[Links] GW2 beta, Jita Burns

avengers

Here’s a couple of Avengers* screen shots. That was good fun, an ensemble film that did justice to all the individual characters. Recommended for any superhero fans. Incidentally, Black Widow doesn’t actually wear stilettos anywhere in this film, and especially not while fighting. She’s seen carrying her heels after the first scene where she has a fight, but never actually wearing them.

Given all the hot characters swanning around in tight/ revealing outfits, it’s kind of noticeable how sexless superheroes are as a genre. Gwyneth Paltrow lit up the screen in the few scenes she was in though.

* How did they ever get away with having him call her a ‘mewling quim’? Hilarity all round.

GW2 Beta Feedback

So this weekend was the first ‘open’ beta for GW2, and consequently there are a lot of initial impressions around the web. I’ve linked a few here, but my summary is that opinion was generally positive (although if you’ve paid £50 to be in the beta, there’s quite an incentive to look on the bright side). People enthused about the active combat, the pretty environments, the dynamic quests, and the WvW. However the game isn’t yet finished or fully polished, and in particular issues around server choice (all your alts need to be on the same server) and the overflow mechanism which currently splits parties up when they zone will be red flags if Arenanet leave them as they are now.

Working out how to evaluate a beta is tricky. Most people will still only have low level characters, the server economy and PvP setup won’t be fully mature, and performance issues and balance tweaking could easily change before the end of  beta.

Core mechanics and ‘theme’ are much less likely to change. A warning note to me is Keen’s comment that combat is much more difficult for melee than ranged, with the dodging etc. A few people have also commented that circle strafing is an important strategy, which is worth noting to any players who really hate all the bunny jumping/ circle strafing type of tactics. It will be interested to see if more people comment on this in future betas as they have higher level characters, because that’s not a great balance feature.

GW2 Feedback:

  • Chris at LevelCapped“there are some issues, and not all of them can be attributed to “beta””
  • Tremayne’s Law — “the automatic levelling down of players to match the area they’re in is pure genius”
  • Tales of the Aggronaut“This time around I allowed myself to wander aimlessly, explore, and work my way through the various objectives on the map in a much more fluid way.”
  • Of Course I’ll Play It“every mechanic in GW2 seems designed to just be as player friendly as it can possibly be.  Buffs don’t work on your party, they work on people in your area.”
  • Raging Monkeys“I am enjoying the combat mechanics in GW2, as I knew I would. Auto-attack and circle strafing take some getting used to”
  • Melmoth at Kiasa – “The devoted passion of EVE’s players is something which I also recognise in the Guild Wars community, as well as in the team at ArenaNet, and I feel that it is this passion which is intrinsic to the best of MMO experiences.”
  • Keen says Overflow has got to go and wonders if the combat feels clunky
  • Cyndre at KillTenRats“Within an hour I wasn’t even bothering to do most of the events because they were terribly uninspired and the rewards were simply not motivating enough to grind content to achieve.”

I also noticed comments about the voice acting not being very good and stories a bit lacking. SWTOR has raised the bar hugely in this respect, I think players haven’t entirely realised yet how much. (I was playing an Agent over the weekend and … frankly the storytelling on that class is phenomenal. And such clever use of MMO mechanics like quests to simulate mind control. The only reason I’m not writing posts about it is because I don’t want to give out any spoilers.)

ie. Expect all future MMOs to feel lacking in voice acting and storytelling if you’ve played SWTOR at all. They won’t come anywhere near. Judge them on other aspects instead.

Another thing to watch out for with the WvW setup is that players will tend to flock to the realms with the best WvW reputation, at least if there are bonuses to be had from winning the WvW battlefronts. Especially the PvE players who want the bonuses but aren’t personally interested in PvP. I’m going to be interested to see if ArenaNet has any plans for server balancing to try to spread the PvP guilds out a bit.

Burn Jita

OK, EVE event coming up. Goons decided to siege a high security trading hub this weekend. The problem with trying to report on EVE events is that there are three reasons why these player driven events are meaningful to people:

  • You were there, or personally involved. Events that affect a large amount of players are more meaningful to more people. There is some debate about exactly who gets affected and by how much.
  • An impressive amount of player organisation was involved. Like, an event which took 3 months of planning by hundreds of players.
  • Many players are deeply invested in the game/ event and will be talking about it as if it was the most important thing in the universe. ie. lots of spin.

EVE has a lot of highly invested players, and being on a single server means that a single player driven event can affect a lot of players. Having said that, congrats to everyone involved in making it happen – but I still wouldn’t go near EVE with a bargepole.

