[GW2] The Weekend Lost to Rocky Shores

Last weekend was a big step in Guild Wars 2 because it had an event centered around new, permanent content. Instead of creating a quest chain to introduce every player on their own time, ArenaNet created a story revolving around the event. It is this story that gives players the reason to explore the new zone Southsun Cove (as well as the new dungeon). For a good rundown of the event head over to Inventory Full.

Crowd Energy

Hunter’s Insight puts what I feel is the most important reason to have these one-time weekend events: putting a lot of people together is a lot of fun. There is something quite unique in knowing that this is it, this can’t be spoiled, when I see it it will be my first time and everybody else’s. The flow of reactions through the player mob compounds this feeling. I see comments of first impressions, which are sometimes the most honest comments available. Even bad content can be fun when played together.

This is likely an important concept to ArenaNet’s business model. Get people excited, and get them together. Excitement bleeds out across the internet for new sales. It also loosens pocketbook strings of existing accounts. I would guess from a developer standpoint, player excitement can be an excellent drive to create better content. It is clear that given the Lost Shores update was started after launch along with the amount of bugs, this content was driven hard.

Timely Invisible Bugs

The worst thing about this weekend was the amount of bugs and system strain. The opening event was a karka attack on Lion’s Arch. This was quite a treat given that all cities have nothing to fight. The ancient karka brought a swarm, and we had to drive them back off of Lion’s Arch real estate. The system lag was so bad that people were saying they could not get off their auto-attacks. My own auto-attacks seemed to be separated by a good 3-4 seconds, and using utility skills was practically out of the question.

This was a big disappointment because ArenaNet could have modified the overflow capacity so that there would be less players per instance, and also less system lag. Instead it seemed like each Lion’s Arch map was capped for normal play. The system did not like a combat scenario for the normal amount of Lion’s Arch players. Systemic issues also arose in the final event where player and monster culling was ridiculous. I could only see a fraction of the players and monsters at any given time.

My favorite moment to love and hate was when a veteran karka appeared on the karka hive’s stairwell a couple feet away. Rolling at me. It was such a “rocks fall, everybody dies” moment that I had to just laugh. Thankfully, I was grouped up with Massively’s Lis, who crashed, and our party rejoined in a less populated overflow where culling did not seem to be as big of an issue. It seriously made all the difference, and ArenaNet either needs to tighten the population cap on overflows for future events or they need to fix how player culling is handled. I would prefer a bit of both actually.

The other bugs were the progress blocking bugs from Phase 1 where players are sent across Tyria to learn about the devious Consortium corporation and the mysterious karka threat. The events for each quest bit simply did not work. Some players accidentally killed an NPC outright (who should’ve stuck around for some post-defeat commentary). Some NPCs decided to leave their protective entourage and vacate the quest area completely. Bugs being bugs, this issue was made exponentially worse because time was an issue.

A player having an hour to play on Friday night would have easily made it through the quest chain if it was bug free. A player only having an hour to play for Phase 1 would have basically missed out on most of it without much of a recourse.

Let’s Call It A Duck

Savvy readers, such as yourself, probably noticed that I used the “q”-word in the last section. Quests are one of the best storytelling mechanics in an MMO. Guild Wars 2 own personal story line is essentially an instanced-based quest chain spanning across 80 levels. Much of Phase 1 of the Lost Shores event was also quest-based except I needed to hear about it by mail.

Lionguard Kiel’s investigation bordered on so clunky it was humorous. All told it was a decent investigation quest in to figuring out what went wrong with the Consortium, a trading company rival of the Black Lion Trading Co. I would hit the next bit of content, such as badgering Blingg in to dumping some critical information to me, and I would get some mail. This mail for all intents and purposes was a vanilla quest turn-in screen, with the only difference being that I could retain or delete it when I wanted.

