Blogger Reactions To The Guild Wars 2 AMA

Yes, Guild Wars 2 developer Chris Whiteside took the extremely unusual step of engaging his public directly yesterday, running an Ask Me Anything interview on Reddit. At a time when feelings are running pretty high in the Guild Wars community, it was a bold move. But how did the GW2 community react? Find out more…

  • Dulfy has an excellent summary of the questions raised and answers given
  • Demajen was impressed with Mr Whiteside’s move, but far less so with the community and its reaction“I feel sorry for Chris Whiteside. He stood up, put his name to some mistakes, took responsibility. And then a horde of nameless, faceless individuals went off on one at him.”
  • Entombed was left split between being impressed and dismayed” I’m torn between two very different impressions of ArenaNet. They seem to design some things very well, and are extremely well thought-out, other times I’m just left scratching my head.”
  • And Optimus Maleficus goes point-by-point through the AMA, generally finding it comprehensive and impressive“Explicitly, Chris says they do not intend to introduce a new tier of loot above Ascended.”

Did you read the AMA? What was your impression?

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GW2 Viewpoints: Lost Shores and the Trial Weekend

In the Big Battle Before Thanksgiving for our attention, it certainly looks like Guild Wars 2 emerged the winner. Its Lost Shores event attracted plenty of attention, praise and criticism earlier this week already, and between that and its free trial, the discussions just keep on coming:

  • Psychochild writes a really detailed breakdown of his perceived pros and cons from trying the game out for a while” From the way the fog of war on the world map looks like an abstract painting to the lovely concept art used as loading screens, you can tell the fine art influence on the game. It’s a testament to the art team that they were able to take these gorgeous images and turn them into 3D spaces.”
  • Syl considers the Lost Shores event, finding it awesome and awful in about equal measure“Mixed is a very mild way of calling an experience that I would otherwise describe as two thirds horribly boring, repetitive grind and one third epic encounter. “
  • Jeromai writes a truly epic breakdown of his Lost Shores experience, in three parts: Part 1Part 2Part 3“What puzzles me is why ArenaNet can’t make “one-off events” that last for several weeks to a month, with event or dungeon instances that help tell the story at a more immersive pace.”
  • And Beau Hindman at Massively took the chance of the trial to check GW2 out, finding it very fun but very safe“Guild Wars 2 is a massive playroom romp that is truly well-built. “

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Guild Wars 2 Lost Shores: How Did It Go?

Guild Wars 2’s second piece of one-time content, The Lost Shores, was this weekend. So did it manage to build on the success of the first one?

Well… Yes and no. There were some great moments, it would appear – but also one glaring, horrible, game-ruining problem:

  • Ravious gives us a fantastic overview of the entire event – not just the massed battles, but also the quests, phases, and more“The event for me was mostly positive, but I did put too much work in to enjoying much of it. Some people are still really rubbed raw from the whole experience. Others, like me, see mostly sunshine.”
  • Vagabond was far from impressed with an event he felt promised much, but fell flat due to hordes of bugged events“I am not so frustrated yet that I’d go back to Vanguard. I’ll keep playing gw2. But I will not attend live events any more.. wasting my play time on bugs is not something I want to do.”
  • Entombed covers the event from a personal perspective, ending up with mixed feelings but not disappointment“I will definitely remember this weekend years from now. And that’s one of the best features of the game, that strikes to the very being of ArenaNet.”
  • Dusty Monk covers everything – and I mean everything – about the event, from the great to the awful“The event wasn’t without its difficulties. And yes, a number of things went wrong. But at the end of the weekend, the end result was that I had an absolute blast.”
  • Clockwork is very upset about the way Arena.net communicated what the live event would offer to participants“So really, Arenanet…please, not again, don’t do this again. Now many players are going into this new content feeling as though they missed out and are already demoralized.”
  • Gazimoff gives us excellent, thorough coverage of the key failing of the event – massive, event-killing, morale-sapping lag“The massive periods of lag – 30 seconds to a minute of frozen combat at times – meant that dodging out of the way was a fleeting dream. If you’re lucky, the downed state would be there to greet you.”
  • Hunter’s Insight revisits their thoughts about one-time content after this second event“Big events like this cause a lot of hype and players to come back and money to be spent and create an atmosphere that makes it seem like the game is alive. But the number of people they’re aggravating with poor implementation and scheduling surely alienates as many people as it excites.”
  • And Demajen writes about the good, the bad and the ugly of the event from the perspective of someone who felt there were far more of the last two“Tedious, drawn-out, and atrociously scaling, The Lost Shores world event does exactly the opposite of what I imagine ArenaNet wanted for its free trial weekend.”

