Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dangerous Implications

I think the Guild Wars 2 world blew up yesterday.  At least that's what it sounds like if you visit the official forums, unofficial forums, fansites, and blogs.  It's seriously chaos out there right now, and I'd advise you to just stay away unless you seriously want to voice your opinion.

At the center of it all Ascended gear.  Gear that seems to be a step up from exotic gear, that is meant to fill the void between Exotic and Legendary gear progression.  This gear features infusion slots, which are to be fair, poorly-described by ArenaNet, and stats that are essentially slightly better versions of exotic gear.  With the new patch, there will be three Ascended pieces that we can obtain for ourselves: a backpiece, and two rings.  If you look at it initially, it doesn't sound too harmful.  So what is everyone angry with ArenaNet about?  It's the implications of this gear.

1)  First and foremost, ArenaNet has broken their manifesto.

"Here’s what we believe: If someone wants to play for a thousand hours to get an item that is so rare that other players can’t realistically acquire it, that rare item should be differentiated by its visual appearance and rarity alone, not by being more powerful than everything else in the game. Otherwise, your MMO becomes all about grinding to get the best gear. We don’t make grindy games — we leave the grind to other MMOs."
-Made by none other than the president of ArenaNet, Mike O'Brien.

They have broken a promise.  Even if this new tier of gear does not add to the grind, it certainly makes an ascended item differentiated by being more powerful than what was known to be best in slot for months, exotics.  In MMOs, when a company breaks a promise, they are held accountable for a very long time.  ArenaNet, if you release this tier, be prepared to weather the storm.

2)  Secondly, dungeon gear will now be more powerful than any other gear that can be acquired from other places in the game.  This includes WvW, crafting, and existing explorable mode dungeons.  World vs. World players were specifically promised that they would never have to leave the Mists to be competitive.  Rewards in both WvW and PvE was promised to be on-par with each other.  Another broken promise with dangerous implications for WvW players.

3)  Even less participation in existing explorable mode dungeons.  The only people participating in these dungeons would be people wanting to achieve a legendary or attain a set of gear from it.

4)  A gear treadmill.  Other Ascended item slots will slowly be added over the next couple of updates.  If we are already seeing a new tier just over 2 months after launch, when will they add the next? What happens when everyone gains Ascended gear, do we now have to grind for another set? Guild Wars 2 dared to be different and innovate many features of existing MMO conventions.  Among these innovations was to never include a gear treadmill, and increasing rarity was only aesthetic. 

5) Guild Wars 2 was about skill by players.  Now, it seems that instead of skill, it's slowly leaning towards who has the best gear. Stat differences may start out small, but as you gain more and more pieces of Ascended gear your stats will become an estimated 5% higher.  This is without including the infusion slot bonus.  While we know this slot is supposed to combat Agony, a PvE condition only, they told us that these slots could also be offensively and defensively based.  If this includes damage and/or defensive bonuses, this could easily expand into WvW territory.  Even worse, all end-game PvE content afterwards will likely include it as well.

6)  In one of the biggest blantant "We are breaking our own promises", you had the press tell us first.  You actually allowed the press to tell us about ascended items before even yourselves.  Not understanding that this would be a huge deal to players is a flashing neon sign that you are not aware of player concerns.  

7) Which leads me to my final point.  ArenaNet, you appear to be out of touch with your players.  If you are truly the company that cares about us, why not make an open discussion/poll about it?  Why not ask the players for what they want, instead of just throwing it at us?


  1. I imagine by the time they are done adding the new tier, we're due for an expansion anyway. There's only so many colors. With all the public outcry, I imagine WvW and crafter concerns will be addressed. As for being out of touch, well, where most of us are concerned yeah - but if you've ever made the mistake of visiting the public forums, there actually are players who ask for these things and have complained about the aesthetic-only rewards, even though that was a selling point of the game. ANet just forgot that only a small amount of players actually bother with the forum. We definitely should have heard from them first.

