Tilion from Dragon Season invited EU players to a community meet-up. Unfortunately, it was on rather short notice, so not a lot of people knew about it. The next time (yes, there will be a next time), this will be announced ahead of time, so everybody who wants to attend can plan accordingly.
The first community meet-up took place on Monday on the EU server Aurora Glade. We met at the Chamber of Ministers in Divinity Reach, as that seemed fitting for such an endeavor, except that lots of us got lost on our way there. Through the “tunnel”, up the stairs behind you and in you go, people! ;)
Altogether, we were 30 people representing 7 different guilds. The highest concurrent number was lower, as people joined and left throughout the meet-up (dinner time was the worst culprit, I assume). Among us, we had some GW1 veterans as well as people who did not play GW1 or who have never played an MMO before. As usually happens when veterans talk about GW1 and GW2, the love for being able to jump was shared.
The following is a summary of what we spoke about, sorted by topics. I refrain from using “he said” and “she said” or just writing everything down chronologically as this would end up being too confusing to read.
We took turns and everybody was allowed to say what they want to have/would like to see added in Guild Wars 2. Once somebody had said something, the others chimed in and commented, so we did discuss things with each other. But if you read “feature X was mentioned”, this does not mean that all of us want feature X. Again, I’m trying to give you the summarized version and I will note the pros and cons from people whenever they arose. It also doesn’t mean that the community as a whole wants feature X and doesn’t want feature Y. We are well aware that we were only a small group of players talking together. But our goal was not to change the game completely. It was simply to talk about things we would love to see in the game. Coming together as players, as a community, is the main goal of these meet-ups.
Tilion acted as the moderator and I have to say that it was very organized, easy to follow and yet, also easy to add some own thoughts. It wasn’t pure chaos with everybody just throwing in random sentences without listening to each other. Well done, Tilion, for organizing this and making sure that everybody could speak up!
We started by sharing our favorite parts of the game. Among those were jumping puzzles (which were also mentioned as being the worst feature of GW2 for some), exploring the maps for the first time, the living story as something unique to GW2, leveling and getting downscaled in the world. Dungeons being hard and chaotic with the trinity being removed, the combat system as a whole, guild rushes (except the one in Southsun!), tonics, the massive WvW zerg battles, being able to move while attacking, and the variety the game offers conclude that list.
Things we miss from Guild Wars 1 are “auto-follow” as well as “auto-approaching” an NPC, for example. These features were easy, convenient, and perfect for lazy people.
Home instances and player housing
One of the first features mentioned were the home instances. As they are now, they’re empty and boring, and hardly anybody seems to visit their home instance. Some of those instances are missing key figures that appear in the personal story but then don’t appear in the home instance (like a player’s sister chosen in one of the story lines). Role-players would also probably benefit from an upgraded home instance with more interesting interiors. And while ArenaNet is at it, they could also put the access to the player’s guild hall(s) in the home instance. ;)
There was also the worry that ArenaNet did not prepare the game to add real housing (as opposed to the home instance which was mistaken by quite a few fans of the game to be like housing before the game got released). Home instances could, for example, be customizable. With that, it could boost the economy by giving more items to craft and so on. This idea sounded very close to adding housing as we generally know it.
A different town clothes system was suggested. People wondered whether there was a reason that town clothes are non-combat only. The cosmetics should not be “town only”. GW1 offered the ability to play in costumes as long as it was a PvE region. The same could be done with GW2. Town clothes also can’t be used underwater. One thing stated was that ArenaNet didn’t want everybody to wear town clothes in combat, especially in PvP, as town clothes can be worn by everybody regardless of armor type, but town clothes could be disallowed in PvP. The option to automatically switch on town clothes when entering a city was also thrown in.
Another feature wished for was a wardrobe where you could store and/or save all those items, item skins, town clothes and so on.
