Guild Wars 2 does it differently

Jul 7

Written by:
7/7/2012 1:13 PM 

 


Following the relatively recent storm of information of every kind (videos, blog posts, articles, forum posts) which fell like a refreshing rain upon our news-thirsty heads, springing from the first two ‘open’ beta weekends of Guild Wars 2, one thing became apparent beyond any doubt and (pre-)assumption of disbelief: ArenaNet did not just make wild claims with their ‘design manifesto’ it’s expressed more than 2 years ago already. Their game, almost complete now, proves that they deliver the marvelous or even heretic things they’ve promised us.

   In this present article I shall attempt a brief presentation of the most significant, imho, points which lead Guild Wars 2 to escape the form (or formula) of the MMORPG genre. As a reference game I will use Aion – The Tower of Eternity™. Before you bolt to blame me for not choosing a more ‘contemporary’ MMO (like Tera, for example) or a more ‘commercially successful’ one (e.g. WoW), or even one of a more ‘western’ philosophy (since Aion was developed by NCSoft Korea), let me beat you to it with the reasons:

   (a) precisely because Aion is of ‘korean’ philosophy, a number of differences with GW2 will be more outstanding. Besides, Guild Wars 2 will be played by you and me who are ‘westerners’ and not koreans!

   (b) to give an answer to many people who see the clothes and not the man wearing them: the fact that GW2 bears the seal of NCSoft (as its producer) does not make it its creation but merely its product! Creator is ArenaNet and I want this to be boldly comprehensible and intelligible.

   So, here comes a dissertation which could be titled:

“APPROXIMATELY 10 things that GW2 does
ENTIRELY differently (from other MMOs)"


Disclaimer (?): please note that this article, as evident by its sheer length, was written over an extended period of time spanning over two of the BWEs (first two). Due to this and to the fact that the game has entered that frenzied state where changes happen faster than patch notes get posted or announced, some of the information contained herein may have been rendered inaccurate - at worst. However I tend to believe that the core of the game's mechanics and philosophy, which is the main point of this entire post, have remained unaffected and rigidly unaltered in any way.



1. Quests

   Aion, like the entirety of MMOs, employ a familiar and tested set of quests which comprises irrevocably from the following types:

    (a) “kill X mobs” (the well-known ‘kill-ten-rats’ motif), with its variation: “bring me X drops from given mob” – which translates to “kill Y mobs”, where Y is greatly bigger than X. In fact, the more ‘korean’ the MMO is in philosophy the greater Y is! (read a very good post about Grind here)

    (b) “retrieve this item” and take it to given NPC – the so-called ‘delivery quests’. It’s the kind of quests immediately abandoned by people occupied real-life with pizza delivery jobs

   (c) “escort given NPC to a given location” – the so-called ‘escort quests’. Typically EVERY mob on the map bears grudges against said NPC, thus turning the quest into a spin-off of “16 Blocks”

   (d) “go there, get one (or more) items X and bring them back” (‘fetch quests’). Reverse route of (b), a bit more time-consuming and complex. Its variations depend on the way you acquire the requested item(s): purchase, bribery, assassination, genocide, and other foul methods of the small hours

   (e) “bring me X items and I will reward you with a weapon/armor piece” – the so-called ‘exchange quests’ which basically are mere excuses for endless grind

   So I browse my Quest Log [J] in Aion and cannot find any quests requiring something different than what I’ve described above. Only thing that changes among them is the excuse (i.e. the text) and the numbers (X and Y, above). Now I open my Quest Log [L] in Guild Wars and I see… the same! Here too there are quests where I must kill X mobs, or escort someone somewhere, or play the courier. The difference, however, lies in the small things.

   Should GW ask me to fetch Y items by killing X mobs, Y will be slightly –if at all- greater than X: almost every mob will drop what I’m looking for. I could be ordered to escort an NPC somewhere, but I will also be asked to defend an area or an outpost as well; activities that call for group effort and collaboration, things which justify the ‘M’ in the ‘Massively’. Guild Wars 2 evolves quests by introducing the ‘meta-Events’. These are chains of quests which are triggered by a Dynamic Event. The original GW already had such ‘dynamic events’ which were triggered when the player came within a specific distance from the NPC that offered them. Rift has them as well, in a bigger scale too, since its world is not instanced as GW’s. However, Guild Wars 2 has them in such an extent and degree that has never existed in a game before. The first reviews and impressions indicate that it’s done quite a good job with them too!

   Side note: the observant reader will have undoubtedly noticed that for the biggest part I have employed GW(1) instead of GW2 in my comparisons with Aion. The reason behind this misbehavior is that Guild Wars 2 does not have a Quest Log! I know, this sounds utterly dumb and incredible. Truth is... it does not need one. Let me explain. At any given point during one's PvE musings, one may have up to 3 active quests simultaneously: personal story (green bold letters at the top-right corner of your screen), a renown heart quest (identified by the heart-shaped bullet before it), and a Dynamic Event entry - only in the case where one is currently running in that area. And that's all. The game does not display quests which are not pertinent to your current location. This ridiculously brilliant design is as effective as placing a GPS on a self-guided ballistic missile. It works that well too. Apparently, ArenaNet's designers thought about the whole quest monitoring process from the opposite direction. Traditionally, the way every game goes about it is the following:

   1. player browses through their Quest Log and identifies which quests take place in or around the same location on the Map
   2. player 'ticks' those quests so they get pinned on his top-right screen corner
   3. these quests appear on the Map as well, creating a shaded area with mouse-over tooltips and what-not
   4. player visits said area and starts questing

   ArenaNet's approach now is something like this:

   4. player visits said area
   3. quests appear on the Map with mouse-over tooltips and what-not
   2. quests get pinned on his top-right screen corner
   1. -

   It's fast, effortless, effective, brain-dead simple, work of a genius. You go wherever you want and you start questing. No questions asked, no instructions needed. If you're here then you do not need to bother yourself with something which may -or may not- be happening somewhere else. Unless it's your personal story - but that's another story anyway, right?



2. Repeatable quests & Activities

   Yet another common kind of quests in Aion (and in most contemporary MMOs indeed) is the “do this task and deliver by a certain time today. Repeat this tomorrow, the day after, etc”. These are the infamous ‘repeatable quests’ (daily/weekly) and as a rule they comprise of quests belonging to one of the types above.

   Guild Wars 2 does not break away from this rule: it (will) include ‘repeatable quests’, however neither their purpose nor their essence is going to be about grind. In the contrary, their rewards will be either titles, or skins, or dyes, or other kinds of cosmetic ones – things which do not make one player better than another by improving their stats or gear. In Aion, I recall, I’d withered/wept/scrounged to manage to amass the 1200 coins I needed back then for my super-duper Staff – since no dungeon boss ever was kind or benevolent enough to drop me one… This weapon improved my character, hence all the daily/repeatable quests I’d done were pure grinding. Repeatable quests do exist in GW2, true, but the game does not ‘force’ you to do them. Having the ability to choose is the defining factor here.


"Target Shootout" written in New Krytan

   Furthermore, GW2 (shall) offer another kind of ‘quest’, if we can name them as such, which is particularly popular in the eastern countries. They are known as activities or mini-games. Irrelevant to their content, the essence again is that they are optional and their rewards do not make someone better or stronger. This is the general and inviolable rule of GW2 as far as the development of characters goes: everything is equally accessible to everyone, at a 100% possibility of acquisition! And vice-versa: anything that requires repetition for its acquisition is not imposed upon you by the game or anyone else, since it brings you no substantial profit but merely aesthetic. Along these lines is the next topic.



3. Dungeons & Loot

   The path towards equipping our characters passes, unswervingly, from the Symplegades that are the instance runs. Be it simple dungeons, for either just one person or typically for a full party (5 or 6 people), or glorious raids, our avatar’s improvement passes through these.

   In general, the scenario of executing or running a dungeon is made up from the following three basic steps:

   (a) Forming the party. Its composition depends on the type of instance, e.g. it may call for extra CC or additional heal), and the so-called mechanics of the mobs therein and particularly of the final boss. Finding the suitable members can be done either through direct assignment to members of our legion/guild, or through the LFG channels.

