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The Casual Life by Wintyre Fraust

An older, casual player's perspective on MMOG's in general and GW2 in particular.

Author: Meleagar

Why You (Powergamers) Don't Understand The GW2 "Hype"

Posted by Meleagar Saturday June 16 2012 at 6:19AM
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Have you ever been on a raid against a really massive, cool, breathtaking and fearsome boss mob in an MMOG, where dozens of players gather and fight for their lives, figuring out how to work together to take down the creature? 

Have you ever been involved in a series of quests, one building on another, setting of sequential events, each more harder than the last, involving several other players as the sequence heads towards  a huge ending and reward?

Have you ever looted, or gotten the final loot from, such massive, multiplayer, raid-quality, dungeonesque events?

You have? 

Yes, you have.  In fact, you've done it so much that you find it a boring grind? That's really all you've done for the past several years in MMOGs - rush through the lower content, get to max level, and go on an endless series of events similar to those described above?  And so, you say, GW2 doesn't offer anything new, just that same kind of stuff in its Dynamic Events, and worse, doesn't really even give you exclusive, superior rewards for winning them?

Well, let me tell you something from an entirely different perspective: I can count the number of raids and elite group excursions I've been on in 13 years of MMOGing on two fingers. Yep, I've been to one raid and one semi-elite group outing. Didn't see anything spectacular. After 2 hours of gathering and 2 of fighting NPC's that looked like regular NPCs, it was over.  Dungeons? I've been on a handful of dungeon or area crawls.  Nothing spectacular or special. In no case did I ever get to loot any chests at the end.

No, pretty much all of my time in 13 years of playing 3D MMOG's since Everquest came out has been spent in that part of the game all of the powergamers rush through to get to the cool part - the end game.  You see, I'm a casual player. I can't commit huge amounts of time to any game, much less huge amounts of time at a sitting.  That means no "events' for me. No big, cool bosses.  No elite content. 

Being a casual player means finding other ways to enjoy games that are specifically designed to be maximally enjoyable only by those willing to play the game like it was a full time job.   Since I was never going to experience the big, ultra-cool bosses or the really interesting chain events reserved for elite groups engaged in hours-long dungeon crawls, I contented myself with enjoying "the rest of the game". All the best content and gear by a wide margin in every MMOG I've played so far was reserved for a certain playstyle, and that was not my playstyle.

That uber content was designed for your playstyle.  So to you, you see, encountering that shadow behemoth in the swamp in GW2 BWE was ... ho hum.  Eh, so what, right? Nothing new here. You've seen that kind of epic content for years now, so much so that it even bores you.  Been there, done that, what's all the hubbub? 

Because of my casual playstyle, I've never been a professional at any holy-trinity based profession.  I don't know enough about the harder areas of the game, or about how to play my class, to play my part to the satisfaction of other players who spend far more time in the game.  Since I don't really care about min-maxing for the sake of standardized gear and talent builds, there's really not much point in my trying to group up with others who are going to tackle group-oriented content that requires such min-maxing and knowledge of particular areas and mobs for success.  Because I'm a casual player, I'd rather not put everyone else at risk if I have to go AFK to tend to family business that pops up every 15 minutes or so.

And that's why you, the powergamers, don't get the hype and think the innovation of GW2 is oversold and overblown; you don't even comprehend that there are literally millions of casual players that did not, and could not, play MMOG's for the end content or for ubergear, or even for 5-man elite group content.  We rarely if ever went on raids, saw any epic bosses or areas, and certainly never looted any chests at the end of an epic battle.  We were very often not even involved in groups - not because they disliked other people, but just because we didn't want to put others at risk.  We also didn't want to hear the comments about our less than professional gameplay, our build "mistakes",  or our scrub gear.

Content like the swamp shadow behemoth meta event in GW2 is nothing to players like you; you've done that kind of thing every night for years.  To us .. well, I could do that over and over for months and not get tired of it.  You know .... like you did when you were gear grinding the same uber conent in WoW every night for months. Except I won't be grinding, I'll just be catching up on years of  the missed fun of fighting that big, cool creature and getting an equal share of the reward at the end, not "nothing" as demanded by my scrub status as determined by some uberguild gatekeeper of DKPs.

To us,  the millions of casuals that have role-played and explored and settled for enjoying the non-uber, non-spectactular scrub content, or made a career out of finding nich crafting goods to sell to those who just didn't have the time between raids to whip the potions or food up themselves ... to us, this is an amazing, earth-shattering revolution in game design, not just because we get to regularly participate in content previously reserved only for the powergaming elite, but we get access to the same quality of rewards for participating.  We don't have to beg some player for this or that.  And we can do so from the very first level.

