The idea of having somewhere in the game for your guild to hang out, hold meetings and show off achievements is one which appeals to me a lot. Coming from a RuneScape background, I was around to see their implementation of player housing, and I really enjoyed it. Now I don’t think that would necessarily work in WoW – the game is just too different, and the RS version was based around a new skill (read: profession) to do with creating furniture but I find it unlikely that Blizzard would bother with it. Giving each player the opportunity to have their own, instanced house would only lead to the decimation of the populations of major cities, and might well ruin the social atmosphere of the game completely. Besides, there really wouldn’t be much to do in there, at all. Having a shared area for your guild though, that’s a different matter entirely.
My idea of a guild hall is essentially a headquarters for the guild. In my mind, it would be a large room, with multiple levels and various pieces of furniture. It would be an area for the guild to collectively display their achievements, as well as provide an area for guilds who want to hold meetings in person – my guild does this when the officers have meetings, and I’m sure RP guilds might benefit even if nobody else did. Additionally, the room would have to be functional, or let’s face it – it would never realistically be used.
To work out what features the guild hall could contain, we can look at the recent Blizzard news about Cataclysm and guild changes.
With the introduction of guild recipes, mounts, pets, etc, there needs to be a place for vendors for these items, and the hall would be the ideal place. On that note, there would probably have to be normal vendors too, for food and such (read: beer). Additionally, we obviously have guild banks, and there would need to be a means to access those, although not our personal ones – this way, people still need to use the banks in cities.
As well as that, there should be a way to see your guild’s talent tree and leveling progression, although this largely depends on how it’s implemented. If you can view all of this through the improved UI, it might not be necessary.
Putting in auction houses would be a bad idea; similar to personal banks, this will pull people away from cities, which no one wants. For the same reasons, I feel putting in class or profession trainers would be ill-advised. However, including a stable master, guild master (the kind which lets you design tabards), etc, would be alright. Perhaps the hall could have an extension at the back for pets where the stable master would be? While we’re at it, we could have Warlock summoning circles in a corner – whenever you summon a demon inside the circle, you don’t lose a soul shard, or something.
Despite being purely for aesthetics, the way the room looks is, in my mind, an important feature. Ideally it should have wall hangings and tapestries depicting the guild’s achievements and successes – for example, if you get a guild achievement for killing a boss, there could be a picture of the boss displayed. Alternatively, you could display the guild tabard, motto (we don’t have a motto, but some people might) or multitudes of other things.
Furniture should be considered too. As well as a more formal table and chair arrangement for meetings, there ought to be a relaxing area, maybe around a fireplace, for guild members to sit and chat (again, my RP side is showing through). If there are multiple levels, each one could be for a different purpose – vendors and utilities on the ground floor, relaxation on the first floor and a meeting place on the second.
Various tables and shelves around the hall could display trophies (literally and metaphorically) of your successes, just like the walls could. Perhaps when your guild arena team finally gets the Gladiator title, a trophy which looks like crossed swords would appear on a table. Or a scale model of an arena. The options are endless.
The location of the hall is also important. While it would obviously be instanced, or you’d never fit in one per guild, the entrance has to be somewhere. I’m a fan of the way RuneScape did their player housing here – the player could choose one of four places in the world for their house (although they could later move it for a cost) and then go through the portal at that location. This would also affect the type of house the player had.
In WoW, this could easily translate into the four cities of the faction you’re with (soon to be five in Cataclysm? Not sure on that) and it could include neutral zones too, such as Dalaran or Shattrath. In fact, only Dalaran or Shattrath, but you know. If you locate your guild hall in Stormwind, you get a castle-type zone. With Darnassus, the architecture is very Elven, with Ironforge it’s underground, and with the Exodar… No, wait, nobody likes the Exodar.
To facilitate getting to the hall more easily, it should be possible to teleport or hearthstone there. If it’s a case of the former, walking outside would probably have to teleport you back to the place you were at, or this would just be the new version of the old trick where you grouped up with someone in a city, joined a BG, and then left to appear in the city they were in. If you’d be able to set your hearthstone to the hall however, walking outside would bring you into the city as normal, because it’s really just an alternative to an inn.
There would have to be some cost involved to set up, much like a guild bank – maybe using the incoming taxation system, the guild could pay a monthly ‘rent’. Otherwise, a steep cost up front would offset the usefulness of having all these facilities. On the other hand, it could just be free, which would be fairer by a long way, and the guild could collectively pay for the various features inside, like the vendors and furniture. Think of it as paying the wages of the NPCs! If using money isn’t a good idea, perhaps the guild could earn the things inside through leveling up (think the guild leveling system). There are many possibilities!
I really do wish Blizzard would consider this idea – if done correctly, it could be a fun addition to the game, and I don’t think it would take too much development time once they decide what will and won’t be inside.