[GW2] Super Adventure Transition

The joke is that there is no joke. Perhaps the timing of the latest addition to Guild Wars 2 was done to ease the pain and let them have their “lols”, but for April, Super Adventure Box is here to stay.

What is Super Adventure Box (“SAB”)? An asuran genius, Moto, created a holographic video game using patented solidification hologram technologies. Players can go in to this “training apparatus” to learn about basic techniques in a closed environment. By closed environment I mean all the players stats and gear is virtually gone. Health is replaced by hearts, and gear is replaced by a few SAB items such as a sword-like stick or bombs. The graphics in SAB… well my kids were asking me how I was playing Minecraft in Guild Wars 2.

The first time I interfaced with SAB, I hated it. After a night’s rest and poking around with it a bit more, I have grown to love it.

As far as immersion, for all the magi-technology the asurans have, players are really kept away from it. Asuran players, the short few, get a decent helping in their personal story, but much of it might as well be a spell (e.g., cast to find ancient artifact). Waypoints are used every session, but I rarely think, “thank you asuran engineers.” Walking around Rata Sum, something I haven’t done in ages I see tons of holographic screens and weird experiments that have been restrained to one corner of Tyria. There is plenty of room for asuran technology to branch its way into modern-day Tyrian life.

It is also a balance. The humans, norn, charr, and sylvari are kept mostly safely below the fantasy to sci-fi break line. Charr seem to push that boundary the most with their steamy dieselpunk, but somehow keeping it uncouth and dirty keeps it “realistic”. Asura dance back and forth across that break line all the time. It’s just that ArenaNet has really kept that portrayal rather light, especially where it is basically narrative hand-waving.

I think that the asurans present a large challenge for ArenaNet because they can push the whole world in to a big sci-fi/fantasy mashup. The pastoral, medieval humans already have waypoints and two asura gates in their capital city. Why wouldn’t they have holographic news displays instead of heralds? Wouldn’t the charr want to use asuran circuitry in their machines?

Stepping away from a lore/immersion perspective, I agree that it can be a head-scratcher to see why ArenaNet chose to apply limited resources to this project. This wasn’t an after-hours tag-team of a few devs using some time to create a jumping puzzle in some unused corner of the world. This was a serious addition to gameplay requiring seemingly a lot of changes.

Why wouldn’t ArenaNet just use those resources to add “more Guild Wars 2”? In this update, they did with the Molten Alliance instances and event additions. They also added more guild bounties. But, there is also the common complaint of “just more of the same”. How many exciting MMO updates became just that?

I like that ArenaNet had the guts to add something that could not in any sense be considered “more of the same”. They added something that will force heads to turn. The Braham/Rox story was really good, as short as it was, but that won’t interest [other MMO] player who is dealing with whatever story is presented in [other MMO]. Most things I see that cause the mass of MMO players, as a whole, to become interested in a sole MMO’s change are usually limited to betas, launches, expansions, and destruction of the game through microtransactions. How can the SAB commercial be ignored by any video gamer?

Players that love it immediately or figure out ways to get past the fact that their immersion might have been shattered by an asuran fist (meaning a golem fist), I think will find the gameplay to be pretty fun. It’s difficult, but my errors were my own. I liked the use of space, and the puzzle of getting through each level. The frog boss is a boss/puzzle definitely heralding from ancient Mega Man days where the pattern and telegraphs were super critical. It is something I hope to beat eventually.

I’d like to see more added to SAB. Clearly the devs got really excited with the creation of this because I feel their love and inside jokes throughout the minigame. It is good to have excited devs. I hope they remain as excited to create new portions of that main part of the game too.



12 thoughts on “[GW2] Super Adventure Transition”

  1. I think they added this stuff in because we need holiday event type stuff. Now that we don’t have Cantha, we don’t have the Dragon Fest or Canthan New Year. This type of stuff fills in those holes.

  2. I watched my son breeze right through this content. He made it all look easy, even the big bad frog.

    Yes I do understand this is just phase 1.

  3. I took to it immediately and breaking of immersion was the last thing on my mind. There is a sequence of dialogue between a consortium representative, a charr legionnaire and Moto, it touches on the subject of making this asura tech more widespread than it currently is, ‘a box in every home’, and training charr cubs to be more violent.

    Besides the setting, there is much I like about it in terms of game design.It had a great collaborative feeling, with party members running in different directions, and calling out when they found some secret, ‘over here’, ‘up there’. I don’t think I’ve seen that exuberance of discovery in an MMO before, the secrets call to mind a single-player game like zelda but it rare that there is a co-operative mode in those that can accommodate up to 5 players. The building blocks are good, I’m excited to see how they develop it.

    1. I have not seen that NPC discussion but it sounds highly amusing, haha. Even after only a brief foray into SAB and the surrounding stuff, I’m sensing a lot of little jokes about video games and their public image (video games for education – never! Video games encouraging violence is *desirable* to charr?), which I really appreciate.

  4. The SAB 8bit (zelda) revival is just amazing! while it’s definitely immersion breaking in the strict sense, what I love about it is that the devs aren’t celebrating themselves/gw2 but gamer culture and geekery as a whole. the MMO community consists of many classic pc and console gamers, it isn’t an isolated space. to me, it seems as if ANet was saying “we know who you are” – and now let’s have some retro fun together on this April’s fools! it’s a wonderful acknowledgment of gamer culture and the long way videogame adventuring has come. :)

    (altho I still wish there were less jumping puzzles…)

  5. The whole gamer thing passes me by. I may have been playing video games since 1978 but mostly not the kind of video games being referenced here. I never liked platform games and I found the graphics ugly at the time and not much better now.

    I don’t have a problem with the lore, though. I think that part works well, certainly better than either the Mad King or Tixx events did. Contrary to what you say above, I already think of Tyria as a science-fantasy setting, with certain races doing their best to stick to the old ways out of a stubborn lack of imagination (Norns) or a self-destructive, chip-on-shoulder inferiority complex (Humans). THe future of Tyria very clearly belongs to the Asura and the Charr.

  6. Given the dialogue a couple sylvari NPCs in Brisbane Wildlands have over rock-paper-scissors, this thing could have them talking for *hours*. :D

  7. Just as a side thing about anyone who complains about breaking the immersion, or the Asura stuff being too sci-fi….you *really* might want do take a good look at the Black Citadel again.
    Or was I the only one to pay attention to the fact that the place is basically Steampunk Epcot (or if they stick an eye on the top and treads on the bottom, it could be the Technodrome!) and on top of that, there’s a section with freaking *tanks* hanging from the ceiling??

    1. To be honest (while I agree with you), it’s very easy to play through the game complete with personal story and never set foot in charr lands. Having played a chef, I know I realised I was neglecting them as a whole – being on the east side they’re not on their way to anywhere, and you’re unlikely to get into most of them unless you go through the Black Citadel. Perhaps many of those who complain really haven’t seen the charr lands are part of Tyria today?

      And/or they’re just GW1 traditionalists; there are plenty of them. Even as a lore buff, I’m generally in favour of fun, creative content even if it’s only loosely justified. I roleplay, but my roleplay isn’t somehow mystically disrupted by immersion-breaking content; if it’s really problematic, we just ignore it for roleplay!

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