Clearly ArenaNet values quest-based mechanics to tell stories. I don’t understand why then we don’t get a “event only” personal story. Instead I get quests-by-mail. It feels like a full step backwards. ArenaNet has a quest (the personal story). They have sidebars that can act like quest updaters and guides. However, they then use the mailing system instead to guide players on a quest. Hopefully ArenaNet can find a better way to tell these small linear stories for future events.

Content

This being a review of the event and not the Southsun Cove area, I was pretty pleased with the weekend event’s content. Phase 1 was an interesting storytelling exercise in the clash between Lion’s Arch and the Consortium, and the mega-event involving the ancient karka was pretty fun as a massive group event.

My favorite part of Phase 1 was getting to know the three “friendly” aquatic races a bit better. There were three events relating to quaggan, hylek, and largos, respectively. Each event had its own style which reflected the race. The Lionguard vs. Consortium story turned out to be realistically silly. The Consortium headed to Southsun Cove, whacked the karka’s hornet nest, and fled to the safest place they knew: Lion’s Arch. The karka retaliated against Lion’s Arch, and the Consortium didn’t want to say why. So I had to beat out a few answers.

Phase 3 involving the ancient karka was really fun, but it was horribly marred. Lionguard finally realize the Consortium sucks, and they have to kill the ancient karka to protect Lion’s Arch from further karka incursion. They do this by planting explosives in the karka hive, except this tactical maneuver rouses the ancient karka out of the hive. The next two hours are then spent as players are trying to move this ancient karka donkey back to it’s hole.

My favorite leg of the event was planting boulders into steam vents, and then the steam vents would build up pressure to shoot the boulders out at the ultra-armored ancient karka. There was also a part where players felled a huge tree onto the ancient karka, and another party where players had to explode gas vents to scare the ancient karka back. Lots of fun, except that the bulk of the two hours was in two phases of killing karka reinforcements. This artificially extended the event, and I went AFK very often.

In fact, I rarely let my young girls play my character for fear of item destruction and armor repairs. I let my three year old play through much of the kill karka reinforcements periood because a) the event was getting too long, b) I was getting bored, and c) with people knowing to rez each other I felt my character was really in no serious danger. I feel that this event should have been timed to one-hour. That is a good “required” game period.

I liked that I was there to fell the ancient karka, and I took a lot of good snapshots. Overall, I am happy that I had time to do it. I would do it again with the same knowledge, but I would have a tad different control over my time.

Fleeting Rewards

I would be remiss not to discuss the “all I got was this t-shirt” rewards because players did get some pretty good stuff from participating until the brutal end. Everybody that received participation for killing the ancient karka received a 20-slot bag and a really nice account-bound trinket. They also received two exotics and two rares. Some people received precursors for the legendary weapon, which turned appearances of decent reward into “this reward was f’in critical”.

I don’t agree with the random loot, but I do think that the set loot was exceedingly good. Real quick, with the random loot the precursor drop rate was increased. Therefore, anything that will give an exotic, now has a better chance of giving a precursor. Hit that loot bag thousands of times, and yes people will get precursors. The same probably now goes for Orrian map completion.

The set loot, I feel, for most players is going to be a must equip. 20-slot bag is going in to luxury. My biggest bag was 15 slot, and I only had one. A 20-slot bag costs almost as much as a full set of exotic armor. The trinket is interesting because it ups every stat, and costs approximately 13 gold (1000 karka shells to trade with Lionscout Tynuli). So that’s over 20 gold worth of unmarketable, must-equip goodies for showing up at the right time.

It’s hard to place myself in a position as if I wasn’t there, and it’s harder to take people seriously that did receive the rewards but are complaining on the grounds of if they hadn’t. Between this and the Mad King’s rewards, I feel ArenaNet is still experimenting with finding the best possible route.

Fin Soup

The event is over, and we now have a fantastic new dungeon and a dangerous new zone. These I will discuss after the U.S. holiday since I will be out of internet commission for awhile. The event for me was mostly positive, but I did put too much work in to enjoying much of it. Some people are still really rubbed raw from the whole experience. Others, like me, see mostly sunshine.