Did you play Lost Shores? What did you think?

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What’s Good In MMOs Right Now?

Is anyone else kind of intimidated by all the new MMO content right now?

I mean, we’ve got RIFT: Storm Legion, Mists of Pandaria barely a month old, Guild Wars 2’s new patch, Riders of Rohan, SWTOR F2P, Everquest 2’s expansion, WoW Patch 5.1 in the wings, new indie MMO efforts everywhere (Dragon’s Tale, Salem, Day Z or whatever it’s called now)… It’s exhausting.

Fortunately, a lot of bloggers are writing some great reviews to help us all decide what to do first:

  • Lono shares the impressions of a friend of his who was new to SWTOR when he started playing the Free To Play version” Soon enough Jay realizes he needs more space in his inventory so he’s off again to the store and finds out it will cost him 175cc for 10 inventory slots.”
  • MMO Muse shares first impressions of new sandbox Wurm-a-like game Salem – which sounds very interesting“Another one of those sandbox games, isn’t it? Yes, pretty much. But not one of those “I sit here and craft 60 pointed sticks” one; while playing, I was moving and exploring most of the time, and only stopped for crafting once or twice in the whole time.”
  • Rixx Javix considers what a sports enthusiast who didn’t know EVE would think as he watched the latest EVE tournament“This reminded me of the first time I saw Australian Rules Football on ESPN. I ain’t got no idea what the heck is going on, but I know it is a sport. I’m thinking this is European since the announcers have got some kind of accent, and they are rather pasty, like they haven’t seen the sun in awhile. “
  • Chris at Game By Night gives us a detailed rundown of his first impressions of RIFT: Storm Legion“Another thing that I have to give Trion props for is the scope and beauty of their vision. The expansion is just VAST and everything is so BIG.”
  • Healing The Masses dives into the new Guild Wars 2 Fractals dungeon and comes out with a rundown“these new mini dungeons seem like the perfect length in a way as it is rather easy to keep them feeling fresh during a run in terms of visuals and mechanics but when added together they make for a rather cohesive little gaming session.”
  • Jaysla has been trying out Challenge Modes in Mists of Pandaria, and offers an enthusiastic recommendation“Challenge modes are a lot of fun and I recommend everyone give them a try. They’ll really make you work hard to use every possible advantage available to your class and spec and allow for some creative puzzle solving.”
  • The Ancient Gaming Noob tried out Guild Wars 2’s free trial, and came away with mixed feelings“nice game. But not different enough that I am going to drop what ever I am doing now to run off and play it. “
  • And Entombed tried out the Guild Wars 2 Fractals dungeon too, and loved them“What I experienced was nothing more than a wonderful addition to the game. “

Overall, the winners from the weekend seem to be GW2’s new dungeon (but not the live event – see our next post), Storm Legion, and Challenge Modes!

Are you feeling MMOverwhelm right now?

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Have Arena.net Abandoned Their Promises?

Guild Wars 2 will be different, said developers Arena.net. It’ll not have a conventional endgame. You’ll not have to grind for ages to get the best weapons.

And yesterday, it would seem, they’ve broken their promise, by introducing new endgame weapons that require a lot of effort to get and – yes – are more powerful than any other weapon.

But have they really broken their promise? Is it as simple as it seems? Or is there more to it?

