While most of you don't give a hoot about clans, for my loyal readers it is no secret that I have been the leader of Tal Shiar for almost five years now. And I can still remember everyone who has walked through my clan's proverbial door and decided to stay a while.
In all that time, we've seen a whole slew of updates designed to make our lives a little easier. Jagex started with adding a large variety of team capes. Five colours and ten patterns to choose from meant that, aside from looking quite handsome, the likelihood of accidentally attacking a friendly in the wilderness was severely reduced.
A few years after that we saw the addition of Clan Chat, which is like today's version of Friends Chat. A way to communicate with multiple people in game all at once, without them having to be near you (or even in the same world), was considered a huge leap forward.
The changes to the Wilderness meant that Jagex had to provide an alternative, and it was in the same year that Clan Wars was introduced. It has had several upgrades and new features since then, but even when first released it provided a safe way for clans to fight out their differences. These days clans can even compete for ranks in Rated Clan Wars.
And earlier this year the Clan Camp was set up just south of Falador. I was stupefied by the possibilities. Not only could we design our own Cloak with over a hundred different symbols and all the colours you can think of, but these colours would be displayed on our "Clan-alised" Vexillum along with a whole bunch of information about the clan in question, including a motto and some keywords. And you can place these almost anywhere in RuneScape to advertise what you're all about.
Clan Chat was split between just a chat for your friends (Friends Chat) and a proper Clan Chat that you automatically join when you log in, no questions asked. On top of that, each clan has their own web pages, providing loads of information about not only your clan, but about every individual member, and they even include some forums to use. I thought that all this was the pinnacle of possibilities, but in the western side of the Clan Camp a mysterious portal promised us more.
And here it is. Clan Citadels now provide clans with, as opposed to the POH of whoever happened to be online at the time, a proper home that they can work on to upgrade and customize further and further.
It will require a lot of time and effort to upgrade through the tiers and unlock the necessary skill plots, especially for the smaller clans, but the things you can tweak seem limitless. Whether it is the walls, windows, weapon racks, or even the weather, you can change it. Well, not the weather, but you can change your Citadel to either bathe in the full light of day, or have that gloomy empty-street-at-night feeling.
You can have the most glorious statues of Jad or Nex welcome any visitors as they walk on roads decorated with sundials, fountains, and hedges trimmed to your liking. And as they pass the Notice Board with events and the Signpost with friendly and enemy clans into the rest of the Citadel, it only gets better.
Take, for example, your own private party room where the balloons hold many small surprises. There is also a Senate that makes the Galactic Congress of Star Wars look like the lobby of a budget hotel. Or how about the Battlefield? You can edit and customize with all kinds of features to create both wacky minigames and awesome theatres of war.
Some people have complained that you would need hundreds of people to build all the way up to the highest features. This is true if you want to race through the content, but since you can also partially pay for upgrades, there is no need for vast armies of slaves. I'll agree that the visitor number requirement seems a bit redundant when there is also the upkeep to pay every week.
A much more common grievance is that smaller clans will not have access to higher tiers and are therefore discriminated against. A ridiculous claim to make if you ask me (and my clan has only 40-ish people) as this would be equivalent to pures complaining that there is not enough defensive gear around.
But I do foresee quite a bit of leeching. There will be clans out there that will be full of people who only joined them just to have access to the highest tier of Citadel. Normally this would stifle the little clans, but they can rest assured that these people will not lift a finger in helping to realise those upgrades, no matter which clan they are in.
And finally the F2P-should-also-have-this argument rears its ugly head again. Almost every single update for clans was also made available for F2P, but the Citadels were a technical impossibility to do so. Still some people can't take no for an answer. The better leaders out there will be able to prevent their clans from ripping in two, but most have opted for the easy way out and made their mixed clan P2P-only.
While I think that Jagex have gone to extreme lengths with all the new interfaces and graphics, there is one worry I have. I can't for the life of me understand what Jagex expect from this update. They claim that this is the biggest update of the year (Free Trade is hardly an update), but do not want this to take us away from the rest of RuneScape.
Of course, right now all one can do up there is to chop away at some roots, and maybe enjoy some of the smaller customizations. But even when you've progressed through the tiers and diversified your resources, there is still little to actually do up there other than earn resources for the next upgrade.
No clan is going to compete on another's Battlefield for real, just as nobody is going to use that tent for private meetings. Other features will not be used either. If anything needs to be discussed with all of the clan members it will be done over Clan Chat or even outside of RuneScape over that clan's IRC or their own forums.
So why should you, in this XP and GP driven game, be up there chopping or mining away when you could get much better value for your time in, for example, the Living Rock Caverns? For a few statues which only high ranked members get to decide upon? No, the only use the Citadels have is as a status symbol, and that makes this a wasted update in my book.
If it wasn't for the innate competitiveness of clans and their never-ending need to show off, this content would've been dead on arrival. I don't think this means that Jagex don't get clans; they obviously know how they think. But it all stops just short of actually catering to them.
If, for example, your POH didn't have all those portals, altars, and places to store your stuff, you wouldn't have trained Construction either. But this is exactly what the Citadels are; A place to call your own, but with nothing to do there. And that last part is especially true for the clan's peons.
It's possible that Jagex have deliberately left out the useful stuff, in order to not upset the non-clan people. But you cannot design clan-only content and have it available to everyone. So sadly, if this is indeed the way Jagex think, the future of Citadels is dim at best.
Fortunately, there are many people with just as many ideas on how to improve it all. Putting a Bank and a Grand Exchange branch up there seems to be the obvious suggestion and somewhat of a necessity for the Battlefield, even if that means that people can hide their botting. But what about the ability to return to "downstairs RuneScape" at different places or even on a different world? You cannot directly teleport from the Citadel because it is an instanced world, but how about portals that put you at the Gamer's Grotto, Daemonheim, or Edgeville?
There are plenty of suggestions out there that would see people in a clan regularly return there. I have a few of my own such as altars that allow the switching between Magic and Prayer books, specialised farm patches, an Agility-based minigame of island hopping around the Citadel, to simple things like adding an additional Brewing Vat for your ales and a repair stand for your Ancient, Gravite, Chaotic and Barrows equipment. Many of these ideas are worked out into more detail, and I'll post them for your review in this article's discussion thread, but most of them have one very important thing in common; It will provide at least SOME customization options for the lower ranks in your clan.
So Citadels can yet be saved. Simply because of the infinite number of possibilities for future additions, Citadels have the potential to not only become the biggest update of this year, but possibly surpassing the impact that the Grand Exchange and Free Trade updates have had.
PS: My clan has an open door policy, so if you have not been up to a Citadel just yet and want to check it out, just head on to the Clan Camp south of Falador, click on the giant portal and join a guest Citadel named "Tal Shiar".