Being social in an online game is valuable for increasing players and keeping them. My gut says that the more my friends play a game, then the more I will too. As I form friends it is good to provide a manner by which to sort and link them. We’ve seen the introduction of BattleTags to Blizzard games as an example of a development company linking their products internally, and an explosion/exploitation of Facebook and mobile games as examples of connecting different games though an information conduit. In a round about way we are seeing that the linkage between players is very important, and something that is valued by a developer as it is popular with the user base.
Right. So if you accept the spirit of that statement then you may also accept that a game dev should seek ways to enhance and innovate ways to be Social (see rant at end) as part of the game experience. Basically if one form of social linking is good, then a few more are better. In fact many many more might also be bloody brilliant, as long as they are optional and do not get in the way of the actual basic game experience the player was interested in.
Righto then. In that case can I suggest more than three ways to organise the player structures and relationships in World of Warcraft? Guilds, Pvp Teams, and Friends/Enemy lists are good, but not enough. The functions exposed under the Guild Structure are excellent, and the same features could be re-used with benefits.
But what could we have?
Companies / Platoons – an additional formal group established without a dependency on an existing Guild structure. For large guilds (like AIE) this might remove the need to have players switch sub-guild for raids too. It also creates the opportunity for guild alliances to be established and formalised.
- Ownership is fixed to a character, akin to Guilds.
- A member must be invited and accept.
- Structure, officers, and ranks as per guilds.
- Linkage can be across traditional server boundaries, to support random pvp battlegrounds, raid finders, roleplaying groups, etc.
- Control and Calendar functions, etc as per Guilds.
- Probably does not need banks, but an interesting consideration.
- A player can below to as many as they wish, but perhaps a max of five per toon is reasonable to begin with.
- Let the character show the Platoon name instead of Guild name?
Raid Teams / Kill Teams – within the existing guild system add a new informal sub-list to be used to create and manage raid teams. The use is pretty self explanatory, except to say that a guild should be able to have a large amount of these.
Collectives – a Guild like link across games, to establish linkage between BattleTag participants beyond basic friend list functions.
- Extend the typical Guild event functions and calendar, and show Collective events within the sub-games.
- Formal accept/reject membership, etc.
Happy teaming, TyphoonAndrew
Update: Something I thought about after writing this was a goal of keeping the concept of guild advantages and levels away from these additional structures. This is so they form the flexible and changable aspect of the game. Your “social” interaction structures should be able to switch according to need, rather than feeling like if you switch you will miss some side-benefit mechanically in the game. Just a thought.
<rant>I’m told by the media pundits that “social” is all the rage, and everything is moving toward/in/becoming more social. It’s a pet peeve of mine that all this stuff has been around for a very long time before the term was coined, and being social is about as new as being nice to people – the delivery has changed, not the attitude or goals.
Does it mean that before we discovered Social Media we were being Antisocial?
Social…balderdash I say. Release the hounds!</rant>