[GW2] Planting Server Roots

Yesterday was a pretty exciting day in Guild Wars 2 fandom. The beta client went out for players to download the 12 gb or so before this Friday. ArenaNet also put up a blog post explaining how to choose and transfer to and from servers. It’s pretty simple.

Players choose a home-world. Their account (and all characters) are linked to that home-world. Players can transfer to another home-world for 1,800 gems once every 7 days. Players can also go play on other worlds as guests (not available this beta weekend), but they lose some of the rights of citizenship (such as World v. World access).

Peter at Dragonchasers does not like this set up. He writes that it is making him choose among many circles of friends:

BUT… Guild Wars 2 winds up being one of the worst MMOs I’ve played in terms of picking a world. Why? Because you can be on only 1 world. Once you pick a world, ALL your characters will be on that world. So if half your friends are on World A and half are on World B, it’s time to choose which of these groups are your BFFs and which are the wannabes. You’re going to have to ditch someone.

At the end Peter glosses over guesting.

Let me start by saying that while I don’t agree with Peter, my crystal ball is rather hazy as to the outcome of ArenaNet’s decision. I know why they made the decision, which I will expound below, but ArenaNet also tried something similar in the original Guild Wars. It might have worked too except for the system being based on real-world nationality instead of fictional home-worlds. I am pretty sure that ArenaNet will change things up if the Guild Wars 2 system will not work.

So, there is always talk of server community. People fondly remember the days where a player chose one server for a character, and that was that. The player could make characters on every server, much like World of Warcraft or Lord of the Rings Online, currently, but each time they would have to create new connections. People stick to one or two servers usually wherein a community is created. Then systems like random cross-server grouping appears, and people claim that this destroys server community.

Guild Wars 2 has a whole gameplay type built to reinforce server community: World v. World. There 3 worlds are pitted against each other in a control point PvP game. I fight for my world. You fight for yours. Each world gets boons based on how well their operatives are doing in WvW. Yet, this system could not work in a server-less MMO, and if people were just creating characters on any server they wanted, there would be no one to care about rooting for the home team. So ArenaNet restricts players citizenship to one world.

They do acknowledge that people like Peter, me, and countless others could never hope to herd all their friends in to one world. Before launch Guild Wars 2 will have guesting (again, not in this beta weekend). Unlike world transfer, guesting will be free. Guesting will also have restrictions, which will likely be based around WvW for the most part. On top of that arena-style PvP is going to basically be serverless. Except for conceivably partying up before heading in to PvP, it will not matter which world players come from.

Realistically the only restriction that a home-world imparts is things related to WvW, including possibly the WvW boons in PvE. People should be able to PvE and non-WvW PvP to their hearts delight with friends from any world.

Will this bring back some server community to the alleged destruction wrought by things like random cross-server groupings, and the like? I don’t know. It just doesn’t seem like I am making Sophie’s Choice , like Peter seems to suggest. Sure, I have to choose which friends I plan on WvW’ing with, but that’s about it. It will be interesting to see how I do juggle friends and guilds from different worlds.

–Ravious

32 thoughts on “[GW2] Planting Server Roots

    1. Ravious Post author

      Should be. With the link to the forum/account in your son’s email you should be able to also check if your account is “good”… I think.

        1. Cyndre

          email me what server you guys are going to be on… Our crew is playing on Yaks Bend for Beta… would love to be on the same server as all of you guys!

        2. Cyndre

          Good to know, well either way with the way the visitation works, we can always stop over to mess around for a bit. I am just going whereever my Eve corp goes.

  1. Elixabeth

    I view guesting as the saving grace of this design.
    I’m also glad that this hints at we’ll be able to have a cross-world friends’ list. The blog says “any world where you have friends” which seems like either oddly specific word choice OR the possibility of talking across servers. We already know that it’s possible to talk from the overflow server to home server and vice versa, so I don’t think that this hope is too unfounded.
    Thoughts?

    1. Ravven

      I was guessing (but haven’t seen it confirmed) that we would be able to add friends with name plus four-digit number, and presumably that would be cross server. I’m hoping so, anyway.

    2. Ravious Post author

      I think not having cross-world friends list would definitely hurt the “saving grace” of guesting. I wonder too if guilds are going to be a single world thing? What happens if I belong to guild A on world X and then move my home world to world Y. Would definitely be cool if I was able to stay with that guild somehow…

    3. Tanek

      I read it the same way. I know there has been no mention of it yet, but in my dream setup, there would be cross-server friends lists and cross-server custom channels we can set up to talk to those friends.

