A Compendium of Suggestions Part 1
Guys, over the past two weeks I have been working on a list of suggestions of things that I'd like to see in Fractured or in sandbox MMOs in general. This is basically a compendium of sorts that contains suggestions and ideas for some (not all) aspects of the game. The first couple of sections are about guilds and alliances, so I've decided to post them here so as to not double post in the forums. Each post will be divided by similar topic groupings and will have a link to the Google Doc with the entire document. This is only meant for discussion.
(We are skipping the introduction piece which can be read in the full doc.)
Guilds in Sandbox MMO
What makes a guild?
Traditionally, a guild consists of groups of people banding together to do activities that would be challenging or impossible alone. They haven’t always been given status in games, but almost all games nowadays have methods to discern guild-mates from regular players, as we as game mechanics or UIs tied to being within a guild itself. In essence, these groups come to form the political groups of the game, the various polities that vie for control of some resource, race to be the top on the server, or exist solely for community benefit.
What should a guild look like in Fractured?
I think guilds in Fractured can follow the main curve of games in this respect. Guilds should be represented in the UI and should definitely come with benefits that outpace and incentivise the solo player to take part.
I would personally like to see:
Members lists - Common in games to show who exists and who is online in your guild.
Membership logs - Who joins and leaves within a certain period of time (24-48h is fine).
Ranks/titles that, even if they are for flavor only, can be fully customized.
If there is a centralized monetary fund of some sort (a la the guild UI in Albion), then dedicated auditing logs as well.
Perhaps a system that allows guilds to choose what type of guild they are, allowing for special rules or bonuses (trade guild, nation, etc.)
I think guilds in the hardcore sandbox MMO are the lynch-pin to success and what set hardcore sandboxes awayfrom other sandbox games and even from themeparks. Guilds in sandboxes are in the unique position to alter the political landscape of the game, so much so that developers often have to make changes to baseline game design in order to shift the game towards or away from ends that guilds have forced their hands on. One problem unique to guilds in all video games is having to keep up with each individual member and what they can do in your guild.
If you have a guild with 50 members, 10 ranks, and each rank can do different things or are expected to do different things and, say, 2 towns, or even 1 town with many different buildings, that is a lot of micromanaging for the guild leader or the governor. While keeping it difficult to manage multiple towns or polities should be the goal, there should also be some way, while maintaining overall logistical difficulty, to take stock of what is going on in a particular guild or town. Most games do this, and I see no reason to change. The more customization in ranks, titles, and their powers the better in a sandbox adhering to some realism without selling the farm.
Alliances in a Sandbox MMO
What is an Alliance in a sandbox?
Sandboxes, like with guilds, are in a unique position to make politics a viable form of gameplay and empires a viable, yet difficult, goal. An alliance in a sandbox is basically two or more guilds who decide to band together, whilest remaining individual political powers, and sign non-aggression pacts, trade clauses and usually military alliances that see the pooling of resources for the greater good. Unlike in a themepark, the sharing of resources in a sandbox is paramount to the success of an alliance, as well as the furthering of a fledgling empire. This can cause some political drama and issues and in some cases, outright betrayal.
What should an Alliance look like in Fractured?
I think alliances in Fractured should be a prominent, but difficult to maintain force. There should be alliances, and they should have some representation in the UI. However, I think that it must stop in the UI. Other than perhaps noting who is in your alliance as you see them, there really shouldn’t be any in game benefit to having an alliance member standing right next to you.
What I would like to see:
Treaties of different value: Non-aggression pacts, trade contracts, defensive alliances, military alliances, and Military Access pacts, client-states and vassals(similar to the Total-War games). These should be noted in the UI, but are non-binding in game, i.e. the players aren’t FORCED to adhere to these rules, opening up the floor for political intrigue and scrutiny towards who is allowed to be in an alliance.
The ability to carry Alliance banners alongside guild banners on towns and in battle providing some small morale boost to nearby members.
The ability for individual members of alliances to betray their alliance at any time, necessitating good communication, subterfuge, and trust between all members.
The ability for vassals and client-states to be taxed by their vassal liege.
Alliance members who ARE NOT vassals of a guild are on equal political standing.
Alliance members SHOULD NOT be immune to friendly fire.
Alliances are political powers in sandbox games. Too often, though, they are not real alliances, but a vassal-liege relationship where one guild forms an empire of smaller guilds who pay tribute. This is usually enforced in game via immunity to friendly fire, allowing larger guilds and alliances to paste massive hordes together that, while choreographed, usually end with the bigger army crushing the smaller one.
In reality, alliance members are usually politically equal in terms unless some other deal has been made. In this sense, there shouldn’t be a “LEADER” of an alliance de jure, but obviously there will be de facto. What they agree upon is what decides their position in the alliance and those terms can change on a whim if either side is uncomfortable or find themselves facing greener pastures.
With regards to friendly fire, I think it is okay to leave guild members immune if necessary, but do not extend that protection to alliance members. This will force alliance members to strategize about how they will participate in a battle, and hopefully force alliance leaders to strategize and react in ways that are different than the typical “dog-piling” we see with modern zergs.
Ultimately, an alliance should be rewarding as long as the powers are playing their part. It should not, however, be automatically rewarding without great care taken by the heads of each of the guilds involved and should be the vehicle that drives the political intrigue that so many games lack.