I was listening to the latest Group Quest podcast this morning, and heard DeGei mention the fun and games we had over the Thanksgiving weekend doing some cross-server friends list leveling.
I was on my low level Warlock having a blast, and DeGei was on his Panda Warrior of about the same level. He saw me on, and suggested we group up and run some instances.
On the podcast, he made the point that this is something to be thankful for, that Blizzard has continued to grow the game to this point; that two people can be friends and follow what they’re doing regardless of what server they choose to be on (or originally rolled), and can group up together to run quests, queue for instances, and even do raids, so long as they aren’t current content raids.
I completely agree with DeGei on this. Maybe people take it for granted, or think there never should have been split servers to keep friends apart in the first place, but we are now at a point where if you are friends with people anywhere in your geographical area, you can meet them and play with them in almost everything the game has to offer.
The cross-server raids I’ve been doing have been some of the most fun I ever had in game… at least, until Pandaria came out and kinda depth-charged the concept. Level 90 has made most old stuff so trivial it’s hard to find things for a large group to do.
My point though is I was able to group up with a friend and do some runs together. By the way, DeGei is an extremely good tank. He led two different groups through Blackfathom, and if asked beforehand I would have said I never wanted to do that one ever again. He actually made it fun, by knowing exactly what to do and where to go and how to tank. Such a blessed relief, especially at low levels. And without Heirlooms!
Now, let’s contrast this with last Saturday.
It was time to get our Moguvaults raid going, and we were once again short a ranged DPS. The wondermage that we had was a no-call, no-show, no-mail for the second week in a row.
Now, we asked in guild if anyone wanted to join us to DPS, but nobody was available. We really wanted to play with friends, so since guild members were out, we turned to our friends lists.
Several of us had friends who were available, and volunteered to join us.
The problem? You guessed it I, bet… they were all on other servers.
And you cannot have people from other servers in your raid to do CURRENT content.
End of story.
So, we were unable to bring in a friend, someone known to us, to join us in playing together. In order to continue our raid, Discobiscuit had to resort to, [shudder], Trade Chat to find one more.
This time, we were successful. The new DPS player had the lowest DPS in our raid, but they were friendly, paid attention and tried their best. With them added to our ranks, we felt the thrill of victory over the first two bosses in Mogu’shan Vaults again, and even had a fun go at da troll dude, mon.
As icing on the raiding cake, we had the pleasure of killing the stone dogs with jaspar chains up, and let me tell you, it’s a true feeling of satisfaction to struggle with a mechanic and then conquer it. Our first successful kill had been without the jaspar chains, so there was certainly some “we must overcome this” tension going through the group. Hah! Take that, you silly dogs, you. I wave my private parts in your general direction.
So, we ended up with a complete stranger in the group, but it worked out for us. This time.
This gave us a chance to meet someone new on our server, and potentially make a new friend. So, good thing, right?
But this came at the expense of a chance to play with an existing friend, build a stronger bond and develop more shared experiences. What was the more valuable opportunity? To have grown an existing freindship or start a new one?
I want to talk about this a bit, because of the recent comments by Ghostcrawler on Twitter about cross-server grouping for current content.
They’re worried about what it might do to guilds.
Okay. That’s very reasonable. But with that given as a reason, can we talk about it?
What could having cross-server raiding on current content do to a specific guild, or guilds in general?
I’m trying to think about this, and I’m running right up against the age-old question, “What is a guild?”
A guild is a social system with built-in tools to easily communicate between members and organize group activities. There are additional tools available to aid the group, such as a storage system for items useful to the group, rewards for being active within the group, and methods to visually display your allegiance with your guild.
There is also the visual tag you can show proclaiming your membership in that group.
People can use this social system for whatever purpose they want. You can invite anyone in the server and have the purpose be a big social circus, try to only invite people with common goals or interests, or limit membership to known friends or family. Whatever you want.
I have a question. Can you queue with cross-realm friends to do current PvP battleground or Arena content? it’s something I don’t know.
See, the thing that I’m wondering about is why we would only block current content raiding from including personal cross-server friends, but not other activities. If current PvP content is also blocked, then it would seem a consistent policy for progression-oriented guilds, be they raiding or PvP.
Let’s simply look at the consequences of blocking cross-server friends.
If you’re short someone for your raid, this does force you to find someone on your own server.
If the person you invite is on another server and can only be invited through your friends list, then for everyone else in the raid that person is a “friend of a friend”, seperated by at least one remove. The rest of the guild only knows him through you, and can only chat with them or play with them if you are on and willing… until the cross-server friend shares their Battletag around.
