[GW2] The Molten Function

Jeromai and I must be on similar wavelengths, even though I know I do not have anywhere the gumption required to solo a dungeon. He writes this morning on how in six days that was all it took for the community situated around the Molten Facility to distill down to “mostly tired, lazy or focused on getting as speedily to the end as possible”. I was thinking the exact same thing over the weekend where I ran it one more time and decided I was likely done with the dungeon (especially since our guild is unlocking guild challenges this week).

Six days, indeed.

There is a lot to be learned from the Molten Facility, which was created by a Living Story team, not the dungeon team (who have been particularly silent about their projects since the Ascalon Catacombs refurb). It was created first and foremost as a storytelling device, just like the Rox and Braham instances in Flame & Frost last month. Those instances were also farmable, although easily done in a solo manner.

Within the first few days players jumped on the wagon to complete the new dungeon. It was fresh. It was fun. There was a small, small chance of getting something fantastic too. The community energy pumping around the Molten Facility was intoxicating. With the weekend I saw it more like Jeromai. The people running it were more on the order of slot-machine grannies vacantly pulling the one-armed bandit in the hopes of the ultimate payoff.

In my opinion this is all working as intended. I have to think the developers, putting this dungeon in for only 2 weeks (appaling, I know), foresaw this. While the community raged on about transient content, the Living Story team perhaps silently said “you’ll see”.

What I think in view of ArenaNet’s post-launch dungeon, Fractals, is that creating repeatable dungeons is an art. Creating storytelling dungeons is an art. And, perhaps the two are not so alike. This is not to say either is flawed. Fractals has some nice lore embedded in the dungeons, and people have highly praised the mechanics of the Molten Facility. This just makes my armchaired-self scratch my head a bit more.

I think a big issue was the rewards and speed of the Molten Facility. For dungeon runners the profitability per time is pretty bad compared to Citadel of Flame and other dungeons. The pros ran it a few times, updated their calculations, and went elsewhere. Considering a 2.5 gold run in Citadel of Flame done in 15-20 minutes, a dungeon runner could buy any of the Molten Facility drops off the market in a weekend of hard farming… guaranteed. Or they could crap-shoot with the Molten Facility.

The rewards paired with this same idea. The vast community runs the Molten Facility and inundates the market with the drops, some of which are only available in the Molten Facility. Who is left? A weird middle of players not running dungeons with the pros but still wanting to take one more chance at one of the exotics drops.

With the exception of trying to make the guaranteed profit of running the Molten Facility more on order per time of that of conventional dungeon running, I am not sure I would have liked the Molten Facility with any different reward scheme. Designers could have added a token currency requiring X number of runs to buy Y, but I am not sure a healthier remaining community would have been the result because most players would still run a finite number of times. The dungeon could have been made more farmable in a “know the dungeon”-sense, but then a lot of the pacing would have been lost on fresh players joining veteran runners.

In a sense the Molten Facility reminds me a lot of Arah’s story mode. Here again was a dungeon that end-capped a ton of soloable content, but the dungeon was more of a set piece than this mechanically difficult challenge. Molten Facility was much more challenging, but it was built for this end-of-chapter experience to be shared. I’d go back and run Arah’s story mode with guildies, but I don’t expect a dungeon experience on par with the explorable modes.

It’s a weird thing to say now that two weeks was just about the right amount of time for this Living Story dungeon, especially if ArenaNet has things ready to replace Flame & Frost mid-May. It’s weird to see how the dungeon was designed to live for just about that amount of time. It is definitely not something very conventional in MMO space, where precious dev time is usually aimed at max player activity per dev time. ArenaNet keeps saying that Retribution is really setting the pace as the studio is finally lining up for this kind of content output. An MMO, or really any game, set on this type of content production is going to be really interesting.

–Ravious

19 thoughts on “[GW2] The Molten Function

  1. Jeromai

    If you ask me, the short time limit was the source of the problem, besides the inherent nature of people running repeat instances to move towards efficiency. It adds a crushing pressure to run as much as possible, as fast as possible, and that burns out the unwary.

