The "Merc" Problem

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The "Merc" Problem

Postby japster » Wed Oct 03, 2012 10:07 am

Honestly Venan, you made mercenary work way too easy with the previous change of auto-accept + setting might level.

It's pretty telling these days when almost every single guild has to yell for mercs. Sure being a merc has its perks but if this continues, there won't be much guilds left being able to offer mercenaries a platform for their services. The concept of raids being an activity that rewards formation and management of a guild seems to be undermined by the free reign of mercs.

I think more has to be done to make the concept of a guild attractive, beyond favors. Methods to promote guild loyalty. A straightforward way may be to penalize mercs for hopping guilds by lowering the ratio of valor they get to RPP. Some sort of system should be in place, like if a person has not been in a guild for over 24hours, they get a "reduced rate".

If not, perhaps more attractive bonuses for guilds, or a sort of guild-exclusive items, where they can only be obtained and used when someone is in a particular guild.

Even then I'm not sure if these suggestions will work. God forbid but there are way too many mercs, and way too few guilds capable of running a guild raid with only loyal guild members, without mercs and gs.
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Re: The "Merc" Problem

Postby Aiyardana » Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:11 pm

The upshot is, the thing that keeps members together as a group is different than what kind of members are needed for a raid.

A guild, generally, would imply a group of like-minded people with similar goals banding together to reach those goals.

A raid squad, however, would need to comprise those folks who are both qualified and available to run a raid.

The current guild system is really a raid squad, but it is run on the assumption that members are available to raid, which is not often the case. Hence the appeals in global for mercs to fill the needs.

How about if we have true guilds which are membership organizations that sponsor raids and have goals/challenges.

And Raid Squads as entities that run raids. A guild can create a Raid Squad and appeal in global for members to jump in for a raid.

Please consider these ideas as "seeds" to possibly better and more interesting ideas.

The Raid Squad
This is a group formed by a guild that includes guild members who opt in, as well as any mercs who come in because they are invited or otherwise know about it. It can live indefinitely, or be disbanded at will.

Possibly, raids cannot even begin unless a minimum squad size is reached, and that membership has to be met within a prescribed period of time (like 5 minutes), after which the raid begins immediately or doesn't begin at all (so that the raid cool down penalty doesn't kick in).

The Raid Squad has its own chat.

Folks who join the Raid Squad do not lose membership in their own guild. The guild is merely the "sponsor" of the raid squad. These folks continue to have access to their guild chat so they can remain informed about raids their own guild intends to start.

The Raid Squad can participate in any raid run by the sponsoring guild?

Characters can enter and leave a Raid Squad and not lose rpp (although they will probably lose rpp bonus). Thus, a casual merc can participate in raids, and still be able to quickly and painlessly return to their home squad for a raid.

Possibly, if a guild could have a loot chest, it can sweeten the pot to attract powerful mercs by offering bonus rewards on top of rpp rewards (obviously, the bonus would go to the whole squad including in-guild members, but if there are several guilds competing in global for mercs, this would be one thing a guild could do with all their surplus gems, gear, etc). The rewards would be doled out regardless of success (thus, if a guild was desperate to finish a raid, this added bonus might make a merc jump into an otherwise "hopeless" raid because a bonus is guaranteed).

The raid squad *may* require a join fee for the raid that goes into the loot chest, but is reimbursed if the raid doesn't start.

Actual Alliances
Guilds who swap to help each other out on raids can actually form real Alliances through these squads. Members can remain loyal to their "Home Guild" while still participating in the Alliance raids (AND not rattle the sensitivities of their home guild members).

The New Guild
Has membership dues (that go into the guild loot chest). GM can make the dues NOTHING. Dues can be scaled to member level, e.g., Recruits pay a set periodic fee (probably in silver), Promote to Member taxes the member a one time fee, but reduces the periodic fee. Promote to Officer might eliminate the periodic fee, etc.

The guild can manage a loot chest in which members are enabled to contribute, but may not take. The loot chest's distribution is strictly managed (i.e., only via raids). Thus, powerful alts cannot simply pass their gems to weaker alts directly, but can make them available through raids that the weaker alts participate in.

