What is Better? What is Different?

#1 Edited by Seppli (11233 posts) -

What did you find better than MMORPG standards? What's merely different?

For me, what's above and beyond what the competition has done to date, is their world building. It's little touches like NPCs talking to each other, like some old Charr devourer trainer and his three 'kit' apprentices. I had to drop a Nr.2 in the loo whilst standing next to them, so I heard like 5 or 6 unique conversations. One kit asks the teacher if devourers have a warband, and the teacher gruffly responds that devourers are a tool of war, and as such have no warband. The world is full of NPCs doing that. Gossiping, talking, discussing. Whilst 'area-bound heart quests' aren't a mechanical relevation - you'll still kill monsters and collect and return items and interact with hotspots - the effect it has on the 'feel' of the gameworld is immense. Even more so the dynamic events. One moment I'm in a snowball fight with the playful youth of a Norn village to gain favor with the villagers, the next moment a band of bears attacks to raid the the local beekeeper's beehives. Just grand. Or some kid hits the blacksmith with a snowball, and he loses it and turns into his Norn-Animal-Hybrid form and goes on a rampage.

What's merely different, and I'm not yet completely sure if it'll work for me in the longrun, is how GW2 drops the holy trinity. Instead of the mutual codependence of tank and healer and damage dealer - players being bound to a set role within a group - the game's combat mechanics build on self-reliance and cooperation. Everybody gets all the tools needed to succeed, with very limited direct support, and lots of synergies/combos - with different abilities augmenting each others effectiveness. The upside, I'll never need to search for something extremely specific. For the most cases, if I need to group, anybody will do. The downside, group play gets awfully muddy. I didn't get to play any specific group content, such as a 5-man dungeon, this past BWE - so I can't really comment on how it will feel in a tough PvE encounter; in instanced PvP however, I lacked a sense of 'group play' beyond sheer numbers. I guess given a challenge and a steady group of players in VoIP, this will be alleviated to some degree - though I do remain skeptical until I 'feel' GW2's group play come together firsthand.

What about you guys? Did you find something particularly 'better than' other games in the genre? What's your stance on the many things GW2 does a little differently, like questing and group dynamics. For me, it's mostly feel of the world and quality of the presentation, which feels truely MMO 2.0. I'm not yet completely sold on some of GW2's mechanics though. Especially the combat system's depth is definitely less apparent - rather than being clearly structured into tanking/supporting/damaging, it's about nuance. An extra layer of depth to cooperation, rather than finely honed codependence. I know I'll love it in the 'short-term' (by MMORPG standards) - if it will hold up for months and years though, I'm still skeptical.

#2 Posted by WinterSnowblind (7595 posts) -

I found pretty much everything well above what you typically see in other MMO's, particularly the group mechanics. My biggest gripe with games other MMO's is going through reams of boring dialogue, accepting the quest, going out to "kill x amounts of x enemy".. then having to put up with a bunch of other players, all competing with me to complete the same goal. GW2 cuts all that out, quests are dynamic and can be obtained and completed without having to talk to anyone, and everyone in the world is playing co-operatively. If I see someone out in the world fighting an invading horde of centaurs, I can run over to help them out and we're both rewarded and complete the quest. Our goals aren't counted separately and we don't need to group up or even say a word to each other to do this. It's exactly how every MMO should work.

I also really enjoyed the size and detail of the world, particularly the cities. I've never been so excited to just run around and explore towns in an MMO. They're big, without feeling empty and actually feel alive and really vibrant.

The combat is also something I'd just say is different. It's again something I much prefer over other MMO's but it might not be for everyone. It's very skill and position based.

#3 Posted by Beaudacious (1058 posts) -

I just liked it a lot.

#4 Posted by arch4non (472 posts) -

Guild Wars 2 seemed to have an underlying hatred for standard MMO practices, it's something I can definitely appreciate. Aside from the spotty graphics in some areas my only major gripe was some of the choices they made for the combat. Chiefly, they use the same old control interface. There are less spells on the UI, that's for sure, but you're still hitting 1-9 on your hotbar and you're still tab targeting.

