GW2: The Collection of Collaboration

Recently Arenanet began seeking a greater amount of collaboration from the community regarding the future direction of Guild Wars 2. This is a long time coming in my mind. It seems for a while they have been adamant in their own artistic vision for the game, often to the exclusion of all outside communication. They have swayed from this occasionally, and sometimes rather widely but I have seen a distinct adherence to their ideas and metrics.

Now after over a year of operation they are after the players opinions on a range of subjects and there is a post enabled based on each subsection of the game; PvE, SPvP, and WvW. Disregarding for a fact just how inadequate the forums are for such a project compared to other avenues as well as the systems created by other companies, I am glad they have begun this very important step as no matter how smart or prepared you think you are there is nothing like getting a view of what the players want. Many companies are now doing this well before release and in the planning/development stage as they have become aware to the value of this sort of feedback. Welcome on board Anet.

I actually went over the PvE collaboration post as I was really interested in what the players were asking for. As my brain usually does, it cringed at the haphazard and chaotic nature of the forum and so, I categorized it all based on a several key categories and many minor ones.

Now I finished up at the end of page 12 as it is too hard to keep up with a page that keeps getting added too. It is also not a perfect count of the categories either, I know I made many mistakes along the way, missed splitting key categories, missed categories until later on and so on. I also only put in actual posts rather than counting the likes.

Here it is if you’re wondering. Extrapolate your own conclusions or continue on for my own rambling of the results.

Combat Concerns

I was actually surprised to see that the number one category players had concerns with was class balance. I mean, I would expect that in PvP but I never thought it had enough of an impact on players in PvE for them to really notice. A whole number of concerns was wrapped up into balance were support classes that deal with healing, defence, and buffing. There was issues with the roles players can choose, in particular the superiority with berserker or high damage classes, builds, and gear. There were a lot of players worried with balance between the classes and in particular classes. Rangers and pets were a popular one. Mostly it seemed players are after greater diversity within the system and to not feel so forced into specific optimal playstyles.

The biggest component of this all was the concern with how conditions operate. Condition caps, application, damage, variety were claimed… it seems to be a big issue overall.

Then smaller ones I noticed but worth their own spot were players wanting improvements to the general combat systems; improved mechanics, deep gameplay, greater options of defence, and the defiance boss mechanic. The other was players after an increase in challenging mechanics. Better mob mechanics and ai, the design of encounters, better scaling, and ways to combat the zerg.

Not Loving Lootz

This category is rather hard to distinguish between because a lot of the comments linked the two together and it really is a wide-ranging issue of many mechanics making it a system of rewarding players that doesn’t feel… well, rewarding.

Most of these comments had an issue with the way rewards were in fact rewarded and how they only rewarded repetition and time based constraints on easy content. People want risk vs reward to have a bigger part in play, with more challenging content being the better reward based on a players time. a regular example was champ farming compared to dungeon running. Others complained of it being generic and boring in regards to the gameplay and the rewards given. Then there were people wanting more options for rewarding styles of play.. you know, like it was in the beginning.

RNG was a really big part of this complaint as well and it seems people are sick with the probability of important items dropping and just regular needed materials. It makes play feel less rewarding when you’re not getting the things you need or want over long periods of time. There was also many who proclaim their bad luck with this sort of system and feel it punishes players more than it helps. RNG in the shop was also a big part of this complaint.. seriously, Staaaahhhhp

Now while I gave these two a separate category they are inextricably tied to the above. Diminishing returns exacerbates the RNG issues, and the way RNG is handled makes player think of gameplay as a grind at times.

I place progression issues in here because I think they are more connected here than other areas. A lot of these people were showing confusion about the games direction and wanted more horizontal options of progression. Rewards don’t have to be just gear based and there many other unexplored options they could work towards… just avoid the rng

Finding Fluff

I’m glad this is a big part that players want to discuss further. I thought this sort of thing was going to be the primary direction of Guild Wars 2 until it walked a different path.

The biggest part…. more customisation and costumes. I believe there were only slightly more players that specifically stated in-game costumes as those who said in the store, the demand though is just more outfits. There has been a distinct lack of new interesting outfits since the game began, even those new to the store have been rather limited. A big complaint were the medium armours, in particular the torrent of trench-coats. Also, fix the Charr outfits… they make people cry.

Now what better thing to discuss now, then improving the way players are able to use and store skins. A wardrobe function was brought up many times, as was just having a skin bank as a way of not losing the things you’ve worked for.

Housing is here… but it is also very connected with the wishes people have for guilds. If the post was more about the housing mechanics I put it here, if it emphasised guild it’s in the other. I love housing in my mmo’s but it is very rarely done well, if it is thoguh it can provide a lot of playability to the content as well as long term goals to the player.

Role Play Options were on par with these as well. More emotes, being able to sit, chat functionalities.. and well, other RP type things that I’m not very familiar with.

