Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hope You Like Our New Direction : GW2

Chris Whiteside of ArenaNet posted the following "To Do" list as part of the Lost Shores debrief. Haven't seen much discussion about it anywhere I hang out so I thought I'd share a few thoughts: CW in italics, as if that needed pointing out...

Here’s a general rundown of what we are working towards over the upcoming months:
  • Revamping all of our existing dungeons (Story and Explorable versions) through rebalance and overhauled encounters.
Tightening a few bolts here and there? Only to be expected shortly after launch. Revamp the entire dungeon experience? That's tantamount to admitting you got the whole thing wrong from the beginning.

Dungeons haven't been good press for GW2, what with complaints that they're too hard, too chaotic, and play like WoW Dungeons after the Tank has died. Then there's the feeling they're a pain to get groups for, what with no Dungeon Finder and all, and there's no loot in them worth having anyway. Not to mention the very valid concern that groups for Story Dungeons will soon become impossible to find, if they aren't already.

A revamp is unlikely to make things worse so this is probably good news but it's a shame they got it so badly wrong the first time round. I'd far rather they were adding completely new content than re-doing stuff on which the paint's barely had time to dry. 
  • Adding new dungeons to the Fractal of the Mists.
 The new Fractal dungeons, on the other hand, seem to have gone down rather well. Yes, the mechanic does, arguably, flip the game on its head but the feedback I've seen on the actual fractal fun factor has been very positive. Hearsay only, since I've yet to try one, of course.

More of a good thing is generally reckoned to be a good thing, unless it's too much of a good thing, which this almost certainly isn't. So, a Good Thing , then.
  •  Adding more variation to creatures, enhancing our open world scaling system, as well as evolving many events and experiences across Tyria.
Of course it's a new species - just look at the blue scales...
 Doesn't this fall under the heading of "general live game maintenance"? Hardly worth making a bullet point for, is it?

I don't have a problem with the scaling system although I know some people do. It seems well-balanced to me. I also haven't noticed a particular lack of variety in creatures, or at least not any more so than in every MMO ever and I can't say I've felt short-changed on events either. As for "experiences", I have no idea what that means!

That said, it's all "Mom-and-Apple-Pie", isn't it? Hardly going to say "No Thanks" to more kinds of things to kill, are we? Or more events, evolved or otherwise. Or "experiences". We all want those, I guess...
  • Fixing and improving existing content throughout the game, and better tying it into the overall sense of player progression within Guild Wars 2.
Okay, now that is general maintenance. Apart from the last part, whatever that means. Does it imply a more linear approach? I really hope not. God forbid we get suggestions on where to level or a "Golden Path"...
  • Building on the Southsun Cove’s persistent content.
Where are the donkey rides?
Well it's hardly the "veritable tropical paradise of magnificent proportions" we were promised, is it? Although it was The Consortium doing the promising there and we know how reliable they turned out to be.  All the same, Southsun hasn't drawn the crowds. When I've visited it's been somewhat dead. Not Orr-dead, thank heavens, but map chat sometimes offers the opinion that Southsun is too hard and there's no very obvious reason to be there rather than anywhere else.

I kinda like it, meself. It does remind me of Ember Isle in Rift a bit, - some parachuted-in high-level content that feels a tad artificial and not entirely connected to the world, but I do like to kill me some Karka. I was expecting some more light-hearted content from the pre-release publicity, though. Perhaps that's what's in the pipeline.

I'd rather they opened a new area on the mainland than expanded on this, really, but hey, I'll take new overland content where I can get it. 
  • Adding new Guild content and Guild progression features.
 Definitely needed, this one. I imagine by now most active guilds have gotten everything there is to get. There are only three of us in our guild and we almost have our 100 slot vault already, and apart from vault space there's actually nothing we want. Looking forward to seeing what they come up with here. 
 Good luck with that. Of all the elements of GW2 sPvP seems to the one MMO bloggers know and care the least about, and I'm with the herd for once. ESport is beyond my remit.  
  • Adding brand new content to World vs. World as well as adding new reward progression.
 This can't come soon enough. WvW is addictive, entertaining and accessible but it has some serious design flaws. The Ladder system is never going to work - a League, preferably split into two or three Divisions, would work much better. Some people think the zones are too small, many think it's a shame three of them are identical. Above all, with free server moves and no equivalent of DAOC's Guild and Character rankings, there is no permanence of any kind, either for the individual, the Guild or the Server.

