Arenanet has released another blog post centered around their thoughts for the future of guild wars 2 and I can’t help but once again feeling a little skeptical..yeh, yeh I know. I’ve been disappointed so many times regarding these updates that I just can’t muster the same feelings I used to. I can’t even feel that rage as it came from a deep-seated feeling of hope and that is no more. It’s the same PR routine that preaches far more than it ever delivers. I don’t hold them to these since what they are claiming would be virtually impossible, an expansion’s size worth of content and quality content updates every week is a dream that is great to aspire to but not to be taken seriously.
More talks about the living story and their plans for continuing this kind of content which I honestly couldn’t care less about. I’ll do it sometimes if the mood strikes me if it looks like something interesting but it really adds nothing to the replayability of the game. Overall I’m just not sold on this whole “living World” idea quite yet as from what I’ve seen it has been far from creating that feeling but I’m guessing it really depends on who you ask as to how they are doing. It has a lot to do with the expectations we had for Guild Wars 2 before release, expectations about what a living world meant. We saw videos of centaurs marauding across terrain and demolishing buildings, we heard ideas of enemies taking controlling and expanding territory but so far we only see this kind of content in rare set pieces. Mobs are still overly predictable and while it isn’t as bad as the lack of movement present in other games it still gives the same static feeling.
Events are too contained and far too regular to feel anything like a living world and this hasn’t changed, if you can time events to the minute like we do with the Lagons then you’ve done something wrong. There has been a wide range of content involved in their updates so far, with some of them being rather impressive but to me though “world” implies permanent additions to the game world in it’s entirety but we’re only seeing small changes in restricted areas that aren’t as dynamic as they could be. I look at the development and gameplay of Firefall and it’s a far better interpretation of a Themepark creating a living world being guided by the players actions than this… I wonder what Guild Wars could have been if it followed this style more closely.
There are probably many reasons behind the direction of this holiday style content development, and i won’t get into the cash shop rhetoric that I could. Regardless of the reasons though I just don’t like it, they’re great to add a certainly novelty to the experience and to break up the regular play but when they are constantly being spammed they cease to be something different and lose the novelty… and when they lose that novelty you realise just how boring this content style is. Secondly, I don’t know why but they just don’t feel like real content.. more like the filler we used to do to be able to do content. The kharka event was decent even if I didn’t get to participate (besides the lag) and even the recent Soutshun Cove update was rather good but mostly it’s all inconsequential to gameplay.
The other question is “When is it too much?” I make no pretense in knowing what the optimal time and quantity of updates should be but 2 weeks just seems like too much. Keeping up with the changes, strats of new content, achievements and where and how to get new items every couple of weeks seems like it would be exhausting. Being temporary content as well instills a certain compulsion to complete the new items and yet it’s just too much for the average player to do.
And where’s the challenge. They certainly know how to make things difficult bordering on insanely frustrating but i don’t see any open world content that consistently uses teamwork and strategy over zerging. And apart from the odd dungeon of varying quality it’s all seems like fetch quest grind. Bhagpuss is just as puzzled over the direction as much as I am but probably for different reasons but he does have a point. When you fill your game with something unappealing and a lot if it is to me, it lessens the enjoyment of the content you do like.
To quote little mermaid ” I wish I could be, part of this world”, and I never really have felt that I was. I don’t know why this is at all and I would like to but I guess it all started in the beginning with their Dissociative Disorder in their development with how they were of many minds but no clear vision. In the recent video Colin himself says that they’ve been very experimental in their approach and it shows… they really had no definite plan and it was a mystery how it would all work once it went live. They have never understand what the player base wants and how they will react to the content. It does seem like it is all changing very fast and with each iteration you can see improvements in how they release this new content based on their learning’s from feedback however this change has been slow.
However, a second element was missing. We heard questions from our players, old and new. What about events that are more time limited and won’t continue to happen forever? What about holiday events we can look forward to each year? What about events that can permanently change the world and create stories to share for years into the future? Isn’t that truly what is required to achieve the concept of a truly living world?
Really? The way i see it these things do not make a living world all by themselves, they are an addendum to it. They enhance the feeling of a world already alive but in its absence all they make is a pale imitation of it. Projects like Embers of Caerus, Pathfinder Online, Star Citizen, The Repopulation, and of course Eve are what I imagine a living world to sound like.. Guild wars 2 is a themepark trying to emulate this in the best way it can and that is not necessarily a bad thing but i don’t think doing this is working towards the strengths of the game.
The next patch, Bazaar of the four winds is another step towards this but I don’t think they will ever be able to change the base product enough to be where I would like in terms of being a living world. Pretending to have a living world, no matter how well implemented will never equal the real thing.