impose on anyone else unless I know them well. When I group, it’s with people who understand that and can work around it — by carrying on without me for instance.

3. I have a very limited combat-type play reservoir, especially when it involves lots of separate people. After an hour or two at most, I start to get input-overload and if I don’t stop and do something else, I’ll get cranky and want only one thing: to log the hell off. Blame my neurology or whatever — it is what it is. I can’t do 4-hour dungeon crawls: I’ll be chewing the walls to get away from it about 90 minutes in. It’s not a boredom thing, it’s an overwhelm thing, and it just is. No, I don’t want to change it; yes, I’ve tried. Not all of us are wired the same when it comes to what we like doing and for how long we like doing it.

I don’t really hate raiding, I’m just not interested in it.  It epitomises what I can’t do in games: a large time-block commitment with lots of visual and mental input (do this, go there, fire this, watch out!) in order to obtain gear to get better gear down the line. Since I don’t give a stuff about gear for the most part, that’s just not enough of an inducement to get me to bear with the input-overload of doing raid-type combat activity for several hours running. I also am not interested enough in the combat game to enjoy having to work out exactly what sequence of buttons to hit when — I realise many people do, but it’s just not my thing. Why does that seem to be so hard to grasp?

Does that mean I want raids to be taken away from games? Not at all. Does it mean I think I should just be handed said gear without having to put the effort into it that raiders do? Please — that’s specious and facile. Of course I don’t. As I said, I don’t give a shit about said gear in the first place, but if I did, I certainly wouldn’t expect there to be an easy way to get it and a hard way to get it. That’s not fair and besides, it’s stupid.

So, onto guilds. By most guild=group=raiding accounts, I shouldn’t need or want a guild, and most guilds should keep me away with the longest bargepole they can find because I’m just no use to them.

That’s just wrong. It’s also pretty bigoted, don’t you think?

As it’s been designed in our MMOs, raiding pretty much requires guilds because it’s the most efficient way of organising people, assigning roles, and allocating loot (or looting rights). Guilds were one of the first MMO social systems to have their own global chat channel, so using them to organise large-scale combat events is a no-brainer as well as a decade-old legacy. That doesn’t mean, however, that guilds require or even exist purely to facilitate raiding, and it’s blinkered to see it that way now.

Guilds are social systems. They are not just glorified, extended LFG interfaces, and they’re not just convenient name-lists for organising DKP. I understand how useful they are for that; I just wish the raiding/grouping players would, for one short second, allow themselves to see that that’s not ALL they do. I’d also like for them to see that different playstyles are acceptable, though by now I”m resigned to being told, in various ways, that MMOs are multi-player games and that multi-player means “constant grouping.” Oh, they qualify their statements and say “Well, I don’t think we should group ALL the time, but I do think we should group most of the time” — by which they almost always really mean “YOU should group when I need you to, you solitary bitch! Can’t you see I’m not having fun?”

Well, my sympathy is all used up and I’m going to turn my empathy off too. I’ve walked in your shoes and I’m damned if I’m doing it again until ONE lousy raiding/grouping/you non-groupers suck-type player demonstrates that they can walk in mine. This isn’t hyperbole — all I’ve seen so far is justification and explanation and qualification, but not one shred of real understanding. For grouping players, soloing is just plain wrong and will always be wrong and must be exterminated or electroshocked into conformity through stringent game design. By all means, show me differently.

For the last time: solo /= anti-social or anti-guild. Hell, group does not equal social; because if it does, then I guess all the grunting, monosyllabic morons I’ve met in groups, the ones who can neither say hello nor learn simple grouping techniques (like, don’t pull the entire fucking zone every damn time!) or loot courtesy — those guys must have just been having a bad day. Riiiiiight.

As I said, guilds are social systems. Some of us use guild chat to, you know, just chat with people. I have no problems at all making friends, thank you very much, and I’ve made hundreds in the last 10 years of MMO play — hell, I married one of them. Many of the friends I’ve made over the years are STILL friends even though we don’t play together anymore. If I wanted to group, I’d have no problem doing it and I’d have no problem fitting into the group mentality. What galls me is the assumption on the part of some players and commentators that I should HAVE to want to because they want me to, and that if I don’t, it’s because I’m a maladjusted borderline whacko sitting in the dark unable to make connections with people. Seriously. Do I seem unable to make connections? I don’t group not because I’m not capable of it, but because it doesn’t usualy suit my damn playstyle. How hard is that to grasp?

