[GW] Alone Together

This could just be my time or place, but Guild wars does not feel particularly vibrant. It really does feel like a single-player game, with the capacity for becoming a small-group game if I find people I already know. The main chatter I hear is trade spam in Kamadan. There are people around elsewhere, but beyond the Eye of the North, they blend with the NPCs. I don’t see any reason they would want to interact with a newbie, and if they are interacting with each other, they are in a different channel. Maybe Embark Beach is where the action is.

The instanced exploration areas have a more severe version of the same effect. Like launching a game in a MOBA, once you’re in there, you’re cut off. This is your own little chunk of world. I like having my own zone, but you might pause and realize that you have not seen another player in an hour. It does not feel dynamic.

Guild Wars is a sort of accidental MMO, a something else that acquired more MMO elements over time. It was not built with the World of Warcraft feeling of soloing alone together. When you’re soloing, you’re not really “together” in any sense.

: ZUbon

23 thoughts on “[GW] Alone Together

  1. I always felt this with GW too, and I don’t find it interesting enough as a single player game to really grab me, but I think originally it was a more social experience.

    1. It was. Since about EoTN is out it’s much less social, and PuGs are now kinda out of the question.

  2. It seems kind of… nonsensical… to judge this aspect of a game that’s, what, 6 years old? Most of the people are no longer playing it, so I bet it does feel like a ghost town.

    All the major quest hubs had a ton of activity during the heyday.

  3. The towns and outposts were a whole lot busier back when the game was new. The only reliably vibrant times now-a-days are around the holiday events. The next one being Canthan New Year (during rl Chinese New Year). Particularly in the major hubs and Shing Jea.

  4. Yes well the 6 year old part is really going to make it feel this way, but other MMO’s weren’t really any different.

    Take WoW for example, you would see other players outside in the world but you payed no attention to them. They were either in your way of questin/farming or you really just didn’t pay them any attention. The big cities is where all was bustling and if you really wanted to communicate with players you would go there. That is sort of like the central hubs in Guild Wars. They just provided instanced everywhere else to reduce the annoyance of other players in your zone that you didn’t want there.

    Also a lot of the lower level areas in Guild Wars are completely deserted. Take the Shiverpeak arena for example. I remember I used to go there with my warrior. I think I named her Curley Green from a quirky book called “The Gammage Cup” that I read in elementary school. Well anyways I remember there used to be hundreds of players floating around the arenas and getting into match was quick and easy. Now? Not so much. The place feels deserted and lonely, and for this I am glad that they are shifting over towards Guild Wars 2.

    I want to feel that early game buzz that Guild Wars had. Like the Rift beta had. Like most games near release. It just won’t get any better than hundreds of players surging out from the small fields in Shaemoor. And the gigantic cities of Divinities Reach, Rata Sum.

    It will be probably one of the most amazing gaming experiences, sadly being replaced by my lovely play time through Guild Wars.

    Quick Edit: (I RAMBLE TOO MUCH)

  5. Of course you really need to be a member of an active guild to make grouping fun and maybe there aren’t that many now. When I first played, in a large guild, grouping was probably easier than in open world MMOs, just because with everyone quite soon at max level you don’t have the problem that you can only play with the tiny fraction of the population close to your level. Also, when the main mission lines are completed everyone can do advanced content together in small groups.

    My SWTOR guild has over 200 members, but already grouping within the guild is becoming infrequent and hard to organise:- Members are strung out over the levels and even if on the same planet, they will be at different stages in their questing or just involved with their personal class quests. It’s sort of surprising that since Warcraft’s release, subsequent games haven’t addressed the fact that MMOs aren’t really multiplayer at all.

  6. I tried to convince two friends a while back to play through GW Prophecies as a prep for GW2 (and to get to EoN and open up our HoM).

    One was up for it, the other flat out refused: “it’s all instanced so no open world with other players”.

    At the time my argument in favour was similar to that of Lobstilops above – what does it matter if a game is open world when you ignore 95%+ of the game’s population!

    But having duo-ed through most of Prophecies and a few bits of Eye of the North I can say I’ve changed my mind. Apart from the game seeming very old in its engine, it also lacks a certain something. It’s the same feeling I get playing Skyrim – the game can be amazing but I miss the guild chat, the random RP encounters (I always play on RP servers), the interaction with other players.

  7. What people said above. So many people play WoW, SWTOR and other MMOs as single player game and give a damn about anyone else unless they need them for a dungeon group.

    Try playing with some players and they tell you they would rather enjoy the game at their own pace or feel not suitably challenged with a higher level player around. Yes, you are basically sent away. They run through you as if you don’t exist in outposts.

    But in GW they feel alone. Because they are MMO gamers and their social skills apparently don’t exist outside of their raid group? The kind of cooperation in GW is apparently too much for them. They might have to talk with people about their team strategy and their build. God beware. They might feel uncomfortable doing so!

  8. Maybe they should add Belbin to CCORPG/MMORPG’s teambuilding. I played in a guild together with others, discussing teambuilds and strategy in guild/team chat knowing we could rely on eachother in a dungeon. There are always leaders, planners, workers, tanks, healers, supporters needed to have a good team. I organized the evening, other lead and the rest followed, the strongpoint of guildwars is the worldwide social aspects. Something i really miss in MMO’s like SWTOR. NEvertheless SWTOR i play due to the single play modus of the story, and i like it…till diablo is released

  9. It’s why Arenanet never called GW an MMO. Because it’s not. In many ways it’s more like Diablo, but with all multiplayer characters. Can you make it social? Yes. Is it inherently as social and has the same dynamics as a real MMO? No.