In GW2, we're not scrubs regulated to scrub content eating the scraps of powergamers and the developers who focus on them. So sure, to you powergamers, GW2 doesn't look appealing, innovative, or even playable after a couple of months outside of PvP.   That's because you've been participating in elite group and raid content for years. You don't even realize what an amazing revelation it is for so many of us that never got more than an occasional, rare taste of any of that for the past 13 years or so. 

That's why you don't understand what the hype is about; GW2 doesn't offer you - the powergamers - anything new; in fact, it offers you much less than you have in most other MMOGs.  The innovation is that GW2 offers millions of casual players the epic and group content they've missed out on for the past 13 years and has generated game mechanics that disallow their exclusion from such events if they are not min-maxed and knowledgable to the satisfaction of de facto content gatekeepers.  Even in WvWvW, they cannot be excluded from squads and being a part of massive, organized, raid-quality events. That's the real glory of Dynamic Events, public questing, and WvWvW squads, and why the importance, innovation and appeal of it is lost on players like you.

GW2 takes the "end game" content that used to be reserved for powergamers or semi-powergamers and spreads it out over, through and into all the "scrub" content we casuals have had to content ourselves with as we spend years (yes, years, not weeks) leveling characters because, you see, our goal was never to level a character to the top, but rather just to enjoy a cool MMOG in between real life issues and responsibilities.

And that's what GW2 offers, in spades, like very few (if any) other MMOG has ever done before. It gives casual players the real opportunity to experience end game and elite content every time they log in for an hour or two or three, and get an equal share of the rewards at the end. It's nothing new to you; to me, it's the most exciting, innovative thing in MMOGs since EQ first came out.

 

Saydien writes:

Some viable points there and I personally am glad that for you and many others GW2 seems to offer just what you described there. Still I would like to very clearly point out that there is a huge difference between "not getting" something and "not sharing or not agreeing".

I personally consider the article a bit flawed. Pointing out in an understandable way just why those powergamers don't enjoy GW2 but still making it obviously sound like blaming them for not understanding it (despite GW2 offering close to nothing for them) doesn't fit together. If watering down content and therefore ignoring powergamers is one of the biggest innovations of GW2 then the devs AND the players better be prepared for the justified complaints of a target group that is ignored.

Tue Jun 19 2012 2:15AM Report
DarkPony writes:

You have to be extremely casual to experience so few of that kind of content over those years :)

I agree with the notion that it's a great thing to put the most kick-ass pve content out in the world and make it accessible for everyone but we have yet to see how it will pan out, really.

There might still be bosses which can only be defeated by an organized group of people who have done a considerable investment in preparing for encounters like that.

You might hitch along on some of their rides but I wonder how much fun it will be when you end up fighting to survive and being finished off and sent back to the teleport time and time again.

Another issue is that it might become too easy for many people: if it just comes down on getting enough players to defeat the most kick-ass and most rewarding events, they completely negate the fun to be had from using skill, the right group tactics, composition and organization. (Having no trinity is already detrimental to that).

A lot of the compelling fun found in pve endgame in other games isn't because it's rewarding or uncasual, but the high risks for high rewards balance and the skill, tactics and organization required. If GW2's take on that part of the game will end up being dumbed down zergfests with the same rewards for the windowlicking waterheads that happened to have tagged along with organized pve guilds, I don't think the elitist pricks are going to like that very much.

(Not that I personally would be bothered with THAT though as I love casuals much more than people who go at games like they are second jobs ^_^).

We'll see.

Tue Jun 19 2012 11:25AM Report
Meleagar writes:

Saydien, what I mean about powergamers "not getting" the hype is a response to the forums where many don't understand why so many players are so excited about GW2 and love it after a couple of BWE's; they don't "get" that those players are experiencing things in an MMOG that  they virtually never have in any prior MMOGs. They get to fight the big boss. They get to loot the big chest. They get to be a member of a "raid" comprised of dozens of individuals. They get to be part of epic encounters.

Darkpony, if others want to condescendingly call such content "dumbed down" for the enjoyment of casuals who have too many other obligations in life to powergame and uber raid hours at a time night after night, or become professional players, then they can call it that if they wish.

I don't think it's "dumbed down" at all; I think it's just a different game philosophy targeted for a playerbase that has basically been the profitable but unloved red-headed stepchildrn of the industry for over a decade.

