Saturday, July 7, 2012


Disclaimer:  Readers, please forgive me, I am about to attempt some of my infamous, genre-altering, philosophical ramblings that may be controversial.  Please ensure that any discussion created in the comments section remains respectful.

Longevity.  It’s perhaps one of the strongest indicators of a “successful” MMO.

In many past themepark MMO’s this has involved a rather repetitive, gear progression treadmill.  In both PvP and PvE, with each new major raid/season, players were forced to farm for hours to stay competitive. 

To state the obvious, Guild Wars 2 does not have this treadmill, at least not in the same form.  There is a plateau of power at the end-game.  This means, that you will not be forced to farm to keep up with the newest content.  However, you will be able to grind, craft, and work your way into gear that looks aesthetically different and generally more pleasing, if you want.

Many have wondered if this will be enough.  It’s perhaps the biggest, unanswered question we have left. 
ArenaNet hasn’t exactly answered this question, and many of us are left wondering.  The loudest critics have attempted to implicate the business model in this question.  After all, with no subscription fee, there really is no major reason to keep us playing.   This has deeper implications in updates and content patches post-launch.  Do they have a fair point?  Probably not, it is ArenaNet we are talking about.

Most of us, who have followed the game in development for years now, believe in ArenaNet. 

Many supporters have countered the loudest critics with a seemingly-convincing argument.  With a personal story that varies based on race and intra-racial choices, four routes for each dungeon, massive zones that will (hopefully) look different each time we visit, player-run tournaments, WvW, sPvP, and content that can be repeated at any level, we have far more content at launch, than most games get in their entire lifespan.  You get what you pay for, and in this case, $60 is a steal for this game, when you consider its competitors.  You may not satisfy the extreme hardcore players, but how could you ever hope to?

However, the answer remains, if you don’t have a gear treadmill, what do you replace it with?  ArenaNet’s answer so far has been a mass-introduction of adaptable, ever-changing, and fun content.

What if there’s a third option?

What I propose, is something similar to a sandbox inside of a themepark. It’s not exactly a novel idea in theory, but no MMO has ever attempted it. Themepark vs. Sandbox MMO are rather hot button words. In seconds, they can create controversy and debate, and quite often that discussion is turned into a quagmire of arguments and bitterness. If you aren’t familiar with the terms, they can be interpreted slightly differently depending on the person you are talking to. To me, a themepark is driven around developer-created content. You are a person who enjoys the rides given to you, and the classic example is World of Warcraft. The sandbox definition can be slightly harder to pin down, but personally, I believe that the game involves around player-created content, and the traditional example is EVE Online.

To say it more bluntly, ArenaNet give us the power to create content.

How?  With well-crafted, easy-to-use, tools created for players to use.  To do this, requires significant time-investment.  In fact, to do it properly would probably require the sacrifice of an entire expansion.  Instead of giving us a new continent to explore, new professions to use, new dungeons, they would give us something no one has fully attempted.

To be clear, there have been games that have held contests for player created dungeons, but the tools used have been fairly lackluster, and these games have been usually far from the mainstream, everyday player. 

You could have players create dynamic events, dungeons, sPvP maps, and even entire zones.  You then have a short testing phase, where players can play in other people’s creations.  After this phase, you hold some sort of contest where the community can vote for the winning entry.  ArenaNet then spends some time making tweaks, applying polish, and ensuring quality for the winner(s), and releases the content to us. 
There’s no doubt this requires some very significant, and even risky investment.  However, if successful, could launch Guild Wars 2, ArenaNet, and the MMO genre into something else entirely.  The biggest problem with MMOs like GW2, is that developers have not been able to create quality content fast enough, and the ever-devouring player-base is forced to wait.  No one likes to be forced to wait.  And this could really involve and inspire the community, something that has been rather lacking in the genre.

ArenaNet has dared to be bold, breaking traditions that have been sacred to the genre since its mainstream inception.  I propose that ArenaNet try something different in its post-launch plans, that no one would be prepared for.


