Saturday, December 8, 2012

Traction : GW2

As we push forward into the festive season time constraints tighten and opportunities to post recede. Well, for me they do, and for a very positive reason: I find I want to play more than I want to write about playing.

That's a relatively unusual phenomenon. When there's something new and interesting moving across the MMO landscape, the urge to share my thoughts on it with an indifferent world runs a strong back-current against my desire to experience it first-hand and when things are quiet I'm even more likely to think of things I want to write about than things I want to do.

Only at the moment it's not quite working out that way. I still have plenty to say, but when I sit down of an evening after work I'm in a rush to log in and play and what I want to play is GW2.

What I feared may be coming to pass.

From memory, never a reliable source, the MMOs that have held the overwhelming majority of my attention for six months or more at a stretch are Everquest (several times), EQ2 (several times), Vanguard and Rift. Lots of others have achieved dominance for a few weeks or months then slipped back - Dark Age of Camelot, Guild Wars, Pirate 101, WoW, The Secret World, Fallen Earth, to name nowhere near all of them. Behind and all around those flit the countless MMOs with which I dabble, flirt and experiment.

What I prefer is to spend something like two-thirds of my available gaming time in one MMO, have a second which takes up a significant amount of what's left and then drop in and out of half a dozen others more or less on a whim. When one gets a grip, though, playing anything else doesn't seem so much like time out as time lost.

I don't like that. I pride myself on being able to pace myself and do only what I find fun in MMOs, which works extremely well for avoiding MMO ennui and a jaded gaming palate, but it's a strategy that falls apart when I find that I'm having fun all the time in one MMO. When that happens, the whole thing flips on its head. Playing other MMOs becomes something I ought to do not something I want to do.

This can stop at any time, although rarely without warning. There will be a period, usually brief, when I begin to feel slightly less interested in The One Game and slightly more in Something Else. I'll wonder what my characters elsewhere are getting up to without me and whether I shouldn't go check up on them to make sure they aren't getting into trouble. I'll start to read patch notes of games I'm not playing but might be and ponder the implications. Next thing I'll be patching them up and just "taking a look" and a week or two later my One Game will just be one of my games.

GW2 is so rich, that's the problem. Each class I play is the best class. Each pass through a map is more interesting than the last pass through the same map. Every climb to 80 just reveals how much I missed last time. I'm standing on two level 80s, a level 70 and a level 50 now and my somewhat fanciful idea of having a max-level character for all eight classes has solidified into a firm intention, one that I expect to realize. And not before all that long, either.

Indeed, if World vs World wasn't so compulsive I might already be half way there. It's not the fastest way to level, that's for sure, although it may well be the fastest way to get poor. The repair costs alone are bankrupting me. Maybe if I learned to play better...

Anyway, I'm having a great time. And the server seems very busy still, with plenty of new players down in the starting areas, whose endearingly eager contributions to Map chat leads me to believe they really are new players not refurbished ones like me. It's all going rather well.

I feel I'm just now coming to the point where I'm ready to start thinking about what I might want to do long-term. I'm very struck by the Necromancer, but then I was by the Ranger and the Engineer. I'm beginning to get into a frame of mind where fully exploring maps feels like something I want to do for myself rather than a cheesy achiever lever so I'm beginning to do a little bit of that.

With WvW becoming a thing, I can finally see a point to upgrading gear at 80th. It looks as though my necro may be the first both to go full exotic and not to enter retirement on dinging 80. Although she's only 50 right now and I thought this the last two times... And Mesmers and Elementalists both look to be having one whole heck of a lot of fun. And really, don't even mention Thieves. Or Guardians.

Okay, maybe I don't know what I want to do long term yet after all. One thing I do know, Storm Legion isn't getting a look-in right now. And another thing - I want to go play GW2 right this min...


  1. This is my issue too. Generally once I get into a game again, my blogging will die for months on end. I think it's a good thing, personally. ;)

    I've only just now started my alts in GW2 now that my Engineer is decked out the way I like... the decision of which one will be my next 80 is not easy, lol.

    1. As problems go it's a pretty nice one :P

      Looking forward to the upcoming winter festival, too.