Details please. And soon.
  • Continuing to build upon the story and adventures of Guild Wars 2.
 Must you? Couldn't you just work on the infrastructure part and leave the Story and Adventures to the players? Oh alright,if you really feel you have to, then perhaps you could headhunt a writer or two from The Secret World, or even EQ2, just to pump some life into the thing. More of the turgid same we really don't need.

Overall, I think it's a bland and disappointing list. No expansion of the world, not a word on crafting, not the slightest hint on Housing of any kind. Looks as though it'll be down to the Holiday events to draw in the crowds because this kind of general par-for-the-course consolidation work isn't likely to light much of a fire under anyone. Fortunately I'm having a great time with the game as-is so my fire's lit already.


  1. I think GW2 has the potential to be an esport but right now with the way balance is I don't think it will be very soon. Plus the private servers are a needed feature or at least a viewable ladder with ranks, and peoples win lose ratio. That seems like fluff to many but it would help a lot.

    I also think you don't hear many eloquent discussions on the matter (lol at eloquent), the people who compete live and brbeath the whole meta leaving little time for other pursuits. It is really quite hard to be that competitive to compete in the paid tournies. Also bloggers aren't usually known for being pvp orientated let alone hard core tournament fighters..

    There are a lot of youtube channels on it though, and even a few dedicated commentators. It's relatively young, once it starts the real tournaments with prize money the should get more media coverage...we shall see in time though if it takes off.

    I fully agree with all your other points though.. it's still good to see the open communication though

    1. I didn't mean to be at all negative about GW2's sPvP. It's obviously a very important part of the game, it just seems to stand outside of it somewhat. In both GW1 and GW2 sPvP has never seemed much like instanced PvP Battlegrounds or Warfronts in other MMOs - it seems much more serious and intense, which isn't a bad thing at all.

      I did try it a few times in GW1 but it was played at such a pace I never really worked out what was going on. I haven't tried it in GW2 yet. There's presumably another giant leap in intensity and skill from non-tournament sPvP that we all might dip our toes into once in a while to the eSport version that could potentially become a career and a way of life.

      One thing I did do in GW1 was watch some matches on the in-game channel. That would be a welcome addition to GW2.

  2. My guess is that they will revamp the dungeon (story and exp modes) for use more the enviromental weapons. When you try the fractal dungeons you will understand it.

    IMHO, that will make the dungeons harder. Some people have serious problems using torchs, hiting big mobs with lava or making underwater combat. If dungeons start to need use the brains and not the brawls, a lot of people will just find them too much hard...

  3. Dungeons in this game are terrible and need serious work. They are the main reason I dont even give this game anymore time. Well that and the end game is a joke

  4. @Joao Carlos & Jason F

    I do want to try the Fractals and when I do I'll obviously be in a better position to comment.

    Speaking from a position of near-total ignorance, I do think one of the many fairly serious design errors was to make the Story dungeons require a full group. Exploration (aka grind) dungeons? Fine. Story? Doesn't really make sense. I hope they might take a leaf out of Trion's book there and refit the Story to suit a duo or trio the way Rift's Chronicles work. Probably wishful thinking.

    As for lack of an End Game, the promise that GW2 wouldn't have one at all was one of its most important selling features for me. Arenanet are clearly beginning to feel they do need one after all, but unless they come up with something a lot different from what they appear to have in mind it's not likely to be anything that takes up much pf my time or attention.

    1. Well, you will understand what I am saying when you try the fractal dungeons. IMHO, fractal dungeons is an answer from Anet to what Jason F. comment: the fractal dungeons are very inteligent dungeons and they make the end game not be a "joke". We can like or not the answer, but it is obvious they had to give an answer.

      The players need be inteligent at the diferent fractal dungeons: they need find how to open doors; that they need torches for start fires or they will die from cold; that they need "light up" some undewater plants; that they need throw lava at that last boss. Yes, fractal dungeons have gear progression, but except for that ring (that I think it is a drop, never get it), I don't see any other progression gear be better than exotic gear.

