Organization in MMGs

Over the last few months, I’ve played Planetside and Puzzle Pirates. I’ve played Everquest in the past. Now, I’m not the most experienced massive multiplayer gamer, but I think I’ve got a leg to stand on.

Anyway, it seems to me that the simplistic organization in most all MMGs is due for a shakeup. When you play these games, your character can belong to one guild/outfit/whatever. The guild may have ranks. That’s it. Everything else is completely informal.

What would my idea be like? Lets take Planetside and use that as my example. (Outfits=guilds if you want to think EQ).

People would still join only one outfit. This outfit still has ranks. However, The outfit would be configurable. A hierarchy of players could be established, as well as ground rules for the outfit. So an outfit could create its own formal organization.

So the QT3 outfit on Emerald, for example, would be led by XPav, and XPav could create three battalion – Infantry, Air, and Armor, and assign commander for each battalion and personnel for each of these. Then, those battalion commander could make companies, and so on and so on.

This would be a general organization scheme, so these names would be configurable, roles, whatever. This really wouldn’t help QT3/Emerald, with our whopping 11 members, the larger outfits could really have fun with this.

Secondly, there needs to be a way for outfits to contain other outfits, on a temporary or permanent basis. If an outfit specializes in armor say, they should be able to be formally “hired” by other outfits and placed into the command structure for as long as the contract is for. Outfits that want to stick in another outfit could do so as long as they wanted.

Units should have some sort of guidelines. Again, Puzzle Pirates is ahead of the game here I think. ( Issues can be voted on by everyone, just the officers, or just the captain.

Outfits should be allowed to ally with one another under a common flag. The flag would have its officer chosen by some sort of election. Again, Puzzle Pirates does this.

So what I’m wanting basically, is much better organization tools than the ones present in EQ and PS at least. They just fall apart when you start getting too many members in an outfit/guild.

Comments? Has some other game done this or have more advanced structure? Am I a goober for wanting more structure in my life? Does Cathcart like ducks? What?

Damn fine ideas. I’m thinking “Hammers Slammers,” or the condottieri of Renaissance Italy. An outfit could specialize, say in heavy infantry, and “hire” themselves out to a larger outfit as shock troops. Or you could build a wing of Reavers and sign on as air support for a combined arms outfit.

You can do this sort of thing now but it’s all in the mind, make-believe as it were. I fully support the idea of having stuff like this built in–beyond even the supposedly forthcoming platoon system. Have it so that outfits can affiliate with other outfits either as allies or as contractor/contractee, for specified times and terms. Of course, to be meaningful the game would have to have objectives and rewards big enough to require or encourage larger groupings. And let the people organizing the actions, and hiring the other outfits, determine the split of EXP maybe, within some limits, or provide other stuff. Maybe a pool of CEP to divide up, or certs, or something.

And for solo guys, set it up so that outfits can hire on “members” for temporary duty. Let players who are unaffiliated have their own special status–Merc, Soldier of Fortune, whatever–and encourage outfits to sign on extra help. Set it up so that you can have smaller groups like fireteams or vehicle crews or air sections grouped more or less permanently, but not so large as an outfit. They could sell themselves to whomever needs their services, etc.

Cathcart likes ducks.

His cubicle now contains:

17 rubber duckies
4 plush ducks
2 beanie baby ducks
1 cardboard cutout duck
200 duck stickers
1 painting of a duck
4 duck photos
1 duck calendar

It’s horrible.


This is a cool idea, but I wonder if the main hurdle is hardware. If the game designer can not predict the size of a database (how many entries, how many ranks, etc.), how do you decide how much storage space to get? It’s conceivable (and possibly likely) that some guild would want every member to have a special rank.

Disk space is getting cheaper, but it still takes time to query records. Seems like something that will have to wait for holographic storage or something like that.