  2. SynCaine

    Isn’t being blocked from WvW 90% of GW2? I mean yes, it has some PvE and Arena PvP content, but WvW is the main draw to the game here. Restricting people in that way, and offering a way to ‘fix’ the problem with cash is a little shady IMO.

    Hard-locking people into a server until they pay is not the reason a solid server community will or won’t form. Community has nothing to do with account restrictions, it’s about the actual game itself.

    1. Ravven

      I read someplace that the reason they were charging for transfers was to slightly discourage people from all rushing to whichever server was doing “the best” in WvW.

      Playing in Europe, though, will mean that some of us will need to pony up some cash for other reasons. In other MMOs I’ve been stuck on the server which suddenly became the official Russian server or whatever, and it became a bit unfriendly.

    2. bhagpuss

      Well, we’ll see, but it’s my guess that the huge majority of GW2 players will be PvE players who won’t care much, if at all about either PvP or WvWvW.

      The original Guild Wars was marketed heavily as a PvP game before launch but all the talk on the forums and across the interwebs within days of it going live was how the playerbase was PvE focused. ArenaNet did a lot of rethinking as I recall and the direction of GW veered heavily towards PvE. That’s my memory, but it was seven years ago and I left in less than two months so maybe someone else can tell a different story.

      Whatever, GW2 looks absolutely like a PvE MMO with some PvP tacked on to me. I predict that the “buffs” for your homeworld will be roundly ignored by most PvE players, assuming they even realize they exist, although no doubt there will be some cheerleaders for WvWvW who will burst bloodvessels trying to raise some kind of spurious Homeworld Loyalty from a totally apathetic mass of soloists, crafters and casuals. We will see how that plays out not in beta but after it goes Live.

      As for the one server thing, it annoys me. Not because I want to play with friends – I don’t know a single person who’s planning to play GW2 – but because I like to have characters on several servers in any MMO I play regularly. I hate this idea that because I play them all, all my characters can be considered linked. I like to have characters that have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

      No doubt eventually there will be cheap copies of the box/download available so I’ll just have to wait until then and have my separate characters on separate accounts.

      The download seems to be nearer 18GB than 12GB by the way. I’m 35% in and that’s 6.5GB.

      1. Brise Bonbons

        I think you’ve got the right of it, Bhagpuss. GW2 looks like it will capture pretty much the same solo-PvE focused playerbase as GW1 did. I consider myself primarily a PvP player in MMOs, and GW2 doesn’t really excite me in that regard.

        Seems its strengths are in casual-group PvE, which is great, but I don’t see the WvW ever being the “main draw”.

        1. Coppertopper

          Out of curiosity, what is it about GW2′s pvp/wvw that doesnt work for you? And which mmo pvp does, unless you’re referring to Eve.

  3. shadicar

    I’m not sure what all the fuzz is about. In my opinion this system is quite flexible and allow for cross server gameplay. How often did you change your SWTOR or AION home-server? Well at least ANET got a finished system in place for switching (not like SWTOR where people are still waiting for it to arrive).
    So as long as you don’t want to switch servers every week all will be fine. Talk to your friends, find a server and go ahead and play. There is no reason why you couldn’t play together….

  4. Ethic

    I’ll take this setup, seems like the best compromise for allowing WvW competition as well as allowing me to at least PLAY with any friends I run into down the road. In games like WoW if I found out a friend played there was zero chance we could play together at all without starting over.

  5. Gameronomist

    Beta emails are slowly being rolled out, just so they don’t get slammed with people (which happened anyway).

    On topic:

    I’m hopeful for the server communities to really work out well. I think the guesting system will allow for being able to play with friends easily.

    Plus, I’d be happy to have my friends be on the other side of a WvW battle. It’s much more fun to kill your friends than some random shmoe ;)

  6. pasmith

    So here’s my questing about Guesting. If the KillTenRats community has a guild on a different server and I guest over to hang with you guys, can I belong to your guild? Mostly what I mean by that is: can I see Guild Chat?

    If so, then yeah, Guesting takes care of a lot of the problems.

    I still like having completely different characters on different servers, but clearly I’m unusual in that desire. Sometimes I like just going to a new server and having a fresh start.