I am looking forward to more content introductions in this way. It is exciting. It can be a lot of fun. I hope ArenaNet takes all the feedback and is able to iterate in a positive direction.

–Ravious

18 thoughts on “[GW2] The Weekend Lost to Rocky Shores

  1. spinks

    I feel very distanced from this because I was busy all weekend and didn’t have much time for gaming. So I logged in this morning and didn’t really notice anything different apart from some quest guys in Lions Arch. I assume the karka and new zone are … err… out there somewhere still.

    I gather the long final event started at 8pm local time (EU) and went on for hours, which isn’t very friendly to working stiffs. I gather that people who attended it got some nice rewards.

    I just feel disconnected from all of these things. I don’t feel angry for missing things — I had a nice weekend with various friends. But I also feel I would prefer to spend my time logging into WoW and doing dailies and chatting to my guild there than spending time in GW2. Does new content count if it falls in the woods when you are off doing something else?

    Or in other words, /I/ didn’t get new content this weekend. I don’t feel aggrieved but I also don’t feel “omg so cool, I got new content, I’m so excited about this game again” because I’m not.

  2. Ravious Post author

    That’s an interesting take too. The people most screaming at this whole thing are likely those that are most involved with the game.

    I know with LOTRO, I simply do not care about events or holiday happenings at all. If they pass by so be it.

  3. bhagpuss

    I won’t go over my impressions of the whole thing because I already did that at my own place, as you were kind enough to link. I completely agree that the technical issues absolutely need to be ironed out and the whole “this is a quest – oh no it isn’t! thing has to stop.

    I’ve had plenty of time now to think about whether I do or don’t like one-time events and I am pretty sure that I do. On the other hand, happy as I am to have a 20-slot box, I think attaching “must-have” loot to one-timers is crazy. Surely the game has a built-in perfect reward for attending a one-time, never-to-be-repeated event? It’s called A Title. I’d have been more than happy to come away with “Karka Krusher” after my name and equally if I’d been busy that weekend and missed out I’d have been happy to let it slide.

    On the mechanics of the final event I seem to be in a minority in thinking it was too short. In the UK the time could not have been more convenient, with each evening kicking off at 8pm, and since I never work Mondays I was quite prepared for a “multi-hour” event that went on well past midnight. On the overflow server I was on it finished before a quarter past ten! Much too short – I was just getting warmed up!

    As for the long and repetitive fights, again perversely perhaps I enjoyed them. I’d have enjoyed them more without the culling, which led to several zerg wipes as invisible Karka hordes popped on top of us, but I had little lag and I can pound on mobs for hours if there’s good banter to keep me amused.

    My overall verdict is “good but can do better”.

    1. Noviere (@gNoviere)

      Re: Banter. At one point while planting explosives in the hive, we were ambushed by culled karka and 3/4 of the zerg were instantly dead to a massive poison puddle. The body next to me said “The goggles… they do nothing!” I genuinely LOL’d.

      1. Curuniel

        The player banter was excellent where I was and really made the near total wipes bearable. Joking while downed or running between stages was great fun and very friendly.

  4. Jeromai

    This particular one-off event did not do anything to change my opinion of one-offs, ie. less of them, please.

    I’ll be going through my experience in more detail on my blog in a day or two when I have time to write. TL:DR, mostly buggy, very laggy, awful for folks with weaker computers, risks so many things breaking and people missing out, too long in parts (karka reinforcements, yeesh) and too short and badly timed as an event (a weekend ending on Monday wee morning for Asia/Oceania? Urgh.)

    I would much rather they made more personal story or dungeon instances a la the Mad King dungeon to let people play through within a week or two as the event.

    The only thing that’s mollified me slightly is getting two bonus named exotics out of the chest – no precursors, alas, I’m not that lucky.

