Consistently Inconsistent

July 23, 2015 at 12:04 am | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg, PvE | 21 Comments
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I’ve been thinking this post over for years, and yet it’s still hard to put into words. Arenanet is consistent in its inconsistency. That is to say that they repeatedly and frustratingly introduce things and then never touch them again, never adjust them, never support them, never standardize how to acquire an item or worst of all they only briefly make them available and they’re never seen again. They set the groundwork for something, make a show of it, and then don’t follow through. It’s a combination of neglect and lack of foresight.

Activities, dungeon revamps, guild missions, new world bosses, they come in to being and then are left to rot. If they’re not super popular they are ignored. Forget that they’re unpopular because the implementation is off, or the difficulty is weird, or the rewards are subpar. If it’s not a huge hit, move on to the next idea and pretend like nothing happened. The rewards for Guild Trek are terrible, so nobody does them, so Arenanet never touches them again. A child with ADD that is consistently moving on to the next project and forgetting the old one.

And then there’s the sloppy implementation as well. The problem stems, I think, from the experience that Arenanet wanted us all to have in that first year or two of the game. They wanted unique one-time experiences that forced players to log in because it was only available for 2 weeks, maybe a month, or one night only. We could debate the success of those updates, Living Story S1 was epic and yet so temporary, but I’d like to talk more about the legacy of incomplete features left behind.

I’ll start with the small stuff.

One example of sloppy implementation is the Superior Sigil of Generosity. A very rare drop during Wintersday 2013 so if you want one, you’ll need a time machine or 130 gold because since then it has never appeared anywhere but the trading post, the price is astronomical. I don’t think I’d even be annoyed if they would have bothered to return it in Wintersday 2014 but no such forethought. I’m not sure what happened, maybe it was overlooked, or perhaps they decided to not include it due to it being slightly overpowered, but either way it was a mistake. You don’t introduce something without a long term plan to make it available to anyone who wants to get it. If it’s OP you nerf it, if it’s a forgotten item you find some way to include it. That’s why the Superior Sigil of Bursting and the Azurite Orb annoy me. Neither has been easily available since they were introduced 2 years ago. I’d love to get my hands on either. Not feasible unless I just want to throw money at it.

Then there are celestial stats. The hoops you have to jump through for this stat set are ridiculous and yet it is a popular stat set that even Arenanet throws at you in the Beta tests. I’m not a fan of the stat but I’d probably experiment with it more if it didn’t take a month to put all the charged quartz together. Ridiculously time gated nonsense and there’s no reason for it. An exotic celestial set should not be time gated, especially where later stat sets like Sinister aren’t time gated because although they include charged quartz it is apart of charged sheets of ambrite which can simply be bought.

tribal

And the skins. I think the skins point more to neglect for me. Multiple skins have been removed from PvP including the Tribal skin set with no explanation given. How about the Decorative Molten Jetpack skin. Available only twice briefly, now selling for 3500 gold. It’s great to have goals Anet but “make a bazillion gold” is a terrible effing goal. I personally want both the Dreamthistle Greatsword skin and the Super Warhorn skin. One is unobtainable except via the trading post for 1400g because the Gem Store overlords removed the set around a year ago and I (mostly) refuse to play their filthy RNG Black Lion Chest game, and the other is unavailable except via the auction house for 1500g because Super Adventure Box hasn’t returned in, what, a year and a half?

Super Adventure Box is a whole other giant cluster… bomb. I mean I could go on about the Infinite Continue Coin, or how SAB should be regularly available especially during long dry spells of no content, but I’ll leave my complaints brief. I realize reintroducing Super Adventure Box isn’t like flipping a switch, that it would take work. And yes, they’re hard at work on an expansion, I understand that’s why we’re in such a long drought. But holy crap when was the last time it was even available? Where’s the Queen’s Jubilee right now? Where’s Dragon Bash? Where’s WvW Tournaments? Neglecting the rest of the game is getting out of hand. A redesigned Lion’s Arch is great, but it was long overdue and left me content for about a week. I was bred on bi-weekly Guild Wars 2 updates.

Dungeons in general. I’m sure the dungeon community is smaller than just about any other community in Guild Wars 2 but the amount of neglect is staggering. No new dungeon paths, no new dungeons, no improvements, no bug fixes, no dungeon team, nothing. Fractals is rumoured to be seeing an update with the expansion but it’s fairly neglected too. It took years for them to fix the terrible drop rate above level 40, the skins still come at random with no way to get the skin you want. You can’t do anything with the ungodly amount of rings you rack up if you play a lot. There have been no new fractals in some time and I don’t predict any for some time to come. I feel like the removal of the 8 dungeon vendors that were compiled into one was like the final slap in the face. We don’t have time to move your vendors around or give them a special space to indicate their prestige and unique skins so take this generic npc standing in the middle of nowhere with no indicator of who he is or where he is on the map okay bye.

