Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Battle Plans: GW2

I spent half an hour before work and most of my lunch hour scanning the recent Ask Me Anything interview Chris Whiteside from ArenaNet did for Reddit. There's a quick-read version with just the questions Chris and others from ANet actually answered, which Ravious also links to in his piece about it at Kill Ten Rats, but I think it's worth browsing the whole thread because many of the questions that didn't get answered are more interesting than those that did.

It's clear that the whole Ascended fiasco has had repercussions that we'll be feeling and hearing about for a long time to come. Most of the answers are damage-limitation and conciliation around that and the effect is reasonably soothing. The gist seems to be that Ascended gear is not step one of a gear ladder, that there will be ways to get Ascended gear to suit a number of playstyles and that access to these will roll out next year. If we do get another tier it will come in an expansion or a content drop of expansion-like proportions. Wiggle room there, then.

Chris also acknowledges more than once that the way Ascended gear was introduced was not done well. I didn't feel, though, that a convincing case was made for why it needed to be done at all, nor was any case made for why it had to be done in such a tearing hurry. Something doesn't add up.

Among the few questions on other topics that did get answered, apparently it is confirmed that the recent addition of supposed better loot drops to the loot tables of Veteran and Champion mobs isn't working as intended and is being investigated and that there is still an intention to get something done with Personal Instances (AKA housing). More interesting open-world loot and somewhere to hang my incredibly limited selection of hats (fix that, ANet!) would certainly help to wash away any lingering bad PR taste for me.

My conclusion is that ArenaNet's ultra-consistent pre-launch plans did not survive their first encounter with live players. So it's an MMO after all, then.


  1. So in the meantime the Fractals will continue to draw the remaining players to it like a blackhole, leaving the rest of the world desolate, empty and dead.

    Sounds like Zhaitan won afterall. :P

    1. I'm spending most of my time in WvW now, much to my own surprise. Going to write something about that soon, probably. There's absolutely no shortage of players there, that's for sure. It's full-on mayhem almost 24/7.

  2. What I'm wondering about is this:

    It's been said that the ascended gear is there to bridge the gap between exotics and legendaries. Considering that legendaries are just exotics with a shinier skin.... what gap is there to bridge?

    Unless they mean the one they artificially created by adding a new gear tier?

    Does not compute.

    1. They wanted to bridge the time gap time which is reasonable enough. People farming Plinx for karma and silver towards the legendary was a pretty ridiculous endgame activity. The sad part is them not having enough confidence or creativity to keep the stat increases out. It's not like any portion of the game needs them to overcome the content, the current stuff does just fine for that.

      I think at the end of the day this genre may have trained people too well in the "getting more powerful" department and now we can't escape it. The agony stuff could have used the current upgrade slots (or gear with the same stats we have and an agony slot instead of a upgrade slot) and players would have been presented with a hard choice. Equip gear that looses the set bonus or get owned by agony.

    2. That "time" explanation made no sense to me whatsoever. I was under the perhaps mistaken impression that ArenaNet didn't actually expect any significant number of players to express any real interest in Legendaries in the first place. I thought that they existed as an activity purely for the extreme end of obsessive behavior they'd seen in GW1 with things, similar to the Legendary Defender of Ascalon title they created in response to the insanity of people leveling to 20 in pre-Searing.

      Apparently now getting your Legendary is seen as sufficiently close to normative behavior that an interim step has to be added because of how ridiculous the grind would be otherwise.

      Makes. No. Sense.

    3. "I was under the perhaps mistaken impression that ArenaNet didn't actually expect any significant number of players to express any real interest in Legendaries in the first place"

      I don't think that's a mistaken impression. And in fact there were many exotics in the game that even filled that time gap they are talking about. Problem is... No one was really paying them much mind. So then you are stuck with a very vocal player base complaining about nothing left to do and grinding the Legendary as something to do. The simplest solution in the shortest amount of time? Give them inflated stat sticks and trickle them in.

      In order for an MMO to work you need short, middle and long term goals to keep a variety of players satisfied. They seem to have misjudged the middle term and long term for many players. Course correction for that is great, but you have to be very careful about the overall game. Quotes like this one do not instill a ton of confidence that they have a clear understanding of that:

      "We do intent to focus on horizontal but we will have vertical progression moving forward with the focus on zero grind and a very low power curve."

    4. People weren't paying the named exotics much mind because the vast majority didn't know they exist. In essenece, a lot of the recipies of the forge are a nice medium between the current exotics and the legendaries, from a time commitement standpoint.

      If they just sold the recipies for all forge items at the NPC vendor next to it, then you'd see a lot more people going for the forge crafts and presto: you just created a new 'tier' of gear, only without the stat inflation and all the backclash.

      And whenever they need to mix things up a little, they would just add more recipies, even for armor. Maybe recipies that would also utilize the crafting professions in some way, which are (now) completely useless.

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