Nobody Cared About Guild Level 59

Posted: July 12, 2007 by Kendricke in Everquest 2, Guilds

“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own neccessities but of their advantages.”

-Adam Smith

I want more rewards.

If we’re honest, we all want more rewards.  It’s human nature to want to receive rewards, not only as a gift, but as a sign of recognition.  In our daily lives, often we don’t have the opportunity to stand out to large numbers of people.  Occasionally, we might pick up an office award or find ourselves named employee of the month.  Maybe we get to keep the game ball after a season of beer-league softball.  Maybe we wake up and find that the kids have destroyed the kitchen to make us some early 20th century cubist masterpiece of a breakfast to remind us that we really aren’t such bad parents after all (or because the little monsters want something). 

For the most part, most of us go through live largely unrecognized.  For many of you reading this article right now, you earn that recognition nightly in MMO’s like Everquest 2.  And yet, even then, you’d like more rewards.

As is usually the case, I’m focusing once again on guilds and specifically the guild system in Everquest 2.  In EQ2, guilds have the ability to gain “status” through a variety of means, which can result in higher guild levels.  In turn, members of guilds which have attained high enough levels have access to certain rewards. 

When the game first launched, the rewards were fairly frequent and varied.  You could pick up everything from house items, exclusive clothing, special mounts, titles, and even unique housing options.  You tended to see new rewards every 5 levels or so, up to the starting maximum guild level of 30. 

Then, with the release of the first expansion, Desert of Flames, we saw only an increase in guild bank space…and even then, we only only saw that reward a full 10 levels later, at level 40.  There was no level 35 reward.  Later, a few unique city mounts were added, but still, compared to the original buffet of rewards, this was a bit of a light snack – especially considering the amount of work required to get there.

Later, level 50 came with Kingdom of Sky, and we saw a plethora of one shot potions and charms which could be used for actual in-game abilities.  Good rewards, to be certain, but again…rewards took a full 10 levels to see and weren’t exactly the promised land of guild rewards most of us were hoping for.  However, it was certainly the most rewards we’d seen in some time, and many guilds worked harder for 50 than they had for 40. 

Of course, we saw a slight reversal to the trend with guild level 60.  We did definately see the best guild cloaks requiring level 60, and of course we saw new faster mounts (the barded warhorses are quite a sight), but even these rewards would soon be diminished in stature as the Wargs released with Update 34 a few months later were much, MUCH easier to acquire, nearly as fast as the warhorses, but at a fraction of the cost.  So once again, the carrot of guild level was reduced by comparison once more. 

Which leads us to today.  Rise of Kunark is looming on the horizon.  E3 is playing out and new screenshots are being released daily.  SOE’s FanFaire is a scant few weeks away, and if history is any indication, we’ll likely see a full preview of the expansion then.  And though I’m absolutely curious to see how the new Timorous “neutral” starting city will work, and I’m certainly excited to see preview of some of the new Epic quests, and of course I want to know about zones I haven’t heard of in ages…I want to know about the new Guild Rewards. 

With Rise of Kunark, Guild Level is again rising, this time to level 80.  Vague developer statements have been made which indicate that we’ll see more rewards along the way this time. 

What does that mean?  Will we see rewards at level 65?  Or will we have to wait till 70 or 80?  Even then, why is that important at all, really?

Imagine all the spells or combat arts you want to see in the next 10 levels released with Kunark.  Now, imagine you can’t acquire any of those spells or combat arts – at all – till you first level all the way to 80.  You receive NO rewards for levels 71-79, and can only learn your  spells and arts after you’ve put in all the work for the full 10 levels.  Sound rewarding?  It doesn’t to me, either.

I wasn’t a big fan of “spell levels” in old Everquest, and I’m less of a fan of “reward levels” for guilds in Everquest 2.  A level should mean…well, something.  Otherwise, why have a level at all?  If it’s just a filler to keep you busy till you get to the real rewards, then just cut out the pretense altogether and make each level harder to attain. 

In other words, why even HAVE a level 61 or 72 that mean nothing?  Why have a Guild level 80 at all if 16 or 18 of the levels don’t actually mean anything except another step closer to the 2 or 4 levels which do?

I truly hope those vague statements that indicate more rewards along the way really mean “rewards every guild level”.  It doesn’t need to be much to keep me and mine happy.  I just want some form of recognition that the level we just earned means something other than just-another-irrelevant-level.

And for the love of all that’s holy, don’t make the levels something that any guild with enough coin in the bank can just buy within 24 hours.  Put some real limits on the levels here.  Trust me, my guild already has something like a million status worth of items banked waiting for this expansion, but even I don’t want to see these levels being acquired in the first 48 hours that easily. 