If TERA did only one single thing right, it would be the combat. The TERA developers were definitely onto something when they chose to permanently map camera controls to your mouse. It's something which made the combat much more fluid and dynamic. Being able to point at something and throw fireballs at it is just something MMORPG's don't do. It's true you can hold right-click and move around the camera in Guild Wars 2, but you can't shoot a fireball at what you're pointing at with your mouse. You also lose two very important buttons when doing so, your left and right mouse clicks.

#5 Posted by Jack_Lafayette (3797 posts) -

@arch4non: I found myself playing combat in the beta similarly to how I played GW1: use the mouse for camera control, and the keyboard for everything else. From what I could tell through the lag, it seemed to work smoothly.

#6 Edited by arch4non (472 posts) -

@Dark_Lord_Spam: Right, it works from a technical standpoint but you still have to release your right-click in order to forcibly target someone. That's the same as taking your thumb off the right thumbstick in an FPS. While tab targeting more often than not I had to cycle through a bunch of pets before finally targeting the player I wanted to target. Also, don't forget while holding right-click to move around your camera you can't use right or left click, essentially robbing yourself of two perfectly good skill hotkeys.

#7 Posted by Floppypants (812 posts) -

I'm still struggling with how the game is going to work without a strong holy trinity, or if it's even really gone.  When I think about how I would spend trait points as a Guardian, I want to put everything into Valor and Honor to maximize my Toughness and Vitality, effectively making myself the best tank I can be.  +300 to both those stats seems too large to be insignificant.

#8 Edited by selfconfessedcynic (2721 posts) -

@arch4non: Hmm - I see where you're coming from and somewhat agree, though I haven't seen TERA in action.

It's an interesting system, especially when coupled with what John Peters suggests in his post about melee vs ranged. The auto-melee facing already in the game (which I barely noticed) should help to some extent when following on from clicking to skill usage, but in my experience, yes, you are right. You want to let go of right click in order to select someone and if they're presenting a moving target this is one son of a bitch to do. Also, it would be great to be able to bind your right click to your auto attack or something along those lines which you simply can't feasibly do at the moment.

There is the issue of skills 5-10 though - they haven't put in toggle keys at the moment, so reaching over to those keys is something I HATE doing, and my mouse only has two hotkeys on it. At the moment, I'm using the mouse to click on them whilst actively hoping they put toggling in soon, but you can't do that with the Tera system from the sounds of things.

#9 Posted by Beaudacious (1058 posts) -

@selfconfessedcynic: Ya i assigned all my mouse buttons to those keys, using the mouse software. I only have to click 1 - 4 on the keyboard : D .

The one thing i want is the ability to cancel auto attack with a button press....

#10 Posted by phampire (292 posts) -

Casting while moving and reactive combat come to mind,

#11 Edited by Subjugation (4782 posts) -

@selfconfessedcynic: @Beaudacious: No one should have to use the 6-0 binds. Good old fashioned letters like q,e,r,t,v,b,z etc. work fantastically, especially for replacing the F1, F2, etc. binds. I mean, who reaches for those keys? Yuck. You can take it even further and use the keys that are assigned to the menu items that have buttons in the corner as well. You never have to access them quickly so their binds are better served assigned to abilities, should you choose to do so. Then again, none of this will be a problem once they implement shift, and hopefully ctrl, modifiers for binds. With those I was able to comfortably generate ~44ish binds when I played my raiding Disc Priest back in WoW, and that was before I had a Naga. Just a plain two button mouse back then. The memories ...

Edit: I have to agree with @Seppli: about the world building and atmosphere. I could gush about most of the things in the game, but I seriously was taken aback by the world and particularly the cities. Divinity's Reach and Lion's Arch practically beg you to get lost exploring in them (in a good way). Best of all, they reward you for it. I also welcome the idea of being able to just venture into a quest without having to mess around with a quest giver. It just feels like this is the way it should have always been.

Then there is crafting. Just a little thing like speeding up the process of creating a pile of items makes such a huge difference. Back in the thick of WoW before I quit, I stopped raiding and focused solely on playing the auction house with crafting professions. I spent inordinate amounts of time queuing up large batches of items to craft/mill/prospect etc. It was truly an exercise in tedium.

