I made sure to be in Lion’s Arch at noon, server time, on Sunday. I was not disappointed. The animation and eruption of the Mad King out of the lion fountain was just breathtaking. I was on the edge of my seat. Then it was over. I saw a lot of fuss over the fact that there would be such an event, and ArenaNet made sure that it was a non-essential, momentous experience. For those that missed it, YouTube provides.
There is an inverse relationship between commonness and That Special Feeling. If the cinematic was present at the beginning of each entrance to the Mad King boss battle, it would be less special. If people entering Lion’s Arch for the first time on Sunday saw the cinematic, it would be less special. That people were coming together for a single shared experience that could not be spoiled… that was special.
There’s always a balance, which is ingrained in every MMO developer’s soul for temporary content: how much time do I spend creating these moments of special versus repeatable-everybody experiences, which become run of the mill far before the event is over?
Taking a step away from the cinematic, there were, I am sure, plenty of players that were not able to enjoy Halloween until the weekend. Did they experience the mystery I had all week? No, they were able to jump right in to the Mad King’s realm. NPC’s and landscapes changed in the interim. That is how MMOs are supposed to work anyway, right?
The fight itself is really fun for a holiday event. It really isn’t difficult, but the action stays lively as the Mad King hops between floating islands creating an easy jumping puzzle for players. Overall, this is a great piece of content for the Halloween event. I would say that regardless of level everybody should take on the Mad King at least once. I am definitely appreciate that for the content, such as the Labyrinth and the boss battle, everybody gets up-leveled to 80.
There is one Act left in the Halloween event that will open up on Halloween (10/31). Then things will wrap up for November 1st. People that didn’t get enough Halloween mementos will be able to make the final decision on costumes, mini-pets, etc. that are limited to Halloween event purchasing until November 5th. This should also extend to people that forgot to get their free devil horns until the reminder of no Halloween remembers them.
I like that ArenaNet is clear on times for these temporary things. Understandably, everybody will not be able to participate in every momentary occasion. That is just the way of things, and I think it’s premature and silly to decry the existence of any one-such occasion whether it’s a 30 seconds long cut scene, a 2-days long act, or in the case of the Halloween event, almost two weeks. However, given the feedback, both good and bad, it will be interesting to see how Wintersday will be presented for one-time experiences versus repeatable ones.