I am a bit puzzled how if the blockade happened for 2 hours per day in US prime time it could really count as a blockade. I mean, I don’t even play EVE but presumably if I could just log in before work and do my trading while the americans were asleep, it’s not a very exciting event. If you do this properly, you get your minions on other continents to get involved too and have it happen around the clock, surely.

Gevlon argues that Goons are spinning their influence out of all proportion. Well yes, that’s what happens in every EVE player event. Something happens, and then everyone argues about whether it affected them or not – because if you buy into the sandbox, then you want to FEEL as though you were affected by other player’s actions. It’s the next best thing to being there yourself, which if stuff tends to happen in other timezones, won’t always be possible.

More Links

The Wizard 101 guys announce a new Pirate themed game. That’ll be worth keeping an eye out for.

Jester at Jester’s Trek wonders if players have an abusive relationship with EVE Online. I’m not thrilled with that metaphor – I think addiction works better to describe what he’s talking about. But I also don’t think it’s a positive way to look at a game, I would have stopped playing before that point.

Scary carries on with his Bloggapalooza, in which he asked a load of MMO bloggers (including yours truly) some deep and meaningful questions about gaming such as “if you got reincarnated as a game character, who would you be”?”

Harpy’s Nest considers what it means to achievement minded players if Blizzard make all achievements account wide in the next expansion.

“I repeat content on my alts just because there is a blank space in my achievement list. I explore places I know like the back of my hand, flying over old familiar hidey holes, taking screenshots and thinking about all the memories they gave me. I do old favourite quests and farm rep with people who already love me on four other characters. I get out into the world because my achievements aren’t currently shareable and I know plenty others who do the same.”

This is pretty much the opposite of how I play, incidentally. So I think it’d be kind of amusing if I could create a new panda with the “Hand of A’dal” title from my old druid, and the Chinese Olympic memorial pet (it’s a little flying chinese dragon, so v appropriate actually) from my warlock. But I can see that for people who love grabbing achievements on new alts, this would actually cut down their content.

Skaggy, who is one of my SWTOR guildmates, has a new blog intended for newcomers to SWTOR. So go give him some love! (And watch out for new blog encouragement events all over the MMO blogosphere next month.)

20 thoughts on “[Links] GW2 beta, Jita Burns

  1. I can only assume most people (censors included) didn’t realise what the word quim means – its certainly not one you hear often especially in blockbuster movies!

  2. I don’t think you can say “the blockade happened for 2 hours per day in US prime time”. Looking at the ship kills graph on dotlan, sure, obviously it was a lot wilder in primetime. But even the lowest point of the weekend was still something like 100 ship kills per hour.

  3. I agree that SWTOR has raised the bar very high for questing in general and certainly audio quest text. That’s where the game truly shines.

    GW2 has interesting scaling and FFA event mechanics, but personally I don’t think narrative and questing are this game’s forte; ofc this was beta, but I don’t expect many great changes in this particular area until launch. The personal storylines are a bit more involved, but I have not really read an awful lot of feedback on them so far (maybe time was too short for beta testers to follow them much?). To me, main reasons for GW2 are things like grouping, combat, dungeon modes and PvP/WvW. Players in love with narrative, lore or RP will probably be disappointed. The sense of world and setting is something I am personally concerned with too, my exploration drive was a bit dampened this weekend. I am careful not to draw premature conclusions though. :)

    • My feeling with SWTOR is that cold logic would not have justified the cost and amount of polish Bioware put into it. So those of us who enjoy those types of games are very lucky to have gotten to play it at all. (And I hope it makes them some decent profit, even if it takes longer to do so than they would have hoped.).

      I’m wary of drawing too many conclusions on GW2 since it still has months to go before release, plus I haven’t seen it myself. But I’ll be interested to hear what the beta testers think of the world itself and exploration as a play style in future weekends.

      I’m also hoping testers will start comparing the dynamic events with PQs in WAR and dynamic Rifts, because they sound like a sort of mixture of the two to me at the moment (which is cool.)

      • This weekends beta was in the starting areas and few of us got much over level 15. Although there are dynamic events in those areas, they are quite simple in terms of number of steps and on short repeat timers. Clearly, that makes sense for introductory areas.

        Hopefully, next time, we’ll get to the more persistent world changing events when the five starting areas begin to converge.

        There isn’t really a distinction between melee and ranged in GW2, since every class is able to do both, including the heavy armor classes: warriors and guardians. The melee problem only arises if you try to stand toe to toe with a powerful mob and trade blows – you can’t do that and survive:

        People haven’t yet quite absorbed what Arenanet meant about losing the trinity; and will need to get used to a style of play with much more movement, evading and skill synergy than previous games.

