Hearts and Bears

For those of you who missed those heady days, the launch of Warhammer Online was one of the best times in MMO blogging. Props to whoever at Mythic’s community team pushed it, the blogger community came together and decided we were all going to try this game as a group. This became the prototype NBI, and several of those bloggers are still around. And then the game launched, we all got to experience it, and we turned on it like an angry creature that turns on things.

One item I used for years as an example of failed developer promises what Paul Barnett’s “bears bears bears” video. For those of you who can’t click on videos right now, the idea was to never again have a “kill ten rats” quest pop up after you had just slaughtered dozens of rats, because the dude should notice the rat corpses. Warhammer Online then launched with a severely limited implementation of this, along with all the usual quest stupidity of being sent to kill someone you just killed on the previous quest stage. As I phrased it, “developers explicitly identif[ied] a problem, identif[ied] a solution, [and] then implement[ed] the problem exactly as described.” Oh, how I carried that grudge.

Four years later, Guild Wars 2 is moving towards launch. And what has it quietly implemented? The answer to “bears bears bears”! Through hearts, when you slaughter a path to what would normally be a quest-giver, s/he recognizes and appreciates the things you did along the way. Granted, sometimes it is silly that you know what fills the heart before you meet the heart-person (“I’ll just check this shrubbery for stray moas, in case anyone nearby lost one…”), but if the dude hates bears, and you just killed a bunch of bears, he recognizes that you killed a bunch of bears.

After four years, the circle is complete. Everyone who wanted WAR to be DAoC2 can now look forward to three-sided RvR with territorial control and a development team that has implemented the design described under “bears bears bears.”

: Zubon

23 thoughts on “Hearts and Bears”

  1. I kinda wanna see a “Baul Parnett” NPC in GW2 who wants you to kill bears for their paws, and then you kill him. Or even better, you see his bear-gnawed corpse out in the wilderness.

  2. Let’s just not count our bears before they’re hatched… or whatever. The other common story that WAR illustrated, and which we have heard a few times since, is how wonderful things were in beta, and how they went to hell at launch.

    1. That’s fair, but in this one case, for this one feature, I have seen it in-game. They would need to uproot a significant design aspect, willfully worsen it, and then add the kill ten rats quests.

      Of course, WAR later went back and added some kill ten rats quests, and it was a marginal improvement, relative to existing problems with their PvE design. Which kinds of burns, as I type it, on several levels.

      1. What you mean GW2 might Rift itself between beta and launch? That would never happen, especially to a core system. No sir never!

        1. “Rift” is a verb now?
          To echo jondifool below, Rift looked like that in beta, too. Did they worsen their PQ 2.0 between beta and launch? And I think the point stands on this particular system: unless they plan to replace the hearts entirely, “bears bears bears” is a solved problem.

          1. They did indeed. In beta, rifts were far more active and were able to impact an area more. They would also interact with each other to a much greater degree. They were indeed ‘dynamic’ for a themepark. The final patch before go-live changed things greatly to make questing easier and rifts less inconvenient.

            Not that I’m suggesting A.net is going to do something similar with GW2 between now and release, but at the same time it would not 100% shock me either.

            As for the bears thing, it still might. In beta rifts were the ‘main’ content, questing was a nice-to-have. After the rift nerf, questing was it with rifts being ‘just there’. What if hearts become secondary and the personal story provides the majority of the XP?

    2. I don’t remember things being wonderfull in beta. Must be some hype thing again, because beta sure was an uphill journey.

  3. Don’t forget GW2 is also delivering on the Paul Barnett promise about getting rid of the guy in the back going “…and I heal…and I heal…and I heal…”.

  4. This no-quest-pickup, no-quest-turn-in is perhaps more than anything what first hooked me into GW2, and remains to me an example of how GW2 just “gets it”.

    At the time I found out about GW2, I had just gone through one of the more retarded examples of this mentality to questing that That Other Game puts before you, of killing lesser dwarves, then greater dwarves, then dwarf boss, then to bring back dwarf relic, each time being sent half a zone over to hand in and get the next step, only to return to the exact same area you just left. And all I could think was “Why the hell am I putting up with this nonsense?”. This prompted the idea to give GW Factions another spin, since it was an MMO I had and it was free, and my search for where to download the client again spat out an article and the Manifesto trailer for GW2.
    I have not looked back since.

    1. quick tip: never visit the iron hourse mines in the northern shiverpeaks of prophecies. your questgiver is right behind a portal and sends you into the same enemies all over and over, to clear the path, kill some of those, steal some plans, free a dwarf and kill a boss. good thing thats optional, i just did that once for completionist sake. worst questchain of the game.

    2. “This no-quest-pickup, no-quest-turn-in is perhaps more than anything what first hooked me into GW2, and remains to me an example of how GW2 just “gets it”.”

      Eh. Wandering around doing random crap and then eventually getting an email isn’t all that great. And there isn’t enough of the Personal Story to give folks their proper questing fix…

      1. The point applies to dynamic events as well, so there is that. I had plenty of “questing fix” in following those chains, short as they might be in the newbie zones, and certainly didn’t miss having to go poke a specific person to get to the next bit. Or maybe it’s more correct to say that I have no desire for a traditional questing fix: knowing that I met a goal and got my reward works fine for me without backtracking.

        Most of all, I’m happy that whereever I am doing stuff in GW2, I can be sure that if there is a reward to be had for certain things in that area, I am going to be told which things, and will automatically earn it if I try them, without needing to have done stuff elsewhere first (like talk to a questgiver half a zone away, to refer back to my previous example).

  5. I love Kill Ten Rats quests. Always have and probably always will. Nothing suits me better than an NPC with a simple list of what he wants killed and a great herd of those things standing in plain sight from where he’s waiting for them.

    The only question that needs to be asked, as far as I’m concerned is “am I having fun killing these bears?” and that comes down to combat mechanics not questing. If the answer is “yes” then it makes no nevermind to me how often the guy sends me back kill more. If the answer’s “no” then I’ll have stopped killing bears long before I ever get near enough to him to find out if he’s going to recognize my efforts retrospectively or not.

    The mechanic I like best of all is the really old-school method where you just have some guards or farmers or hunters who absolutely need as many bear paws as you can possibly bring them, and some bears that leave a nice loose paw every time you kill one. Kill the bears, paws go in your pack, meet the guy, give him paws, he gives you money. Want to do it again? Off you go, knock yourself out.

    It’s one of those things where as far as I’m concerned they got the method right the very first time and every attempt to “improve” it has just made it fiddlier and less fun.

    1. I agree. What doesn’t work however, is when you kill 300 bears and nothing drops. Then you talk to the guy sitting 30 yards away who gives said quest, and the paws start dropping every time…

      WUT!?

    2. Count me in on this as well. The only reason that most MMOs are improved by questing is because their combat by itself gets dull too quickly. Do roguelikes and arpgs have kill 10 rats quests? Nope, and they don’t need them either. I actually think the combat mechanics in some of these new MMOs are getting to the point where they could be fun if they made fighting the focus, but devs are still unwilling to take the plunge.

  6. Say what you will about Paul but he is always so entertaining to watch. I hated Warhammer Online for the simple reason that it failed to create a world. Which is silly considering Warhammer is one of the best fictions out there.

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