Sunday, October 7, 2012

Excess Of It : GW2

A while back Tobold estimated that Guild Wars 2 had about 300 hours of PvE solo content. He extrapolated this from the percentage map completion achieved and how long it had taken, which in his case was 12% in 32 hours.

Last night I discovered that GW2 has a command called /age. It tells you how many hours you have logged, both for the character currently logged in and for the account. My Charr ranger has racked up 268 hours so far. The account he's on is at 345 hours. Map completion stands at 47%, which is exactly where it was last time I mentioned it more than a week ago.

To my way of thinking this points up one of the biggest difficulties in assessing the success of an MMO. GW2 is self-evidently working for me as a player: I'm logging in every day even though I have a wealth of other MMOs vying for my attention. My interest isn't waning and indeed the more comfortable I become with the systems and the world, the deeper and more abiding my interest becomes.

Have snorkel, will travel
On the other hand, by the most obvious measure my progress has come to a complete standstill. My level 80 hasn't found a new place or done a new thing for more than a week. Moreover, neither have any of my many other characters, the furthest-along of whom is my Asuran Engineer, who yesterday reached the giddy heights of level 35.

Just over a month after launch a typical day's play has already settled into the following pattern:

Me! Pick me!
  • Log in  Charr Ranger, Level 80, almost certainly in Frostgorge Sound. If not, run there (not wasting two whole silver on a waypoint!).
  • If Jormag's up, kill him. Anything from a few minutes to almost an hour, depending what stage the event's at. Grab loot from chest, grumble "No Yellows" in guild chat, sell loot at nearby vendor for six silver.
  • If Jormag's not up, go to Orichalcum and Ancient Sapling nodes and harvest, unless there's been a server re-set, in which case run all over Frostgorge looking for where they hid the nodes this time.
  • Kill one each of anything that might count for Kill Variety. Including rabbits.
  • Report a dozen or so bots, some not for the first time.
  • Log Charr Ranger out, log Asuran Engineer, Level 35 in. Probably in Ebonhawke these days. Find some events, harvest some nodes. 
  • Get distracted and end up spending half an hour trying to climb a rock or something equally productive.
  • Realize time is getting on, Kill Variety is still at 11/15 and Daily Events at 1/5.
  • Swap to Asuran Necromancer, Level 11, usually found at Cooking Station in Black Citadel. Go to Plains of Ashford, do four "dynamic" events in five minutes to finish Daily Achievement.
  • Swap accounts. Do it all again, only minus Jormag and plus Wayfarer Foothills.
One ram good, two rams better
Once the two Dailies are out of the way I generally take a look at the state of WvW with a view to chipping away at the Monthly. An hour of WvW is generally enough for me but 50 kills in a month is nicely attainable at an hour every couple of days. Throw in Jormag whenever he's around. Other than that I mostly potter.

On a weekday that takes up much of the evening after work. At the weekend I get a lot more pottering done, write something like this about it and generally let my characters drift upwards as they wander around the maps I like.

Even by the highly inaccurate measuring-stick of Map Completion, as a player I have consumed less than half of the content available at launch and I'm well aware that the flagged content is only a taster of what's there to be found. Not that I'm making any significant attempt to find it. I've settled into a groove (you can call it a rut - I call it a groove) that suits me just fine.

Comfortable? Why, yes I am, thanks for asking
ArenaNet are making something of a song and dance about the volume and frequency of new content they intend to add. For my money (I know, what money, eh?) they could hold off on all of that and put everyone on bot-killing duties. A bot-free Tyria is needed much more urgently than a bigger or deeper Tyria.

Isn't GW2 freakin' huge for an MMO at launch, anyway? The level cap could have clamped down at 50, we could have lost a race or two and a couple of starting cities and Blazeridge Steppes and Sparkfly could have been the end zones and it would still have launched as the biggest MMO for years. For me Tyria has already established itself next to Norrath, Telon and Telaria as places where I'm happy to spend unlimited hours for no better reason than I like being there. It doesn't need to grow, yet.

I think we are in bots' alley...
It's not just that there's really a lot more than 300 hours of content even on the first run through. There's immeasurable replayability. I'm already in "replay" mode and I'm not even halfway through "playing" yet! New content I don't need!

And that's why these things are so hard to assess. Some people are going to be finished in a few weeks, some will never finish. Some are already done, some are never going to catch up.

Enough, no more, 'tis not so sweet now as it was before. Oh, alright, yes it is! Go on then!

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