A Tired Treadmill

This has been sitting in my drafts for a bit now and I’ve been debating whether to post it. Meh, why not flog the dead horse further.
Last rant I swear =p

New news from GW2 this week is the addition of Ascended weapons complete with more account bound materials and time gating. And apparently ascended armor by the end of the year

My mind is so full of.. Just.. Ugh.

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The amusing part is coming out with this just after they had a recent interview at GWHub attesting against these exact same tired ideas. Here’s some choice quotes.

We came out with a game that is really a game that’s not about continued vertical progression and gearing up

Yes you came out with a game like that… This is not that game anymore.

The typical thing to focus on would be for players of a certain level or certain level of equipment and you’d say “Oh players are starting to run out of things to do, lets lay out more runway” and you’d develop more gear progression, more raids and new harder things to accomplish. They’d do that for a while and start complaining and they’d say “Nothings challenging any more, I’m running out of things to do” and you’d make more higher progression. That’s a pattern our industry was in and it’s a pattern that works for some players but I think players are kind of maturing past the point of wanting to be on that treadmill – wanting to be in that obvious pattern of every time I catchup you’re wanting to put that carrot in front of me.

Are they delusional? It certainly is hypocritical to even elude to such things. Are they seeing a pattern that I am not because from where I’m am as a regular gamer the most they have added in terms of progression is all vertical.. Straight and narrow gear grind all the way just without the illusion of content gating. I’m not exactly against gear progression as I don’t really see where a theme park could go without it but to pretend it’s not influencing your development is asinine.

The way of gaining exotics was actually quite well done as there were a lot if avenues to attain them but now, with the addition of even more ascended pieces, time gates, and account bound materials this is changing. They set out to alter the gear grind zeitgeist but they just keep digging that hole further and further. I am actually wondering at what stage they will start creating content that is tuned specifically for ascended gear, it would make sense to do it in a way as there is already some heavy obsolescence to past content and zones due to the leveling process and available rewards. It would also provide the structure and challenges people are craving.

Now many would think this is mostly inconsequential to the average Player and you would be right to an extent. The average player is a PvE one but when these increasingly large stat gains are affecting PvP it becomes an issue. It becomes more of a required thing rather than optional and has implications to build changes, alting as well as unsettling the balance between the casual and hardcore even further.

I think the distinguishing mark is that there are things to do in the world that are new, challenging and bring players together that require players to learn new skills. To come together to defeatp bigger and badder challenges.

Yes, I believe that was the original idea and they have certainly created a lot of “content” that is new, but challenging… Not so much. The level of coordination needed for most open world content is minimal at best, the invasions were getting better I guess but people still followed the unceasing blob. The new Tequita might be better but I don’t see the change when there are a plethora of other events requiring little skill and coordination that are comparable in rewards.

They call this content as well and while I may admit you could call it that in the mildest sense it is not comparable to other updates from even its predecessor. The worst of it is that to me this is meaningless fluff. Atleast in the gear grinds of old it had a certain amount of challenge to it that made it more enjoyable to me. Completing those initial during hard modes and decent raids gave a euphoric rush and the gear gained was incidental. After that it becomes a good indication but there are many other positives to having this style of structured group content for the individual and groups. Map zerging is not comparable and adding a plethora of time gated mechanics without any sort of purpose is incomparable.

Because the Living World updates are free, is this a sustainable model? Can you do it for a long time?

Mike: As you know Guild Wars 2 has this unique business model and we love our business model. You’ve probably seen our earning reports where we have a very stable revenue base in the game right now and so we’re funding these Living World updates through our revenue base.

Stable for now. Hmm, as a company I would be aiming for more then just stable for now. This is a very volatile genre in terms of players and profit and aiming for just stable seems dangerous. I guess by now they probably have their reasonably stable base population who like the update style and gameplay and will stick around for awhile to come so it might just be a sustainable business model.

Going by City of heroes though sustainable probably won’t placate NCsoft for long. Yes I’m aware of Arenanet’s status but NCsoft would still have a certain amount of influence over it.