Ascended jewelry crafting has reached a level of jaw dropping disbelief with me. How could this still not be introduced? The ascended crafting materials for jewelry have been in the storage panel for literally years. Left blank and empty. Sure you can get jewelry through multiple other means but half the stat sets are some LSD inspired nonsense. Why do more than half the jewelry pieces from vendors have useless stats? Why can’t I just make my own (game normalized and standardized) stat sets? Neglected, ignored, inconsistent. Even the achievements for maxing out ascended crafting professions completely leave out jewelry or cooking.

Then there are skills like Antitoxin Spray. The only skill added to the game since 2013 has been completely removed. No real explanation why (that I know of) and no refund on the hundreds of skill points I must have sunk into it. It wasn’t overpowered. It wasn’t completely useless. I can’t even guess as to why you would remove it. Every possible explanation gets shot down in my head. The only other new skills added since launch were one new heal skill per profession. 9 skills in 3 years and one of them was removed.

Of course it ain’t all doom and gloom. The expansion is coming and with that, new maps for WvW and I hope a new tournie. Some kind of update for fractals, there is a mastery line for fractals so I would assume something to go along with that. They did at one point include a bunch of items only found in S1 of Living Story on the laurel NPC. I don’t *really* need ascended jewelry crafting. Guild Halls seem to also be a revamp for Guild Missions as well so maybe those will be fixed up or new ones introduced. Hey I can be optimistic and positive!

I’m sure a lot of problems will be fixed with the expansion but when I hear them say they’re laying the groundwork for future features…

This expansion pack is all about laying the groundwork; the features that we need in place so that we can build that new character progression and new challenging content for years to come.”

I just shake my head. I can’t have any faith in those words because in my opinion when those words have been used previously they have just plain not been true. Here’s a great example. Arenanet talking about laying the groundwork for future Guild Missions about a month after the launch for Guild Missions.

It wasn’t enough to simply add some content for guilds to play and then call it done, we wanted to build the groundwork for future teams so they could extend and improve guild missions with relative ease.

Two years later they haven’t been touched (go ahead and call me out if there are new guild missions in the expansion) and that’s not my only example.

Arenanet introducing the champ bags.

As we go on with our project of updating our existing dungeons, we’ll monitor the changes to paths and update the rewards accordingly.

Which was said while they would have been working on Aetherpath, which launched a month later. Aetherpath was the last content update to dungeons, 2 years ago.

Hey I love Guild Wars 2, I appreciate the hard work Arenanet puts in. I paid 100 bucks for the expansion. I’m all in. But I need and want consistency.

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21 Comments

  1. The Dead Like Me fan in me would argue that they are inconsistent in their consistencies.

    Anyway, I’m pretty confident the tribal skin was a mistake to begin with since it had the masquerade icons, and masquerade was strangely absent from PvP at launch despite being used in the PvP promotional art. Plus tribal just looked unfinished and out of place, but then again, so did some of the armors that did make the cut.

    While there’s spoilers for all content available online, guild treks don’t even require any skill so I don’t know that rewards should be improved. It’s a nice easy option for guilds that need it, I suppose, but that’s about it. Nice idea in theory but the nature of the internet renders it moot in my opinion.

    Teq got a great redo. I just wish all the other bosses got a makeover, complete with additional achievements. The Behemoth, while still too easy, at least requires more effort. Same with the Claw. Achievements need to be polished in general because the lists aren’t very tidy or intuitive and the color coding no longer applies.

    While celestial stats are good for certain builds, I assumed the reason it was given for beta content was simply because it was the most generic/jack of all trades. Unfortunately it also hasn’t felt well suited rev so far, which is part of why I lean to it being chosen for being generic.

    Antitoxin spray was removed due to changes to the hero/achievement point system change. It was in the patch notes.

    I am disappointed with the content drought. I thought the living story would be a great way to bridge everything together more seamlessly but they dropped the ball. I loved the surprise announcement of the expansion. I just wish it had been in a closer state of completion. That really would have been novel and exciting.

    • Theres a lot of things that need work, but Arenanet is always pushing forward forgetting about whats left behind.

