Our Guildhall is a Very, Very, Very Fine Hall

Posted: July 11, 2007 by Kendricke in Everquest 2, General Game Concepts

A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.

-George Moore 

 Guild Halls. Mention those two words on an EQ2 forum and be prepared for some serious discussions.  Oh, everyone has an idea of what would they’d like to see in a guild hall, but how many of those ideas have a chance at eventual release?

It’s not an unpopular idea.  The idea is mentioned frequently on forums, fansites, and blogs.  Even SOE developers have mentioned how much they’d like to see guild halls eventually implemented.  The original box from the November 2004 launch even lists “guild halls” as a feature for buyers. 

So why no guild halls?

I’d wager we’re looking at just a few main issues:

Labor  –  To do any justice at all to such an idea, the developers will need to dedicate some relatively serious resources to the concept.  This isn’t a minor feature that will have limited impact to a niche group of players.  It would require new mechanics, art assets, special coding, interface updates, and more.  This is not a task to be taken lightly. 

Impact – If guild halls are introduced, how does that impact the rest of the game?  What if the really neat reasons to go to a guild hall mean less traffic in overland city zones?  What if the art and code assets involved in creating guild halls decrease performance elsewhere in the game?  What if creation of guild halls increases the minimum requirements listed on the Everquest 2 box?

Benefit – More important than the raw work involved in creating such a feature is the concept on whether or not the benefits involved in such a concept are even worth the efforts in the first place.  Oh sure, SOE could create the coolest, most incredible guild housing that ever existed in any game ever…but is it fun?  Does it enhance gameplay?  How much so?  How many players would utilize the feature?  How often?  Most importantly – will it bring in or help retain subscribers?

It’s easy to forget that SOE is a company in the business of creating products for sale and consumption.  Oh sure, they’re releasing lots of new content for free since Echoes of Faydwer…but that content has an obvious appeal for new players.  Releasing new starting cities and races will bump subscription numbers.  How will guild halls do that?  How could they?  Now obviously there are ways around the above concerns, which is why I believe we’ll eventually see guild halls.  I’m just less convinced we’ll see them soon…but that doesn’t mean I think it’s a bad idea.

Anyone who’s kept up with my ramblings for any part of the past several years knows I’m very interested in any feature which enhances the experience for guilds.  I believe guilds are THE social networks for online games, and believe that the games which find ways to cater to guild leaders will find a higher retention of their players. 

As such, I’m very interested in guild halls.  However, I’m only interested in seeing them done well. 

Let’s face it, for the reasons I outline above (and for other reasons, I’m sure), guild halls aren’t exactly a priority feature in most of the modern “big” MMO’s.  Even World of Warcraft scrapped player housing before beta.  Guild housing is conspiciously absent from the list of features SOE has listed on the Rise of Kunark website, so if we do manage to see Guild Houses any time in the near future, chances are it won’t be tied to a specific release (as guild cloaks were with Echoes of Faydwer).

However, I believe Guild Housing IS coming.  It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when.  Developers have been discussing the concept since the earliest announcements of Everquest 2.  Shortly after  EQ2’s launch, classic Everquest released Guild Halls with the Dragons of Norrath expansion.  Everquest 2 already handles housing relatively well, and with new housing recently opened in both Kelethin and Neriak, SOE’s shown a rededication to the concept of player housing (let’s not even start in on all the new art assets we’re seeing within player housing). 

So what are we likely to see?  What should we see?  What would we like to see?  Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but as always, I sure have some ideas…

Location, location, location!

The citadel districts of both Qeynos and Freeport are still undeveloped and would be the natural homes for guild housing. 

Kelethin would need a bit of rework to open up some new housing areas, but it shouldn’t be too difficult.  I’d want to see one or two of the massive supporting trees themselves used  as areas for formal guild halls. Instead of just slapping a door on the outside bark and claiming “guild hall”, I’d want to see a doorway lead instead to a separate area of the city (perhaps a different zone, similar to how Qeynos and Freeport would require zoning to get to the Citadels) which opened into a wide, living area (like the Temple of Growth in New Tunaria). 

Neriak could easily be slightly redesigned to include a new off shoot tunnel or archway which opened into a new guild area. 

