Tuesday, 9 April 2013

You're Not Going Out Dressed Like That: GW2

Syl has an excellent post up about the various cosmetic options in GW2 and why they ought to be better than they are. Appearance and how it's handled in GW2 is just one of the many ArenaNet design decisions that mystify me. As I said in the comment thread over there I simply have to assume that ANet know something I don't, something which, if only I was privy to it, would makes sense of some of these seemingly nonsensical decisions.

The selection of items that dribble into the Gem Store seems both extremely limited and, in my opinion, poor. I'd been thinking that the choice of adolescent-oriented leisurewear probably reflected ANet's idea either of their de facto market or some demographic they desired to cultivate. Then I read the disturbing Penny Arcade piece linked by Feldon at EQ2Wire. That certainly put a different slant on things. Maybe we're not getting what they think we want but what they themselves would want in our place.

Cat hats. We want them.
  It's not just cosmetic and appearance items that puzzle me, though. Psychochild points out in the comment thread at MMOGypsy that Tyrian high level armor can be as hideous as any immersion-breaking hoodie. Partly that comes down to personal taste, of course, and it's hardly unusual for MMOs to feature garish, ridiculous or risible armor options at the top end, but I do struggle to find much that I would want to wear for looks once Exotics come into play.

I can't imagine the Fine Transmutation Stones were ever intended to transfer the look of a low-level item onto a high one but that tends to be what I use them for. Most of the really striking, unusual, attractive pieces I've seen are on Karma vendors, often low and mid level ones. Those are the pieces I wear for as long as I can and then stash in the bank to transmute onto whatever baroque embarrassment I end up using for the stats at 80.

Don't mind him. He's delusional.
Why do we have seven quality tiers for gear anyway? There's an MMO convention of putting completely useless, no-stat armor on vendors all across the world that I have never understood and it's a convention to which GW2 is fully signed up. Tyria is littered with Armorsmiths and Weaponsmiths offering complete sets that no-one will ever buy. That's pointless enough but then we come to Blue gear.

Blues are Magic Items like the watch you bought for £15 in the pub last night was a Rolex. For a few levels you have no choice but to wear Blue because that's all that's on offer but by the time you're in your teens Green appears and at 39th it all goes Yellow. You don't need to upgrade because you can happily solo to 80 wearing Blues (or naked for that matter), but that begs the question "if it doesn't matter what you wear, why have different grades at all?".


Given that no-one really gives even one hoot what they wear to level up in, gear only starts to matter at the cap. At that point Blues and Greens are widely referred to as "trash", fit only for vendoring or salvage. For a while you might wear Yellow Rare but everyone's goal is to get into a full set of Orange Exotic at the earliest possible opportunity. Only once all your slots are comfortably tangerine can you settle down and get on with the real business at hand - Legendary and Ascended.

I can't see any reason we couldn't just do away with White, Blue and Green gear altogether. Start with a minimum spec of Rare Yellow at level 1 (probably going to have to think of another name..). Maybe get Exotics dropping at 39 if that's supposed to be some special watershed. Up the coin and salvage drops from mobs to compensate for all those "magic Items" that we used to sell and scrap to earn a living and bobcat's your Charr uncle.

Oh I don't know. I only play these things. I'm sure there's some clever reason its done this way. Just like there's some clever reason not to release, or apparently even work on an expansion in the foreseeable future and some clever reason to give away regular, large-scale free content dumps for the rest of this year instead. I struggle to think of any explanation for the willful disinclination to take our money other than that the game is already exceeding whatever financial targets it was set and exceeding them handsomely.

The alternative is too disturbing to contemplate.













15 comments:

  1. Seriously, I've also been complaining about this for months. It's like they don't WANT my money! I want more dressup clothes, and not immersion-breaking crap but stuff that matches the style of the game.

    I also found the Riding outfit hilariously trollish, since so many people are begging for mounts on the official boards and this set got released after the horse-riding concept art used on the main website got people all riled up about the subject even more. =P

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    1. Hehe! I hadn't though of that about the riding outfit but yes, either they must be trolling the playerbase or they are incredibly insensitive. Or both.

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  2. Heh, well without whites then you'd either have armorsmiths who don't sell armor or armorsmiths who don't sell affordable armor to poor low level people.

