Dungeoneer

October 30, 2015 at 1:01 pm | Posted in Dungeons, Guild Wars 2, mmorpg, PvE | Comments Off on Dungeoneer
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I have a rival. Someone who pushes me to complete achievements, to raise my world experience in WvW, to increase my wealth, to even increase my account bound magic find percentage. Lately she’s been (at least pre-HoT anyway) on the warpath to complete Dungeoneer, a title acquired by attaining every single dungeon skin from all 8 dungeons. As such I’ve been spending a lot of time in them lately and been thinking about Guild Wars 2’s dungeons a lot.

One of the things my rival brought up recently is that Guild Wars 2’s dungeons, while flawed, are actually some of the best dungeons in the MMO industry. What makes them great is the amount of variety. Each path varies in difficulty, length, strategy, story, visuals and yes, exploits. That variety makes Guild Wars 2 dungeon paths far more repeatable.

Think about it. Every other MMO has dungeons that do not change. Worse, most MMOs I’ve ever played make low level dungeons redundant and useless. There’s no point to going back to low level dungeons and repeating end game dungeons is nauseatingly familiar, a terrible grind.

Even if only slightly in some cases (Crucible of Eternity) GW2’s dungeons always have differences, and those differences make dungeon grinding more bearable and the rewards are skins and gold that are always going to be worth going for no matter what level you are.

I don’t deny that these dungeons have big flaws with exploits, unintended behaviour, simplistic boss fights, and players taking advantage of every tiny time saving cheese possible, but in all honesty I still think we’ve got it better than a lot of other games. I think some players take our dungeons for granted, but what’s really disappointing is that Arenanet doesn’t appreciate what they have either.

It’s been pretty clear that they’ve had no intention of supporting dungeons for a very long time. The last major change to dungeons was the Aetherpath of Twilight Arbor, a Living Story addition in October of 2013 that essentially sounded the death knell for dungeons. It’s a fairly difficult path, especially the oozes in the beginning, and as a result a lot of people got discouraged. Arenanet saw the low activity numbers and hasn’t devoted a moment to the upkeep of dungeons since. Add to that the daily rewards for fractals but not dungeons, and the removal of the 8 unique dungeon vendors for one guy off in corner and you begin to see a pattern.

Unfortunately that’s not all. Dungeon rewards have been nerfed as of the launch of Heart of Thorns.

As the game progressed, we shifted focus from dungeons to fractals and raids, and we firmly believe that fractals and raids are the content that we want to continue to support. As a part of that process, we’ll shift some rewards away from dungeons and into other pieces of content.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not that money hungry and I’ll probably still do dungeons. But Arenanet’s neglect of one of my favourite parts of the game was already a problem for me.

They are actually pretty open about their reasoning.

The goals for reducing currency in dungeons are not entirely economic in reasoning, we’re shifting where we focus our resources and we’re focusing rewards where we’ll focus our own development.

Personally I think if the reason isn’t economic, this shouldn’t be happening. Why would you undermine one thing to promote another? They are actively sabotaging content to ensure the success of other content. Shouldn’t the success of raids and the fractal update be based on their own merits?

To add to that, their focus is hardly shifting since they didn’t have any focus on dungeons to begin with. As I’ve noted dungeons have been collecting dust for 2 years and fractals have received one major update since their release (November 2013) and one wing of one raid comes out in a couple weeks. It’s not as though resources are going to waste.

Also rewards from raids are limited to once a week and the issues I have with fractals (the point of allowing us to salvage our rings was to let us make money, so charging 1g per salvage is a kick in the face) and I don’t see how this fixes anything.

The nerfs are pretty staggering. Roughly, you now get about 1/3rd of the gold and 1/3rd the experience from a dungeon run.

This reminds me of Super Adventure Box in a lot of ways. Arenanet knows best so they’re going to tell us what we like to play. Maybe I won’t bother getting Dungeoneer after all. What would that title even mean? That I’ve toiled away at something that Arenanet actively discourages and disincentivizes? That I worked hard at something for little reward? That I love something despite how deeply it’s been undermined and ignored?

I’m not asking for the world, I’m just saying maybe stop dumping on dungeons Arenanet, they’re way better than you give them credit for.

