About a week ago, Tharuler from DotaBuff pointed out on reddit the inclusion of some curious network messages in the recent test client patch. Here is the list of messages:
This suggests that Valve is working on some kind of guild system, though no one has a clear idea of what that might entail. A common suggestion is that this is laying out the groundwork for client-supported inhouse leagues. I’m skeptical of this answer for two reasons.
First, inhouse leagues will require a lot of support, and I’m not convinced that they are a top priority right now. That’s not to say they aren’t important, but I suspect there are a lot of equally important features competing for the same kinda of attention and that these other features require much less work to get up and functional.
Secondly, calling inhouse leagues a guild seems like a very curious use of language. I suppose it could be intentional misdirection of some sort, but barring that I feel that it’s more likely that these guilds will be something social and cooperative along the lines of what guilds have come to mean in the gaming lexicon.
I expect that the guild system, if it does go through, will allow players to create a social environment from which they can more easily form premade groups, something along the lines of a gaming clan. The use of guild instead of clan would be interesting in this case. Perhaps it’s intended to make the game more inviting to MMO converts, or maybe it’s just to avoid the mental associations we have with the word “clan” in the U.S.
In any case, one of the problems with Dota 2’s current Team Matchmaking system is that joining a team feels like a tremendous commitment. On the receiving end, if you accept and then cannot show up regularly the team simply cannot play without you. On the sending end, you’re worried that every potential invite might go to someone who won’t fit the team or who will flake out.
A more informal social system bypasses these problems. There’s no real commitment (or at least a much less significant commitment) to inviting someone to a network, and there’s virtually no commitment to accepting an invite. All either party is saying is that it might be cool to play with each other at some later date. Then, once you have a significantly populated network you can look through the list of people who are online and interested in finding a match and you can much more easily form 5-man groups based off this knowledge, and unlike TMM, the composition of this 5-man group can be completely different based entirely on who happens to be available that night.
Presumably this system would feed into Normal queue. This might counter-intuitively alleviate some of the solo queue issues by making 5-man groups common enough that they can more easily be matched with each other in a short amount of time. It could also convince more 4-man groups to take the extra step to find that fifth, which might help cut down on the 4+1 environments that seem to create so many complaints.
One other minor benefit that might not be immediately obvious is that a system like this allows you to make associations in-game without having to actually declare anyone a Steam friend. That could be seen as a significant improvement for those players who want to keep their in-game friends associations separate from their out-of-game friends list.
But in any case, this is all speculation and we’ll just have to see what, if anything, comes out of this.