A Dragon Eating It’s Own Tail

March 22, 2015 at 6:47 pm | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg, PvE | 2 Comments
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Arenanet have changed the dailies a few times since launch and a couple months ago there was a major overhaul. I think one of the main objectives with these changes was to get people moving into areas of the game people have forgotten about or avoided in the past. Specific tasks in specific areas instead of a la carte options that allow a lot of choice. There were a lot of varied opinions however, some people outright hating the change, many pleased by the streamlining, and me, I thought it was a waste of effort and that Arenanet could better spend their time on other projects that need work.

You know, a use for karma, a better Hero menu User Interface, ascended cooking and ascended jewelry, reworking the RNG aspects of the gem store so that they aren’t a giant rip off.

Anything but yet another rework of dailies, something that was pretty much fine the way it was.

But there’s no use crying over spilt dolyak milk, we’ve got new dailies. Have I been enjoying them?

Actually, yes, I suppose so. Arenanet has moved the goal posts, reorganized my objectives, I’ve got busy work to do! But not just any busy work, this busy work is different busy work than the busy work I was doing before! It’s “new content” without any actual new content and they’ve bribed us with rewards to accept it.

And it worked. I think I do dailies as often as ever, which after 2 and a half years just should not be the case.

I think part of it is that the new dailies take far less time to do. Some players have complained that dailies now force them to log into certain characters so that they can go to certain zones and that this takes more time. I’m not even remotely slowed by this issue, as someone with 4 or 5 world completions and comfortable playing any profession at any time, I can go wherever, whenever. And unlike those that pinch every penny, I don’t mind throwing silver at the problem. Shiverpeak Vista daily combined with Orr Event Completer and Kryta Forager? Waypoint, waypoint, waypoint, done.

Others don’t like the crowds when the daily directs you to a specific zone. I admit it can be challenging to find an event if all you do is wander around waiting for an event to come to you, but again I just warp to an event the moment someone pings a waypoint in map chat. I don’t have modern PC or a solid state drive for fast loading and I do okay. And I like seeing some of the lesser visited zones clogged with hordes of players, the only other time that has happened was the Scarlet Invasions during Living Story season 1. It’s fun when everyone plays together, he said with an obviousness as bright as the sun.

I have to admit I just don’t understand or sympathize with the complaints about the system. Some people miss monthlies. Really? Those could be a real pain in the butt if you have a real life with real responsibilities. I know many people who found it a struggle and would miss out month after month because of crazy weird shit like having a job or kids. Sure if you’re a power player you could often finish them without trying, and in that way it was fine, but often there were specific things you would never normally do and it took time, effort, and gold to finish them.

I like better rewards for less work. The login rewards are literally the barest of minimum effort. You get more achievement points, more laurels than previously, and certainly a wider variety of goods. Daily rewards are much better too. An extra pristine relic from the daily fractal, an extra rare item from the daily world boss, the rewards make so much more sense now, making sure you’re rewarded for the specific activity you’ve been doing.

Hell, I think they over did the rewards actually. I mean they already seem to have removed the daily exotic crafter, which rewarded 3 ectos, and at the end of every month you get +2% gold find from login rewards. If I were a betting man I’d say that will be changed before long, by the end of the year I’ll have around 36% (from 12% in the previous 2 years) gold find, which is nothing compared to magic find I suppose but I digress.

All this seems moot anyway. I feel like it won’t be long before Arenanet decides we all need new carrots to chase after, especially with an expansion incoming. I wonder how much Heart of Thorns influenced the design of these new dailies, how they’ll change to suit HoT, if at all. And what happens when they revamp the dailies again? Do the rewards just keep getting better and better for less and less work? Have dailies entered a vicious cycle which will eventually consume itself like the ouroboros?

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Welcome to the Desert of the Real

March 14, 2015 at 3:54 pm | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg, WvW | 2 Comments
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The new WvW Borderlands map, showcased on Twitch during EGX Rezzed, look incredible. So much so that it kind of makes the old Borderlands map and the Eternal Battlegrounds map look generic and boring. What they’re now capable of creating in WvW is very impressive and I find myself thinking it will be a long time after Heart of Thorns hits before I venture back to EB or Edge of the Mists even after the new car smell wears off. Obviously the art is what first catches the eye, spectacularly good looking settings and visuals, but what really makes the map interesting are a lot of potential game changing…. changes… to layouts and terrain.