  • Healing The Masses is deploying unusual levels of sarcasm for a normally very optimistic blog – they’re not at all happy” I have never seen a more perfect example of a pointless artificial gear grind before but this is a masterpiece… Just what we apparently wanted too, so who do I thank.”
  • Spinks gives us an overview of the situation and reactions to it so far, saying that if it quacks like a conventional endgame, it probably is a conventional endgame“Truth is, in a game that was going to break open the MMOsphere by ditching all the conventions, this new content and gear looks very much like a traditional endgame gear progression.”
  • Optimus Maleficus thinks that this is a PR fail, not an actual threat to the endgame at all“Massively and MMORPG.com‘s articles only had vague details about “better than exotic” and “even more powerful” that revealed the existence of new high-level items, but didn’t provide enough detail to prevent pessimistic imaginations from running wild.”
  • Hunter’s Insight is choosing to err on the side of glass half-full” I’m not really thrilled that I’ll be replacing my rings but I’m happy that I’m going to have more stuff to do and that Arenanet is charging forward with new content and ideas. “
  • Entombed feels this is indeed a betrayal of Arena.net’s promises, and presents a number of powerful arguments to back that feeling up” 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?”
  • And Syp humbly suggests that Arenanet might have wanted to learn the lessons of MMOs past a bit better“Now this, this I know. I know this because LOTRO did it for years. It was called Radiance, and it was about as popular and beloved as a scabby plague rat scatting all over your oatmeal in the morning. “

I’m not at the endgame in GW2 yet (yeah, yeah – I level slowly) but it’s hard to read this as anything other than a U-Turn on ANet’s “no gear grind” policy. I wonder what the next move will be?

What do you think?

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Controversy Watch: WvWvW, SWTOR F2P, Brawler’s Guild, More

A few weeks ago I was saying that the MMORPG blogosphere was quiet.

Ah, I remember those days.

Right now, there are tons of interesting debates to get your teeth into – from the WoW Brawler’s Guild (Cash For Features SCANDAL!) to Guild Wars 2’s wobbling WvWvW populations (PvPers in server desertion SHOCKER!). So, who’s saying what, and do you think they’re right or wrong?

SWTOR Free To Play

  • Joe at Corellian Run Radio posts a thorough analysis of the heavy Free To Play restrictions coming in SWTOR, saying that they’re going to force-choke the game” I make this prediction – the number of players will jump through the roof next week. The activity will be VERY high for three months. The revenue will roll in. And, just like launch, after those three months revenue will tank as the active player count falls.”

Guild Wars 2 WvWvW Numbers

This one’s a new controversy – with easy server moves and top PvP guilds jumping from one Guild Wars server to another, will the game’s uber-PvP mode cope?

  • Jeromai looks into the implications for his own server of some of the most major PvP guilds leaving for distant shores“Is it unhealthy, in the sense that these multi-game-spanning guilds are more focused on their own communities and less about fostering -server- communities?”
  • And Healing The Masses sounds an optimistic note for WvWvW from their own experience“I think the system in place will do well over the coming months especially after the server populations settle down and guesting is enacted so people can’t bunny hop around to the better servers in WvW. “

Guild Wars 2 One-Time Events

The furore over GW2’s one-time events has mostly subsided, but there are still interesting things to discuss about it…

  • Bernard Parsnip responds to the one-time events’ fiercest critic, Azuriel, saying that publicity reasons justify Arena.net’s decision to run one-time gameplay“Guild Wars 2 is a new game that is not based on a well-known IP. It NEEDS this press coverage. Furthermore, the business model relies on front-loading revenues from players, so continually growing the player base is crucial until the RMT shop can pay for the overheads of the game.”

WoW Dailies And Grinding

  • Big Bear Butt complained about dailies and gearing up – but then practical experience has shown him that it’s actually comparatively easy to get raid-geared in MoP“If you’re a new raider, it does not take that long to get to where you need to be to get started. I just proved it. And once you’re getting drops from the raids that are now being released, you WILL get items of such higher iLevel that the LFR stuff will be massive downgrades.”
  • And The Godmother is looking at alts, and how she and other players will level them and prioritise them with all the grinding“The shift has been subtle, but it has been noticeable. Alts are likely to be left by the wayside by many except those with a huge amount of time and patience. Its not just about the achievements either, there are a lot of choices bound up with the way the current system is being weighted.”