Don't forget everyone having the ability to revive each other. For the most part the game places a heavy emphasis on self-reliance, but the addition of the ability for any player to save you from the downed state is great. Watching groups organically form and start behaving synergistically was something I had to experience to believe. ArenaNet fostered an environment where there is sufficient incentive to help one another and I think it has improved the experience for all quite dramatically.

#12 Posted by KaramonD (67 posts) -

BAD POINTS: I played as a human and really wanted to try to make a mean, gruff character (allied with Grenth etc.). The campy upbeat dialogue of the cutscenes made me wince and really seemed to point to the fact that the player has no control over the actual story / campaign. In my head I'm a mean SOB then CUT to chipper happy cutscene......The lack of point and click to move / target is disappointing to me too. I wish they'd have made the player have an option of WASD or old school GW1 controls. GOOD POINTS: The world was very well done especially the cities. I pumped the graphic settings to ultra and it looked great. I didn't get a chance to mess with the crafting systems but I do appreciate another layer of depth.

#13 Posted by Jack_Lafayette (3797 posts) -

@KaramonD: From what I've seen, it looks like you have less control over your character's personality than in The Old Republic, but more control over the actual content of the story. In other words, the pre-formed conversations don't have options (many basic text-boxes do) but the instances and gameplay can diverge pretty heavily.

#14 Edited by WinterSnowblind (7595 posts) -

The story changes quite drastically depending on the choices you make during the creation, which is nice and there seem to be quite a few options later on during the missions that actually affect how things play out, which is nice. The story is definitely handled better than most MMO's, since it actually has one and at least makes your character feel important.. but yeah, I can't say I was too impressed by what was going on, which is a shame, since GW has a lot of really good lore. It definitely doesn't feel like TOR but considering the focus isn't really on the cut scenes, it's not that big a deal. At least they're brief.

#15 Posted by Beaudacious (1058 posts) -

@KaramonD: I think the assumptions Areanet made was that if you want to be hardcore gruff/rough/gritty/SOB, you'll play as a Char, if you're Medium Gruff you'll play Norn, if you're campy you'll play Human, if you're serious about fantasy you'll play Sylvari and finally if you're fruity you'll play Asura.

That's the feeling i get form everyhtign we've seen so far.

#16 Edited by UssjTrunks (549 posts) -

@WinterSnowblind said:

The story changes quite drastically depending on the choices you make during the creation, which is nice and there seem to be quite a few options later on during the missions that actually affect how things play out, which is nice. The story is definitely handled better than most MMO's, since it actually has one and at least makes your character feel important.. but yeah, I can't say I was too impressed by what was going on, which is a shame, since GW has a lot of really good lore. It definitely doesn't feel like TOR but considering the focus isn't really on the cut scenes, it's not that big a deal. At least they're brief.

I only played humans until level 14, but nothing really happened story-wise in that span.

The first story arc had you infiltrate a bandit hideout to uncover a conspiracy in the military, then after solving that totally anticlimactic mystery, you were supposed to infiltrate the circus to uncover some other silly conspiracy (the circus is apparently hypnotizing carnies and kidnapping children or something; I didn't beat it though so I don't know if it was actually important).

GW1 was much better in this regard. You started out in pre-searing which was kind of all fun and games. But there was still significant mention of the looming charr threat. Then, after beating that area you were thrust into a post-apocalyptic world and everything you did from there on tied into this large-scale storyline.

#17 Posted by Sooty (8195 posts) -

@Floppypants said:

I'm still struggling with how the game is going to work without a strong holy trinity, or if it's even really gone. When I think about how I would spend trait points as a Guardian, I want to put everything into Valor and Honor to maximize my Toughness and Vitality, effectively making myself the best tank I can be. +300 to both those stats seems too large to be insignificant.

I am also interested in how this stuff is going to play out, it's quite exciting.