Rest of the Year

July 18, 2013 at 6:38 pm | Posted in Dungeons, Guild Wars 2, mmorpg, PvE | 17 Comments
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If I post here often, it’s a bad sign, it means I’m bored.

Which brings us to Arenanets plans for the rest of the year.

Cadence

Certainly there has been some major news over the past few months, most recently the change to a bi-weekly update schedule. It’s pretty impressive and seems very decidedly directed towards the weaknesses of an MMO. Typically an MMO remains stagnant between expansions or major updates. Guild Wars 2 has gone full bore, and I think quite brilliantly, into creating a steady stream of updates to keep people coming back. At the same time they’ve mentioned that although they haven’t ruled out expansions, expansions may not end up happening at all. That created a kind of mix of emotions for me. Who doesn’t like expansions? All that new content being unloaded at once, the crush of players, it’s like diving into a new game again. But I can understand the decision of course, it would be difficult to have 4 living world teams and have enough resources to be working on an expansion.

Living World

World bosses do need a fix. They’re quite easy at this point, many not properly scaling to the number of people who show up. Some are two minute affairs, and they need to be ten minutes. The full range of boss mechanics don’t even get used. Shadow Behemoth doesn’t down a single person, the Jungle Worm doesn’t hit anybody either, the Frozen Maw events are over in seconds. I’m happy with the guaranteed rare they implemented a while back, but I’d almost say there are too many bosses with that reward.

They say they’ll continue to update dungeons but, they’ve only really touched Ascalonian Catacombs so far, and to be frank, all that has done is ensure that I don’t run Ascalonian Catacombs very often. They probably should have started with the 10 minute Citadel of Flame runs anyway.

Of course new Fractals will be a boon, I’m more than happy to see 3 new fractals being implemented by the end of the year. It’s one of the few things I hear people quite bitterly explode over, that and content that they’re not interested in, instead of a new dungeon. I guess that’s what happens when you mostly play with people who only do dungeons.

As for new world events and new events in general, I can’t say I was too impressed by the Flame & Frost events, or the new events in Southsun. Southsun in particular has events that run far too often, and were not integrated with previously existing content like Guild Rushes, creating a fairly annoying issue with completing events before starting a Rush, and then having to complete those events a couple more times before the Rush is over. In any case I don’t think people are looking for more events as far as content goes, not unless it provides some insight into lore, has a particularly fun mechanic, or fills some gap. I doubt players are eager to see more skritt burglar or Modus Sceleris events (should there be achievements for Modus Sceleris like there are for skritt burglar?) when I don’t think most people realize that update even happened.

As for world events, I do admit I have some fantasy of a fully underwater zone (despite most peoples unjustified hatred of underwater combat) with the main focus of the zone being some kind of world sea monster. I just hope that any new world boss keeps in mind the problems discussed above.

Traits and Skills

This is one of the things I’ve been meaning to post about, at least as far as new weapons for various professions go. Mace for engineer is one that is thrown around a lot, though I tend to think the Tool Kit is exactly the functionality that a mace on engineer would have. There is a fair amount of room to maneuver for some professions as far as weapons go, but what I’m really looking forward to are more utility skills. Guardian and mesmer have proven themselves to be immensely useful in dungeons, not necessarily due to DPS.

Traits of course have extensive potential, I just hope new traits don’t end up all being along the lines of “recharge times are reduced by 20%”. While those traits are useful, trait lines are already flush with these options. I’d be interested in more unique abilities.

Mini-rant.

I was listening to some guy talk about his sense of progression in Guild Wars 2 the other day and how, after he had unlocked all his weapon skills by level 15, he felt “done” with the game. I guess I can’t comprehend that statement. You’ve barely started unlocking traits by that point, you have crappy gear, you have zero utility skills unlocked. Makes no sense. And then there are all the people who talk about how Guild Wars 2 doesn’t have build variety but don’t seem to acknowledge the vast differences that combining traits, weapons, and stats can contribute to builds. Moving on.

