month, day by day, it's easy to forget just how often the boundaries shift. From Megaservers and fixed timers to the Wardrobe and a Trading Post that (almost) works, so much has happened that it scarcely feels like the same game we were all playing this time last year, let alone the one we began with way back in 2012.
It's the way of MMOs. Some change fast, some more smoothly, but unless population and popularity drop far enough for the mothballs to come out (and no-one likes to smell of camphor) they all do change.
The Nosy Gamer today posted a transcript and commentary of an address given by CCP Seagull at the EVE event taking place in Las Vegas, the gist of which appears to be "change is coming, like it or not (but don't worry, you'll like it"). Perhaps the most interesting thing about the speech, at least for someone like me who has never played EVE Online and most likely never will, is CCP Seagull's assertion that "we need to make more changes where we can't predict what's going to happen".
Forgive my cynicism, if that's what it is, but isn't that all changes in every MMO ever? Fifteen years of experience is more than enough to convince me that most Devs can't predict what's going to happen when they bring a server back up from routine maintenance, let alone the day after they release a major update.
Still, letting that ride for a moment, the idea of intentionally changing the game-world in ways whose outcome is unknowable is rather attractive. It's enticing to imagine logging in to a world where wikis no longer work and veterans feel at sea like newbies.
Then again there's the NGE and Monoclegate to consider. Those, like countless other less-celebrated PR disasters, amply remind us that one person's unpredictable outcome is another's blindingly obvious inevitability. What, you really didn't see that one coming? Oh, apparently you didn't...
All of which lengthy and ponderous pontificating on the interface between possible and probable brings me to my tiny princess. Of all the year's changes I'd be hard-pressed to think of one that's had more impact on my enjoyment of the game than the March of the Minis and I certainly didn't see that one coming.
Prior to the most recent Feature Pack, if you wanted to run around with a Mini in tow you had to have a separate, individual copy of said Mini in the inventory of each character who might want to call on it. You had to open your bags and click the icon to summon the Mini and you had to keep your minis in a "Safe" bag to prevent them being whisked away to the Vault every time you used GW2's handy "Deposit All Materials" button. On top of all that nonsense Minis couldn't leave the map on which you spawned them so you had to go through the whole rigmarole every time you went anywhere.
|Eyes without a face. Wait, what eyes?|
It's not as though I even collect minis. The Miniature tab in the Wardrobe tells me there are 270 of them. On my senior account I have just two: Evon Gnashblade and Princess Doll.
The best ones, in other words.
Evon is best because, well, he's Evon. Why didn't they listen to him? He was the favorite! And Princess Doll (Pwincess to me - don't judge!), she's best because she's full-on crazy.
Pwincess has no face. In extreme close-up you can see her blank sackcloth weave. Even so, featureless, she has more personality than any ten storyline NPCs you care to name. She curtseys, she sways, she sings and she screams and somehow she has become the inseparable companion of my gruff, manly (catly?) Charr Ranger.
Her wordless, borderline personality outbursts spur him on through keep sieges and open-field skirmishes. Her piercing voice penetrates The Mists, bringing a fervid, febrile cheer to the endless snows. Her movements are mysterious. He often jumps from a high place only to find her behind him when he lands, yet at times he can turn and watch her skip along a ledge and jump down to join him.
Of course stepping out unpartied as a ranger these days feels more and more like leading a team than going solo. There's the pet, naturally; always a Lynx or a Wolf for the Borderlands. Then there's Pwincess. Finally, when the rune procs (and the rune always procs) there's Rock Dog.
It wasn't the Charr that discovered Rock Dog. That took Asuran genius. When reports filtered back, how that peculiar hound saved the Junior Ranger from certain death, holding off enemies while Pet Number One licked his master back to life, nothing would do but the Charr should have one of his own. Indeed, so impressed was I, it's a wonder I stopped at the Rangers and didn't slap a set of Ogre Runes on everyone. The stats are pretty handy all round after all.
|What have you seen, boy? Is it Grawl?|
Where's all this going? Nowhere much. Only to say that, repetitive and predictable as it can so often seem as you grind away at your faction or your dailies or your rep or your status, all of these games, these worlds, are already unpredictable. A small change here, a revision or a tweak there, something you never considered and scarcely noticed, yet next you know your character has altered, his personality too, and your gameplay along with both of them.
So, yes please, all you CCP Seagulls out there. Go ahead, make changes whose outcomes you can't predict. Better yet, make changes whose outcomes you admit you can't predict. We'll roll with them. Unless it's another NGE or Monoclegate of course. But that's a lesson that's been learned.