So you don’t give them absolute control, limit it to something well beyond what it is now. Say each company has to be 5 people big, you can only belong to one company at a time, etc, etc… Some rules could be thought up that would limit it but still be MUCH better than current orgnizational tactics available now.

permitted complexity of an organization could be tied to the size of the group, say one level of organization for every 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 users?

Oh agreed, there’s going to have to be some limitations on this, whether they be “minimum player size per outfit” or something.

I don’t know about other games but I was a guildmaster in DAOC and the GM could configure the ranks, rights and privileges of the members. You had ten ranks with rank 0 hardcoded as GM. Then ranks 1 to 9 could be given any title you wish and could have various rights and privileges toggled on/off like power to invite members, power to de-guild members, right to speak and/or listen in officer-channel, right to speak/listen in alliance channel, right to speak/listen in guild channel, right to wear guild colors, and so forth. It was not as flexible as what you describe but was pretty far along.

As far as I could tell there were no database problems associated with that in DAOC. So the concept of more configurable guilds is probably very doable.


The outfit system in PlanetSide works exactly the same as what is described here for DAoC. Exactly, as far as I can tell. What’s missing is flexibility in outfits, outfit membership, sub-outfit organization, specialization, command and control, and incentives for all of this.

What Adam says makes sense, but is also in one sense (sorry, Adam) a cop out. As others note, you don’t have to have it be completely free form.

The real reason we don’t see this sort of thing though is that the companies making MMOGs can’t figure out how it directly supports keeping people paying monthly fees. Anything, everything that is in an MMOG that has a monthly fee is there, ultimately, to keep people paying. And if they can keep people paying without it they have no reason to add it.

In effect, the perfect MMOG from the publisher’s point of view is one where everyone buys the game, pays for a year up front, and then never logs in and never expects any content.[/list]

What I see XPav’s idea moving towards is greater depth in political relationships between guilds. The most MMOGs provide in guild relationships is to have War, Ally, or Peace status with other guilds.

Hiring a guild is a nice idea. There are mercenary guilds in most MMOGs, but this is NOT hard coded. Put it into the code where guilds can hire other guilds. The hired guild provides services for an established fee.

Large guilds would have their own branches… maybe a Healing branch, a War branch, etc. A way to designate this in the guild structure is good.

Although bear in mind, the more that can be done outside of coding the better. Guild leaders should be able to set up and do a lot outside of raw coding.

Shadowbane has a guild + alliance type structure like that.

You can do it in Battlecruiser 3000. And I don’t mean in the “haw haw that game can do everything wink wink” way. I mean for realsies.

Heeeh, I thought all MMORPGs already had this. Huh, I guess FFXI must be better than I thought it was, 'cause it kind of has much of what you are asking for. Other than temporary informal parties, you can join more permanent parties where you are under the command of the party leader and these can be up to six people. Furthermore, you can join into up to three official allies, for a total of up to 18, with one allied party leader and three subleaders. They can also be organized (and often are) into different schema, such as the archers, bards, the carpenters, etc. based on their Jobs or the Guilds they belong to (which are two completely different things, the Jobs are like the classes, the Guilds are just organizations for professional workers, i.e. fishermen, woodworkers, crystal synthesizers, etc.) Of course, this further gets complicated by whether you are fighting the invaders or a rival kingdom, and what part of the kingdom you are asked to do which quest or conquest for.

Anyway, it gets further complicated, because you can betray your culture, nationality, party, Guild, whatever and defect to different sides. Since there are always five main sides anyway (monsters, invaders, Bastok, Windhurst and that one I can’t remember) its not quite as clear cut and bad and good sides. You can also ordain to take a quest (related to the plot, with cutscenes, always meticulously organized into group or solo events by the Square guys who play the royals, generals, governors, commanders, etc.) or to be consigned. Being consigned sets you on a specific order to invade a different part in the name of the culture you’ve been consigned by. If you and the people consigned manage to take the territory, then your “side” gets specific benefits and perks, although there is balance when a certain country loses a lot of borders so that it never entirely disappears. These are things like economic benefits for trading and more control (sometimes to the point of monopoly) on the regions crystals (which are like the commodities and resources of Vanadiel).