Hopefully the towers will channel players past them, forcing them to stop and take the tower or spend extra time getting around them instead of just breezing by ignoring them. While I still feel zergs will do exactly that, skip towers where possible if they’re inconvenient or to gain the element of surprise, at least there will be consequences, at least it seems possible that it will be as equally inconvenient to go around.

If you own a tower or a keep you can move past and get to areas a lot faster than say the enemy team who has to walk all the way around. – Tirzah Bauer

wvwtower

Where we start to run into trouble is with defending. Ravious points out that there was simply no mention of rewarding defenders, or rewarding scouts for… scouting. That’s been a big gripe with players from the beginning and has fostered an environment where zergs will actually avoid each other and concentrate on taking objectives instead of defending them.

I don’t think that’s the whole story though, the bonuses to keeping… keeps… are quite interesting. Over powered even. Highly seductive in some respects to taking on enemy zergs through ambush, front line bonuses, and terrain use. While I don’t think that’s enough, it’s a big step in the right direction in encouraging people to actually fight with each other more.

What I don’t think is a step in the right direction is the super weapon event that happens every 3 hours. After completing the event a team can destroy the outer defenses of every enemy objective. While that seems great for teams that aren’t doing well (if they manage to complete it) to me it only seems like a punishment for people who have been successfully defending up until that point. Why bother defending if in 20 minutes or in an hour somebody’s going to be able to take the objective you’ve devoted yourself to? As well, Arenanet describes it as a comeback mechanic, but what if the team that is already doing really well wins the event? They just get to walk over what little resistance remains? I would bet this happens far more often than its supposed goal of turning the tables.

But it’s not all doom and gloom for defenders because I think the new siege weapon is going to be one of my favourites, while also perhaps being one of the hardest to master. Figuring out where and when to properly place walls and using the knockdowns at just the right time should be difficult. I’m honestly quite curious if there will be serious differences between how it’s used on the new map versus the old maps. The shield generator is great for defending…. defenders… and I can easily see more of these on walls than ballistas or catapults. Hopefully the supply requirements aren’t too bad.

I guess what I’m most looking forward to aside from the shiny new map is the diversity of play. It seems like there are a lot more goals, more options, more things to look out for, avoid, or pursue. I’m sure that there will still be that eleement of PlayersVsDoor but with more encouragement to break out of just being penned up inside a wall or knocking it down. There is going to be a steep learning curve for casual WvW players like myself when we go up against pro players looking to capitalize on the unknown new mechanics.

The Desert Borderlands map is a definitive example of how Arenanet learns and evolves. Not content to just reskin a map and move things around, they’ve attempted to fix some of the problems with WvW and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Buzzworthy

January 5, 2015 at 2:11 pm | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg, PvE | 3 Comments
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As Guild Wars 2 slowly lumbers towards PAX South and some kind of announcement concerning the game’s future, I’ve been wondering if I could use the game’s recent history to further strengthen the speculation that an expansion is on the way. The living story, the New Player Experience, the rewards, if Arenanet has a direction for the game, surely it is reflected in what they have done. I think restructuring some of the foundations of how the game is played is a big part of this.

Of particular note is the reworking of dailies. The new dailies changed the chores we do on a daily basis, pushing people out to different parts of the game, shaking people out of their drudgery. I’m tempted to see this as Arenanet changing the goal posts as to keep the treadmill running (Mixing metaphors! Yay!) however if a new expansion were to be released several months from now I think the point of reworking the dailies would be to more easily suit new content that came in an expansion. If people are set in their ways and know all the easiest ways to do dailies they’ll hardly be encouraged to venture forth into whatever new content is released. The new daily system will easily accommodate goals that can be attuned with the new content.

The login rewards have me thinking in the same direction. A lot of the rewards for both dailies and login are consumable experience. Writs of Experience and Tomes of Knowledge. When used in conjunction with the Experience Scroll the leveling experience of Guild Wars 2 immediately shortens substantially. One might get the impression that Guild Wars 2 wants you to get to 80 and fast, not unlike the original Guild Wars’ minimal leveling mechanics. To me this smacks of something a few games have done over the years, streamlining the leveling experience when an expansion is due so that new or returning players can get to the new content as quickly as possible to play with friends and the vast bulk of people. Not to mention eliminating the repetition of leveling Alt characters.