   (b) Running the instance. Typically we run, kill, rez and do all those fun stuff we encounter in a dungeon. Oh yes, we also loot !

   (c) We kill the final boss and distribute its precious drops. Which are, invariably, random. Simply put, this means that the game does not take into consideration what classes there are in the party or what each player still needs to complete their gear. It does not drop the same items every time, of course, but neither are there equal chances for each member to get something useful. However logical this may be, in terms of probability theory, it always leads to these: nagging and disappointment, when after so many hours you come home empty-handed, dysphoria before the n-th repetition, nurturing of a feeling of doing a chore where there should be eagerness and impatience instead.

   I remember with great indignation and repulse the instance 'Dark Poeta' (level 50+) in Aion. It was, at the time of the game’s release, its end content: the hardest instance with the top drops, in PvE at least. I don’t think I entered more than 10 times in total… My brain and body could endure only so much. Statistically, if it takes 10 runs to get one (1) piece of equipment –and this only happened to the lucky ones!- and each such run takes approximately 5 hours… Do the math.

   On the contrary, I reminisce the solo instance ‘Haramel’ (level 18+), again in Aion. Although it was… a party for one, something that surely deprived it of the fun and memorable moments that the "hurrah" and mayhem of group instances involves, it had something that made it special: if not in the first or second, then certainly in the third run tops you’d have been ‘dressed up’ with a whole new set! Plus each run only took 30 minutes at most.

   Unfortunately, the expectations risen by that instance proved to be a joyful but isolated incident: upon reaching level 37 we gain access to yet another solo instance, 'Kromede's Trial'. Its rewards are either an armor set with a truly beautiful skin, or a very good weapon. Or both. All the players I know of who managed to acquire any of these have literally spent their youth inside that instance. And should someone asked them what their opinion of it is, they’d all agree that they do not want to set their foot in there ever again! Even the satisfaction they felt when they finally got what they strived for was obscured by the boredom and consecutive disappointments. 




One of these is "the classiest dungeon you will ever have the pleasure of looting" (GW2)
and the other is the 'Library Room' in Kaliga's Manor (Aion). Which is which?


   Dungeons in Guild Wars 2 are like everything else in the game: fun. This involves and implies the factor ‘rewarding’. If you take the trouble and spend your time, you shall be rewarded for it. All the party members will get something for their effort – and not something useless but an item fitting to their class and character. Every time. Invariably. Do not forget the rule we mentioned above though: rewards are of aesthetic nature, proofs & trophies to show to all that you are the masters of this dungeon. These are no items to make your character more competitive against the others. You have no obligation to ‘run’ the dungeon! However, should you do so, you will have the satisfaction and the bounty you deserve.



4. Holy Trinity


   When Jon Peters announced that in Guild Wars 2 there shall be no Healer class, two things happened simultaneously:   

   1. all MMORPG-fans worldwide exclaimed “wtf?!”, and
   2. a small number of people pricked up their ears and added a bookmark somewhere

   Mr. Peters analyzed the reasons for which ArenaNet believed that the so-called ‘Holy Trinity’ of MMOs – i.e. Tank, Healer, DPS – constituted their curse, since in essence it forced upon the players a role they had to play, creating a mechanism that collapsed only too easily should one of these three cogs went missing.


"That is why Guild Wars 2 does not have a dedicated healing class" (J. Peters)

   ArenaNet’s approach to the matter of classes (or professions, as it likes to call them) is simple: every character, independently of its ‘class’, will be able to take care of him/herself (self-heal) and others (support), but will also be able to deal out damage whenever they want to! Why should the game make you be EITHER one when you can be ALL of them at once? Why should the shoes you pick when you create your character define the path you will take? This is simply wrong – and ArenaNet just fixed it. Instead of the dedicated classes of the Holy Trinity, it proposes the 3 roles of Guild Wars 2: CONTROL - SUPPORT - DAMAGE. Some claim (especially after the recent introduction of Traits) that ArenaNet merely changed the name of Tank – Healer – DPS and not the essence. Even if that holds true, the fact that in GW2 EVERY player will be able to play ALL THREE roles at the same time, without doing a re-roll first, is enough to make the difference from the MMO lot.

   Using the Aion example again, I will tell you a little about two of its classes: the Cleric and the Chanter. Both belong to the same School of professions, that of the Priests – according to the game’s lore. So it makes sense that they both receive the same training up to a point (level 9 in fact) and they are taught the same skills. Then comes specialization and each one goes their separate ways. Cleric becomes more able at healing, while Chanter at support: buffs, boons, mantras – call them what you will. Out of the two, Chanter was and still is my favorite one. To be totally honest, he’s my favorite class in the game. The reason is quite simple, really: he’s the most adaptable and versatile of the lot! He does moderate DAMAGE, he can heal adequately and offer SUPPORT to his group while there were more than a few occasions where I had to tank or CONTROL aggro, with a timed execution of buffs or heals. Surely, I did not have the damage output of an Assassin or a Sorcerer or even hold the aggro on me like a Templar could; I even couldn’t ensure the survival of my entire party through group heals or condition removal, like my half-brother the Cleric. However I could do a bit of everything and assist my party through supplementary acting in any role was called for by the given situation. If ArenaNet claims that every profession in Guild Wars 2 will offer the same freedom… my only problem then is which one to choose!


Players adapt their roles so they complement each other (image taken from mesmer.pl)

   I can well understand the raged disbelief of those MMO-fans (see group #1 above), let alone of those who used to play as dedicated healers and loved it! The suspense, the heat, the feeling you get from the realization that the existence of the entire party is in your hands – and the satisfaction you get when you save the day. And I can also picture the chaos and tension that will justifiably ensue during the first days of playing GW2, when party wipes happen in waves and everyone will put the blame on ArenaNet for taking away the dedicated healer whom we’d all been accustomed to blaming so far. However, as soon as we learn to play as members of a group, reacting to each situation in a way that complements and enhances the action of our comrades… As soon as each one of us learns to play right their triple role… As soon as we realize that GW2 is a new and different MMO than those we’re used to playing, we will love it as we’ve loved the original one.

   Using the words of Jon Peters: "Everyone take a deep breath. It's going to be OK.".



5. Traits System & Money Sinks

   The Traits system of Guild Wars 2 is not one of those things that make the game different from every other ΜΜΟ out there, because all of them contain, one way or another, some kind of mechanism that allows experimentation on different character builds. Why is it worth of mentioning then? Two reasons specifically. First of all, this system is one of the two legs of the 'giant' that answers to the name of "no Holy Trinity" (check the 4th point above for more) who’s supposed to lift on his own shoulders the weight of the whole game – the other leg being the incredible way of skill utilization that ArenaNet has come up with, which is based on picking the right weapon for each occasion. The second reason is that the Trait mechanism is one of those parts of the game that has been criticized the most and has suffered the worst insult. Why is this? Prosecutors say that it just serves as a ‘money sink’ for Guild Wars 2.

   When we refer to the term «money sink» in a game, which is something that specifically appears in ΜΜΟs, we basically mean anything that extorts in-game gold from the player. It’s widely acceptable that ALL the games need such a mechanic, in order to establish a healthy economy. Let’s not judge whether this stands true or not and just keep in mind that Traits in Guild Wars 2 serve as a ‘money sink mechanism’. The reason such a thought really exists is based on the fact that when someone wants to re-spec his Trait Points, he has to pay a certain amount of gold. In addition to that, the player has to buy a training manual so that he can unlock each one of the total 3 trait tiers, which constitutes an additional cost – even if this is something that takes place only once during the “lifespan” of each character.



   Aion is full of money sinks: traveling by any means of teleportation (either via waypoints or flight transportation), changing an item’s appearance (dyes, transmutation/armsfusion, un-socketing), leveling your crafting disciplines and even unlocking their subsequent mastery tiers, buying materials that you cannot have access to otherwise (catalysts, etc),… The list can be endless! In Guild Wars 2 we’ll have to pay a small (as ArenaNet claims) fee, in order to re-spec our Trait Points. Caution: in PvE one can change any of their Major Traits free-of-charge whenever and as often as they will, provided they are not "in-combat". Any other change in Traits requires re-speccing, hence money. In sPvP (structured PvP) all changes are cost-less. The more we experiment in PvE then, the greater the money sink this becomes. However the game still features two mechanisms that serve this role for real: (a) fast travel from one waypoint to another costs a certain amount of coins depending on the distance and (b) so does armor repair. I can assure you that I detest the first of those two features. Regarding the second one though… you can read my thoughts on the paragraph to come.



