Remember way back when? I do. The first time you could walk in a building that not quite everyone could visit. But not for the following of a Questguide, though. No this was all me. I did the hard work that got me into the Cooking Guild.
And I liked it. That little feeling of exclusivity got me hooked right away, and I started ticking off other Guilds. The Crafting guild and the Monastery were next, and with a little work, even the Mining Guild had to eventually open its gates for me.
Later on, when I had completed most of the F2P bits of RuneScape, I was allowed into the Champions Guild. A guild of a different style, a style of which no actual skilling is involved for entrance, but one that serves as a fall-out base for the Dragon Slayer quest. Odd enough, I never noticed how little I returned back there until they released Champions' Challenges.
Guilds are an aspect of RuneScape that has been neglected by both the players and the developers for the longest time. Not for a lack of trying, though, so let's look at the most recent additions first.
The Runecrafting Guild had about as much as you could expect from a specialized building built around the most boring skill ever. It gave us a faster way to get pouches, a one-off chunk of XP, and a minigame that earns you a cool hat amongst other things.
The Warriors Guild was the first and only guild to incorporate a veritable choice of minigames into getting the desirable rewards. None of these are very effective at training the skills involved; however, the Dragon Defender should compensate that in the long run.
The Thieving Guild used to be housed in the basement of a pub in Burthorpe. The Rogues Den was about as good as it could get before the maze closed shop and was replaced by an oddly dysfunctional factory. But since neither the factory nor the maze are used by the same throngs of people that use the permanent fire there, being the guild for thieves was just an unofficial designation.
The official Thieving Guild is placed in Lumbridge, but upon first entering you see little else than two ambitious fools in a shoddy basement. You actually build up the entire guild to its full potential yourself. Well, I say "build", but you actually rob people of their valuables in order to fund the expansions in a series of miniquests.
As you can see, each guild, both the old and the new, have something unique about them. But as I stated, the guilds as a concept are in neglect. For example; How often do you visit the Ranging Guild? How often do you use items that could have come from there?
The Defenders, the weekly Thieving XP, recharging your Glories, and the RuneSpan (although that one is technically not in the Runecrafting Guild) is about all I can think of that people keep on using on a regular basis. Not really worth devoting an entire section of the game to, is it?
A guild should be a unique place with unique features, by definition. The Grand Exchange, for example, can be called a guild for traders and merchants. People come there to put their stuff on, or get stuff from this feature. Both the Blast Furnace and the Artisan's Workshop can be considered the Smithing Guild for obvious reasons. A less obvious guild would be the High Level Forums on the RSOF, as a meeting place for maxed players.
The next question is then; can we somehow spice up the existing content to make Guilds have a function again? That all depends on how eager the players would want to come back. The weekly Thieving XP chunk is a good start, as is the Runecrafting-on-cruise-control. Even the Crucible can be considered a PK-ing Guild.
So can the Cooking Guild be the only place in all of RuneScape that has the possibility of making a high-level food? Will the Ranging Guild be the only place where you can earn yourself a Dragon Crossbow? Could there be a Farming patch that constantly requires your attention? Can this crop give us fibers that can only be spun in the Crafting Guild? Should the cloth created from the newly woven fibers then only be able to be used in the Wizard's Guild to make some new awesome robe set? Why not?
The exclusivity of things has worn off long ago for me. In this day and age of 200 million players (yeah right) I doubt there will ever be something in RuneScape that thousands of players haven't done before, and millions will be able to do after me.
But this doesn't kill off the concept of guilds in RuneScape. The true killer in a frequently updated game as RuneScape is neglect. But where quests are expected once a month and Squeal updates once a week, I fear that guilds, with an average of about once a year, have effectively locked themselves out of the game.