The new currency
If there's a loot chest, we can either have a random doling out of loot at the end of a raid, but it seems like folks would probably rather have some kind of scrip or currency that is readily converted into the desired items at a prescribed exchange rate. That way, the loot can be more "evenly divided" and recombined to yield better gems and gear if the member accrues enough.
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Re: The "Merc" Problem

Postby Grnm » Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:23 pm

Honestly, Japster, as it happened with many guilds, quite a lot of high lvl players just stopped playing due to, inter alia, lack of high lvl game content and boredom (stopped playing for good, and not ventured out of their guilds for an extra valor and never returned, I must stress). Oh and these things happen naturally - no matter how exciting the game is at the beginning, you get fed up with it eventually.

So, not that many active players these days, huh? I am sure mercs are to blame. I am also getting suspicious this nasty lot is behind the delays with the patch, etc. A sure way to solve this problem is... exactly, restrict free circulation of people hoping they stay with their comfy depopulated guilds never to see the outside world again. Brilliant!

I do agree that atm guilds are a rather loose affiliation of people who stick together mostly because they want to rahter than because of guild favors, etc. Fine, give them more sense to stick together. More common activities, more rewards, more guild-specific raids, whatever. But why do you want to punish those who don't want or simply cannot stay in a guild for whatever reason (which is THEIR business anyway, please excuse me being straightforward) but are available to help? One is totally free and entitled (I am not questioning this) to make an alcatraz out of a guild and stay there happily, but why am I forced to live in such an alcatraz? You don't want mercs - don't accept them. Oh, no new players available? You're sure mercs are to blame? Seriously?

There is no "Merc problem". There is a... situation with BOH, which hopefully could be dealt with by way of new content, mostly new social activities. The way common activities are arranged for now indeed needs re-thinking and further development. I have a sneaky suspicion that devs are working on this or at least considering this. In the meantime mercs are SOLVING this problem IN CURRENT CONDITIONS.

I am not your problem.
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Re: The "Merc" Problem

Postby japster » Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:46 pm

Good ideas Aiyardana! Clearly a lot of effort in them.

Hmmm Grnm...Imagine if such a system was implemented in v1.5, e.g. KV ratio to RPP for WOF is approximately 18; what if next patch loyal members get a bonus reduction of ratio to 15 while mercs get it at 18. would you call it penalizing mercs?

Your position hasn't changed, but loyal members are now rewarded. Would you now feel upset that you're being unfairly penalized as a merc? Ultimately what I'm trying to get at is that I'm not really for penalizing mercs, but inevitably, all bonuses for loyalties that mercs will naturally be unable to get could be seen as such. It's just becomes a matter of degree to which players can find it tolerable.

As you said, you have your reasons for being unable to stick to a committed guild. But others have their reasons for wanting to come together. Your ability to merc depends largely on guilds. I'm not advocating a loyalist v mercenary war here, but it's almost commonsensical that without guilds unlocking high level contents, mercs will have no where to go unless they band together to make their own...guild. Pretty ironic if that had to happen, isn't it? On the other hand, a guild can always pump GS heavily if that was what they really wanted. A merc can't pump gs to unlock a vallus raid on his own, even if he wanted to do so. Get my drift why guilds have to come first before mercs?

Thus survival of guilds are important as well. If mercenary habits become TOO WIDESPREAD (and there may be such signs), eventually guilds are going to perish. Why? If core guild members start feeling like their raids are nothing but sustained by mercs, loyalty may be affected and morale as well. Eventually, raiding becomes a chore and even more quit, or some become mercs themselves. It comes to a point where guilds close down (I won't name any, but I do know personally of a couple of guilds which closed or are closing.) due to a lack of CORE LOYAL MEMBERS.

Sure new guilds are constantly rising, rebuilding from scratch, but is this truly healthy and sustainable for the game in the long run? Is this what Venan really wants their players to do? Get to the end and quit?

Of course I recognize that this ties to a bigger issue of more game content, which is definitely a useful solution to keep people playing. BUT more GUILD-CONTENT is also another solution that can be taken, distinct from game content.
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Re: The "Merc" Problem

Postby Grnm » Wed Oct 03, 2012 1:45 pm

Japster, of course I see your point including the one about guilds being primordial, so to speak. I saw it before pretty well, trust me, being a merc gives you quite a wide perspective.. And it pains me to see guilds sinking into oblivion no less than it worries you. I once was the member and officer of a guild, which ceased to be.. And I am speaking of more guild content, too, rather than of some extra quests or levels or gear, which are unlikely to have a major impact per se. BOH is way past the phase when just more of the same will do the trick.