 

Tue Jun 19 2012 11:45AM Report
Telre writes:

Personally as a "power gamer" by what might be your standards I disagree. I may disagree in a way we can agree on though. Guild Wars 2 is a game I am enjoying playing. I feel the pve gameplay (usually my least favorite in games) allows me to just play through. I am not concerned with rushing through it, which to me feels like great design. Also I do not forsee a problem for players getting to the "end game". Guild Wars had tons of "end game" content and additions such as hard mode that allowed hard core players to get their fix.

At the end of the day my cup of tea has always been competitive play if I am "power gaming" or the like. Guild Wars provides this in plenty with the more casual world vs world, and the competitive pvp.

What makes Guild Wars 2 stand out to me is the fact that I can play this with my fiance (who is far from a power gamer) and I can enjoy more challenging aspects of the game myself. The strength to me appears to be the removal of barriers that prevent you from playing all these types of content.

I do want to address a point Dark Pony brings up with is the game becoming or being too easy. I can't recall a rts game that its single player hasnt felt too easy to me, yet I think I've spent years of my life playing them. That is because of the competitive play that exists. I would also not be surprised to find the devs keeping the content slightly harder then some other games and possibly adding a "hard mode" type feature to solve just that.

As far as the having a "zerg" goes, yes that can happen in many games in the open zones, yet I dont not think this will in the end be a large problem. The zone population caps combined with the fact that much of the game is still instanced in many areas avoids this. The de-leveling higher level characters also (so far) has made it that my higher level character can play with my fiances lower level and not steam roll the content.

Apologies for the novel.

Tue Jun 19 2012 11:47AM Report
Telre writes:

Meleagar

I'm not sure if people are really having trouble "getting" the game or the excitement. I do agree with your point that this game is more accessible, which as a higher level player, I think has been handled well by the devs so far.  I think many people are just used to the hype and crash of so many games before.

Tue Jun 19 2012 11:50AM Report
Meleagar writes:

Telre, true, many games are hyped and then crash - TOR, for example. It may happen to GW2, but it won't crash because fancy CGI trailers made it seem to be more than it actually was.

I'm not saying powergamers cannot or will not enjoy GW2.  It doesn't seem to me that the usual material rewards for powergaming are available in GW2; powergamers must content themselves with unique appearance or title rewards, or bask in the glory of winning WvWvW or other PvP rankings.

When powergamers in the forum complain that there is no end-game content or the material rewards (exclusive superior gear/attributes)  to keep the attention of a large playerbase, then IMO they do not understand the intent of ANET's design philosophy and what it is intended to accomplish and who it is intended to appeal to.

IMO, it is often "competitive" just to stay up and alive in DE's, and in WvWvW, not to mention accomplishing one's personal story challenges. I've seen videos where zergs failed and organized teams succeed.  That's all part of the tuning process, but you can't have the same kind of precisely-tuned difficulty settings in GW2 that you can create in other games where players can all be expected to funnel down into specific builds, sets of gears and holy-trinity based roles.

GW2 combat system is more fluid, chaotic, and organic, and if that makes it "dumbed down" or "less competitive" or less "difficult" or more "zerg" prone than other games where you must min-max as part of a holy trinity or be excluded from such content, then so be it.  I'd rather play a less difficult, more zerg-prone game than find myself in another WoW clone.

Tue Jun 19 2012 12:25PM Report
SuperXero89 writes:

I'm not a powergamer, but I share their sentiments

I appreciate the article; however, my main complaint with GW2 still remains.  Anet has removed the raiding but have put nothing in its place.  PvE endgame, if such a thing can be said to exist, will most likely be attempting to conquer explorable-mode dungeons.  At their most basic level, explorable-mode dungeons are just themepark hardmodes.  Again, a casual player can grind dungeons over and over in just about any MMORPG.

It's less content either way you slice the cake.  Plenty of MMORPGs offer level scaling, dynamic events, PvP, and explorable landscapes that also have raiding and traditional quests.  The problem with GW2's DEs is that there's only a limited number of them per level range per given zone.  Yes, the DE system is more organic than traditioanl quest progression, but  you're going to be repeating DEs multiple times, and it's going to feel like less content.

For that reason, if I were entirely interested in PvE progression, I would look elsewhere.  The real audience for this game will be those who enjoy the WvWvW PPV and the competitive arena matches.

