Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Secondary Features

So, sometimes for the sake of a launch date (and the sanity of the playerbase), some features must be shelved temporarily.  After all, many secondary features are not essential to the game, and can be easily patched in post-launch.

If you haven't been able to tell, I often like to play "game designer".  I'm about to present a hypothetical situation, in which out of several options, you (as the head of ArenaNet) must choose which to release post-launch, and which you would place greater weight and finalize before launch. You may only choose one feature.  Which would you choose?

1. The long-awaited spectator mode. Essentially this is a mode, that allows you to visualize sPvP of players (specifically high-profile guilds/teams). This mode usually features a live-watch feature, and can contain a recording feature in which you can review past matches. The capability to view matches is critical for any e-sport game, and must be available.

2. The Guild Wars 2 App. This is basically an app for most mobile devices, and was revealed several months ago.. However since that reveal, there has been little talk of it. For argument's sake, it is capable of several features. It is free, and is allows players to see and interact with their friends on-line, move their character's around through waypoints, and see their realm's WvW status and all 4 maps in real time. They can also post in guild chat through their mobile device, and allow access to the in-game auction house.

3. Adding additional weather effects. Currently, thunderstorms, blizzards, and rain have all been confirmed to be in-game. However, it would be really nice to see fog rolling in from the sea, wind interacting with the plants in an area, and maybe even a tornado or typhoon. For the sake of equality among the list, these could also trigger several newly created events in specific areas, and make the world feel even more alive.

4. A revamp of the guild system. The complaints are pretty loud and clear from larger guilds, the guild cap must be raised. Guildscast last week offered a very well defined critique of the guild system, and why it's critical for the future of the game. It has been confirmed to be increasing, but we don't know when that might happen. Also, some people in the community have complained about the guild system UI, and that it is very clumsy. I have only 5-10 minutes of experience with this system , but for the sake of the question, let's say any quarrels you may have are now fixed. This also includes an "incognito" feature. Currently, your friends and guild can see when you or any of your alts are online. For many players, they have alts to escape from their guild/friends for a little while, often for very different reasons. This feature would allow you to select in the character selection screen and in-game to be viewed as offline to guild(s) and friends.

I had thought of something else, but alas I forget. Remember you can only choose one to have at launch, so which would you choose?


  1. #4 must be addressed prior to launch. #1-3 can be patched in post-launch.

    1. I would say that #4 might have higher priority for me, but I wouldn't go far as saying "must." Yes, the guild cap needs to increase, but the proportion of the playerbase this affects is probably rather small. While the system is a little clumsy, many of the larger meta guilds have already set up smaller sub-guilds for the time being. Using 3rd party voice chat is a decent work around for most groups to communicate in between the different sub-guilds. I do think there needs to be a change, but I'm not sure if it's a "must have" before launch.

      But, nevertheless, I agree, I think #4 would be my choice too.

  2. 2 should be the lowest priority. The others effect anyone who plays. Apps only affect smart phone users (some of us still prefer to leave the internet at home.) Otherwise I guess I'd have to say 4, 1, 3 in order of most to least important.

  3. Hundred-plus player guilds are, in my experience at least, the exception rather than the norm. Even then, a simple guild cap increase while other systems are being finalized will, if not solve the problem, at least mitigate it while a more permanent solution is being iterated and implemented. Point 4 is thus of middling priority - not insignificant, but something which can be worked around before being fully implemented after release.

    Spectator mode is an enormous, throbbing contention-boner for the sPvP crowd, but despite what the sPvP crowd may (loudly) believe, they are also not a majority of the game's playerbase, nor do they deserve favored-player status as most of them tend to think. Yes, spectator mode IS critical for an e-sport to be successful, but Guild Wars 2 isn't going to become a successful e-sport within a few days of launch. Launch-day bugs, balancing issues, and slammed servers will guarantee that. As such, highly competitive and thus spectator-worthy sPvP simply won't exist for some time after launch, giving ArenaNet plenty of time to work on spectator mode post-release before it becomes of any actual importance. Thusly, Point 1 is of low pre-launch priority.

    The Guild Wars App/Extended Experience/whatever you want to call it is pretty much entirely a novelty. It's not going to make or break anyone's gameplay experience since it's not actually something you do while playing the game. it's something you do while sneaking a bathroom break at work, or while you're having that really painful dinner with your significant other's mother. It's a neat idea, but it's not the sort of thing the game is going to be known for. Let it come post-release, after the initial madness has died down.

    Thus...we are left with weather effects. This has the potential to be a major selling point of the PvE game, which is the game the majority of the playerbase will be playing, and it IS the sort of thing players will notice and remember. Doing the level 1-5 charr zones (again) in the midst of a sunny spring day is a whole different experience from doing it in the middle of a raging thunderstorm. As part of the PvE game, it's also much more immediate than sPvP - sPvP, as stated, will only really emerge a few months after the game releases, whereas the PvE game will be played at full tilt from day one. Weather is also something that can be applied to Wuvwuv, making more efficient use of their development time and adding another dimension of potential epic to what may as well be termed Epic PvP - imagine assaulting Stonemist Keep during that aforementioned giant thunderstorm, eh?

    Ergo, my vote for what would be implemented before launch goes to weather effects and related events, mostly because nothing else on the list makes much sense to rush into the game prior to launch.

    1. Well said. I'm glad to see there's a diversity of opinion and was worried that I may have made a mistake by creating a poor selection of options. I think you made some extremely good points in your comment, and I wanted to thank you for taking the time to write out such a well-thought out response.

  4. Anonymous hit the spot. I personally would like the spectator mode. I am a PvP fan before any other system. Watching replays is nice when you are eating food!

    The weather effects would appeal to the masses though. People pick up RPG games for playing the RPG quests and leveling up their characters. Implement weather effects are the best pick from arena nets stand point.