16 thoughts on “A Tired Treadmill

  1. Eh. Wake me up when gear actually matters a huge deal in GW2. It doesn’t. To rail at the sheer existence of a gear treadmill itself (And until they introduce a new tier, it’s not a treadmill. Yet.) is missing the point.

    GW2 always had vertical progression (as did GW1). It has several tiers of gears previously, that is vertical progression. But its combat is designed so that it really isn’t about the gear, but it’s heavily weighed towards played experience/skill. Look up the Ascalonian Catacombs naked run (sincerely now, what other game is this possible in?). The game’s combat is the reason why you have no such thing as content gated due to gear, and a minuscule gear-check culture (Seriously, I’ve done Arah in full blues/greens back in the day and recently have not been asked to ping my gear in fractal 40+ runs. Can you imagine this in any other game’s high-level dungeons?)

    Has not having Ascended jewelry prevented you from experiencing the Zephyr Sanctum? Did it matter when doing SAB? Did it lead to your map failing Scarlet invasions? The answer to the above is all no. ANet has consistently came out with content whose carrot is purely cosmetic, and not for a gear tier so you can still viably do the next update content. The patch with ascended items (SAB) will be no different. It’s pretty disingenuous to state that all their previous updates were “mostly vertical” when every single meta-achievement from the LS episodes were all entirely cosmetic. Again, wake me up when you needed to grind out better gear in Dragon Bash so that I can participate in Zephyr Sanctum, whose reward will be a new tier of gear which I will need for Crown Pavilion. Until this happens, ANet is not being hypocritical at all in their statement.

    PS I’ve been enjoying this “meaningless fluff.” It’s a term I HATE. I play games for fun. What does meaningless mean in that context?

    PPS I’m a super fluffy and cute bear who’s usually not this annoyed, I swear =(

    -Ursan

    • yeh I did say all this gear is rather inconsequential to the Pve player, knowing fights and coordinating appropriately are all you need for those. And yep no need for ascended in the slightest… I believe quite a few groups made it up to the end level in the fractals without them.

      But like I said the issue comes into it with PvP where it does, and will make a huge difference when it becomes an entire set. Fighting people in wvw i can almost always tell the difference between someone in just exotics or less and those with ascended pieces.
      In my playstyle where we are more of a largish havok squad gear makes a huge difference as we are constantly facing much bigger groups then us. If I wasn’t grinding, and gaining this gear I would feel a little bit of a burden to my group.

      I just don’t understand why even add these silly time gated grind gear if it is meaningless in PvE but causes issues in WvW

      Sorry, didn’t mean to offend or belittle your interests.. everyone is different in what they like. My anger comes from thinking gw2 was going to go one way, a way closer to my own interests and then it diverted from that. I say meaningless fluff to me and I am well aware a lot of this content is remarkably popular and that I’m the odd one out. I have no idea why but to me, playing these patches just doesn’t satisfy; it’s disconnected kill and collect stuff with a lot of zerging thrown in now. I do like this sort of stuff from time to time but my preference is elsewhere.

      yep… poke even the fluffy bear enough and expect to get clawed =p.. I do the same thing to my cat.

      • I apologize if I come across as grumpy. I find some of the hyperbole and the melodrama un-bear-able and I get super defensive when people dismiss stuff I like as “fluff” simply because they don’t like it (I totally understand you meant no malice, but the use of the term still gets under my skin).

        Oh a side note though, I don’t believe I ever seen you talk about sPvP at all. Have you tried it? Everyone starts out with max gear and there’s a lot more significance placed on individual actions as opposed to WvW. There’s even a pretty robust dueling community if you’re not into conquest. Heck, I’ll duel you if the opportunity arises because dueling is so much fun. Don’t worry, we bears don’t bite too hard =)

        -Ursan

      • no, by all means be angry about that.. i guess you guys would get that criticism as much as I do people who question the mental state of PvP people… it’s aggravating.

        I got into sPvP for the first couple months after release pretty heavy and got up to around rank 20 then it just kinda puttered off. There is only so much hot join you can do, and my guild is far more of an open pvp one then structured… I kind like a bit of everything so that is a shame, I tried getting a structured group together but it didn’t eventuate.. I didn’t really have the time to get into it too far as well.