Once inside, this “guild area” itself could include a general courtyard/marketplace style hub with several guild specific merchants and other guild-centric NPC’s.  Different types of guild housing entrances would be nearby and available to guilds which had achieved certain goals or levels with the city (or specific factions).

Imagine new players entering such a guild district and finding NPC’s which not only generically discussed the ideas of guilds, but which also specifically pulled up ladder rankings, recent guild formations, full lists of guilds within a server, guild levelling histories, etc.

What should housing look like?

First and foremost, housing should have a feel of the city and factions from which the Hall was earned in the first place.  As an example, a guild hall provided from a guild which had performed several guild quests and raids for the Seafury Buccaneers in Freeport should have a definate maritime theme, while also maintaining that nice, homey feel of the Overlord’s domain. 

Housing should come with different options and trophies which show off the guild’s accomplishments.  Having the option to mount the skull or claw of Wuoshi on a wall (with a slightly different mounting depending on which city the guild hall is located within) would be a nice touch. 

There should be plenty of options for guild housing to set it above and apart from typical player housing.  After all, you don’t want the headquarters for a global buisness to look like someone’s 3 bedroom condo, do you? 

One major difference I’d make with regular housing is the ability to expand the size of the hall  itself.  Right now, if you want a bigger home in Qeynos or Kelethin, you move.  Guild halls aren’t something you’re going to want to just pack up from time to time.  So, make them modular.

Modular design?

Here’s my crazy idea.  Guilds start out with access to a basic guild hall based on their general guild level (and/or faction).  As the guild grows in level and influence, the guild leader earns the right to cash in some of that influence and status (and cold, hard cash) to expand the guild hall with more rooms and features.

Think of it this way.  You start with a basic one or two room guild hall.  Maybe you get to choose from a few different layouts.  After you reach level 30 or so (or 20 or 40 or whatever), you can go down to the handy city’s Grand Architect and “purchase” more rooms.  Up comes a menu showing/listing different types of rooms with a small “dressing room” style window showing the general layout of your current hall and how the new room could/would connect to it (through pre-set hubpoints).  It’s like playing with virtual LEGOs…only the LEGOs are staircases, halls, and rooms. 

It’s a relatively complex system, I’ll admit…but just think of how much fun it would be.  And really, shouldn’t a system like this be fun and not merely functional?
Did someone say features?

Some rooms might even come with features built in.  For example, one room might be a “meditation chamber” which doubles or quadruples the rate by which you eliminate experience debt.  Another room might be a “sparring chamber” which allows mini-arena style dueling.  The possibilities really are pretty vast. 

Ever played Harvest Moon on the Nintendo?  Imagine a stable area in a guild hall where members could store their mounts and even potentially introduce a metagame of “take care of the horses” (I seriously know at least a half dozen player who would go absolutely ga-ga over this kind of thing). Or how about a garden area where members could spend time tending to specific (or even exclusive) types of harvesting nodes.

Dare I even suggest the idea of having a guild bank built right into the guild hall – or is that not creative enough?

I’d even like to see some pretty mundane ideas (like a virtual Zen rock garden members could play around with) or an internal guild library.
Who cares about gardens and stables.  We raid!

Imagine a special guild icon or two in your guild hall that allows members to automatically teleport to a specific area in the world from the guild hall (already have this in classic Everquest, by the way).  Send an officer or two to scout for contested, plant a banner, and *ZIP*  here comes the raid force ready to go. 

Imagine clearing raid instances awarded your guild with a special Guild Hall item that allowed members to re-enter the instance again (Poet’s Palace rug, anyone?). 

What about the idea of specific guild brokers that guild officers could use – instead of having to post a mule account, or waste personal broker space.  What if such brokers could sell internally to guild members at one price and publically at another? 

What if guilds could assign DKP style point costs to items held in the guild bank or broker, and then assign points to their own members.  Even guilds which didn’t rely upon DKP style looting systems could use such points to create a merits/demerits system internallly within guilds. 