  5. Tremayne

    I’m slightly miffed that having done both the phase 1 and phase 2 events, which were decent ebough in concept but had serious lag/over-crowding events in practice, I skipped the phase 3 event due to a combination of family issues and lack of motivation only to log in a couple of hours later just as my guild were comparing loot.

    On the other hand, I got a 20 slot bag and a couple of exotics by other means over the weekend – specifically the new Fractals of the Mists dungeon. 20 slot bags are available from there for 150 dungeon tokens, which I earned by doing the first two tiers of content plus bonus boss twice and along the way got two random exotics and a ton of other loot. I think the event chest was a bit TOO generous and has generated ill-feeling from people who are loot-motivated but couldn’t make the event or stay until the end, but realistically speaking not getting it wasn’t the end of the world.

  6. Ethic

    I played off and on, but missed this big one-time event. If I don’t get the 20 slot bag for killing parka (or korka or whatever they are called) when I could, I’m going to cancel my sub.

  7. Juno

    Looks like I was premature in my rant that I posted in an earlier KTR top here: http://www.killtenrats.com/2012/11/15/gw2-lost-shores-tsunami/#comment-97619

    I played a lot this weekend but missed 6 hours on Sunday due to family obligations — so I only missed phase 3 of the entire weekend event. Unfortunately that was probably the “must attend” event of the weekend as the other Phases were quite flawed with bugs, capacity issues, and very little in the way of loot rewards.

    I was quite miffed to find I had missed out on such an awesome reward chest at the end. Seriously, it’s more generous than any other reward that’s been in the game to date — better than any dungeon chest, story reward, or map completion reward. You could probably argue it’s better than the monthly achievement reward as that’s equivalent to 45000 karma which is one lvl 80 exotic armor piece. What genius in ANet thought the reward quality was a good idea?

    Now I’m a huge ANet fan. I own every product they’ve sold in stores (GW1, all expansions, GW2). I really thought they could do no wrong, but they are really struggling with the MMO concept — something GW1 really didn’t prepare them for imho. They continue to alienate some aspect of their player base with every update. Hopefully they pull their head out of their hind quarters and right the ship.

    1. Curuniel

      I don’t know, but I would guess that the karka chest may be indicitive of rewards for this kind of thing becoming better across the board in future, rather than this one being exceptional. Not sure though, time will tell.

  8. Aethena

    I really enjoyed the final event, but phases one and two (even if they hadn’t been laggy and bugged) were a bit ‘meh’. Is it really a scavenger hunt if you can find where you need to go by hitting the ‘Show Me’ button the hint mail? The hunt in the Halloween event was much more engaging in that respect.

    And while I was happy to get the bag and trinket (and my alts will enjoy the exotics, should they ever get to 80), I would have preferred something along the lines of the Book/Back we got at Halloween – something visible that says “I was there”.

  9. gattsuru

    I played for the first part of the Phase 3 Event — being wiped out as a couple culled Champion Karka spawned on us at the top of the hive and all — and then logged to go have lunch with the SO before the next phase triggered. Only kitted out with Rares on my Mesmer, so it would have been nice to have the final chest, but I don’t terribly care to complain about the event gear.*

    * Although ArenaNet really needs to get that figured out a bit better in general; most other chests in-game don’t drop a single Rare reliably.

    Big concern to me was communication. Bugs, including the event and culling bugs, happen. I code as a day job, I know the sort of problem. Same-day response is about as good as you can expect, arguably faster than is good practice, and GW2 was pretty responsive on that. But the way to work around the bugs were complicated, and worse, were not documented in-game or in any in-game messaging but MapChat.

    For example, Phase 1 had a blocking bug on most servers where events in the Caledon Forest zone related to the Phase 1 investigations wouldn’t trigger. It’s not clear they ever ran right on Tarnished Coast, but even as someone that showed up fairly early it was effectively broken for all of Phase 1. Which, as above, is fine. ArenaNet even decided to extend part of the phase 1 event for another day.