That line of thinking immediately reminds me of the New Player Experience which accelerated experience gain in the lower levels (again, getting people to level 80 faster) and overhauled a few things, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. I think a lot of the reason so much work was put into the beginner levels (and I’ve said this many times on the blog over the years) is that statistics have shown that new players base whether or not they want to keep playing on the first 10 levels. But the overhaul came 2 years into the life cycle of Guild Wars 2 and I’ve already speculated in a previous blog that another reason could be that they expect a large influx of new or perhaps returning players with (surprise!) an expansion. It would make sense to work on this part of the game only if you foresaw such an influx.

I speculated on the Guild Wars Reporter podcast (I guested on the predictions episode. (Where I might add I predicted an announcement at PAX South so Fuck Yeah, go me.)) that I think Dry Top and Silverwastes are a fair predictor of what will come next in the way of zones not only in design but aesthetics and story. I think the direction the game is moving, literally west, is suggestive of an expansion mostly centering around Mordremoth, desert and jungle zones, and of course there have been plenty of hints about the White Mantle which ultimately means maybe the Mursaat are getting dragged in somehow. But there is still the question of how closely tied the Living Story is to the rest of Guild Wars 2’s development.

One other clue not taken from the game but taken from data mining by That_Shaman is that there are around 4 armour sets that for whatever reason have not been released in the gem store. One could speculate that those would be released in an expansion, but I suppose they could just be gem store items…. waiting to be released at the same time as an expansion.

Rant time.

Then there’s the actual company infrastructure. I won’t pretend to know the internal workings of Arenanet but 20 people working on Living Story wouldn’t be a lot even for less successful MMOs and Arenanet has 300 employees. I’ve seen plenty of arguments over the past few months that apparently 300 people is not enough to be working on an expansion or that they’re working on background projects that don’t have an observable effect on the game but I just don’t buy it. There are all sorts of Anet devs with a public profile that aren’t working on Living Story and I’m sorry but it doesn’t take 280 people to run the IT, community, marketing or any other department that supposedly isn’t working on anything of worth anyway. Whenever the subject gets brought up on reddit there seems to be this notion that the person presenting the idea that Arenanet is probably working on an expansion is somehow incredibly naive or a fanboy. Well I keep my fanboy tendencies pretty cynical myself and come the 24th you’ll all deserve a big cup of I told yah so.

And if that weren’t enough, the silence, my god, the deafening silence. I have to imagine this silence is for a reason. Someone suggested on reddit to me recently that the silence is because they’re not working on anything and don’t want to scare players away by revealing that they’re not working on anything. Hence the silence. And then they downvoted me.

I think more and more it looks pretty straight forward. An expansion. Well, aside from the actual wording of the announcement.

Join ArenaNet president and co-founder Mike O’Brien and Guild Wars 2 game director Colin Johanson for an exclusive sneak peek at what’s next in Guild Wars 2 and be among the first to hear how we’re setting up a new framework for how an MMO can grow its universe. The Living World was just the beginning.

The buzzwords are strong here. Strong enough to make me think that perhaps the future of Guild Wars 2 is an expansion in everything but name. Grow the universe. New framework. Just the beginning. Marketing team is on task at least. But I always knew they were pretty good at their jobs.

Forever Unlocks

December 15, 2014 at 4:32 pm | Posted in Gem Store, Guild Wars, mmorpg | 2 Comments
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So as a follow up to what I was saying in my last post about boosters, I think I was getting at in the end is that nobody wants to spend money on something that only lasts an hour. Or 24 hours, or even 2 weeks. People want account unlocks that they can use on every character… forever.

Which is part of why I really like the new mail carrier skin (looking forward to more in the future) we can buy, you can put it on every character. That’s part of the reason I bought a Finisher even though I rarely get to use it, it will always be there and enabled on every character. The one thing I’ve bought the most of in Guild Wars 2 is probably bank slots, and character slots. Account upgrades are what most people are looking for.

I don’t know if armour sets and mini sales have gone up since they were made account wide but they’re certainly a more attractive option for me. I imagine if they had a positive effect on sales we’ll be getting more account wide stuff. *holds breath*

I admit to having bought a Copper-fed Salvage-o-matic, a Royal Terrace Pass, and the odd item here and there, but I can count on my fingers what I’ve bought that wasn’t account wide. I wonder what ungodly amount of money I might have spent if everything were an account wide unlock.