Tue Jun 19 2012 3:32PM Report
Meleagar writes:

SuperXeroX9:  when you say: "Again, a casual player can grind dungeons over and over in just about any MMORPG," it is apparent that your definition of "casual" and that of many, many other people is completely different.  There are many casuals that could not grind dungeons in most other MMOGs for several reasons, which I outlined in my post. Playing 5-15 hours a week at hour or two sittings that are constantly interrupted by real life events does not allow you to "grind dungeons" or raid.  It doesn't give you time to learn how to play your holy trinity role professionally or grind for gear necessary before you grind for more gear.

Note how you (and many others)  assess who will be interested in playing GW2 solely from the perspective of what it offers players after they reach level 80.  That's your criteria about what can be done as an "end game"; that's where you say it has less content, that's where you say the content hasn't been replaced. 

You are apparently oblivious to millions of players that may take years to get a single character to level 80 because of a truly casual playstyle. They aren't playing DE's over and over (unless they want to) because they aren't investing that kind of time in the game.  The go through content so slowly that expansions and new content arrive faster than they consume what is already there.That is the fundamental attraction of this game: there is literally no reason to hurry to level 80, because there's nothing special waiting for you there. That's the whole point.

I agree that GW2 has little to draw powergamers from other games to this one, because it doesn't offer any exclusive, significant material rewards for their characters for burning through content to the end - but that's the very point of the design, and the fundamental basis of the appeal of GW2 to millions of players.

 

Tue Jun 19 2012 7:29PM Report
SuperXero89 writes:

Dungeons in most themepark MMORPGs don't usually take a full hour to run through.  In fact, there's a good possibility that it will take far longer to run through a dungeon in Guild Wars 2, so I wouldn't be so quick to state that GW2 is perfect for the casual player if 1-2 hours a night is your estimated max playtime.

I don't believe there are "millions" of players out there who ever took "years" to get to level 80, at least not regular subscribers, but even if they were, again, they're not going to be doing anything in GW2 that they couldn't already do in other MMORPGs.  If it truly takes you or the players you're talking about that long to have a max level character, why is endgame even a topic of conversation?  The fact that there's a whole other game awaiting players at max level shouldn't even be of concern to you.  You'll never see it anyway.  At this point, I'm also failing to see what makes GW2 so special compared to other themepark MMOs.

To admit that GW2 has no endgame and then to say that's a positive selling point is asinine.  GW2's PvE should appeal to you regardless, but it may not be appealing to players who play frequently.  Why does Anet chose to limit themselves to a single market when they could please both?  

Again, the reason is because GW2's PvE is just fluff compared to the PvP.  There can't be a large amount of PvE progression in the game because it would kill competitive PvP.

Tue Jun 19 2012 9:30PM Report
Meleagar writes:

SuperXero89 said: "Dungeons in most themepark MMORPGs don't usually take a full hour to run through. "

Not for experienced, hardcore players who never get interrupted.

I don't believe there are "millions" of players out there who ever took "years" to get to level 80 ...

Of course you don't - as I said, you're apparently oblilvious to players who ared actually unlike you.

they're not going to be doing anything in GW2 that they couldn't already do in other MMORPGs.

Besides all of the things I listed in my original post that I have virtually never been able to do in an MMOG up until the BWE's, where I did those things many times? You really are oblivious to people that spend 5-15 hrs a week in MMOGs.

To admit that GW2 has no endgame and then to say that's a positive selling point is asinine.

And yet, that is exactly what ANET has done - not only admit there is no endgame, but use it as a selling point. It's bizarre to me because - as I have pointed out repeatedly - you want something from GW2 that almost all MMOG's already cater to.  Why should ANET create yet another WoW clone? 

GW2 is deliberately obliterating the standard end-game design, and you can't understand why so many people are absolutely ecstatic about it: it's because they play MMOGs for very, very different reasons than you do, and GW2 caters to them, and not to you.

The standard "end-game" design of MMOGs affects every aspect of gameplay and community, of design philosophy and what developers can and cannot do in a game.  You think you can bake a chocolate cake and then, because a lot of people also love chili, ANET can just throw some chili on their chocolate cake and everyone - chocolate cake lovers and chili lovers - should be happy. It doesn't work that way.

If it truly takes you or the players you're talking about that long to have a max level character, why is endgame even a topic of conversation?

Because the endgame, and what it exists as,  affects every aspect of the game - how classes are organized, how they develop, talent trees, equipment specs, trait development, what is expected of players enroute to achieve endgame rewards, how the social structure is comprised, how players are sorted into classes and perceived, what developers spend their time and resources on and for what part of the playerbase, etc.

GW2's PvE should appeal to you regardless, but it may not be appealing to players who play frequently.  Why does Anet chose to limit themselves to a single market when they could please both? 

