Controlling Castles and Adding Investment

There has been a resurgence in interest of the World vs World mode in Guild Wars 2 of late. It seems the new leagues, a 7 week battle royale between the servers in particular groups to place in the number one spot has been a big hit. A lot of new players entered the mode, brought on by the focus on this content, an increase in visibility and the promise of rewards. The result has been huge queues on many servers and a massive increase in casual players.

With this has also come a few bloggers writing up reports on their experiences as well as analysing the mechanics and well, some of them have been getting it a bit wrong. It’s hard to understand any sort of mechanic the first time you jump in, I would give an appalling account of the fractals but that hasn’t stopped many of these new and a little uninformed players from critiquing WvW. Now I’m nowhere near a “pro” player and I’ve been out of it for a couple of months now, I have never commanded nor have I been much involved with the server communities but I do think the weeks and months I spent raiding wvw near every night and the 800 or so hours spent give me a greater sense of understanding

The most recent article I have to respond to is by Scree, a post that explored forced team based PvP and how that relates to GW2. I will agree with the original premise that forced PvP is a needless frustration; it is hard to balance and brings forward so many issues that harm the feeling of PvP. I have written before about how I enjoy games with player created factions as they inherently balance themselves and give more meaning to PvP.

Combat Concerns

The Part I do have an issue with Scree’s issues with player skill; sorry but this is not the main reason behind why WvW failed (in my mind) and why there continues to be a large transient player base moving between servers. Skill level is not the issue here in fact skill should be rewarded: players should be enticed to learn, to practice and to get better.  If you’re a better player or team you should have an advantage over other people otherwise what’s the point, why get invested and put in countless hours?

In terms of the mechanics of WvW skill matters far less than people think. Having a coordinated group helps, knowing the mechanics gives a certain advantage as well but the overwhelming force in WvW is numbers. The numbers advantage pretty much rules the server standings, those that can pull in the numbers in every time-zone will always beat others.

The thing is I don’t believe giving players and advantage based on numbers is an inherent issue by itself, it makes a huge difference and creates many issues but only when the mechanics make it like that. Forced factions usually create some rather terrible imbalances but these can be managed. The primary reason why the WvW system failed is that Arenanet, admittingly, developed it for casual play and players. They never expected it to be played for this long and this involved from such a large population.

The grouping mechanics really don’t support it, the rewards don’t support it, the size of the play space doesn’t support it, the frequency of updates don’t support it and the fundamentals of keep capture and control don’t support it as well. As a gameplay mode it actually has more in common with the structured PvP rather than anything resembling open world territory control, it’s just on a larger scale.

It is designed to allow short bursts of play to be rewarding to the average casual player. Keeps are designed to be regularly taken and captured so that players get that sense of progression and reward. The maps are designed to let continuous and quick movement between points so there is less downtime and it makes it far easier for zergs of players, a casual’s best friend as combat is much less punishing with more people. What this does though is create less investment to the world and it’s structures

A Call for Change

The lack of investment has trickle down effects on how players feel about WvW and the servers they fight for. There is little point getting invested in the structures themselves since you will lose control in the near future. No point getting attached, spending to upgrade or even defending. Just join the kharma train wherever it may be. Without this sort of investment in the structures there is nothing tangible holding people and groups to a specific map or server. Little reward in staying with a particular server or consequence in moving

Now there are many groups that stick around with one specific server and even fighting within a single map. Players motives are far more diverse that going after the path of least resistance for the win. Some want that win to be meaningful to them, to earn it and gain a reputation. Others want the challenge and this does keep guilds fighting for one space. But then, there is still little tying them there, physically or emotionally. Any person or guild can leave and still gain the same experience straight after the transfer.

Reputation and Community are two important reasons why people will stay on a certain server. Knowing people and frequently socialising creates an attachment that is hard to leave behind but it seems most don’t get involved in this area, at least not for GW2 so this leaves creating investment in either the servers world and/or in the WvW structures themselves. Players transferring from one server to the next is a symptom of this flaw

Taking a cue from EvE we can see that holding onto structures is important, in fact large wars are fought over them. They create an investment on a specific space based on the time used to create and the rewards they provide for holding onto. They are valuable to the personal player and groups. They also have an inherent regulating factor towards groups in that you can only defend so much space, travel means something and the amount a group can hold is defined by the ability to organise, the size, and the number of structures.

