Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Funcom, I Want Cross-Faction Cabals

CABAL — a small group of secret plotters, as against a government or person in authority.

In Beyond the Veil Take 38, Xander asked the panel what we wanted from the recently promised Cabal management improvements for The Secret World. I stated that I personally care about only one change to cabals: make them cross-faction. Right now players of all three factions can group together for every aspect of the game that involves group play, except two: PVP and Cabals.

Currently, cabals in TSW are more social enterprises than anything else, anyway. I think there's a cabal bank. That's really about it, a standing group of people who might available to group with. It not like there's any boost/reputation benefit to being a cabal. Not that I really mind. I feel like that sort of system in other games has inspired zerg-guilds that are no more a community than the playerbase at large, and together only for the "material" benefits.
This article from Jason Winter of GameBreaker TV puts my argument into a broader gaming context, to include the splintering of the playerbase between factions and across multiple servers. When I first branched out from WoW to play STO, I was delighted with Cryptic's ability to make whatever multi-server set-up they had transparent to the player. I no longer had to worry about what server I was on versus where my friends were. I am still friends with people that I am sure I never would have met if they'd been on some separate server like in WoW. TSW's server hopping is just as good a method.

I have long campaigned for cross-faction cabals. From my review of TSW back in July:
Set aside your differences. OK, remember how when you played WoW and you wanted to be a an Orc or Tauren, but all your friends were rolling dwarves and gnomes? So you had to roll Alliance, or you wouldn't be able to play. It sucked. Not so with The Secret World. Feel free to group up with those of opposing factions for PvE content, dungeons, etc. After all, some serious shit is goin' down, and unlike Telara or Azeroth, we need to stick together to take care of it. Then, when the pressure's off, we can fight amongst ourselves again in the PvP areas. Yes, I say again cross-faction PvE. Hopefully soon we make form cross-faction cabals (guilds), wheels-within-wheels.
I thought I had articulated this more clearly in the past, but this post was all I could find. I like that I don't have to role as part of the same faction as my friends to group up. I can help who ever I see in The Secret World. I understand the importance of separate factions in PvP—or different servers in the case of GW2. However, in most cases, limiting cross-faction cooperation only fragments a playerbase that could not care less about interfaction rivalries.
In conversations on the topic, I have returned often to the concept of "wheels-within-wheels." Lore-wise, what's the point of cabals? Movements within the larger factions? There's no hope of taking over the leadership of the Illuminati, so why call it a cabal? On the other hand, a small group of characters from different factions may find they have more in common with each other than they do with their respective faction leaders. There is a potential for intrigue there, at least from a roleplaying perspective.

I've heard arguments about not being able to meet in the faction HQ if some of your members aren't in the same cabal. I would say if some of your cabal members aren't in your faction, your meetings probably won't be there either. There are plenty of places in London, Seoul, and across the "globe" to conduct a clandestine cabal meeting. Of course, individual cabals would be under no obligation to invite characters from other factions, but why should that hamper those of us who want to?

I've heard rumor that Joel Bylos wants to increase the separation between factions. I think this would be a serious mistake for a game with an admittedly limited playerbase. I doubt anyone is saying, "I'd play TSW, but there's too much hippie 'Kumbayah' crap going on between the factions." Nor do I think increasing interfaction rivalry would be a selling point to recruit potential players. I could be mistaken.

The truth is that many gaming meta-guilds form "chapters" for each faction already, then communicate through venues outside the game like TeamSpeak, Ventrilo, and Internet fora. Heck, even within TSW you can create custom chat channels that can include characters from all three factions if you want. Why not give those meta-guilds the means to bring all their members together more easily?

Joel, for these reasons, please give us the capability to form cross-faction cabals, if we choose to.


  1. I completely agree. Put the pvp in the warzones or whatever your game wants to call them, but don't split up your playerbase otherwise.

    My 1st MMO was SWG. No player couldn't group with another player (on your server) unless you were *both* pvp flagged for opposite factions. Other than that... go nuts. If you saw someone you could talk to them, and 99.98% of the time you could play with them too.

    Then I went to EQ2. Sure, there were 2 factions and some "no-go" areas from NPC guards, but other than that.... didn't matter. If you saw someone, you could play with them. One of my favorite memories from the game came from that -- it was back in the early days when getting from Qeynos to Freeport (or vice versa) was rather hard below level 30, and faction swapping was a royal pain to boot. I betrayed my high elf crusader to Freeport, then made the run BACK to Qeynos and joined a "scarecrow grind group" as the tank. Eventually dinged 20 and turned into a Shadowknight, since I was now "evil."

