Category Archives: Guild Wars 2

[GW2] That Feature Pack

The household sounds were filled with sounds of enlightenment and confusion as Mrs. Ravious and I dug in to the Guild Wars 2 Feature Pack. Jeromai has the right of it. This feature pack shook things up. Hopefully all for the better, but time will have to tell on a lot of it. As Zubon warned us, most of our night was re-learning our characters.

Our first stop was the wardrobe. We ran through our bank and gear to fill our sticker book of skins, and I gained back about two dozen inventory slots. It was confusing at first with how some skins were working. The equipment was easier to understand because it remained an item even when the copy of the skin went into the wardrobe. Continue reading

[GW2] Login Warning

Read the patch notes and completely re-do every character you have before you do anything. Everything changed, and the mail alerting you that something has been reset can be spotty. I had to play several PvP matches and repeatedly enter the Heart of the Mists before I got any notice that my PvP stats were reset. You may or may not get notice that your WvW ranks were reset. You may or may not get notice that your runes have changed. You may or may not…

Basically, everything you know about your characters and the content may or may not have changed, so go read 10,000 words, and good luck sorting it out. If you’re like me and have characters of all 8 classes, you have a lot of studying and respecing to do.

: Zubon

[GW2] The Impossibility of WvW

The more I play WvW in GW2, the more I must believe that the developers’ goals are different than mine and from what I thought they stated. As implemented, WvW is a PvE system with periodic steamrolls and occasional good fights. Either good fights are contrary to the design or WvW is performing very far from its design.

The dominant problem remains the mismatch in weight classes, and I have heard no solution for it nor even real awareness that it is a problem. Let me narrow that: it is not the case that the weight classes are in neat groups of three, so the majority of the matchups will feature an odd server out (two heavweights with a middleweight or one heavyweight with two middleweights) or even worse matches. The Spring Tourney system designed to mitigate this problem has yet to do so, and unless there is some reason to unite against the winning server, I am not sure that any system can.
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Multiple Unlock Options

Hunting for traits in the wild sounds disturbingly like New Content, while being able to buy our way out of playing through parts of the game that we don’t care for seems like a sound compromise.

I find this an enormously wise decision, both for players and the developer.

On the player side, part of the draw of GW2 was “play how you like,” meaning visit whatever zones and repeat whatever events you like, WVW to level 80 if you like, and get your exotic equipment from the open world, dungeons, crafting, WvW, or jumping puzzles. I don’t know how everyone felt about it in GW1, but I don’t think the GW2 crowd would be entirely happy with being required to hit specific dungeons or bosses to get traits. I don’t think the hardcore WvW crowd will be entirely happy with diverting gold from rams to trait books; maybe they will (soon/someday?) allow those to be bought with Badges of Honor or currencies other than cash.

I stepped away from Reus due to its unlocks, and I have yet to get back to it. To unlock iron, which seems like a pretty basic resource, you need to make a fairly prosperous town with no animals. Recall that Reus has animals, plants, and minerals, so you are giving up a third of the game for this attempt, and many plants and minerals depend on animals for bonuses. I made a short game, set up a few towns with no animals on the map so I had a few chances, and proceeded to have almost every special project appear with animal-related bonuses or requirements. I am reasonably certain that I could tough it out, finish that map, and finish my unlock, but doing this just raises the specter of future unlocks that will require similar annoyances. Annoyance is not what I want in my gaming time.

As a developer: gold sink, ho! Players can buy gems and sell them for gold, so new ways to spend large quantities of gold prop up the price of gems and make purchases more appealing. Players are paying to skip the game? Normally, that would sound like a design issue, but $$$.

: Zubon

[GW2] Wuv Downtime

I find it interesting to see what happens with the Ravious household when Guild Wars 2 is not pumping out updates every two weeks. This happened earlier during the winter holiday break, and now it is happening again as we wait one more week for the feature patch update (4/15).

