4 Ways To Make Guild Wars 2 More Swell-Tastic
Guild Wars 2 is pretty swell. It's not everyone's cup of tea, granted, but those who do like it – like me – tend to really like it.
Of course, that doesn't mean we don't get frustrated by certain things in the game that we think could be better. Some, like that darned camera, are obvious. Others are less so, and maybe not vitally important, but would be nice additions to make a swell game even sweller... swellier? Swell-tastic? Yeah, let's go with that.
Dungeon Finder: Where My Peeps At?
Supposedly, ArenaNet has no interest in making a dungeon finder for Guild Wars 2. On the one hand, this is understandable; while convenient, dungeon finders can feel impersonal, and GW2 is supposed to be a friendlier, more personal game than most MMORPGs.
On the other hand, on your 23rd run through a dungeon, are you really concerned with how friendly everyone is or more with just getting through the darned thing and getting your loot?
Admittedly, GW2 isn't as grind-y as many MMOs, unless you're going for a legendary weapon, but you'd think a dungeon finder would be relatively easy to implement. Unlike most MMOs, you don't need to fill out a group with a tank, healer, DPS, etc. Just get five people, of any profession, who want to run the same dungeon, and go for it. Fractals might be a bit harder if you have to take individual levels into account.
If you're concerned about it being impersonal, then don't use it. But I hope that ANet's reluctance isn't just tied to social concerns. People participate in group events with people they don't know all the time, you can guest to any server, and you group randomly in structured PvP. The game's already as personal as you want to make it; adding this tool won't destroy the sense of community.
Better Open World Boss Tells: Shout It Out!
The issue with open-world bosses is the inevitable lack of coordination that comes with having a dozen or more people beating on a single mob. You just can't get everyone to do everything at once, like “stop attacking or we all die.” In a controlled dungeon environment, loaded with relatively few people you know, that might work, but it's nigh impossible otherwise.
This is made more difficult when the boss in question does things seemingly at random and with little to no warning. The guild bounty target Bookworm Bwikki is a perfect example. He puts up an aura that applies chilled to his attackers, and attackers who are chilled can't deal direct damage to him. Most of the fight is spent getting the aura applied to you, getting it cleansed, and then returning to attacking him when the aura is down – only to have it applied again a couple seconds later.
There might be a visual aid to Bwikki's aura, but I've never seen it. When you have 15+ people beating on him, with all the flashy effects we always find in Guild Wars 2, it's hard enough to see the man-sized target, much less any tells he or she might have. Your best way of tracking the aura is by keeping an eye on Bwikki's status bar, and that's not how ArenaNet has stated it wants you to observe those sorts of things.
For larger targets everyone can see clearly, or in dungeons where you only have five people in a fight, this isn't much of an issue. But maybe Bwikki, and similar, small, open-world bosses with punishing mechanics (Diplomat Tarban, I'm looking at you) could offer a vocal hint, like the Risen Priestess of Lyssa (“Don't look at her!”). I like the idea of more interesting bosses with unique mechanics, but they need proper tells to keep the encounters from being frustratingly difficult.
Daily WvW Scoring: If It's Tuesday, We Must Be Losing
I laid this out in greater detail on my blog a couple of months ago – and no, this isn't a cheap ploy to get more hits.
If you don't want to read the whole thing, the TL;DR version is that WvW scoring tends to get out of hand very early in the week, with one or two servers rapidly outpacing the other(s). For my money, at least, that means I'm less likely to want to WvW for a “lost cause.”
But if the scores were essentially reset at the end of every day, and each day's results were treated like a new “game,” similar to a best-of-seven series in the sports world, it might make people more interested in playing late in the week – or at least past the third day. Being down by 50,000 points on Monday seems insurmountable. Being down two to one seems less so.
There will still be mismatches and blowouts, sure, but at least you might have the sense that you have a chance relatively late in the week. The major sticking point might be exactly how ArenaNet computes its WvW rankings, but that seems to be a three-variable variation on the Elo system used in competitive chess and could probably be adapted for smaller numbers.
Less Hype, More Substance: You'll Love It, Trust Me
I know, I know, all MMOs are overhyped, and you might think Guild Wars 2 is especially so.
But before launch, it seemed like the hype was well-supported with solid game information, most often on the now-absent ArenaNet blog. We still get news, updates, and dev posts on the main GW2 site, but they seem... I don't know, somewhat more aimed at telling us how great something is than just presenting the info and letting us make a choice.
I first noticed this in the dev post that introduced Ascended gear – which ArenaNet had to know would provoke some rather heated debate. As such, the post reads, to me at least, like more of a sales pitch than anything else, concluding with, “I hope you are all as excited about these new items as I am!” And if we aren't?
This isn't to harp on the article's writer, Linsey Murdock. She's got a job to do, and she's doing it, or maybe the marketing department “guided” her narrative. But it seems like we've had a lot more “rah rah” and a lot less impartial description of new features than we've had in the past. Or maybe that's just because Living Story has been dragging on for three months and they need to do something to keep people excited...
ArenaNet convinced many jaded gamers, including this one, that Guild Wars 2 was the right choice thanks to its honest, descriptive pre-launch marketing. That seems to have subtly shifted into a more sales-oriented message since launch, and it's got me feeling uneasy. Sure, the people who make the game should be excited about it, and that can come through in their missives, but if you've got a great game – which I know you think you do – let it sell itself. If your feel that your ideas need to be bolstered by loads of snazzy marketing copy, then maybe you just need new ideas.