  4. I played the TERA beta a few weekends ago and it was then that I realised how much of an impact TOR has had on me. There was no voices telling me why I’m doing what I’m doing, just quest text. I never felt involved with what I was doing and all I could think of, despite the pretty graphics and the nice combat mechanics was “I prefer playing TOR.”

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  6. I’m not so sure I would trumpet SW:ToR as a triumph of storytelling. From a technical perspective, yes, they were very polished and presented a much higher quality of voice acting than any previous MMO. Actual story content was very uneven. I never did much with the Agent but I did with the SI, SW, JC, JK, BH, and Trooper. Overall, I found the Imperial story lines to be more compelling and better considered than the Republic but that’s only a minor (and probably inevitable) problem. They just fell down on important points and I don’t see a way to recover.

    Focusing on the SI, which I mained, is illustrative. At the end of the story I’m a member of the Dark Council. One of the 12 most powerful people in the Empire, arguably in the galaxy. But, despite the fact that I control fleets of capital ships and armies, I’m still flying around in my corvette and taking orders from back-water planetary governors.

    Where do they go from here with any of the story lines? I’m on the Dark Council, I’m the Manadlore’s champion, I’m the Emperor’s Wrath, I’m the Barsen’thor, etc, etc. It’s great for the end of a single-player game but now they have to create new content that blithely ignores the character’s previous achievements.

    Even in old-school, pen-and-paper, RGPs you learned very quickly as a GM not to let the player’s power get out of control. Even when the entire active population of the game world is sitting around the table it was necessary to restrict your urge to give them a cheap win with the Sword of Ultimate Destiny, the Crown of the Lost Emperor, or whatever came to mind. It seems to me that the BioWare design team forgot this rule and now they are pretending that the characters really aren’t as important as they are. Consider the Rakghoul event – why would I go down there when I have lots of expendables (many of them droids who aren’t going to be infected) that I can send for the initial recon work? Until they can provide a compelling answer, I’ve lost interest.

    • Yup, that’s their challenge going forwards. And it was always going to be an odd fit to put an MMO endgame after a heavily story themed levelling path. (The real problem with this type of story in a multiplayer game is that none of the other players will ever react to you as if you were Wrath of the Emperor etc. That kind of ‘respect’ is reserved for guild leaders and raid leaders.)

      But I’m not ready to say it failed, we haven’t even seen the next chapter yet. And based on the fun I had with the levelling stories, I’m not writing those off either. (I haven’t played republic and BH was weakest of the imperial storylines that I have seen, it started off great but others got better later.)

      I do agree though that having the SI as a member of the Dark Council is a bit constricting, because probably they should be busy with their own plots and counter plots. You could really make a whole new layer of strategy game around that — which won’t happen in SWTOR. All the others (Imp side, at any rate) have a bit more free action when their respective bosses aren’t calling the shots so if they want to go play with the rakghouls, then so be it. I did notice that the NPCs in the new daily zone on Corellia addressed me as Wrath, so I don’t feel that’s been ignored. I wonder how the high rank could even be worked around in something like a RPG — maybe have some notion that you could be playing a member of your main’s entourage when you go out on adventures alongside playing the main in political plotting.

      • I’m willing to wait for 1.3 before I pass any final judgement (at least as final as it can get in an MMO – I’ve unsubbed WoW 4 times) but I don’t see it as recoverable. The agent may be different but the other characters have such high-profile positions that it’s hard to imagine that they have any real freedom of action barring the bridge crew beams down to the planet nonsense. There is a great deal to be said for keeping the players down in the ranks of the extras. Ok, maybe a voiced part but they aren’t on the marquee and you need to really check the playbill to find them.

        I do wonder if you aren’t close to a truth I hadn’t considered with the entourage comment. That would be a logical extension of the legacy system but it would be murderous to explain.

    • I’m still mildly bitter that on my smuggler the vast, senses shattering treasure I was rewarded with, indeed the single greatest concentration of wealth in the galaxy that I’d shot and schemed my way across the galaxy for turned out to be 500 credits.

    • It’s funny, because the quality of questions and concerns about the SW:TOR story and power arc is itself a testament to how well it is done. I felt this acutely when I hopped back into WoW for a couple of weeks or so a while back – we would simply feel foolish even trying to hold that game to the same standard of internal consistency. And the quest-giver interaction felt depressingly bland. I agree with Spinks entirely, TOR did elevate the bar.