#18 Posted by WinterSnowblind (7595 posts) -

@UssjTrunks: The charr stuff was a lot more interesting, as it actually has you recruiting members for your warband and allows you to choose between multiple characters. There was also a scene where you could chose whether or not a particular character should live or die, which will obviously come into play later.. Everyone has to join a faction at some point in the story too, as you work towards bringing down the dragons, so I imagine things will get a bit more interesting later.

But again, yeah, the story definitely wasn't the strong point of the game.

#19 Posted by Subjugation (4782 posts) -

The human story branches were infinitely more interesting than the Norn "I lost a fight" story branch. I tried three different branches of the human story and enjoyed what I saw, but the Norn "great hunt" and the way you journey to vindicate that lost fight, duels, was very unremarkable. If I'm not mistaken quite a few people were underwhelmed by the Norn story. Then again we all only got a small taste, so who knows if they really bring it home later on.

I also can't wait to join factions, or even learn more about them since I'm not steeped in the lore.

#20 Edited by Seppli (11233 posts) -

@WinterSnowblind said:

The story changes quite drastically depending on the choices you make during the creation, which is nice and there seem to be quite a few options later on during the missions that actually affect how things play out, which is nice. The story is definitely handled better than most MMO's, since it actually has one and at least makes your character feel important.. but yeah, I can't say I was too impressed by what was going on, which is a shame, since GW has a lot of really good lore. It definitely doesn't feel like TOR but considering the focus isn't really on the cut scenes, it's not that big a deal. At least they're brief.

Let's not forget, the personal storyline will go all the way through lvl 80, and eventually becomes a 'Save the world from the Big Bad'-affair for everyone. All mortal races facing certain doom sounds like plenty epic 'lore' to me. I've played the first couple of personal story quests (3 of the variations at least) for the 3 races during the BWE, and it's more like a 'racial lore tutorial' at the beginning, how these folk work as a people - it's not even connected to the overall world conflict at all. There's plenty of room for the personal story to grow - it'll get a lot grander for certain.

I think it's mostly there as a tether to the overarching narrative goal they're trying to achieve with their worldbuilding, like introducing the Destiny's Edge characters. A tool for player guidance and progression pacing - as well as adding a neat personal touch of fluff and longterm replay value to the low-level experience.

#21 Edited by Seppli (11233 posts) -

@phampire said:

Casting while moving and reactive combat come to mind,

I had most of that on my Hunter in WoW since Cataclysm. Don't want to miss it. Good thing every profession in GW2 plays even more dynamic than that from the get-go. Definitely the place where I'd want all passive targeting skillbar based MMOs to go. More freedom of movement.

#22 Posted by Jack_Lafayette (3797 posts) -

For people who have questions or concerns about the personal story, ArenaNet's lead writer Bobby Stein answered a bunch of questions on the official forums and raised some interesting points about what his team had to do and what it would like to do in the future.

Apologies for the following wall o’ text.

First off, I’d like to thank everyone in this thread for taking the time out to post feedback about the personal story, including the dialogue and voice-over. I’ll do my best to reply to what I can. My goal isn’t to convince you to like what’s there (either you do or you don’t), but to explain why certain bits of content sound and feel they way they do.

This is a pretty long thread so I’ll hit some of the points in the order they were posted.

Wrath: “…even teen storybooks and Twilight has a better plot and script than this. Get a better writing team, more adult and mature or read R.A. Salvatore’s books. Or classics such as Wheel of Time. It almost seems as if the writing team are writing for children.”

Bear in mind the game is rated T in the US, so we’re limited in how we can present certain themes. We can’t show realistic violence and gore in combat, and we also can’t delve into some of the darker elements of storytelling. Also, it was a design decision to make the player always a heroic figure. The game’s story bits were geared around a linear, branching model where you always play a hero. In other words, we didn’t intend to build a game that lets you be the bad guy. It’s completely understandable why that would disappoint some people, but it’s not the game we set out to make. You can, however, make some personality choices in how you respond to unspoken conversation trees, including making decisions to spare or execute a defeated enemy in a few cases.

Fiona: “I found Norn absolutely mind-numbingly dull. It was also badly written. I gave up after not being able to get past Shape Of The Spirit at level 8~.
I have switched to Charr and it’s like night and day. The writing isn’t much better but the story is far more interesting. The world events and scenery are too. I really suggest giving Charr a go. Norn is absolutely shocking IMO.”

