If you have not already seen the "big post" on main Guild Wars 2 site head over and give it a read. It has been the thing we all us players have been waiting for. It gives us a sense of direction as to where the game is headed and overall I think the message is good. Today I will share my thoughts on this message as well as provide a quick summary of what Colin had to say.
If you are not one for reading, the folks at Anet have also put a video out on YouTube which summarizes the contents of the main blog post but skips a lot of the exciting details. I have embedded the video below,
Where do we start? Well the main thrust of the article is that Arena Net is learning from mistakes and successes they have had in game and have plans to improve upon their successes and avoid making mistakes in the future.
Our goals for the New Year are to build on the areas of the game that were successful in 2012, to learn and apply lessons from things that didn't work as well, and to make sure that 2013 is a year none of us will ever forget.
The main thrust of a lot of what Colin has been saying over the last month or so has been about the focus on improving the core game, but what exactly is the core game? For one player it might be WvW for another sPvP and yet another person it could be PvE. What is Anet's take on this? Something entirely different,
These key pillars — a sense of community and a dynamic, living world full of different experiences every time you log in — are what makes Guild Wars 2 what it is. But what does that mean looking forward to 2013?
To me, it seems Anet's thoughts on the "core game" is more of a philosophy. I think they have seen where in the game their philosophy, on making Guild Wars 2 (remember this video?), has fallen short and now they hope to go back and fix those mistakes and bring out new content the focuses more on building the integrity of that philosophy.
[W]e ... need to build on and strengthen our existing open world and its persistent content. The more persistent events we can provide in a specific area, the less often each of the events in that area needs to occur, which in turn adds to the sense of an ever-evolving open world.
This would be an excellent change. A lot of the zones feel really bland when you repeat events over and over again simply because there is nothing else active. It would also help when levelling an alt to not have to play the same events you did one the previous character you levelled.
The second thrust of the PvE changes will be on making the monthly unique events more exciting and inclusive. I have to say that I think they are already on the right track with this and I have seen improvements in each of the content releases for October, November, and December, but I have also seen steps backwards. Fortunately that is exactly how Colin feels about the situation as well,
Our Wintersday event was an example of applying a lot of the lessons learned from the earlier events to ensure we create content that is inclusive, community driven, and most importantly fun. From Wintersday, we discovered still more areas we can improve for future world events to make them even more exciting.
Next up are changes to the daily achievements that will make them more fun and dynamic,
We’ll add support so daily achievements will be different each day of the week, which will help drive players to different areas of the world and play together. Later, we’ll also be adding a system that lets you complete a subgroup of achievements to fulfill your daily. For example, if there are 6 daily achievements available, you’ll only need to do 4 of the 6. So you can choose the achievements that you’re most interested in.
This is the perfect example of a nice little change that will make all the difference. The current daily achievement has not changed since the beta weekend events and as far as I know it has never changed. I find it interesting logging in on the first of the month to see what the new monthly achievements will be and I am happy they are finally going to do this for the daily achievements as well. Little changes like this will make all the difference to those of us that log in every day.
revamping encounters in dungeons and the persistent world. We will also receive the fixes to the Fractals dungeon that were promised before Xmas. Finally, there is a project in progress to get us an in game looking for group tool. All excellent changes that will go towards making the world that much more enjoyable to participate in.
Whether Colin's words translate into tangible results is another story entirely. As for specifics beyond this the article is lacking. I would imagine, since the PvE changes will be story driven, we will have to wait until a week or so before each release to get the specific changes we will see to PvE.
I have had the most fun playing WvW, but I have also had my most frustrating experiences in this game mode. The main focus on the post is on two upcoming changes; guesting and culling. Both of these problems have been plaguing the game since launch and it seems Anet has made some progress on these two issues. A time frame is not given, but we are told the solutions are "really close".
[W]e’ll be adding paid server transfers, with time limitations and WvW restrictions, and guesting ability, which allows players to visit friends on other servers in every part of the game except for WvW.
