[GW2] Reigning Expectations

Do not seek perfection in a changing world.” –Buddha

Guild Wars 2 is coming. I think it will be a great game. I also know that it is not just a game; it is a service. Like a good MMO service the actual game part will be a living, growing document. Events found unworkable or unfun might get cut or replaced. Mechanics might get tweaked or wholly reworked. Zones might get added or changed. The only sure thing is impermanence.

Hunter’s Insight already wrote about the so-called imperfections found in Guild Wars 2. A big one is the lack of free guesting between worlds. It will come “in time”, but it is a disappointment that the uninhibited feeling found in the original Guild Wars will be tampered a bit by servers. He also mentions mini-games and a bit more, and I want to add a “spectator mode” to the list. Again, it’s hard to regress.

Going a bit more subjective players all around the world are going to find things in Guild Wars 2 they simply do not like. My friend does not like the asura animations at all, whereas I adore them. I’ve heard other people complain about dodging. I bet some will not enjoy the endgame focus on the undead in comparison to the [pre-searing] beauty they might have enjoyed at the start. There will be plenty of screaming about balance.

It is good, I feel, like Hunter’s Insight, to have already found disappointment because it is relatively small. Once I step back and regard my disappointment I find that in the course of this entire, monstrous game, it is a pebble in my Crocs, easily kicked out through the generous air-flow gaps. Why make mountains out of mole-hills when the Dredge can be dealt with?

For some reason I had thought about Turbine’s Evendim update for Lord of the Rings Online when writing about MMO success. Here was a beautiful, free zone filled with tons of quests and new dungeon content, and because of one issue it garnered the nickname “Everswim”. Evendim had a huge lake in the middle of the zone, and a large part of the quests required players to swim back and forth across the lake. The swim took what felt like 5-10 minutes each way.

Memories of Evendim are rather fond now. It was frustrating as heck at the time, but when I look back I can’t help but chuckle. Those “unfun” moments have become a large part of my MMO story, and I wouldn’t change the past if I could. A long time afterwards, Turbine finally added waypoint-esque boats to Evendim.

I also spent a bit of time looking back at the original Guild Wars last weekend. I used to have to rely on crappy henchmen without much build freedom. Now I have my Heroes of Discord, and I can change builds without thought. There are places to group up, and dailies to keep things interesting. It has become a much different game. Comparing Guild Wars at launch to the Guild Wars seven years later isn’t that easy.

There are two truths in Guild Wars 2: things won’t be perfect and things will change. I think it will be a great game. I know I am going to have hours and hours of fun. I know other people won’t like it the same way I do. I know reviewers will find “flaws” (many of them so subjective that they enrage “the fanbois”), but I also know that ArenaNet plans on having the industry best implementation for live updates and expansions.

Instead of perfection, I expect fun. Instead of permanence, I expect iteration. That’s how I plan on viewing Guild Wars 2 for the few short days before launch. Any greater expectations will only smudge that clarity. I know what I have experienced from playing Guild Wars 2, and that is real enough to know where I am headed. For the rest, bring it on!

–Ravious

25 thoughts on “[GW2] Reigning Expectations”

  1. I’m with you on that, I’m confident that the game will be great, and constantly changing (usually for the better, sometimes for the worse). Bad gamers fear and hate change, good gamers embrace and adapt to it – that’s my motto.

  2. Do you know anything about HoM? There is huge silence around, which leaves me with the feeling we don’t get it at launch?

    1. I do not.

      (1) I would expect it, or a profuse apology before launch, since it was Kind Of A Big Deal.

      (2) Even though I would expect it, it seems like there’s going to be news all around about GW2 this week, and I guess there’s a strong hint regarding an “eye” picture. The HoM is in the Eye of the North…soo…..

      1. Okay good point. Let’s see what happens. Probably they indeed will ramp up the marketing this week.

    2. A couple of weeks ago there was a video with John Stumme who showed us the implementation of some armor and the orrian chick mini pet. I’m pretty sure it’s there for launch.

    3. The wiki says it will be available for all characters on the account from the character’s home instance. I think it said a vendor in the home instance, but it specified players could get the HOM rewards for free as many times as they want.

      Hom titles and achievements were in the last beta on a tab in the achievements window, so I am fairly confident they’re in in day 1.

    4. If you are asking when, GG said on the stress test forums, that HoM will be accessable during the Headstart, and also at that time people can link GW1 accounts if they did not already.

  3. I really want to have GW2 to be the best experience possible, and yet you are right – things will change and get better much like GW did. Thanks – timely post. There is so much “I want right now!” around GW2 and yet there is still room for improvement. Thinking about that fact makes it easier to just take a breath and slow down instead of rushing into release and racing to level cap.

  4. I also like the asura animations, but there is a big problem with them and all such exaggerated movements: they become highly repetitive, and they do so quickly. The worst I’ve found during play is actually a one handed animation. The ranger main handed axe is horrible. The first skill has maybe a 50% chance of doing some sort of crazy leap or leg kick or something when he throws the axe. That is too often, and then skill 2, which is on a short cooldown, does something equally ridiculous. If they portioned out those animations to skills on longer cooldowns there wouldn’t be a problem, but as it is, playing ranger axe is really annoying as an asura.

