A Love Letter to ArenaNet

Dear ArenaNet,

I don’t want to waste your time, as I’m sure you’re busy working on making Guild Wars a better game before the release of Guild Wars 2. But as a veteran to Guild Wars, I feel I need to speak my mind, and hopefully you’ll take solace in the opinions of an older player who has been with you since the days of Beta and beyond.  I feel as I should also give you the short version first, which I’m sure will entice you to read my reasons for this letter. So, here it goes.

In short, ArenaNet, so long, and thanks for all the fish.

I’m sure I have your attention now (because who can ignore a good Hitchhiker’s reference), which is good, because I will now go over how Guild Wars, once a fantastic and wonderful game that challenged players and rewarded those who stuck it out to the end, has died to me and many (but not all) of my veteran brethren because of this latest update for March 3rd 2011.

Titles

Remember when titles were first added to the game? It was a great way to get players to play more and reward them for doing so. There were even a few titles that you had to actually work hard for and spend time on, not that all titles don’t take time, but the ones I’m referring to, mostly, Survivor and Legendary Defender of Ascalon, were the big ones. If you got Survivor, you were able to play or farm all the way to level 20 and beyond without dying! Zero deaths! I still can’t manage this even after playing for six years and so many character re-rolls! But, now? “Oh, you died before getting survivor! How awful. That’s okay though, We’ll give you another chance.”

This is Guild Wars no more.

And then there’s Legendary Defender of Ascalon. If you didn’t get survivor, you were either bad (like me) or you were going for LDoA. You thought Survivor was hard and time consuming? Ha! How does dying over 100,000 times sound? I’m not even sure how much time it would take, but to get LDoA, you would need to reach level 20 is pre-searing. My mind was blown when I learned that you could get level 20 in pre. How did people do this? Death leveling. You leveled your foes by dying over and over so they gain experience and in turn become a higher level. A high enough level so that the player could kill them to get experience. But, now? “Don’t worry, when you hit level 10, you can take quests that will spawn level-15 mobs! They’re level-15 so that you can still gain experience from them, even if you’re level 19! That also means you can get Survivor with it too! Isn’t that cool, guys?”

This is Guild Wars no more.

No, no it is not cool. And don’t get me started on Drunkard. I never managed to drink enough to get max Drunkard, but to those who did, I cry for them. 10,000 minutes at the very least in-game on one character, just to click every 3 minutes. Not hard, but it still took time and dedication. But, now? “Just spam click, and you’ll hit 10,000 points easily. No, not minutes, points.

This is Guild Wars no more.

Heroes

Heroes, when first introduced, were great. They allowed three slots to used so the player adding the heroes could have some more control over the build and tactics of what would normally be just regular old henchmen. Both good and bad came from this. The good? Players would now be able to do tough missions that needed 8 people usually with just 2, 3, or even 5. Having a team of 7 waiting for a monk to do a vanquish is no fun, but you could now throw in a hero monk that was almost as good, if not as good, as a player monk. The bad? Well, maybe not bad, but it didn’t help. Certain builds came from having certain heroes in a party that would just dominate any area you went through. To be fair, it’s amazing they came up with a build like that, but over-powered is still over-powered. But, now? “Here, have 7 slots for heroes! Run twice as many over-powered builds than before and walk through any aspect of the game (save PvP) without a scratch. Don’t forget to work on your survivor!”

This is Guild Wars no more.

Embark Beach

I’m still on the fence about this part, ArenaNet. It’s a good idea, I actually like it, but what was so hard about getting parties together in the outposts themselves? Well, to be fair, a situation could be where someone is looking for a group to do one mission, but sees another group doing another mission the first person wants to do, and can easily join them. I suppose it’s also nice to have all the merchants in one place and Zaishen PvE quests, but what about Guild Halls? What about the original outposts? The only real thing going for Embark Beach is the fact it’s easier to group… But, we have 7-hero parties, so the purpose seems lost to me.

This is Guild wars no more.

Anything Good?

The UI changes were pretty sweet. Oh, and able to log-in in offline mode is nice.

Why the hate?

This isn’t my first “disagreement” with you, ArenaNet. Remember the 11th of December 2008? Aura of the Lich will never be forgotten for what is was back before that day. And every Wintersday, I am always denied a miniature polar bear. Fun times, ArenaNet, but I don’t actually “hate” you. I could never hate you. You brought me my first MMORPG, even if it was only really a CORPG and you are bringing, what I hope to be, the second-coming of MMORPGs, and not just MMOs. However, what has been done to Guild Wars, I will not easily forget, and chances are, it won’t be changed back. Do I hate change? Of course not. This update, however, brought about changes that re-purposed aspects of the game creating something new, and really, a big middle finger to most who have been playing since the beginning. I only prey this letter will give you caution come Guild Wars 2, because this is Guild Wars no more.