  2. When “Fractured” update came around everyone’s personal reward level was reset down to 30, with the “explanation” that it’ll put everyone on the same starting line for the new Leaderboard they’re introducing. Leaderboard was basically a list of people that got to 50 first as level 50 became a new cap. So if you made it to 50 first, you got the first spot in the leaderboard… forever. It was a bad idea. Never happened. Level reset stayed anyways. No compensation. Many complained on the forums for weeks, till the forum was closed as the new Living Story chapter was introduced. Anet was sitting quiet, hoping it’ll all go away.
    One of the things that was advertised in the update (as they actually used to do that back then) was “Fractal skin box” which had a low chance to drop, but let you pick a fractal skin of your choice. Weeks went by with nobody having it drop in the community. It finally went to forums yet again. Anet response was that this item is available, but only drops in levels 51 or higher (remember the new cap is 50…)
    Every time something doesn’t pan out, they go into a lock-down mode. New player experience was a bad idea, Anet can’t respond. Trait acquiring system not received well, Anet is quiet. New LA looks great guys! Anet all over the place talking about creation and taking credits. That’s the consistency I came to expect from them over the past few years. “Fractured” was a big hit for many hardcore fractal players. We used to do 6-7 runs a day as the level was character bound instead of account bound as it is now. And nobody got compensated for loosing those levels either.
    Aether path in TA was added but F/U path was taken out. That path was fun as hell and the only problem with it was the final boss where spider spawn would just go out of control making it close to impossible to finish if you mess up the first time. Easy fix, disable spiders. But it was removed completely. Yes it was the least run path in the game, but the reason for it was a broken boss, not low popularity.
    Skins are a part a whole different ball game that I don’t even want to touch.
    SAB on the other hand was asked for mere months after the last one was out. We had the old system back then. Now the excuse is that it’s under the new game system, so they have to fix it. Why did they waited that long to begin with? It was an extremely popular content and extremely well received. For over a year now players been asking to bring back at least world 1, as nobody wants the next world if that’s what halting the release. But Anet ambitions are stopping them from releasing SAB until everything is completely overhauled and a new world is introduced. We really don’t care Anet. We just want to jump and have bubbles we can redeem for skins that you took away. Normally as you stated the content that didn’t pan out or was not popular gets forgotten and shelved, but SAB is just a mind blower why they’re not capitalizing on it’s popularity…

    The only thing we hear nowadays is “they’re hard at work on an expansion”, which at this point became more of an excuse for not doing anything in core game for months now. To be completely honest I would rather have that expansion delayed (since it wouldn’t bother me if the date was pushed back, as I don’t know what the date is in the first place) and have them work on something they can leave in the game for 2 months or so that would actually engage players into for this drought… Because frankly some of us are running out of stuff to complete…

    Nevertheless, great read.

    • I agree that working on Heart of Thorns isn’t really a good excuse for how some things have gone neglected for so long.

  3. Well said and I absolutely agree with you here.

    I am most of all sad about the guild missions. I loved doing them and we even had them scheduled twice a week. I often joined with my main account on one day and my second account on the other when I had the time. Unfortunately, with nothing new being added and no rewards I really wanted to work toward, even the missions I loved most became too boring at some point. I really do hope that they will actually look at the guild missions again and work on that feature and add new content!

    • I don’t mind them not adding new rewards so much as them not adding a new bounty or ….anything i guess. I’m fairly satisfied with the rewards, pretty extensive if you think about it.

  4. […] Hunters Insight Looks at how Arenanet is consistently inconsistent in their support of newly planned gameplay and features […]

  5. Really great write-up Hunter. The lack of content updates and zero attention to existing content is what’s been keeping me at bay from playing. I want Heart of Thorns to be great, but at this rate I may even hold out on it until I know that there’s enough there to justify the purchase. Which is crazy considering I was ready to throw my credit card at the screen the day they announced it.

    • I know how you feel, I have my own reservations, but I have faith HoT will at least be worth the purchase.

  6. Spot on – its like the endless beta that games companies try to get away with these days. GW2 seems fixated on constantly remaking parts of the game or introducing things and then forgetting about them. They put in new currencies…and by the time you can use them, everyone has so much of it that they go an introduce a different one instead. They chase their own tail constantly.

    • The currency thing is worth its own post I’d say. I’ve considered it a few times.

  7. I made my goal of Guildwars 2 to
    1. get 100% map completion
    2. Get a legendary
    3. and get Mawdrey.

    Done.

    I am so glad i don’t run down gem store stuff or even go nuts with skins. Since i started (BWE3) there is little in the game visually i want. So now i just do Dailies and fill PVP reward tracks. Someday i will get 100% WvW and 100% sPvP but i refuse to touch fractals and dungeons again until rewards are better. I’m super casual and i play the game mainly alone. But i keep coming back as my guild is the funniest guild in the game!!!