All About Updates

A much discussed part of the game in recent times, it is definitely an interesting way to deliver content although, like many I don’t think they have it right just yet. Most people just put Living Story as a general thing without elaborating further, indicating it is hard at times to pin down the concerns with it. Many complaints boiled down to the pace of the updates, slower would be much better for many players. Also, players don’t want things to be removed (like the F/U path in the TA dungeon), they would much rather it being added on.

A big part of when people did elaborate was issues with how the lore is being presented and its lack of connection to the Lore of Tyria. People want to hear more about this, in-game, and they want to see how it progresses. There is a lot of amazing lore to draw from here and I would love to see more as well.

The way in which the updates only seem to contain temporary content has become a sore spot. Players want more permanent content that they can continue to enjoy over the course of the year, that they don’t miss out on if the have an absence, and just to have more change to the world around.

Smaller parts were people wanting more personal story; either new parts entirely or an extension of the previous story. A greater amount of improvements and additions to other zones as well as improving their appeal. And just improving the cohesiveness of the stories and themes presented.

Ascended Options

A concern that blew out of proportion at times over the last several months, a conspiracy or just a new direction for the game. Surprisingly this issue actually fell far below the other top 4 in terms of post listing it.

There were many general issues with Ascended Items in and of themselves. People wanting more options, that they have become and increased grind at times, and just people wishing that the game didn’t have them at all.

Other big concerns related to Ascended Items were the inherent alt unfriendliness, the increased amount of time gating mechanics, and wanting improvements to the legendary process.

Concern with Content

I put these things together mainly because the share that common content theme.

Mostly people just want more dungeons and fractal types available. There have been a lack of new dungeons and even updates to both apart from certain minor changes or updates. The recent change to Twilight Arbor is probably the biggest in a long while. They also want the kinds of rewards to be improved, more options and interesting skins.. better rewards the effort put in.

The Events scattered around the world are needing of an update as well it seems. Improvements to how they function in regards to zergs and small groups as well as updating them to be more dynamic in the mechanics. This also includes updates to the world bosses and dragons, an area that has seen recent improvement but appears to need more.

And what do you know there is also a small community that still wants harder content to enjoy and work through; dungeons, events, and even raids.

Other Interests

Something that I really couldn’t place elsewhere that featured prominently through the forum was people wanting things you would generally find in an expansion. New classes and weapons added to the game, more skills for the existing including utility skills and even new weapon skills to swap in with old ones. The creation of a more diverse combat system.

Then there is the usual like new areas, new events, new dragons, mini games, costumes, cosmetics, and lots of other things.

An improvement to everything about Guilds; guild halls, better functioning of the systems, new content to enjoy, and just a greater purpose for them within a game called Guild Wars.

Then, lastly it is more about improved Quality of life issues like being able to save and sap builds quickly and easily during play; menu’s and chat box; and the inventory and mini’s system.

Related issues were improvements to the UI. greater menu and chat functionality, more social options and better ways to connect with others, party/ raid group display and abilities, and the trading post.

Lastly there was Overflow issues, performance of the client, monetisation, economy and crafting, and a small percentage specifically wanting more jumping puzzles.

In the grand scheme of things this is but a small cross-section of the playerbase making these posts on the forums. Most who play would never even venture their, certainly not the casual majority. Then there is the issues with getting information from the players who no longer play any more as surely their insight would be valuable as well. So, is this really a good representation of the players wants and concerns.. I have no idea. There really is just not enough data to draw the right conclusions. They just really need to create the right tools and systems to extrapolate this data if they do eventually want to find out.

#GW2 #community

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15 thoughts on “GW2: The Collection of Collaboration

  1. I strongly dislike this kind of audience polling. As a customer, what I want is for the designers and producers of an MMO to have a clear vision for both the product and the service that they want to sell me. I want them to have the confidence in their creative approach to stand firm. I want them to offer their game on a “take it or leave it” basis and let me decide as a consumer if its something that appeals to me.

    That may be because I consider MMOs to be in the same category as novels, movies or music – part of the creative arts. The kind of writers, film-makers and musicians that appeal to me don’t generally give a flying fig what their audience wants, yet often they manage to find an audience all the same.

    On a practical side, if a company does decide to take this approach, the half-assed way ArenaNet is going about it can only lad to confusion and frustration on both sides. The forums are a desperately unrepresentative sample of the playerbase for any large-scale MMO and just inviting random comments is about the worst way to approach even that biased and self-interested subset. If they really feel they must do this, a series of log-in polls with multiple choice or 1-10 ratings on specific topics would be far more indicative of what the bulk of players think they want.

    And that, of course, is the real problem. What players think they want has been demonstrated time and time again to be at variance with what they respond well to when they get it. I see this as yet more evidence on the now enormous pile that indicates ANet really have no idea where they are going or what their game is about.