With respect, admiration, and hope of a brighter future,

Connor “The Lazy Geek”
Master Grim Saji

P.S. Do you remember the many communities that have sprung up because of Guild Wars? I mean, other than GuildWarsGuru, of course. I only ask, because from the look of it, you did not take into account how such a game-changing update would split and fracture or even dissolve the community. Remember when Chris Lye said, “You know, we’re not a video game company, we’re a community building company. We just happen to have one of the coolest ways to build a community, which is through a video game.” in the ArenaNet Retrospective video? I still believe you are building a fantastic community…for Guild Wars 2, but for Guild Wars, well, I’ll just leave it where it’s at.

To those who will read this, feel free to ask any questions and discuss the update! Do you like it? Hate it? Favorite part? Why?

About the author: The laziest gaming-geek you’ll meet (maybe) who spends [too much] time playing games and “geeking out” over how awesome ‘The Guardian Legend’ really is. He also writes at his own blog, TheLazyGeek.com and can be found on twitter.

Further reading:

  • http://secretagentcat.com Tigerfeet

    I respectfully disagree with everything you have said.

  • http://www.talktyria.net Izari

    I agree that the title nerfs can be aggravating, but I personally don’t agree with the melting of the community. I understand where you’re coming from, because GW-EN and others have been built on filling in a void in the game that it itself did not provide.

    On the hero front: I’m also on the fence. I think it’s great that it offers more diverse opportunities for players to really build their teams together. I see the potential for abuse with certain OP builds. But players who solo content will always solo content. This makes it easier for them, but it’s not going to convert a significant number of players who normally group to do VQ’s, for instance, to suddenly go solo. A few, yes, but breaking the comm? Doubt it. Players who prefer to run content with guilds and other players will continue to do so. This just gives them more flexibility in instances where they cannot find a group to go with.

    Anet finally deciding to fill that void itself, while detrimental to you guys, is not negative on the community as a whole. For every guy spamming to get carried through a mission, there are dozens others legitimately looking to group up and run things together.

    There will still always be a place for GW-EN, too. Nobody can organize mass events the way you guys can, and what you all do is amazing and unstoppable. You may have to adapt and evolve with the changes, but you guys will survive no doubt and come out on top anyway.

    I know a few of you are really upset about this but given some time I think you’ll see it isn’t the doomsday you guys are initially expecting.

  • http://killtenrats.com Ravious

    The constant of MMOs: it will always change.

    I also agree with Tigerfeet.

  • http://gw-en.com Judge

    You can look at the titles this way. You take the ACT and are having to study night after night after night to do well on the test. Shortly after you take the act and score say a 32 the test makers decide to implement a grading curve to initiate as well as pretty much give the 32 to people who have yet to study, or not willing to study as (studying is hard and takes time.)

    The community will be fine, Embark does initiate various thoughts and emotions. Mainly you will find alot less laziness, or even more laziness. The fact now that people will vq because they have an initiative for more rewards. Sad in my eye, that is what people need to get motivated, but it is true in any sense. It’s just like saying hey! We’ll go for icecream if you win this t-ball game. All in all that is basically what all of this is.

    It is stuff that could have been easily implemented when it first came out. However, since it didn’t and those who have actually played and took the time and effort to get the titles it is sort of a slap to the face. It has merely became a grounds of Anet helping others achieve these titles faster and easier to help them stay interested in the game.

    Titles once meant something to me personally. Actually striving, and challenging myself to accomplish certain ones that stand out and away (not as a self glory, but instead as just dedication). Now that they are so easily available they have lost meaning…

    Now for a lot of people to have fun in the game as all of these updates have been happening they have to gimp themselves or throw in handicaps persay. Why? Why is it needed that games have to GIVE new standards to make things easier, instead of say implementing tactics of thought process and companionship.

  • Pingback: TalkTyria – A Love Letter to ArenaNet | The Lazy Geek()

  • Shaun

    Those titles were ridiculous. When an in-game title can be expressed as a mass of CO2 emissions, then it’s stupid.

    People who use Hero/Hench will now use Heros. People who use players will still do so. The hero update makes the former group happy and gives interesting options to the latter.