I’ve said elsewhere what players like me use guilds for: to keep in touch, to help, to advise, to provide gear/support/comfort, to laugh until we fall off our chairs, and to bitch about life in general. Aside from the base use, which is to get together and do stuff — but is it that hard to see that “doing stuff” isn’t just hitting “Invite X and Y and Z” and going off to fill out quests and kill shit and do a raid?

Who’s blind, here?

I understand that group-oriented players need other group-oriented players in order to have fun. But guys, that does NOT give you the right to decide that my playstyle is wrong. Nor does it give you the right to pontificate that I’m not playing MMOs the way they were designed to be played — bullshit. Any game can be played alone if that’s what you want, even Monopoly. It most certainly doesn’t mean that soloers have to be lobotomised into understanding that what they really want to do is toe the grouping line — if that were the case, due to RL stuff and the way my brain is wired, I’d have to stop playing MMOs. Thanks for that idea. Really, thanks. And it certainly also doesn’t mean that MMOs have to be lobotomised to only provide group content.

What it means from where I’m standing, is that you raiding, grouping people who so love to blame all MMO social woes on soloers need to learn how to make new friends. Sound fair?

About as fair as what you say, right. So. Suck it up. I’m done here.



I was going to write “ding” but for one thing, people announcing that every 5 seconds in games kind of gets on my tits, and for another thing, it’s only a crafting max level so I’m not sure it really counts. (No, I’m not so curmudgeonly that I hate people who announce their levels, not at all. But Ding 1! — Ding 2! — Ding 3! — and so on just seems a little narcissistic to me, especially when it’s from people who then also get really pissy if the entire universe doesn’t shout instant and sincere congratulations. I love congratulating people; I just don’t like it when it’s forced down my throat. Anyway, moving on…)

Fairuza, my EQ2 Fury/Provisioner hit 80 a few days ago. It was oddly anticlimactic — I wasn’t expecting it, being busy throwing out crafting writs here and there whenever I could manage a few minutes online, and I hadn’t really been tracking my progress. It meant I wasn’t prepared to take the spiffy “hey! lookit my sparklies!” screenie most people seem to manage when they max-level a char in something; at least I remembered to record the moment for posterity, even if it’s not well-framed and a little over-exposed. Posterity, or until I next change my hard drive and forget to port my pictures.


I hit 60 (crafting) when that was the max, then 70 when that became the max in EQ2, so it’s not actually the first time. Given my crafting-hoishness, it’ll probably be more noteworthy if I ever hit adventuring max level. Don’t hold your breath.

That said, Fairuza has also gone from 38 to 43 (adventuring) in the last couple of days, which I’m rather proud of since that’s the highest combat level I’ve ever managed in EQ2. I’m sort of an accidental tourist as far as levelling in MMOs goes: when I level, it’s usually because I need to do so in order to be able to harvest or craft or do something else not really combat-related (like clear critters from harvester drop-sites in SWG). And as in most MMOs, raw materials often end up costing more in EQ2 than the finished product — all hail the grindy nature of craft levelling — so buying what I need for the rest of the Army of Craftness (who range from 40 to 61) isn’t really an option. I don’t mind spending money in games, but I do mind being ripped off for raw materials, or indeed anything else. Besides, I’m strange and I actively enjoy harvesting — I just need to be able to do it a little more safely in some of the higher-level zones.

Back in 2006, my swashbuckler was going to be my primary adventuring/harvesting char, but after a glorious run into the 30s, she seemed to become harder and harder to play — or rather, squishier and squishier, and picking up where I left off was tough. I’m sure a lot of that is having forgotten how to play her, and I should probably upgrade her gear, spells, achievement stuffs and whatnot… but playing the Fury again was like getting into old, comfy clothes (gear and spells or no gear and spells), so Fairuza is currently my “main” in all the traditional senses of the word, since she’s the highest-level all round.

As some of you may remember, I was going to fess up about alts and resubbing the old account when I’d solemnly sworn that I wouldn’t. I should have known myself a little better; in any game where a single character can’t explore most of the offered crafting (or to a lesser extent adventuring content), I will end up with alts, just so I can try everything out. I like to make stuff, and the more chars to make stuff the better.