The stories and dialogue vary greatly between the racial stories. This is intentional, partially to give players some options to experience a variety of content. The dialogue was often given to people who are more comfortable writing (or editing) in that racial voice, so it’s why you may like the tone of one story over another. As you can imagine, some people really enjoy fantasy dialogue and others loathe it, so we wanted to provide options.

Wrath: “There’s no overarching story or any sense of progression and accomplishment”

There is, but it comes later in the personal story. We realized after our very first public showing that some of our 10-level arcs feel compressed. We introduce characters for a handful of story steps, and then they are put aside. This isn’t ideal, as it makes character development difficult. We tried to remedy this in later content, but there are still artifacts of this in some of the earlier story chapters.

Fiona: “Charr so far for me seems very different due to it dealing with internal conflicts between legions, and me actually being a part of one of those legions gives a real sense of place within the story. Something I absolutely had nothing like when I was playing Norn.”

Part of that is due to the cultural differences between norn and charr. It’s also due to us learning some lessons along the way, so we put extra resources into making your warband members more memorable and the stories a little more about personal conflict and less about “seeking glory.”

Adesia: “I felt that the human storyline was a lot better than the norn one. It felt like it had more of a flow to it, personally. I’m really shocked about the norn area too…. I was looking forward to playing as a great warrior type race, but I was really bored and uninterested in the story. :/ None of the characters were even that memorable…”

Did you find certain characters in your human personal story better fleshed out than the ones in the norn chain? Which branches did you do?

Wrath: “GW2 just feels like I started a movie 1/2 way through and have no sense of direction and there’s nobody I can ask to fill me in on what I’ve missed. Based on my character creation my sister has been killed by some centaurs and I’m seeking revenge (however I seem to always be uber noble in everything). There’s no intro movie showing me how/why she was killed and why I’m even seeking revenge. Was she killed in a random centaur ride-by? Did some insidious main bad guy order her village to be wiped out? I got no idea. For all I know she and some centaur snuck off into the woods for a midnight rendezvous and she tripped and hit her head and died and now I’m just carrying around some misplaced anger.”

Did you finish the sister chain? If so, did your questions get answered? It’s understandable that you may feel confused, since you’re essentially stepping into someone else’s shoes, potentially in an unfamiliar world. We try to give the stories context along the way, so it’s possible you either missed something, or we didn’t do a good enough job of relaying that information.

ghull: “What also causes me further disconnect from the story is the DE system. I’m walking down some path and all of a sudden a quest pops up to rid Farmer A’s property of bees. I do that and get a letter in the mail from someone I’ve never met thanking me for the help. Tough getting into the story when you don’t meet these people yet you complete their quests.”

The dynamic events are separate from personal story, so most of the time the characters don’t intersect. You can usually interact with the sender of the letter at any point in the game, so if you spoke to that person before participating in the event or at least heard her talk to another NPC, you might have a better idea of who she is. Pretty much all the important event characters have conversations on them, so I’d recommend interacting with them if you’re confused. This is one of the trappings of a non-linear multiplayer game—you can experience things out of order so it’s sometimes potentially confusing.

hellokittyonline: “Well, I find it interesting, searching for my lost sister. If everyone complain about the Norn, will Anet change the story line? that seem like a lot of work.”

Thanks for the compliment on the sister chain. I’m sure those who worked on it will appreciate the sentiment.

We can certainly examine the norn content and learn from our mistakes, whether or not we have the time and resources to make radical changes before ship. Changing the flow of a story involves almost every department in the studio, from design and writing to programming, art and animation. Simple dialogue edits and re-recording VO impacts cinematic conversations, so we can sometimes justify going back into the booth to change story elements but it’s more difficult to overhaul plot, and it also means more work for the animators.

Wrath: “Definitely will be too much work this close to release. Unless of course, they rework the beginning scenes script which seem lackluster. The events and quests can be the same, just the text / voiceovers need to be changed. But then again, highly doubt it. Probably 1% chance, this is the extent of ArenaNet’s writing department.”