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Comments
  1. Xeavn says:

    “Oh sure, they’re releasing lots of new content for free since Echoes of Faydwer…but that content has an obvious appeal for new players. Releasing new starting cities and races will bump subscription numbers. How will guild halls do that? How could they? …”

    That is the best part, Guildhalls provide a ton of content. Crafting content, adventuring content, moneysink all rolled up into one. Your usual very elegent house might cost 5 platnium, so you can assume that a guildhall won’t be a cheap purchase. This gives the entire guild something to work toward.

    You want to build a portal from the guildhall to the say The Estate of Unrest, well the first thing your going to need it to have guild members turn in say 100 emblems from the end boss to get permission to build it. All of the sudden you now have a new reason to run an instance after you have gotten the gear you need out of it.
    Sure 100 is a lot of runs too, but it is split among all the guild members, so for a 50 person guild that is what, 2 runs a piece. Even better isn’t like a portal to get someplace is a needed item, it isn’t going to increase your stats, or help your next raid, but it adds something to do, and something to do as a guild.

    I do like the idea of modular design, but I dislike the idea of having the guild pay just gold for it. Say the guild leader wants to add a staircase, and a tavern room upstairs. He could select where he wants it to go and what he wants it, but then it would be up to the guild members to bring supplies to help construct it.

    You might need 50 metal, and 100 pieces of wood for the staircase. You could have the blacksmiths / armorsmiths turn the metal into nails, and the woodworkers turn the wood into boards. Alchemists could make some varnish for it, provisioners might need to provide some food for the building crew, and of course a slight charge by the building crew for putting it together. Once the guild has collected everything, it would be built. I am sure that something could be found to include some of the other professions as well.

  2. kendricke says:

    I’m not in favor of the forced tradeskilling aspect of the guildhall design. Status exists for a reason already…and you can use any number of gameplay ways to acquire the status (adventuring, raiding, tradeskilling, or just playing the broker). This already allows for a flexible system which encourages multiple types of guilds.

  3. Xeavn says:

    I would agree with you, perhaps forcing the tradeskilling would be a bad idea. Perhaps the option to either pay in tradeskill items or in status would work. Granted there is already the option to get status by doing tradeskill ‘writs’, but I always found those rather boring. It always feels more personal to me if I had to go to the trouble of building something by hand as well, and lets face it in thier current state the tradeskills aren’t worth too much. The classes that can make Adept 3’s are nice, but for the most part tradeskills aren’t great. This would at least give them something to do if they wanted to.

  4. Lessling says:

    I have to say coming from a band of friends guild, being able to tradeskill it would be good. We don’t raid as there aren’t enough of us (I’m the only member with a level 70 character, but that’s mainly due to everyone deciding to play different characters at level 50) and we aren’t a wealthy guild, so having a hard work option would mitigate this. I don’t want guild halls to be limited to those guilds with money, hard work should also be rewarded.

  5. Lessling says:

    Oh I also have to say that this, like many of your previous ideas is good. Other additions might be nice, rewards for guild members that have done things for the guild (a portrait for guild member of the week, best quester and so on) would also personalise the hall.

  6. Feonyx says:

    I’m a guild leader on Mistmoore and right now my personal Great Hall IS the Guild Hall and it is SO packed with items and what not from guild members its a full time job organising stuff in there.

    The features discussed would be absolutely awesome, but right now I would settle for a plain big room that any guild member can access freely and officers can add, remove, move items.

    I would guess about 80% of people keep playing an MMO soley because of the people that are in their guild/on their server. If you give Guilds a Guild Hall you add an element that holds people together in a common cause and therefore hold their attention in your game for longer. It seems like a no brainer to me.

    Please make it so SOE!!

    Feonyx

  7. Laldail says:

    In “Nobody Cared About Guild Level 59” you talked about guild rewards and Moorgard made a comment about mudflation. It seems to me that implementation of Guild Halls with features provides the perfect opportunity to provide those level rewards without causing undue imbalance to actual gameplay. A good many things you mention here could be awarded at various levels of guild progression, possibly to the point of being able to improve something about your guildhall with every single level. Leave the major interval levels for some personal rewards (mounts and such at 5/10 levels) while rewarding the quild at every level with these features.

  8. […] Guild Halls are coming!!!  Modular design and status lock seem to be in.  Wonder where I’d heard of such things…. […]

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