Monday, 19 November 2012

No Need To Be Crabby About It : GW2

It ended with a bang. After two hours of non-stop mayhem, the Ancient Karka slipped under the hitherto unseen lava, lurched back up like any good horror film baddie, then slumped over the lip of the pool, dead. And a massive chest appeared.

You should see the other guy
I wasn't expecting loot. During the two-hour event many people made jokes about what reward we might get for our many, many deaths. Diddly squat was the consensus, if we were lucky. In the end I got a couple of rares and a couple of exotics, one of which I could actually use, and everyone got a 20-slot bag (worth about $10 in real money) and a level 80 exotic jewellery item. Some folks even got Legendary Pre-Cursors and if you don't know what those are then bully for you.

But it's not about the loot, is it? No it isn't! That wasn't a rhetorical question! It's about the fun and the camaraderie and the being there. And weirdly, this time I can say that without irony. I did the entirety of Lost Shores Phase 3 on an Overflow server, where people come together who may never meet again and yet the whole two hours passed in excellent spirits.

If I hear one more crab cake joke...
Despite many setbacks there was a steady stream of hearty, good-natured, articulate banter. Much as happens on the Frontiers of WvW, leaders arose spontaneously to direct the efforts of the zerg and were heeded and after a great deal of struggle, at several points during which I found myself wondering if ArenaNet had thought of providing a Failure condition, we eventually prevailed.

Is this the line for JBoots?
All's well that ends well, then. Unless you were one of the unfortunates who disconnected before the chest dropped and couldn't get back in (the log-in servers seem to have died - I'm writing this now because when I took the ship back to Lion's Arch the game crashed and that appears to be my lot for the evening). Or who wasn't able to play at all for whatever real-life reason. Or who had so much lag it was impossible to do anything meaningful and gave up.

Clearly these events are problematic. The forums are mildly busy with discontent. It needs to be recognized that not everyone enjoyed themselves. I had a great time, though and map chat for the two hours the event took suggested a lot of other people did too. 

I thought you had the nails
On balance I thought Lost Shores got better stage by stage. Phase One was really very buggy indeed. It's probably fair to say that as far as the "quests" went more didn't work than did. There were patches and deadline extensions and a lot of scrabbling to try and get the loose ends tied. The invasion of Lion's Arch was fun but laggy. I expected the Karka to win and take over the city for a day or two so I also found it somewhat anti-climactic when we ousted them quite easily.

Phase two was late starting, much shorter, a lot less laggy, largely bug-free and over in about three-quarters of an hour. The introductory re-invasion didn't even happen on the Overflow server I was on. The ship just appeared and off we went. The core of the event was a chain similar to those we've seen many times before. Good fun but nothing amazing.

Phase Three was the "multi-hour" climax. It qualified, on the smallest possible value of "multi", finishing in about 130 minutes. I almost missed the beginning, having to run one and a half times around the entire island before I found the Lionguard Detonation Team but from then on it was action all the way as we went up and down the spiral ramps of the Karka hive laying bombs and harried the Ancient Karka hither and yon  across the salt flats.

Last thing crabmeat needs is more salt
I think we were all expecting the finale to be the exploding of the charges we'd set and the collapse of the mountain, which would have been truly spectacular. In the end I didn't notice the detonation at all, if it even happened, and the event ended with the Ancient Karka trapped at the bottom of the Hive succumbing to our withering fire.

Success? Success??
Was it a success? Well, I enjoyed it. I'd do it again, or another like it. For me, the fact that it was a one-time event made it worthwhile. It felt like an event in the non-gaming sense of the word. I was glad to have been there and done that. If it was going to happen every three hours for the next few days then I might well not have bothered with it. Oh alright, I probably would. But I'd have been sighing the while.

Will ArenaNet stick to their guns and carry on pumping out content that vanishes into the aether of memory after a single outing? I hope so. They seem surprisingly prone to vacillation right now, so I'm less confident of their stubbornness than I was, but yes, I do hope they keep it up. It may be wasteful and controversial and it may provoke discontent but I know that if I'm playing another game and they announce something like this again, I'll be back.




14 comments:

  1. I'm afraid to say that the glitches in phase 1 and Arenanet's generally all round poor communication really soured me on the process and GW2 in general. I've had the game for about two weeks now and haven't had a whole lot of time to play. I spent far too long Friday and Saturday morning chasing down people only to find them maybe gliched but not sure if I was in the right place and/or talking to the right character. And even then it was never clear to me how far into the event I would be able to go.

    On Saturday evening I just gave up trying to be a part of this, deleted all the mail I got about it and just levelled my main from 20-24 through Sunday. Which is a suitable closing comment to how I felt about the whole thing : it may just as well never have happened.

    Mike.

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    1. Phase One was by far the worst, particularly the appallingly badly tested "quest" content. Also, if any part of the content was going to have an actual Reward it should have been that but if you had managed to finish it I believe all you'd have got would be a Jug of Karma and five Commendations, which you could have got in twenty minutes by running your daily and dropping a few cheap blues in the Forge.

