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Every Moment is a One-Time Event

Is something you never experience special to you?

Is something you experience only special when few other people experience it?

I have seen a lot of praise for ArenaNet’s one-time Halloween event. I cannot be sure whether said praise is coming from the same individuals that lament the obsolescence of last year’s raids, but nevermind. ArenaNet’s tortured logic is pretty well deconstructed elsewhere, so let us set that aside as well. What I am curious about is this fanciful notion that it is a good use of designer manpower to specifically construct one-off events.

To me, it’s redundant.

When I think about one-off content, I remember back to the plague event that lead into Wrath’s release. Players could get infected, eventually turn into zombies, and the go infect other players. The griefing in Shat was immense. As paladins, a friend and I decided to roleplay/grief the players actually trying to infect themselves and/or start those zombie raids against Stormwind. Never before has someone raged so hard at being targeted with Cleanse. “The power of the Light compels you!” Turn Evil was also liberally applied. Around this same time, there was a special boss in Kara that dropped the Arcanite Ripper, and I believe there was only the one reset where it was available. In any case, I was the only person to get it in my guild. I busted it out pretty regularly all the way up until I unsubbed.

Here’s the thing though: how different was any of that from, say, completing Ulduar when it was current?

The Wrath lead-up event was fun because it was fun, not because it was never going to happen again. Similarly, it would not bother me one iota if the Arcanite Ripper was mailed to every player that logged in once in the last four years – nor, incidentally, does it bother me that the Arcanite Ripper is now on the Black Market AH. In many ways, I consider Ulduar (or any raid) to be more “rare,” because while these places still exist, it will never been the same as when it was newly released. Even if Ulduar was still relevant to current endgame progression somehow, it would not be the same as it was when it was new.

It is not the item or the event that matters, it is the zeitgeist. And the people. ArenaNet could have looped the Mad King event like they loop everything else and it still would have been exactly as meaningful for those first players as it is now. Every moment is a one-time event. Ergo, I see little reason to layer artificial scarcity on top of temporal scarcity. The devs could have safely shared their work with a wider audience with no lack of impact to anyone worth caring about.

But, whatever. If you consider content you never see as content, then GW2 has enough content to keep you busy for quite some time.

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Low-Information Gaming

Logged onto Guild Wars 2 today after about 2+ weeks of not playing. Decided to be lazy authentic and not read anything, to better simulate the Joe Q Casual experience.

After a 500mb download, I appeared to be on an island near Mount Something-or-Other, five feet from a Personal Story portal. What was I doing again? Oh, right. I had spent a number of missions getting extra-special explosives to destroy one of those bone ships. I guess no one can be bothered to bring a cannon or trebuchet up in here? It worked last time. Whatever. All I need to do is… swim underwater… past a whole bunch of mines… with Risen all over the place… as an Elementalist.

Heavy sigh.

I am downed almost immediately, surrounded by the most banal MMO mobs ever created, and oscillating rapidly between my ineffectual real attacks, ineffectual downed abilities, and having no abilities being so close to the surface.

By the way, has anyone actually used Water Ability #5 as an Elementalist in anything approaching a useful manner? Even if you aim correctly, it always seems like you hit them 1-2 times and pass through them, dealing less damage overall than you would have just auto-attacking. Oh, good, that Water #5 launched me into a mine. Christ, this gameplay is worse than I remember.

Next step: clear the area of undead.

Err… looks clear to me.

I am not trying to be cute with the picture – there is literally zero mobs of any sort within the green circle. After trying fruitlessly to climb aboard the bone ship and then determine if there are mobs underneath the weird coral formation, I eventually encounter a Risen shark on my way back to the island. Apparently satisfied that a stationary shark 1000 meters from the boat was killed, Tonn decided to plant the bomb. We swam back without much incident.

At this point, the detonator does not appear to be working, and the murlocs naga krait are attacking. Tonn says he will repair the connections, give us the signal, and then says to push the button when the detonator goes green. Now, I am no explosive expert, but won’t the detonator go green the instant the connections are repaired? Nevermind. I kill some extremely small waves of mobs with the help of four other NPCs. “That’s the signal, hit the detonator now!” After a lame explosion, the following happens:

It’s not a spoiler if it’s dumb.

Did my game bug out, or did they literally just show me a bunch of water and haphazardly say that the dude died? No body? No explanation of how or why? I get that the “impact” was probably lessened by the time between I last played GW2 and today, but come on. This is exactly like when What’s-His-Face died at the Place “defending” the Thing (if you played GW2, you know what I’m talking about). There is simply no sense in it. I do not find pointless, off-screen deaths particularly compelling.

Enough of that nonsense.

I use the HotM Express to get to Lion’s Arch to check out the Halloween stuff. There are decorations and… an orange circle. I go there. I click on some NPCs, and suddenly I am a bird. I click on some people and get “points.” Okay. I finally find the NPC that gives you an item that runs on Candy Corn. As far as I can tell, I am supposed to find six people/things that can correspond to the four different buttons on my new hotbar. I talk to the first ghost nearby like I am instructed to. The dialog is pretty incoherent, but maybe that is the point? I keep getting feared away from the NPC by what I imagine to be another player still doing the costume brawl thing. Am I still “flagged?” I dunno.

I successfully talk to the ghost by clicking really fast before I get feared away. Not sure if I “completed” this step so I use the device to see if it marks anything in the quest area. Oops, out of Candy Corn. I watch the player grief people at the ghost for a solid three minutes before I head to a strange icon labeled Commander So-n-So, thinking perhaps this is some new NPC to explain what exactly the fuck is going on.

Talk to a Pumpkin-Carving NPC that says I need to carve an unspecified number of pumpkins before I can get a title or join his order, or possibly both. On my way to the Commander icon I see a toilet paper roll go flying through the air. After clicking on a table, it looks like a Candy Corn monster appears, but I keep walking. Ah, okay. The Commander is simply one of those players who bought the Commander book for 100g; this person is simply AFK at the bank, in somewhat cool gear. I right-click them trying to Inspect and… that’s right. ArenaNet built a game with a Vanity-based economy, and included no way to Inspect other players.

About to log off, then decide to take a screenshot with some random person nearby:

The end (?)

Funny story about that armor I’m wearing. You see, I actually got to level 67 and went the rest of the way to 80 by crafting in town. Afterwards, I sort of arbitrarily chose a set of gear off the AH based on stats that might potentially be good for a support character in dungeon runs. As I equipped everything, I noticed that the color was off; this happens occasionally when you equip gear that has three color zones when you had been using gear with only two up to that point. I was having a surprisingly hard time figuring out which zone was not colored right though, so I changed everything to the same color to figure it out.

Not a bug, but a feature! Well… maybe not so much.

The silver bit that refused to be colored correctly ended up being… the boob window. Or underboob window, I suppose. Or just “window,” on Asura.

In any event, pretty sure I am done with Guild Wars 2. It was probably not fair to make a half-hearted attempt to jump back in to check out the Halloween event while so acutely aware of how much fun I could be having with Borderlands 2 instead. Then again, maybe that is a perfectly fair scenario given the realities of gaming today: it is not enough to be a good game, you have better than every other game someone could be playing at that moment.