  10. “Is it inherently as social … as a real MMO?”

    Is a “real” MMO inherently social? No – well not currently at least.

    The difference with GW is not really that it’s mechanics are inherently less sociable, but that the devs allowed group content to be done with NPC assistance and players voted with their feet by preferring doing it that way to pugging it:-

    If Wow were to introduce heroes/henchmen that allowed you to do dungeon content without using LFG, WoW would be even more single player than GW is – the fact is noone is going to PUG if you give them an alternative.

  11. The option is there to be social, but it is not automatic: there are still islands of that in the game here and there, but it is not on the same level as it has been.

    7 years is an extremely long time – especially in gaming – and GW is obviously not the same game as it was. In the first year, there has been no heroes, pve-skills, etcetc. I remember tried to complete Thunderhead Peaks 17 times. In the last few attempts, we talked more about builds than the actual action eventually took. At that time population was at peak, and interaction was a must. Strong relationships were forged, PvP life was peaking, and community was superb.

    In the coming years, content update became geared toward solo play, probably complementing the declining playerbase. The latest updates (7 heroes) essentially eliminated the need for others. GW now IS a single player game. Of course there is another way to play it, but there isn’t any pressure to do so.

    I can understand that newcomer players simply cannot feel the same excitement for the game, as veterans does. The game is in completely different season of his lifecycle, and while many of us remembers the spring and summertime, the current game is now deeply into its wintertime.

  12. Guild Wars felt pretty MMO-like when I played it at launch. The major hubs felt very similar to the big cities in other MMOs. Outside of the hubs it was very different.

    Nowadays it’s a lot quieter and that MMO feeling doesn’t persist even in the hubs. Were Guild Wars a successful, new game with the appropriate population density rather than a seven-year old title however, I’m not sure it would feel all that much different to other modern MMOs. MMO design has moved a long way towards Guild Wars, which makes it all the more surprising that GW2 appears to be moving in the opposite direction.

  13. Feeling alone turned me off Guild Wars pretty quick. The hubs/cities/whatever were very active, but it felt more like a cool GUI on a lobby than a real part of the game. Without the social hooks I feel in a game like EVE, there was really no reason to choose it over Morrowind.

    Honestly, WoW gave me this feeling as well. Other players were there, but they had no real impact, no influence. Sure, I might need to group for a dungeon – but that healer is just a healer, doing what healers do. They didn’t really feel like they belonged in the world; by extension, neither did I.

    I guess EVE, for all it’s flaws, has me a bit spoiled in this regard. Other players have vastly different levels of influence, power, goals, desires, motivations, etc. EVE feels like a world populated by real people rather than NPCs, and those people feel like they belong there.

    Oddly, I don’t much care for the space setting. I’d love to see ‘fantasy EVE’, but those with hints of it in some areas (Darkfall, Mortal Online, Dawntide, etc.) seem to have dropped other balls so soundly they’re untenable. Here’s hoping for the future.

  14. It really is a dying game. These days, PvE consists of essentially lots of players doing content solo with heroes. A lot of that has to do with the power creep that came with the new Nightfall skills (and even more so with EotN’s PvE-only skills), while some of it has to do with heroes being simply more effective than players, and easier to gather in one place. Most of the real player interaction shows up late-game, in the elite missions, or when doing the daily Zaishen Quests. Guilds will offer your most consistent group play by far, though.

  15. “MMO design has moved a long way towards Guild Wars, which makes it all the more surprising that GW2 appears to be moving in the opposite direction.”

    On the contrary – In GW2 there will be no need to group, except in the case of 5 man dungeons. A major part of the design of both GW1 & 2 is that you should never have to group with “random asshats” (Eric Flannum’s phrase) or compete for kills/resources etc. It’s just that in GW2 they’ve found a way of doing all that with much less instancing.

    1. Will you post the link to Eric Flannum say that. I NEED to read that for myself. I’m still laughing. Random asshats, lol, those are his customers.

      1. It comes from the Q&A session at the end of the long video on “designing GW2 dynamic events”. Turns out that my memory was somewhat faulty – what he actually says is “random jerks” and the term asshats is used somewhere else.

      2. Yeah – just had to watch this whole video again. It’s over an hour long and has be the best exposition on what ANet are trying to do with GW2 and MMO design in general for that matter. The “asshat” comment was actually from Colin in the “griefing” section of the vid – and prompts a wry grin from EF :).

  16. It’s more or less been said above, but Zubon’s observations are accurate – these days. Most missions won’t have more than two or three other people in the outpost, if anyone, and they’re probably not interested in grouping unless you’re running in hard mode. It was different once, but now there aren’t many people playing through the story in PvE.

    I almost exclusively play with ‘real life’ friends now, but sometimes I miss the days when moving on to the next mission could be unexpectedly delayed because I got engrossed in a random conversation already going on in the outpost. I’ve had some excellent random groups too, in the game’s first few years.

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