I want to see more rewards. I want to see guild levels mean something. 

We’ve already levelled to 60…but only 9 or 10 of those levels actually mattered.  I don’t want to push my guildmates through another 18 or 16 or even just 9 “empty” levels.  I’d be thrilled to never see another stepping-stone guild level again. 

  1. Wilhelm2451 says:

    I can see that cutting a bit both ways. Yes, level 59 has little meaning in and of itself.

    But if SOE came out and changed the guild levels so that there were only, say, 10, and there was a reward at every level, but the amount of status to get the rewards that were formerly earmarked for level 80 remained the same, would that make people any happier? Or would people complain about the horrible status grind from level 9 to 10?

    I think the interim levels have some minor value in that they serve as plateaus on the way to your goal. They are a more tangible measure of progress to a goal, even if they are just giving you feedback on your progress in nicely numbered bites.

    Or, to put it another way, would you rather be level 59 or 90% of the way to level 8? 59 sounds more impressive, and you know you’re further along than those guys who are level 57.

    Of course, I am in a micro guild that struggled to make it to level 30 where every level beyond 25 was a minor celebration.

    And, I am also playing a bit of EVE Online at the moment where there is nothing like a level to help you measure and celebrate your progress. Some empty levels don’t look so bad some days with that backdrop.

    As for a guild buying its way to levels, I think the status drops may have backfired a bit. Or more than a bit. The big guild in which I have a character stored up their status drops for months before EoF came out, so they practically jumped from level cap to level cap in a day.

  2. kendricke says:

    As I stated, how would you think of empty adventure levels? What would you think of empty tradeskill levels?

    That said, I’m not truly advocating for less levels…but rather more rewards. Throw us a bone here. Every level doesn’t need to be chock full of unbelievable goodies…but the idea that out of 60 full levels, only 9 actually award you is a bit much.

    P.S. – We managed to save up 20 million status worth of items by Echoes launch.

  3. Moorgard says:

    You can only give so many rewards. Honestly. The more you give, the less meaningful each becomes.

    They become meaningless in one of two ways: either you make the rewards so minor that nobody cares about them anyway, or your game becomes so mudflated that the rewards end up having little actual value.

    Developers use level-based systems in MMOs because they offer a clear visual indicator that people understand. Even if you don’t get something at level X, you understand that you’re making progress to level Y.

    Certainly you don’t want to spread your carrot-giving too thin, because regular reinforcement is important. But nor can you give a bushel of carrots for every little accomplishment made in a game that has so much to do and so many paths for advancement. You just can’t. Either the pieces of pie get too small or the scope of your game blows out of proportion.

    Mmmm, carrot pie…

  4. kendricke says:

    We’re all speaking to a grey area here that I don’t think currently exists. The idea of empty levels, in and of themselves, doesn’t so much annoy as the idea that the reward levels themselves become so sparse…and when reached, result in less and less obvious rewards.

    I don’t want to go through level by level here in Everquest 2 to make the point, but suffice it to say there are much less rewards at level 60 of any significance then there ever were at even 30. Add to this the ideas that comparable rewards are being released within the game that do not require guild level 60 and the few rewards that do exist themselves take a mudflationary hit – devaluation by proxy.

  5. kendricke says:

    The more I think about this, the more I believe that empty levels – truly “empty” guild levels – aren’t a good thing. I understand the argument that progress needs to be shown, and levels themselves can be seen as an accomplishment.

    However, even in games that do include empty levels of some kind, there’s still some manner of progress. Whether it be a few minor stat increases, some small percentage boost in effeciency, or even just the ability to now attack larger targets without penalty, there’s always a reward to levelling other than the fact that the level number is now +1 higher. In this way, these empty levels aren’t truly …well, empty.

    Not all levels need to be equally rewarding. However, to simply use levels as filler just to show how progress is being made doesn’t make sense. If that’s the case, why not just make the levels larger then. I don’t need to see levels 21, 22, and 23 to know that I’m making progress toward the next reward. Isn’t that point of an experience bar – a visual representation of progress?

    If the numbers are that important, then bring all the numbers out. Why hide the numbers behind visual bars and estimated percentages then. In Everquest 2, since that’s the system being discussed, we know how much status a writ produces. We can see our own personal status totals. We can see the amount donated toward the guild (which is a flat 10% rate now). Why hide the guild’s total behind the blue and gold bar and diversionary levels at all? Is there even a case to be made for such a functional diversion?

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