    Embark Beach is good.

    This update plus the dervish one has made a lot of people happy.

    I didn’t know Guild Wars was meant to be about tedious grinding.

    • http://thelazygeek.com The Lazy Geek

      Actually, Drunkard I’m not that mad at, so long as the character has 3 hours of in-game time for every 60 points they try to drink. Or 2 hours, or whatever, but you get what I’m saying. Basically, if the character already has that time in-game, go for it. But it’s not that long to begin with. 10000 minutes is only 167 hours (rounded up) and more than half of my characters have played for well over 1000 hours already (And my main is sitting at just below 3000 hours and he really should’ve been drinking but he decided to yell at his guild and alliance mates half the time and the other half was hydra farming as a 55 BACK IN THE DAY)

      And every MMO has grinding. If it didn’t, people wouldn’t play it past beating the game one time on one character. Many MMOs make their developer’s money because of the grind and masking it in such a way that makes most players come back for more. Now, while Guild Wars doesn’t have a subscription (so that last sentence doesn’t apply to it) it still has a player base that it needs to maintain. This was done with new campaigns and content (Sorrow’s Furance, WiK, etc) and a fluff mall, and it’s worked out pretty well for ArenaNet, for the most part. But once you take the challenge and feeling of reward and accomplishment from a game, all that’s left is a bare grind (not a bear grind) that really has no purpose.

      But there’s always the community, which is why I still haven’t really left Guild Wars. I have too many ties because of this game that it’d be impossible for me to really leave, even if I tried. So, while I don’t play anymore, I still log time to talk to my guilds and friends. At least the ones who still play or log on.

  • http://gw-en.com Judge

    Well see about it making people happy it has made just as many upset.

    I see accounts of it everywhere, see and hear the opinions of many when talking to people through Gw-en streams. Average 70-90 listeners hourly, will often drop dramatically after an update hits, be it both the Derv and this latest it proves that many are happy and many are upset.

    Is it possible ever to balance these sorts of things out? Maybe thoughts of what is being implemented when they are implemented that way later if updates or changes are needed it won’t be so drastically.

    I can totally see why none of the devs play guild wars and openly admit it.

  • draxynnic

    Myself, I haven’t regarded any of those three titles as being particularly impressive, as they’re basically all timesinks. Survivor might have been impressive once, but these days it’s not hard for a competant player to reach level 20 without dying (both of my Elonian characters got R1 survivor without my even trying) and from there it’s not hard to waltz on over to do the Punch-Out Extravaganza over and over again, an exercise where a vaguely competant player is only going to pick up a death if their connection fails them at an inconvenient time. If a player is taking such a “safe” route, it’s a test of patience and connection stability, not skill. And there was always the option to simply start over again, just now it doesn’t involve going through character creation again

    The other two were even worse. While amassing the booze for drunkard actually involves playing the game at some level (at least trading with other players), after the booze is collected it’s just saying that someone had the patience to return to GW every three minutes to click an inventory icon for a collected time of about a week. Where’s the skill in that? Furthermore, for those who have better things to do with their time, booze has simply been a PITA for those who aren’t going for drunkard – I used to want to beat Nicholas in the head every time a keg came up, since that basically meant either having an inventory space blocked up until coming across a buyer by happenstance, sinking time into actively trying to sell it, or throwing away a potentially valuable item.

    As for LDoA… that really IS an afk title. Just walk out of Barradin Estate, aggro a couple of spiders or striders to the res shrine, and leave your computer for a few hours. If you haven’t had a drop in connectivity in the meantime, just come back and harvest. No skill, just patience and technological fortitude. On the whole, while LSurvivor and LDoA are viewed as prestigious, I personally consider a Legendary Vanquisher or Legendary Master of the North to be much more impressive – these, coupled with Legendary Guardian and a few elite mission statues, actually demonstrate that the player has overcome all of the challenges in the game (with a single character in the case of Vanquisher and Master – doubly impressive since some dungeons obviously favour specific professions).

    Regarding the other two: Player behaviour is player behaviour. Embark Beach won’t stop people from engaging in social stuff (although I admit to some concerns about it splitting the base of players) and seven heroes won’t stop anyone who might otherwise PuG from PuGging (it just gives the people who for reasons such as timezone, inability to commit to an uninterrupted playtime, or not wanting to conform to the cookie-cutter build for the zone don’t want to PuG another option).

    Really, on the whole? I think you’re making a mountain out of a molehill.