If you knew about guesting before launch you have probably been missing its inclusion in the game up. A lot of us thought that this would be a system in place at launch. Clearly, implementing this became more of an issue than Anet first thought. Speculation suggests that the reason for this is around the ability to get credit for doing events on different instances of the same zone.
For example, with the current monthly for "discovering jumping puzzles" you can stand at the entrance to a jumping puzzle on an overflow, re-log and enter a new overflow and get credit for discovering the jumping puzzle again. The same was true for the "building snowmen" achievement for Wintersday, and for the "carve a pumpkin" achievement for Halloween. Now if guesting were turned on today one could imagine being able jump from server to server killing dragons to loot the chests, farm resource nodes in the same zone multiple times, farm the chest at the end of a jumping puzzle, etc. Whether this speculation is correct, only Anet knows, but it seems reasonable.
We have been told that before the guesting is implemented and server transfers become paid we will get one final chance to transfer to another server for free. That may be true, but now is the time to start looking for a server to move to if you plan to do this as you can only try out a new server once a week
The other big issue plaguing WvW is culling. We have some words on this as well,
[W]e have a number of additional culling features in development. If all goes well, our hope is 2013 is the year culling ceases to exist, or is as minimal as possible in the WvW experience.
Nothing really new. Habib Loew has been talking about this for a while now, and we knew that this was being worked on. Hopefully the next thing we hear about this is when the fixes will be going live.
Finally we get some details about other features that are coming,
We’ll introduce a system of prestige and advancement specifically designed for WvW. This will give players a progression path where they earn new WvW-only abilities and bonuses, and with them gain prestige and visible titles/recognition. Also, we’ll add a new motivation to the WvW domain that goes beyond the overall weekly score to give more short term reasons to be winning in WvW as well.
The best thing mentioned are the unique WvW abilities. I have been thinking about this for a while and really do thing this would be something that would improve the enjoyment players have in WvW significantly. It would open up the possibilities of new strategies and hopefully make individual player's actions stand out more which is exactly the direction I would want to take WvW.
Again, nothing with respect to commanders which is disappointing because I think this is the main place where improvements can be made. Linking commander status into the prestige and advancement system mentioned would be awesome though.
I feel that Anet is taking the steps that are required to make WvW a stable platform on which to build additional content. It is disappointing that this is necessary in the first place, but once it is complete hopefully we will see changes to the commander system and improvements to reduce the zerg's and increase the results of individual and team action.
I have not played PvP because the game mode does not really interest me. Generally, Guild Wars has been know for its skill-based PvP. It was a big surprise to a lot of people to see that it was not really focused on in Guild Wars 2.
Most importantly, PvP will be seeing a match making system to ensure people of equal skill level are placed in matches together. Having watched a couple dozen PvP matches I can attest to the fact that this is a much needed addition. Most matches are completely one-sided and not interesting to watch.
We’ll be adding systems that make it easier for players who are less competitive to get matched only against people with similar skill sets...
We also want to make it easier to play games against good opponents, and give the ability to compete in games where ranking matters quickly and easily.
This also means that all the things that come with match making will also follow, such as, leader boards, progression rewards, and tournaments and prizes. On top of that we are promised custom servers, observer mode and a progression system.
These new changes do intrigue me and could encourage me give it a go, but a lot of the chagnes just seems like stuff that should have been included at launch. I was expecting to hear about new game modes. I will have to wait for more details before I judge this too harshly. These new changes do intrigue me and could encourage me give it a go. Over most of 2013 I think we can expect to see a lot of changes come to PvP as Anet ramps it up to become an eSport. Whether these changes will come fast enough to keep PvP an active part of the game is another topic entirely.
It seems that Anet has a particular focus on improving rewards in the game. Perhaps this is due to the overwhelming feedback from users that they do not feel rewarded when playing the game. Well Anet has stepped up and is adding an entirely new reward system to the game based on achievement points.
One of our focuses is expanding and leveraging our achievement system. The concept behind this is to allow players to earn new rewards for achievements, as well as progressing down achievement paths that take advantage of the open world experience. We’ll add tokens for your achievement you can turn in to select from a list of rewards, including new reward types like ascended gear and infusions.
