[GW2] Creeping HoT – Maps and Masteries

Creep is a dirty MMO word. Yes, there are creeps who should be reported for saying things that would make any mother smack the scheisse out of them, but this is different. This is when a developer tries to make things more awesome and toes outside the earlier line of power, content, etc. and leaves the priors behind.

Creep in its worst sense is an erosion of the importance of earlier content. The most notable creep is power creep. In updating an MMO will add more levels or more gear tiers thereby lowering the importance of earlier accomplishments.  Another might be feature creep that gives people the new ability (with expansion purchase) to fly anywhere.

I feel ArenaNet’s expansion is going to be one of the lowest amounts of creep we can possibly see for an MMO expansion. The reason: compartmentalization.

Maps

It’s evident even in Heart of Thorn’s open world content. In one of ArenaNet’s first blog posts on the expansion the devs bring up the ancient karka corpse. That takes some moxie because that was creep, in a lesser sense. That was when ArenaNet wanted to make content that people would experience once, and if you weren’t there for the three hours on a Sunday afternoon battling the ancient karka then you missed out. ArenaNet dev’s seem saddened as well since we can’t storm those shores again.

Another bit of creep they don’t mention is the effects of the Living World on the core maps. Kessex Hills is the poster child for dumping grounds with a destroyed Tower of Nightmares and closed off Fort Salma. I like that the world lives and grows, but it does so without integrating with the content that remains around it. The commanding officer walks around the vine-roont Fort Concordia talking about the Risen threat. That is Living World creep.

They write that Dry Top is what they are going forward with. “Maps with a Purpose” is the section headline. I know what Dry Top is all about. I know what my game time in Silverwastes is going to be like. They are clean experiences. They are compartmentalized.

The first map in Heart of Thorns tells the story of “survivors of the catastrophic Pact Fleet expedition” trying to build up outposts. Perhaps you kill Mordremoth or rebuild the Pact Fleet later down the road, but in this first map it is you helping these survivors survive the night after the crash. I also hope they can compartmentalize the personal story advancements (or “flashbacks” from the map. I feel sorry for players playing through a Season 2 instance and coming upon a destroyed Town of Prosperity in Dry Top when it isn’t time for that yet in the personal story instance.

Masteries

This leads us to the next could-be-creep feature in Heart of Thorns: masteries. ArenaNet had another blog post this week further detailing the new way to progress. It is a horizontal-type progression. No, that’s not right, but it’s not really vertical either. Again, I feel it’s compartmentalized, and so I will go with it being “branched progression”.

Let’s take the biggest possible landmine in the blog post, Master Combat, where ArenaNet devs write “become more deadly against the new creatures waiting in the jungle”. That’s not horizontal progression. That is definitely improving upward. If your kill time drops 30% or something, that is vertical progression.

Yet, if they keep this combat mastery specific to Heart of Thorns they have avoided creep, which is the deadly pitfall of pure vertical progression. There is a big difference between “your poison causes vulnerability against mordrem in Heart of Thorns areas” and “your poison causes vulnerability”.

They’ve already said that hang gliding will be Heart of Thorns specific so that players will not make portions of previous maps or dungeons meaningless by just gliding through some area. They’ve compartmentalized the feature. They could even do it going forward. Perhaps in Guild Wars 2: Rise of Karka* they make it underwater/island themed and don’t necessarily want hang gliders for all the maps. If they want in Guild Wars 2: Domain of Winds* to make windy gliding areas that require more hang gliding mastery, it’s still compartmentalized. It doesn’t creep away the Heart of Thorns gliding. Possibly. Or, at least if there is creep it is very tightly controlled.

This is also why the mastery number on the nameplate will only matter to people you don’t want to play with. Sure, it’d be great to only party with people with maxed mastery numbers, but I feel that players that boot the expert Fractals runner because the expert hasn’t really chased HoT masteries deserve all the woe their idiocy brings them. The elitism will always be there either force ping of armor or Achievement Points (AP) or anything the idiots can measure, whether it’s worth measuring or not. Don’t surround yourself with idiots, and you should be fine.

 Branched Progression

A trunk can only go up with vertical progression leaving the rest closer to the ground. The leaves can only go so wide in horizontal progression before all the leaves start feeling like they have the same worth (leaves = skins, miniatures, etc.). I feel branched progression could be a really interesting as the way forward to expansion.

We saw the first hints of this in Guild Wars 1 Eye of the North expansion with reputation affecting some stats in certain zones (asuran rep gave more energy in asuran zones). With the exception of the massive grind needed for completion, it was a pretty good system I felt. Let’s see where ArenaNet takes it.

–Ravious

*I made these up. Hope that was obvious…

 

11 thoughts on “[GW2] Creeping HoT – Maps and Masteries”

  1. It’s fine that everyone is enthusiastic about this expansion but I think so many players have left this might not be enough to get them back unless Anet spends some of this time addressing the very things that made this game terrible. They need to fix rewards, help eliminate the grindy nature of ascended, and give proper updates to the already tarnished combat system for true balance instead of this Zerker zerg fest otherwise when people come back if they are interested, they’ll play through the content and become completely disappointed that none of these things were fixed.

    1. Should speak for yourself instead of these “[some] people” because at least on GW2 Reddit and FB the activity has increased dramatically.

      I completely understand your point though when you replace all that with “me” and “I”. I am hoping at least the AI guy they hired can address the zerk/zerg fest. Ascended grind, while completely unnecessary, is definitely a standing issue… however it is also a pretty viable long term goal since it seems to be the gear cap that is staying.

      1. Well – I left and he definatly speak for me (while I don’t know the guy/gal). Heck – my list of things are even longer. Guess I’ve just been burned bad by Anet promises, trashing manifesto etc. etc.

