Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Extreme Makeover: Guild Hall edition

Guild Houses. They were a huge step forward for EQ2. Bringing together guilds in a way never experienced before, where usually the only time they got to hang together was when grouped or raiding. But with the introduction of the halls, all of a sudden guild members were spending a lot more time with each other, even if it is only when standing at the broker or banker. This spiralled into various other forms of interaction. Visit our crafting areas and usually there will be two or three people crafting and chatting away as they did so. Head to the main foyer and quite often you would see guild members killing time by duelling each other, or practicing on the training dummies together. All in all, the advent of Guild Halls brought guilds closer together in my experience.

The reason I bring this up is that my guild Acolytes of Valor, last week purchased their first tier three Guild Hall off Antonica. This idea was bandied about when I was leader of AoV a long time ago about 6 months after the Guild Halls were released. We had enough money and status to get the big Guild Hall, but in a guild vote it was decided to keep to the tier two hall as it was plenty big enough for us and even with the tier two hall there were spaces we hadn’t decorated.

The move to the tier three Guild Hall happened whilst I was away for a couple of days and I arrived back and the decision had been made and we were going ahead with the move. I don’t know the thought processes behind this and I am sure it was the right decision for the guild. I still prefer the smaller hall though. The benefits experienced previously in the tier two hall (as mentioned above, the duelling, etc) brining guildies closer to each other and increasing interaction seems not to be so prevalent in the tier three hall. Simply because it is more spread out. Yes, there may be 15 people in the hall say, but because the hall is so big and spread out the toons hardly see each other, albeit the broker area still remains a hub of activity. I can’t help but wonder if we are taking a step back and losing the ‘forced’ interaction the smaller Guild Hall gave us.

And the introduction of Guild Halls was not all good in my eyes. Of course as previously mentioned there are definite benefits to the Guild Halls, but we have to consider what this did to the other zones in the cities. Almost like ghost towns now, the once thriving Qeynos docks, or East Freeport seem now to have a veritable trickle of toons going through them. Think about if you were a brand new player to the game. With the now defunct Queens Colony and Outpost of the Overlord toons are not generally ‘led’ to the two main cities as they previously were. Meaning the starting areas and small ‘villages’ surrounding the main city zones are not getting used hardly at all. Remember Willow Wood? Yeah, it’s still there of course, but wow, what a difference. I recall before the introduction of Guild Halls the zone being packed with toons either trading, hanging around, visiting their homes, or for many other reasons. I went in there the other day and it was depressing.

This got me to thinking. Obviously guilds have gained a lot from the introduction of their homes, but what about those not pre-disposed to join a guild, or those roleplayers who are loners, not joining a guild par-se but interacting more with the general community. With the introduction of these halls have SoE inadvertently made the game more insular for the community and cliquey? If you are not in a guild you are definitely an outsider and with the halls, when you hang around the other city zones, the opportunity to interact with other toons (again when not grouped or raiding) is a lot smaller than it used to be.

This spawns all sorts of other questions. Does this mean PuGs are harder to get as people are becoming more and more insular, involved with guild only activities? I have heard it quite often in EQ2, especially since the release of the Guild Halls, “No, sorry. I only do guild groups”. I’m not decided yet if this is a good or bad thing. And we have to consider human nature is to become comfortable with your surroundings (in this case guilds/friends list peeps) then to stay there. Has the introduction of the Guild Halls just accelerated this process? Would this have occurred anyway with the propensity to hang in your clique being strong in humans anyhow? I don’t know the answers, but I do know I still visit all the old city zones. Sometimes just to have a look and see what is going on, sometimes for a bit of nostalgia (like my Willow Wood visit) and for quite a few other reasons. Like Parkour!

Remember this post when you play next. Go have a wander round the old city zones. Reacquaint yourself and interact with lost souls who aren’t in a guild.

Be well.

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