    I chose to jump on the lottery bandwagon for a while, for fun, but I’m feeling it now and choosing to back off before the entire game sours.

    I wish I knew how to keep a healthy fun community running dungeons, but I think the whole concept of a select 5 man group challenged to coordinate well together skews the equation more towards being exclusive and elitist.

    City of Heroes’ Task Forces were pretty inclusive for a while, but with the introduction of loot at the end and more ‘challenging’ TFs like Statesman and Recluse, the same nightmare happened all over again – picky PUGs, gogogogo, skip everything, etc. *sighs*

    1. kichwas

      I remember City of Heroes old task forces. Amazingly fun, and absolutely no reward.

      Then I took a few years off because my WoW guild was active and I never had a City of Heroes guild. When I came back City of Heroes had changed completely.

      Farming had invaded, and everything dropped loot. Taskforces were just not a pleasant thing to be in anymore.

      A smaller MMO, one not focused on farming, is often better community wise.

      I can’t wait for the day when all the people farming legendaries decide GW2 is dead and leave… so the rest of us can get back to enjoying the content as it was intended. But I also don’t expect that day to ever come…

      I kind of wish dungeons offered no loot at all, period. Nothing. Not even so much as a title or achievement. Maybe we’ll get one of those someday in an experimental patch. If and when it arrives, you’ll find me there looking for some ‘classic’ City of Heroes vets to enjoy just playing together with.

  2. Jonathan

    You left out a still interested group — folks that want to experience the story with friends and guildies, but Real Life has made co-ordination difficult due to business travel, finals, surgery etc.

    I do hope I’ll get to see it. I don’t hope I get to see it so much I want to gogogo PuG it.

    Oh, well. If I don’t I can always play through some seven year old EQ2 content that, bizarrely enough, is still available if I want to see it, even though I wasn’t a customer at the time.

    1. Brian 'Psychochild' Green

      Yeah, I’m in the same boat. A 1 week business trip has stretched to 3 weeks, and I’m going to have to rush to play the content.

      I wonder if some minor phasing might have done the trick better here. Sort of like LotRO’s epic story, where things change temporarily when you’re on the right “step” in the story. That would let people enjoy the content on their own terms rather than missing it due to other things in life being more important than the game.

      1. Jonathan

        Well, we did get in to see it, so we’ve finished up the thread for now. Still, it would be very nice to have an NPC storyteller (perhaps in Hoelbrek, by the fire?) who you could ask about it, and he could “tell you a story” and zone your five man team in.

        Set it firmly in the past, but don’t delete it.

  3. bhagpuss

    I’ve done Molten Facility once, on the first evening. I need to do it once more on my second account, which I hope to do tonight.

    If the thing wasn’t required to finish the storyline I would probably never have bothered with it even once. The idea of running it repeatedly to get the things that drop is mind-boggling. I wouldn’t do that if the current drops were guaranteed, since nothing that’s on offer is remotely appealing, but even if there was a working jetpack in there that allowed free flight over all of Tyria I still wouldn’t make repeated runs for a chance at it.

    The whole concept of instanced 5-man dungeons has long since had its day in my opinion. It was innovative almost a decade ago but it’s grown old and stale. A short expiry date isn’t doing anything to hide the smell of an idea that’s gone rotten inside.

    The sad thing is no-one else seems to have anything fresher on offer.

  4. Merrydew

    I haven’t been able to run this even once yet, I hope I can so I can see it and finish the Living Story goals. My guild seems to have disappeared on me so I am at a loss as to who to go in with.

  5. João Carlos

    “[...], especially if ArenaNet has things ready to replace Flame & Frost mid-May”.

    I read some people data mined the last patch update and found some interesting things as some NPC dialogue about the Dragon Festival and a new living story about the refugees going to karka island.

    Mid-May will be interesting.