Guilds and guild functions
Communication with guild members was an important issue among the participants of our meet-up. If you plan an event, there should be an easy way to inform all your guild members of the time and place of the event. Some ideas were thrown around like adding the possibility of mass-mailing all members. Some added that the guild message of the day should appear in your chat window upon logging in like it did in GW1. This would fix the issue of not reaching your guild members and would make it possible to inform everybody of the latest news. As the Guild message of the day stands right now, it is too easy to overlook it, as you specifically need to open your guild window to check if there is a new message. Being able to see when a guild member had last logged in was also on the wish list.
Legendary weapons are already in the game. On top of that, adding legendary armor was suggested by somebody. This sparked the discussion whether adding such items would cause the game to become more grindy or not which led to the inevitable discussion of “Is GW2 grindy and what is grind anyway”? Is end-game only viable and good if it involves grind? But I digress. The meet-up ended with somebody saying that for all the haters of grinding, there are also people out there who do love to grind, so it probably shouldn’t be taken out of an MMO completely.
Crafting unique skins
Legendary armor led to the idea of being able to craft unique skins. Crafting was also a topic, which is mentioned further below.
More ways to spend karma was mentioned. Adding cultural armor sets, for example.
Availability and look of armor
Having armor and different looks more easily available was on somebody’s wish list. Farming isn’t fun for a lot of players. Adding some more diversity, at least for the lower level armors, would be a nice addition. It was also thrown in that grinding isn’t so bad as long as the stats of the new item are not better. When it comes to availability, the karma vendors for lower levels were brought up, as they quite often have some nice items. You usually also get more low-level transmutation stones during the course of the game, so that you should be able to transmute a few items for their looks as long as you are below 80. Still, more variety probably could not hurt, even though there is a decent amount in the game already. A GW2guru spreadsheet* was talked about that some people use to find armor they like.
In the above context, a wish was mentioned to be able to get transmutation crystals by combining transmutation stones somehow.
Durability on items and economy
A controversial topic was the function of durability and the need to repair items for coins. The words “money sink” were thrown in as well as “not ArenaNet’s style, as it’s not fun”. So all in all, it’s not our favorite feature. A little bit later during the evening, this topic reappeared. It was suggested that instead of paying the repair costs with coins, items could be destroyed when their durability reaches 0 and they couldn’t be repaired. Alternatively, items could require crafting materials for repair. This would probably still be a money sink, but on the other hand, it would give a boost to the economy when items wouldn’t stay forever. EVE was mentioned as a comparison in this regard. This was met with skepticism in our group, while we agreed that it could lead to more active professions with people repairing other players’ items, for example.
Another controversial topic: Would a buddy system like we had in GW1 (henchmen, heroes) work in GW2? Some would like to see it, but not in dynamic events, especially for lag issues. For empty starter zones it could be nice and handy addition, but during huge events it would be a mess. The personal story missions and dungeons already have NPCs, so it would only be a small step to add henchmen or even heroes.
Being able to set flags for the NPCs in dungeons/story missions was also added as a suggestion, independent on having heroes/henchmen. This could help with some of the pathing issues or inactive NPCs.
Starter zone to open world
According to a newcomer to the game, an easier transition for new players from the starter zone to the open world could be helpful. Something that helps new players understand the game better and makes it easier for them when they are out of the tutorial.
Making activities easier (or possible at all) to access with friends as well as adding more (permanent) activities were suggestions met with approval. Currently, Keg Brawl is the only permanent one with Crab Toss being a temporary one. Not being able to play with friends is a big hindrance when it comes to the “fun factor” of the activities. The downside would be organized groups defeating random groups easily. Thus, there would have to be some kind of system to prevent that, maybe by having separate sign-ups for groups and individuals.
Fun items (for in-game gathering and parties)
There are some items in the game already like fireworks, but they’re quite often soulbound on acquire which means that while you can bring them, you cannot give them to others. With these items being soulbound, it also makes it quite hard to find something to give away as prizes. Making them mailable but not sellable on the TP could be a good idea to discourage using those items for making profit. Having some more variation in general is another suggestion that proved popular. Another idea shared was the possibility for guilds to open mini games in cities like Lion’s Arch.