Would I have bought dye kits? Dye kits as they are now are stupid. They are an RNG rip-off and anybody who spends money on them should be ashamed of themselves. If Arenanet wants to sell us dye options then why not sell us the exclusive colours directly? Why should I pay real money for something I can get for a couple silver on the auction house? Ridiculous. There is some poor sap dye collector out there spending hundreds of dollars and gold just trying to pick up an awful, yet exclusive, puke green.

And then there are the weapon sets as well. Black Lion Keys are, simply put, a casino. I find them immoral and shameful. I’m sure they’re the most profitable thing Arenanet has in the Gem Store and thus something they can’t justify removing, but I urge them to do so. Players should be able to just buy a Black Lion Claim ticket directly. Anything less is just down to one pure motive, greed.

I guess you could argue the RNG aspect is fun? A lot of people have fun gambling, but the one thing just about every lottery, every craps table, every card game, and every raffle have in common is that you lose more often than you win. Way more. Losing isn’t fun. And gambling shouldn’t be in Guild Wars 2.

Don’t get me wrong, I highly appreciate that skins are account bound now, that dyes are account bound, but why isn’t pretty much everything? You know what would spike the sales of the Royal Terrace Pass and the Copper-Fed? Making it so each character can pick up a copy from an NPC. Or how about a riding broom, or a harp, or a home portal stone.

Frankly what is the point in having most of the stuff on the gem store only on ONE character?

PS: Upgrade Extractor is still the worst thing on the gem store outside the RNG boxes.

A Booster Post For Some Reason

November 23, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Posted in Gem Store, Guild Wars 2, mmorpg | Comments Off on A Booster Post For Some Reason
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I’ve been meaning to post about the gem store for ages, and I probably have more than one post in me about it. But it changes so often and I’ve said so much about it in the past that it’s hard to find the motivation. I’ve talked my arse off about this game over the past few years, it’s hard to say anything I haven’t said before, even if it’s about new content. And frankly it makes no sense to talk about the gem store when I haven’t made a single post about Dry Top or the Silverwastes and what I like and dislike about them.

But here we go.

I don’t understand what they’re doing with boosters. I haven’t since launch. I’ve probably talked about it before.

They give them out for free all the time. Achievement chests mostly, the odd reward here and there. I’ve built up my supply of boosters from Black Lion Chest farming so I probably have more than most. I have plenty, but, I still think they’re overpriced on the gem store.

The main thing is they only last an hour, and a lot of their benefits are not that great considering their cost. They have varying levels of usefulness and cost effectiveness. Some are downright useless, some I highly recommend having on hand.

Boosters that give experience are, in my opinion, not a good use of a booster. Experience is plentiful and easy to come by in Guild Wars 2 so if you’re going to use one make sure you are downright desperate for XP. Would I pay for an XP booster, a crafting booster, a killstreak booster? Never. Not at their current gem cost. An hour of 50% XP for 20g or almost 2 dollars? No thanks.

A karma booster costs 75 gems (half the cost of a crafting booster or a magic find booster) and is the same cost as a swimming speed booster. Huh? I don’t understand that. And I don’t understand you can justify 10g for 1 hour of swimming speed, it’s absolutely awful.

I think what I’d do to improve boosters is to reduce their cost or increase their duration. Why would anyone spend money on something that only lasts an hour? Keep giving out your 1 hour boosters but start selling boosters that last a day, or no screw that, make them last for a week or two weeks. People would actually pay money for that.

I like using Karma boosters, I use Magic Find boosters more than any other and I would highly recommend to anyone that if you go into WvW to use a World XP booster, but I can’t recommend buying any of these. I hate to cut myself off at the legs but we get so many boosters for free you’d be a bloody (rich) fool to buy any. Which seems like a shame. I mean I want to support the game, I want the game to have viable sources of income, and boosters are just not one of those.

Boosters have their own panel in the gem store but I bet they’re the lowest selling items there.

Point of OMfGBLOODSTONE!

October 21, 2014 at 7:31 am | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg, PvE | 1 Comment
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portal2

One of the few things we know about the November 4th update, the first notable update in 3 months, is a screen shot of a zone portal near the Brisban Wildland’s Fort Vandal. So where is that going to take us? I’m sure someone else out there has gone through the possibilities of where we’re going, if not recently then just before Dry Top was released. In any case I thought I’d briefly cover it myself.