      Shame if that put people off the next two Phases, both of which were much better.

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  2. Despite my discontent (as I commented in your last post about this event) I attended the third phase.

    It was much better than phase 1, tho still nowhere as good as it ahould have been for a one time event imo.

    For us it took 3.5 hours from beginning to end. During that time I had to repair my armor twice (I do not repair it before ALL armor gets damaged and one gets broken) and in 3.5 hours I finished my monthly kill mutated crabs achi; with at best 10 to 20 bodes to loot.

    If it were not for the player supplied content (ie chats jokes comments etc) I would have logged out.
    The event itself was unbalanced, rough and too long for me.

    Considering this was a one time event, I expected less bugs and more smooth ride. I expected to have fun instead of reporting bugs and trying to find shortcuts thru them.

    20 slot bag and the jewelery were a wellcome surprise tho. Rest; I had no use for.

    Looking forward to their next event. I guess I have M tendencies haha.

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    1. The player-supplied content is 90% of why I bother to attend any event like this, though. I enjoyed the hour we spent waiting in Lion's Arch for the thing to kick off as much as I enjoyed the actual event.

      Interesting that it took your server almost twice as long as the OF server I was on to complete it though. I thought we were pretty shambolic. I'd have guessed a server with big, well-coordinated guilds could have knocked it out in 90 minutes. Wonder which server was first to finish?

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  3. Isn't this the kind of stuff that is happening in Rift on like an hourly basis? I missed this event in GW2 (timing issue) , but played some random Rift over the weekend, and i was quite surprised to find myself on Ember Island taking part of a zone invasion (with more players than i thought, considering Ember Island is not an expansion pack zone) . This invasion in steps were:

    1. Defend 4 wardstones (spread all over the map), involving you defending it, and/or upgrading the wardstone (about 4 turrets and 4 health stations) , for the entire duration of the event.
    2. Closing Rifts until you hit a magic number which then goes to the next stage
    3. Get to Wardstone, get blessing, turn into some Rock Elemental and go smash water spouts.
    4. Take out 3 mini bosses and their footholds
    5. Take out the big final boss (who seemed to have 3 stages of its own, make you travel across the zone after it).

    Amusing part, a few hours later , i was there again, and the invasion event was restarting again. Of course, no one was there, so it pretty much died at step 1 (ending in failure).

    I didn't do the event for any particular reward (although i always try to add the boss kill on my achievement list), and enjoyed it. It's quite intricate and does require at mimimum some zone wide communication in the sense of "is anyone defending that wardstone?" . I think Trion got this mass open zone event thing down very well, maybe Arenanet should play some Rift and see how it's done?

    I suppose that's why i wasn't too bothered with the GW2 thing, i kinda got the feeling it's similar to what Rift has been doing (and refining) for awhile now.

    In the end, yes, it is about figuring out how to get people involved and participate. Rift might have quite complex zone wide events going, but their "automated" nature, might not let people stream to it in droves like this GW2 event. That said, even the Arenanet events will have this issue if there's enough of them...

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    1. I think you have really put your finger here on why these events DO need to be "one-time" only. The second and third phases of Lost Shores were *exactly* like Rift zone events. Some of the bigger Rift events that used to run regularly while I was last there were properly longer and more complex.

      The problem in Rift was that because these events ran often people became extremely blase about them and it wasn't long before they went largely unattended. The event last night was fun precisely, possibly only, because everyone knew it would never be repeated.

      As usual, I think this is a solution in search of a problem. Ten years ago Everquest had scripted zone events which GMs could switch on at whim. The undead invasion of Qeynos Hills, when it infrequently and unpredictably ran, would generate massive traffic in /ooc and guild chat and people would flock to it - they'd even phone or IM their friends to get them to log on so as not to miss it.

      Rather than run ever-cycling events like Trion or one-time-only like ArenaNet, perhaps there should be more events that pop and re-pop sporadically, infrequently but persistently.

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    2. Indeed. I also think it's about the "aftermath" or "consequences" of these events. One-Time events most likely will have bigger/unique rewards vs. cycled events.

      I don't mind the "formula" of the events, as seen in Rift and in GW2. It's the lack of consequence that leads to it becoming "stale" or players becoming apathetic towards them. To make them have consequence, they obviously can't recycle as often as in Rift, but they don't need to be once-off either. I would be quite happy with a "weekly" or "monthly" thing that might result in changes to the availability/accessibility of cities,portals,zones,rewards or dungeons for the week/month afterwards (until a new event starts) . I would sure as hell participate in an event if i knew it might actually affect my week's questing or dungeon activities.

      Kinda like "Darkness Falls" (making content available based on PvP results). Isn't this straight from GW1?


      As for the GW2 event, i've spoken to friends who did not really enjoy being "boxed" into the specific time schedule of the GW2 event (but did it anyway), saying they probably wouldn't do a similar event in the future unless the timing is adjusted (the length + the exact schedule of the event) For me, being in the European timezone, this event started at 10pm going on 3+ hours, not ideal .