The point is that current guild system seems to become, how should I call it, obsolete? It does not withstand well recent in-game developments such as faster burnout, mercs, etc. as well as various ppl expectations, which are, well, different. These are natural problems of growth, nothing bad is happening... A good question indeed is where to go further.

To answer your question I am all for guilds' loyalty programmes which will favor permanent guild members, no matter how you call or implement them. I am against unnecessary restrictions of free movement of ppl, goods and services, that's a bit different.

But this is just a small question as compared to re-thinking of social activities format altogether. What is a Guild now? So far it is indeed a raid-oriented association with very basic organizational tools that has little to offer to its members apart from a guaranteed spot in a raid. Still, no matter how primitive current system is, it already features very different approaches from game rooms open to all (think of Celestials, Spoons) to secluded communities with sometimes bizarre codes of conduct (fully entitled to that, of course). And currently the first approach seems to be more viable... But i am not saying that I really wish all guilds to evolve to game rooms. There could (and should) be a concept favoring stronger commitments - I am all for that. Btw, ultimate guild loyalty may be achieved by, guess what, GvG, which I am all for, but that's another story.

But my main point was actually that there should be social life outside of a given guild. A wider than guild community / activities. Not necessarily mercing.
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Re: The "Merc" Problem

Postby Musketeer » Wed Oct 03, 2012 2:58 pm

Looking at the problem from the other angle, why are so few Guilds currently able to hold a Raid without asking for mercenary help?

If you can fix that problem then Guilds will stop advertising, switch off auto-accept, and players wanting to raid with a Guild will have to both meet the might threshold (which you may recall was intended to stop lvl 4-5 newbies wasting the time of top level guild officers) and then be accepted by an officer/GM. You don't need to punish Mercenaries, you just need to make raids completable without them.

At present we have too many guilds chasing too few players, at all levels. Every day I see new Guilds starting up, then their GMs wondering why nobody wants to join them. It's simply that there are already dozens of Guilds in the same situation, and it's still far too easy to start a new Guild. We don't need any more Guilds, we need a lot fewer Guilds, each with more permanent members.

The reason the top 20 Guilds are having trouble filling their rosters with permanent members is 1) burnout/dropout, which is partly natural wastage (the game does become repetitive), partly lack of new things to do for the elite (in which I number any toon on 10250 might or higher) and 2) not every member can join raids at the same time in any particular Guild. Whatever time you start your morning raid, 8am, 9am 10am, it'll be too early for some players and too late for others.

The lowest level raid Gobblin' Goblin only requires a dozen toons at most to complete. Vallus through War of Fellmarsh require closer to thirty toons, most contributing more than one energy burn (42e) - half the Guild's maximum membership, unless an handful of players are going to use GS to rack up big RPP scores. I've seen a Vallus raid fail with 30 members because half of them just popped in once and never returned. Some Guilds are hanging on with a handful of big GS burners, but very few players consider this a tenable long term situation. The big GS burners also tend to drop out or leave a Guild first, because they have achieved their personal goals sooner than the rest of the Guild.

I suggest two ideas to make it easier for all guilds to complete raids from within their own strength, and reduce both the need (and thus the opportunity) for Mercenary work.

1) Increase Guild membership rosters. That may seem odd when I've said that we already have too few members to fill the existing Guilds, but if the roster was increased to 90 then you'd only need 1/3 of the maximum membership to complete WoF, not 1/2. You still need to fill those roster slots to make this work however, and there are only so many players to go around.

2) Offer easier/shorter raids with the same Valor rates of return. Either reduce the hits necessary in the current time, or increadse the timespan of the raids retauningthe current hit requirement. Either will make it easier for a smaller number of toons to complete a raid. New raids could be added as testers for this approach, rather than messing with the current raids that people are used to.