  2. Here is the problem: its all the same. There is nothing to do in this game but level characters and start over. And thats where it fails. It fails to evoke a sense of community, it fails with guilds, it fails at end game and it fails to do anything other than appeal to casual levelers that hate end game content. Eventually that too will fade

    1. I've been creating and leveling new characters in Everquest for 13 years and in EQ2 for eight, so I reckon GW2 has a while to run for me yet :)

      The thing that mildly concerns me is that there are only 8 classes and 5 races. I'd like to see all the sentient races become playable options eventually.

    2. Does it fail to evoke a sense of community or is the community just different that what we are used to? I do notice that guilds are very different than what I see in other games, but I think most people who reach out to other players will tell you that overall people are very pleasant. That I have yet to see the word "scrub" come up in game is telling.

      Overall one of the things I see throughout the entire game is that the people around you are not barriers to personal progress. It really is just more rewarding to just help someone along that to try to save a precious 5 minutes. You see this coming out in everything from running dungeons to being in the open world.

      Will this give longevity to the game and will it continue? Unknown. But I don't know if traditional PvE raiding is really a good solution either in this day and age. It does promote some core members to have a scheduled set of nights to work through content and feel accomplished as a group. It also leads to DKP arguments, time constraint frustrations, member fragmentation and stressed out guild leaders. That fact that so few people really want to commit long term now that so many people have "been there done that" compounds many of these issues.

    3. It's fashionable these days to decry server community, something that was a key part of my experience in MMOs for years. I would contend that servers in many MMOs still have discernibly different communities, and also that it remains an important facet of the gaming experience. I've always been in the habit of playing on several servers in the same MMO so I've been in a position to observe first-hand the significant differences between them.

      In GW2, very annoyingly, accounts lock to a server so I can only speak for the server I'm on, Yak's Bend. Other servers may give a very different account of themselves. With that caveat, I very much agree with pixelrevision that co-operation is the order of the day.

      That's true in PvE but in WvW I have to say that Yaks has one of the finest communities I've played within for years. It's been a while since I felt I knew dozens of people on my server by name and reputation, or since I was surrounded by familiar faces each session as a matter of course. For a new-model MMO it's turned out very old-school in some ways, and all the better for it.

    4. Not sure I agree with the 'theres nothing to do at endgame' I think that comes down to personal preference. I've only just rolled an alt and have played over 350 hours. Ive been 80 on my main for weeks and havent just been sitting doing nothing, Have I raided? No but I've done things I enjoy and kept myself busy, to me thats endgame.

  3. Currently I have one toon from each race. I have 2 toons at level 80 (norn and asura), with story quests completed (Arah done). One of these level 80 toon have map completion (asura). Other two toons (charr and sylvari) are at level 50+. Yesterday I just created the 5th toon (human), level 4 now. There are a lot of things to do, going from get all 5 toons to levle 80 with story quests completed and get at least ONE legendary. And each month there is a ONE time event happening (there are more two events planned for january and february). And these events have loot I want and if possible I want for all my toons (all my 4 toons have that "fire" book, except the one I created yesterday).

    I think I will not stop to play GW2 until they launch the first expansion, that I hope will bring us tengu or koda races as playable... I will need more toon slots...

    1. Skritt! That's the next playable race I'd like to see. Especially with some mechanic where their stats and effectiveness increased within groups and zergs to fit that hive-mind thing they have going on.

      Kodan are annoyingly smug although there's potenial. Can't say I know much about Tengu although they were flat-out irritating in GW1. I'd settle for Hylek or Quaggan, though.

      Sadly I can't imagine we'll ever see playable Dredge - that would be magnificent.

    2. @bhagpuss "Skritt! That's the next playable race I'd like to see."

      I'm sure most of your readers already figured that out.


    3. I so nearly put that in when I typed it :P

  4. I'm even more focused than that. I only play one game at a time. The warning signs of trouble are much the same though: wondering how the new content on another game looks or how my characters there are doing without me*.

    Currently GW2 is the One for me. Though from time to time it does have it's little foibles that drive me up the wall. I've only been playing for somewhat over a month and I've tried every class at least a little bit, my highest is level 32. I've been kicking around in my mind which one to take to 80 and it was only last night that I realized I wanted to take my own kick-a** necromancer to see the world.

    That's a watershed moment for me. She's become an individual in a way that the others are not. Looks like I'm stuck with GW2.


    * For those between-MMO times I also have a game of War In The Pacific, vs the computer, running. I'm up to November 1942 and from time to time I do find myself wondering how the empire is holding out in the siege of Rangoon.


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