Last month's Wintersday Wish List was my attempt at singling out a few of the easier-to-address issues with Guild Wars 2. Today, I'm rolling up my sleeves and getting a little more muck on my arms, looking forward to 2016 and the kinds of tasks that might take a wee bit longer, if not a good portion of the year. We'll know more about ArenaNet's plans on Tuesday, but in advance of that, here are a few things I'd like to see on the long-term checklist.
Changes to the scribe profession (and the economy in general)
I haven't tried leveling a scribe yet, and I don't intend to until major changes are made. Just hearing the horror stories of how much it costs to level one to 400 makes my skin crawl like it's being overrun by risen spiders. Hundred or thousands of gold for something that mostly just lets me make pretty decorations for a guild hall? Yeah, no thanks. There was apparently intent that a guild would pool its resources to help one of its members level scribing, but that wasn't very well communicated and hasn't gone over well with the people who did know of it.
And what if your scribe leaves the guild or the game? There's probably no way to fix that without a complete overhaul of how scribing works and probably some sort of new mechanic that introduces a kind of “guild skill.”
On a larger scale, though, it speaks to the state of the economy and how ArenaNet tends to go for the “quick fix” more often than not. Prices of basic commodities, like Iron Ore and Elder Wood Logs have shot up in price recently because of some of the ridiculous amounts of materials needed to craft things like the new precursors. That was undoubtedly intentional, but as with most heavy-handed “price-fixing” efforts, it seems to have gone too far. It only encourages more “gold grind” which leads to unrewarding gold sinks like the Festive Imbiber achievement... which encourages more gold grind, and the cycle repeats.
I don't know what the best solution is. Find a way to reduce all the prices and the people with tons of gold – and I'll admit to being decently well-off, though not in the “thousands of gold and don't know what to do with it” camp – breeze through it all. Keep the prices high and people who don't want to grind for months are upset (and the people with the gold are upset at how much it's costing them). I just feel like, too often, ANet feels a need to tinker with parts of the economy that nobody's complaining about, and that just leads to more complaints.
Revisiting the WvW borderlands
I like and I dislike the new borderlands. On the one hand, it's nice to see something with a bit more variety than the old borderlands, which were getting pretty stale after three years. On the other hand, there's something to be said for introducing too much variety...
Like Tangled Depths, all the twisting paths, verticality, and other hard-to-interpret obstacles make the new borderlands difficult to understand and hard to figure out where to go and how to get there without sufficient experience... which is tough to get because the zones tend to be empty. The new borderlands were probably a little much to throw at players all at once, especially without having the option to play something a little “simpler,” if desired. I wonder if it would be possible to have a mix of borderlands – two new and one old, or vice versa, with the potential to add a third new map at some point.
One thing I do really like about the new borderlands, and that I hope doesn't change, is the challenge presented by the keep bosses. They're not just balls of hit points that a zerg can carve through in due time. They have some sweet attacks that devastate even larger groups, and I hope that sort of thing sticks around even if the borderlands get a revamp.
I'm of two minds with dungeons. On the one hand, they really do have their issues – they tend to be simple gold farms with little challenge that encourage the kind of gameplay that messes with the economy. I really don't have that much problem with them effectively being made unusable or unattractive. On the other hand, they are a beautiful experience and I feel like with some difficulty and reward tweaking, they could still be usable.
I'll leave difficulty reworks to the actual game designers (though what they've done with the new WvW borderlands bosses is a nice start). In terms of rewards, why not implement something similar to the tracks for PvP? Give out nice stuff that's more than just gold but still has value after you've run the tracks multiple times.
Alternatively, I've often pondered the notion of some kind of “self-adjusting” reward system that reduces rewards for well-traveled dungeon paths and increases them for less-traveled ones. The math is pretty easy to work out, and you can keep it so that running all three paths gives the same total amount of gold – say, 6g for paths that should average 2g per – but with actual rewards being something like 0.5g, 1.5g, and 4g, in order from least-used path to most. This would have to be something that can be adjusted automatically, using the last day's or week's data, rather than just set and forgotten, even when patterns change. It would seem to solve the problem of “dungeons as gold farms” and encourage variety because the more you run something the less it's worth (and vice versa), though I worry that it would feel too much like a punitive “diminishing rewards” system.
None of what I'm suggesting will be easy, and I'm not so certain as to think they're even the best solutions. But they're definitely among some of the Guild Wars 2 community's most vocal complaints since Heart of Thorns came out and quite a while before. Here's to a better 2016!