So what are our possibilities here? The last time a screen shot of a portal was posted by Arenanet we were given Dry Top. The only other firm clue we have is a blurb from their latest post.

As we go on this journey we’ll learn dark secrets of Tyria’s past, venture into stories with roots deep in the very heart of Guild Wars lore, and visit places that have only been rumored to exist.

That last part is what gets everyone’s attention. A lot of clear allusions to things we probably saw in the original Guild Wars. But what are we talking about? Mursaat cities? We never saw anything of the sort in GW1, but that last cutscene sure seemed to reference a city of some sort. Or does it allude to settlements we’ve seen before? Here’s the old Guild Wars map and the new.

drytop

drytop2

So the only thing close by that deeply relates to Tyrian lore and otherwise fit our criteria as a place that we’d likely be interested in going to, is probably the Bloodstone. And a dragon would assuredly be drawn to that.

So that leaves a few questions if we are indeed going to be visiting the Bloodstone. Is it another part of Dry Top being released just as previous areas in the zone were gradually unlocked? Maybe it’s not even a zone, perhaps its a dungeon however unlikely. Perhaps it is in fact an entirely new zone. What form is this content going to take?

The Silverwood was lush, green, and hilled. Bloodstone Fen was partially desert and somewhat swampy. But the Maguuma Wastes are named that for a reason and the current fogged map in that area is pretty brown with a blue splotch. So I would guess more desert, less red rock canyons, less verticality, with a watery oasis in there. Or hell, I don’t know, it could be completely underground, I have no idea.

The content, as acknowledged in a recent Points of Interest episode, would likely follow a similar pattern to Dry Top. The zone would have to work together completing events to drive a central goal for all players. In Dry Top that’s a set of rewards involving a weapon set, cooking recipes, lockpicks for chests, and other related items. I could guess that any new zone could have something similar, although I think Arenanet tends to be original enough that it won’t be an exact copy. An NPC with favour unlocking new items and discounts is done. I assume they’ve got a twist in mind, perhaps involving unlocking some World Boss once a certain plateau is achieved or something of that nature. Can you imagine if everyone who showed up to defeat Tequatl first had to participate in 20 minutes of completing various events? It’s not as though people don’t already wait around for a half hour just to be in a good zone with Teq.

I could be completely wrong. Maybe they’re going to delve into Shining Blade history, as their initial headquarters was in the Maguuma Jungle. Maybe Quarrel Falls is the locations of legend. I doubt we’ll see Mursaat, but who knows. Ultimately I have no clue. A new zone seems likely and visiting the Bloodstone seems inevitable. Beyond that, I’ll have to wait 2 weeks.

I wonder what’s been going on at the Bloodstone for 250 years?

Long Story Short, Feedback Is Great

October 16, 2014 at 3:04 pm | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg | 3 Comments
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I was listening to Relics of Orr recently and Greibach brought up an argument I’ve been having with Allona for quite some time. It’s Greibach’s opinion (and mine) that Arenanet was probably never going to bring back Super Adventure Box. But Allona along with many others seems to think they always had plans to bring it back but hadn’t announced anything and weren’t talking about it and everyone else just jumped to conclusions.

I guess I have to explain my reasoning by talking about how Arenanet answers questions.

In my opinion if Arenanet says something along the lines of “it’s something we’d like to do in the future” or an equivalent sentence then that’s code for they’re not working on it and not planning on working on it. As a blogger following Guild Wars 2 since 2009, I’ve read that sentence countless times, and to go back now and find every example would be a herculean task. However I do happen to have a bunch of current examples.

We really want all players to be able to experience as much of the Living World as possible at one point, but I don’t have more details to give you, including a possible timeline.

This was Stephane Lo Presti on retrofitting the first season of the Living Story so that players can go back and experience it. Personally I don’t ever see it happening, it seems like a super complicated thing to take content designed to be played by hundreds and alter it to be playable for groups of 5. The vagueness of wanting to do it but having no timeline totally fits the Arenanet codetalk for having no plans to do it.

Also I’m sure they’re well aware of the demand for build templates, but I don’t think they’re working on that either.

It’s a system we have on our list of things that we hope to add to the game at some point.