    Except the only way to find that out was to dig through the forums. And not even an obvious part of the forums. And only part of the stuff was extended, so if you put it off or thought something before Caledon Forest was bugged, you missed out entirely.

    It’s a similar issue to the Halloween jumping puzzle: if it were clear that the puzzle weren’t important, it wouldn’t have been such a big deal that it was badly designed.

  10. Fidjit

    Personally, I decided to skip Phase 3′s final event because the events for Phase 1 and 2 went so poorly for me (lag, etc). Now I feel a bit miffed that I missed out on such incredibly good rewards. I didn’t expect much since the first two events had no rewards. I especially didn’t expect the rewards would be *that* good. My own fault, sure, but still.

    Like others have said, I don’t think it was “terrible” but it wasn’t great either. There is a lot to work on for future events. Phase 1 and 2 one-time events were near unplayable to me, and I was unable to ever do the investigation because of bugs.

    The dungeon sounds cool enough, but I haven’t tried it yet. Joining a group for what seems like a literally endless dungeon just stresses me out – I need to have clear timeframe expectations before joining a committed group activity.

  11. LineNoise

    I am… less than pleased with Anet’s handling of holiday events. I really really am. It seems like they’re deliberately designing entire systems to be incredibly exclusionary. I had to work on Sunday, the first paid gig I’ve been able to get in entirely too long. And now I find out that the one-time-chest is dropping 20 slot bags and precursors, and… I’m fucked. No way to make it up, no chance to try again, just a big old middle finger to everyone that can’t structure their entire life around a game. I understand the design appeal for these big events, and they look really awesome on paper, but if you keep completely screwing over big chunks of your playerbase with every big event, you’re going to have a really hard time holding on to mindshare.

    I played a few fractals and found about half of them were fun, a quarter would’ve been fun if I had a guild group instead of trying to carry a PuG, and the rest were almost unplayably hard. I never did figure out how anyone was supposed to do the first fight in the swamp. I’m supposed to carry a bundle across a perma-cripple field with random knockdowns, and the whole thing is timed? While two teammates have to *also* get theirs in the exact same time window? One of my guild members joined up for my first run at them, and quit halfway through when he realized that the entire dungeon was basically an unlabelled jumping puzzle, which he can’t complete all but the easiest of, because of lag that he can’t control.

    It’s like they’re only interested in releasing content for the top 10% of players that have been playing like madmen since launch and are bored already because they tore through the content at a breakneck pace. Meanwhile, those of us that came in late or have limited availability are watching them pile up more and more really awesome stuff that we can’t even get close to obtaining.

  12. Curuniel

    I agree with you that it would probably help things if they limited the capacity of maps (including overflows) to help things get along without such nasty lag – you could still have a large group with all the social activity and atmosphere that entails, just not quite as large as the max capacity is right now. That said, for me at least, Phase 3 ran infinitely better than the Phase 1 kick-off event, so I’ll accept improvement as we go on.

    I also agree that the ‘kill the karka reinforcements’ parts ran WAY too long. Everything else, even when I was dying a lot, I found fun. Those bits did get tedious. The same kinds of enemies but less of them would have worked well, and the in-between bits (the tree, the geysers, the gas vents) were cool ways to break it up.

    Currently I feel like a bit of a hypocrite because I tell people that I am happy to miss some cool one-off events in exchange for an MMO world with a sense of history, where things happen whether I’m there or not and the world is living, not just a collection of on-demand instances. But that’s easy for me to say when I’m a student and was able to take half a day off for Phase 3. I’ll see how I feel once I have to miss an event I want to attend; I hope I’ll still value the dynamic world more.

  13. Pingback: In Defence of One-Off Events | Psychopomp

  14. Pingback: IMO #1: The Problem with One Time Events(And Why They NEED To Continue!) « 7BitWorld

Comments are closed.