[GW2] In Spite of Community Pressures

Bhagpuss believes Guild Wars 2 is pretty lively from all the open world activities. I agree. I’ve been seeing more and more people running around the open world. There’s another stick-of-measurement to watch. Oh sure, we can all be beguiled by the entrancing smile of Colin as he says numbers are still rising post-launch…. Sigh. Oh. Right. Carry on then. There is also a lot to be said about community tools as an activity meter.

Community tools feel necessary in MMOs, and lively MMOs seem to have lively communities. The movements in the hive eventually produce tools you never knew you couldn’t live without. Guild Wars 2 is still missing a lot of MMO features usually taken for granted, and yet out of the chaos of an MMO community comes spontaneous triumphs. In the words of somebody “you can’t stop progress”.

Looking For Group

Guild Wars 2 has had cross-server dungeon groups since launch. This feature, as great as it is, is limited to basically using it with people players already know, such as friends on another server or a cross-server guild. The only in-game way to find a cross-server group with strangers is to spam in a Lion’s Arch overflow server, which is also a cross-server entity.

GW2LFG created a simple site where players create a message to find a group or more players. It’s simple, accessible information. It feels kind of like a Twitter feed in a way, and I’ve had really good success finding groups with the site. With almost 3 million LFG’s created, I’d say there is significant demand for this community tool.

The best protip I have is to start your own group and then start posting “LF#M” (Looking For [Number] More). Don’t be shy if you’ve never run the dungeon before. A lot of people haven’t, and unless you are joining a “zerk gear W only no nubz” people are pretty patient. If you do intend to watch cinematics be sure to talk to your group so that they have fair warning.

A raw competitor, GW2LFG.net has also appeared, and I personally like their information flow a lot better. However, it appears that this new site is scraping the LFG’s from GW2LFG.com, which is not helpful to the community. That’s a shame because I much prefer the new site’s user interface. Still, the fact that there is some competition, as dishonest as it may currently be, is a good sign.

I fear that the bandage of GW2LFG.com, as fantastic and soothing as it is, will delay ArenaNet’s inclusion of a feature in Guild Wars 2.  For people that want to run dungeons, GW2LFG.com is working. It is not the best solution, but if the choice of engineering time is between making an in-game LFG and all the other issues and features on a very long list, I feel that an in-game LFG is going to be pushed behind issues and features not having any band-aids. It will be a bittersweet day when GW2LFG.com is no longer needed, but I hope it comes.

Modifiable GUI

One such feature I pray is higher on the list is modifiable GUI (“graphical user interface”). Currently only a handful of GUI parts can be moved, and the interface size can be resized wholesale. I think that for the most part the interface is pretty good. It just can always be better, and the handful of ArenaNet devs simply cannot compete with the crowdsource dev time of fans.

It was a step backwards from Guild Wars 1. I can understand how ArenaNet might not want a World of Warcraft level UI where the game can completely change depending on which mods are plugged in. However, Guild Wars 1 GUI had pretty decent modifiability. Elements could be resized, moved, and removed from the GUI. I remember seeing how some PvP players had their GUI set up, and I was amazed. I felt some of them had really improved the flow of information with only the simple tools ArenaNet gave them.

There are movements in the herd to improve the GUI, such as Combat Mode 2.0. Except that without direct support by ArenaNet many of these GUI mods had to work along the same lines as bot programs. This has caused all sorts of trouble because ArenaNet does not allow such modifications, but they might not ban players for using various mods.

It all comes down to advantage. Is someone at an advantage for wiping clean the painterly UI style of Guild Wars 2? Probably only in the most self-subjective sense. What about fixing the field-of-view? Now perhaps players can see around corners they couldn’t before. It gets really tricky really fast, but the pressure to modify is going to be there.