        The systems really weren’t in it at the beginning for me to get into the tournies although now that it is I’m thinking about it. They still need to aggravate the regions into a whole for the tournies and such as separating them by server is restrictive and ruins the ranking system. Funnily enough a few in my guild are looking into it now as well so maybe it will happen in the future and I can complain about SPvP =p

    • As long as they don’t start designing stuff thinking that all people have ascended gear (or better) I’m hesitantly willing to let it slide. The buck better stop there though. If they keep adding tiers then eventually either there will be content that some people will simply not be able to do (for example: release agony into living story events) or events that fully ascended (or higher) people will just curb stomp and be bored.

      Hopefully it is the latter.

      Here’s a good example of how it does make a difference in pve. Who can tag/kill things faster, a maxed out char in white gear or the same char (and same player) in ascended?

      You would hope that it’s the ascended version. Now have an event where 10 guys are in ascended and you are there in blues and greens. Will you get as much loot as they, given that “tagging” mobs is based on damage? It’s fine if that’s not important to you but otherwise it becomes a case of keeping up with the Joneses, and in the end is just an artificial grindy treadmill to keep you logging in to do so.

      • with the way the combat system is designed I don’t see how the could create events, areas or dungeons that would require ascended items. Granted it’s will eventually be like a 10% boostto stats but this is a game primarily about avoidance, regardless of ascended gear if you can’t dodge your going to die.
        A new entire zone, or chain of events that is more challenging than others would be good though.. people would get the most out of there gear yet everyone can still participate if they play well and pay attention. Kind of like what they’ve started doing on a bigger scale

  2. Oh, please don’t stop ranting! You’re saying all the things I’m thinking but don’t have time to post because I’m having too much fun in FFXIV.

    The two most striking things are Anet’s attitude and the player’s responses. There’s a total disconnect between what ANet say in interviews and what they do in the game. I don’t believe they are intentionally misrepresenting the process. That would actually be preferable or at least easier to understand. They do genuinely seem to believe that a a circle is a square. Meanwhile, whatever it is that they are actually doing is *wildly* popular with a huge segment of the playerbase.

    I have an an uninformed, subjective conclusion to draw from both the current increased popularity of GW2 and the surprising commercial success of FFXIV (currently running at 230k concurrent day and night). It’s that MMO players en masse don’t really want the supposedly revolutionary, open, co-operative, horizontal, dynamic environment GW2 promised and which was agreed by almost everyone to be the future a year or two ago. What they actually want is predictability, vertical progression, bragging rights and more of the same thing they’ve had for the last ten years but with prettier pictures.

    I fear this might leave EQNext stranded on a wave that crested two years before they launched and which is now fast receding from the beach. It would be just typical of SOE if they end up launching their GW2 clone just as GW2 has finished turning itself into WoW 2.0.

    And now I’m off to get in 45 minutes of FFXIV before work.

    • DEFINITELY!!! and I think that’s what makes these interview so god damn infuriating. It’s fine if your a theme park and this is great content for that sort of game BUT THEY just need to drop the pretence of being something different… I think they would pick up a sizeable chunk of the Wow market if they did that and marketed it as such. Haha, yes I do think they are absorbed in the product and ideas they are selling and have a completely different interpretation of concepts and descriptions than what is standard.

      I don’t know about that conclusion just yet when there is very little in the market to contest that idea. Who knows how gw2 would have turned out if they didn’t just cave to the intial progression qq on the forums after release (the people who have probably already quit) and actually became a sandbox. There is a lot of interest in the upcoming big name sandbox titles so we shall see then I guess although I don’t think they make enough allowances to create a thriving, dynamic environment that can foster unique experiences with developer input to fully realise that sandbox feel.

  3. I haven’t logged into GW2 since Bot4W – guess why. :)
    I’ve pretty much accepted that GW2 has become a different game and the new achievement tab they planted right into the login screen was the last straw for me. a shame really, so much wasted potential.