6. Death Penalty vs. Armor Durability

   While playing a video game of this particular genre, you’ll undoubtedly come across at least one virtual “death”. It’s not pleasant, but it’s something rather reasonable and no one will ever be surprised by the fact that we are going to face such situations even in Guild Wars 2! Nevertheless, ArenaNet does not plan to punish us just because we were kinda unlucky or careless, or even because we were reckless enough to clash against a horde of tearing Ettins on our own. They provide us with a second chance of fighting, by entering the so called downed state: we lose, temporally, all of our skills and gain access to four new, more specific ones. If we manage to put down a certain enemy (rally) while being on this downed state or, get revived by an ally during a particular time period, then we are standing on our feet once again and death himself is avoided. In worst case scenario, where both of the aforementioned ways of survival fail or our opponent finishes us off, we are dragged down to the defeated state – which is simply what we know from every other game as death.



   We won’t judge if or which benefits showed up with the implementation of this particular step just before the – actual- death; I believe that this is something that ArenaNet itself can explain better. We’ll focus on the following contentious issue: «each time you get killed, a piece of your armor gets damaged. When every piece of your armor is damaged, your next death is going to break a random one of them and you’ll have to travel back to town in order to get it repaired… by paying a small sum of gold».

   Martin Kerstein was doing his best while trying to explain how the armor durability mechanic of Guild Wars 2 is actually going to work. The various forums were on fire once again: durability = money sink! And the second, and maybe the worst of them all negative argument: when every piece of my armor gets broken and I’m left completely pant less in an instance, I have to travel back to town in order to repair while leaving my entire and interrupting the action flow. There goes the whole try of creating a game where the game is not interfering with our fun!

   How often can we stumble upon such a situation though? If we read carefully what Mr Kerstein had to say we can easily understand that in order to get just one armor piece broken, every single one of them (7 in total) has to be damaged. This can happen by dying, a.k.a. getting defeated and not just downed, seven consecutive times. Impossible? No. Frequent? That depends entirely on your ability to stay alive!

   What shall we say as a conclusion then? Aion did not feature any durability mechanism but it employed, as we witnessed in the previous point, several other ways of “sinking” player money. As a matter of fact though, the action there was always constant and fluent. In Guild Wars 2 we are indeed going to spend some money on repairs every time ALL of our armor pieces are broken… Adding up to this is the amount of gold used to pay for our travel expenses each time we die (waypoints), we’ve got a huge… hole there. The worst part though is, or will be, the interruption of the fun part while waiting for everyone to regroup. We still need to know how often such things are going to occur.



7. Mentoring vs. Side-kick

   Patch 2.0 brought to Aion the well known from every other game mentoring system. What’s that? In simple words, that’s a system that allows (motivates) two different players who are separated by a huge level gap to play together. In Aion now, a high leveled character could group with one or more low leveled (at least a difference of 10 levels is expected) by choosing to be their ‘Mentor’. In a situation like this the following happen: (a) the mentor could not receive ΧΡ, gold or drops and (b) the low level groupies had access to everything they are entitled to, as if the mentor was not even present. As one can see, the latter are obviously benefited. Mentors on the other hand could take part in some newly introduced ‘mentoring quests’ which grand various rewards, so that they themselves feel motivated to participate.

   Guild Wars 2 has implemented a similar system, called side-kicking. As a term, side-kick refers to a person who’s ‘playing’ along with you, by your side. In Comedies it has the meaning of companion, such as Iago was for Jaffar or as Ollie was for Stan. In air fights, he’s your wingman. And finally in ΜΜΟs he’s, let’s say, your henchman. So, what’s going to happen here as well is about the capability of a high level player to travel back to low level areas and assist his fellow friends. In order for such a system to work properly, the high level characters are… demoted to the corresponding level of that low area! This way they can receive ΧΡ, gold and even drops in a proper, way such as every other member of the group – there’s a substantial difference though: the amount of the XP and gold and even the quality of drops, corresponds to the ones of the real level and not just to those of the low level area! With this spectacular way, the high leveled character is able to gain XP and improve his gear even by visiting areas which he has already explored, several… levels in the past. This visit though won’t feel like a walk in the park, because challenge will fit with his level.

   Another advantage of this ingenious mechanism that ArenaNet came up with and materialized, is the fact that it increases accordingly the areas and the content which the player has access to. Statistically, as it seems every ΜΜΟ player has access to an amount of game content equal to +/- 5 levels of his current one. This is translated to about 10% of the whole content. As the player's level increases, a part of the content permanently stays behind and new content becomes available. The difference of Guild Wars 2 on this part is that, as the side-kick system not just allows but also exhorts the players to return to low level areas (by doing the same quests with our low level friends and rewarding grouping with them), the available content is basically growing larger day after day: new content is added every 5 levels approximately while all the previous one remains available and contributory! This is pure magic...


A map of the game with recommended character levels



8. WvWvW vs. Siege

   In all MMO games, PvP is one of the most flamed and interesting parts. The reason is that it offers thrills one cannot experience through playing against the computer-controlled mobs: a human opponent’s creativity, inventiveness and imagination have not been simulated (yet!) by any computer system AI. Dominating your opponent awards the PvP player with taunting and bragging rights, as well as the satisfaction of seeing their gear and skill better that of their opponent’s. I shall not get into the various types of PvP there are. I will only contain myself into comparing GW2 with my reference-game, Aion.

   In Aion then, there are these two let’s say opportunities for PvP: either through ‘invasion’, via rifts, of the enemy’s lands, or by open confrontation with them in the area (areas, to be exact, as there are 3 maps for it) called the Abyss. This last land is a battleground (to make use of familiar terminology) where players can do both PvP and PvE at the same time: there are quests & instances for anyone who cares to PvE, but there’s also the chance and the option to engage in ‘open’ PvP. Where: open equals unbalanced, since there is – on purpose – no mechanism to control the power of the clashing sides.

   The reward for a player busying him/herself with PvP is the accumulation of abyss points, through which one buys PvP gear – armor and weapons. Naturally, anyone who is geared up with such equipment has a clear advantage over those who’re wearing PvE gear. However, PvP also controls one additional parameter in the game, even more crucial as this affects each race in a more general way: the possession percentage over the sum of all the fortresses in the Abyss determines the tax in all commercial exchanges. What this means is that the race that has the upper hand in the Abyss will pay fewer money at the broker (Auction House) for each registered item. Additionally, having a fortress in one’s possession enables players of that race to gain access to this fortress’ instance – which in turn rewards with even more abyss points. This mechanism is a self-feeding system: I do PvP so I collect points (and save money too) so I can get me a better PvP armor and weapon so that I can gain even more points, and so on and so forth.



(Aion – Comparison of PvE & PvP breastplate: same level and base stats but note that "Agility +52”
which translates to "PvP defense +5.2 %”)


   If someone reads carefully the description of the two types of PvP in Aion, they will easily understand – even without experiencing it first hand – that there is a obvious lack of anything to guarantee balanced encounters. In the first case, the ‘invasion’ scenario, what typically happens after a while (when the element of surprise for the rift-ed attack is gone) is that the invaders are severely outnumbered by the defenders. In addition to that, for reasons pertaining to national pride and prestige as well as the collection of abyss points (even more through the completion of daily/weekly PvP quests…) the attackers are very swiftly faced with not only a greater number of opponents but with players of much greater level than their own. In the second PvP type, in the Abyss, there two scenaria: either someone is happily PvE-ing and gets ‘ganged’ by 3-5-10 people of the opposing race sending him home early, or some people go looking for PvP there and come across an undetermined number of equally undetermined levels opponents. Some will say that this is the true essence of PvP. I shall not argue with them regarding the fun factor; I am merely underlining here the absence of balance to these occasions. The consequences of which become apparent after a while, when this lack of balancing mechanism broadens the gap between the conflicting races: the prolonged possession of fortresses in the Abyss by one race enables its members to ‘dress’ themselves in PvP gear, making them even more effective against their opponents and, reversely, putting these opponents in an irreversible position. Not after a very little time goes by like this indeed, PvP ceases to be entertaining – even for the winning side.

