In fact, at one point, I had to ask myself if there was any benefit at all to being in a guild other than having guild chat and a cool tag. I'm certainly haven't lost hope yet because after all, it's only a few weeks into the game, and features like the guild capital ship have already been mentioned as being on the way. But this week, I'm playing amateur developer and adding my list of guild-friendly features that are must-haves for SWTOR (and for all MMOs, actually!).
A big part of a guild leader's role is making sure to communicate with the guild about things ranging from important events to light chit-chat. A visible guild leader is usually a sign of a healthy guild, and there's no better way to do that than through messages and updates. I've written before about guild websites and how I don't feel they are as important as they were years ago, but that's because many MMOs provide good means to communicate in game now. SWTOR, however, falls short so far, and a good start would be a basic feature giving guild leaders and officers the ability to send a mass in-game mail to the guild. Members like to know what's going on in the guild, from planned events to player achievements to silly things like JediBob's accidentally being slain by a wamp rat. Right now, that's hard to pass along in-game.
Guild event log
So far, the in-game guild window, while functional, is a bit bare-bones. One thing that I really miss from other games is an event log that displays what's happened over the past few days. Part of it is curiosity, like wanting to know who leveled up the day before, who looted a cool new lightsaber, or who earned what achievement. Part of it is logistics, like knowing which officer invited a new member or who left the guild in a /ragequit the night before. Guild leaders don't like surprises, and it's nice to have something that's customizable and automatically tracks certain events within the guild.
This is something that should almost be standard in any MMO these days, and it's probably most needed right when a game launches because players tend to accumulate lots of resources, armor, and handy upgrades for each other as they level up and play through the content. In-game mail helps to spread stuff around, but it's much easier to have one central place to put stuff so that no matter whether someone's online or not, she can check the bank and see what's available and then stock it up herself as well.
This is another detail in the guild window that would make members' lives so much easier. It's hard to keep track of who's doing what crew skill, and it would help to see a sortable list of crew skills by level and type. That way, if I need to track down an armstech to talk about a new blaster, I can quickly find someone who has the skill and appropriate level to work out an arrangement. Or if I have a bagfull of archaeology materials, I can sort through the list and spot a member to mail them to. I've been trying to add it into member notes on our roster, but it's hard to keep that up to date, and even then, there's no way to keep a current listing of skill levels.
Guild recruiting window
Whoever worked on the pre-launch guild deployment system did a fantastic job and should be put to work right away to add a similar feature in-game. There are plenty of guilds recruiting, but right now it's limited to the chat channels, official forums, and guild websites. To me, that's pretty clunky and archaic, and it surprised me that the game had a terrific database during pre-launch that contained a decent guild search and application system, and yet there's nothing like that in-game, where it's needed most.
I'm actually of two minds on this one because while I like lots of things to do within the guild, leveling systems can sometimes feel like contrived busywork. You end up doing things to level, not necessarily because they're enjoyable but because you want the perks that come with those activities. Right now, there are much more important guild features that probably come before something like this anyway.
Allies and enemies
Part of the pre-launch guild system featured the ability to choose guilds as allies or enemies. I can see how this would be helpful for PvP guilds, since there was an effort to put those allies and enemies on the same server for launch, but for PvE guilds, there's really little functional value to it. It would be nice if there were some features that took advantage of these loose alliances, like a multi-guild event calendar, customizable chat, or even a separate common bank where players could exchange goods and resources. On the flip side, it would be neat to see a guild war feature so that enemy guilds could temporarily flag themselves as being at war and have a good old-fashioned throwdown.
This is one of those "think outside the box" ideas, but I think it would be neat to have our very own holocall system. The next time JediBob is screwing around in a warzone and holding up a group, I could send a little holocall of a cantina dancer with my stern voice in the background yelling, "Put down the huttball and get with the group!" If nothing else, it would definitely get his attention.
Do you have a guild problem that you just can't seem to resolve? Have a guild issue that you'd like to discuss? Every week, Karen Bryan takes on reader questions about guild management right here in The Guild Counsel column. She'll offer advice, give practical tips, and even provide a shoulder to lean on for those who are taking up the challenging task of running a guild.