The alliance system that I have proposed over the past week is a massive change from the existing server system. This begs the obvious question: how to move from servers to alliances? To tie this series up, here’s what I suggest.
NOTE: The following order presumes that the infrastructure and back-end to implement alliances has been built, and all that remains is to transition.
Step 1: Servers into Mercenaries
At the start of a week’s match, a switch is flipped that turns all existing server matches (tiers 1-8/9) into mercenary-based matches. For sake of understanding, each of these matches is named based on the old servers that were a part of it. Players are all considered mercenaries, and can freely join any match with the same restrictions as outlined in Part 4.
Having a “match selection” mechanic in place before alliance matches even happen removes a technical hurdle early on in the process, and gets players used to the new way of entering matches before the ladder activates.
Step 2: Open Alliance Registration
Ideally happening at the same time everyone becomes mercenaries, either an in-game interface (more convenient) or official website (could be faster to develop) launches, allowing guild leaders to register an alliance. This should have a few simple administration functions:
- Can start a new alliance, including name and description
- Can invite other guilds
- Can kick other guilds
The ability to kick can be implemented several ways, perhaps the alliance leader gets to do so, majority vote chooses, or the alliance leader can delegate kick authority.
The website should also have a list of registered alliances and their member guilds, allowing anyone to see who’s out there.
Alliances can’t work unless there’s someplace to sign up, as well as somewhere to see who’s organized together. Opening registration is a mandatory part of making that a reality.
Step 3: Start the Alliance Ladder
After a couple of weeks of signups, or an adequate number of alliances has signed up (I suggest 12 or more), alliances are pitted against each other based on raw membership count. For each alliance match that starts, one of the 8-9 mercenary matches deactivates until there are none. Mercenary matches after that point are based on the demand of WvW beyond the alliance matches (see again Part 4).
These initial ladder matchups should run on a fresh algorithm (similar to the Glicko resets that happened early in Guild Wars 2‘s release), with minor weighting given to ratings to account for population differences. This reduces the likelihood of a big fights-focused, 3,000-man alliance from losing to two other similar ones, and facing a roaming-focused, 200-man alliance the next week.
Perhaps to help with settling ratings out quicker, matches could be 2-3 days long each, rather than a single week. If so, 3 day matches should be on the weekends, with two 2-day matches during the week to reflect similar population conditions.
Population is a loose determiner of alliance strength, and with the flexibility of alliance size inherent in the setup (1-5000 people), can also be used by alliance members to “tilt the scale” toward a matchup they’re more interested in playing.
Step 4: The First Season
Once ratings have settled down (low volatility on the alliances), kick off the first season, pulling together groups of 6 and 9 alliances into leagues and organizing a format around them. This is virtually identical to how the previous 3 tournaments functioned, but takes into account the dynamic nature of alliances.
Step 5: Maintain
And that’s it. In four steps, WvW has fully transitioned from a server-based system to the new alliance-based system, with a consistent ladder and regular seasons.
Alliances are the best way to move forward with World vs. World. They’re not perfect, and they won’t satisfy everyone, but giving players the tools to self-organize and letting them compete on their terms best fits the competitive community that the mode has always fostered.
Further, by implementing alliances, mercenaries, and updated and prestigious rewards, ArenaNet can take a step back from WvW entirely. With minor course corrections and adjustments, an alliance system can be self-regulating and self-sustaining. It can reduce developer overhead (and player rage at WvW being ignored) tremendously.
On one level, alliances as I’ve proposed are a terrible idea. It relinquishes structural control over what players do, and if they destroy the game mode by their actions, the blame will still fall on the developer.
But any such destruction will be sudden and abrupt. WvW has been dying for years now, with activity dropping lower and lower, and its veterans getting more and more bitter over what they love being so utterly ignored.
It’s pretty much at the point of ArenaNet having nothing to lose by attempting something as radical as alliances, even if it fails. Players have been asking for it for years, guilds have left for other games over its lack, and it is far stronger than the server system ever can be. Take the chance, and make something amazing.
The Alliances Series
- Putting Guilds Back into Guild Wars: WvW Alliances
- Unbalanceable Problems: Why the Server System Cannot Work
- Heart and Soul: The Guilds of World vs. World
- The Case for WvW Alliances
- The Alliance Structure: Sidestepping the Problems
- The Pros and Cons of WvW Alliances
- Rewarding the Competition
- Implementing Alliances