    Each of the others (apart from "look at me legendaries") actually dictate the amount of bonus properties/points on an armor piece. While I too think that blues, greens and yellows could be combined into one tier instead I guess they're there just to give the feeling of "progression", my +0 hat went to +5 then +10 and now +15. Oooh. Lol. :P

    I don't really care for spending real money (ever) so the aesthetic stuff in the gemstore is something I never look at anyway.

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    1. Well we could happily dispense with all those armor and weaponsmith NPCs. I'm sure there's some form of Tyrian Welfare they could claim to eke out a pitiful existence in some back-street Ebonhawke flop-house. Or they could join the Lionguard - they appear to take anyone.

      And are you suggesting there are players who actually buy and equip this stuff? Have you ever met one?

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    2. You just did. For my secondary characters I shopped to get them starting equipment that I favoured. My main only uses whatever gear he finds though, which ironically in this game gives him superior stuff. Usually it's the other way around in other MMOs (crafted > random drop). :P

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    3. I should point out I do this purely for silly RP purposes in my head and have no problems if the generic armor and weapon vendors go die in a fire. ;P

      I do like the karmic gear rewards scattered around though.

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    4. The Karma gear is one of the real hidden gems in GW2. Well, hidden from me since I've largely avoided Hearts and map completion as a means of leveling, but I do wonder how many people who are leveling via hearts actually go check every heart vendor and Preview the gear. Not that many I'd guess.

      One of my long-term projects is to get all of them opened (not necessarily on the same character) and check out everything on offer because some of the things I've seen on Karma vendors are stunning.

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  3. To me personally, whites/blues/greens give me a very easy to access pricing thresholds that lets me decide whether to vendor/salvage/TP/Mystic Forge.

    Whites I salvage, and blues I vendor, since most of the materials I obtain are worth more than whites but worth less than blues. As for Green,s depending on what the rare market is like, I toss into the MF (if rares are high) or just vendor (if rares are low).

    The mystic forge in particular I think, it's a great hedge against higher tier items becoming too expensive. Precursors start getting more expensive? People will be encouraged to start tossing in those rares into the MF, giving value to the rares while keeping precursor prices low. Rare prices get way too up? People start MFs greens, hence giving value to greens while keeping rare prices low. It's a neat safety net, I think.

    Now their true intentions? I'm sure they're clever beyond the understanding of us mere mortals.

    -Ursan

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    1. I do exactly the same because after a while it becomes apparent what the most cost-effective use of the drops is. That's only because we are getting these drops in the first place, though. It has indeed created a whole nest of economic mini-games but that kind of demonstrates just how useless most of these pieces are for their primary purpose - wearing and wielding.

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    2. Well, I'd argue that blues/greens are invaluable assets in my lowbie alts' closets.

      When we ding to 80, the usefulness disappears of course, but I do like my lowbies having the option to choose between several incredibly affordable pricing tiers (and looks too. I believe white/blue/greens have distinct looks)

      -Ursan

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    3. Looks definitely. Some of the white and blue items have very nice looks, especially if, like me, you favor a classic, simple look. I'm not saying they aren't useful as they stand, anyway. I leveled up most of my characters wearing blues other than what ever I made to skill up and whatever drops happened to get. I just think it's fussy and overcomplicated, as most MMOs are. Three tiers of gear would be plenty for any MMO in my opinion - Good, Better, Best.

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  4. Is that link to EQII Wire correct?

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    1. Ahem...it is now !

      Thanks for pointing it out :)

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  5. "I struggle to think of any explanation for the willful disinclination to take our money other than that the game is already exceeding whatever financial targets it was set and exceeding them handsomely."

    Anet is hiring new employes since GW2's launch. And NCSoft appear be making a nice profit with GW2.

    I am seeing one or other new player in my server, Tarnished Coast (that is a FULL server). Other day someone asked how I get my title and backpack, I said I get them at the Halloween event. My guess is that that gamer was not playing GW2 that time. Yesterday a guy at map chat was asking where was the Maw event that everyone was talking at map channel and said he was new to teh game.

    I think they are making some money selling new copies of the game. And some serious money from TP. And I think giving free content like the Living Story is helping to make more money...

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    1. That's what I see too. I hear complete newbie questions every day, often many times. I always thought the business model was to sell the box to many people over a long period - that was the GW1 policy.

      What throws me is their apparent unwillingness to trade on that model by knocking out an expansion in less than a year.

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