Why can’t we import some of these ideas, with modifications towards these faction based combat experiences.

Ideas for Investment

Firstly the size of the maps is a huge issue, combined with the speed at which players can get about means the limitations of space on what a group or server can control is near limitless. Map boundaries also serve no problem as you can constantly shift between. The limitations of the engine have cause this problem and I don’t see any other way out than slowing down how fast players are able to move or limiting the access to swiftness, maybe keeping it only based on personal skills rather than combos and aoe abilities. Also, why is it so easy to move between the maps themselves, the only limitation are any queues.

The pace of combat needs to change as well, the flow is far too quick in terms of the castle sieges. Players groups and the server should have time to mobilise a defence rather than turning up and seeing it has already flipped in under a couple of minutes. What is the point of walls doors if they are so insignificant? This is the main reason why holding structures lacks investment. Back during release it was much harder to capture things, I remember spending hours defending certain places and the longer we defended the more invested we felt. Slowly though those counters that prolongued capture have been taking away in order to add to the casual appeal.

The design of the structures themselves are also extremely lacking in that they often benefit the attackers. I think everyone has experienced the futility of defending an attack from the walls once it has begun, a place that should be one of the safest becomes the most dangerous.

There also needs to be more player control over the structures themselves, I understand that building your own structure is not a possibility but you should be able to modify them in certain ways. The controlling guild should be able to set up the defensive siege where the want, have certain plugs where they can go. There should also be a wide range of things to purchase, place and build like a variety of siege, specific pieces of wall, barricades and traps…. more ways to defend. Greater variety and organisation of NPC’s, maybe a mercenary hiring system that changes and improves the longer you have control. Better alerts for the owning guild and just the ability to personalise them further from flags and other fluff bits to complete colour changes.

Controlling these structures needs to reward the players and guilds that hold them. This bit seems obvious but it is woefully inadequate. The amount of points a structure gives could be based on the amount of time it’s held for. Influence would be a good start but also gold, resources and siege for the guild that claimed. The maybe something tied to the character that defends, a certain reward for each day it is held or a certain amount of points to spend on consumables and cosmetics

Finally there needs to be some sort of connection to the world of Tyria on that server, something you can feel connected to and personally responsible for. Something that you helped to create, a story you experienced… just something that differentiates one server between the other. For instance, why were those elections completely cross server, wouldn’t it have been more interesting to have some with Kiel and another few with Evon as the leader of the Ships Council, each with their respective buff. What if Southsun had changed in slight ways based off how people on that server had originally conquered it,

The Easy Fix

Obviously this is a lot of work in order for WvW to work as it should be, for players to be connected and stick to a specific realm rather than chase after the easiest win. A solution by punishment as was suggested is a very poor substitute, positive changes are far better at inducing change that punishment. Also, can you imagine the revolt if a server was punished for winning, wouldn’t players then just transfer to the server with the buff in order to win the next fight.

That’s a lot of work needed and it will probably not happen in the lifetime of GW2, they are too focused on the casual appeal at the moment to be thinking about investment. The only quick way would be to make server transfers a purchase separate from the cash shop and gems, it’s just too easy for a lot of players to grind out the gold which removes the restriction they were trying to make.

 

#GW2 #WvW #PvP

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8 thoughts on “Controlling Castles and Adding Investment

  1. When you mentioned appalling account of the fractals, the following immediately popped into my mind, “AAAAAHHH ow fallling AGONY owow ouch agony wtf one hit AAAH fell again.” I am neither confirming or denying whether that’s from firsthand experience!

    Actually, skill and strategy and coordination go a long way towards almost holding PPT against a superior numerical force. I was blessed to witness some true masters of this during offhours Tarnished Coast – phenomenal scouting, map hopping, ninjas, siege, defence, supply traps, one to three man successful attacks against trebs, etc.

    Problem is, as you say, the design doesn’t stress the importance of PPT and defence isn’t very exciting or morale boosting either. It was, in fact, wearying in the long run, I suspect. Many of the masters have now moved on to other interests – roaming, zerg busting, etc. that actually reward them and don’t involve 12 hour shifts in WvW.

