Moo Tang Clan: design challenge: specialist guilds?

Monday, July 28, 2008

design challenge: specialist guilds?

In most MMOGs, a guild is more a company of adventurers, a band of brothers, (usually) united in some purpose (usually raiding, often social, sometimes RP).

But rarely specialised by skill. Where's the Potters Guild, the Enchanters Guild, the Guild of Tailors, the Warriors Regiment, the Thieves Guild of Old Town, the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union?

Set aside for the moment of whether this would be a good idea, game-wise, for an MMOG. What game mechanics would you design to encourage a proliferation of specialist guilds?

My first thoughts are three-fold:

  1. A hierarchical tree of additional benefits unlocked by specialisation (eg. think WoW talents, but for guilds).
  2. A rationing of resources used to unlock these additional benefits (ie. more benefits than what points can buy), with various feedback mechanisms to encourage focussed spending.
  3. And support for inter-guild support/collaboration/alliances.
Points (1) and (2) work together of course. Feedback mechanisms could include compounding buffs, tiered talents/abilities, or unlocked content such as guild quests. Point (3) would be necessary because if you don't the pressure will be huge to go for a mediocre but self-reliant hybrid guild.

The principle of unlocked benefits could be applied in many ways: through specialised guild bank tabs, guild wise auras, specialist NPCs, and more.

Guild Bank tabs could be specialised for different purposes, with discounts for additional tabs of the same type. For example: instead of paying 500G for the first tab and 1000G for the second tab, the bank could be designed such that the guild could select their first tab to be specialised (eg. enchanting) and thus get a discount (pay only 400G), and the second enchanting tab would only be 750G .. vs some guild buying a generic bank tab for 500G, and then an enchanting specialised tab for 900G. Buying one of each kind should be expensive, buying all generics/multipurpose should be outrageously priced, and buying all of the same type should be really affordable.

Guild wide auras could be things like all members of a guild specialising in alchemy could have an increased chance of bonus procs on crafting, all members of a warriors guild have 20% off all repair costs and some kind of bonus in melee.

What game design elements can you think of to push a game world in this direction?

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