What follows below is the transcripts from the 2017 Guild Summit we hosted this past weekend on the Official Crowfall Discord. The event included several participant guild leaders, all of whom contributed to the dialogue surrounding Crowfall and its guild systems. We’ve made minor syntax and formatting changes to help it read better, but the core of the content was not edited. This meeting went for 90 minutes, and to help break it up, we’ve split the summit into three more digestible parts.
What keeps you up at night, in terms of Crowfall systems or design, as a guild leader?
Damebix [Winterblades]: A bad “soft launch” without a polished product that fails to get the critical mass needed to make Crowfall viable over the long term. Whether the unity engine can handle 100v100 siege fights is also concerning.
McTan [Mithril Warhammers]: Bingo. I think my biggest concern is ACE’s proposed soft launch strategy. I do not think a soft launch makes much sense fiscally, since ACE’s major revenue stream seems to be initial account purchases. I think ACE should delay until they are confidently make a hard-launch without any major bugs. That launch should be announced months in advance and then a final-beta set of CWs should run, with the express knowledge that everything will be wiped after they end.
Beyond that: Hacking, Duping, and Bugs. As a guild, we have a history of non-exploiting, non-hacking among our members. These issues are game-crushers. We recognize how easily games can break and populations can starve in the face of these kinds of issues. If the game systems all work and the ban-hammer comes down appropriately, it can put a stop to it.
When it comes to duping/hacking/bugs…. What policy would you prefer? One chance and lifetime ban? or per-case issue? (I ask based on experiences with The Division, where the devs issued 48 hour bans for first offenders but it clearly didn’t have desired impact on the outcomes.)
I’m always a big fan of following through on punishment for that stuff, but I recognize the PR challenges.
Yeah, no point in having sanctions if they aren’t meaningful, but that borders on a truism. I just want active monitoring. I could see bans from a particular CW being a nice middle-ground.
Soulein [Hy’shen Avari]: Performance, performance, performance. This game has got to iron out its performance issues by launch or it’s doomed. We need solid performance with dozens, if not hundreds, of players on screen.
I’m also concerned about the specifics of the guild/alliance system and how the campaign “victory” status will be distributed in the Shadows and Dregs. If my guild teams up with 2-3 other guilds to win a campaign, how are we going to make sure that all of those guilds are rewarded for their combined efforts?
Allastair [Ascendance]: Performance. How will this game be with every effect in and 150 people in a castle siege? This worries me a lot. No matter how good the game is in beta, or it is when it runs smoothly, if when shit gets serious the game freezes, crashes, FPS drops or server lags… it will be impossible to play. In the end you can’t lead a guild in a game that sucks.
Noc [Serrated]: I don’t lose sleep over Crowfall. If you’re asking what I’m excited for, it’s the depth of crafting. If you’re asking what I’m least excited for, it’s the waiting for launch.
Scree [Obsidian]: In my own opinion, the thing that keeps me up at night is their money-stream to get us to launch. Kinda coincides with the soft-launch issue. They have announced in the recent investor stream that they are basically 50% over their original budget of $8 millon (they estimate they need $12 million now?). This forces them to potentially launch earlier then intended to get that necessary revenue.
I didn’t like finding that out from the investor stream, as opposed to its own news post. ACE is typically very transparent, but somehow that slipped their minds.
Blazen [Lords of Death]: I hope the game doesn’t turn into HarvestFall or CraftFall. Harvesting and crafting need to be important, but the core of the game is PvP and conquest. I just hope that the harvesting and crafting grind isn’t where we spend 90% of our time to only be able to PvP 10% of the time.
Right now, if you look at Scree’s previous blog post on the grind, it’s pretty crazy.
McTan [Mithril Warhammers]: Yeah, I am hoping that Thralls and Blueprints system works well. People who want to go nuts on crafting can do so, and then the rest of us can PvP.
Scree [Obsidian]: That’s another good concern. Crafting seems very time consuming to make a single set of gear, and potentially losing that on death might make PvP a rarity in full loot bands (or just roaming bands of naked people).
