Bend It like Bachmann



  • Entry into the brawler’s guild is by invitation only. Invitations can be found on the black market auction house, by invitation from somebody within the guild, and occasionally as drops from certain Horde and Alliance NPCs.


As we watch Guild Wars 2 mature in its Live environment, we have found that our most dedicated players were achieving their set of Exotic gear and hitting “the Legendary wall.” We designed the process of getting Legendary gear to be a long term goal, but players were ready to start on that path much sooner than we expected and were becoming frustrated with a lack of personal progression. Our desire is to create a game that is more inclusive for hardcore and casual players alike, but we don’t want to overlook the basic need for players to feel like they are progressing and growing even after hitting max level. Adding item progression is a delicate process normally undertaken in an expansion, but we feel it’s important to strive to satisfy the basic needs of our players sooner rather than later.

As the occasional¹ connoisseur of a nice bottle of Schadenfreude, I must admit: this week has been delicious.

While I kind of hoped that the Blizzard folks would have stuck to their guns with the Brawler’s Guild, the original plan always seemed more informed by the source material (“The first rule of Fight Club is…”) as opposed to good top-down game design. Creating “tight knit, underground” communities by throttling access makes the non-instanced, spectator-sport aspect feasible? Sounds like double-win efficient game design… on paper. But as we all know, things that feel good conceptually have a way of not working out in practice.

Speaking of that… whoo boy, ArenaNet.

I think my favorite part of this development is seeing all the mental gymnastics. This thread on Reddit, for example, tries to turn the question around and ask “what is a gear treadmill really?” Part of the OP’s reasoning is that the proposed new tier of gear will be easier to get than, say, in WoW, where you have to contend with random drops and competition between players over what gear does drop. So… if the treadmill is slow enough, it isn’t a treadmill at all!

Seriously, at one point the OP suggested:

O… k? All I see from that quote is that there will be more stuff later. That doesn’t make it a treadmill, just another flight of stairs, if you will.

Oh to be a psychic vampire capable of feeding off this boundless optimism/denial²; I would never go without.

To be honest, I think ArenaNet’s shift is both warranted and necessary. The cessation of reasonable progression is the natural Game Over screen for me, and you run off that cliff the moment you hit 80 and load up on inexpensive Exotics from the AH. This new tier of gear both reintroduces progression and gives players a reason to play the new content more than once.

Really, it is only bad news if you hold the ArenaNet devs up to some impossible standards like:

  • “We didn’t want the endgame to be something you could only experience after a hundred hours of gameplay or after you reached some arbitrary number.” (source)
  • “If you go into a dungeon in a traditional MMO and you, you hit a wall that you can’t pass and you need better gear, you have to go to a different dungeon and play and get that gear, whereas in Guild Wars if you encounter that, you could get better gear by going to World vs. World or expanding your crafting skills or several other ways,” said Millard. (source)
  • “We don’t need to make mandatory gear treadmills, we make all of it optional, so those who find it fun to chase this prestigious gear can do so, but those who don’t are just as powerful and get to have fun too.” (source)
  • “Because, like Guild Wars before it, GW2 doesn’t fall into the traps of traditional MMORPGs. It doesn’t suck your life away and force you onto a grinding treadmill; it doesn’t make you spend hours preparing to have fun rather than just having fun; […]. It all gets back to our basic design philosophy. Our games aren’t about preparing to have fun, or about grinding for a future fun reward.” (source)

So everyone just relax. You’re going need your strength for this extra flight of stairs anyway.

¹ Shut up.
² Shut up.

Posted on November 15, 2012, in Guild Wars 2, WoW and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. None of this really worries me. But I do not want to see too many dev resources poured into endgame. Endgame that will be burned through by 5% of players within one month when the other 95% of us who play the game casually for the long haul with our guilds want guild housing, player housing, hobbies, and many other social gameplay options.


  2. But I don’t want to shut up. :(

    Now that I’ve used up my bi-annual emoticon allotment I’ll just say that I hate and oppose this ascended gear crap purely because they’re dirtying my PvP with their damn PvE gear.

    Namely, I hate having to do dungeons because all I give a damn about in that game is WvW. I really liked being able to just spend 20-30 gold and a few hours to craft a new alt from 1 to 80 and into a full set of exotics without having to endure the much toted flat leveling system yet again.

    With this shit eventually I’ll have to jump through yet more hoops that impede my ability to have any damn fun in the one area of the game I give any damns about. It’s infuriating to see this exact scenario play out again and again in these games. Reminds me of when Warhammer opened up their Land of the Dead zone.

    On the other hand, watching the devs backpedaling on their former promises and trying to justify their indian giving is hilarious, almost as good as the stuff we’ve seen the SWTOR devs come up with these past few months.

    Since GW2 looks to be falling into the same rut/trap as almost every other game before it I wonder how long until we have until ANet implements their version of Resilience.

    At least Planetside 2 is still fun, even with SoE bumbling about trying to accomplish gods only know what.


  3. While I’ve been a defender of ANet, this is one move I don’t agree with. Lifting a quote of their president from another blog: “If someone wants to play for a thousand hours to get an item that is so rare that other players can’t realistically acquire it, that rare item should be differentiated by its visual appearance and rarity alone…” (Source: As a result I don’t support this particular change, it’s disappointing because an initial lure to me was that once I hit max level it would be about doing what I want, rather than infinitely trying to keep up with a gear curve (or waiting until the next patch normalizes it).


  4. I mean this as sincerely as possible – I love coming to In An Age for my regular dose of snark. Delicious post.

    I’ve never touched GW2 and don’t plan on doing so. Not because I’m anti-GW2, I’m just GW2-ambivalent. Why am I so amused? I don’t know. I might be a bad person.


  5. Delicious indeed!

    I remember several months ago Massively/Reddit/blogs were all debating the usual topic of how the MMO themepark genre needs a kick up the backside.

    There was a large and vocal community that was proclaiming GW2 as the saviour game, quoting the same dev posts as you and shouting down critics as ‘not getting GW’ or ‘being trapped in the Skinner box mindset’.

    The shoe is on the other foot now…


  6. My plan, such as it is, was always to have a level 80 of each class, possibly several of some classes so as to also have a range of race.gender combinations. I always expected to stop playing each of them almost completely when each reached 80, since that’s what I’ve done on reaching Max level in most MMOs. I just like leveling them up, I don’t want to play them.

    I always expected that to take me two or three years, during which time with luck some new classes and/or races might well be added in expansions allowing me to extend the project.

    These changes don’t therefore affect me much, if at all, directly. They do, however, make ArenaNet look ridiculous. Given that they don’t have subscriptions to retain, that they have two sorts of PvP that don’t want or need any kind of gear grind and that presumably a huge number of players won’t ever even get one character to 80th, it mystifies me why they feel they need to throw their entire operation into reverse just to court this particular demographic.

    Can their financial future really rest so heavily on that subset of players that must run dungeons to upgrade gear to feel it’s worth logging in? Is that the group that spend a lot in the Gem shop? Seems hard to imagine.


  7. I want to see a snark post about how WoW:MoP is doing overall. The decline in activity (as tracked by xfire and warcraftrealms) appears to be even faster than in Cataclysm.


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