Monday, May 13, 2013

Flame + Frost = Farrago: GW2

"Is that it?" was the refrain that echoed across Tyria as the first chapter of the Living Story limped to a close last night. Listening to map chat in Lion's Arch it was apparent that few players had read the press releases, seen the interviews or had the slightest idea what was going on.

Most did know that they were one achievement short of a Box Prize though, and not surprisingly, quite a few thought there might be a pot of gold at the end of the three-month long rainbow. There wasn't.

Next it'll be CCTV in Lion's Arch, you mark my words!
The pot of gold, such as it was, had already arrived with the conclusion of the Rox and Braham storylines more a week ago. A ticket for a pair of exotic gloves too utterly hideous even to contemplate wearing. No-one paid much attention at the time, what with the new dungeon and all. Even the anticlimax was anticlimactic.

What we did get was a bonfire and just how appropriate, in this particular case, was that? You've been driven out of your home by a bunch of burning creatures chanting about fire and setting your settlement ablaze. Do you really want to see more flames? Okay, it's cold in Hoelbrek so the warmth may be welcome but they already have rather a lot of open fires there. All the time. How special does it make you feel that they lit one more little one? And as for Black Citadel, where you're sitting on a solid metal floor that conducts heat and where the enemy at the gate even before all the recent kafuffle was always the Flame Legion? Does any of this make any sense?

In someone's dreams. Not in mine.
Then there's Rox and Braham. Hmm. These two characters that drop out of nowhere. The big, buff Norn and the wide-eyed catgirl.That we all follow. Whose story we are mostly watching, facilitating, a story clearly not our own. After that video I can't but think we're seeing Our Gods walk among us in their Mortal Form. Are we comfortable with that?

Is this whole thing a complete mess or what? I'm not saying its not been fun but has any of it made any sense to anyone? Has anything since the game launched made any sense? Did The Mad King destroying the Lion Statue make sense? Okay, he's mad, he gets a pass. Did the Karka make sense? Did Tixx make sense? The Super Adventure Box? Anything - anything at all - about the Living Story?

Might there be a whole lot of people working very hard on personal projects, obsessions,
We can't all be famous
ideas, getting them into the game with very little in the way of top-down, authoritarian control? Might things be getting greenlighted on a prospectus containing not much more than "wouldn't it be cool if...?"

Not that I'm saying that's a bad thing. Not at all. For my no money it's a considerably better thing than, for example, the approach Rift ended up taking, where players must at all costs not be annoyed, nothing disruptive must ever happen and everyone must get a Fair Go. That makes for an admirably solid, reliable experience but one which, after a while, tends towards the dull.

At least with ANet (as with SOE all these years) you never know quite what might happen next. Sure, some of it, arguably most of it, doesn't really come off but rather a sporadic splurge of exotic failures than a steady stream of stuff designed not to annoy anyone.

In a day or so we're off to Southsun Cove for a couple of weeks. If Team Spring Break (Really? You really want to call yourselves that? In public?) can make that a place worth spending more than five minutes in then I'll be impressed. After that, who knows? This over-excited PR blurb certainly isn't letting on but apparently "it does all tie together".

I'll believe that when I see it but I don't mind if it doesn't. It'll almost certainly be just as much fun if it all falls apart.


  1. @Bhagpuss

    The living story makes a lot of sense for me, but I used a few of my time for talk to molten alliance prisioners at Black Citadel and to NPCs at the refugee camps and the now rebuild norn village, but maybe I can make some spoilers:


    1. Aparently, the Consortium was behing the Molten Alliance;
    2. I don't understand why so few people noted that the Molten Alliance was a "consortium" (two or more individuals, companies, organizations or governments with the objective of participating in a common activity or pooling their resources for achieving a common goal - wikipedia);
    3. Some refugees signed a contract with the Consortium for move to Southsun, but the contract had small lines and no one read that contract - I guess what will the refugees find when they arrive at Southsun because no one like be a slave, but the Consortium need cheap labor for... something;
    4. As a NPC said at a refugee camp: "consortium words do'nt meet their eyes" or something like that - they are lying and have silver-tongles, no one know their real objectives;
    5. IMHO, the Consortium is not building a real tourist resort at Southsun, anyone trying build such thing at a island full with mobs is trying slose money and I think that it is a cheap diversion from Consortium real plans (I think I saw the same plot in a 007 movie... well, the villain had secret base there) - the Consortium plans problably involve that asura gate they are building;
    6. Some data mining that some people made at the last patches show that we will see again an emo norn at Southsun looking for someone there;
    7. My personal hypothesis about what is the Consortium: white mantle, nightmare and inquest (and now maybe molten alliance) - if that eventually proves truth, that is real evil.

  2. F&F was certainly interesting. Classifying it as an "exotic" failure is a bit over-the top, I'd say. The dungeon itself made up for the long 4-month wait. (Which, admittedly, didn't grate on me as much as it did to other people, since various other parts of the game I also play have gotten love during that span.) (And lets be frank here. Though the Flame Legion is so heavily associated with fire, fire is still the foundation of society. No problem with people using it!)

    The concept was solid. But it was still...odd. There was this cruel invasion which was massacring people and displacing them from homes. And yet Meatoberfest went on unabated (Perhaps the true reason why people were fleeing? Best party everrrrr). I wish they went all-out with it. For the duration of the event, make the area incredibly hostile (People whining about the Sonic Periscopes be damned, more of those!). Alter the Hearts so they reflect the Living Story (Instead of Meatoberfest, change the context to a siege defence.)

    But of course, there are the downsides. People aren't happy that the starter zones are significantly harder. If things happened more quickly you have people upset that they "missed" out on content. And I imagine technically, it's quite the undertaking.

    But still. I sorta wish when Anet promises a dynamic, living world, that they go all out with it and disregard player convenience. But of course, they're a business, and so I grit my teeth in frustration at economic realities.


    1. I agree completely. I just commented along very similar lines over at Kill Ten Rats. I think they worked out that they'd be damned if they did and damned if they didn't back in November with the Karka debacle and they seem to have decided they'd rather damned for what they don't do. Of course if they hadn't made such a song and dance about a dynamic world to begin with...

      Meatoberfest itself is exemplary of the impossibility of MMO gaming. Every MMO is just Groundhog Day in a different setting. Usually I don't have a problem holding the matter and anti-matter ideas inherent in all MMOs apart in my head but it doesn't always work. Then I just say what you did - it's a business, they need to make money. That's their bottom line. Mine is "Am I having fun?" and I am, so that'll have to do for now.

    2. I remember reading a blog talk about how he wishes there were more niche MMOs (was it you?). I'm of a similar sentiment, especially with this topic. A niche MMO which takes some of the great ideas GW2 had, focuses completely on a dynamic, open world, and pushes the envelope even further would be super neat.

      Almost forgot to mention, but you know one of Anet's biggest lies? Braham's concept painting. He is ugly as sin in-game, hoooooly hell.


  3. What I found telling was I was at Lion's Arch yesterday to sit at the bonfire and the map chat was deathly silent. After a few minutes of waiting I decided to yell out to see if anyone was there and I got 2 replies. Maybe people were just not talkative?

    Anywho, this whole Southsun Cove thing will need to be pretty spectacular to pull me from Neverwinter.


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