We Can Have Nice Things Now

Once upon a time – three months ago, to be exact – I dropped a napalm bomb on my Guild Wars 2 account and said I wouldn’t be back until design changes had been made that brought the game closer to its original philosophical standpoint. It seems the departure of Colin Johansen and his oft-lauded smile have heralded the opening of the floodgates: we have been inundated with pages of good decisions. Anyone else at ArenaNet who was emulating his smile may well have been wearing a different type of grin.

Overnight, someone found the tech to switch back to the Alpine Borderlands hidden under one of the tables at ANet HQ and placed it on the table. Previously subdued employees have been crawling out of the woodwork to celebrate on reddit. WvW maps are populated with commanders, lieutenants, scouts, and roamers gleefully discussing the garrison-hills-bay trifecta. Blobs are finding blobs on terrain that functions as mise en scène rather than as the centerpiece of a gorgeous single-player map. In the meantime, the Desert Borderlands will be polished, refined, and eventually spun back into play.

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Ideally, death should be at the hands of other players, not your own.

The sum of this provided enough impetus for me to create new characters. My nascent Sylvari twins with entirely new names have nothing to do with my empire of old; one of my personal goals is “freedom from suffering” which entails not attaching to things so firmly that it becomes painful. That doesn’t make my decision to delete all the stuff I paid real money for any less stupid, but, ya know, at least I have a lofty philosophical tenet to fall back on.

One of the new features is a level 80 boost that you can try out on as many characters as you like simultaneously before committing to one of them. I used mine on a staff Elementalist and took her through the entirety of the personal story in Soldier’s exotics (survivability) with full traits and the whole shebang. I then immediately jumped into WvW which has proven to be a good decision. The addition of reward tracks to WvW provides one with a steady supply of Tomes of Knowledge that can be used to level up other characters. If you hoard them, you can skip the leveling process entirely which is exactly what I’m doing with my Sylvari Mesmer. I’ve liquidated the entirety of my crafting stockpile to the tune of 250 gold, so there’s plenty of money for the necessary WvW equipment.

It’s the malleability that attracts me. A fundamental principle of stimulation is making things easier. Stimulate spending by giving people money. Encourage player fights by making it easier for people to find and reach other players. Make alliance-based warfare a rewarding activity at the account level which encourages the creation of alternate characters who, through a combination of Tomes of Knowledge and Proofs of Heroics, are immediately feature-complete when they step into the Borderlands.

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These players are feature-complete, even if some of their outfits aren’t.

I’ve been playing GW2’s WvW to the exclusion of other games for the past week, in part because Crowfall doesn’t exist as a finished product yet. I’ve also had a hankering for large-scale fighting which Smite does not satisfy. I’m just now learning how to navigate the floating crap shoot of Red Rings of Instant Death in the ebb and flow of zerg combat. My fingers race frantically to swap to the correct attunement and drop whatever fields are called for within the next two seconds lest I hear an audible sigh from the commander on Teamspeak. My frame rates seem to hold up well enough even if my escape attempts sometimes backfire due to my inexperience. I suppose you have to make a lot of bad decisions before you learn to make good ones.

It was good decisions that lead to this phoenix rising from the ashes; it is my hope that they presage a new trend.

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10 thoughts on “We Can Have Nice Things Now

  1. I refrained from commenting when you posted about deleting all your characters because I know from previous posts you’ve made that you need to draw very clear lines for yourself when you run into certain problems with your gaming. I was absolutely sure, however, that you would end up playing GW2 again at some point – I just didn’t expect it to be so soon.

    Colin Johanson’s departure seems to have been a sea change for the game. Just about everything that has happened since has been to the good. How that can be when the game has merely passed from Colin’s immediate control to that of his erstwhile direct superior beats me. What was Mike O’Brien doing for the last three years?

    Anyway, welcome back and enjoy starting over from scratch. That level 80 boost must have come in handy and as you’re doing WvW you’ll soon have more Tomes of Knowledge than you know what to do with for the rest of your roster.

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    1. To be honest I was just looking for the beacon flames in the towers that would indicate that something was happening in the Studio Under the Mountain. My roster going forward will consist entirely of characters I don’t particularly care about. I still have my original Mesmer’s name on a level 2 character and just yesterday started writing the second chapter of her origin story in piecemeal fashion. I’m just not attached to it as I once was.

      With enough Tomes of Knowledge I could be convinced to make Asura variants of my Elementalist and Mesmer.

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  2. I miss wvw. And the pvp battlegrounds were fun. The only thing missing was some sort of reward track. Been a year since I logged in and have zero clue what it takes to get geared up anymore but seems like things are moving in a positive direction for players for once. Given the sudden outpouring of communication Colin Johanson sounds like he ran the company like a micro managing ego driven failure of a leader.

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    1. That reward track now exists in WvW, besides PvP, and the most recent patch just lowered the participation threshold again, making it easier for players to get better rewards faster. So direction is definitely trending positively.

      The level 80 boost apparently gives a full set of PVT, which is usually great for casual WvW. Dungeons and fractals are running once more, and not avoided like the plague by most players, so that’s another gearing option.

      It was almost sad how happy I felt yesterday running around killing dragon minions and going to visit three tiny sites of new dynamic events. Content-wise, it wasn’t earthshaking, but it was just what it implied looking forward into the future (attention being paid to Living World, Living Story again?) and the nostalgic feeling I missed of just casually interacting with players all focused on finding and playing the ‘new content.’

      I’ve started thinking about loosening the purse strings once more. (Once I start the thought process, it’s very likely that I’ll make a purchase within the next 1-2 weeks, so yeah.)

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      1. The exact stats you get seem to depend on class – on my thief I got Valkyrie gear (power, vitality ferocity), and apparently a guildie who used it on a necro got Dire (condi dmg, toughness, vitality).

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    2. I posited that there was an egomaniac behind the scenes at the time and wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case. It would really put that smile of his in context.

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