They’d vaguely like to work on it and there is no timeline. Couldn’t be more clear cut if you ask me, they’re not currently working on this. Of course I’m not saying they’ll never work on it, just that they’re not currently working on it, and unlikely to work on it any time soon.

Or how about capes? A lot of people (crazy people) want capes.

It’s something that we are trying to work on, we actually have folks who are in their free time working on that project right now.

Colin Johanson’s vagueness and lack of timeline definitely fits the framework I’m talking about. It’s super complicated and you’re only “trying” to work on it? There’s no official timeline because people are only working on it in their free time? This is not a thing that will happen. I could further go on an entire rant about capes (I won’t) but whether or not capes should be in the game they’re not a high priority project.

no capes

So when they said in an interview…

Devon Carver: You want to… you want to deliver the news?

Matt Wuerffel: Sure. Yeah, I mean, when we are talking about the Living World and the Living Story, you can see that we are moving towards a much more focused narrative, and that is focused on your relationship with Braham and Rox and some of the other characters that we have introduced. And that means that there is less, one, there is less space to do something where you kind of take a break and say: ‘And now for something completely different’ – which is what Super Adventure Box was. I think the other part of it is that we look very carefully at how much people played and how much people enjoyed certain portions of content that we put out, and so that also weighs into the factor of ‘Well, okay, what are we going to do, and when are we going to bring back things? What do we do, how much time do we put into different festivals, Halloween and Wintersday.’ And so, Super Adventure Box has a ton of people that were really excited about it, and it also has that difficulty of, it is something that’s really different from Guild Wars 2 in a lot of ways, and it doesn’t easily fit into the narrative structure of Living World. And so, I think it would be very unlikely that you would see it as part of a Living World season release, as to whether or not we come back to it, whether or not in some other form, you know, I can’t really say, I don’t know how likely that is and that is really all I can say about it.

Look at all that subtext. “You want to deliver the news?” As if Matt were about to deliver a death notice to a worried mother. They go on to note that they’re moving towards a more focused narrative and that SAB is in the complete opposite direction. Then Matt gets into a virtual litany of reasons as to why they might not bring it back. It’s different than the rest of Guild Wars 2, it doesn’t fit with Living Story, it doesn’t fit the narrative structure, they have to decide what to spend time on (which makes it seem like according to their internal numbers maybe SAB wasn’t as popular as the vocal minority might suggest) and even says it’s unlikely to be released as part of the Living Story. You know, the living story, AKA the way the vast majority of their content is released.

And people are still under the impression they were maybe going to bring it back? No, no they weren’t. Which is why even the more informed fans got a little cranky.

Basically what I’m trying to say is, if Arenanet doesn’t have plans to do something but haven’t ruled it out, they’re vague and a little misleading. If they have no plans to do something and pretty much have ruled it out, they itemize their reasoning for you.

Of course the great thing about Arenanet is that people… gave feedback… and they listened. Super Adventure Box has been confirmed to return… eventually. And while I don’t think Arenanet is working on some projects right now, I’m not saying they won’t. They’re currently working on an expansion in my opinion. So who knows what kind of features will come with that.

But as for Super Adventure Box? Nah. They weren’t going to bring it back.

Future Imperfect

October 8, 2014 at 6:43 pm | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg | 4 Comments
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Patiently waiting for Arenanet to drop some news about an expansion or some other kind of large update has left a lot of people stir crazy. While Arenanet seems to want to placate people with forum banter, I personally don’t think much will satisfy fans until we see some exciting announcements beyond Living Story. Behind it all though I think we can read into things and I have an optimistic outlook for the future.

Arenanet has always been very vague about what’s going on in the background, but they’ve hinted heavily at times that at the very least we’ll see expansion-like updates at some point.

Some of our players believe that because we are doing this Living World seasons, and these features or these big feature-builds, that it means that the features you would traditionally get in an expansion, or the content you would traditionally get in an expansion, is not something that will get added to Guild Wars 2. And that is not true at all.

“Not only are we doing those things, new features and content you would traditionally get from a boxed expansion are also things that will be added to Guild Wars 2.

…large regions, content and progression additions to your characters in the form of growth and professions and races. Those are all things that you will see in the lifespan of Guild Wars 2.”

Couple these comments with various conflicting reports from NCSoft (they’re working on an expansion! no they’re not! well maybe!) and you get the idea that at the very least it’s on their mind.