   In Guild Wars 2 now there are also two basic types of PvP: structured PvP (sPvP) and WvW (or WvWvW more accurately). Let’s examine them in turn. In sPvP players form groups of 5 people to fight against another, random group on a map which contains capture points and NPC bosses. Essencially this is a GvG capture-the-flag type of game, where the team that controls the majority of those capture points the longer, wins the round. All participating players are ‘automatically’ raised to level 80 (cap) and equipped with PvP gear. What does “automatically” mean? That as soon as we travel to the Mists – imagine them as the preparation grounds before entering some PvP game – we become leveled to 80: all our skills and traits are unlocked and in our disposal to create the build we feel most satisfied with. There is no cost to re-spec, so experimentation is greatly encouraged leading eventually to deciding which build(s) best suit us, so we can plan our PvE development accordingly. Additionally, special NPCs offer all the required equipment to us, FOR FREE, so we can dress up with the gear of our liking: armor, weapons, enchantments (runes, etc), anything we can imagine and desire is within our grasp. For free! The achievement of this system is obvious and dual: on one hand it ensures that there will be no imbalance caused by dedicated gear and on the other hand, because of this, it guarantees a fair game the outcome of which solely depends on the right and well-timed cooperation of the team's members as well as their skillful play of their respective class.

   The second PvP type in GW2 is more complex and closer to the skirmishes of Aion battlegrounds, in the Abyss. In WvWvW then, three worlds (aka servers) are pitted against each other in a conflict that lasts for two weeks. At the end of this time period, the points accumulated by each world are summed and the winner is announced. The profits for this winner are multiple, mainly bonuses in XP and gold. In this case, as with sPvP, all players are automatically set at the maximum level (80) with all the required gear at their disposal, as usual. Certainly there are ganging incidents here as in Aion's Abyss - besides, that's the fun part! However war cannot be won by a few zergs, nor is there a chance you will find yourself faced with someone who is 10 levels higher or lower than yours or who is equipped with top PvP gear while you're wearing your night robe and slippers. And this makes the world of a difference in how both the winner and the loser feel about the outcome. Let's not forget that the loser's worth determines the winner's glory!

   In closing this section I'd like to briefly mention two more issues which I believe relate mainly to PvP and originate from a server's population. The first one the lag that ensues in situations where a large number of people gather at the same location, e.g. during a siege. In Aion for example, even today when 3 years have elapsed since its launch and the number of people playing it have decreased significantly, the situation has not improved dramatically. In GW2 on the other hand, from what we've seen so far, either with our own eyes or in videos, lag is more than evident in such situations. One more factor adding to this is the outrageous number of truly impressive effects which in some cases bring the game engine to its knees. We should mention however that GW2 is still in a beta stage and its optimization has just begun. Nevertheless, I feel I had to underline this so common problem shared by MMOs and keep my fingers crossed that GW2 will be spared from it.

   The second problem is a direct result of the lack of some mechanism to control the balance between factions, like I mentioned before. We understand that the bigger the population of each faction, the sooner and more evidently imbalance makes its appearance. Which, in turn, broadens even more the gap between these warring factions and, ultimately, makes the game non-fun for the consistent losers. In Aion, for instance, in my server (Telemachus [EU]), us Asmodians never managed to make a come-back ever since Elyos got the upper hand... . In GW2 we do not have enough data to draw a fair comparison yet. However some alarming things have been heard already, which cannot be dismissed: during the last (2nd) open beta, some people looked at the WvWvW scoreboard and decided it was pointless to enter the battle, since the situation seemed irreversible. I wish they implement some kind of balanced encounters mechanism - something which would be triggered either automatically or through a collaborated effort of the losing side, enabling them to turn the tables. In Aion, the non-playable race of Balaur was supposed to play this part... . Never, not ONCE did it do so. Something which, in the long run, made absolute sense: why would the Elyos players after all bother to conquer all the fortresses when they know they'd lose them again not to their more competent Asmodian opponents but to the undefeated NPC? ArenaNet has stated that they will regulate the population distribution across worlds (servers) - during the initial "home world" selection and the controlled server transfer as well as during the WvWvW battles themselves, so that such incidents of number superiority will be eliminated. On the other hand, no one will be particularly thrilled when they attempt to participate at some point to the epic WvWvW battles only to be door-blocked with the excuse that "there already too many of you Green World people inside the battlegrounds...". We are awaiting then to see how all of the above will be sorted and balanced after all.


Aion - Racial restrictions during character creation, due to... overpopulation



9. Queues vs. Server Overflow mechanic

   I can still recall the first time I ever logged into Aion. I believe I will remember it for as long as I live. Hundreds of players awaited there, on the same spot, ecstatic from the beauty of the world which welcomed them, waiting to be inhabited and conquered. I'd already spent almost 6 months of my life in the game even before it got launched, with participation in all its beta stages and a its own site built entirely by myself; and now I could finally taste it in all its greatness! There we stood then, all of us, motionless, exchanging incredible punch lines of the "wow so many people... it's a @&***%$ here!". This stillness lasted unnaturally long. Some of us tried to move at last, but we discovered it was virtually impossible. All of us who insisted too much, got disconnected... .



   This situation lasted for about 10 days, if I remember correctly. Agreed, it was not so bad all the time. Sometimes we could not log in at all (network error), others we had to queue up ("there are currently 10.546 people in queue... login in approximately 55 minutes..."), while in those first days anyone who managed to enter played quite smoothly (i.e. without any serious lag) - but not without the disconnects. NCSoft did everything they could, right from the start: they increased the capacity of their servers and then added more servers (worlds or shards). When they realized their game had such immense (and unexpected?) appeal, they took an extra measure which at least for me it was unheard of: whenever they detected that someone was afk for an extended period of time, which got progressively smaller as the problems continued to persist, they kicked him/her from the game! Of course we countered this 'solution' with a pen cap or something equivalent ;)

   Someone will say that this phenomenon, which is particularly evident during the first days of an online game's launch, is very common and gradually goes away. Even companies that are considered to be colossi in the market space, despite statistics and all the data they collect regarding the expected traffic in L-day, they fail to serve their rabid subscribers. ArenaNet fell victim to this brutal law, no exception, when they first opened the gates to Guild Wars 2 to the unstoppable crowd who craved to witness the game - only to be disappointed by these very problems. During the initial 8 hours of the first 'open beta' it was virtually impossible to either connect or remain connected for more than half an hour. It was about a dozen of us on RaidCall and only three were lucky enough (or was it something darker than luck?) who managed to connect and play from the first minute and all through the long night. Myself, after almost 3 hours or back-to-back  disappointments and my irritation severely testing the limits of my stoicism, I admitted defeat and retired. The next morning, around 8, eleven hours after the BWE had opened, the game rolled like a coaster. That was until early in the afternoon, when apparently a couple of thousands of people on the other side of the world awoke and started logging in en masse. But this time the problems were not so severe, because obviously the overflow servers had kicked in...

   One of ArenaNet's innovations, which caused quite a wave of enthused reactions when it was announced, was the overflow servers. What is that exactly? It is the company's answer to the problem of waiting queues. Or, in any case, it aspires to be. When some player tries to connect to the game and the server of choice is full at that point, the game asks them if they wish to be placed to one of the overflow servers until a spot is available on the server proper. For as long the player resides in that 'parallel universe', they have access to the exact same PvE content they'd have in their own world, progress the same - in their quests as well as in their personal story, or in anything else they decide to play through. When the moment comes where they're at the head of their queue - something which they're completely clueless about when it will occur - the game prompts them to be moved to their regular server; should they accept, they are moved to the exact spot where they stood prior to that transfer.