    PS

    I thought about what you wrote about dungeons that tell a story and repeatable dungeons. Anet is trying to develop both, but we will see new story dungeons at the living story events for a limited time. IMHO, the are making perfect the art of create story dungeons… and making bosses that know how to make an entrance.

    1. João Carlos

      And today, May 7, we have the confirmation that the new living story will start mid-may: “The Secret of Southsun”. And the return of Inspector Ellen Kiel of the Lionguard.

  6. Kalu

    All this got me to thinking about why I didn’t care that MF will only be open 2 weeks. The reward is simply not there to be sure. Come to think of it, I don’t run some other dungeons for exactly the same reason.

    That’s not to say I don’t appreciate the beauty of the place. I also find the combat interesting and fun. It’s just that I have suddenly realized that the difficult raids I ran in other games over and over were primarily for items that were absolutely needed and which I could not get any other way. Duh. I absolutely do not need a legendary. I absolutely do not need ascended gear from Fractals because I can get that in other ways. Nor am I concerned if my armor sprouts flames or if I am tops in fashion. I am, though, enamored with a game that does not require a grind for necessary items and is energetic enough instead to provide me with new interesting content.

    I would much rather play dungeons like MF until they get stale, knowing another is around the corner. GW2,fortunately for me, does not target players who require extremely difficult content involving numerous mandatory completions and super skilled sets of players and strategies. I just hope we will continue to see more of the same. GW2 has seemingly undertaken a very challenging task. How do you maintain players of many persuasions to remain interested in the content when “raids” are capable of being completed by random groups which can include any skill level of player? Bingo!

  7. moondog548

    I don’t see how “it’s a little thing, no reason to do it more than once or twice” logically leads to “so take it out of the game so that most folks can never do it.”

    Unless the next thing is going to be just like this thing, in which case…

  8. Curuniel

    In my opinion (an opinion still being formed), GW2 is providing experiences > content. The Molten Facility is an experience, available for a limited time, set in a particular point of time in the living story – it wouldn’t make sense for it to be around later because that suggests game content not a living story, if that makes sense? The game world isn’t a hub with self-contained challenges off it. Next week the world moves on, the Molten Alliance falls. If you weren’t here for the Molten Facility, you weren’t here for it, but look! Something else is going on now!

    The Ancient Karka was another such experience, one time only, but having missed out on it isn’t really a terrible loss now. Sure, it was neat and you could get good loot, but it’s not like there aren’t plenty of chests out there to get loot from already. What you would really have missed is the experience (including the frantic cull-plagued invasion of Lion’s Arch), and that’s because it happened in the past. As long as free content keeps coming, there should always be a new experience on the horizon.

    I hope that in years to come friends will ask me about some trinket one of my characters has, and I can tell them “oh, well, that’s from Halloween 2012, and let me tell you what happened!”

    1. Ravious Post author

      This is how I see it as well. This kind of event in post-WoW MMOs was really kept to pre/post expansion launches where something would change in the world. It’s weird getting used to it, but I think I am with regards to GW2. It’s nice in a way because I can still play other games, but get the mostly full experience from GW2’s Living Story.

  9. bhagpuss

    I am absolutely on board with ANet adding content for a limited time. I’d love it if they threw in major events with no warning at all that lasted an hour and then ended never to be seen again, leaving behind fantastic items owned only by the fortunate few who happened to be there. forever envied by all.

    Limited duration events are not the issue. The issue is, the stuff they are adding is dull and the items that come with it are unattractive. I just watched the new video featuring the two people responsible for the Living Story so far and let’s just say things are a lot clearer now.

  10. lorehound

    I really viewed this dungeon as nothing more than the perfect fit for their marketing tool that is the Living Story. I love the concept, it sounds great in game-terms. However, when you think of it from a time perspective, where we see an influx of cash shop items, (whose prices are going up, or havent you noticed? :) ), and temporary content that you either run non-stop to complete or miss out on a cool reward. I want this Living Story thing to pan out, but I see their focus more on the profitability of it than their quality of content. Frequent content additions does not necessarily mean high quality ones. Let’s keep that in mind.

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