Outside of vague promises and hints, there isn’t much to go on. However take for instance this blatherskite about the New Player Experience that upset everyone so much. I’ll agree that some aspects of it are irritating, particularly skill unlocking, but I’ve actually found it to be much improved, more informative, with better rewards. But why devote so much effort to converting the NA/EU starter levels to match China if you’re not expecting a huge influx of new players? I think it’s a good indicator of direction.

In the short term we do have a few things to look forward to aside from the Living World continuing and festivals. Just why is there an inordinate amount of code buried in the .dat file (found by That_Shaman) for a new tutorial zone?

Something I haven’t mentioned yet is that there’s a huuuuge amount of lines for some sort of a tutorial zone as well.

I suspect it’s probably to do with PvP (via Twitter That_Shaman has suggested it has to do with China and things to do with crafting and siege mechanics so maybe not) Arenanet has mentioned a new PvP mode off and on for about a year, showing screen caps in a live stream and throwing maps into the .dat file, along with location names That_Shaman dug up like Tutelage Isles (and Combat Training Grounds, Isle of Trials, it all reminds me of the Battle Isle tutorial area) and not to mention the promise of PvP ladders and seasons a good 10 months ago.

I’m thinking the new mode, ladders, seasons, and tutorial, will likely be announced soon. They’ve got a fairly high profile PvP tournament with a cash prize coming up and capitalizing on the attention that will generate is probably the game-plan.

spvpmap2

Plenty of speculation about what the new sPvP mode could be, CTF, Deathmatch, Tower Defense. I think it’s interesting that Arenanet removed Reaper’s Rumble from Halloween 2013, and then a month later start mentioning a new sPvP mode.

But getting away from PvP and moving towards long term prospects, I wonder if we can glean something from their job listings? Supposing of course they’re not just replacing people. They’ve said they’re done using the initial personal story cinematics with stick figures in front of artistic backdrops. So does that explain why they’re hiring a couple of people for their cinematic team? Will they work on the Living World or future personal story steps which might require more man-power. They’re hiring an economic systems designer and a data analyst. Is that an indicator of a large number of new items, entire economies within the game that need to be reckoned with? They’re hiring a PvP Game Designer, which would align with a new PvP mode. They’re hiring a Raid Content Designer, which could point to either more new open world Tequatl type encounters, Guild Raids, or actual raid type content.

I could also draw from the Collaborative Discussion Initiative threads on the official forums, but so little of the content of those threads has been acted on and likely won’t be for some time. Hard to guess what they’ll implement, what is possible to implement, and what they’ll decide to ignore. The topics seem suggestive. Horizontal character progression suggests to me they’re thinking of the original Guild Wars, where a lot of new content was added but you never had to progress vertically. Some things have been implemented already from these threads but I suspect they may have already been in the works, like the wardrobe.

I’m not the optimistic fool type. Pleasantly awaiting things that will never come. They’ve got an enormous number of people working there, one of the few studios to release an MMO and not have layoffs following launch, and only a small team working on continuing updates while the rest do…. stuff.

With so little information, and Arenanet so unwilling to talk about what’s going on, I can draw only one conclusion. Expansion. I can’t guess at the content. Races, professions, new zones, new enemies, new rewards, and a ton of stuff designed to sap our wallet in the gem store, I’m sure all that is likely.

Some Rare Self-Examination

September 5, 2014 at 12:38 am | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg, PvE | 1 Comment
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So I was planning on doing temple runs with my guild and the question was put to me, “How much money do you make?” And I realized after all this time that I don’t actually know. While I know it is a good way to get ectos other assorted materials, I hadn’t thought much about what I actually get out of it. There are plenty of ways to make money in Guild Wars 2, are Temple Runs one of them?

So tonight I monitored how much silver I made total from selling all grey material, blues and greens. I salvaged my cloth, didn’t deposit any collectibles, left my rares temporarily unsalvaged, didn’t open my Gilded Coffers or Heavy Moldy Bags.

We did Melandru first, but I missed the precious 2nd beacon farm event, which likely would have increased my profits. Followed by Lyssa, from which little drops to begin with, but again we didn’t have to do pre-events, she was already in progress. Then Eye of Zhaitan after which we proceeded to the northern invasion pre-events for Balthazar. Following that, Arah (post Warmaster Chan event which is still crazy broken due to scaling) then the Priest of Grenth and its subsequent chest event. Followed by the final event at Dwayna, unfortunately missing the Historian Vermoth champ farming event. This took about an hour and a half, which is around average these days.