GW2 - Overflow Queue: notice that we can transfer to the proper server

   From what we've seen so far (after 2 BWEs) from this system, some initial conclusions have been drawn. First of all, it works! Instead of sitting there in front of your monitor, idle and irritated, counting down from ten thousand something, you get in the game right away and play properly. Well, almost properly. Because for as long as you reside in the OS you cannot join a party with your friends who are not there too! This is the major drawback of this otherwise brilliant system, and it was quite a grave one - let's not forget that this is a game built on the motto "do not play alone". I used a past tense there because during the last (3rd BWE) this problem which had been fingered by testers and acknowledged by developers quite early has been tackled very efficiently! One of the most welcomed changes was the 'smart' option to move the entire party to an overflow server when one of its members could not be logged in to where his teammates were. Effective and brilliant.



10. Alternate reality vs. Game World – the ‘Extended Experience’

   When the virtual world pours into the real one…

   Alternate worlds and virtual reality. I could write whole pages on these subjects, where they are at right now and where they’re headed, since this happens to be my field of expertise - but I'll try to refrain from that. Instead I will just quote the statements of ArenaNet's developers and discuss a few examples we've already seen in other games or we're about to see very soon.

   ArenaNet has already experimented in the past with various forms of extended reality - the mixing, that is, of the real (out-of-the-game, OOG) world with the virtual (in-game, IG) one. One instance is the e-mag "The Scribe", supposedly written by a wandering monk, which recounts various moments of the game with references to real players/readers. Another instance is the small marketing campaign they used to set the correct mood to foreshadow the (then) upcoming game campaign, "War in Kryta".  Additionally, it was the first - as far as I know - company to connect so directly an in-game function (looking up information  about a currently active quest) with the web community: just a key press away, the player can visit the corresponding page of the official wiki without ever leaving the game - as the original Guild Wars runs perfectly in windowed mode.

   So, having undoubtedly recognized from very early on the players' love for interaction between the real and the imaginary world and simultaneously following the fashion of social networks, the popularity of which has naturally escalated since then, ArenaNet went on to build into their new game some functionality that's clearly oriented towards that direction. The evolution of data transfer and exchange technologies during the last few years (3G cell phones, smartphones, PDAs, web-based applications that can run on said devices, and so on) as well as their wide adoption among all social classes, have given ArenaNet's developers the tools they need in order to take the OOG experience one step further. Or, possibly, one leap further! The ability to view our character (appearance, statistics, auction house transactions, etc) is already there in other games. However, the ability to communicate with our friends who are playing the game that very moment, exchange chat messages and follow them in-game, possibly even guiding them via our phone, without us being in the game at all... Well, that's unheard of, heretic and incredible - and it's just one of the many candies that Rick Ellis' team will offer to us in order to enrich our Guild Wars 2 experience. In and out of the game.

   I guess by now you may have noticed that in this section I haven't made any references to Aion. The reason is, of course, that Aion - albeit being an NCSoft product - does not offer any kind of OOG experience...

(although, to be fair, back when NCSoft was still responsible for the European servers we had the ability to view and show off our avatar through a web page using a browser - but that was all. No interactivity at all)

...Therefore, I've chosen another MMO instead; one which is also scheduled to be released soon and is, to a greater or lesser extent, at the same development stage as GW2: the very interesting creation of Ragnar Tornquist called The Secret World. Beyond the truly many innovations (no classes, no leveling, therefore no grinding), the modern world setting and the puzzle-based quests it offers (understandable, considering the adventure-genre 'lineage' of its creator), I want to focus on the way this game mixes the real and the virtual world. Honestly, I don't think there's anything like that out there right now. I'd like to mention two examples, just to put things into perspective:

   a) The solution to some puzzles requires access to the internet, searching for clues in the wikipedia and other sources, connection to the database of your faction, etc. All this process happens completely inside the game, through virtual terminals via which the player connects to real sites and conducts real searches - without ever leaving the virtual game world.

   b) The exchange of information between our allies/teammates, the monitoring of our enemies, the recruitment of spies in areas controlled by said enemies, etc, can be done via existing social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. For promotion reasons, a few days ago the company launched a rather long (in duration) event named "The Secret War". During this 'social experience', as the company accurately named it, the players had the ability to grasp the mood of the game by using just existing social networks and web sites but not the actual game client. It was, therefore, a purely OOG experience, backed up by the lore and the setting of their unreleased game. Epic.

   The success of this event has proved how popular this way of interaction (so to speak) is among the players around the world. On the other hand, there's already an obvious intention of Guild Wars 2 players to use the long-awaited ArenaNet game as a starting point, or a home world (to use a familiar in-game term) of their imaginary adventures and virtual avatars. Since the first public beta, a server ("shard", or "world") has unofficially been picked as the ...official world for RP games. In the very first beta, for Pete's sake! Regardless of the future path these two MMOs take, which is probably going to be competitive anyway, a crucial role in their expansion and success will be played by the extent to which they will manage to incorporate such mechanisms that blur the line between the two worlds - the virtual and the real one.



11. End Content & Epilogue

   When we read an MMO's "ID", there's one characteristic that happens to be one of the first questions anyone asks about it: what's the level cap? The term refers to the maximum level a player's avatar can reach and in our mind, even unconsciously, also refers to how big the game is. Try this experiment: find someone who doesn't play MMOs (oh, come on, you should know one or two!) and explain to them what the level cap is, then subsequently state that "Guild Wars has a level cap of 20, while Lineage 2 has a level cap of 90". Watch their reactions. Then add: "the former has many times more content than the latter; that is a greater variety and number of things one can do". Obviously and understandably, they will be surprised and puzzled.

   Generally speaking, in a typical MMO(RPG) players go through the following:

   a) quests
   b) dungeons
   c) crafting (including gathering)
   d) PvP (of all kinds)

   Reasonably enough, one can deduce that the end-content is the sum of all possible choices we are offered once we reach the level cap. Putting crafting aside which, at these levels, is just a secondary activity to complement the others, we are left with two forms of PvE (a and b above) and that PvP part. Let's assume that I have a "capped" character when I log into the game. What choices do I have?

   I log into Aion (yes, I still do!) every day and the first thing I do is get on with my [daily] quests. Not because they're fun anymore but because they're daily and they must be done so that I won't miss out on the reward otherwise. Which is some tokens that I'm going to use to buy better equipment for my character. Which will make my character look better or be more effective in the other activities. Meaning instance runs and PvP. Personally, I have stopped doing instance runs. The reasons are, simply, all those I analyzed in a previous section: disappointingly repetitive patterns, a persistent "been there, done that" feeling, abysmal drop rate and an excruciating deja-vu I experience every time I come out of a dungeon empty handed. So, what's left is the PvP, at which I happen to be a complete noob and no matter how cool I am with losing, it's just boring to lose all the time. I don't blame the game for this: Aion still has a strong PvP element, even at the level cap. To be accurate, the whole game is built with a PvP orientation in mind. I previously talked about the great difference that PvP gear makes and how those who get their hands on some early on have a clear advantage over the rest. But I also talked about the ways and reasons this game crumbled under the absence, even since its development, of any sort of balancing mechanism. The result is that right now, there are players in all of the servers of Aion who want to transfer their characters and find themselves, finally, on the winning side. I am one of them.

   In Guild Wars 2 I haven't had (yet!) any similar experience. Not because my character isn't "capped", mind you, but because we haven't seen any end-content samples yet. However, there's some information around promising that, if anything, we're not going to get bored even then. Bear with me while I present these with an imaginary travel to the future - and you'll forgive any obvious favoring you might notice here, but it's my own fantasy after all!

   So, I'm a level 80 character logging into the game. I have my [daily] quests, then, which must be done. Must they? Well, let's examine this statement now, shall we? What do I miss if I don't? Or, to turn the question upside down: what do I gain if I do? Answer: some rewards that make my character look cooler (cosmetic rewards) or more famous (titles) among the other players. How much I need to pursue this goal is purely a matter of ...vanity and narcissism. Now, since the fantasy is mine, I skip the daily quests and go to the next curtain: instance runs. At level 80 I have just unlocked the 3 last dungeons of the game which I probably haven't gotten enough of, yet. And how could I, considering that each of them offers 4 different scenarios, each of which is a unique experience? Bring into the equation the random events, the alternative story each path unveils, the high level of difficulty that (as we're told) will be there to make them a challenge for even the strongest groups of the most skilled players... What if I'm not ready for that? What if I'm not strong enough, what if I'm unable to find a good enough group, what if today I'm simply not in the mood to dedicate my time to something this demanding and complicated? Oh, I know! Why not run one of the "smaller" dungeons, such as the Ascalonian Catacombs? Excuse me, what was that? They're not for my level? Well, if you did say that (did you, really?) you need to read again about the sidekick system of GW2. And, thus, keep in mind that even in lower level instances and areas I will still enjoy the challenge and the loot that match my level.