Rewards

Rewards were one of the biggest problems with the game from launch. A lack of them, to be precise. That’s certainly changed with more and more being added to the game, meta event bonus chests, laurels, guild commendations, achievement chests etc. I’m still not happy with random number generator gem shop items, I’m still not happy with the extreme rarity of certain drops, but we’re a long way from launch, and they’re still working on improving things. So champion rewards seem pretty good to me. A lot of people will be unhappy that they can’t put on gold find and farm dungeons to make money, and I imagine WvW players are scratching their heads about getting account bound crafting materials as a reward, but I’ll jump at the chance for more lodestones, more cash for different dungeon paths, and more unique skins.

Magic Find

As for the changes to Magic Find, I really think Arenanet is just caving to a vocal minority here. It’s been my opinion that most of the people complaining about magic find were unaffected by it. That said I admit that the change is in line with Arenanets overall philosophy, but there remains a problem. Rewards are better in Guild Wars 2 at this point but drop rates are not.

As an addendum, I have gear that ultimately gives me around 220% magic find. The possibility that that will become worthless is not appealing to me.

Account magic find, experince boost, karma, and gold find is a fair enough replacement, but I’m not looking forward to the inevitable insanely poor drop rate for these consumable items from blues and greens for a measly 1% boost. Ugh. That’s conjecture of course but, I’m confident enough in that assumption.

Crafting Ascended Gear

“Don’t worry folks, we won’t create a gear grind! Excuse me while I go create a gear grind.” The thing is I’m not super unhappy about this. I’m just noting that sometimes there is a disparity between what is said and what is done. I’ll be more than happy to start crafting to 500 and making ascended gear. One thing I’m not real happy about is any kind of time gating. Nobody is asking for time gating. Isn’t the consumption of lower tier materials to create higher tier materials enough to keep the economy healthy that we don’t need some arbitrary gate to hold us back? Celestial gear, which you can now get through crafting thanks to the Labynthine Cliffs update, seems to be the test phase for time gating. You have to “charge” 25 quartz crystals at a place of power (channeled skill point location) to get a charged quartz crystal. Once a day. With some dozens of these charged crystals required, and all charged quartz being account bound, it is (and I don’t feel unjustified in saying this) a complete atrocity of grinding.

I suppose I support efforts to give crafters the ability to have a crafting economy, but I’m quite unsure about the implementation so far.

I’m really genuinely happy about most of the news about legendaries. Legendary gear, a way to get precursors that isn’t hoarding hundreds of gold, changing the stats on legendaries at whim, and new legendary weapons. I’ll probably be dual wielding legendary pistols by the end of the year. Unless it’s a massive grind or something crazy, but Arenanet would never do that right?

Overall

And then of course there is all the other news, rumours about new WvW maps, Orbs coming back, PvP solo ratings, new map types (which I guess isn’t new game types which is what everyone wants) and lots of new tutorials… yay? I’m pretty excited about all the new changes, obviously I have some reservations, but at least the game is moving forward. A lot of MMOs begin to stagnate within months of launch and Guild Wars 2 for all appearances is going strong.

Guild Missions and Stuff

February 22, 2013 at 9:24 am | Posted in Dungeons, Guild Wars 2, PvE, video | 2 Comments
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I’ve spent most of the past couple months relentlessly running dungeons. January’s update allowing people to run FotM together inspired a bit of a binge on that dungeon and at this point I’ve got a few ascended items, backpiece, two rings, and amulet. None are infused as of yet, but it struck me that I wasn’t sure I wanted to bother getting them infused.

I’m kind of sick of fractals and I don’t see the point of getting more agony resistance if I don’t want to run fractals. Not only that but what is up with the stat sets? Why do no ascended items match any previous stat set? The more ascended gear I get the more it pushes me away from the stats I want to use, which I guess is the point, they want us to diversify our builds. But there are so few ascended items that simply don’t have magic find, let alone useful stats for me. The problem is it’s pushing me to change other gear to adjust for the stats I’m losing and I don’t think I should have to replace unrelated gear just so I can wear ascended. As a workaround I’ve been storing ascended gear in my inventory unless I’m doing fractals but the more ascended gear they release the less that is going to work.

The January release was great for such a small update but February looks far more promising. A lot of content that isn’t dungeons. That should make me happy. Guild Missions could help solve a lot of problems with cohesive group activities. I’m a little disappointed that from interviews it sounds like you get split up into different zones for some of the content, a guild flooding a particular zone sounds far more interesting to me, but generally speaking it looks and sounds really fun and the below video is very impressive.