Allastair [Ascendance]: Yes, crafting and harvesting does seem to be very repetitive and time consuming now. But it’s a prototype so…
Darktide [Xen of Onslaught]: Well pretty much I answered this on question one, the thing that bothers me more than anything is how much will the common Joe be allowed to work on structures. I don’t want to invite someone into the group after a month in, and he is from someone else and watch powerlessly as he tears down forts and emplacements so a weaker group can come in and wreck us when we are not looking or off doing something else.
We all love gold; with the economy being player driven, do you expect your guilds to keep the market stable for new players to be able to function or will we see a broken economy in the first year?
Blazen [Lords of Death]: We will make no allowances for new players. Play to crush.
Soulein [Hy’shen Avari]: I don’t know what will happen with the Eternal Kingdoms, but I expect the Campaign Worlds will have wartime economies. If you’re not in a guild, you’re going to be scrounging for the scraps they leave behind.
McTan [Mithril Warhammers]: I am not too worried about the economy, as long as ACE pays attention to it over time. With the CWs they seem to have power over enough knobs to make it work.
Scree [Obsidian]: I think the biggest challenges are that people think “markets” are going to publicly exist. In theory you are gathering resources to win a campaign. Trading those might help you win, but it also might help your opponents win.
Damebix [Winterblades]: I agree with McTan, I think this is an ACE problem to figure out and adjust as needed.
Noc [Serrated]: It’ll be chaos the first few months. Especially with guilds thinking of using VIP as currency as well.
Allastair [Ascendance]: I think it will vary from campaign to campaign. Some campaigns might have a stable stream of resources and a safer environment for economy to thrive but some of them might have such fast territory shifts and fierce environments that really there is little room for economies to grow too complex.
From [Eleador] Mytherceria
Does anyone worry that by making the EKs matter too much, that most guilds will naturally move towards playing in the campaigns with the most generous import, and the Dregs and Shadows will be empty, or only used as resource generators?
Damebix [Winterblades]: That’s why I think the Dregs/Shadows need to have the most risk, but also the most reward.
McTan [Mithril Warhammers]: Not as long as the most hardcore CWs have the best quality.
Scree [Obsidian]: I think the opposite sentiment about EKs has been voiced here today. Most of the assembled leaders don’t think EKs will be anything but minor players in terms of long-term goal achievement.
Blazen [Lords of Death]: I’m not concerned with this. Many guilds don’t like faction rulesets including ours. That will keep us out of anything but Dregs and Shadows right there. Plus the best materials come from the Dregs and you have to win to get a decent amount of materials exported.
Noc [Serrated]: I think it’s fair game. If they made a 100% import CW, everyone has the same opportunity to work towards it. Of course, that tends to favor bigger guilds. And on the other side of the coin, it’s still a choice to join those CWs right? So… who knows.
Allastair [Ascendance]: Well, they have said that the highest import campaigns will be on the outer bands, but the Dregs will also have campaigns with import. The import and export rates are not necessarily associated to the band, even though the initial draft graphics they made had that correlation they never said this is how it will end up.
From [Infamy] MrPlanks
Will Zerg guilds be an issue? I understand that in campaigns it’s a non issue but in the open world what stops numbers from controlling most if all key resource spots?
Soulein [Hy’shen Avari]: Numbers will always make a difference, there’s no getting around it.
McTan [Mithril Warhammers]: I personally think excessive numbers is a fine strategy and shouldn’t be disallowed, it just should be non-trivial to add more people. The more systems where it matters how much each person is contributing, the better.
Scree [Obsidian]: I think zerging is an issue that has to be defined first. Your definition of zerging isn’t the same as mine (usually). Numbers matter, they always have. I just hope for a robust POI system with travel times that are difficult for a mass guild to effectively travel in a pack and control a sizable territory.
In the end, unless the devs are committed to restricting guild size through the use of carrots or sticks, numbers will always matter.