   During the recent (June 8th to 11th) open beta, I had the chance to get my hands on the structured PvP of GW2. I already established a few moments ago that I'm a total noob when it comes to PvP and my legion is aware of this (but they still love me nonetheless). Nobody, therefore, had any exceptional requirements from me, the same way I didn't expect myself to enjoy what was going to happen - which, usually, can be summarized as "3, 2, 1 and down goes thevalliant". I admit, though, that the experience I had during the beta won't be a forgettable one. Even before I could figure out what exactly was going on in the map and what I was supposed to do, not only in the context of objective strategy, but also as a team member, the fun was unspeakably new to me! We lost, of course. Time and time again. And if I didn't have to stop in order to attend to some real-life matters and the beta wasn't that short (sigh) and if my friends still let me play with them (I promise I'll be the best Guardian you've ever seen, guys!), I would surely have spent approximately infinite hours in there. Yes, sPvP is fun. Yes, sPvP comes in small bites and is ideal for those who don't have a lot of time to dedicate to the enormous PvE part of the game - like a friend of mine, who has already stated that he's bought the game for its PvP. And yes, sPvP, even considering the current situation of unbalanced professions (as mentioned in the official forum - and the developers don't deny that they're still making changes in this aspect), seems to have a great future and high goals: let's not forget that the original Guild Wars is a monumental e-sport with big and popular world class tournaments. A visit to the Great Temple of Balthazar will convince you.

   I've left for the end the most complex form of PvP in the game, which is WvWvW. Since I don't have a personal opinion on this yet, I will just retell the opinions of my friends who actually did try it, as well as some things I've read about it. Balance and obvious technical settings regarding the graphics engine optimization aside, there are some issues that have the potential to ruin this game in the future, just like it happened with Aion. Fortunately, these issues are already known, both due to the heated complaints from beta testers in the official forum and due to the (bad) examples set by other MMOs, which have turned into valuable experience for ArenaNet's developers. Therefore, it's more than just wishful thinking but rather a strong belief of mine that ArenaNet will manage to give us another amazing title, a worthy successor of the epic Guild Wars games. A game that won't be just an evolution of the MMOs, but will serve as the spiritual ancestor of the next generation MMOs.

54 comment(s) so far...


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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it different

Huuuuuuuuuuuuuuge!
Just skimmed through it and loved it. Good work, the part on PvP is interesting. More to come when I have time to study it a bit more closely :-p

By Hyperion on   7/7/2012 2:25 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it different

Cheers for this.
I hope you already know that this website has been posted by Arena Net developers on the facebook page. Head on over, and you can see the post. :)

Great job.

By Jex on   7/7/2012 3:11 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it different

is to compare it with the aion is like saying black and white ...

By Anya on   7/7/2012 3:15 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it different

You are wrong about TSW, it is both grinding and classes, it is just that everyone can change class anytime. They have the "holy trinity" by tank, healer and 3 dps.

By Dycre on   7/7/2012 3:16 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it different

Some of the content here is a little outdated. These are the two I noticed:

-the gold sinks of travel and armour seem high at low level but are pretty trivial past level 15 or 20
-You can now join friends in overflow servers

Otherwise, great article! I'm really looking forward to GW2.

By Dominic on   7/7/2012 3:42 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it different

why are you comparing a pile of shit to a pot of gold?

By Random on   7/7/2012 4:04 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it different

"However war cannot be won by a few zergs, nor is there a chance you will find yourself faced with someone who is 10 levels higher or lower than yours or who is equipped with top PvP gear while you're wearing your night robe and slippers."

AFAIK, This does happen, you don't have the same access to items for sPvP, you play with what you have unlocked of your skills and traits, but your statistics are buffed to an equivalent of lvl 80. A lvl80 guy with better gear than you will still do more damage, but the difference won't be large and you have a chance to defeat him, however small.

By Dajs on   7/7/2012 4:04 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it different

Guild Wars 2 does it differentLY! DIFFERENTLY!
Please learn what an adverb is.

By David on   7/7/2012 4:07 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it different

Um....

wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/World_versus_World

Matching of worlds
Worlds in WvW are matched up based on their ranking using a modified Glicko rating,[3] so that high-ranked worlds will battle other high-ranked worlds, and low-ranked worlds will battle other low-ranked worlds. This ensures that every world has a fair chance of winning matches despite differing levels of player participation or skill.[4]

All I have to say to the WvWvW concerns is... How imbalanced do you think it's going to get? The "winning" worlds will eventually get pitted against each other, and the biggest world will have to be big enough to take the next two biggest worlds combined... Which, in addition to things like server load, and servers actually being "full" at a certain point, seems almost entirely IMPOSSIBLE, and certainly highly unlikely...

But I could be wrong! Please cite your sources.

By Jonathan on   7/7/2012 4:14 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it different

Good one but i have few notes for you sir

You mentioned that WvWvW lasts for 2 weeks after this time server are put against other oponents (you were badly loosing so after 2 weeks you will have oponents that also lost making it so you have a chance to win this time around)

About overflow servers i think there is/will be option so you party can follow you to overflow server so you can play together If at least one person cannot enter normal server

By Mode on   7/7/2012 4:32 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it different

How can you put a picture here where it says: "ce bordel!" (at point 9)
Come on...you can do better then that!!!

By FGbobi on   7/7/2012 4:39 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it different

Thanks a lot for your feedback! Just a couple of due answers:
a) differentLY is an adverb. How about the article? Read that?
b) re. Overflow Servers: "One of the most welcomed changes was the 'smart' option to move the entire party to an overflow server when one of its members could not be logged in to where his teammates were." I think it's pretty clear we agree it was solved.
c) excuse my French, but the phrase in that picture (#9) was not mine. She read my mind though ;)

By thevalliant on   7/7/2012 4:49 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it different

It's all a matter of perspective, not facts. I don't happen to share your perspective on these things, and in many cases, I find just the opposite to be true.

By Lethality on   7/7/2012 5:20 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it different

Well, let me talk about my experience with the game, regarding the topics mentioned in the article.

I did not felt that the questing is that much different from other games. Sure, it is fun to have an event starting as you just walk around an area, and that really feels different. The problem, hoewever, lies in the "heart" questing. The game guides and points you to certain areas, as any oher mmo does. You HAVE to follow the hearts, and I didn't expect this before actually playing the game. The fact that you don't have to talk to npcs with quetion marks in their heads is cool, but honestly, going from heart to heart is not that different as it sounds. Is almost the same as taking several quests from the npcs of an area, completing the quests there and moving to another area in order to get more quests. You are going to do several quests in every heart area, as events will start nearby, the only real difference is that you don't need to talk with npcs. Mechanicaly speaking, is almost the same thing as any other mmo. The main reason of my complaint is one single fact: dynamic events DO NOT have any impact in the world at all. ArenaNet said they would create a living, breathing world. In my opinion, at least from what i've seen in the betas, they failed. The events don't change the world in any way, as 5 minutes after completing a quest it will start again. I ended up doing some quests several times, because it was convinient, and I needed to level up in order to be able to go other areas. It is different to an extent, as said in the article, but it really didn't feel that different to me. In every mmo, you run around different areas doing quests to level up, and the quests you do have no effect on the world at all. In gw2, you hop around hearts, doing quests in order to level up, and the quests have no effect on the world at all. The only real difference is that in gw2 it easier and faster, as you don't have to bother taking quests in a town and walk for 5 minutes to get to the quest objective.

