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Fixin’ Things

David North Posted:
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ArenaNet has developed Guild Wars 2 around large groups of players coming together for a common cause.  It really does offer a great experience, but it isn’t perfect. More players can sometimes create more problems.  ArenaNet is working on it though.  They want to make the experience as good as it can possibly get.  But they can’t hit every issue all at once.  They have to prioritize their tasks to make the biggest impact on the game.  Issues that have a major impact on these large groups of players playing together should always come first.

I’m very happy that ArenaNet has been talking about tackling the issue of culling.  This issue has caused me more than a handful of deaths, both in PvP and PvE. There’s nothing more aggravating than running around behind enemy lines, trying to get the jump on your foe.  Just when you think your sneaking skills have carried over from Skyrim, BAM!  You’re being attacked by several enemies you can’t even see!  This issue is often exploited and there’s not much you can do about it.  Well, if you want I guess you could exploit it yourself.

A similar effect happened during the massive final battle during The Lost Shores event.  As my group tried pushing forward against the wall of powerful Karka, some strange attacks from out of nowhere would force players to drop to the ground.  For players that have never witnessed culling in WvW, it also caused a massive wave of confusion.  The chat exploded with questions and comments, which brought the event to a halt.  It broke the magic and intensity of the moment, something you never want as a game designer.  If it breaks the story driven experience, you can’t keep the player immersed in the world.

Nothing ruins a walk around your keep like arrows suddenly appearing in your back, and you flesh bursting into flames.

The issue even affected snowball fights during the Wintersday event!  I was standing around in Lion’s Arch overflow, and I didn’t see a single player.  How is that even possible?! If I’m in overflow I should be seeing players all around me.   Magically 2 minutes later my screen explodes with players appearing out of thin air! That’s 2 minutes that I could have been throwing snowballs at players faces that are lost and gone forever!

If you’ve never experienced culling, you can now see why it’s such a big issue, and why ArenaNet is hopefully taking care of this situation.   I mean sure I really want a Guild Hall, or a real house instance for my character.  But they need to make sure that the existing foundation of the game is as sturdy as possible.  It keeps fights between players fair, and allows parties to stay immersed in the game world.  How is any of that a bad thing?

A fix that will be making its way to WvW soon (as told by Colin in the recent MMOFTW) is that player characters will load in first in very low-rez light polygon models so they can be seen first, and then fleshed out over time by the graphics engine.

Another huge issue that is being addressed deals with Guilds.  Players want to play with their friends, and form guilds to cement their friendship in a digital form.  I believe nothing says friendship like creating a guild, and fighting under the same banner for a common cause.  My family believes I need to get out more, but that’s another story for another day.   Anyways, aside from getting upgrades there really isn’t much your guild can do together.  Sure you get more influence points if your guild completes dynamic events together, but it really doesn’t feel like a unique experience that I can only get with my guild.

I'm just a little weird.

ArenaNet has an answer though, with special missions that are going to be available for guilds to complete together.   The missions will offer different types of objectives, sometimes offering unique constraints for mission completion.  The best part is that it’s just me and my guild.  I love playing with other players, but this makes my guild feel more important.  The word guild is in the name of the game, so it should be a main focus for gameplay.  Now we just need to be able to build a guild hall.

Changes and improvements are on the horizon for Guild Wars 2.  And while it is an amazing game, I have yet to play a game that is so perfect it doesn’t need any further development.  With issues being prioritized, it seems that the basics of the game will always stay strong, which means new additions will just slide right in without the game breaking.  If culling will truly be a thing of the past, future events are going to be even better than we ever thought possible. WvW will become a cleaner and fair fight.  To top it off, players will now have another reason to assemble under a single banner, and bring glory to their guild.

What issues do you feel need to be addressed?  How would you fix those issues?  Tell us what’s on your mind in the comments below.

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David North