    1. Ravious Post author

      Short answer: we don’t know. Though definitely explaining what you want out of guesting/guilds could only help.

      My own personal opinion is that ArenaNet created an “unconventional” guild system allowing players to be linked to multiple guilds. It would seem backwards to require that all linked guilds belong to the same world, don’t you think? I mean why go through all the trouble to create a system allowing players to represent various guilds without having to /gquit and get reinvited, but then shoot the system in the knees by allowing that system to only work in a single world. Barring technical difficulties, which might exist.. I don’t know, it seems like ArenaNet would not want this limitation.

      1. Naqaj

        The problem with cross-world guilds is, again, WvW. Since in WvW you’ll earn Influence and be able to conquer keeps for your guild, there has to be some restriction either way.
        You’ll not be able to join a guild on a different server, or you can’t represent that guild in WvW until you change home server.

  7. Jabberwockist

    Syncaine: Isn’t being blocked from WvW 90% of GW2? I mean yes, it has some PvE and Arena PvP content, but WvW is the main draw to the game here.

    Bhagpuss: GW2 looks absolutely like a PvE MMO with some PvP tacked on to me.

    Guild Wars 2 is like Walt Disney World. WvW is no more the “real” Guild Wars 2 than Epcot Center is the “real” Walt Disney World. But you could still spend your whole day at Epcot Center without ever running out of content.

  8. GhostBoy

    Like a few others have mentioned, the key factor to me in whether guesting will prevent splitting circles of friends, is the ability to join guilds on a server that is not your home server. The wording in the blog post suggests a cross-server friendslist, and with the precedent of talking from overflow servers to the proper ones, I’d say cross-server chat seems a reasonable expectation, at least as far as /whispers to your friends-listed people are concerned. Some limitations could apply, like not being able to be GM of a guild elsewhere but your home.

    Anyway, seeing as Arenanet have repeatedly likened guild membership to circles of friends, it would be an odd choice not to allow membership of guilds on foreign servers. That should, barring technical limitations, be considered just another circle of friends (which you just cannot help out in WvsW, except maybe by betraying your homeserver guilds to them by sharing plans; Being in a foreign guild is not required to do that though, so that’s a bit beside the point).

    The Beta Weekend may bring answers. Personally I hope and think we will have both a cross-server friendslist, ability to join guilds from any server and the ability to guest on any server without first knowing someone there (which a certain reading of the blog could imply).

  9. Ayane

    While I like the transfer setup they have in general, the main issue I have is with the limitations to guesting. Not the WvW part, but the friend part.

    The way the blog is worded you can only be a guest on a server where you already have a friend: “With guesting, your characters can play on any world where you have friends”. That’s fine in general, but if a guild or community organizes a big event on their world I want to be able to visit and be part of it too (and possibly make new friends there).

    As I understand in GW1 such events could draw thousands of players. But it’s going to be a pain to organize all of them to make ‘friends’ just so that they can visit the event. I’m sure that the community will figure something out (as the community tends to be very resourceful), but they shouldn’t have to work around such things.

    Hopefully I either misread the blog comment, or ArenaNet will see reason and will allow people to be a guest on ANY world. I really like guesting in general. But having to already have a friend on the world is severely limiting and I really, really hope that won’t make it into the final game. Let the players form the communities instead of trying to force-feed it to people by locking them in the same space.

    1. GhostBoy

      It could just be a case of us reading the blog with a gamers view. We might be inclined to read “friend” as “someone on your friendslist”, but in the normal meaning of the word, it is just someone you know.

      IOW using “where you have friends” refers to the motivation of why you would normally guest somewhere, not a limitation in how the system works. I certainly hope that is the case.

  10. Juno

    I doubt there would be cross-server friends chat. That would open up the ability for “spies” in WvW. I know this sounds silly, but you see it in LotRO PvP and it destroys the community (not because the spying is actually a problem but because players “think” it’s a problem and keep their raids closed).

    I believe WvW is driving most of the server xfer design. It’s not a technical limitation, otherwise “guesting” wouldn’t be in the mix (and I think guesting is awesome btw). You can’t “guest” in any other MMO, but you can in GW2. Has anyone mentioned that perk?

    ArenaNet has gone to lengths to make WvW as perfect as possible. They even eliminate the names from opposing players (a great move imho). Think of it in this terms, and a lot of questions about what is possible and what is not possible become a bit more obvious.

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