WoW: Brawler’s Guild

  • Typhoon Andrew defends the design choices Blizzard are making with the Brawler’s Guild, including their invitation policy“New gameplay is asked for constantly, so anything which adds options without placing a highly prohibitive barrier is good.”
  • And Rohan looks specifically at the Guild’s content gating – high AH prices – arguing that it’s never been tried, and is worth experimenting with“To my mind, selling the Invitations on the BMAH might not be the best possible idea, but it might be the one with the least side-effects, and thus, the least-worst idea.”

Bullying and Unpleasant Players

So, let us know – what do you think?

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Guild Wars 2 Difficulty: Challenging or Frustrating?

Guild Wars 2 has a reputation as being hard – from its unforgiving dungeons to its jumping puzzles. But is it fun hard or frustrating hard?

That’s the question that the blogosphere has been pondering for a while now – and here are some fascinating viewpoints on the problem:

  • Jester, normally an EVE player, ventured into a GW2 dungeon, and found it both startlingly hard and very rewarding“The level design was great, the AI design was better, and the balancing of the opposition we were facing was nearly letter-perfect. As long as we pulled together and used our joint skills smartly, we advanced. If we didn’t, we got steam-rollered. “
  • Hunter’s Insight looks at one aspect of GW2’s dungeons that he argues is just plain frustrating – the distance between bosses and respawn points“One of the worst penalties in gaming is wasting the time of the player. It’s a commodity that is valuable to us not just in gaming but in the rest of our lives as well. So when you waste it, you had better have a damn fucking good reason.”
  • And Clockwork looks at the infamous Halloween jumping puzzle, the Clock Tower, and considers whether the difficulty was real, or simply tedium“You can’t really “out skill” the presence of other players blocking your vision. No amount of skill could save a player that jumped towards the clock face without knowing it would soon break. Perhaps you could argue that “skill” can alleviate these but they were choices that were character specific, not player.”

Personally, I’m enjoying the brutal difficulty of some of GW2 – but then, I’m also a fan of the Demon’s Souls series and WoW TBC Heroics, so I may not be representative of the playerbase at large…

What do you think? Too hard, or just right?

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One-Time Events: Selfish or World-Building?

It looks like Guild Wars 2’s one-time-only events are sparking quite the debate on the blogosphere! After an initial, strongly-worded post a few days ago, the discussion’s heating up – are one-time events a selfish waste of developer resources, or an exciting new way to develop a gameworld?

Azuriel’s firmly on the side of “bad idea” – and he’s not mincing words in his second blog post on the subject. Not only does he argue that one-time events are unnecessary, but he also says that if you want them to happen, it’s positively selfish

“Ultimately, to me, it comes down to a question of where best to utilize limited designer resources. When new raids and dungeons are released, there is always a special moment attached to it. A camaraderie that exists as thousands and thousands of players try something for the first time, race to the top, and otherwise share an experience. Undoubtedly that is the same goal of one-time events, to evoke those same feelings and perhaps pretend that this is a game world that is always changing (at 12:00 PM Pacific Time/19:00 GMT this Sunday only). The difference is that with the latter, the content is thereafter removed, generating no new experiences, no new memories, and no lasting history beyond the recollections of an ever-dwindling veteran playerbase.

I want game worlds to get bigger by having more things in them, not less, and not temporary things. Designers should stick with making the tools and toys; let the players bring the dynamic themselves.

And if you need something to only happen once to enjoy it the most, 1) I feel bad for you, and 2) the first time only happens once already. Enjoy the feeling as it lasts… don’t just take the ball and go home.”

His wording is strong, but Azuriel has some interesting points here. Most MMORPGs suffer from a lack of developer time as it is – isn’t it a terrible waste to use it up on content that doesn’t make the world richer or larger?

Well, interestingly, that’s where Syl’s post kicks off – as she looks at not only one-time events themselves, but also their aftermath

“Here’s a little secret: I still haven’t watched the one-time Halloween event on youtube. I didn’t go and check how the Mad King emerged. And I decided I won’t. Nothing can beat the scenario I have envisioned in my mind at this point. I have this epic idea of what happened and I want no youtube movie to take away from my imagination. The Mad King’s appearance in Lion’s Arch will forever be the stuff of legend to me, mysterious, notorious!