Guilds in towns almost always have a surplus of available groups and parties, looking for adventure, or to be hired out for services, though the price is usually painful and filled with a demand for rare goods. Once you find airships and shell links and can therefore send groups of allied 18s in airship squads with consigned tickets, riding on chocobos, with the leaders and consigned politicians communicating telepathically through shell link on the battlegrounds, it get pretty complicated. Of course, now that there are Summoners, it gets even more complicated. Bards can also compel groups to follow them like the Pied Piper with a special song, so its not a good idea to piss off a bard, as Thieves and Bards have been known to start rebellions. They probably should have toned down the food requirements and item-making to combat this – leaders can have way too much on their mind trying to replace items other players are demanding from the Guild units and keep the food going to nourish the right nutrients for whatever nutritional guidelines the Jobs demand, though I’ve heard its quite popular to hire black mage fishermen so once they’ve “blown their load” they can retreat to a water source to replenish the food supply.

There are two different ways of sorting out money (beside the award/hire amounts which are based on the game’s trading/deal system and the set amount by the NPCs and Square guys for doing what they ask or what is advertised in the ads of the Vanadiel Gazette (FFXI newspaper)). Then experience is sorted out kind of complexly, based on what part of a party you were, your level, Job and what you did.

This gets a little more in-depth of course if you’re playing with experts – they’ll insist that you adhere to the rules of the culture, whether that means, never raising your voice and bowing to your superiors, or never leaving your chocobo too far behind. Unfortunately, you’re absolutely forced to get into this sooner or later, the game really doesn’t allow for solo play past a certain point its impossible, so you have to start making political ties.

Are these standard features, or is it more along the lines of something that you wanted to see, XPav? I really have no idea, since FFXI is the only MMORPG I’ve ever played, but I am interested in seeing them progress in the hopes one will catch my fancy one day. :D Granted, I believe FFXI is the most heavily plot-based of the MMORPGs, or at least I think so, but I would like more context and a wider variety of choice of what I can do and how I can aspire to something in an MMORPG in order to get into one.

Speaking of MMORPGs, Level 5 has answered a lot of questions on True Fantasy Live Online and Fennec Fox translated it some of it from techside:

Lots of information! They’re supposedly setting up stuff that’s easier for people with only a few hours to play each day (of course, they said that with FF11, but). One account can hold up to 5 characters. Your body shape will change based on your diet and activity. It’s pretty difficult to get a sexy body and keep it that way. There are diet foods. Lots of different things to eat. Some of it can go rotten. You can even get hung over. Some things go better with others? Whether the breasts jiggle or not is still a secret. If you don’t equip anything, you’ll have on something like a swimsuit. Word on growing old and dying is still not public (is this what they mean when they say it’s easier for people with less time to play??). They’re thinking parties of around 10 people. There are bosses. The battles are not action-based. You can’t jump. You can’t attack your allies. The rooms are set up somewhat like community housing. If you have money, you can expand your room. You can also rent out luxurious rooms. You can ride on a broom. You can even power up your broom. You will still run into enemies while flying. Two people can ride on camels. Wild animals have better abilities [for riding]. You can put effects on your voice. There is something like guilds. There is a maximum limit set on your skill points, and when you raise your abilities in one area, abilities in areas not closely related go down, kind of like Ultima Online. And so on and so on. If you’re looking forward to TFLO you should definitely read this.

Sounds very similar to FFXI, so far.


World War II Online has built-in rank and “squads” or the overriding high command structures around it (the ranks are getting a makeover anyway), but the high commands, all player run, have a lot of influence on the game, from an organizational and implemenation of equipment standpoint.

— Alan

I’m a little annoyed that I’m only a spatula in PS right now. I play a lot, I should have a slightly higher rank, perhaps a George Forman Grill, or a tea kettle.

Spatula is the highest rank besides mine. I am a wok. You were all wire whisks until Brandon complained.