Friday, July 6, 2012

Tin Foil Hat Edition: Asura and Sylvari

Many sites have created "Tin Foil Hat" columns that provide some theory, guesses, and general speculation of the future of various games.  I have always found them quite fun and interesting to read, so I have decided to create a series devoted to it. In this first edition at Divinity's Reach, I wanted to begin to establish the discussion here if Asura and Sylvari will be playable in BWE 3.

My short answer is yes, they will be included, but for a reason you may not expect.

There have been many posts created on this topic, and many of the reasons proposed for their inclusion/exclusion in the next event don't seem strong enough to merit their intended conclusions.

1.  They need people to test those areas.  Yes they do, but that was most likely achieved through closed beta testing.  After all, what about all of the upper-level areas that we haven't seen?  If they were unable to test those zones through their inside testing, they would have had all of those zones open and playable during the BWEs.

2.  They aren't ready yet.  No, I really doubt this is true.  Several journalists have run through the starting area, and generally provided favorable reviews.  Much of the character creation of both races were previously shown at conventions.  And most obviously, they gave us a release date that is less than two months away. With all of ArenaNet's talk of "when it's ready", their credibility would be seriously undermined if the launch went anything but near perfection.

3.  If you don't release them, the populations of the races will never be equal.   They never were going to be equal.  Additionally, I think people will be trying out other races/professions as they play the game.  There's no reason to rush to 80, and thus there's no artificial restrictions forcing a  person to solely play on one character.  Additionally, the fact that you can jump into sPvP with any profession right out of the tutorial, provides a nice, motivational push to try something new.  People will be creating alts, and thus over time, any "initial zerg of one-to-two races" will spread out.  However, if you really think about this point, you can create the groundwork for a far stronger argument.

This is my educated guess on the next beta weekend:  They will wipe all characters across the board, and open all five races to everyone.

Why?  Well, think about it.  I would highly suspect that most of the people who will be playing at launch have pre-purchased the game.  Most of the people who have pre-purchased, will have/or has participated in at least one of the beta weekends. Two of the most popular (and arguably unique) races, have been locked for us since we started playing.  Thus, what will the majority of people do at launch?  They will create an Asura or Sylvari.

Launch days are big for MMOs, and can either create a massive wave of new interest, or bury itself under angry, forum/media/blog authors. While this isn't always the case, some MMO's have survived truly terrible launches, I think Guild Wars 2 can't afford it.

If there is mass creation of Asura and Sylvari during launch, you are creating extremely heavy, taxing loads on those zones on the most historically painful day of an MMO.  Ideally to minimize this, you want players in as many different zones as possible. While you can easily switch to a new starter zone, many people will want to explore the "new" zone.   The only way to avoid mass creation of these two races is to show them to us now.  The fan love for both of these races is rapidly approaching the "threatening to boil over" mark.  I believe ArenaNet would be making a serious mistake, if they did not make both races playable next beta.  With ArenaNet's ever-present and powerful slogan, they can't afford a bad launch. "When it's ready" is a great, catchy, defiant statement, but with all of it's power comes the weight of a heavy responsibility.

Side Notes:
-Even with stress tests and ending events, I'm not sure any company could prepare for the massive force on launch day during prime time.  You have to remember that most of the ending events took place late at night, and the stress tests were often short or not optimal to people's schedules.

 -If you try to argue that they will release one of the races during the next beta, and save one, that almost compounds the issue.  Having that many people now in only one zone, that's just asking for a slide show (i.e.  lag). 


  1. I believe they shoud have already opened the asura & sylvari areas for general exploration, the problem with keeping them closed until launch day is the second geussing it can lead to.

    I know that many people create multiple avatars and will regardless of current availibilty have asura & charr etc avatars but there are those who create but one avatar for the game, or atleast have a main and some alts that are always secondary to the main, not giving people the chance to experiance the very different choices GW2 offers can lead to serious regret on the part of that kind of player.

    Guild Wars 2 is truly a game that offers something different, not in its oft espoused combat/progression system but much more simply in its varying styles, play style is determined via choice of class but game style is due to choice of race, GW2 promises a different play style, even within the same class, for each of the races it has availible, this is something extrordinary and opens another box of questions for the player, say you choose to play a warrior for that is the game syle you enjoy the most, your choice of race in other games is largely based on lore/backround/pvp side reasons, in GW2 it can seriously affect your experiance as it determines your personal story, the city you will call home, the npcs you will largley associate with, the style of armor and most importantly the style of your surrondings for a fair chunk of the game, not a small decision and one best taken with as much pre-knowledge as possible.