      Perhaps because I spend most of my time on a Jedi Knight, I have not quite experienced the disconnect you’re talking about here. At the peak of his powers, while acknowledged as one of the best single combatants in the galaxy, he is still something of a factotum for the Jedi Council. While I’m not (yet) adequately familiar with the Inquisitor storyline, I could imagine those types being subtle and employing guises to take care of things personally. Wasn’t Palps a senator from backwater Naboo, pretending to bow and scrape to politicians while already the Dark Lord?

  7. Thanks for the link :) I think the biggest surprise for me, was that most of the bloggers seem to have essentially the same issues with the game. Overall I think most of us were positive about the weekend. I had completely written the game off based on experiences in early testing and now I am certain I will pick it up and at least play it off and on.

    For me, I think the biggest issues the game has are these three… Firstly the home server concept is going to be a nightmare for guilds in general, and making sure they end up on the same server. Guesting system sounds interesting, but since it was disabled this weekend we didn’t get to see exactly what that meant.

    Secondly the overflow system needs some work. We need to know if we are in fact in overflow, or the real world, and have a clear way of transitioning from one “instance” to the one that our friends are in.

    Finally, and this is one of the biggest ones. There are some rather violently obnoxious fans out there of the Guild Wars series. Each blog post I have read gave an overall positive review of the game, but they still bring out the trolls, in a way I cannot remember seeing with other titles. Pointing out the shortcomings of Guild Wars 2 is not heresy.

    • Guild Wars 2 is a bit…hrm.

      It reminds me, oddly, of Guild Wars 1 in that I like the ideas they’ve come up with, it’s just the implementation of said ideas has been so pedestrian that I wonder if someone else could have done something far more interesting with it all.

      I’m going to play it but I’m also going to have doubts about the opinion of anyone who points to it as a second coming.

  8. I don’t think “Blockade” is the right term. There was no effort to stop traffic in and out of Jita in general, and the only thing close to that occurred when Jita hit maximum capacity and nobody could get in. There were a few hours where participants and spectators caused access to the system to get closed down. And the event was certainly active for more than two hours a day.

    Sitting on voice coms listening to things, the gank fleets were clearly targeting only freighters carrying valuable items. So lots of people came and went with no issue. I sat there in a rookie ship for hours and nobody bothered me. But for a couple dozen freighter pilots, things went bad. One guy was hauling PLEX according to the kill mail.

    A lot of the activity was the battles between the Save Jita and Burn Jita fleets. People who had no interesting in ganking people showed up for the fleet fights. So declaring war on the Goons, thus making combat free of CONCORD interference, increased participation in the whole thing.

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  10. I’d comment on the GW2 beta weekend but that would have required I pre-purchase the game to get into it. When I went to see what options were available, I saw only the collector’s edition was available (weighing in at 150$!). I noted Digital Editions were sold out.

    Yes. Digital Edition… sold out.

    Call me cynical, but how the hell does a digital version of the software run out?

    I’ll answer that… when they need more people to buy the collector’s edition.

    I might end up buying it, but I suspect it won’t be any time soon not for any reason other than I have Diablo 3 coming out soon and that will occupy me well enough.

    Pre-purchase to get into beta?

    What the heck is the industry coming to where beta testing is a reward?

    • It didn’t “run out” for good, just temporarily so they could make room to accommodate more players without compromising the experience for those who already purchased it, never mind the fact that it had been around for a few weeks at this point, and players were notified of the possibility in advance. Anybody that waited or didn’t know doesn’t care enough to shell out for a collector’s addition. Honestly, who would do that?

      As for beta testing, the bigger problem is players treating it like a free trial when it’s an unfinished product, resulting in a game that attempts to please everyone and pleases no one. I don’t want people who won’t be playing a game to influence the direction it takes. Sure they can just filter out all the surveys with 1s (or 5s for that matter) across the board but I like that they took this route to weed out the potential trolls an open beta otherwise attracts. I never saw it as a reward for pre-purchase, and the D3 pre-purchase didn’t even grant that from my understanding.

      Obviously it’s a marketing strategy but it makes more sense from a business and creative standpoint than open beta, which probably had a hand in undermining past game releases.

      • OTOH, it does lower the staggering cost of producing MMOs and if it results in more and better games, then I don’t see a problem. The other side of the coin is Kickstarter and I’m hopeful that that may lead to indie developers injecting some new vitality into the kind of games that major publishers have stopped producing. And there’s something idealistic in people financing projects not to make money, but because they are passionate about the results.

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