Friday, July 3, 2015

Once More, With Feeling : GW2

Among the many changes to longstanding systems, processes and practices that came with the recent, massive update to GW2 was a complete revamp of the Skill Point mechanic. It's been a staple of the game since beta but in preparation for the upcoming expansion the entire concept has been given a makeover that rewrites just about everything, from the name itself to the utility of the skills and traits and the appearance of the UI that we use to to interact with them.

Not everyone likes everything about the new look and feel. Someone on the forums even called it "ugly" which exemplifies the old saw about accounting for taste, namely that there is none. There was a certain amount of rather more justifiable grumbling about the automated process that spent a portion of everyone's points without asking permission so we could all have a playable build ready as soon as we logged in after the patch. I thought that was a stroke of genius but I can see why it went down like bitter medicine from Nurse in some quarters.

Despite all that I think it's fair to say that the project has been received about as positively as anything like this is ever likely to be. Overly well-received in certain cases, and for as dubious a reason as if you'd found an ATM that kept spitting out banknotes without bothering to check if you had money in your account.

Some of the more spectacular bugs and oversights led to some fast and panicky patching, not least the spectacularly broken build that allowed Guardians to strut around like superheroes for a while, boasting that a single group of them running the right build could kill New Tequatl, the double-health dragon that was flummoxing entire raids. That got fixed before I ever got to see it in action.

ArenaNet confirmed that until they get all their waterfowl in a row such shenanigans will not attract the ban hammer. Good thinking. The new system is so much clearer and easier to navigate (as well as being prettier to look at, too) and it makes experimentation a lot more attractive even for someone like me, who usually can't be bothered with all the fiddling about. Let everyone try to break it and then fix the damage. Kind of what you have a Test server for, I know, but, hey, it's not like we're paying a subscription here.

It was wholly because of these changes that I happened to notice, while I was out and about in Tyria today, that several of the Challenge NPCs had acquired "I remember you from last time" dialogs. At least, I think they have acquired them. I'm not really sure.

One of my many rangers happened to pass Roj the Rowdy Butcher, one of the distressingly large number of clinically insane charr, who make Diessa Plateau the wonderland it is, and thought to challenge him to a fight. My memory is that, under the old system, you could do that. You can't now. Now he spouts a little speech and sends you on your way.

You can still join in with the fight if someone else has started it but if you turn up alone old Roj is having none of it. Neither is Shaman Purda nor the slightly worrisome thermal spa evangelist Burrison the Blue.

As I think more on it, though, I'm less and less sure that these ever were repeatable. Maybe I just imagined it. It seems hard to credit that, with all the work that's needed for Heart of Thorns right now, someone sat down and drafted new responses just on the off chance someone might try for the best out of three.

It's a pity, though. I can't really see why we shouldn't be able to spar with these folks as and when the whim takes us. Not, obviously, for any kind of credit or reward but just for the fun of it. Whenever I pass a Skill Point Hero Challenge that someone has triggered I always join in. They are fun fights as a rule. I don't see why we should have to wait for someone who hasn't done it to come along before we can have another go.

For that matter, why are Hearts one-time only affairs? A lot of them are pretty dull, to be sure, but there are a few I'd do every time I was passing, if I was allowed. It just seems like an easy route to extra, optional content to leave all of these active permanently. Just detach any and all rewards from characters who've already received them. Although, when you consider that Dynamic Events are all infinitely repeatable with rewards, maybe you don't even need to do that.

Oh, I don't know. Maybe it's just me. Maybe no-one else would ever want to repeat this stuff. I notice that a lot of people don't do every single stage of the pre-events at Maw or Fire Elemental every single time the way I do, after all. A lot of people, well, they just stand there. Some people just don't know how to have fun.

Anyway, I don't think it would hurt either my Guardian or Shaman Purda for the two of them to go a few rounds every time they meet. Where's the harm?

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