I’ve seen a fair few people complain about how guilds are implemented in GW2 – chiefly about the fact that a player can join more than one guild at a time. Because guild membership is by account not by character, this means that players choose one of their guilds to represent when they play; they have guild chat and earn influence only for the guild they are representing at the time. This allows people to ‘leech’, some complain – to be part of a guild for the benefits, but not contribute to earning influence, or even to the community. However, I think that guilds in GW2 have great potential if embraced in their current form, and I wish to suggest that employing the guild system as I’m about to describe would help to solve a number of common complaints about the game.
Disclaimer: this is all speculation. I am not currently using guilds in this way, though I intend to look into my server’s guilds in the future and see if I can start following my own advice. Comments are, as always, welcome.
So, I hesitate to say that this is how GW2 guilds were meant to be used (because I don’t know the developers’ minds, and in my years of reading ArenaNet blog posts I don’t recall seeing any dev argue this). I do think that it could be extremely beneficial, however, and even support the ideal of server community (sort of indirectly). The key to my argument is that players can join more than one guild by design, and so players should make use of the system to find what they need from their server population: players to do specific content with.
What I envision for Guild Wars 2 is a bunch of large server-based guilds based around specific kinds of content: PvE, WvW, dungeons, and if there’s enough interest, perhaps role-play. These guilds would have a large number of members, but many of them would not be representing at any given time. This doesn’t have to mean leeching, laziness, or betrayal of some kind! If you want to run a dungeon, represent your local dungeon guild. There, anyone else currently representing (and thus having access to guild chat) is looking to do a dungeon of one kind or another. In this, you have not an automated LFG tool (one of the most requested features not yet in the game) but something that approximates the effect in a more organic, community-based fashion. Represent the right guild and drop a message into guild chat: it’s like advertising in Lion’s Arch, but with a more targeted pool of people.
Want to do some WvW? Represent your server’s WvW guild and ask where the action is. Guild chat in this context could be invaluable. Need some help with a dynamic event chain? Ask your PvE guild. Or, if you’re looking for events for dailies, ask where other people are doing them. A PvE/event guild could also spread the world when noteworthy meta-events are starting up, if any one member sees it. Guild Wars 2 doesn’t have server-wide chat channel, nor does it need it to my mind – but a guild could serve the same purpose.
Maybe this seems a little heartless to you, compared to the traditional use of guilds as a single group to which a player (or character) is devoted for all things. There, you can get to know your fellow members, bond with them and learn to trust them. Well, why not do the same? You may end up doing events or dungeons with the same people if you play regularly at the same time. Someone from your WvW guild may turn up in your dungeon guild. I would hope that this system would let players find the kind of players they need in any given occasion, but also build that server community we all talk about, where the active players are active all over and you might encounter people in a number of contexts across your world.
With enough members, these speciality guilds should be able to earn a reasonable amount of influence. Yes, a number of members will be non-representing at any particular time. But this doesn’t have to be a problem, as long as some people are representing and participating. As is the case with many maligned features of Guild Wars 2, I just think it’s worth thinking about the design decisions behind the guild system – and not just assuming, as some seem to, that ArenaNet don’t know what they are doing. If the game is different, it’s worth trying to embrace the differences and play around with them before we dismiss them.
All this said, I’m based on Henge of Denravi server. If anyone there is interested in setting up a series of guilds like this, do contact me! (I’m Ferryn in-game). If anyone does so in another world, I’d love to know how it works out. I think we, the GW2 community, should try and do something with this guild system to address our own concerns, and help to create the game communities we want for ourselves rather than insisting that ArenaNet automate our socialising for us.