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Columns: Polish or New Content?

By David North on January 05, 2015

Polish or New Content?

Smooth animations, fantastic audio quality, and a good UI are essential for making a good game no matter what genre you’re talking about.  When it comes to MMO’s it’s hard to find a game that has a true polished feel.  A  lot of these games try to fill that gap by just reskinning old content, and slapping it on top of everything to make their game seem larger.  Then there’s Guild Wars 2.  An MMO so polished, it’s actually hard to believe.  In fact, it’s still being polished.

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Guild Wars 2 looks phenomenal.  I’m not talking about the graphics, even though they’re great as well, but Guild Wars 2 is a game where you can look at the screen and see everything you need to, while still actually seeing your character, and the world surrounding them.  I’m still surprised how many MMOs are released where almost half the screen feels cluttered from the UI. 


With a lot of other games, the UI feels like it’s jumping out of the screen and attacking you.

Guild Wars 2 has had a lot of work done to make it look as good as it does. But is it too much?  We all want a game that looks great, and doesn’t confuse us, but still to this day updates are made constantly changing this menu, or that menu when there wasn’t an issue with them to begin with.  At this point, it can seem like the developers are just being super picky and making small changes because the way a button shows up on the screen irritates them.

Other games don’t look nearly as clean as Guild Wars 2 does.  These games try to bombard the player with re-skinned content in hopes that we all get caught up in trying to obtain everything, so that we don’t care about our eyes bleeding from the oversized UI appearing on our screens.  The argument for these games is that they have more content.  Lots and lots of recycled content. 

It can be confusing sometimes.  Which is better, polishing the game, or just slapping recycled content in to give players something to do?  Personally I like a game that’s well polished.  I like having more content, but I prefer brand new stuff.  I hate killing the orange version of the level 2 green monster I had to grind to get to level 4!  But really, it’s kind of strange that a lot of games don’t try to meet somewhere in the middle.  I think that’s where Guild Wars 2 is right now. 

We’ve seen a lot of changes to Guild Wars 2 that didn’t really have a major impact on the game.  The biggest example I can think of is the Black Lion Trading Company UI.  Really it’s the same UI that’s rearranged with a slider added to it. But then we have the Living World.  Most of it’s content could be considered new.  When you look at a lot of the environmental models that had to be made for the new maps, it does add up to be a good sized workload for the developers.  The enemies do have new models, but they are using slightly modified animation rigs from previous enemies.  Hey, at least they aren’t just color variations of old monsters, right?


Reskins are too easy to spot.

It does seem like the there’s been a huge focus on making Guild Wars 2 look pretty, even though it has been pretty rock solid  since launch.  Can you really blame the developers though?  There are a lot of games I’ve worked on myself that I just wish had more time put into fixing them up before launch.  ArenaNet is improving the game, even though we can’t always see how right away.  Sure the trading post UI mostly is the same, but I’ve found myself using the slider a lot.  These little things add up to make our in-game lives easier.  This is something that’s incredibly easy to overlook when you’re crying out for an expansion.  More content is important, and we all want that expansion announcement so badly.  Like everyone else, I'm waiting for the day that something big is announced, but we should strive to be thankful for the good changes and additions that have come in the past two years as well.       

David North / All my life I've been a gamer, from side scrolling adventures to shooters, it was only a mater of time before the RPG genre would grab a hold of me. My love for games grew so much that I started to make them. It grew even more, and now I also write about them.