From the Arenanet article linked above, I think I’m most interested in the jumping puzzle. I can only think of a few jumping puzzles where a little group coordination is helpful, Caledon Forest for example, and those puzzles tend to be some of the most memorable.

One thing I’m looking forward to is finding out about the rewards for all this content. I feel like the reduced waypoint costs and other guild tree rewards are just the tip of the iceberg, I haven’t seen much mentioned about more personal rewards, so I’ll be looking forward to that.

Fire and Ice

January 30, 2013 at 2:43 pm | Posted in Dungeons, Guild Wars 2, mmorpg, PvE | 2 Comments
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Kind of a grandiose title for such a small content patch but nobody ever accused game companies of under selling their product. As it is such a small content patch I don’t have a whole lot to say about it. There are some good fixes, nice changes, and things to work towards. I guess I can’t really ask for more.

The story so far is understandably thin but I suppose I knew to expect a small update. Still it is a bit underwhelming. A few NPCs slowly walking in a general direction is not particularly stimulating but it is early days yet. Hopefully this goes somewhere. The events so far are equally unimpressive. I appreciate the additions of new events, the Modus Sceleris and Skritt Burglar events are by and large pretty good (I just wish Arenanet hadn’t hyped them as “40 new events!” because 4 new events in 40 different places doesn’t really qualify in my mind) but so far its just a few versions of the same event.

Getting to the things I actually like, I love the new laurel system. I do my dailies every day because the mystic coins and karma make it worth it. With the addition of laurels it’s just icing on the cake. I have two so far and I’m thrilled to point out that with just two of these things I can get 250 use harvesting tools. Woot. I’m happy about that.

But because I’m incredibly anal I’ll be putting off the immediate gratification of harvesting tools for the long term goal of gaining an ascended amulet with laurels. Currently the only way to obtain them. I’m actually quite pleased at the price, I thought it might end up being astronomical, but in my opinion it seems mostly reasonable. I’ll only need to work on it for about 20 days if I complete my monthly as well.

There’s a host of fixes and improvements I’m digging as well. I finally fought the Shadow Behemoth, for the first time since September. My final boss achievement. I’ve already taken advantage of the Fractals now allowing people of different levels to play together and my guild is now doing this dungeon more often. Their rebalancing of down-scaling is definitely making lower level content slightly more challenging, it’s subtle but there. And I felt the wing beneath my wings as I traveled around a couple of areas in Cursed Shore where the number of mobs was severely reduced. It was like a karka hatchling off my shoulders.

I also liked the changes to various dungeons and temples. Throwing new skills that require new strategies into old content is something I’m hoping happens regularly. Anything that increases challenge where there wasn’t any before pleases me. I don’t know why but some people have even complained that they can’t get their daily dodger achievement. Seriously folks? If you’re playing correctly you should be getting this achievement within a half hour of when you started playing.

There are some things I don’t like.

I don’t like the orrian jewelry boxes. I guess it’s a great way to get people to gamble and waste their karma and worthless junk, so good job on that front, but, I’m not a fan of random number generators. It’s the worst thing to come with this patch.

I liked the old attribute panel, or maybe it’s that I don’t like either the new or the old panel. I just think I shouldn’t have to hover my mouse around to find the stat I’m looking for. The less mouse hovering the better for something like that.

The cooldown on guesting. Don’t get me wrong, fricking YAY guesting, but why is there a need for a cooldown? I don’t imagine it will get in my way often, I can only think of one server I’ll end up guesting on, Jade Quarry to hang with my TwitGuild, but it just seems like there are others who are definitely going to be blocked by this.

No waypoints while in combat. Definitely not as irritating as I was guessing but certainly inconvenient a lot of the time. It’s early days yet but I can see this being extremely painful especially since some of the encounters they were promising to tone down definitely don’t seem all that toned down to me. I’ll have to wait to see how it goes in some of the harder dungeons to be sure however. I remain convinced that simply balancing a few encounters would have been the better solution.

Anyway they have certainly come through on these monthly patches and according to them their metrics have even gone up post launch which surprises the hell out of me, so keep em coming Arenanet it seems to be working.

