Tuesday, 20 November 2012

[GW2] It's a Karka/It's Karka-lackin'

The Lost Shores release event has polarised... ok, not polarised - I'd say largely pissed off the community in a number of ways. I think people appreciated the concept, they liked the scenery and liked how the Karka were actually a challenge. But there were several elements of it's implementation that people felt were either inconvenient, frustrating or just downright wrong. I disagree with some peoples' gripes and agree with others.

The fact that it was a one-time event seems to be one of the biggest gripes. Before the game was released I stated that I actually like the idea of one-time events to create a feeling of epicness:

"Imagine instead a game where the developers accepted that if they were going to have a truly epic story, then it is going to have to have truly epic consequences and that means substantive changes to the landscape to reflect this. They would have to accept that with these changes to the world, player’s experiences would change and those who are tardy to the party are going to miss some elements."

That was my opinion then, and it is my opinion now. It sucks that the event was at an inconvenient time for some people - it really does, and I have sympathy for them - but if this was another event which was to be repeated a number of times throughout the day it would decrease its epicness: "I battled hard, and through sheer grit and determination I defeated the ancient karka and sent his heart burning into the depths of the earth! ...and then I did it again at 6, 9 and 12pm" . 

Making the event one-time means you can give out meaningful loot - loot which reflects the 3 or so hours effort, countless deaths and respawns, consumables, repair cost etc. I liked that they gave out significant exotic weapons as a reward for our efforts - I played hard for that loot and I don't think a cosmetic hat would quite have cut it. If the event was to repeat every 3 hours, you simply wouldn't be able to give this kind of loot - we'd have to go back to the (admittedly nice) festival cosmetic items and such (and ANet really don't want to give this stuff out for free - they want to sell it on the gem store, and rightly so). 

I've seen a few complaints that the players who were able to attend the event gained an advantage over those who weren't able to attend. 
I can't see how this is the case; people who attended the event and played through to the end received their rightful reward, but ultimately these rewards were no better in terms of stats than anything which is available to every other player in the game. Exotic items of exactly the same stats are obtainable through numerous methods - karma, gold, drops, chests, tokens, crafting, trading post. You aren't going to face an opponent in WvW and get beaten because he was able kill the ancient karka and you weren't. Just as ANet said - a hardcore player should not be able to get significantly better gear than a casual one.
Further, people who received a legendary precursor were no more or less advantaged than someone who spent those 3-4 hours grinding dungeon explorable modes - they got lucky on a chest roll. Myself, I got a unique exotic pistol (Master Blaster - not a precursor, which I put on the TP but hasn't sold yet) and an exotic shield (which I'm now using). I don't feel like I should have got a precursor, that's just the luck of the roll. Ultimately, what people got out of that chest should have no impact upon how other players play their game, apart from bringing the price of the items to a more manageable level in the trading post (which, for those looking to pick up a precursor - could only be a good thing!). 

Finally, we get to the gripes which I do agree with: the technical problems. There were those who played for 3 hours - got to the final chest, and then disconnected. Not cool man. Not. Cool. Thankfully, ANet are working on rewarding those players who missed out on their hard earned rewards:
It won't be an easy fix. It has to be handled delicately because you don't want to go rewarding those people who don't really deserve it (ie, at what point during the event do you say that the person has earned the right to access the chest? 5 minutes in? 1 hour in? etc - not easy). I think the fault for these problems has to fall equally on ANet and the player involved - if your connection/computer isn't quite up to scratch then yes, it is going to suffer in large events such as the other night's. But, equally, if ANet's login servers actually worked properly then those players might have been able to log in and claim their rewards on time. It's a difficult situation, and I think that ANet are good to try to address it, when they could have just said "tough cookie".

The only technical problem I encountered (other than continuously teleporting into the landscape and having to be portaled out (thanks Tasha and Elmo)) was the dreaded culling. We would be climbing the hive (for the first or second time) and suddenly great swathes of us would fall down dead - seemingly crushed by some invisible boulder. What had actually happened is that the game engine had prioritised loading the players around us, but not the gigantic veteran karka which had taken the chance to roll us up like marzipan on Wintersday. What this meant is that the event probably took about twice as long as it should because we were constantly having the respawn or spend half our time resurrecting our fellow players. 
ANet are, apparently, working on a fix for this. It will be some major changes to the fundamentals of the game, so I can't see if being within the next couple of weeks - but hopefully it won't be too long.  

ps. Oh, and I guess the "reinforcements" bit was a bit excessive.

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