All The Galaxy’s A Stage: Guild Alignment And Role-Playing
All The Galaxy’s A Stage is a regular column at Ask A Jedi with some lofty, creative goals. On one hand, we will be discussing and exploring meaningful topics to support the role-play experience and community. On the other hand, we also want to introduce the casual Role-Player to the writing-acting experience that can add so much more to an MMORPG like Star Wars: The Old Republic. Share your perspectives and experience as we co-create magical story in that galaxy far, far away!
BioWare’s announcement that the second phase of pre-launch guild alignment did get me to thinking. What will guild alignment mean to the RP community?
I will confess that at first glance the concept of Guild Alignment gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling. What has stood out for me since the launch of Guild HQ is the investment that BioWare has clearly made into the idea of guilds. I’ve been left with a sense that they recognize that an MMO is social, that guilds are a key part of the social game, and that the structure surrounding the care and feeding of guilds is not to be dismissed.
But then as I continued thinking about this a concern started to loom in the back of my mind, like a sinister Sith Lord waiting for the opportunity to inflict their ideals of power and control upon the galaxy. Guild alignment actually has the potential to divide the RP community. Now, I’m not saying this will happen. If anything experience has taught me that RP guilds do a very good job of organizing where they will go. However, I do feel compelled to ask the following question. What happens if there are 2 or more RP servers in a continent?
In such a situation it’s hardly far-fetched to wonder whether RP guilds might start getting assigned between different RP servers for the sake of balancing performance and server load. Whilst the RP community is mostly resigned to the fact that timezones mean that European and North American role-players will inevitably be split, the idea that multiple RP servers in a continent has the potential to further split each continental RP community really does warrant some discussion (and thus the motivation for this article).
And before you jump up and say that I’m over-reacting, bear in mind that this is just some mild speculation on my part with the aim of getting RP guilds and the community thinking about this sooner rather than later. Yes, there may only be 1 RP server per continent. If this is the case, then this entire article will have been speculation over nothing. However, I’m not so sure that will happen.
Communication, Communication, Communication…
Guild alignment does offer some exciting possibilities for role-play guilds. The idea that 4 Republic guilds can be allied from BioWare’s perspective and ‘increase the odds’ of being on the same RP server has some merit. However, couldn’t we communicate within the already existing out-of-game communities such as www.swtor-rp.com and organize this anyway?
And so even though I am grateful for BioWare’s efforts I am left with the feeling that the Guild Alignment feature will perhaps give diminishing returns to RP guilds. Yes, RP guilds could get clever, and organize chain alliances to help ensure many RP guilds end on the same server. For example, guilds A, B, and C might be allied. And then C could ally with D and E, and guild E could ally with F and G. Theoretically, this would mean that all the allied guilds end up on the same RP server. But I say theoretically, as there are no guarantees, just a carefully worded “very likely.”
I would like to make a prediction. We’ll get more than 1 RP server per continent. At some point pre-launch BioWare will release the server list. We’ll make note of the RP servers and will inevitably come to an agreement on a self-designated RP server. We’ll likely opt for a server in the middle of the list since it’ll be less likely to be picked by griefers. And if timing allows it we may even gather around an RP server where a good chunk of RP guilds have already been assigned through this system.
But I also want to wave a cautionary flag. If we leave server selection to the Guild Alignment system guilds will either have to manually bring themselves into the community designated RP server, or be left across multiple RP servers (which IMO is bad). However, communication can work wonders. And if there’s anything I have learned it is that RP guilds tend to be very good at self-organizing this sort of thing. At the end of the day, I guess that I am a bit skeptical of the Guild Alignment system doing all the work for us.
What say you?