      I would've preferred having a type of Rift style "World Event" which can go on for a few days (or until some objective is met) and maybe the final stage (which may be a super boss fight ) be very specifically timed (you're either there or you miss it) . Even if you miss the actual boss fight, your participation in the event as a whole is still rewarded. Again Trion got this figured out too, no "loot chests" , you get your rewards in that little event-bags that pop up in your UI, so even if you disconnect mid-fight, you are more likely to still have all the accrued loot up to the point you d/ced (and most likely whatever world-event "completion" reward there might be) .

      In fact you don't even need to be at the actual place the event takes place to receive your rewards. Hence, the sucker who decided to defend the wardstones (which can fail an entire event at any moment) instead of zerging the boss, STILL gets a reward for completing the event. I'm surprised MMO-devs always seem to create "mass events" that becomes one gigantic boss-fight zerg? Why ? Why can't we have a real war with multiple fronts to defend? Anyway i digress...





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    3. I think it's evident that a lot more could and should be done to make these vents both memorable and accessible. I like the big chest dropping at the physical location but there absolutely has to be some means of tracking who is entitled to what and making sure they get it even if the game crashes on them.

      There's an interesting interview Syp did recently on Massively with Steve Nicholls who's been making MMOs for a couple of decades, where he makes the seldom-heard point that "making MMO games is incredibly difficult...It's easier today than it was 15 years ago, but it's still really, really hard".

      I think we can often all see what's wrong and how it could be better but maybe it's the way it is because that's the best the people doing it were able to achieve. ArenaNet is a big player in the field and this was a high-profile, prestige event and still look how buggy it was. Imagine if they'd gone for something a lot more complex...

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    4. Hehe, yea, easy being armchair MMO analysts. I am sure all these thoughts go through (hopefully) a few devs' heads when they design these things.

      That said, i'm also convinced most companies are taking a very "safe" road in MMOs these days (hurting them). Everything is very formulaic , and i suppose not even we know what the consequences might be of taking the risk of doing events a certain way .

      "Business" probably opted for a scenario where "worst case" is a short term rage about a once-off event (if it goes wrong) versus losing players on the long run based on a more long term mechanic that was risky and not easy to back out from (kinda like making your MMO full loot PvP) . So Arenanet is playing it safe, they won't lose players if this failed, and can only attract players if it succeeded.

      I can only hope, the more companies like Trion and Arenanet "experiment" with these things , the more risks they are willing to take. It's when they stop pushing when players start looking elsewhere.

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  4. Baghpuss
    What makes you think they are vaccilating?

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    1. I was thinking of the Ascended gear and what does appear to me to be a move towards the kind of end-game gear grind they very specifically said they weren't going to have.

      Tweaking the loot tables of Champions and adding level 80 loot down to level 55 zones is another example. That smacks of trying to eat cake and still have cake left. Why set the arbitrary limit at 55? The original idea was that we would never outgrow any zones, or so I thought. Now we apparently grow up at 55.

      No doubt there are more examples but of course this is par for the course for MMOs. Once the gales of dissatisfaction begin to blow post-launch, the developers either bend with them or snap. Often both.

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    2. Thanks for the reply.

      I like the idea of Ascended gear. It gives the end gamers something to work on. I am more of a casual player so doesn't really worry me.

      I do agree about the lvl 55+ loot tables. I am scratching my head as to why they would set an arbitrary limit like that. Why not make it lvl 0 - 80 areas so that it encourages players to attend all zones.

      As for the gale of dissatisfaction I hope ArenaNet realises that the majority of us are very happy with the game as it is. My own guild is looking forward to player housing, giuld housing , and other social activities. I don't think the forums are presentative of the whole playerbase. Of course I may be wrong and maybe ArenaNet has stats to prove otherwise.

      Great discussion BTW. :)

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    3. My guess is that they are trying to make legendary precursors more acessible. Take note some precursors are being sold by above 200 gold and that is too much.
      Level 80 loot tables at level 55 chests give more chances for a random drop of legendary precursors. The level 55 is arbitrary, but my guess the best option is just somewhere above level 40 (level 55 is at that level range): cannot be too much bellow level 40 or max level toons start to farm low level zones (downlevel not solve completelly that problem, max level toons have maxed stats and maxed gear... and dowlevel certainly need some tunning); too much high (level 70?) and they don't make the precursors drop go visibly higher.
      Take note they too changd the loot table someway for precursors drop more frequently. The consequence of these two changes (level 80 table loot at level 55 zones and higher chance to drop a precursor) is that precursor prices started to drop at TP.

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    4. Regarding the lvl 55 thing, somewhere someone mentioned that the TTK (time to kill) between lvl 1 and lvl 80 are not the same, despite the whole scaling thing. Aparantly it is still faster to kill a mob in the starter zones than in say Orr, hence it creates a huge farming loophole to be exploited when it comes to the concept of "random drops" .

      I can only assume Arenanet figured lvl 55 and up, the mobs are similar in TTK.

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