Reinventing the Wheel

Other games have pretty much killed my attempt to slog through Guild War 2’s storyline, but I still rubberneck around the forums and dev posts with a sick sort of fascination. Some of their decisions make you wonder if they have been living under a rock for the last fifteen years of game design.

Hey everyone.

We are looking into an additional reward system to add to bosses so that killing a single boss feels a lot more rewarding than it does right now. We are gathering data internally on it and will release information on it as it gets closer to being implemented.

Being stuck at the last boss and unable to finish the dungeon thus receiving now reward is a terrible feeling for any player, hardcore or casual. We are looking to remedy this.

Iteration is the name of the game (source)

Hello, William Fairfield, Game Designer. Maybe bosses should, I dunno, have some loot associated with them instead of a chest filled with vendor trash to complement the same vendor trash we have been collecting from the hundred mobs we slaughtered on the way in? I think that worked in every MMO prior to this one.

We’re very aware our LFG system is lacking, an it’s high on our list of things to rework. We have some other very pressing issues to handle first, but as someone who built/runs dungeons, and often PUG them, I dislike our current obscure and non-informative system, and re-building it is high on my list of things-to-flail-my-arms-about-to-talented-people-who-can-do-something-about-it, so that they do something about it. (source)

Thank you, Robert Hrouda, Content Designer. You get 50 points for honesty. And lose 50 points for letting the game go Live with a LFG tool actually worse than the one WoW had six years ago.

[Nobody running Story modes anymore] is absolutely an issue as the game matures and we are working on ways to make running story mode with someone worthwhile even if you have already run it so players just reaching these dungeons can more easily find groups to play with. It will probably take some experimentation before we find the right motivator.

Jon (source)

Hello, Jon Peters, Game Designer. Perhaps if you did not nerf subsequent Story mode runs into the fucking ground, more people would do them? Your anti-botting protocols should already handle multiple playthroughs back-to-back, so… what was the point in such a huge reduction?

That last one really gets me. Think about it for a second. The pool of available players who have not yet ran the Story mode for a dungeon is always decreasing. That is a fact even if GW2 has increasing sales because, even ignoring server differentiation, the magnitude of new players coming in is unlikely to be higher than it was immediately after launch. The pool is always getting more shallow.

“No big deal,” I hear you say. “WoW dungeons have planned obsolescence the same way.” “Nein!” I say to you. GW2 auto-levels you down to match the dungeon mobs, which means you’ll always need a group; the longer you wait to start doing dungeons the less likely any such run will actually take place. Conversely, if I have some morbid curiosity about the story of Auchindoun Crypts in WoW after all these years, I could stroll in there with a max-level character and solo the place (barring any weird mechanics). And even if you manage to guilt four guild-mates into running a GW2 Story-mode for a second time, they are getting absolutely hosed for no goddamn reason.

Seriously, why? Oh, that’s right, there is some ridiculous fear about “farming.”

For the longest time, I could not understand why all the posts on the GW2 forums were talking about farming, diminishing returns, botting, anti-farm code, and so on. Why is this such a uniquely critical problem to GW2? Then it hit me. “You have entered too many instances lately.” Blizzard has instance caps and lockouts. PROBLEM SOLVED. Maybe I should be giving ArenaNet some credit for letting people run the same Farmable Explorable Mode as many times as they want in a day… but honestly? All this backhanded DR and anti-farm mechanics cheapens the lipstick on the pig.

I have never truly appreciated Blizzard’s methodology of instance design until seeing the alternative. People can complain about Reputation and daily quests as chores, but it is better than the wink-n-nod alternative of “we KNOW you are going to grind your face off, so let’s treat you like the little farming bots you are.” The equivalent would be for Blizzard to have removed the 25 daily quest cap (like they already did) but mathed out a decreasing reward slope to “enforce” a 25-daily limit. I do not feel that is actually any more humane, and it comes across as patronizing as well. It is the Skinner Box without the box; just some dude in a lab coat fondling your nucleus accumbens until you collapse.