      As I said, my guess is that they will change the story and exp dungeons for be more "inteligent", like the fractal ones. The dungeons will be funnier, but too they will be harder: there are few players that know how to use brains. And they will explain that the problem is not that "we don't have brains", but that "the party don't have tanks and healers". Sadly, everyone will see that "use torchs for start fires" don't need tanks or healers...

    2. I take your point, but my issue with MMOs moving in this direction isn't that I don't have brains, it's that I don't really like using them while things are trying to kill me. I don't find that fun, I find it stressful. I preferred it when all we had to do was kill the big monster before the big monster killed us, keep his friends off us and make sure our friends stayed on their feet! Anything more sophisticated than that I tend to find gimmicky and annoying.

      As you say, I will only find out whether the mechanics of the Fractal Dungeons are fun for me if and when I try them out, which could be a while. For now I am enjoying both the leveling game and WvW too much to find time for dungeons.

    3. @Bhagpuss, I fear they too intend to make same changes to wvw (oh wait, they too said tha tintend add new content to wvw... I just read it at your text above), problably using more environmental weapons at combat.

      Currently, wvw have charts, catapults, ballistae, golems, trebuchets (that throw cows...). The fortress too have cannons and boiling oil. I think they can add not only more environmental devices, but things as "rock slides" (used against the ancient karka...), avalanches and traps.

      They can add mini-dungeons to wvw where one side gain an advantage, as a boss monster that go destroy a fortress wall. The defender sof that fortress will need destroy that boss before it destroy the walls, fighting the nemey servers at same time...

      There is a fractal dungeon where the players need free a titan by destroying the chains that bind it. For destroy that chains players need use a special hammer 9that eats player hit points) and go up all dungeon fighting mobs until they fight the last boss on top (the dungeon is vertical). My quip with that fractal is that after the players free the titan and get the chest, they can gain an achievement if they bow to the titan when it greets the players at the end, but the titan simply goes out. A player just asked if "we fight that titan now?" I can guess that a titan like that can go destroy an enemy fortress wall as gratitude if that was a wvw map...

      That kind of dungeon is perfectly viable inside a wvw map, it is harder if the players need not only fight the mobs but fight the other two servers too. harder, but funnier pvp.

      I can see they are testing things with the fractal dungeons. They can add that content not only to pve and dungeons, but too to wvw and spvp.

      Anyway, the general opinion about the fractal dungeons is that they are not only fun, but the best dungeons people can find at any MMO.

  5. "I don't have a problem with the scaling system although I know some people do. It seems well-balanced to me. "

    it's well done and balanced until you get gear at level 80. I found it to work flawlessly during my leveling experience as I could stick around in an outdated zone, not go crazy with gear and have a slight challenge. Once you hit 80 and get exotics the content in every zone becomes trivial. To the point where I started working on a blue set with the stats I wanted to attempt to make revisiting and helping friends more fun.

    This patch is them trying things out and seeing what will stick. The issue is they have SERIOUSLY conflicting design philosophies and customers. They've added stat inflation which seeps into the whole game and appear to be putting focus on the instances which as you've written has been the weakest content to date. The stronger content (the living world) is being tweaked but with all the other additions it's going to be very hard for them to not have it pushed into the rear view mirror.

    1. That's really interesting, because neither of my level 80s have Exotic gear. Due to the way I play, as soon as one of my characters reaches max level in most MMOs he immediately goes into semi-retirement. My level 80 Ranger is wearing a mix of Greens and Yellows, the yellows being any useable drops he's got from Jormag. He does have an exotic bow, which Mrs Bhagpuss made but I honestly couldn't see the point of upgrading any of the rest of his gear because he can already do everything I need him to do.

      Consequently, I have only seen the scaling in context of the leveling, not what you might call the post-leveling game, and in that context I like it. My Engineer dinged 80 last night and I was toying with putting him in much better gear than the ranger. I'll be interested to see how that works out with scaling if I do.

      Other than that, yes I very much agree. They really don't seem to have a coherent view of what they want to achieve or how to achieve it at all. Which, of course, puts them squarely alongside almost every other MMO developer ever.

  6. On a completely unrelated note, the yellow text looks great on the main site, but is really hard to read via Google Reader (yellow text on white background).

    1. Ah thanks for that - I really should check that sort of thing. I actually have Inventory Full in my Google Reader feed just to check it comes up but I never click through to look at it.


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