    • I hate achievement grinds. It’s sad because that seems to be what everyone else wants. I like cosmetic gear, and even that is parceled out over months, no dungeon improvements or content that stays more than the length of an event, and just overall lack of direction in a way I care about. I loved doing the regular dynamic events in the world and doing jumping puzzles, but there’s been basically zip of that getting added outside SAB and the Bazaar. So none of the parts of the game I like the best have really been touched or built on for the past year.

      • OMG this.. I want costumes, new dungeons, new events, and areas… new chains.. NEW DRAGONS, like where the hell is bubbles. I wanted a bigger focus on costumes here as well.. I thought it was going to be like gw1 where there heaps of different styles gained from completing challenges or content and then being able to play dress up.
        Hang on.. I haz an idea.. TY!!

    • I gotta point out that new achievement tab can be switched back to the old trophy one with a simple click if you don’t like the constant reminders.

      But yeah, me, I want more story. I get that they’ve been going around providing achievers incentives to stick around and do all the different kinds of content in GW2 with components of Ascended gear and AP to collect everywhere.

      Though I’ve got a hefty Achiever part to my Bartle gamer profile, that’s not going to solely hold me for another half year just thinking “ok, today – daily / jumping puzzle / dungeon / chase dragons / farm champions / gather / Living Story / random achieve / WvW / PvP – pick one or two.”

      Very disconnected. I feel like I’m just doing a bunch of random activities.

  4. All familiar sentiments. I actually wrote up a long ass post on the forums the other day with the central theme that the game as it is now is largely divorced from the game that came out last year in many respects; a separation that for me has almost exclusively resulted in a degraded and worsened experience.

    Personally, my advice is to just uninstall the thing and possibly change your password to something you won’t remember after a few months. The developers have done their damnest reduce the number of hoops one must jump through in order to play, so it can be very helpful to introduce some hoops of your own in order to keep your treacherous, bored brain from trying to drive you back into something that is ultimately unrewarding just for the easy, comfortably familiar high.

    You could be forgiven for thinking I wasn’t talking about a video game, but really, the parallels between an ex-hobby and an ex-lover are fairly remarkable. And why not? They’re both usually emotional investments and tend to involve strong social bonds and connections. Plus all our brains are terminal pleasure addicts.

    Just as I’ve seen plenty of people, women and men both, spiral back into astonishingly terrible relationships largely because they didn’t ensure that they stayed away from their ex’s. I’ve seen people come back to hobbies that they don’t really enjoy anymore just to endlessly kvetch about how much fun they aren’t having. Hell, I’ve done both myself. The old familiar rutted path is something that is intrinsically attractive in the minds of many people, even if they objectively know that about the potholes ahead of time and how fucking awful the road commission is about fixing the damn things.

    It’s also striking how your friends can often be your worst enemies in these sort of situations as well; thoughtless, enabling bastards that they are. Always trying to pull you back in because they don’t understand exactly why you left in the first place, but do know that they’re having a lesser time because you’re not there anymore.

    Terrible shit really. At least when it comes to hobbies, like MMOs, I’ve laid down an inviolate rule that states I always quit a hobby when I’ve come to the realization that instead of having fun playing it in the present, I’m waiting for the developers to add something or address some issue of mine in order to make it fun. There’s no winning that sort of battle, because your dream patch will never come. Best to just leave, gracefully if possible.

    Maybe someday I’ll be able to adopt a similar rule for dealing with women. Hmm.

    • I’m a terrible person.. I had no intention of installing it after the laptop came back wiped but it’s already there on my desktop.. DON’T JUDGE ME!! I know I’m probably going to be disappointed, and I’ve promised too myself that I will be more detached and only play occasionally but that probably won’t hold. Bah.. I’ve ditched boyfriends easier then this.

      And looks like I’m making my leave as gracefully as a fricken moose.. Stomping and clattering all around

      • Are you implying there is aught wrong with the majestic møøse?

        Also, its hard for me to not judge as I’ve just watched Dredd yet again.

        So that’ll be 5 years in the iso-cubes for Illegal Possession of Overly Stimulating Vidya. Scumbag.

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