Adrift and Directionless

From a post by Bhagpuss recently titled Ever Onward

I find myself in the uncomfortable position of enjoying it immensely in spite of the vision its developers have for it rather than because of it.

Wow.. Nailed it

I think everyone who enjoys wvw right now is wondering what the hell the developers are doing/thinking. The direction has just been off from what people want and expect for some time, not to mention their peculiar geological approach to iteration . The spvp community pretty much had this talk 3 months ago and decided it wasn’t worth staying around for now and headed off to.. Hmm not greener pastures just other pastures. Might be our turn now as a few big guilds like prx have already mostly departed from the battlefield. Merc, Hire and Die are pretty much one conglomerate now and there are probably many guilds that have left or at least lost members over these last couple months. I would give my obligatory no mmo developers care about pvp line but this time it actually seems like the entirety is languishing because of some misguided beliefs.

There is one comment I wish to make on that quote though, I think it’s more that we are enjoying the game in spite of Arenanet not having a vision for Guild Wars 2. Their actions and additions so far just seem so uncharacteristically like the original game that it’s hard to even contemplate where the game might go. A new zone that is entirely devoid of life, long term daily grind mechanics, removing features, endless dungeon running; it’s all just seems like immediate hot fixes that have lacked forethought and design. All the updates so far also lack that cohesion in many ways to other areas of the game that you may get if they did have a vision and even feel very haphazard when compared to similar updates

I honestly have no clue about what to expect over the next few months, and going by this vague talk of living stories I don’t even think they know what is beyond that. Weren’t they talking about adding more long term zone events before that.. Before that was meaningful progression.. before that I think was horizontal progression. They don’t seem to have a long term plan set up that they are working towards, or maybe the problem is they have a dozen of them but can’t decide where and how to progress them.

The issue I think is that Arenanet just tried to do far too much with Guild Wars 2. It is a compilation of so many different types of experiences and amalgamations of game experiences and mechanics to draw the largest crowd possible toward their game but because of that everything seems rather half baked and incomplete. It all seems to lack many of the features and content that would make a part of the game whole and congruent within the original impression we all got.

They just lack the amount of resources to be able to make the individual parts complete now it seems. Small fixes now and then to random parts of the game but nothing really focused on a single part for too long, the longer it goes on the further they fall behind the ravenous hordes who consume behind a particualr part. Seriously it’s like there are a few different games just crammed in here all together so it really isn’t surprising

  • A structured pvp mode which effectively aimed for an esport but lacks vital features, class balance, regular new additions, and community building. That’s an achievable task for a single game and development team but even then remember it took Riot.. What, a year to get on top of the development cycle.
  • WvW is a massive undertaking for the company requiring brilliant server architecture. Stale copy paste maps.. simplistic resource type, ridiculously small maps, rewarding the zerg. They also lack a reasonable amount of updates, which although improving I can’t help but think the will focus somewhere else soon. It is very hard to get right though in terms of updates and progression, Doac was nearly entirely centered around it and they still had issues.

Then there is a wide range of PvE games they are trying to be.

  • Dungeons crawler
  • Gear progression
  • Story Teller
  • Growing world like a sandbox
  • Economy
  • Group content
  • Alters

So much to comprehend that they mustn’t have the time to think everything  through completely either. At the moment it feels like some kind of Schizophrenic game design as they would be designing, building, iterating, updating multiple vastly different modes. Changing thoughts and direction constantly between areas of the game, hot fixing  one part to then do damage control on the next must get really confusing. They don’t have the time and manpower maybe delegate teams better, to slow down and slowly build the various parts up to where they need to be. Without the clear direction they eventually just end up trying to design one part for everyone as an easier way but it ends up feeling very diluted and lacking that core appeal to the people that enjoy that particular content. I think they would have needed at least double their development time to fully complete the various sections to be “ready”.

Right now I think they just need to focus on one core feature a build that up to something reasonable.. Then maybe other areas.

  • SPvP obviously doesn’t have the popularity but being a popular esport brings in the masses.
  • WvW is a dedicated playerbase but the core systems aren’t suited to it which means rebuilding a bit of code
  • PvE is your fickle but large population, that also spends a fair bit in the cash shop

I’m starting to think that the problem these bigger companies and AAA mmo’s do is think they can develop everything for everyone and that just isn’t possible. It’s a money pit you can never shake off once you start and a direction that can only every provide sub par experiences. I am very much looking forward to when mmo’s focus more on their core audience rather then trying to appease all and yet none. There are a few mmo’s out there doing it now and we really should support this. TSW has it’s amazing direction on story, Tera and it’s action combat, many shooty games of different directions (Firefall, Defiance, PS2), Guild Wars 1 had it’s own market, even WoW is beginning to make it’s end game experience more concise with weaning out heroic dungeons.

It makes me a little worried actually for the big games coming out like ESO, Wildstar, and Archeage. It’s not an if parts will fail but which parts.

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8 thoughts on “Adrift and Directionless

  1. It’s my biggest issue with most new MMOs. Given the successes of previous titles in the genre, they want to be able to launch (or within the first year) have everything those previous games had. Only, MMOs accrue most of their features OVER TIME. Even when they start off feature-rich, most of those features lack real depth until vision and community shape them.

    I really wish we could see a return to MMOs that not only have long game visions, but try to stay fairly specific. Not every MMO needs Battlegrounds, especially if your selling point is great group PvE. Not every MMO needs great PvE if you want to funnel everyone into your really deep faction combat systems.

    • i can understand a little bit why the try to do everything, it is enticing in many ways as they can see the huge numbers WoW pulls… they also sell more initial boxes by ticking everybox it seems. The pressure from investors and such would be extreme so as to get the most return on their profit. It just isn’t working as it isn’t a sustainable model, it definitely sells more units but because of design everything lacks that appeal

      I think games these days would be better suited to developing a niche first. By doing that they also save themselves a considerable amount of development time and resources, that in turn means less overhead or more polish on key areas.

      MMO’s definitely need to be grown. little sprouts when they start.. all of them really. Look at the big ones that are only finding their strides now.. lotro, rift, even ddo has had new recent expansions. I’m sure there are more examples.

      • I’d rather have the game launch with a couple of major focuses, but a public road map where they plan to take the game afterward. I almost feel that MMOs should be treated like Kickstarters: as an investment rather than a simple purchase.

      • Maybe not kickstarter but more like one of those alpha games or steams green light.. Your initial purchase is more saying you think it has potential.

        I would like a roadmap for my mmo’s now.. I think it’s a good way to crowd source and gain a better sense of what the community wants

  2. I’m deeply hurt that you wouldn’t throw a bone to EVE in that last paragraph:):)

    reading it I was 99% sure you gonna name it there as the only(?) perfect example of how you find your market segment, stick to it and slowly build up your player base over a decade to pass half a million subs in the 10th year of the mmo

    other than this, great post, again

    • Doh.. How did I not say EvE. It’s pretty much the epitome of finding your niche and doing it to perfection.

      I think weirdly enough I don’t class it as an mmo like these other ones, classing it in the same category or genre just feels off. To my mind it’s a virtual world far more then it’s an online game.. It has more in common with second life in this regards

      • “To my mind it’s a virtual world far more then it’s an online game.. ”

        ok, I can agree with that 100%

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