    • I kind of like there being a certain amount of collaboration and input by the playerbase. It makes me feel like you have a greater stake in the project which gets me more invested. Like you said though it’s still good to keep your regional vision in tact, since I’m hissing if people didn’t like that they wouldn’t be playing anyway.

      The way Planetside has done it is rather great. It was well published, visible, and easy to understand and use. It also gives many options around there original plans were you’re only prioritising certain features and updates that they have chisen. Even the Firefall one Is kind of ok although I don’t think many know about that one.

      Arenanet have already shown they can be swayed by the opinion if the mob and do do regularly, whether that be based on metrics or forum qq.I am still sceptical about the ascended gear addition though, considering how long they usual take for important changes it was just too smooth and quick to be anything but pre planned.

      I wouldn’t consider them to be as strong in their vision as those mediums either and would compare it and most other large mmo’s to a summer blockbuster movie. They have already altered their vision enough so it has that widespread appeal.

      Unfortunately I agree with you that I don’t think they have a long term plan for the game and haven’t since lunch and with the pace of updates they really haven’t had the time to make one since launch.

      • That is, the both of you. I think in this day and age, a MMO company needs a clearly outlined planned that the community is at least somewhat privy too. I do think they also need to be flexible enough to accept player feedback, but forums are never a great tool for eliciting it. We need a better industry standard for communicating with players than letting the whiniest and bitchiest run the show.

  2. I’ll believe ANet is interested in expending a significant amount of resources to improving their base game when I see it and not a moment before.

    By and large all they have done is add things that serve to lessen the appeal of their content while simultaneously allowing their combat systems to stagnant and weary while spouting off some idiocy about esports.

  3. This is really stupid and a waste of time. Anet has proven time and time again that, they actually listen to player feedback, evaluates it, and implements it in some sort of way. Forums posters get the idea that because Devs don’t reply to certain topics, they’re “ignoring” them. No, they’ve read it, and I’m sure they’ve discussed that issue in much more detail than you have. They just don’t have the time to convince you that your ideas are most of the time, their suggestions don’t agree with some of the design decisions they’ve had to make. They’re not suddenly starting to player feedback. They’ll most likely continue to operate as before: listen, evaluate, and experiment.

    I also am in complete agreement with Bhagpuss in the way I view MMOs (developers develop, and players play. Alligators also alligate.) They clearly have their own vision, and I really dislike the idea of players having a significant because players in general are terrible at game design. Combine their complete lack of understanding of game design, their condescending attitude, and their inability to understand the concept of subjectivity, I doubt Anet will glean anything new from this effort compared to what they have already been doing.

    -Ursan

    • I don’t think anyone is arguing that they don’t listen to the players, we’ve seen many updates based on this already but I worry about how they implement these ideas. Ascended gear for instance was brought in to appease the content locusts but would these time gated items been fine just as awesome cosmetic pieces. Avoid the horizontal treadmill yet appease many angry players. The GVG incident recently, yes they gave them their own space but this wasn’t the issues they were talking about, they already had a space. For WvW a new map only for the overflowing queues wasn’t what they asked for either when saying new map, we wanted a map to replace the borderlands ones that we have been playing on for 14 months. There there is the living story, people had issues with the flame and frost update so they made the pace much faster with less connection to the world. There are many other examples I could pull from.

      So while yes while they are listening I don’t believe they actually understand people’s concerns and the problems they have. This is where getting feedback can help them.

      There are also certain times where the player metrics won;t tell you were the issues are or could even misdirect. I don’t know of many people that are actively purchasing costumes and outfits from the store so I could only assume that the data tells them these things just aren’t popular purchases when players actually just want better outfits and increased useability of them. Then there is class balance… how would you really know how upset players were with this overall. It isn’t content where data can be logged… it is just a general feeling.

      For the broad mechanics and direction of an mmo… no, I don’t think players can offer any valuable insight. But they can tell you what they enjoy, hate, and just persist with and that can help improve a game for everyone.

      • There is absolutely nothing new coming through in this new “collaborative effort.” Anet is gleaning no new information from the forums as before. If they didn’t understand people’s concerns previously through all the forum yakking, they will continue to misunderstand through this concentrated forum yakking. Just because Anet comes out and asks for feedback, absolutely nothing new is going to be said, and a cursory glance of the thread confirms this.

        Such a waste of time. I’m pretty annoyed Anet caved, because 1. They’ll pay lip service, explain that things are “on the table,” and continue business as usual or 2. Actually listen and waste time implementing some dumb, dumb things. Meanwhile we’ll have angry forum posters demanding why this was delayed, or why that was changed, etc…And valuable dev hours are being wasted arguing with a few ideologues on the internet.

        Gosh I feel so irrationally angry. I’m so disgusted that they’ll do this.

        -Ursan

      • Oh, I don’t believe anything real will come out of it, I’m hopeful but just not that naive. They’ll just use it as justification for their next big change.

        I will still say that such information can be useful to devs and placate the masses when done right

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