And there it is, the "you casuals should be satisfied with scrub content" mentality that is the hallmark of most MMOGs.  As soon as you put in an end game that rewards powergarmers with exclusive, significant material rewards for their playstyle, you've regulated the casuals to 3rd class scrub status.  I can get that in any WoW or any other MMOG on the market.

Again, the reason is because GW2's PvE is just fluff compared to the PvP.

It's meaningless fluff to you and powergamers lke you, as i said.  To millions of truly casual gamers, that "fluff" is the very reason they're excited about playing GW2.

Tue Jun 19 2012 10:01PM Report
Telre writes:
I could be mistaken, but I don't remember Anet ever saying Guild Wars 2 has no end game or using that as a selling point. I do recall many statements about the accessibility of the game, but having played the original guild wars far too much, I do not see why they would vary greatly from a similar design. The vast majority of the content will be available to all, but there will still be dungeons and difficult areas specifically for those looking for a challenge. The rewards will simply be cosmetic, and people still worked towards them in the original guild wars.
 
Meleagar I think you have made many great points about your views on Guild Wars 2 from a casual players stand point. As I have read through some of your comments you may have unintentionally come of more aggressively then you meant. I mention this because you may weaken your argument when someone perceives a statement negatively. Regardless I appreciate the great perspective from a different type of player.
Wed Jun 20 2012 11:02AM Report
Meleagar writes:

Telre said: "The vast majority of the content will be available to all, but there will still be dungeons and difficult areas specifically for those looking for a challenge. The rewards will simply be cosmetic, and people still worked towards them in the original guild wars."

I said, in prior post: "As soon as you put in an end game that rewards powergarmers with exclusive, significant material rewards for their playstyle, you've regulated the casuals to 3rd class scrub status."

Perhaps this was unclear: I don't care about rewards that are cosmetic in nature - I don't consider them significant or material.  What I care about is the ANET assertion that the whole game is the end-game and the model of equality of game-affecting rewards.

If you put in a gear-grinding or attribute-enhancing end-game that offers exclusive, superior, material rewards, it changes the entire structure and philosophy of the game as it now stands.

Please don't mistake a vigorous defense of the GW2 game  philosophy against those who would turn it into just another celebreation of powergaming for aggression.  Note that many powergamers don't consider the PvE end game content you've described (challenging dungeons that offer only cosmetic rewards) as anything but "fluff"; IOW, for them, it's not an "end game" worthy of being considered an end-game.

Similarly with PvP; you're not going to get any game-changing gear or reward for engaging in PvP, unless you consider 2 weeks worth of server bonus meaningful.

Powergamers have their playstyle and a bucketful of games where their playstyle is celebrated and amply rewarded.  There's nothing wrong with the playstyle or the games that cater to them. You won't find any posts of mine in the Tera or Rift forums complaining about powergamer end-game content there and how the casual players are once again 2nd class players by design.

However, when an AAA game is coming out that does not cater to that playstyle and instead  elevates casual players to equal footing with powergamers (at least via game philosophy, design and mechanics, if not in skill and game knowledge), I will vigorously defend my interests - and my interest is that GW2 not cave in and give powergamers elite status via significant preferential content - ever.

If what I had was aggression towards powergamers, I would visit game forums that had powergamer end-game content as I have described and attack that game philosophy and those decisions in those forums.  Note the name of this blog: if powergamers come here and argue for elitist powergaming content, it is they who are the aggressors, not me.

Wed Jun 20 2012 12:21PM Report
Tuchaka writes: Well its a great point i just wonder how many powergamers are too locked into their perceptions to really see this for themselves. I mean if they don't realize that organizing large amounts of people is a total pain in the @$$ , then they have not been paying attention to their own guild and experiences in gaming Wed Jun 20 2012 1:07PM Report
Meriik writes:

Id consider myself a powergamer and i'm still estatic about GW2, everything about this game is appealing to me, a welcome change of pace from WoW and its clones. Everthing you outlined as casual in nature im also excited about, maybe im just a casual gamer with too much time on my hands hah.  Who cares about endgame pve when you can spend so many enjoyable hours simply leveling other characters and using the amazing pvp system to its finest.

Fri Jun 22 2012 6:25PM Report
Meleagar writes:

Agreed, Meriik. I'm using the term "powergamer" more to describe those that spend their online time rushing to max level to start grinding endgame content for exclusive, superior rewards.  There really isn't much of a reason to be that kind of a powergamer in GW2, regardless of how many hours one spends in-game.

Fri Jun 22 2012 8:59PM Report

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