  2. From the limited amount of information released so far I would say HoT is shaping up to be a very traditional max-level, vertical progression Add-on. Anet have a great smoke&mirrors routine going on whereby they change the names and the syntax and tell us that by doing so they’ve changed the objects and the relationships but really all they are doing is pre-managing expectations and hoping to post-manage reaction.

    When HoT comes out you will have to be level 80 to do anything in it. Game starts at level 80 now. Yes, the old maps will have function for 80s but only by retrofitting level 80 appropriate outcomes onto them. The result going forward is a palimpsest MMO. They are selling that as a good thing because no space will be wasted. I’d prefer to stretch out.

    This is all about efficiency for them not freedom for us.

    1. Did you want more leveling content?
      You have a class (Revenant) worth of it.

      I don’t understand why you say that the game starts now at level 80 and all the old maps are useless.
      Fractals didn’t replace Dungeons despite the fact dungeons give orange and fractals give pink.

      I agree with ravious – it is not overall power creep because you gain stuff in the area that you need it and what you gain only works there.
      Agony resistance has 0 importance outside fractals and you need no agony resistance to start fractals.

      In a way it is like a level cap raise, that is account wide, and it is per region. “Level 80 max mastery map x, level 80 mid mastery region y”.

    2. “When HoT comes out you will have to be level 80 to do anything in it. ”

      A reasonable expectation by ArenaNet and players. Why would you think any differently? Eye of the North started at max level.

      1. @Ravious – “A reasonable expectation by ArenaNet …” – at first I was like, yep, that’s what I’m thinking. And the second after… wait wait wait! I was waiting for something more, something in GW1 campaigne line. Why do we have (and need) downscaling system, why do Anet screwd (in my opinion) leveling with NPE for?! It is definatly reasonable expactation for typicall MMO crowd, not so much for Guild Wars fan (of my caliber ;) ). But yeah – I should learn by now that GW2 is sequel only by name.

        @Swoo – “You have a class (Revenant) worth of it” – yep, in all good, all old and fresh from the 2012 box environment. That’s ok I think, I’m not planing to back to the game, but if I ever… I’m altoholic. I’ve levled 20+ toons, I would love some new ground to conquer from the start, not just new archetype. But that’s just me. Maybe.

        @bhagpuss – “Anet have a great smoke&mirrors routine”… really matter of opinion. Now I do belive that Anet IS “smoke&mirror routine”, that’s why I’m not contributing my time to their product. Ehh… but still in love with original GW and lore :*(

  3. “This is also why the mastery number on the nameplate will only matter to people you don’t want to play with.”

    I’m sorry, but this is also a dangerous train of thought to go down to accept mastery numbers being displayed.

    What you are effectively doing is shutting yourself off from one part of the population, whom you have decided are either elitists, or ‘stupid’ or basically ‘people whom I don’t want to play with.’

    As Roger Edwards mentioned in his latest post, “http://www.containsmoderateperil.com/consensus-dissent/” there is a tendency to surround oneself only with people sharing the same opinion as you, to exist in a smaller echo chamber.

    This is not a desired state of affairs for an MMO, especially a longer-lived one that stresses community, that needs to have all its population at least open to interacting civilly and cooperatively with each other. Newbies have to be able to flow into and penetrate into the veteran and more established communities to keep that lifeblood there. The so-called casuals and hardcore shouldn’t view each other with hostility, it’s after all a spectrum of behaviors – how much time one has to play, how optimal one desires their character to be, how much challenge a player prefers, etc.

    Design that promotes closing off of borders, of individual circles of interest, is no good. Already, we have a certain subset of vets who would prefer that the newbies just struggle and sink and swim on their own “go make your own newbie groups, don’t join experienced lvl 80 XX AP ones, etc.”

    Fortunately, GW2’s foundation still promotes a group of a different mind that are actively encouraging and open to teaching and training newbies and bringing them into those loftier circles if they wish it, but we really shouldn’t be making it easier for the other-minded group to close more people off based on arbitrary measures that don’t actually correlate (but try to convince them of it. May as well tell them that AoEing the copper husk is ok, and so on.)

    1. All I see is there is a supposed danger this small, close-minded group will have more means to be more prejudicial. I personally have no desire to expend my energies on this [minor] subset of players.

      I do think there is benefit to seeing mastery numbers, the most important is to provide a goal and keep players thinking about them and then playing more. I can totally see why ArenaNet would want them to be displayed, especially if this is going to be loooong term. As an inclusive player if I see a player with low mastery in a situation that might require higher mastery it is an invitation to extend teaching. I also do not seek to exclude this “other-minded group”, but nor do I try and force my way into their “graces”.

  4. Fair enough. You feel that this subset of prejudicial players will be fairly small and insignificant, while I feel that they are likely to have a significant enough impact on the experience of newer players, as a little toxicity goes a long way.

    I feel that seeing your own mastery numbers already provides a goal and keeps players thinking about them. Same with WvW rank, PvP rank (which are incidentally masked to one’s allies, if not everybody).

    While displaying them to others suggests more of an e-peen and comparison factor at work. If this keeps more people playing and chasing this PvE goal, I suppose it will probably be more profitable for Anet, though of course, the culture will shift in favor of this grind and push away others repelled by the chase (Bhagpuss, for example, seems to be having paroxysms lately.)

    It is true that being able to see low mastery would act as a signalling factor for those inclined to teach, just as low AP does today. I guess my big question would be on the ratio the new player is likely to experience, but no one has that data except Anet and the hypothetical new player themselves.

    Guess we’ll see how things go.

    1. Well also you have to hit level 80 by the time you start masteries, so new “new” player doesn’t truly apply. Hopefully the “new” level 80 player got to experience some of the community’s goodness prior to that time.

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