  1. I like to think I keep up to date with most GW2 news and articles, but have I missed some announcement of mod tools being made available to GW2 community?

    Or am I reading this all wrong and this is more of a suggestion by you to ArenaNet?

    I would certainly welcome mod tools to create in-game assets, but I am also wary of the quality of any submissions by the public to be incorporated into the game, mainly because the quality (in most cases) of the content would be sub-par to that created by the developers themselves, and with such a visually rich game the bad will certainly clash with the good.

    1. It's a suggestion to ArenaNet for future content of the game. I would definitely be weary of any content produced by the public, and some type of filtering by the community and/or developers would be needed. If you think of some of the projects created in Minecraft or other similar games, the community can be a particularly creative and useful outlet.

  2. I must say thats a very interesting read mate, i agree with your comments that GW2 should be different than the standerd gear grind MMO alaWoW, GW1 is a excellent example of this, you hit a plateu of best gear (stat wise) quite quickly (to a dedicated gamer) after which is its all aesthetic, for GW1 it works but i feel this is in part due to the much higher variance of character playstyles than GW" has, because of the secondary proffession (and there being more proffessions) in GW1 you can create radically all over the place avatar playstyles, all these wierd builds that we use for GvG and speed clears of elite areas or just to surprise people in competetive missions.

    GW2 does not have such a wide range, Anet said this new direction was to allow you to create avatars with more depth and not as much width (eliminating those freak builds i assume), a ideal i personally agree with but this leaves less variance among our avatars, gear is potentially a way to create differences, a wide range of gear, with stats towrds different playstyles creates more divergent playstyles.

    GW2 does not need the minute gear stat grind of WoW but it could use a end game gear variance system, in GW1, with the exception of freak builds a warrior only really needed 1 set of gear stats, minor differences could be made to if you maxed swordmastery or axemastery but thats it, there is no gear you can attain that allows you to stack very high strength over other attributes, everyone has the same gear bonuses with minor difference in rune choice.

    GW2 can be different to this, it can have armor sets that while not superior by 5% to the set before it, it offers shifting your stats in a way unusual/different to the norm giving you a possibility of a different build/playstyle, this is i feel a half way between the gear stat grind of WoW and the completely static stats of GW1, over the years i always felt GW1 had such a lack of stat variance because doing so would require a great deal of technical work (balancing it all against each other) which Anet simply did not have for GW1, with GW2 being what it is, this possibility is more beliveble.

    What you said about bringing sandbox into GW2...hmm..i trust you know that people already say that GW2 has elements of sandbox in it and that its enough, making GW2 sandbox is impossible bacause the game was not designed from the ground up to be one, i play EVE online myself and let me say its a whole can of big ugly worms in itself, your player created content idea has merit but in some games it simply turned out very badly or the tools availible are just terrible, your idea of having Anet review and polish all player created content, while a excellent idea in it self, is baseically asking Anet to go half way resource wise, if there going to give that time/resources they may as well just tkae our ideas and do it themselves, but as i said its still a damn good idea, the problem with some MMOs that player created content was that there was no oversight my the devs and it was largely just crap.

  3. For endgame/logevity of GW2 i always felt that pure PVP was a large part of Anets plan for the game, the whole WvWvW concept is something that has much potential for creating a persistent endgame experiance, that coupled with my humble middle of the road gear idea and your well justified player created content idea sounds like quite a hefty amount of longterm content, another thing not to forget is the differnet races on option, one thing i disliked about SWTOR (one of many) was the whole touting of different storylines for each class thing, after playing through a few, i found it just boring after the first, the storyline deatails are different yes but the whole feel/style/presentation is ultimately the same, your good or your bad, and the stting dosent change, its always balmmorra, korriban or some other dump, GW2 offers races that have radically differnet styles to them, steampunk (charr) low fantasy (norn) Tolkein fantasy (human) and so on, that creates a whole differnt experiance for your avatars not just some pithy choice of do you kill him on this avatar or not.