After Watson's speech that closed the latest episode, it has become apparent that the guilds' ultimate purpose is to eventually support player-created ages. Something like:
Writers write the age.
Maintainters test and inspect the ages, and approve them for release.
Cartographers map and document the ages.
Greeters and Messengers might be involved in age creation as well, but it seems like their functions are more to support the community directly (as the greeters and relayers do at the moment).
This is of course still speculation, but it raises a few interesting issues for me:
IC, when you write a descriptive book, there's a lot of uncertainty in what you'll actually produce. Atrus spent a lot of his time exploring his newly created ages. And the D'ni had guilds like surveyors and cartographers to map out these new ages.
But OOC, ages are built explicitly in 3d modelling programs. There is no uncertainty about what you'll get as the writer, and therefore no reason to explore. Doesn't this undermine the guild of cartographers a bit? It's pretty easy to capture a top-down view in a modeling program and call it a map. I guess the job of the cartographers will be to create more aesthetic / higher level mappings than the basic geometry, but it still seems like maybe they won't have as much work to do as the writers and maintainers.
That is, unless the official age creation tools actually insert a level of uncertainty into the creation! I'm imagining parameterized age creation, where you tweak various aspects of the age, but can't really explicitly define geometry. But this seems like this would either be too limiting or too complex to implement. So I'm guessing the tools will be more along the line of direct-geometry.
Another thought I have: IC, when you write to an age, you don't write any buildings or structures, and you have no control over whether there were prior inhabitants who built their own buildings and structures. Other craftsmen will come in later to build up the age. But with the OOC tools, the writers can define all that directly, and it's permanent as soon as the age is completed. I guess this isn't that big a deal, but wouldn't it be nice if after an age is "released," other people could create buildings and structures to put in the age (a la some mmorpg house-building tools)? I dunno if this would be workable. But it's a thought.
OK enough blabbing on my part. Anyone have any thoughts or speculation as to how age creation might/should work in the context of the new guild system?