    • There’s nothing in the game you want visually? I have quite a different experience, so many skins to get, so little time.

  8. Twilight Arbor Spider path/boss would bug out, so it was trashed for the permanent band-aid solution that is Aetherpath, instead of fixing it. We’ll never fight Fyonna with the nightmare tree again, because anet dungeon team is extinct.

    Otherwise, your insight is spot-on.

    • Yeah I know they replaced that path for good reason, but there are plenty of new paths they could implement, not to mention other things they could do with dungeons.

  9. Oh, I have been saying this for awhile now. I am kind of surprised someone put this into one blog. Forget the whole Guild Wars 2 manifesto. Everything that has happened since the launch of the game has been one giant misdirection after another.

    Post Launch Game Past Issues:

    – Zhaitan end battle being rushed out the door (Colin admitted to this) and never fixed. This fight is suppose to be why you want to finish GW2 personal story. Honestly I let the anticlimactic fight speak for itself. With it being in no better condition for the last three years.

    – Ascended gear thrown in because exotic could not hold players down as a final gear treadmill. I don’t believe this was thought of until after the game launched. Did you know originally getting ascended gear was going to make map exploration fun again for GW2?

    – Dally/Monthly System getting changed multiple times. Now rewards you for simply just logging in (like a mobile game). Even look how long it took them to get in the a functional LFG system into the game.

    – Guild Missions originally were going to be for any size guilds to accomplish and it would scale accordingly. Yet when it came out Arena Net changed their tune and said this system was always meant for the larger guilds to accomplish. You know what would have been great to have before this system and guild halls goes live? An actual Guild Alliance system; akin to something to what GW1 had.

    – The one time only Lost Shores event that was plagued with many people DC’ing and not getting back in the game. Lost out on some of those rewards even when they tried to reimburse everyone afterwards.

    – Did you know Polymock is still in development hell? Or what ever happened to Reaper’s Rumble from the first years Halloween? Most of the first year Halloween stuff had higher quality of gameplay and story compared to the second.

    – Final Rest the worthwhile scavenger hunt staff skin that actually turned out to be a bugged drop rate. Even though they said it was never bugged. It just apparently was 0.00001 drop rate for the shadow behemoth. What a waste of time that was.

    – Or how about some of that temporary content (season 1) for almost the whole 2 week period being both very buggy and broken (just before being pulled). Remember how long it took them to fix the six minutes to knightfall achievement?

    – Still waiting on those fractal weapon skin boxes and that leaderboard system that had them reset our fractal level in the first place.

    – CDI forums used as a way to show that Arena Net are listening. However in truth it’s just a facade to keep players attention away from some these glaring issues. The biggest inconsistency was the one CDI focused on commander tags. Izzy Cartwright acknowledged all of the problems of the commander tag system and would not be fixed by simply upping the gold sink. Several months latter….. Color tags and a higher gold sink.

    – Dungeon Exploits are still rampant. Guess what Arena Net response is to do lately? Take out the only way to report them officially within the game. You know when a game is constant development you want to have something that keeps track of these things. Guess Arena Net missed that memo.

    – Feature pack blunders: counterproductive New Player Experience system, and the refurbished grind-y trait/skill system.

    Microtransaction inconsistencies:

    – Beyond the SAB infinite coin we have had few other things being weirdly handled by that particular division.

    – Remember Dragon Bash’s Dragon’s Revelry Starcake Recipe debacle? A celestial stat altering food locked behind a pay wall. When Arena Net have stated they never do this anything that was gameplay changing only cosmetic.

    – The watchwork infinite mining pick. The only pick that still allows you collect a certain precious resource in the game. If you don’t have you can still get this resource but it’s in few exclusive areas.

    – Flamekissed light armor (from human culture armor to feathered armor clone).

    – Collection achievement system: favoring black lion weapons (gambling) over other collection that are still not even acknowledged by this system. SAB weapon skin collection anyone? It takes no skill to get these BL weapons, other then being lucky when it comes to an overused RNG system. Or mindlessly farm for keys.

    – The change that happen to the gem exchange system during last years Halloween. Remember it’s all about “not confusing new players.” This was still a lazy excuse, even with it being fixed after the massive backlash

    Marketing Division:

    – Canach instance (Last Stand at Southsun) is actually a challenging group dungeon content compared to everything else in game. When reality it was not even close.

    – GW2 cab commercial.

    Story wise:

    – How about the personal story being a foundation of work to build your character into something amazing. Instead we got a filtered storyline that was pretty good at the beginning. With a third act that dragged on way too long. While character development took a dump with repetitive death scenes for NPC’s we barley could care about.

