As if the initial torrent wasn't sufficient to drown us in confusion (and map chat and the forums certainly suggest it was) ANet saw fit to shake the fire-hose no fewer than nine more times. Every day is patch day this September.
Each of these patchlets naturally spawned notes of its own but I confess that, in the heat of the intense competition of this first week of the WvW Fall Season, I had been lax in tracking them down. Last night when, during a lull, I finally found a moment to catch up with the ongoing erasing and re-writing of the rules I found this:
- Fixed a bug that prevented some accounts from having vistas now unlock on an account-wide basis rather than a per-character basis.
- Skill challenges now unlock on an account-wide basis rather than a per-character basis as originally intended.
That's phrasing worthy of SOE at the peak of their powers. The great Abashi himself might have been proud of that convoluted, negatively-inflected, self-footnoted delivery. It takes some parsing but the first entry, if I have the right of it, translates as follows:
There was a bug.
This bug affected some but not all accounts.
The bug prevented Vistas from unlocking for all characters on the account.
Vistas are intended to unlock for all characters on the account.
This is the status quo. (implied).
Vistas formerly unlocked per character.
This was the status quo ante (implied).
The second entry confirms that the same state-change that has already been made to Vistas has also been applied, presumably bug-free, to "skill challenges", which I take to be what are generally known as "skill points" in our house. If they aren't then I have no idea what they could be.
Now, if (and it's a very big "if" because I am far from certain I understand what's going on here) that's what these notes mean, then it would represent a major change to gameplay. Vistas and Skill Points are both intrinsic parts of Map Completion, which has always been "by character", much to the disdain of many, although I don't include myself among their number. I would guess that it would be quite feasible, nevertheless, to transfer vista unlocks to ownership of the Account without upsetting too many people or breaking too many systems.
Skill points, however, are not only required for Map Completion but for direct character development while leveling up and as an important form of currency for a number of late-game activities. Granted most skill points at that later stage come from the ever-rolling level counter and those nifty scrolls that Champs drop but even so to move them from character to account would seem problematic to put it mildly.
Well, it seemed easy enough to test so I tested it.
First I checked two characters on the same account - my most map-completed and my least. Had the latter acquired a hatful of vistas and skill points overnight? He had not. Change not retrospective then.
Next I found two characters neither of whom had done a particular vista, the one by the steam bath in the Norn starting area, Wayfarer Foothills. I climbed the hill and opened the vista on one character then logged in the other to see if he had magically received credit for a view he'd never seen. He had not.
Conclusion: either its still bugged or I have completely misunderstood the patch notes. Having trawled both the official forums and Reddit for comments and opinions on what would be, if it were true, a highly controversial change to the structure of the game and having found absolutely no mention of it whatsoever I have to conclude that it's the latter.
The only grasping-at-straws idea I can come up with is that these are changes somehow related to the NPE and therefore only affect new characters leveling up under those rules. I don't have a new character to hand to test that right now but in any case it seems highly unconvincing as a possibility.
I have to conclude that I'm baffled. If anyone has a clue what's going on perhaps they'd care to explain in the comments.