Right now the new account has three characters on it, one of whom is probably destined for the delete bin sooner or later. The other two, however, I’ve been playing with the spousal unit. The first is a Warden (mirror of the Fury only more defensive), paired with hubby’s ranger, both of whom are now 30; I don’t enjoy the warden nearly as much as the fury, sadly, but I’ll carry on with her for now. The other char is a Troubador that’s paired with hubby’s new Illusionist. Thanks to this last weekend’s xp-extravaganza in some of the old-world zones and to the refer-a-friend xp’o’rama — which, with rest xp, added up to something like 400+% xp per kill — they went from 1 to 20 in just a few short hours. The troub is fun, as I expected, since I already have a dirge on the old account. I’d mentor down on some of the existing characters, but that extra xp bonus from the friend-referred accounts is just too tempting right now. That’ll go away in a few weeks anyway; I believe it only lasts 90 days, so sooner or later we’ll be back to plain old normal xp and then I’ll be happier mixing and matching with the old account. Until then, god knows I need all the adventuring xp bonuses I can get!

I’m glad I don’t know how to 2-box and probably couldn’t do it on a single machine — certainly not this 3+ year-old rig — because otherwise I’m sure I’d be pretty tempted. As I’ve said elsewhere, 2-boxing doesn’t particularly bother me, and it enables the ever-more common couple or friends-duo to tackle stuff that’s normally reserved for bigger groups; it’s 4 or 5 or 6-boxing that really irks me, because usually the only reason it’s done is to exploit, farm gold, or otherwise do stuff I tend to feel runs counter to the spirit of MMOs. (Yeah, we all have different opinions of that “spirit” — whatever floats your boat. Me, I’ll continue to be irked by conga-lines of 5 chars slavishly following the one in the lead.) I still don’t get how anyone can successfully run two active chars at the same time when I have enough trouble hitting all the right buttons for just one — or does the second char just follow along? That’s always puzzled me.

Knowing me and the spousal unit, we’ll be mulling over more alts sooner or later, and as usual I’m totally torn on what to pick. I’m going to try not to remake classes I already have, but that still leaves a ton of choices and when everything is equally tasty it usually takes me forever to make up my mind. Maybe I’ll just jab a pen at the char creation screen and see where it lands…

As I said a few weeks back, the Halasian Empire guild is a wonderful home for anyone on Lucan DLere looking for a casual, grown up, supportive but not smothering atmosphere. It’s not a very big guild, so if you need to see 26 people online every time you log on, it’s probably not for you — but I know many of you out there with similar play- and social-styles to mine, so if you’re on LDL or planning to try out EQ2, give us a shout!

Colourful is the new brown

When I decided to give EQ2 another go, I was sort of resigned to a world of strangely shrink-wrapped brown-ness (and strange character models, but I look okay to myself from the back so that’s not so bad). While the graphics are pretty good, they also used to be pretty dull, and not just in comparison with more stylised, hyper-saturated games like WoW.

Well, things have changed! While I’m sure much of the basic scenery is still what it used to be (I haven’t been anywhere yet!), I was very impressed to see that housing, housing items, mounts and who knows what else have taken a turn for the better. There are of course a zillion things in the game now that weren’t there when I last played 3 years ago, and there are lots of other things that have been vastly improved. Mounts, for one — my portly palomino was rather sweet, but he was square, big-butted even for a horse, and with really weird leg movement when seen from behind; now, however, he’s a lean mean transport machine, and it’s obvious the models have been seriously upgraded, since they look a lot more like horses now. I doubt I’ll ever be totally happy with horse animations in games, but that’s what I get for being aware of what horse movements look like; it’s mostly something I overlook as not being particularly important, unless it’s done especially badly.

Guild houses are new to me too. I was kindly invited to tour a “medium” sized one, which is only about one-third the size of Versailles but doesn’t give anything away in opulence. The small and large halls use the same textures but are, as you might guess, smaller and (WAY!) larger respectively. The large guildhall is the first in-game housing building I would say is much, much too large for any but the biggest guilds — any friends & family guild would just rattle around in there and never see each other for weeks. The medium, while pretty big, isn’t quite so intimidatingly huge; though admittedly it also doesn’t have a throne room, an indoor gazebo, a rooftop football stadium (or at least room enough for one), and a freaky monolith in the outsized exterior courtyard. Seriously… the large EQ2 guildhall is the McMansion of in-game housing. If you play and you haven’t toured one yet, I highly recommend it.