We can change certain elements, but it would impact our ship date. Also, it’s not that what you’re seeing is the “extent” of the writing department (a.k.a. my team). The writing team doesn’t handle lore or story arcs—that’s the domain of the lore and continuity designers and also the story team. They determine the high level themes and plot, and how it integrates with gameplay. My team most often takes the dialogue after it’s been drafted and we make edits to make things sound more cohesive. Obviously, the more time we have to revise dialogue, the better it should sound when acted. There are certainly cases where I would have liked the edits to have been more aggressive, but that’s sometimes difficult when you have 20+ people generating content in various tones.

Samf: “I’ve only played the charr storyline. I think it’s great! Internal conflicts and all that. On top of it all, the charr are so brutal with one another. I was pleased that during the Blood Legion storyline, the player is given the choice to spare their former Legionnare’s life, or to exile him from the warband. I destroyed him of course, because charr have that ruthless tenacity in their nature that I’m just so proud of.”

Glad you’re enjoying it. Did you already know something about charr society before playing the game, or is this based on first impressions?

Pulse Reaction: “I don’t think ANet’s writing team is the problem – the heroes (and here I mean the actual A.I. heroes) of GW1 had great characterization. Master of Whispers being one of my favorites. Somewhere along the line they decided to call every player the “HERO”, but we’re not in 2002 anymore, no need for that. And mature fantasy becoming more and more popular just makes GW2 storytelling look even more off.”

Again, this was a design decision to make the player a hero, so while you start out small in your story, you’re always driven to do the right thing (and everyone tells you about it). Totally understandable why that wouldn’t appeal to some people—it’s predictable.

I think the lesson we’re learning here is that people, including the dev team, are ready for something a little less sanitized. We can’t make radical changes to the story structure at this point, but we can certainly take this into account for future content.

Dhivuri: “TL;DR: I like the story so far.”

Thanks for letting us know.

Xriot: “The Great Hunt? Really? I just played SWTOR with the Bounty Hunter and the first 20 levels of my character were focused on the exact same thing, “The Great Hunt”!! Someone on GW2 team should have noticed this and thought it might immediately devalue (and make cheesy) the GW2 story-line for Norn. I had an immediate distaste in my mouth. Very un-orginal.”

The Great Hunt has been in Guild Wars 2 for about two years, so it’s not something that we shoehorned in to pay tribute to another game. That stated, my first thought after seeing it in TOR was, “Damn, they’re doing this, too?” Granted, there are differences between the two, but the fact that they’re called the same thing was a little concerning but not enough to overhaul what we’d already built.

Xriot: “The great hunt lasted 2 quests. Really? Nothing “Great” about that. I killed a boar, and then fought a giant worm, during which I layed on the ground fighting for my life and not attacking until the other folks surrounding me took the worm out. I’m a hero!”

The Great Hunt in GW2 is mostly limited to the tutorial/intro. It gets you going but isn’t the focus of your personal story.

Brimwood: "The story lines do seem to widely differ in terms of the quality of writing and in how engaging they are. I started as a Human Noble and actually found that one really enjoyable. The characters are enjoyably posh and, I thought, quite memorable. "

Lord Faren is one of my favorites.

If you feel the content varies in tone and quality, I’d put that up to different people handling different content in different voices. It should all be of high quality, so if some folks aren’t happy with what they’re seeing then we have to understand why they don’t like it, and go from there.

#23 Posted by Subjugation (4782 posts) -

@Dark_Lord_Spam: Thank you. That's what I was thinking of when I mentioned others having the same concerns as I had, but I couldn't remember where I saw it. People are definitely giving the Norn story (or at least some of it) the stink eye.

#24 Posted by Jack_Lafayette (3797 posts) -

@Subjugation: Hey, no problem. One of my biggest concerns is that they might not be able to balance the choices you have to make in the story in terms of player interest. It would suck if you had to decide something that was essentially "hey, here's the interesting choice with non-standard gameplay that everyone will pick and here's the one where you run into a group of dudes and swing your sword."

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