If a guild is a social system to ease communication between members, then the cross-server friends list goes against the spirit by isolating the friend from the group.
If you have to resort to a stranger that exists on your own server, though, then everyone in the raid has the chance to spend time together, develop a bond, and possibly find mutual ground to consider joining the guild or making some other kind of lasting bond with multiple people from the guild.
Limiting current raiding, which is probably one of the most popular guild group activities, to same-server players has a better chance of growing the guild itself from adding people frmo the same server, and allowing for multiple personal connections to form.
So… the issue is the limitation of the technology. If we had the capability for cross-server guild invites and communication, then those same connections could form. It might be a bit harder initially, since the ‘getting to know you’ period would involve Battletags unless yuo gave them an isntant invite, but it would also strengthen the role of guild websites and matchmaking services for recruitment and trying out new potential members.
Right now, if you party or raid group with someone else, it pulls everyone into the same server group. I say go one step further, and if you are NOT in an existing party or raid, then everyone in the same guild could be effectively pulled into the same server.
The guild as a social system would be restored. In fact, you’d have a greater chance to grow, by having strangers from multiple servers available to invite into your runs when you needed someone.
With cross-realm guilds, if you meet that great person in a PUG, you would be able to chat with them as you do now, but you could then say “Hey why not hit me up on our website, we can run some more stuff sometime as a group”. That person could become a guildie, and not just “that great tank we had last week, wish he was in our guild.”
I freely admit this is all rampant speculation. I’d love to hear more speculation on what the benefits or challenges would be.
And now, just to be contrary, I’m gonna turn to the only real argument I’ve heard against cross-server guilds.
I’ve heard that a big problem with cross-server guilds would be guild bank access shared across servers, places with different economies. I believe the argument is that would allow guilds to have the potential to become the East India Trading Company, doing triangle trade deals across servers, and placing ‘normal’ players at a competitive pricing disadvantage.
Imagine for a moment the rise of mercantile guilds, guilds of auction house traders purchasing cloth cheap on Azuremyst, selling it at higher prices on Kael’thas, using the profit to buy cheap Darkmoon Cards on Kael’thas and flipping them high on Vol’jin, and then buying cheap ore on Vol’jin to sell at a profit on Azuremyst.
Shit man, go for it. I’d love to see another, deeper aspect to the game economy emerge.
If you’re upset because you like the status quo, you’ve got a good thing going and this would make your gold-making system fail, well, I have no sympathy for you. You want to rule the auction house in a changing economy, adapt or die. Don’t try to throw up roadblocks to change to protect your own interests… or at least, acknowledge that you’re basically mirroring the real world business model by trying to stem the tides of change when that change isn’t in your favor.
Never forget your first principles. Things will not sell for more than people are willing to pay. But if there is a ready market for your goods at a price you are willing to accept, that means there are people in the market eager to buy. Opening up new markets for your goods means that true fairness is that other people have the same opportunity… but it’s up to them whether they take advantage of it.
God, wouldn’t it be a thing to see? Might even tend to bring market stabilization over the long term.
Let Blizzard develop a regulatory agency, and we’ll just go the rest of the way to having a true world government within WoW.
Okay, we’re just being silly now, but there is so much to chew on in the subject.
For every problem, there is a potential solution, and also many things to fear. The first step is deciding what constitutes a real problem. Are we simply afraid of what may happen, and is that fear stopping us from adopting change?
All I see from what Ghostcrawler says is that they worry what it would do to guilds. Nothing in his statements says they have made a decision against, or that they aren’t considering how to implement it to address those worries.
I’m glad they worry what it would do to guilds. If they didn’t give a shit but just changed things and hoped for the best, we’d be in deep trouble.
I hope that, in the end, we do move towards something that opens the world up even more, expands the guild system to be more inclusive of people regardless of what server they are on, and that the technology and bugs get worked out to address the issues people have with CRZ right now.
I have no conclusions. I lean towards the “let’s implement it and deal with the consequences” side, but I don’t know what other obstacles or concerns they may be considering.
Maybe they’ve run studies that suggest if people could raid with others from a friends list, it would tend to exclude people new to the game and uncertain how to find a guild. I don’t know how, what with the rise of matchmaking cross-server raiding websites, and in-game Blizzard-sponsored assistance/welcoming guilds, but maybe it could.
I’m just saying, it’s fun to think about, and every time I have ever played with friends cross-server, whether in an instance or a raid, it has been an absolute joy, and I hope to see more growth to expand it further in the future.
Now…. now is your opportunity to tell me how strongly you disagree with me.