The pressure is going to be greater if ArenaNet’s allowable modifications are extremely limited. When Combat Mode 2.0 launches, I’m sure Guild Wars 2 Support is going to get slammed with tickets regarding the mod. People might get “accidentally” banned. The anti-bot people might decide that Combat Mode 2.0 should be a bannable mod. Or, simply the request for a “yay” or “nay” vote by ArenaNet on the mod is going to be smothering. Just as the lack of a feature, like an in-game LFG, can have pressure relieved by a community tool, a community tool can increase the pressure exorbitantly on getting that feature to the top of the list.

Conclusion

There is always going to be pressure for ArenaNet to add new features. I still constantly see requests for player-to-player trading so that the 15% trading post fee can be avoided. ArenaNet reduced the pressure of player-to-player trading scams, but increased it in other areas. The famous GW2Spidy increases the pressure to play the Trading Post, which is a good thing. I am hoping that with the best of culling possibly killed or at least beaten in to a corner, the engineers can work on an in-game LFG tool or more modifiable GUI.

Regardless, a lot can be said about the health of the game for the fact that the pressures even exist. It’s just the case of whether the pressure is a good one to have exist, or whether it will turn cancerous on itself. That one is for ArenaNet to ponder.

–Ravious

9 thoughts on “[GW2] In Spite of Community Pressures

  1. Saylah

    You hit my two big “wants”. LFG tool is a must and games shouldn’t launch without them these days. I really shouldn’t be reliant on outside websites to support such a fundamental in-game activity.

    Some modification to the UI is needed. Even if they don’t add more hotbars being able to move all of the existing elements should be provided. At the very least, not everyone’s depth of peripheral vision is the same to have such a rigid layout. I know I’d use more of the potions if they were in my face on a hotbar.

    Sanctum of Rall has been bursting at the seams. Some of it good and some of it bad. I HATE CULLING!!! Players and mobs popping on and off my screen, if I step one foot in a different direction, is distracting. And I still get mauled by mobs suddenly appearing in large scale combat.

    I was waiting to do Jormag and thought, damn so few people and we’re in the spawn window. I took a few steps forward and WHAM, a couple dozen players were actually there. I was standing at the merchant NPC. They were a few steps forward by the canons. Really??? Am so not a fan of culling!

    Queensdale, one of my favorite zones to stroll around, is back to being overflowed, so yes, more people are playing.

  2. iamthelazygeek

    Looks like.net looks pretty but the functionality is a bit wonky at times. I hope ArenaNet gets their in-game tool working because despite gw2lfg.com working fairly well, not everyone knows about it or doesn’t use it. So there is that bit of disconnect, and with gw2lfg.net popping into the picture, it only serves to split the community up a little bit more.

    As for the GUI, it really does need to be more like GW1 where you could change the position, size, and orientation of most, if not all, panels. I really miss this feature but I’ve gotten so used to the current setup so it’s not that big a complaint. However, I really REALLY miss my rounded compass, but that’s just me.

    Adding both options (moddable UI and lfg tool) has to be inevitable if the game is to grow and gather a larger following.

  3. bhagpuss

    As someone who always uses the stock UI in every game and can count the number of mods I’ve ever used on the fingers of one hand and have fingers left over, I prefer MMOs that aren’t modable. It arguably doesn’t do any harm in solo PvE, I guess, but as soon as gameplay moves outside the purely insular I feel everyone should be singing from the same song-sheet.

    The shared resources ethos of GW2 mitigate this somewhat. It’s not as though someone running a legal mod that makes it quicker and easier for them to find resource nodes is putting you at a disadvantage the way they would be in EQ2 or WoW. Nevertheless, there will be many occasions where having a third-party mod will confer an advantage and I’d feel more comfortable knowing we were all using the same toolset.

    I do like a moveable UI and if GW2 had one I would certainly have some things in different places. I can’t say it’s bothered me not having one, though. It’s a nice. clean set-up and I’ve found it very comfortable. I’m so used to it now that I don’t know that I’d bother to move it around if the option was added.

    LFG is a perennial raw spot. You can guarantee that if ANet do decide to add one there will be many players who bitterly oppose the idea. I’m neutral on it because I’m just not that interested in dungeons, or not in these dungeons at any rate. I’m mildly disappointed that ANet put parties/groups in the game at all.

