Diablo 3 is a social game. Prominent messages pop up every time a friend logs in; grouping is exceptionally streamlined; and friendly sharing is encouraged through class-specific loot dropped for other classes. (The ability to easily show an item in party chat lets you quickly ask your group if they need an item you can’t use.)
For such a social game, however, Diablo’s social tools are sorely lacking.
My most-wanted feature might normally be called Groups, but since that’s taken, I’ll go with Cliques in keeping with Diablo 3′s core mechanic. (Diablo-flavored name alternatives: Legions; Covens; Dopamine Addicts.)
What’s a Clique? It’s a non-exclusive guild. One person creates it, and can invite whomever they wish. (They can add additional officers, just as with a guild.) Once the invitee accepts, they’re in the Clique. You get to add “guild notes” just as in WoW, so you can view a list of people in your Clique and see who they are. (Three types of guild notes: the officer’s public note; the person’s public note; your own private note.)
One Clique might be “My Old Wow Guild.” Another might be “Double Fine Employees,” and maybe I join a third group, a new Diablo-specific guild called “Teh Pwnx0rz.”
Advantages, in brief:
- More social. These don’t have to be cliques of people you already know. They can support things like guilds, which allow you to meet new people.
- Shared friend lists. Right now, everyone from Double Fine is cumbersomely adding each other DF employee to his or her own friend list.
- Personal and shared guild notes. in a coworker clique, people can add their real name to their note. In an ex-WoW clique, they can add names of WoW characters.
- Competition. Just as WoW supports endgame progression competition, these would support competition on the hardcore ladder and other sorts of endgame challenges.
There are further benefits I’m not going into here, such as: context for folks you know less well; and grouped online status indicators such as “4 members of Double Fine Employees are online.”
It’s often releases of this scale that push social feature sets: consider Halo’s push for YouTube integration. Given Blizzard’s massive push for online, cooperative play with Diablo 3, a minimal social feature set would be a major missed opportunity.