My idea of a Great MMO: Guild Recruiting and Matching

Posted: February 13, 2007 by Kendricke in General Game Concepts, Guilds

In virtually every game, the idea of a “guild” or clan is something that players basically jam together and get moving on.  In Everquest 2, there were city registrars and writs, but again…the lore seemed to skip over the idea of guilds as an entity in the world.  Sure, there’s supporting features and functionality, but even then, guilds are all but thought of as secondary in a lot of traditional MMO’s (or traditional games in general).

To get away from that, have the concept of a “guild” mean something more.  Each major (or even minor) city could have guild centers or main halls where guilds could be a visible center of a city’s lore.  If a guild pledges to a specific city, that has specific perks perhaps, but we’ll get to that in a bit.  Think first of the idea of such a concept:

Blackguard enters the city of Shadelberg.  He’s a young adventurer, only now entering his first real city (cities could be central hubs between 2-3 different starting villages).  As he wanders past an open air market an makes his way past various inns and shops ringing the outer wall of the city, he comes across an impressive gothic structure bedecked and encircled by dozens of colorful banners (imagine the U.N. – at a Ren Fest).  Entering the building continues the motif, with the walls covered by banners and shields of dozens of heraldries. 

Now, the idea here is to make these buildings really stand out so players are naturally drawn to them as a visual focal point.  As an added bonus, the various shields and banners would display the actual heraldry of the various guilds registered to that city (updated nightly to reflect some sorting/ranking system).  To add some more visual variation, you have the various herladries availble reflecting the city itself (a Germanic city like Shadelberg might have lots of double headed eagles or other gothic animal iconography…whereas a more Norse or Gaelic city might have lots of runic designs). 

Entering the hall itself would give you access to several useful tools, including a generic Guild Recruiter NPC who would stand next to the LARGE open book which triggers the open the Guild Recruiting/Search Tool.

The Tool itself would need to be simple enough to use without instructions, and complex enough to be useful.  Guilds would actually create their recruiting profile when the guild itself is created (as part of the creation process).  Guilds would be able to determine what level range they are recruiting for (specific for individual classes/races), determine citizenship/racial restrictions, determine specific flags to gauge guild “personality”, and even include charts showing activity levels for the last week (a nice line graph showing what days/nights/hours the guild’s membership is most active).  One could even search the tool to see what trophies a guild had (if any) as well as any major milestones.  If guild level were included, that would show as well.

As Blackguard wanders through the Guild Hall, he comes across the Guild Recruiter.  He’s a grizzled bear of a man, with an eyepatch and some old faded tatoos.  He points Blackguard to the Registry on the table and Blackguard opens the book to view.  On-screen, Blackguard opens the Guild Registry UI and is able to find every guild registered in Shadleberg and beyond.  Several of the guilds are listed as a faded grey, indicating that Blackguard hasn’t yet met the level requirements for membership.  Several more guilds are listed in a faded red, indicating that Blackguard will never be able to join based on either his citizenship, race, class, or some other relatively permanent feature.  Blackguard hovers his mouse pointer briefly over the guild icon for “Doomhammer” (which is listed in faded red) and a tooltip opens up that explains Blackguard cannot join because he is human. 

The tool will be powerful if left at this, but it can be intimidating to truly new players, or even players who don’t necessarily have a lot of time to spend researching the “perfect” choice.  Including a matchmaker style device would help solve this issue.  Basically, the matchmaker would work on several levels.  Think of an online dating service like Match.com or eHarmony.  For one thing, the player would input their preferred guild requirements into a manual survey for the first level of matching.  The more automated level would include a quick check against the players’ general geographic location, age, and activity levels. 

Blackguard keeps looking over the various guilds for a while, and realizes he’s as confused as ever on which guild he should try to join.  The sorting function is good for finding out a lot of information, but as Blackguard is new at all of this, he’s unsure which choice is a good one.  Luckily for him, the search tool understands this and comes with a build in intuitive toolset.  After a few minutes, a button on the tool highlights a bit brighter and starts to blink slightly – just enough to catch Blackguard’s attention. 

He clicks on this button, marked as “Find a Guild Match” and a survey window opens up.  Blackguard enters his preferred requirements for a guild, that they be relatively casual, that they encourage (but don’t require) roleplaying, that they have a relatively lax guildchat standards, that they hold weekly events, and so on.  When he’s done, he clicks “Find a Match” and the tool crunches the numbers.  Within seconds, it returns several matches with results explaining why Blackguard’s an 87.5% match for “Olde Flinte’s Crewe”.

Now, up to this point, we’re just helping players find a guild they want to join.  Basically, again it’s like using a matchmaking service to find a potential date.  Just because you’ve found someone you like doesn’t mean they’ll feel the same.  Now the application process begins.

Every guild option should include quick descriptions that include free form written descriptions that the guilds’ own officers put together themselves.  On every page of every search, there should be an “Apply” button for every listed guild.  Clicking on Apply would open the application page UI.  Now, just like the search entries, the actual application is a blend of automated function and free-form description. 

First things first, though.  If a player doesn’t meet the requirements to join a guild, they can’t even apply.  Period.  The application button simply greys out.  They can still look over the guilds listed, but they can only apply to the guilds where they meet the minimum requirements in the first place.  In fact, the search itself should give players the option to filter out the guilds they can’t join just to save players the frustration of coming across a guild they can’t join anyway, but still allow them the opportunity to look if they at least want to see what’s out there.

Now, the application comes up and it autofills in character name, race, level, home town, and basic player stats (creation date, total time played, total kills, total deaths, trophies, tradeskill levels, current/last guild, etc.).  A few free form windows would be available where the guild officers/recruiters could ask certain questions to be asked.  This would act as forms which are sent via an application mailbox (accessible by all guild officer/recruiters). 

Taking a chance, Blackguard decides to try to join “Olde Flinte’s Crewe”.  He clicks on “Apply” and a window opens up explaining to the Crewe’s recruiters that Blackguard is a level 7 Human Scallywag from Baytown who’s never been in a guild.  He fills in the questionnaire which includes such queries as “What be yer piratin’ battlecry?” and “Why be ya’ wantin’ to join the Crewe, ya be?”  At the end of the application, he clicks the “Send Application” button. 

For the hey of it, he decides to try applying to another guild as well – only to find that when he clicks the “Apply’ button a message appears that explains “You may only apply to one guild at a time.”  A new button appears on the UI that asks Blackguard if he wants to view his current application.  Once he views the application, he has the option to cancel the current application if he so wishes (complete with an optional explanation textbox).

From the player’s point of view, that’s all there is to it till the guild gets in contact with him or her.  You should be able to extropolate most of the above from a Guild officer/recruiter perspective with relatively little difficulty.

From here, all guild officers/recruiters online would be informed that a new application has been received.  Unlike normal mail which requires you to find a post office, for purposes of ease, the applications mailbox is able to be opened anywhere at any time.  Multiple officers could view the application at the same time (allowing them to discuss the applicant immediately if they so desire). 

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