I like it that way. Maybe you do not. I’m sure many players would agree that the “main event” of my little scenario above is the comet falling down from the sky. If an MMO introduced this, they would want to be there just when it happens. However, the important part is that neither outlook is wrong, just like there are no wrong playstyles. There are different ways to experience events and different things to take away from them. Arguing the point would be as fruitful as arguing whether movies are better than books: some people prefer movies for their more guided experience (the camera is your focus), their concrete visuals and sound. Others rather stick to books that rely more on suggestion and imaginary effort, allowing you to stray. Both media have a purpose, a time and place.”

It’s interesting that Syl’s pointing to something that several people mentioned in the aftermath of the Fa(i)ll of Theramore – that currently MMORPG developers are getting better at creating events, but still don’t do so well at both foreshadowing and dealing with their aftermath. Theramore was obviously the most egregious example, but I’d be interested to see how much impact the Mad King has had in Guild Wars 2, too.

Looks like this discussion will continue a while longer – particularly since Guild Wars 2 looks to be host to more one-time events in the near future!

What do you think?

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The Final Verdict: How Was Guild Wars 2’s Halloween?

It’s no secret now that Guild Wars 2’s first new content has broken the mould in all sorts of ways, including an ambitious, one-time event. But how did it go?

With Halloween yesterday, we’ve had plenty of opinions from bloggers on whether Arena.net succeeded – and the answer seems to be “mostly, yes” –

  • Syp gives a comprehensive overview of the events of GW2 Halloween, from the Mad King’s Eruption to the infamous jumping puzzle“While it wasn’t perfect — more on that in a bit — it was an impressive chunk of content that combined new locations, really awesome art, different game mechanics, and lots of rewards.”
  • Entombed looks at the questions that Halloween raises for Guild Wars, from RNG items in real-money cash stores to, again, That Jumping Puzzle“There are a lot of complaints flying around about this puzzle because of the difficulty and the design. Many players believe Holiday events should be for everyone, and the fact that only a minority of players can complete it, makes the content somehow tainted. “
  • And finally, Azuriel argues that the one-time-event nature of the Mad King’s eruption was ultimately pointless“ArenaNet could have looped the Mad King event like they loop everything else and it still would have been exactly as meaningful for those first players as it is now. Every moment is a one-time event.”

Enjoyed today’s posts? Please share them with your fellow players!

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What Does Everyone Think of GW2’s One-Time Halloween Event?

Guild Wars 2 has been running a Halloween event. So far, so usual. However, they’ve decided to do something rather remarkable with it.

It’s a one-time affair.

Yes, if you weren’t online at noon on Sunday, you’ll never see the Mad King erupt out of the Lion Fountain – at least, not until next year. Where many MMO companies would have had his appearance happening on the hour, every hour, for all of October, in Arena.net’s world, if you blinked, you missed it.

So what did Guild Wars 2’s blogger community think of the whole thing?

  • Ravious felt that the entire thing worked, and made the event feel special” Understandably, everybody will not be able to participate in every momentary occasion. That is just the way of things, and I think it’s premature and silly to decry the existence of any one-such occasion whether it’s a 30 seconds long cut scene, a 2-days long act, or in the case of the Halloween event, almost two weeks. “
  • MMO Gamer Chick felt that it was a really bad idea, and unfair to many players“Come on, people, we’re living and gaming in an international community! There’s also conflicts and unforeseen circumstances that can always pop up! Crap happens! When you know full well that everyone and their mother is going to want to participate, why still consider one-shot events?”
  • Meanwhile, Zubon comments on other areas of the holiday event, finding the jumping puzzle in particular significantly less than awesome“Begin your mix with every problem caused by character models and camera movement. Add in a map with lots of spinning, with ups and downs, so the camera will definitely be moving around things and objects will be between the camera and your character. Add in a time limit.”
  • And if you missed the Mad King and want to see what all the fuss was about, you can choose from a Youtube recap or White Charr’s rather nifty animated GIFs.

What do you think of the idea of one-time events in MMOs?

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