I think this is a great idea and was not something I had thought of. It allows players to pursue the game the way they want to and to receive rewards from the game for doing that. This has always been a core part of the Anet philosophy when making Guild Wars 2 so it is nice to see them follow through on this with this new reward system.
Immediately after Anet posted their blog post the forums went nuts over this particular topic and Colin came out to provide more details and to alleviate concerns around whether or not these tokens will be rewarded retroactively for achievements already completed. Colin had this to say,
The initial version will only be for daily/monthly achievements (this will not be retroactively rewarded.) Later you’ll see a system in place that rewards more expanded achievements points which will retroactively reward all achievements already earned, yes.
However, there are some achievements which are infinitely repeatable currently. It is highly likely so this new system isn't broken we’ll need to cap those and people who have made insane progress down one of those lines will lose some of their progress to get back to the cap. I wouldn't recommend anyone go bonkers trying to progress an infinitely repeatable achievement category in anticipation of the release of this system, as you will likely lose some points/progress if you take it to an extreme number.
You receive 1 crown per daily, and 10 per monthly. (We’re also still tweaking the costs of the items shown in the screen shot, and will continue to adjust them until until the system is released.)
Basically what this clears up is that, firstly, we will only be able to get the new "crown" currency from doing dailies and monthlies to start with. Secondly, all currently completed achievements will retroactively rewards crowns at a later date when finishing these achievements and the new ones will also earn you additional crowns. Finally, the only thing that will not earn you crowns and will not retroactively give you crowns are multiple completions of infinitely repeatable achievements. For example, Agent of Entropy which is rewarded each time you salvage 200 items. There are some more details in this thread from Colin if you are interested in checking that out.
I feel this is the correct direction for the reward system. It allows people to play the area of the game that interests them and still receive top tier rewards for doing so. This is exactly what I wanted to see. I hate feeling like I am being screwed out of gold by not speed clearing AC or CoF on a daily basis. Hopefully we will also see changes to the rewards champions drop in the world and an improvement on rewards from those events as well.
The final topic to discuss today are guilds. A lot of players feel that there is not a whole lot for guilds to do. I would tend to agree, but my guild has found ways to make things for us to do together. That doesn't mean that I do not think the guild system does not need improvements. My feelings are far from that. I just think that most people do not manage a guild and do not see the real source of the problems which I feel are focused around there not being tools to effectively organize your guild. For crying out loud there isn't even a way to see when people last logged in such that you can remove inactive guild members.
[W]e’re working on adding new types of content to the game in early 2013 that will allow guilds to go on missions together. Some of these missions may be content designed specifically for the guild to accomplish within certain constraints or time requirements while others see the creation of new content by a guild/s everyone in the world can experience.
This is fairly ambiguous. A lot of players were hoping for raid style dungeons that require coordination across a large number of players. This does not seem to be what the above implies. What I think it means is that we will see some sort of time trail on existing dungeons or perhaps jumping puzzles. As for the ability for guilds to create new content for others to enjoy I am completely puzzled by this. The only thing I can think of is that guild members will have the ability to decorate guild halls and non guild members will be able to visit the halls to see the creations of other guilds.
Again I would have liked to see changes to the back end management of guilds, but I suppose I will take this as well.
I think a lot of the stuff mentioned in Anet's blog post is absolutely fantastic. I think that, overall, this is the correct direction to take the game. My concerns mainly sit with the fact that we did not receive a lot of details with regards to time frames. A lot of the talk sees really ambiguous and these changes could come as early as January or as late as December. I think I would have preferred to see the post organized chronologically based on when they hope the change will hit the live server.
I was surprised by some of the changes and I am now really looking forward to these features. The new reward system based on achievement points looks really interesting. I am also excited to see the progression systems added into WvW along with the unique WvW abilities.
What do you guys think? If you were in charge of Anet what is the first problem in the game that you would fix? What is the change you are most looking forward too? Let me know in the comments below.