The Tip.It Times

Issue 7499gp

The Importance of Clans

Written by and edited by Racheya

Runescape has been around for almost a decade, but for most of the game's history there's been virtually no in-game support for clans. Clans have always been an integral part of the MMO experience, allowing players to work towards common goals. Clans often provide a strong social structure within the game, giving players a more intimate group of friends within the thousands of anonymous faces that populate the game.

The first major step towards supporting clans within the game was the introduction of the clan chat system in 2007. The system basically gave players the means to set up private chat channels linked to their account, with several options to restrict access and hand out ranks. While designed for clans, the system was soon picked up by all sorts of players, with channels being set up for anything from visitors to certain fan sites to activities like penguin hunting. However, other than the clan chat and team capes, very little clan support exists in game.

And that is, in my opinion, a missed opportunity for Jagex. After all, clans provide not only a social environment for players, but also an element of competition that will keep players tied to the game longer. Right now organized clan play takes place entirely on fan forums, with only the annual Jagex Clan Cup existing as an official alternative. In my opinion, there's a lot of potential for Jagex to support clans.

A lot of the group activities cost money and items. By reducing the amount of time players have to spend gathering these resources, you're increasing the amount of time players get to do stuff they actually enjoy, therefore increasing the enjoyment they get out of the game. Of course there's one major problem with this system: real world trading. However, I think that any kind of clan bank system would benefit from restrictions similar to the ones already in place, such as a withdrawal limit based on quest points or combat level. By extending clan chat ranks to bank access level, clan leaders can insure that the clan banks aren't abused by their members.

Another form of resources that clans need to manage is the loot that drops from many of the high end monsters and the many PvP rewards that have been added to the game in the past year. The game currently offers two systems to distribute loot within a group: LootShare, which will give the item to one player based on their LootShare Potential, and CoinShare, which puts the dropped item on the Grand Exchange and splits the monetary value equally between all members of the group.

There is a system to organize loot distribution within clans that's almost as old as MMOs themselves are, called the DKP, or Dragon Kill Point system. This system basically works as follows: Clan members earn points by attending group events and/or performance within said events (this is entirely up to the clan leadership), and these points can be used as an indicator to see who is most deserving for a certain piece of loot. Of course there's the potential for abuse by real world traders here, but I think this could be fixed by including limits such as a minimum amount of time spent within the clan. CoinShare could also be used to help the clan as a whole, for example by giving the clan leaders the option to turn the cash generated by CoinShare into clan supplies such as food and potions.

Part of the joy of being in a clan is showing off your achievements as a group. Currently, there is absolutely no way for players to show off that they belong to a certain clan. Sure, there's the team capes, but those only exist in fifty designs and are available to anyone. Of course there's the problem of graphical limitations, which makes systems such as the tabards in World of Warcraft pretty much impossible to implement, but I think just having a way to display a clan name, such as showing it next to a player's name when you hover over them with your cursor, would be a great start.

One way that would allow clans to show off their achievements that would probably work quite well within the existing game engine would be the inclusion of clan halls. With the player house system already in place within the game, why not give clans the ability to build their own clan hall in the same way? A clan hall would be a great place for clan members to socialize and to show off their achievements to the outside world. Player owned houses already have several 'achievement rooms', such as the skill hall and the quest hall. The great thing about this is that Jagex could create different achievement rooms for different clan types. Monster hunters could deck the halls with trophies, while PvP clans could hang the armour of their defeated enemies from the walls and skillers could show off their crafted goods.

The ability to show off achievements can be a great motivating force, especially if it comes with rewards. These rewards can be purely aesthetic. For example, why not give a clan that has managed to kill the Corporeal Beast under difficult circumstances (within a certain time limit, or with a maximum amount of players) special armour? It could have exactly the same stats as existing items, therefore giving no 'unfair' advantages, while still showing off that the player in question has the skills needed to complete a difficult task.

These are just a few suggestions of course, and I am by no means an expert on the RuneScape clan culture. Still, I think that by increasing the amount of options available in game to organize and reward clans, Jagex could take some huge steps forward in encouraging players to make a long term commitment to their game.

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Tags: Clans

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