    I find the sudden emphasis on "end-game" more alarming. The game was meant to be played casually. A minority of players grind to 80, moved back to WoW or Rift, and now their desires are being catered to, and other content has been shelved.

    It's a safe bet that implementing guild halls would have been responded to more favorably by the community at large, for example.

    Regarding #3, isn't that already the case? Seems like that's another issue. I've actually enjoyed the dungeons I've done. What I haven't enjoyed is having nothing to show for it. I don't want superior stats. I just want a reasonable amount of tokens to show for my time and effort if say, a group member hits the sack and the dungeon resets when they leave and before you kill the last boss, or more loot than I can earn through more easy going pursuits.

    Many players say the dungeons aren't rewarding enough, but most of us are not referring to the lack of stat boosts. It's just not as productive as other less demanding activities, especially if something goes wrong and you lose your progress.

    1. I think the correlation between reward and difficulty has been something lacking in Guild Wars 2. People choose the easiest paths in explorables, they choose the easiest events to farm karma, and so on. Futhermore, WvW has almost next to useful rewards outside of vitality/toughness gear for the currency. Somehow ArenaNet seems to have seen the complaints, and then jump to the conclusion that we want a new tier of gear. And we all know that's not the case.

      I'm not sure if there's suddenly more emphasis on end-game, I think they just wanted to add some more content for level capped players. For example, in the Lost Shores events, you can be upscaled to 80 to play with your friends.

      I completely agree with many of your points though. We want to be rewarded more for working through harder content. However, we want to be rewarded in an aesthetic way through gear, or more of a specific currency.

    2. https://forum-en.guildwars2.com/forum/info/news/A-message-from-our-Studio-Design-Director-Chris-Whiteside/first#post721451

      This is pretty much what I expected, too bad the timing wasn't better. My biggest heartbreak remains a specific "mesmer" skin, but I find a way to soldier on in inferior fashions... :(

    3. Although, upon rereading, the part about releasing an expansion amount of content in smaller increments is interesting. This is pure speculation, but are they going to stick with free dlc and rely upon the store?

      Ambitious, but seems unlikely. Then again, if they're doing lost shore sized updates every other month, doing an expansion on top of that would be a massive undertaking.

      People can accuse them of many things, but laziness isn't one of 'em.

  2. It is not a big deal. With a limited knowledge about the gear, you and the community are drawling a lot of conclusions, many which will probably be completely false. One additional tier does not make a treadmill. I have faith in anet, they are going to keep their promises. When will you and the community learn to do this as well?

    1. You are correct, one additional tier does not make a treadmill, . However, due to the very poor, and misplaced decision to slowly disseminate the information of the impact of the tier over multiple places has led to widespread misinformation. We should not have to search for information between the press, a blog post after a thread went viral, and later a dev post to find out the information. It should be transparent, and instantly available. Period.

      I stand by the fact that it is a mistake to release this tier in dungeons before this tier is available in WvW and other areas of the game. The impact may be temporary, but it will have an impact nevertheless.

      Futhermore, even if ArenaNet claims otherwise, you have to wonder what happens after everyone reaches Ascended gear? Do you add another tier because there's still a gap between Ascended and Legendary? What stops them from making this decision in the future? Nothing but our trust for ArenaNet.

      Even further, the impact that Agony and Ascended/Infusion gear will dramatically affect PvE down the road. The fact that questions are still very much unanswered is a poor decision by ArenaNet. For a game about community, we should have open discussion together about the future of the game. This should not just be a one sided decision. It's after all ArenaNet's game, but without us, they are dead in the water. Will people now have to progress through Fractal of the Mists before they can continue to later released dungeons? Do we really want people to spam LF3M Geared Players with +200 Resistance to Agony? That's something the community needs to decide.

    2. I agree with Finit. We dont know how the system is going to be implemented. Adding a tier is not enforcing a gear treadmill. Its just like hitting 80 and acquiring exotics. No one was in an uproar that lvl 80 gear was blue, green, and then exotic.

