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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.