    With GW2 offering this different approach and then denying players the chance to know the details of your options is, in my view, cruel and unneccesery. What if someone creates a human warrior as his main, devotes considerable time and effort to developing the character to be his own and then sees/hears the details of the asuran techno-magic style, which he finds more appealing/fun than his chosen human playstyle, he can then regret his choice and the time spent thus leading him to blame Anet. He can also face the predicament of what he can do once in this quandry, start a new asuran avatar and call it his main, disregarding his worked on human avatar, or continue with his human avatar but always with the thought at the back of his mind as to what could have been.

    This kind of scenario is something that can affect those while still in character creation, the choice of your race is no small thing in GW2, I (and im sure others) would be most intriuged to read a article on this site addressing my mentioned issue, with Anet presenting a buffey table of radically different choices not everyone simply pigs out from end to end, for those who prefer to dine on one flavour this is a most vexing issue.

    1. Wow, that is one long comment. Um, yes and no to many of your statements. As Aly said, saying something for the game is cruel, is a little too extreme. I think for most games, having access to all the races before launch is unnecessary. Is Guild Wars 2 different in that respect maybe? My argument is that it may be needed for a smooth launch, where you place more emphasis on what each race really offers. Multiple unique personal stories, a personalized instance in your respective city, and for role playing. While those are all valid reasons, there really shouldn't be a requirement for a game to release all races to keep players satisfied. In that respect my argument reaches the same conclusion, but for very different reasons. Many of your points can be invalidated because they are somewhat subjective, and somewhat restricted to role players and those who refuse to create alts. Mine is from a technical standpoint, which could be wrong, and only ArenaNet truly knows. It really depends on several factors. The popularity of Sylvari and Asura, the effectiveness and capacity of overflow servers, and how many people will be playing at launch. All of these variables are relatively unknown, and only the first point can be slightly addressed through sites like Guild Wars 2 Census, etc.

      However, I do see and understand your argument. Race choice is definitely something that affects your gameplay immensely if you are at all interested in personal story and/or roleplaying. In many ways this choice in Guild Wars 2 matters far more than in other MMOs. However, I usually view access to all races before launch something of a luxury. This luxury, in my opinion, has become required from a technical standpoint due to potential problems at launch.

  2. Keep in mind, we only had 3 races and starting zones to begin with, and they've since done a lot to address issues like lag and overflow server issues. Speaking of overflow servers, those will prevent overcrowding and we really haven't seen what they are like since the improvements following the first beta. There's also the ability to go to other places almost immediately, including WvW and PvP which many players will make a beeline for after the tutorial.

    It's also a safe bet that anyone who pre-purchased knows a bit about the asura or sylvari and whether or not they have any interest in those races if it's that pressing a concern. That, and it's not like it's that hard to level new characters. In any case, is there that big a difference between taking 2 1/2 days now to try out a race and 2 1/2 days at launch for someone to decide if they like it? Describing anything pertaining to a computer game as cruel seems a bit hyperbolic.

    For many players, launch day will be their first exposure to ANY race. I'd like to think that the pre-purchasers aren't the majority of players come August. Even among the active online community, there were many people who refuse to pre-purchase games, or who will wait until the last moment possible to still get early access.

  3. Was thinking about this and after seeing the replys, i think i agree with you Entombed, yes i was harsh in using the wording "creul", and yes it is a luxury to have access to all races before a game launch, i belive i got sidetracked with another issue brought up with the whole concept of sylvari & asura, mainly my long analysis of the differences between races, which is something else more to do with RP and certain playstyles.
    I still think that giving us the other races and with-holding the last 2 can create a effect on peoples choice on launch day, speaking for myself, when i first started seriously planning my main for the game (several months ago) i was decided on playing as human, lately ive been reconsidering and seriously entertaining the idea of asura, maybe this has something to do with the fact i could play through the betas as a human (which i did) and not as a asura, could the denial of testing the 2 races have a psychological affect on people on launch day resulting in excess asura/sylvari avatars? maybe but if at all than probarly only marginally, i would say that Anet are encouraging peoples race option to be a personal choice, but ultimately its really a different disscussion to this article, am i or others being influenced by the lack of asura/sylvari in the betas? meh who cares il prbly create a bunch on launch day and end up keeping a few, what anyone with half a brain would do really.