By Bozaum on   7/7/2012 5:27 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it different

WHOA. Read the entire thing, and I think over thirty minutes has passed. Good stuff, and glad you pointed out that some of the information in this article might be outdated, which some is. I would point out some of the outdated information, but am exhausted after reading it. Still good stuff though.

By TunaTacoTim on   7/7/2012 5:41 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

A very good article. I've been playing GW1 since launch (-2months), most Aion betas, hs and then 17 months, so I can understand why you compare them, though Aion is a game I will NEVER go back to, I don't feel like that with any of the other mmo's I have played.
I,ve done the "end" game content in GW1 so many times so in the end, all that made the game fun was when ANet nerfed some skills and we could think out new ways to do the instances. It wasn't about getting it done, but about how it was done.
I hope there's going to be something similar in GW2, so it's not just about getting it done to get "stuff".

By Billing on   7/7/2012 6:04 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

Quite a long post, but worth reading. Discovered some things I didn't know yet. Thanks!

By Ama on   7/7/2012 6:12 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

Another problem, which is the biggest problem of the game in my opinon, is the sPVP. It may look good for those who are not fans of pvp, but for those who are, like I am, capture point pvp is just unacceptable. Seriously, it is the worst pvp mode ever, in every game. Many games fail at pvp simply because they are based on capture point goals. Pvp should be, in my opinion, about fighting other players. Ironically, capture point pvp does not encourage this at all. People actually get mad at you if you try to fight other players instead of standing in a point defending it. I really hope that spvp based on actual player killing is being made by ArenaNet. Otherwise, the game will lose many, many players. Beta forums were full of complaints about that. The game simply isn't fun for people who like to fight other players at all.

By Bozaum on   7/7/2012 6:13 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

From what have seen the world map picture there dosen't seem to have as many exploreble areas as I would have imagend very sad that was one problem I diden't like with the first guild wars is that they diden't utillise all the map Also @Bozaum need i remind you and everyone els that there is alot of content that was largley scaled up for the perpose of the beta weekends and that things like dynamic events will have an impact on the world arenanet arnt in the habbit of lieing unlike alot of other companys all I'm saying is don't expect what you see in the beta weekends to be a view of whats to come in the final release

By MsNineTailz on   7/7/2012 6:17 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

@Bozaum
I agree that the game mode is not close to being perfect. Your picture of sPvP based on player killing is not right either, in my opinion. Competitive PvP should be much more than simply killing everything that moves. You have WvWvW for that!

I personally enjoy the capture the point format. But it has to be done right - balance, class and map design, among other things. We were promised a lot of changes come BW3 and I am looking forward to checking things out. I suppose the years of Guild Wars 1 have gained them some experience on balance matters.

I would definitely say the game has a lot of potential for sPvP, but we have to see all it has to offer before judging.

By Hyperion on   7/7/2012 6:24 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

@Bozaum In regards to the events starting every 5 minutes, this is only because it is the beta and they want as many people to experience those events as possible. Once the game is actually released, the bosses will take longer to kill and the timer between events will increase. Check out videos of the Shadow Behemoth from game shows last year, for example; you'll see that he takes roughly 15 minutes to kill as opposed to the 3-4 it currently takes in the beta.

By Chrees on   7/7/2012 6:26 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

Not that I want to be a party pooper, your Aion information is REALLY out of date.

By Riot on   7/7/2012 6:54 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it different

Absoultly an excellent article that covers all the important details. Congrats on a well written article

By Krosslite on   7/7/2012 6:56 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

omg, is the best analysis i have read so far of one game. very good commentary. hope to see another analysis once the game launch. thanks for this!

By xcenic on   7/7/2012 7:00 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

"Guild Wars 2 has a level cap of 20, while Lineage 2 has a level cap of 90". It's Guild Wars 1 that ha the level cap of 20. Guild Wars 2 its 80 (at least to start, expansions may raise it).

By Stuart on   7/7/2012 7:14 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

In response to the complaint of the heart quests being old-school. First, the quest adapts to the number of people entering the area and the completion of it also adapts (no other MMO does this). Second, because you don't even have to click on the quest giver, the quest itself is more immersive because your level of participation also has a different level of award (bronze, silver, gold). Again, this is different from other MMOs. Third, I can take my level capped toon in a low level zone and still reap the cap level rewards from low level quests (THIS IS AWESOME - because it encourages you to explore to the other low level zones of the other races - show me one MMO that encourages you to do it. In WoW they are ghost towns.

By curt on   7/7/2012 7:28 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

Only problem is it primarly compares to aion which not everyone played and is a korea mmo. A lot of the things you mentioned are fresh new ideas exist in other mmos if you had played others. Just one examp..the mentoring system they are using existed in Everquest 2 for years. Good read at times, informative for some...but ignorant as well. Woulda been better to compare to WoW more as thats what most people are familiar with.

By Zinny on   7/7/2012 7:33 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

Um, you do not get free gear when you WvW. You have use your PvE gear for that. Please fix.

By tluv on   7/7/2012 8:33 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

On the other hand, there are many things that are similar too. I mean, the whole fantasy setting is something I'm really tired of myself, which is why I'm trying out The Secret World now. Which so far is awesome!

By Andreas on   7/7/2012 9:05 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

As always your article was informative and a "fun" read. I enjoyed it very much. Not to mention, learned a lot of new things about GW2 that has me even more excited to play. Thanks a lot, my friend. ;)

By Purple Catz on   7/7/2012 9:51 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

Looking forward to play!! High expectations!

By Elise Choice on   7/7/2012 10:01 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

Well, let me talk about my experience with the game, regarding the topics mentioned in the article.

I did not felt that the questing is that much different from other games. Sure, it is fun to have an event starting as you just walk around an area, and that really feels different. The problem, hoewever, lies in the "heart" questing. The game guides and points you to certain areas, as any oher mmo does. You HAVE to follow the hearts, and I didn't expect this before actually playing the game. The fact that you don't have to talk to npcs with quetion marks in their heads is cool, but honestly, going from heart to heart is not that different as it sounds. Is almost the same as taking several quests from the npcs of an area, completing the quests there and moving to another area in order to get more quests. You are going to do several quests in every heart area, as events will start nearby, the only real difference is that you don't need to talk with npcs. Mechanicaly speaking, is almost the same thing as any other mmo. The main reason of my complaint is one single fact: dynamic events DO NOT have any impact in the world at all. ArenaNet said they would create a living, breathing world. In my opinion, at least from what i've seen in the betas, they failed. The events don't change the world in any way, as 5 minutes after completing a quest it will start again. I ended up doing some quests several times, because it was convinient, and I needed to level up in order to be able to go other areas. It is different to an extent, as said in the article, but it really didn't feel that different to me. In every mmo, you run around different areas doing quests to level up, and the quests you do have no effect on the world at all. In gw2, you hop around hearts, doing quests in order to level up, and the quests have no effect on the world at all. The only real difference is that in gw2 it easier and faster, as you don't have to bother taking quests in a town and walk for 5 minutes to get to the quest objective


You dont have to follow the hearts you can easily just do dynamic events. I'm not sure about the Dynamic events but i think the reason we never saw anything dramatic is because with so many of us concentrated in 3 out of 5 starting zones our chance to fail the 1st part of an event was lowered and therefore the event couldn't progress.

we really don't know what would happen if no one could stop the event from progressing

By Discordian on   7/7/2012 10:18 PM
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Interesting, but a few notes

I like the article, it's a great way to get people to realize what GW2 is and what all the fuss is about, and I certainly hope it helps pull in a few more new players :).

That said, I did have some notes and thoughts on the article, which I present to you below:

#6 - Presuming by 'instance' you mean dungeon, each dungeon has a repair anvil near the entrance waypoint (inside the dungeon itself), which functions as a real armor repair NPC, meaning you never have to leave your dungeon to clear inventory or repair.

Defeating bosses unlocks further waypoints, so regrouping inside dungeons is also quick and easy, provided you can't get revived by your allies, of course.