    – When we finally got season 1 more personal primary antagonist (with an actual personalty) it was way too childish. They even gave Tera Song the direction of playing a British Harley Quinn, instead of something more original.

    – Oh, that whole Tequatl getting more powerful was not a random coincidence during it’s refurbished update. Since it takes place after Zhaitan death. Yet the reasoning for this never came into being. It was simply a personal fetch quest for Rox.

    – Cutthroat Politics really made a difference in GW2 didn’t? Ellen Kiel was a complete throw away character for season 2.

    – Season 2 just felt like a check-box list to make sure their fans were happy with the new storyline. When in reality it was borderline boring. Especially for a twist most of the community saw coming. Yet even when it was acknowledged that Scarlet was corrupted by Mordremoth. The developers told us that’s just speculation. They really think we are that dense?

    – Caithe’s stealing Gliny’s egg (mcguffin) plot line felt hammed in.

    – Our NPC character pulling out Mordremoth name out of nowhere. When it was never revealed what it’s name was outside of the CoE explorable instance with one of subject alpha’s attacks. Supposedly we found out just previous to season 2 starting through the Durmand Priory. However this was never addressed in game.

    – Actually a lot of things are never presented in game, when it comes to the story. However this is contradicted by one their writers (Bobby Stein) say “anything that is not in game, is therefore not canon.” So anything that is given out officially in the wiki, fan sites, facebook, and even anything the writers themselves say on the forums is true can easily be debunked with future content. So you know the whole part where one of their writers (Leah Hoyer) said we could be turned to a Moderm if we are Sylvari character recently? Yeah, don’t get your hopes up.

    —————————————————————————————————–

    That’s just scratching the surface of some these problems (PvP & WvW is missing). Yet Colin tells us to trust them when it comes to this expansion? Really? Based on everything that Arena Net have done up until now. No, thanks buddy. I am waiting for the reviews to come out, before I even think about getting this expansion. That’s is a first, since I got GW1 back in 2006..

    Right now Arena Net seems to care about one thing. Player turn over. Not customer loyalty. It’s why GW2 has been on sale more time then GW1 ever has been. Also I am highly doubtful about this challenging group content will deliver. My prediction is the Adventure system is going to be the first new feature in the upcoming expansion that is going to get the ax.

    Here is the thing…….. I would let a good amount of these issue slide out of my memory. However the problem is that this is the sequel to their original game. Which means it’s suppose to improve on everything the original got wrong. To me it does not matter how ambitious GW2 is as a “project.” What matters is that Arena Net stops repeating past mistakes and blaming it as if it’s a nuance problem. When it’s clearly not.

    • It sounds like you should be playing a different game honestly.

      • Actually I have been playing a different game or should say several of different games. However I am not like all those individuals who said I quit GW2 based on these problems alone. There are some good thing that have come out of GW2. The final major factor is some shred of hope that Arena Net pulls an 180 turn, and delivers something close to Guild Wars: Nightfall quality (or even surpass it). Plus it’s the only MMO I actually play now with a small group of friends who did not already quit the game (within the first two weeks of play).

        The thing about Arena Net is that they always late to recognize their mistakes. Or even acknowledged them. They even had this issue with Guild Wars 1. With GW2 it takes a really long time before these things register. Case in point: Yesterday they finally announced that they are going to finish up their Fractured update down the line. The only question remaining is will it be worth the wait? Just like will HoT be worth the wait? Personally I can’t wait for the reviews because either: A) It will show me they are really starting to progress as a company. or B) It’s not worth my purchase till the inevitable sale a couple of week down the line.

  10. They are consistent. They release things to much fanfare that they hope will entice new players into the game/gem store. That’s it. In-game events/story are little more than a merchandising opportunity around which gem store items are planned.

    Because of the business model GW2 has absolutely no need to build in the stickiness desired by so many MMO players, so investing in existing systems is less of a priority than “the next big thing”.

    The content drought since end of Season 2 is inexcusable but entirely predictable and the main reason I didn’t want a “boxed” expansion. I still had way too many things to do in game.

    But the comments about rehashing core systems are spot on. I wonder how many of the HoT systems will survive to next expansion without changes. Again that all comes down to lowering the barrier to entry for new players.

    Expect an insta-level 80 item in the cash shop just after HoT launch. After all, existing players have stacks of them already.

    • I doubt there will be an instant level 80 cash shop item because they hand out experience as a reward way too much to make it worthwhile to put in the cash shop either for them or for us.


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