Walk of Shame

November 6, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Posted in Dungeons, Guild Wars 2, mmorpg, PvE | 5 Comments
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Lately I’ve been doing a lot of dungeons and I’ve been experiencing a balance issue that is less about the difficulty of the bosses and more about the placement of waypoints. It’s a quality of life problem.

In Guild Wars 2 dungeons it is often an invitation to suicide if you were to stop and res a teammate. Being the diligent teammate it often becomes your responsibility after dying to immediately teleport to the closest waypoint. Sometimes these waypoints are close by, but at others it is an insanely long distance. In fact I’d go so far as to say that almost every dungeon has a notoriously long run back from a waypoint somewhere, sometimes in multiple paths.

Perhaps the most well known run amongst my regular guild is the run back to the second encounter with Subject Alpha in Crucible of Eternity. Between the waypoint and the location of the fight you’ve usually killed, depending on the path, a number of bosses, elites, and champions not to mention the challenge of completing a laser grid puzzle to unlock the waypoint in the first place. I’m not sure how long it takes to run back to the SA fight but it is quite a distance.

And on some level that is fine. A challenge is a good thing and a penalty for failing is a way to make the fight matter. But there a number of things that come to mind that make the penalty so much more bitter.

To begin with you have little chance to rally. There are tendrils in the fight that you can kill to get up, but they are not a guarentee of success. I can’t be the only one who has damaged something while downed only to not rally when it is defeated. Nor can you always be in a location in this particularly small room to be able to hit one of the tendrils. One might rely on a teammate to res you if it weren’t impossible 80% of the time. The combination of the difficulty of successfully ressing someone combined with the chance that you might die as well means hesitation, lack of confidence, fewer people taking the chance. Then there are the crystals. Some professions can deal better with these than others, and it takes quite some effort to free teammates before they are targeted by the Aoe. Not to mention being encased in one usually means certain death. So if you get crystalled you will get downed, if you get downed you will die. No rally, no res.

Hence the bitterness of what feels like a 2 minute run back to the fight. A fight which is still going and in urgent need of your assistance.

One of the worst byproducts of these runs back is something I’ve seen a few times now with Subject Alpha and other bosses. A vicious circle of a single player alone with the boss, desperately trying to stay alive and keep the boss in combat and the fight going. That player dies just as another player runs in to do the exact same thing, repeated and repeated again.

And you don’t even unlock a waypoint after this encounter. You have to fight two (two!) more bosses to unlock a waypoint. It’s just a mess.

There are plenty of other bosses with similar problems. The fire golem in story mode of Sorrow’s Embrace is a prime example. The chain knockbacks of Sure-shot Seamus in Caudecus Manor, and any number of other dungeons where you have a long run back.

I haven’t even begun to get into some of the balance issues with the actual bosses. Some fights can be done while browsing reddit. Others require intense concentration and reflexes.

The difficulty never seems to correspond with the reward of a waypoint either. In fact, placement of waypoints seems to make little sense at all. Many dungeons place one after the first boss fight, mere seconds from the original waypoint, and never seem to award another waypoint at all. Few bother to place one at the midpoint of the dungeon which would seem like a logical location. Twilight Arbor is a good example of some of these problems.

I have a history of taking note of these types of scenarios. In Runes of Magic I wrote this post. It’s about how long it takes to run back to a dungeon after a wipe. Some of those dungeons took 5 minutes to return to the same boss.

Guild Wars 2 can be frustrating in this respect but it’s nowhere near as bad. In fact I feel a bit like a spoiled brat complaining about this issue. Particularly when better tactics or better players probably have much less trouble with some of these bosses.

But that’s the way Guild Wars raised me. Instant travel. No corpse runs. Spoil the casual player. Let us play when we want to play without the grind of a death penalty. And that’s what we’re encountering with these runs back. A death penalty. The thing is, I thought failure was supposed to be the death penalty. Not the waypoint costs in zones, not the temporary health reduction, not the damaged and broken armour, but failure itself.

One of the worst penalties in gaming is wasting the time of the player. It’s a commodity that is valuable to us not just in gaming but in the rest of our lives as well. So when you waste it, you had better have a damn fucking good reason.

Fine, whatever. Failure makes success that much more sweet right? I guess I just wish there was less of that miserable feeling of being screwed out of rallying culminating with a walk of shame.

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