First, I’m back to doing Tequatl. I have fun with that “raid”. I like how TTS does it. Zubon muses on the new event timetable that will be coming in a week. I know I am line generally with the comments in his post. With Tequatl, I’ve been on a timetable for quite a long time. Some nights Mrs. Ravious and I do world bosses, and we’ve headed to fan-made websites that use the Guild Wars 2 API to tell us where to head. For me the timetable is just incorporating something that I (and many others) have taken for granted anyway. Continue reading

[GW2] World Bus?

As the design of a game, this timetable makes perfect sense. As the design of a world, it makes me sad. “Go forth, hero, and make your legend by following the attached schedule of events.” Someone already made that legend? No problem, the enemy will spawn, disappear within fifteen minutes, and respawn again on schedule no matter what you do.

We may have overshot “theme park” and started approaching TV re-runs.

While the content has always been completely mutable and timer-based, something about making an explicit schedule of villainy weakens the illusion.

: Zubon

Everyone Wins?

Asynchronous PvP creates the unusual possibility of having something called “PvP” that never brings you into direct conflict with another player, where everyone playing wins, and the computer takes the losses on behalf of the players. Reward-seeking players will often create nigh-asynchronous PvP situations.

Given the chance to pick the fight, most people pick fights they know they will win. Given three potential targets to attack, with equal rewards for each, most players will pick the weakest target. Or the weakest (for them) — if you play Scissors, you will choose to attack Paper while you are online, then your offline team will be attacked by Rock.

It can be frustrating to have offline losses you cannot do anything about, particularly if those are scored for competitive rewards, but if PvP must come out to 50% wins on average, everyone seems happier when the computer takes almost all of the 50% losses.

Most of my links there cite examples from Marvel Puzzle Quest, where indeed you almost always win any fight you choose to participate in and lose most of the offline fights. Reference also Guild Wars 2, where karma trains are 90+% PvE content under the name WvW, where everyone gets more reward from trading captures on undefended towers. Look back to the less extreme case of early LotRO PvMP, where most people won most of the time because each team flocked to the battlefield where it was winning.

I can’t say it is much/any worse than the regular PvE grind, apart from the design time half-wasted on PvP content that will not be used for PvP. Maybe I should be pleased for the species that self-interest makes cooperation a favored path even with an explicitly defined competitor. But it seems hollow.

: Zubon

Exciting Gaming Weekend Ahead

Steam has the Batman franchises (Arkham and Lego) 75% off, so I now have Arkham Origins. Is it worth springing for the Season Pass or any DLC? I have the Millennium skins from a Humble Bundle.

New Humble sale, so I have a few new indie games to try. I already have and enjoyed Defenders Quest.

Plants vs. Zombies 2 released its future world for the Android, so I have more things to try there. So far: fun! We shall see whether the new content addresses the issues I have been complaining about or pushes further towards monetization. PvZ1′s Zen Garden is back with an altered implementation. It still produces coins, and it now produces one-level plant buffs. The game immediately dumped about 80 plant sprouts on me to encourage me to buy the new gem currency that unlocks more plant slots. I support “here is a lot of free stuff you can use over time or right now if you pay us” as solid F2P design. (Or maybe that was a bug.)

And the new GW2 WvW event is going, so I must try that out. Although, as I type this, I don’t really know why: WvW content has not changed, and I guess we’ll see whether the match-up algorithm for this event is better or worse than Season One or the usual week-to-week system. [Update: nope, us vs. FA and SBI. GG, see you next week.]

: Zubon

[GW2] The Wardrobe

In pre-launch days, the one system I disliked the most in Guild Wars 2-to-be was the transmutation system. Coming from Lord of the Rings Online, with its excellent wardrobe system, the design of the Guild Wars 2 transmutation stones felt like a step backwards in usability and a step forwards in the cash shop arena.

This system, I felt, directly went against the idea of Guild Wars 2 rewards. I felt I the cost of using cool skins, for say a week, was too high. At the base level, I had to overwrite a skin or make a new item. It cost inventory slots, or it cost gold. This is ignoring the transmutation stone to begin with.

Thankfully ArenaNet is finally creating a full wardrobe system. Continue reading