    • http://gw-en.com Judge

      I mean such as it’s kinda silly that they didn’t just make alcohol spammable when they made it. People used to sit there and do it the other way anyway. Why was there a need at all to change it? People accomplished it the other way it wasn’t broken. The only thing that held people back from doing it that way and not this way, is pretty much laziness.

      With 7 hero’s you can modify armor, builds, weapons. Henchies you couldn’t. Everything can be really steam-rolled with 7 hero’s. A normal DT vq would normally take me around 30 mins with 3 hero’s and henchies. With all 7 hero’s I did it my first run in less than 20 minutes. And that is without discord way.

      As for vq’s. People are now getting rewarded more through the ZVanquish. So they are inclined to do it more likely. What forced those people who played the game with others not do vanquishes before hand??? Lack of motivation, didn’t want to do it?… relied on others to do it for them? This even goes with any group looking for mission. What was difficult to be in an outpost looking for a group?

      See its many different aspects of why they did what they did.

      And many different emotions will come from what they did no one is right or wrong…. but I did just have a guildie get paid 15k for running someone from Eotn to Longeyes Ledge so the guy could do the mission from Embark Beach…

      As I’ve stated over and over… the lazy’s are getting rewarded again.

      • http://thelazygeek.com The Lazy Geek

        B…but I’m lazy! I forgot how full of irony this would be, a guy called “The Lazy Geek” talking about how he thinks the update made things too easy. It’s delicious irony.

      • http://www.talktyria.net Izari

        I wouldn’t consider the drunkard thing laziness. I never bothered with any of those titles not because i was lazy, but because my time is better spent elsewhere. I never considered those titles real or worth it. The only reason I bothered working towards them at all was cause I could just eat candy while running around doing other things or while I wait to get into PvP. But having to time Drunkard crossed the line from spammy annoyance to plain inconvenient.

        I’m sure not everybody gauges the value of their time the same as me, but with a 9-5 job, freelancing, and hobby writing, I don’t have time to bother with joke titles. It’s not laziness. It’s me having a ton of other things in-game that require my attention and skill as opposed to how much I wanna sit there and spam.

        Just my 2 pennies though.

        • draxynnic

          That’s pretty much my thought as well. I’m active in Guild Wars-related and other communities, face-to-face pencil-and-paper roleplaying, other gaming, and a few other things just counting my HOBBIES. Spending over a hundred and fifty hours double-clicking every three minutes just isn’t a good investment of time I could be investing in, say, researching and planning my next article. Even if I’m doing other things in the process, I’m still having to disrupt whatever other thing I’m doing every three minutes in order to go over to Guild Wars and click.

          Frankly, I’d view it as being the OLD version of drunkard that rewarded laziness – all it demonstrates is that the player had copious quantities of time in which they had nothing better to do.

          As for seven heroes – anything you can do with seven heroes, you could do better with a well-coordinated group. If the game was easy before seven heroes, it was ALWAYS easy for anyone who has a large, active and experienced enough alliance to be able to form such groups on a regular basis. Seven heroes just closes some of the gap between the active-alliance haves and have-nots.

        • http://gw-en.com Judge

          I can totally see that. On both accounts. I was one of the rare few to work on both survivor and drunkard mainly while playing the game, as a paragon it was nice many times to run around with Drunken Master.

          All in all the updates are mainly for those who haven’t gotten the titles in the 5 years the game has been out to go get them. Ease of access, time constraint or not, it’s simply a move to encourage anyone from a vet to the brand new player to get their HoM rewards.

          After taking some time to relax, I’ve realized my biggest anger was towards myself, as I was doing DoA, UW, FoW hardcore with hero’s solo spending hours on hours to get it done and if I failed I reworked my strategy to do it all again now I can do it all with ease. I was farming armbraces to be handed out during our events with Gw-en over and over and over then DwG came around and ruined that thrill for me of being able to help others in that way. The biggest part was myself being upset was the fact I had worked hard to overcome the challenges and now for the game to be a challenge to me it would mean for me to gimp myself out.

          Not an elitest attitude, rather just one that worked hard for what I did accomplish and the game no longer has that challenge for me. I do love everything that is GuildWars, and the community will always keep me going… but untill GW2 comes out I can see myself totally playing another game.