As a final thought, there are several Guilds even in the top 20 who are notable for NOT asking for mercenaries in Global chat, and not trying to poach members from other Guilds, yet they're still rolling along happily and keeping their power up, which means they're completing raids.

How are they doing it? I submit that they are the Guilds who from the beginning kept their raiding to a more leisurely pace, just one or two raids a day, and playing BoH more as Venan though it would be played.
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Re: The "Merc" Problem

Postby Grnm » Wed Oct 03, 2012 4:03 pm

Pfaff, I am with you on all of your points except for the major one. In two words, you suggest making raiding easier for the guilds. This, in my opinion, will not solve the problem or eliminate its source but just "prolong the agony", if you catch my drift.

Aiyardana's idea to separate raiding parties and guilds (and more precisely, make guilds arranging for raiding parties as separate units) actually seems like a very good idea.

Still it does not solve the real issue per se. Ppl stop playing not because they are bothered with merc problem or raid organization in general, huhuh. Ppl stop playing because they don't see the point in raiding some more just to get yet another t4 gem after 10,250 might.

UPD
I believe that furthering the social aspect will change things dramatically. People are competitive and always seek competition (that's why even drooling over a global leaderboard per 1.4.2 may have a bigger impact than we might think) but they need a layer of safety to feel comfortable to compete. Yes, I mean PvP and GvG. If properly implemented it will change BOH to the better the way introduction of guilds did it before. If not properly introduced it will almost instantly kill the game. Devs are indeed facing some decisions here...
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Re: The "Merc" Problem

Postby Biomom » Wed Oct 03, 2012 6:55 pm

Very interesting thread with many great points. I just want to add that, while there are certainly problems that need to be addressed, there has been an interesting thing happening. Guild alliances have improved the social atmosphere associated with raiding, imo. I love my guild but have been able to make some great and fun friendships with other guilds through alliance "mercing" and I've been able to engage in funny/interesting chats that keep my interest in the game despite having high might toons with not much to do besides raid. There are others who feel similarly. I'm not a competitive person so I prefer alliances over PvP or GvG but I understand that others feel differently.
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Re: The "Merc" Problem

Postby NikoNarf_1 » Wed Oct 03, 2012 7:30 pm

Interesting reading. We have rarely asked for merc help in raids until the last week or two. We don't need mercs to complete raids (except when we run Shadows, thanks for the help), but adding 2 to 5 mercs can lighten the GS spending load. There are alliances where guild A looks for help from guild B and guild C instead of advertising in global. True guild alliances, where two guilds merge for the duration of a raid, would make this easier (an officer in each guild would pay, say, 10gs to forge the alliance), and perhaps make it easier for guilds to complete high-end raids.
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Re: The "Merc" Problem

Postby Musketeer » Wed Oct 03, 2012 11:26 pm

FT_NikoNarf wrote:Interesting reading. We have rarely asked for merc help in raids until the last week or two. We don't need mercs to complete raids (except when we run Shadows, thanks for the help), but adding 2 to 5 mercs can lighten the GS spending load. There are alliances where guild A looks for help from guild B and guild C instead of advertising in global. True guild alliances, where two guilds merge for the duration of a raid, would make this easier (an officer in each guild would pay, say, 10gs to forge the alliance), and perhaps make it easier for guilds to complete high-end raids.


In my original Guild we never spent GS on energy burns unless it was absolutely necessary, and I think I carry that thinking on in my Mercing. To me a raid that requires GS spending from guild members on a regular basis isn't tenable in the long term, you either need more players in the Guild, or mercenaries. The players that DO spend GS in spades won't do it forever.

I have been in a couple of raids (as a mercenary) where the GM or officers asked everyone still active to spend 4 or 8 shields just to push things along, and that was both successful and more viable as a long term strategy.

Grnm, I agree that the game needs something to keep the elite players playing. Adding new Quests to take players to lvl 30 (or whatever the new cap will be) will only be a short term solution, the game need something you can come back to time and again and enjoy afresh each time. That could be PvP & GvG, though I'm not sure how interested I'd be myself. I'd probably play a few battles of each to see how they go, and then stop. I'm not really interested in fighting other guilds or players, which is one reason I've never been very interested in the Guild ranking tables, especially the power table that requires intense daily raiding to keep your Guild at the top.
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