    1. Heh, that’s why I’m making an asura elementalist rather than a thief, all impossible leaps and flying through the air like Yoda, then again a small animal can jump many times it own height.

  5. They will continue tuning and tweaking for a while. Prophecies wasn’t perfect at launch either.

    I think the true measure of the threat of gw2 is watching D3 scramble to add 100 new levels of content just days before launch. Won’t make any difference, Blizzard.

  6. I watched videos from Gamescom 2010 the other day and was impressed by how much the game already changed. No mana any more, dodging has a cost now and the whole interface has been reworked. Even from Press Beta to the last stress test, so much has changed. I say changed, not improved because not everybody will always agree with the change.
    However, you can see already before launch that Anet worries a lot about us having fun. They could just have fixed the bugs, made the game stable and released it. Instead, the did so many “improvements” based on feedback and their own experience (like changing the compass to a minimap or changing the icon after rallying).
    I don’t think GW2 is perfect, I do see things I don’t like but I can see that the guys getting (a lot of) money from me really care about me (and millions of other player) having fun. And to sum it up, that’s why I like GW2 so much.

  7. What is the point of “no guesting but free transfers” at the start? To me, that implies “guesting does not work yet,” because I cannot see anything you gain by disabling one and enabling the other. Free transfers in the early weeks/months: makes a lot of sense. No free temporary transfers during those months: …?

    1. My hunch would be to establish stable server populations. Getting players entrenched, bringing online any additional servers etc… before letting folks pop around at will. I’m assuming transfers are slightly more of a hassle than guesting (which is probably instant), therefore players are more reluctant to switch, making it easier for Anet to manage populations.

    2. Guesting and transfers serve two different purposes. Transfers are for selecting your home server, which has more permanency and impacts WvW. Lots of guilds are scrambling to get all their members in the same place. Allowing free transfers will prevent any hysteria should they run into problems such as members going to the wrong server.

      Guesting allows players to play with other friends on other servers. It’s a temporary convenience. Other games allow you to play on more than one server, but you have to use alts. GW2 will allow us to float with whatever character we want even though we are bound to one server for WvW.

      Ready or not, I thought it was a bad idea to include guesting from the get-go without giving people a chance to settle in – both from a technological and a community standpoint. Inevitably, there’s already going to be a lot of support issues to resolve the first few weeks without throwing in an additional wrinkle right away. I also kind of see guesting at launch like going on vacation the same week you move into a new home.

    3. Agreeing with those above, I was relieved to hear about the free transfers because I have friends with whom I want to share a home server, but I can’t guarantee the one I pick won’t get filled up before all of our group can sign in. Meanwhile, guesting will be an excellent feature but I don’t think it’s relevant until home servers are set (and don’t forget ArenaNet wants us to have server loyalty; maybe they want to make sure we get to know our server first).

      It’s also possible that it doesn’t work yet. Either way, I don’t see the lack of guesting initially as an inconvenience.

    4. I actually agree (I wrote so in a comment to a Hunter’s post about lack of guesting). Guesting was not present in any event so far, it’s possible it isn’t ready yet, although of course they may be keeping it as a “surprise” for the release.

      I’ve seen some hinting that the transfers will keep being free until guesting is allowed, while this might be me unconsciously misreading it to prove my point, it would point to the free transfers being a reprieve until guesting is implemented.

  8. “Memories of Evendim are rather fond now. It was frustrating as heck at the time, but when I look back I can’t help but chuckle. Those “unfun” moments have become a large part of my MMO story, and I wouldn’t change the past if I could. A long time afterwards, Turbine finally added waypoint-esque boats to Evendim.”

    I think this sentiment, the truth in this statement, points to one of the key issues in modern game design, and MMORPGs in particular: This sort of “unfun” is actually integral to making a game memorable, and to the game logic’s ability to drive powerful narratives.

    My memories of running across the continents of Azeroth just to get to dungeons are still powerful and vibrant; whereas the carefully designed, linear quest lines in Northrend are a haze of unremarkable sameness. I relish my memories of getting lost for hours in Dire Maul, Black Rock Depths, and Black Rock Spire’s winding passages, arguing over VOIP about which turn to take or how to get from here down to that platform far below. By comparison I can barely remember details of the post-TBC dungeons, all 30-45 minute mindless straight shots through a hallway full of monsters so carefully tuned and designed that they lose all personality.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think GW2 agrees with me about these things. While I believe it is an exceptional game, and will be very fun (and convenient) to play, I do not think it will add much to my reserves of memorable MMO stories. I’m afraid they’ve tried too hard to design the unfun out of it at every turn, and other than WvW, nothing in my Beta experience has struck me as especially memorable.

    1. I know where plenty of “unfun” moments will be in Guild Wars 2. Jumping puzzles! And traps…

      The number of times I’ve gotten spiked to death by a single misstep, or Charr broiled by a flame trap (pun very much intended)…

    2. I already have memories from the first beta weekend event, so I’d beg to differ.

      The experiences will be different, as is the case with every game, but what makes a game memorable is as much the game itself as it is your passion and involvement with it.

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