Smarter, Not Harder (Guild Wars)

I have been very impressed with 3 of the 4 major updates that came out very recently.  Darren over at The Common Sense Gamer discusses the new wormhole system in EVE a little bit.  Zubon has been seen discussing City of Heroes/Villians new Mission Architect, and even created and shared a mission he made for it.  And last night ArenaNet just dropped their huge April Update for Guild Wars, which I will explain in this post, to kick off their 4th Anniversary celebration and 6,000,000 sale.  The linking idea between these three big updates is that the devs created a lot of sticky content – content that makes players want to keep playing – by developing smarter, not harder (not to denounce the amount of time they did work).  (World of Warcraft’s latest update seems neat, but for reasons already explained does not really impress me as much.)

The April Update for Guild Wars is the first of ArenaNet’s new plan for the Guild Wars Live Team to get out a large chunk every 3-4 months.  Their first one sets the bar fairly high.  I touched on a few things earlier, but for the best run down check out the patch notes.  What I do want to focus on is the way they created “new content.”

Guild Wars is a huge game with many missions and explorable areas.  Unfortunately the areas seem to be “used” up much faster than a normal MMO.  Now the Zaishen Challenge Quests, Nicholas the Traveler, and the Zaishen Menagerie attempt to breath new life in to existing, well-made content.  I’ll go in reverse order.

The Zaishen Menagerie is the new explorable area in the April Update.  It is located in the Battle Isles region, and will be mostly empty when you arrive.  The Menagerie acts as kind of a personal zoo.  By using the Charm Animal skill and dumping animals off at the Menagerie, players can slowly build up the Menagerie until it is teeming with life.  Players can also merely unlock the animals using Faction or Zaishen Coins, the latter of which is obtained from Zaishen Challenges.  Lazy, rich players can unlock most of the animals by buying an unlock pack from the Guild Wars Store.  The best part is the Menagerie acts as a pet stable of sorts as the animals players drop off can be re-charmed, and PvP characters can utilize the account-wide Menagerie to utilize an animal of choice, rather than default.

Nicholas the Traveler is a new NPC that hops to a new location in an explorable area every week.  Once the community finds him, he acts as a collector.  By bartering mob drops with Nicholas, players can obtain a Gift of the Traveler that randomly contains some pretty awesome and exclusive gifts.  This week, for instance, Nicholas the Traveler is in the Regent Valley requesting Red Iris Flowers.  Players are limited to 5 Gifts per week per account.

The best part of the update, in my opinion, are the Zaishen Challenge Quests.  Every day there are three new Challenge Quests available: one for a mission, one for a boss, and one for PvP.  Players can hold up to three Challenge Quests in their quest log at a time.  At it’s core the Challenge Quests act as a funnel to get a critical mass of players interested in doing a small number of activities in a game with many.  The rewards are really notable as they give good experience, gold, and various faction.  For instance, one past Challenge Quest was to complete the Blood Washes Blood mission, which players get 100 Norn Faction for repeating normally.  The Challenge Quest reward is 1500 Norn Faction, which is a significant chunk and reason enough to get players working on Norn Faction to want to join in on the Challenge Quest.

The linking feature of these three things is that they wholly build on existing content, which for a game that has a nice padding of created content is one of the best ways to update.  It just seems to fall in nicely with developers creating updates that work for them.  A new dungeon can be a great experience, but once it is beaten players “just go back to what they were doing before.”  Might as well use what you got first.


p.s. If you play Guild Wars, make sure to get the free storage pane while it lasts.

3 thoughts on “Smarter, Not Harder (Guild Wars)”

  1. Little by tiny little the innovations are trickling out. It’s a good thing. While the fresh new thing might not spring out at us fully formed in one perfect mmo by summer of 2010 things are getting better and the industry certainly seems vital enough to get there. Maybe as more history of good practices in development and production lead to a track record of industry success, the whole thing will gain momentum. /optimist

  2. I’m gonna bite my tongue on this one and simply say I’m glad (honestly) they’re still adding to and maintaining GW, because I have a few friends that still play. So kudos right there.

  3. GuildWars is a cool game that despite being linear is actually very fun to play. If you’ve got a good party that is, makes PvP awesome.

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