    • Mine would be “what does that do, ahhh it burns” and lots of ressing

      Oh I agree that skill is an important factor but it wouldn’t have much to do with players transfering the amount skill plays in an overall match seems minimal as well since there are multiple maps and times

  2. The ability to transfer servers with in-game money was what “killed” WvW (killed figuratively of course. Despite all its flaws, it’s still incredibly successful and full of activity.)

    It’s too easy. And it was free the first few month. That created population imbalances in the first 3 months and everything was downhill from that. I truly believe server transfers should be real-money only. One thing that a game called Shattered Galaxy (MMO-RTS-esque game, with 3 factions) would do is that they’ll closely monitor population imbalances between the 3 factions, and would give incentives to certain regiments (equivalent of guilds) in the strongest faction to move to the weakest faction. Of course, not all the regiments accepted, but enough did to even the scales. It’s something Anet should definitely look at (incentives for moving to a low-pop server) in addition to real-money transfers.

    Reward structure is tough too. Make it too rewarding for guilds to hold onto castles, and people will then complain about being “forced” to join big WvW guilds. Owning certain points on GW1 gave guilds access to merchants at a huge discount (1.2 plat for lockpicks, when said lockpicks sold for 1.25 plat on the grey market.) There’s really no right or wrong way to do it, just as to what degree you motivate players to do certain things, and at what threshold does enough people dislike the compulsion so that it becomes a problem. Make it too fluffy and people don’t care enough. Make it substantial and people complain about being “forced” to do things.

    In the end though, WvW is ultimately fun fun fun if you cease to care about its results and rewards and play the gametype for itself. CD feel off the face of the Earth the past several month with an exodus of several guilds. Hasn’t affected me in anyway, really. Personally, I see sPvP the place to go if I really want to be competitive. WvW is not, hence I do not worry about being competitive in WvW.

    -Ursan

    • yeh, the ease and low cost of transfers is what harmed the health of WvW. It should have been some sort of separate account bound section, they have guesting already so it wouldn’t harm the pve section

      the issue with monitoring the populations is that wvw is tied to a specific server you you can’t ensure how many, how long, and how hardcore the population on that server will play. WvW should have it’s own specific servers that you enlist in.

      giving rewards is a tricky subject, obviously anet are learning the hard way at the moment. a merchant would be a nice thing although I do like the idea of it being rewarding to guilds who control with the option of players that help in defence. Maybe if you have defended a location you gain access to the merchant

      wvw is much less competitive now than it used to be, it’s still there a little but I have seen a larger focus on open world fight than I used too

      Fun Fun fun.. yay

      • It’s not monitoring server populations, it’s monitoring specific guilds. Organized WvW guilds has a huge impact on WvW performance, as can be seen by Kaineng’s ascent and subsequent descent. I’m sure Anet has all the metrics to differentiate which players play WvW often, with players from similar guilds. Target several actives guilds in, say, BG and JQ. Tell them if they move to HoD, they’ll earn…I dunno, a special exclusive mini-Panda Bear.

        That’s pretty much what SG did, and it worked wonderfully. Granted, the problem was much simpler with 3 factions instead of 24 servers, but I don’t see why something similar can’t be implemented (aside from the usual complaints and whining such a drastic measure would provoke.)

        -Ursan

  3. As much as I like dissecting and analyzing a games flaws, especially a game I have a distinct dislike for, I gotta say there’s a definite dead horse feeling here. Why expend the effort anymore? Anyone who can’t make peace with the fact that the direction of the game won’t change in the foreseeable future should really just quit, it’s the healthier thing to do in all honesty.

    My only spare thoughts for the game now are when I hop on the EBay TS server to harass my former guildies about what a shit game they’re playing.

    • lol.. harsh.

      it is kind of beating the dead horse but also not. MAny of these mechanics are important for all large scale PvP to an extent, or at least things to keep in mind when designing the focus of the mind. GW2 avoided ivnvestment and it’s a completely casual mode. I’m more interested in how all this talk will relate to ESO.. maybe even pathfinder

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