[GW2] Have We Been Beta’d?

I’ve been working on one of the rare collection achievements as a long-term goal waiting for Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns. It is a “hardcore” goal requiring a lot of commitment, and if you don’t want to go insane, a lot of community support. Luckily there’s all of that in my wheelhouse, which I will write about later this week.

Anyway, I started pondering ArenaNet’s greater plan. We had years of Living World updates with new systems, new zones, and a general polishing of the entire core. Now we have an expansion coming. Everybody, facetiously, wanted an expansion. That was the Guild Wars 1 way. That’s what most MMO’s do. We aren’t paying a subscription for this constant update nonsense so give us a huge content drop we can buy.

Perhaps, I pondered, whilst sifting through hundreds of handfuls of sand… Perhaps, ArenaNet was not ready for an expansion.

Take WvW for example, one of the game modes for Guild Wars 2. There have been constant updates with progression, ways of scoring, etc. But the biggest addition was separate from the core WvW. Edge of the Mists (EotM) was a hodge-podge of ideas of what WvW could be in a constantly changing environment. So much can be gleaned from EotM, like shorter matches, PvE bosses, yakless supply, and special mechanics, such as Blue’s Arctic Cold, which reduces movement of enemies in blue region for each controlled objective.

All of this could’ve just been added straight up to WvW. It wouldn’t make sense on the seemingly “vanilla” Alpine borderlands map, but Arctic Cold could’ve been added. PvE-style bosses could have been added. It all could have conceivably been done. So why didn’t ArenaNet just do that?

I feel it’s because with all of their data gathering and playing around with EotM, they are now ready to provide a comprehensive change with the Desert Borderlands coming with Heart of Thorns. Between Ruins in Alpine and EotM, we’ve been “beta”-ing in the live game to get to this point where an entire map could be changed.

Another data point, Mawdrey. How long ago did Colin, holy be thy smile, say that they wanted precursors to be this “scavenger hunt” across Tyria? Two years! In a red post, he wrote that ‘the proper solution needs to be part of bigger systems’. How come it wasn’t until their first expansion that we finally get legendary precursors being fixed?

Because, finally all the systems are in place. I feel that the latest “beta” test for the precursor was Mawdrey, which was the Season 2 backpiece involving progress through many different parts of the game. It was a “scavenger hunt”, a crafting bit, a gathering bit, and achievement bit. If Mawdrey is not an indicator of what we might expect for the precursor “scavenger hunt”.

Yet, ArenaNet got to “beta” an idea for the precursor in their live game. Hopefully they’ve learned good and bad things from Mawdrey, including ways to manipulate the economy based on this “end game” goal. (See also leather supply/demand.)

Finally, we have Dry Top (later this week, I promise) and the Silverwastes, which were both added in Season 2. Both are starkly different, but are evolutions of the core maps because they are both maps with purpose. Dry Top is all about efficient event farming and use of movement crystals. Silverwastes is about community response and formation. Both have cycles, rhythm, goals (including a long-term one each), and a general purpose for existing. However, they are different and with reason.

I feel ArenaNet had to get a sense of these “maps with a purpose”, especially with regard to the stickiness of the zones and creating an “end game” around open world content. We know the first map of Heart of Thorns will let the Pact set up defenses in the day to try (first phase) and survive then at night (the second phase). How much of these new maps with a purpose did ArenaNet learn from their small-zone Season 2 offerings?

As a Guild Wars 1 fan, waiting for an expansion has been tough. I loved the campaigns of Guild Wars 1, and buying the boxes (I have every Collector’s Edition), and the dump of content. Yet, as I sift through the data it feels like ArenaNet has been aligning many big systems and planets for the perfect time. We’ll see what comes of the actual Heart of Thorns beta events, starting tomorrow night.



4 thoughts on “[GW2] Have We Been Beta’d?”

  1. Good article, Ravius. I think the Maudrey hunt is, without question, what we’ll have when it comes to a Legendary. The key difference being that there will be a significant cost jump. From what I’ve played of HoT already, it definitely feels like an evolution of Dry Top and Silverwastes. I’m looking forward to seeing the test tomorrow.

  2. Those are some intriguing thoughts I’ve never considered. Definitely thinking you’re on to something. Amazingly written, and seriously good point about Mawdrey. Like Lewis said, that’s what even I think we’re looking at.

    I honestly think that it’s good that they’re learning and growing though. Hopefully they keep learning.

  3. Well, that does seem to be how they prefer roll. Everything takes forever, nothing can ever be iterated on too many times, no-one ever seems to be in a hurry to do anything. Can you count the number of months-long data-gathering exercises they’ve undertaken on the forums? Then there are the metrics they refer too and the focus groups…

    For my money I’d far rather have had an expansion a year ago and be looking forward to the second one now than been part of their open-source beta-testing program for the best part of three years since launch.

    Of course, I might feel differently if I didn’t strongly disagree with the great majority of the decisions they’ve made on the direction to take the game. Mawdrey, Dry Top/Silverwastes, EotM – they all represent some of the things I’ve least enjoyed (and indeed have paid the least attention to and spent the least time on) since the game started.

    My GW2 still consists almost entirely in making new characters and running them through the content that was there at launch. Frankly I doubt the expansion will change that. I liked the game GW2 was in beta and up to somewhere around the beginning of LS1. Unfortunately ANet, for whatever reason, don’t seem to agree that was a path worth following.

  4. I’ve thought this for quite a while. Right from the start, with Southsun, the living story stuff has been them learning how to develop content for this game. Season 2 was better received because they learned a lot from Season 1. Dry Top was better than Southsun.

    Of course, I think this is also why things have been rocky: learning always involves lots of failure, and when you’re using your entire playerbase as testers, they get to experience those failures first-hand. And we got a lot of them.

    And, of course, some things they’ve simply stopped trying to learn how to do, like dungeons, or SAB, or underwater combat. That is, they failed, but then decided their resources were better spent elsewhere.

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