Blazen [Lords of Death]: Numbers and zergs are always a consideration in an open world campaign conquest game. This is why I like the idea of friendly fire that favors a smaller, more coordinated force than a mindless zerg.
Allastair [Ascendance]: Zergs have to be an issue. If you have a horde of enemies at your door step, you should at least have some concern. The problem is when mindlessly zerging is the best option, because then it renders guilds almost irrelevant, removes organized gameplay from the game and zerging becomes the only strategy. I don’t think it will be a problem with collision, bane circles, friendly fire, etc. We will have to wait and see.
Damebix [Winterblades]: It’s the age old battle between larger (unorganized) guilds and smaller (tighter knit) guilds. The zerg wins sometimes, the smaller guilds win sometimes. They will definitely have an impact. -W- has a history of viciously targeting these types of guild.
Soulein [Hy’shen Avari]: What about smart zergs? There’s nothing that says the guild that has 50 more players than yours has to be disorganized.
Scree [Obsidian]: I think that is a unicorn in an MMO. Very rare, but likely to be only marginally more effective then an alliance of smaller elite players.
Allastair [Ascendance]: That’s not a zerg though, as I understand. That’s a raid.
Soulein [Hy’shen Avari]: Yeah, it’s definitely less likely, especially if it’s put together in a short time span.
Scree [Obsidian]: If you can’t beat em with your existing numbers, it’s diplomacy time.
Blazen [Lords of Death]: “ZERG” is a relative term, right? What might be a zerg in this alpha stage might be a mid size group in launch. Relatively speaking, the more people you get, the harder it is to maintain quality.
Scree [Obsidian]: well yea, a zerg right now in crowfall is a 5 man group; it’s all relative.
Damebix [Winterblades]: Yup, politics will determine the fate of any war. It’s more the “zerg” mentally than the numbers.
Allastair [Ascendance]: Yeah, it is relative, but normally a zerg is started by that one random guy on general chat recruiting people who say “invite me” and running with them to attack things.
From [Eleador] Mytherceria
Do you believe alliances should be alliances of “equals” or a system where smaller guilds must choose their side as vassals?
Soulein [Hy’shen Avari]: There’s a lot more that goes into battles in these types of games than just mass recruiting in global chat. You have to get people to meet a schedule, bring the right gear, and stick around for hours.
The kneel function should be for enemy guilds who want to bow out. Alliances should allow for a confederation of equals who all share the same reward.
Scree [Obsidian]: I think if you kneel to a superior guild, that your guild’s position should be recognized as such.
McTan [Mithril Warhammers]: The Nation/Sub-guild system in SB was a good one, IMO. I’d personally prefer for Alliances to be not programmed in at all, I think some of the political unities need to be more fragile.
Noc [Serrated]: So essentially should alliances be formed with a handshake, or a kneel? I suppose it’s a matter of what guilds are involved and what the offer on the table is.
Blazen [Lords of Death]: The “kneel” function is interesting because there are different types of alliances. There are subordinate guilds and there are allies who are equals. It will be interesting how these alliances may or may not stick together when it comes down to who “wins” the campaign and gets the largest export. I wonder if there will be a guild member limit so alliances can’t just get all under the same guild tag.
Allastair [Ascendance]: I don’t know if I can answer the alliance question, we don’t even have a prototype for a system yet.
Damebix [Winterblades]: I think not integrating alliance functionality is a mistake, because we all agreed that it’s going to be a necessary thing to win in the Dregs
We are going to wrap up now and let people get back to their day. Any last words for the Crowfall community or Devs, guild leaders?
Damebix [Winterblades]: Moar templar?
Scree [Obsidian]: Next week will give us a ton of great development news… hopefully!
Soulein [Hy’shen Avari]: Food for the Crows!
Noc [Serrated]: Go buy some Crowfall shirts!
McTan [Mithril Warhammers]: Thanks all. Hammers high!
Blazen [Lords of Death]: Sorry I was late – but it was fun! [Ed. Note: Blazzen arrived roughly when Question 4 was being discussed]