From a less rubbernecking-tourist perspective, I was impressed with the new textures and, obviously, the new colours. The guild halls aren’t a study in beige, tan, brown and “mud” and are much closer to Neuschwanstein’s throne room (see below — I’ve been there and yes, it’s got ornate bits on the ornate bits and more gold leaf than you can shake a stick at) than to the Ripper-era Whitechapel dives that clearly inspired most of Freeport’s slums. (Speaking of which, I only saw Qeynos guild housing — I have no idea what it might look like in other parts of Norrath.)

Since for once I remembered to take a few screenshots, I’m throwing them up here for the doubting Thomases who, like me, thought EQ2 will always be nothing but brown. It still looks like it’s been varnished when it rains (which may be the same kind of effect, but to me there’s no fooling the eye — when it rains in real life, the world looks wet, not varnished) but it undeniably looks better on the whole. Having a better graphics card probably doesn’t hurt either, but in that respect EQ2 might be living up to what it intended, and is ageing more gracefully than I expected.

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Who are you?

In 10 words or less. You have 15 seconds — come on, chop chop! “Sensitive literary snob gourmand likes people but not too close.” But hey, who cares? What I want to know about is you as a gamer, specifically as an MMO gamer. I’ve had a couple of days to think about this, and I’m going to try it this way.

3 things you love doing/experiencing in MMOs, 3 things you can take or leave, and 3 things you dislike in MMOs. Yes, these things tend to change somewhat over time and depending on circumstance, but I’m going to try to tease out the essentials of the experiences. I’m hoping it’ll give us a broad picture of what we’re like as gamers. It may not, and I may have to resort to sniffling pathetically or even handing out free T-shirts, but we’re not there yet. Feel free to explain your classifications; I could have limited the terms to use in order to get more “real data” but I’m partly trying to demonstrate that we’re all individuals playing these games, and besides there are plenty of much better classification sites out there (like Bartle’s well-known gamer type test, of course).

3 things I like: socialising* — harvesting — fluff**

3 things I can take or leave: crafting (it really depends on the system) — PvP/RvR — grouping

3 things I dislike: big dungeons (especially indoor ones) — zones — pillar-to-post quests***

* While I like to play solo, I don’t always like to play in a social vacuum. Good social systems (chat, friends lists, tell/online notification, etc) make a big difference in my enjoyment of a game over time. I try not to confuse sociable with group-centric — they really aren’t the same thing.

** That’s a huge category by itself and includes many things like non-combat appearance outfits, housing/decorating, mounts, companion pets, and so on.

*** You know the ones — where Bob sends you to A to do one thing, then you go back to him and he sends you back to A to do something you could have done the first time around, but you do it anyway and go back to Bob who sends you back to A again (or nearby), by which time what you really want to do is just kill Bob and be done with it. Basic quest-archetyping requires a giver and a return to the giver for the most part, but somehow some quests will make you grind your teeth while others will seem okay. The ones that make you grind your teeth as you trot back to Bob for the 15th time are the ones I’m talking about.

Looking at how many times I’ve had to edit that simple list — to refine a preference, to explain it, to move them around (I moved grouping down to “take or leave” because I don’t really hate it, I just don’t always like it and instead I added “zones” because I really do detest loading screens and every time I see one, my immersion dies a little) — I suspect I won’t be the only one. There seems to be no way to allow folks to edit their comments directly without actually becoming authors on the site, which is way too much foofery all round, so feel free to just add/edit as you see fit — or mail me and I’ll be glad to do it. (Did I just add myself to every p3nile enhancement list out there with that mailto link? Ruh roh.)

In connection with the previous couple of guilds as social systems-related posts (here and here specifically), I’m wondering if what we want from guilds is determined by what we prefer as players; well, I’m reasonably sure it is, but we’ll see. For instance, I suspect achievement-oriented players will be the most uncomfortable with the single char/multiple guild idea, because to them the idea of belonging to more than one in-game group at once (especially with a single character) will imply that allegiances and responsibilities necessarily suffer — in other words, achievement-oriented players may also prefer exclusivity in guild terms, for fairly sensible reasons. Conversely, social-oriented players will tend to prefer any system that promotes more rather than less networking. I’m not sure about killer-oriented types because I score so low in it, but I think it may be related to achievement-orientation in terms of what that player type expects from guilds and in-game social groupings. (If you’re a K, do tell!)

I just took the Bartle test again and, unsurprisingly, it hasn’t really changed much from the first time I took it in 2000, though I think back then the E and S values were swapped; either way there’s only a few percentage points between them.



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?