    I’m still waiting for a true open-grouping game that has no formal group or guild mechanic whatsoever, where co-operation is seamless, organic and intuitive enough that no such artificial mechanic is necessary. I suspect I might have a long wait. The clock on that one seems to be ticking backwards at the moment.

  4. Naqaj

    The popularity of CombatMod is so fascinating to me, mostly because beside the cosmetics it actually does so little. Most of it’s functionality is just playing off of what’s already there in how targeting and abilities work in GW2. It would require only very few tweaks to include the functionality into the client.

    1. darkeye

      Yeah I agree, just one option to select between RMB being a toggle or having to keep it held constantly. They seem to be slow to add customization options, but one of the designers said that when culling is removed, there is going to be options in the menu to configure it. Hopefully that is the beginning of them considering giving players more options for all aspects of UI and gameplay.

  5. darkeye

    I’m glad that Arenanet hasn’t folded in their initial stance to limit mods, they are purposely not giving their consent to any, but the availability of some ‘illegal’ rudimentary mods certainly does put pressure on them to allow more customisation with their UI and gameplay. Seriously turned off by the hassle of mods after enduring them in WoW, macros in Rift was another annoyance, if there is pressure on players to use external mods for the base gameplay then that is a problem with the game. Macros in Rift are only required because of the over-abundance of skills, and if each skill was more impactful and necessary then it wouldn’t be productive to stick several together in a macro. Had a similar issue with wardens in Lotro, they have a lot of buffs to keep track (tiny, identical and redundant icons!), and the accepted response is to install a buff monitor mod, rather than the devs to streamline and tidy up the in-game buff monitor. On the other hand if I could move or resize the buff monitor in GW2 without having to go to an outside source I would happily do that.

  6. GLN7

    I am actually disappointed with ArenaNet that they do not ban CombatMod-users. In my book, any functionality-changing external mods are unacceptable in a multiplayer PvP game.

    I am totally fine with modding the crap out of games if they are not competitive or even singleplayer games. Ever played the “X” series (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X_%28game_series%29)? They have such an active modder community with backing from the Devs, that some of them basically created new, free games on top of existing ones.

    But any multiplayer game containing PvP should shun each and every external mod. If they expand the opportunities the game itself offers, alright. But help from mods is just a no-go.

    I’d really love to see the the funtionality of the GW-UI come back. The adding, resizing, deleting and moving of basically everything on the screen was great.

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  8. zwei

    I fear that GW2LFG.net is more sinister than that way you put it, after small investigation, this is what i gathered:

    * They started off by scraping their competitor, making no attempt to contant author before it
    * They either lie about attempting to contant him to work thing out or are just unlucky, but ignoring his public messages does not convince me.
    * They out out pretty impressive “corporate” front – anonymous-brad users on forums registered only for purporse of AAA: anouncements, astroturfing and advertizing, zero information on who the are.
    * They put up paid advertizements on reddit. This is big one.
    * Their identity is hidden – domain registered by proxy, single purporse accounts, anonymity everywhere. Only clue is “Bug Bauss” from their support thread.
    * Very professional design and code. Very Childish actions. Somehow i think that when they said “We” then it means “I” – someone who is good with web design, but inept at public relations running one man show and getting a bit desperate after seeing it fail.
    * Lack of shown goodwill.

    It all strikes me very wrong way.

    Someone discovered gw2lfg.com and decided that it has potential to become huge cash cow, wanted piece of action and attempted to out gw2lfg.com out of business – take over userbase and then start serving ads. My guess is “nephew talking about it”.

    It was no-brainer that .com would not allow content reposted by them, so they hopes that either no-one would notice or care.

    Only things went sour after users discovered content scraping, started doing little vigilante work and .net reputation vent from zero to negative. Every single anouncement thread turned to threads bashing site.

    Then, things got more desperate and they paid for ads. Have you ever heard of such simple tool being advertized? Basically, they fucked up, but are not giving up.

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