If limits are necessary – and there are good arguments that limits are indeed necessary to save us from ourselves – then just give us the goddamn limits and call it a day. You can do A once per day, and B once per week. Done. This whole “do whatever you want… except that, and that too, and maybe you should go outside for a while, eh?” is just dumb. It all ends up making more rules, not less.

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Posted on October 12, 2012, in Guild Wars 2 and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I suspect that at least some of the design differences — and focus on botting and farming — are because Arenanet has a very vested interest in the in-game economy and the value of gold, while Blizzard doesn’t really need to worry as much.

    WoW makes Blizzard some money from initial sales and expansions, but the vast majority comes from subscriptions. That’s why they can swim in pools of cash Scrooge McDuck-style.

    GW2 makes money from initial sales and (hopefully) expansions, but there’s no other stream to help cover ongoing costs/future development — unless they can convince people to use the cash shop and spend more money for upgrades, conveniences, and vanity items. Built into that system is an easy way to turn cash > gems > in-game gold. There’s also an option to go part of the other way (in-game gold > gems), but that doesn’t make Arenanet money. So they have a major financial incentive to keep the value of gold high, the availability of gold for players low, and a myriad of constant small gold-sinks in place (think death penalties, waypoint costs, repairs, trait books, etc.).

    That’s why I think they’re so paranoid about botting, farming, and tight on loot drops. Those things all devalue a currency they’re essentially involved in selling. And if too many people find they can fund everything they want in the cash shops with ingame gold they farm, Arenanet’s long term financial plan has a big hole.

    Blizzard on the other hand, doesn’t really care how much ingame gold you acquire since it can’t be used for their cash shop items (though, in fairness, they do crack down on botters and exploits and do gate access to dungeons and raids — though I think the latter is more to slow down acquisitions of gear people want from those places). So in WoW, there’s been steady inflation — and now there are MOP trash drops that vendor for 5-100 gold and rare items can go for tens of thousands of gold and up. In fact, they added the new “undground” NPC auction house that “auctions” extremely rare items for outrageous amounts of gold — a clear gold sink for the WoW ultrawealthy traders.

    Al lthat said, I do agree with you that adding reasonable rewards for all dungeon bosses and removing the diminishing returns would make GW2 a stronger, more enjoyable game.

    (And, yes, I’d love to see LFG added to GW2. The current system does harken back to memories of yelling in Ironforge for hours for groups to run the early dungeons. But even WoW has only had that feature for a few years. LFD was added in patch 3.3 Icecrown Citadel in 2009. Six years ago, WoW was a lot like GW2 now for grouping :) )

    • It is very true that the economy is much more important to ArenaNet given how it is one of their principal revenue sources. And doubly important given the in-game economy is worldwide, thereby increasing the risk of “contamination.”

      But even under those premises, I am still boggled by some of their design choices. Dungeon farming is a concern… so why not have lockouts? If the DR code works, why not simply have it apply to Story modes instead of nerfing Story mode rewards directly? And so on.

  2. They get credit for trying. At least their interests and the player’s are aligned.

    Keep in mind that you are in no position to complain, as you’ve pointed numerous times – you’ve got your $60 worth.

    Comparing the amount of effort that went into WoW and comparing it to a $60 game that’s just been out the door is comparing Ferrarris to … Hyundais. I paid a year of WoW subscription before I saw any decent PvP, that’s 60+12*15. You do the math.

    • My math is 2004 =! 2012. I don’t think Blizzard gets away with releasing vanilla WoW in the present day, any more than Microsoft got away with releasing the Zune against the iPod. You have to compete against your contemporaries.

      You are correct about the $60 thing, as far as that goes.

  3. Good post, I have to agree with you that the rewards for dungeons seem to be lacking. In GW 1 they had minis, unique weapon skins, rare crafting materials, tonics and consumables all drop from chests at the end of dungeons. I think those would encourage more people to run the dungeons. I also think they should bite the bullet and start giving tokens for completeing story mode instead of the silly hat.