      Now I understand the fear, but thats all it is. Everyone is afraid that what they envisioned has changed... but you don't KNOW anything for sure.

      As for the game developers telling telling us what exactly they are going to put in the game thats not neccessary. It's there game and not everything needs to be expressed. I don't trust half the community to do balance changes for professions, so why should pve gear be any different. We arent game developers.Perhaps they didnt put out any information becasue they were refining the ascended gear and didnt want to send the community in a frenzy over nothing... like how it is atm.

      Now people are jumping conclusions for the future. "what if they do this" 'what if the y do that".... Right a game has been out for 3 months and its definitely not going to be changed at all. MMO's are living worlds that change to meet the players. The fact that everyone is in a tissy for the first major patch makes me chuckle.

      To me it just seems like everyone is furious about being uninformed and jumped to a bunch of conclusions. Now that they are taking some time to think "hey we might be wrong and things might be ok" they are finding more reasons to be mad for the sake of saying Anet is still wrong.

      And for those of you that keep comparing gw2 to WoW and what blizzard did with WoW... please find me the gw2 content that required you to raid for 2 months with 40 people just to make it through one instance.

      Give Anet a chance before you throw them to the wolves, for some of its biggest proponents you really dont have any patience for facts.

    3. One tier does not make a treadmill, no, but to get the ascended gear is either RNG, a stupidly long grind, or an expensive mystic forge recipe.

      However, Arenanet has stated that they will add additional, more powerful infusions (which have +stats and +agony) to the game in future patches, making the current ones useless. This is a treadmill.

      They also said you will need agony resistance to take part in new dungeon content.

      So currently, no, there is no treadmill. There is an extreme grind to go through. As they add in more instants, the treadmill will start up, and everyone in PvE and WvW will have to run it to stay competitive.

      And now that people have seen more pieces, the difference is more about 20%, not 5%. They removed the orbs from WvW because the 15% difference was to much.

      Go figure.

    4. Two things. I wrote this article, and the people commented on this article before we truly knew significant amounts of information about Ascended gear. So, at the time of writing, we had no idea how we gained the Ascended gear and how long/lucky it would take to acquire them. As the title states, I wasn't pointing so much that Ascended gear would institute a gear treadmill, but it implies the application of one later down the road.

      Secondly, they did not remove WvW orbs because they were too much of a difference. It was an overall balance issue paralleled with a technical issue that was very complicated to fix. Players could hack to acquire orbs, and/or bug them permanently for the remainder of the fight. If the orbs managed to stay in the game, the side that was winning always had them. Essentially, the orbs were only helping to widen the gap between the winning realm and the two losing realms.

  3. The problem with anet go even further I think. I did not believe those claims of harrasment by the forum moderators, making tin foil hat jokes and all that stuff but... I had been discussing pro anet for the majority of the complaintfest since launch, but now I joined the no gear-treadmill side. They actually infracted weeks old posts of mine to warrant a temporary forum ban. I fear the corruption runs deep in anet just now and I am rather sure it is NCSoft pulling the strings at the moment. Look at the corporation history this year. They a) took an a huge economical endeavour by taking over a Korean mobile phone provider (or something like that) and they had a Zynga-style game publisher become a major investor. If you read econonmy press, you see NCSoft is rather in the dire straits atm, nearing the end of the year, this is a nightmare for business. I guess the publisher checked the figures, decided anet wasn´t doing good enough and some dude who played his last computer game 2 decades ago said: Look at WoW, they are still making big money, you need to go WoW style, stuff that "manifesto" were the sun don´t shine" - or whatever allegory a korean exec may use.

    1. I think they're just that behind in forum moderation. Plus they hired a bunch of new people to forum moderation weeks ago that may be too rigid about the rules than the existing staff. That tends to happen with new hires. I dunno, I imagine Dwight from the Office.