I did all this with a good amount of Magic Find. Food up at all times, a booster for the first hour, a banner for the majority of the events and guild buff as well, so I probably had close to 275% at times but around 225% magic for the rest.

I made about 1g20s from the grey, blues and green, and the event rewards.

I only received 4 T6 trophy materials, which is the big disappointment for me. I mean come on, no wonder the prices for these are so out of control if I can spend an hour and a half playing with an insane amount of magic find in the toughest area in the game and only get 4 of them. Profit would be 1.57g minus taxes.

I also picked up 26 T5 trophies, 8 of which were incandescent dust. This works out to about 74s.

I salvaged about 36 silk scraps, which works out to around 82s.

I looted 16 rares. If I were to simply sell these on the auction house that would equal, before taxes, approximately 8.78g. I’m going to salvage these however and get 11 ectos worth just over 4g, along with other materials worth around 60s.

I’ll also open the 27 Heavy Moldy Bags, and 6 Large Moldy Bags. This works out to about 1.6g in materials before taxes on the AH. Unfortunately I again received a paltry amount of T6, one Vial of Powerful Blood.

Opening 16 champ boxes gives me just 2 more T6. Ugh. But adding up everything I sell, T5, silk, gossamer, greens, and other items comes to about 2.2g before taxes.

Now keep in mind I’ve been rounding numbers up and down to make the numbers easier to read and deal with, and I’m not even interested in a scientific result here, just a big ballpark figure, but I came out around 14 or 15g ahead of the game after taxes, if I had sold the rares instead of salvaging them. It’s much closer to 10g with salvaged rares. That’s also keeping in mind that I would have had to sell everything, and not keep the silk, the gossamer, the T6, the T5, or anything else. If I do keep those materials, I come out with very little gold overall but plenty in materials.

Unknown Unknowns

August 21, 2014 at 1:14 am | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg, PvE | 7 Comments
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I was talking with my good friend Spirit, found on Twitter and the Relics of Orr podcast and she happened to mention something offhand about the living world team. She had said the size of the team was actually only about 20 people. I immediately waterboarded her for more information and she provided a link.

I am just one small member on a very large team that creates the Living World content. Our team changes in size, but there are just a little over twenty people on it at any given time. This includes artists, designers, QA people, project managers, audio engineers, composers, leadership, programmers, and writers. The Living World is very much a team effort. We have a series of meetings as we’re developing each release that start big picture and gradually hone in on exactly what we want to do. We all have our areas of expertise that we bring to the table, but everyone is invited to give opinions and ideas.

My responsibility as narrative designer for the team is to keep the lore in check, to ensure the dialogue for the iconic characters is in voice, and to guide us through the overarching storyline, so that each release keeps us moving toward our final story goals.

We’ve made a lot of changes for Season 2. We’re continually improving our processes with each new release. The most notable being that we no longer have 4 Living World teams, each making their own content; we have 1. This has allowed us to create much more cohesive releases, and I think you’ll find that our story hangs together quite well in Season 2.

Now I guess I missed this when it was first posted a month ago, or I completely forgot about it, but I thought it was worth drawing attention to. A little over 20 people, to me, is a very impressive number of people for the amount of content they’re pushing out, especially when Angel goes on to stipulate the depth of the team right down to Quality Assurance.

Not to mention the fact that there is now one living story team and not four. Which certainly seems to explain a great deal of the much stronger narrative direction.

But what I guess is most intriguing to me is that Arenanet employs something like 300 people.

What are the other 250ish people working on exactly? I mean we have information on upcoming features up until about September 9th. Beyond that we can guess at 3 things. Halloween, Wintersday, and the remaining episodes of season 2. And all of that just follows from logic, not any actual information. And will the living story team handle Halloween and Wintersday or is that worked on by other teams?

I get the feeling that a little of the ill will towards Arenanet recently stems from a lack of long term information. Yet they’re obviously working on… something? I think they’ve even said as much in vague comments here and there. That’s not going to satisfy the average MMO player unfortunately.

People want long term goals to work towards. That ranges from in game goals like precursors and stacks of ectos to out of game goals like expansion rainbows and unicorn mounts on the horizon.

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