#7 - Downscaled players do receive penalties to XP and loot, because they're treated as being slightly lower level (1-3 levels or so), so it will never be quite as good as doing your own content, but almost. This prevents people from 'farming' the lowest level areas for loot and such.
Additionally, 'grouping' in the traditional sense isn't necessary. Grouping gives you party chat and permanent hp bars you can see, but it isn't required to play together and share benefits. Actually, this is something that I was really hoping would be part of this list, because imo it is one of the most important aspects GW2 does differently: play with each other, rather than competing with each other (for mobs, loot, crafting materials, etc).

#8 - WvW scores are tallied every 15-30 mins (I forget which exactly) based on the buildings you control. Benefits are based on how many points you currently have. You don't need to win to gain these bonuses, and so far no special bonuses have been shown for 'winning'. Instead, after the end of the matchup, points reset and a new match begins.
Beyond that, WvW is part of a matchmaking system. Balance may not be great at launch, but the matchmaking system will match servers based on performance (and hopefully player numbers in WvW), so the balance issue will fix itself as times goes on. It's not ideal as a short-term solution, but it will work.

#10 - Chatting outside of the game is not, in fact, a unique innovation. RIFT already has applications for smartphones that allow you to chat with your guild.

Also, The Secret World does not use in-game terminals for most of these things, but instead it has incorporated a (from my experience very buggy) browser into the client, which can be accessed by simply pressing B.

By Athildur on   7/7/2012 10:38 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

Thank you all for your honest comments! It's a bit late here right now and I'm dead beat so I'll reply to some of you early tomorrow morning! gn :)

By thevalliant on   7/8/2012 1:14 AM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

"..even before it got launched, with participation in all its beta stages and a its own site built entirely by myself."

..you built the entire Aion website single-handedly? I call bullshit.

By Rhett Melton on   7/8/2012 2:08 AM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

Epic post - not even properly got to grips with it yet but I can tell its awesome. Excellent job.

Also, thanks for linking me in it!

By Distilled on   7/8/2012 2:41 AM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

@Athildur, I believe your thoughts on "#7" are not quite right. I got the impression that it was backwards --- "...the amount of the XP and gold and even the quality of drops, corresponds to the ones of the real level and not just to those of the low level area! With this spectacular way, the high leveled character is able to gain XP and improve his gear even by visiting areas which he has already explored,..."

By Apolloion on   7/8/2012 3:14 AM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

@Bozaum spvp isnt only based on capture the points i played a match and we never had more than 1 point (there are 3 total) and we still won because you get points for kills and for npc boss kills you get a big bonus we jst killed them over and over and the bosses to keep up in score so if you want to kill by all means kill it helps

By leliel on   7/8/2012 3:19 AM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

Having played all the games used as examples in the text I'm impressed, well written and it covers ALOT of ground, great job!

Had a interesting round in WvWvW in the june BWE where me and a companion started turning around a 8000 score deficit; Our server managed to get somewhat organized, splitting up into groups, these groups then chose a general area to attack and defend and proceeded with splitting up in smaller groups to cover as much ground and recapture as much locations as possible.

It all escalated into a full scale battlefield infront of a blue(we played as green) keep where all 3 factions were present; Our server managed to maintain organised(Huge props to everyone at umbral for this) and while the battle ensued we had a couple of small 3-5man teams cutting off supplylines and wrecking general havoc around the other teams areas.
By the end of the beta weekend we had just barely missed outscoring the other servers, we passed 1 but the other were simply too far ahead.

It was simply shocking to see how well people teamed up like that, the closest I've seen to such coordination would have to be in Warhammer Onlines Open RvR lakes.

By Moog Mooginton on   7/8/2012 10:03 AM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

@MsNineTailz Colin Johanson, one of the developers of the game, has stated that Guild Wars 2 features more content than every single game of its' predecessor put together.

@Athildur RIFT released such a feature lots of months after ArenaNet's announcement. Still, this technology is something that can be implemented rather easily. In my opinion what matters is the whole idea. ;)

By Tilion on   7/8/2012 11:08 AM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

As promised (very) earlier today, I've replied to some of your comments in our English forum. It was quite long to be added here, so please go ahead and read it over there: goo.gl/8PBos

By thevalliant on   7/8/2012 3:52 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently (to discordian)

Dungeons also differ in the fact that you don't have to go the same way every time and different dynamic events randomly occur. There are five (5) seperate paths in each dungeon.

By Krosslite on   7/8/2012 4:20 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

An excellent site to get WvW info

gw2wvw.com/main/

By Krosslite on   7/8/2012 4:26 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

We've already linked to gw2wvw Krosslite. Awesome community indeed. :)

By Tilion on   7/8/2012 4:35 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it different

Your paper met and exceeded my expectations: it's well balanced, it covers most aspects of GW2, and there's enough humour in it to keep even a casual gamer reading.
Excellent job, thank you very much!

By Curd on   7/8/2012 7:52 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

Thank you Curd, and everyone else for reading! AND commenting too :)
I tried to make it informative, but coulnd't be un-biased. I just looooove GW2 so much. We have a saying here, in Greece: love and money you just can't hide... ^^

By thevalliant on   7/8/2012 9:01 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

So, no set classes for Tank, Healer, or DPS. Hm. So instead of queing for certain things depending on your class, people in GW2 will be only looking for the most OP classes now for damage dealing to get the dungeons done. Well done Arena.net, you just made it worse by doing this. So let's say, (so far the Warrior and elementalist are the most OP in BWEs) people in GW2 are looking for a 5 man group for a dungeon, they are just going to want elementalists and warriors in there group because they do the most damage. They may want a guardian just for the support buffs and crap, but other than that there will only be a couple superior classes in GW2 that will make it far. I honestly think you guys should have worked on this system with the classes some more. Instead of every character being a DPS.

By SwiftTrickz on   7/8/2012 9:32 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

Seeing people that obviously have not played the Beta saying that people are only going to look for certain professions since there are no set classes for tank, healer, and dps are free to go back to WoW. That is not how this game is going to run and it is not even like that in the beta phase. Quit complaining.

By Sean on   7/8/2012 10:11 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

A lot of mistakes in the article..... especially about pvp.
in WvWvW only your level and base stats get boostet to level 80 and you still are leveling your original level during the time you are spending there. you even have to unlock you skills with your level and such things.

another thing you said is that der biggest servers allways will win.........totally wrong with that.
every 2 weeks all the servers get new enemies. the strongest server will play against the strongest and the weakest servers against the weakest.

By rampage on   7/8/2012 10:44 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

@rampage: already answered these; plz. read: goo.gl/8PBos

By thevalliant on   7/9/2012 12:02 AM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

"I used a past tense there because during the last (3rd BWE) this problem which had been fingered by testers and acknowledged by developers quite early has been tackled very efficiently!"

There have only been 2 BWE's so far, the third will take place July 20-22, this month.
Unless you are a confused time traveler!

By Guerra de Gremios 2 on   7/11/2012 2:22 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

>>The profits for this winner are multiple, mainly bonuses in XP and gold. In this case, as with sPvP, all players are automatically set at the maximum level (80) with all the required gear at their disposal, as usual.

Man, do u play the game? lol

By anon on   7/11/2012 3:10 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

@Guerra: I AM a very confused time traveller, no doubt about that! But perhaps you've missed out on a BWE, seriously!

@anon: same answer as to @rampage above: I have already admitted my guilt, go read goo.gl/8PBos

By thevalliant on   7/11/2012 4:07 PM
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Re: Guild Wars 2 does it differently

I think in the sPVP comparison with Aion, you missed the pvp instance Dredgion.
I would say that classifies as sPVP as well.
6 vs 6, true, not always balanced, although player experience does count here. Not only gear.

Started aion in the beta of 2009 and continue playing till this day.
I tried Star Wars (terrible game imo, so unclear about what to do, I gave up after a week) and also Tera Online, in Tera during pvp I didn't feel like it was ME controlling the character as it does in Aion.
A friend showed me Rift, which was even worse, pvp was a top-down perspective on a battlefield where tiny toons were running around. (forgive me, not the game for me).
And I returned to Aion, it has its perks but overall the pvp is very enjoyable.
Ofcourse sometimes you run across a superb geared player which hands your behind to you, does that beat you down ?, Ofcourse not, it just gives you an incentive to become better.

By Yica on   8/11/2012 6:24 AM

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