  • Guido

    So I guess this means you’ll not be attending PAX East? Just kidding.
    I agree with the update to LDoA. Think about it. With the update, you’ll actually be doing something to earn the title, rather than AFK for hours with death leveling. I also agree with the change to the drunkard title, as now it is the same as sweet tooth and party titles. Judging by what is coming over my screen, others feel the same way about the drunkard title. Does it diminish those who already obtained the title? IMHO, no. When the cartographer title was introduced, those who had already explored everything, got the title, and looked down upon those who had not. Gosh forbid you use a map overlay to figure out where you missed a spot. Judge commented that titles now mean less. I’m not sure how. How much easier will it be to vanquish now? Seven heroes does not help me, as I’m a noob with builds in general. You will still have to do something to vanquish an area.
    “And every Wintersday, I am always denied a miniature polar bear.” Well, join the club. May as well complain about not having a panda.
    I see these updates as a transition to GW2. Think about this: Once GW2 comes out, (and I hope to ask my question again at PAX East- “When?”), there will not be the legions of experienced GW players in game. So others will find it even more difficult to form groups. These updates will make it easier for those of that remain in game, to get through the chapters of GW.
    So, rather than hate GW, go play Rift or WoW, as these games will stay the same, never change, never have any updates. And, pay those monthly fees.

    Guido

  • http://facebook.com/RP.TheFoolz thefoolz

    That’s life.
    I just bought a certain tablet a few days ago and today I can get it for a 100$ cheaper.

    That’s life man…

    I try to live on the bright side and not to frustrated over something that has been done.

  • http://gw-en.com Judge

    dunno how to post a picture here, but check this out and lol….
    It’s the 7 hero summed up nicely. And yes you can throw some prot/heal skills in there somewhere I’m sure to make it even funnier.

    http://img59.imageshack.us/img59/9108/gw050.png

  • http://belzan.wordpress.com/ Belzan

    I’m excited about the changes, but I recognize them for what they are: changes that will accommodate players in light of Guild Wars 2. They make playing Guild Wars easier for the people who are a) still working on titles, b) like to play solo, and c) will still play GW when GW2 launches.

    In the interim, yes, things are easier. But put some perspective on that. We are used to working out butts off in GW for our rewards. If I had a quarter for every time I heard someone complaining about earning things the “old way” or the “hard way” referring to some update that made progress on a title easier, I could do laundry forever.

    GW has 6 million + players, many of whom have stopped playing for a number of reasons. Let’s be generous and assume only 10% will continue to play GW once GW2 comes out. That’s 600,000 people. Most of these people will be working on titles and few will be playing the game to experience it like we did when it came out. ANet is simply making changes to accommodate their gamers. They could have easily made this change once GW2 came out, but who would care then? In the mean time, those of us still working on titles and HoM will benefit from the changes and not have to split our time between GW and GW2 to get titles and explore new content.

    I believe this recent update has changed GW, yes, but made it worse? Nah. If you’re a purist, sure, GW will never be the same, but you have to consider who is playing the game these days. For those of us who are and for the reasons we do, this update was a positive thing.

  • Pingback: Talk Tyria | Guild Wars 2 Community Blog & Fansite()

  • yolaus

    More options is a good thing, regardless. While I respect the vets who have been here since beta and met Nick when he was but a young lad, I think making things more achievable to newer players is a good thing. I can see your point as far as the titles being devalued, and if I had just recently grinded out survivor, I would probably be a bit grumpy myself. I am more in Izari’s situation though, and never really went for those titlles. The fact that I, or a new or returning player can now get them towards the HoM is positive for most I think.

  • Pingback: The Iterative Process, or “how we plan to bring you the best game possible” | Blog of the Vagabond()

  • Joel

    LOL, I must’ve missed the post where you told of how Arena Net people came to your house and kept a gun to your head, then forced you to do all these things you decry. Such as gaining LDoA via quests instead of leveling, getting Survivor after your toon died once instead of rerolling it, using 7-hero parties, visiting Embark Beach, or getting drunk points faster than one per minute.

    Oh wait, they didn’t force you? Then why do you do them? :) Nothing stopping you from doing them the good old fashion way.

    Oh, that’s not it? You’re in fact disturbed by the fact that OTHER players will do them and get things easier? So what? o_O Why do you care why other players do with their PvE toons?

  • Pingback: Talk Tyria | Guild Wars 2 Community Blog & Fansite()

  • Pingback: ArenaNet and All of My Rage | The Lazy Geek()

  • Pingback: Talk Tyria | Guild Wars 2 Blog Community & Fansite()

  • Pingback: A Calm Before The Beta Storm | The Lazy Geek()

  • Pingback: Community Roundup | Guild Wars 2 Editorials, Magazine, Media & Podcast | GuildMag()