    At the ding, everyone in the group did the typical "grats!" and then they all went "Wait. . SK? WTF?!?!?!?!" Becuz nobody expected a high elf to be an SK in the 1st place, much less have been crazy enough to hoof it back to Antonica just to surprise their group when they dinged 20.... nobody except me, that is ;)

    I never could have done something like that in any game I've played since, due to the faction separation. I never could understand why a company would choose to do that, other than "that's how WoW did it and they're successful, so let's copy their mistakes as well as their good ideas."

    1. I had no idea the strict separation only went as far back as WoW. Or did DAoC and UO have them?

  2. I don't disagree that it's probably what players want but is it what they need? I personally love hard-coded faction communication bars in MMOs. I think it adds enormously to the entertainment value. I love having characters played by me yet who cannot communicate or share wealth or influence in any way and I adore having friends playing characters to whom my characters are implacably imposed.

    If that leads to the players communicating OOC through ex-game channels that's absolutely fine. It's the characters who must not under any circumstances communicate. But then I rate character integrity infinitely higher than player integrity. The further we move towards "it's all about the player" the less I find myself able to give a damn.

    1. And I feel . . . not the opposite, but that my characters in many (most?) circumstance, wouldn't give a flying squirrel about what the high-level politics are. This person (or orc) needs my help now. The Implacables can still have their fun in the battlezones.

  3. In my mind the bigger problem is 'a playerbase that could not care less about interfaction rivalries'. After all the hype pre-release about choosing a faction, this is their game design failure and one I hope they succeed in addressing.

    And honestly, the cabal functionality is currently so woeful, you're not missing much. All they have done is thrown in a stock-standard (broken) copy of how other MMOs support player-made communities, with a tenuous link to faction lore.

    And now you want to steal it for your friends! Bah! ;)

    Seriously though, from a practical perspective, I agree it would be more useful if it wasn't faction specific. We are currently running 3 cabals to cover our membership, it's a logistical PITA.

    But what I would rather see first is a little more spice to the supposed factional conflict. I can already play with my friends but I want to play for my faction (outside of PVP). Ideally cabals should be open to all factions but something new put in place to remind us we fight for another cause.

    1. I've a problem with interfaction rivalries at least since WotLK and Rift. It just seems silly in so many cases. Like they twist the lore to support this PvP "hatred." And like you said, it seems a lot of communities have to start multiple guilds to support their members. GW2's system is even better, IMHO.

    2. Ack! I meant to say thanks for your comments. :)

  4. It's a nice idea, but I can just imagine the rewriting in game that would have to occur for this to happen. They can't just flip a switch, so to speak. I'm sure not everyone will care as much as I do, but after almost a full year of listening to my faction leader express his vehement hatred of the Illuminati, I for one am going to expect a really good reason as to why we're finally setting aside our differences to allow each other in our cabals.

    Having some of my Lumie and Dragon friends in another cabal, or making someone feel like they are forced to play a certain faction in order to play with their friend is a pain in the ass for sure, but there are current ways around communicating in-game right now and so far nothing is stopping anyone from grouping to do stuff outside of PvP...so I guess can live with it, right now I think I'd rather have my game world make sense.

    1. Kind of my point about highlighting the fact that IRL cabals are small secret groups of people not always of the same "faction." You could easily envision (and conspiracy theorists do) that these RL cabals are running the world, irrespective of national patriotism or loyalty.

      I'm not talking about changing the broader lore or Sonnac's attitude. It's a coding thing (I'm honestly not sure how involved). Meanwhile, we have meta guilds—like Mercy Gaming—that are in effect exactly the cross-faction cabals I am talking about.

    2. Well, now that you mention it, I guess I do take faction pride pretty seriously -- or, rather I should say my character does, for RP purposes. Laeyn would only have joined a Templar cabal to be with "her own kind", though ultimately I don't think she'd be against mixed cabals, if there's a good reason.

      I suppose it comes down to how the individual player views a cabal -- its purpose and its place in the lore. Like I said, most probably won't care, and if it comes down to it, it's not such a big deal to me either in the scope of things. I mostly have stories and background for my characters but don't actually RP them in game, but I can imagine how some hardcore roleplayers who take it more seriously would demand reasons.

    3. LoneStarBelle for one, isn't happy with her faction at all. She would have gone Templar, given the chance. (How's that for RP? lol) From a Faction loyalty perspective, what are cabals for? There's no intrigue about following Sonnac's orders.

      I don't outwardly RP in game, so all this is in my head. But like Laeyn, Dormunder is thoroughly loyal to the cause of the Templar, and appreciates Sonnac's attaboy-type messages, while not antagonistic toward the other factions. LSB, on the other hand, grins every time KG is frustrated by her performance. Poppyshock, is typically stoic. I haven't played her in a while.

      But this part of a larger argument I have against "Faction Pride" in every game I play. It's not part of my personality to be a rabid fan of any team, whether I'm directly involved or not. I know other people get all up in arms over the Cowboys or the Yankees. I didn't particularly care when I was in school, I don't really care now.