Some tonics had emotes added, but there are still lots of tonics without anything. You can also not jump when transformed. Maybe ArenaNet could add some kind of achievements to tonics. Adding more endless tonics in general would also be great. Last but not least, adding a mechanic that lets you create one endless tonic from the 1-use ones was another suggestion.
Being able to jump when transformed is one thing. Another idea was being able to sit on chairs with your regular character in its normal form.
Getting tiny rewards like 1 copper or even just 1 silver from a dungeon or fractal chest doesn’t feel very rewarding at all. Although getting coin rewards in general rather than having to rely on RNG (random number generator) with special (expensive) items would be worth considering. On the other hand, with more gold in the game, items would get more expensive on the Trading Post in return. People agreed that the dungeon rewards don’t appear to be very balanced, as a fractal of level 50 can be less rewarding with its loot than a much easier explorable dungeon.
Dungeons and group content
They can feel a bit small and sometimes, playing with only 5 people can feel too restrictive – when you have seven friends, for example. Being able to group with 9 to 14 other players could be nice, though. This was also the time where the word “raids” was thrown into the conversation, but not as a serious suggestion. ;) Another suggestion was having “guild commanders” which only fellow guild members would be able to see on the map. This could make it easier to spot where your guild is supposed to be on a given map (for guild events, for example). This functionality could be earned within the guild or unlocked with influence.
Special events and ends to living story arcs
Special events could start after completing a living story sequence. The ancient Karka event was mentioned as an example for something like that. Maybe we could have events that happen a few times a week, so everybody has a chance to see them. The ending of the Molten Alliance’s story was seen as dull and empty by a few of us. Attacks on the open world instead would be nice and more fitting considering that the living story usually takes place in the open world to begin with. Perhaps those events could be on 7 – 12 hour timers which would be helpful for players from different time zones or with different work schedules. At the end of the conversation about special events in the open world, the warning was thrown in that something like this could end in a huge lag fest like we mostly had with the ancient karka event in Southsun. That event was with culling which they want to turn off in a future patch. Events that are unique AND repeatable are very hard to design, so there’s the question how the events would need to work to please everybody.
Open world feeling
Maps should be properly explorable. Mountains that restrict your pathing and that you can’t climb on ruin the fun. Mount Maelstrom was mentioned as a positive example that is great for jumpers and explorers, as there are lots of areas that you can climb on.
The world itself could use some more variety to feel more alive. NPCs are having the same conversations within a time span of a few minutes. It doesn’t take long and you know the conversation by heart (“Yesterday, they were 10.” – “Today 20”). On top of that, NPCs stand around all day and night, 7 days a week. Daily routines for them could make it feel more alive. Additionally, events in cities could liven it up as well. NPCs could send you on different missions from time to time.
Getting rid of all loading screens between zones will probably remain a dream. But it was a dream shared by many in our meeting.
The observer mode is still in beta and we get that. But there are some things that we would like to see changed. A camera to roam around the map freely would make it much easier to see what’s going on. Currently, you can also only watch matches that are happening right now, as there is no way to see a match when it’s over or a way to watch it again. This also comes with the problem of being there right when the match is played and being able to communicate with the players. Spectators can potentially act as “spies”, watch what’s happening and then tell one side what the other side is doing.
It’s been said quite often and it came up here as well: More game modes would be a great addition, something like “capture the flag”, for example. Similar to GW1, offering cheaper game accounts that only have access to the Mists and sPvP would be a nice addition to further increase the PvP player base.
Crafting and materials
Cooking is nice and has some fun recipes (adding salad-like ingredients to make potions that increase your damage output towards the Nightmare court, for example). The other crafting professions are rather boring to skill up and predictable. At the same time, except for maybe wanting the related achievements, there isn’t really a good reason to do crafting as it seems to be meaningless. Cooking is also useful for WvW thanks to the buffs you get, so that some things you can craft with cooking are useful and worth a bit more.
There could be items that are bound to the guild; some items that you can share with your guild. It was compared to the guild armor. One idea was to have items with skins that can only be shared with fellow guild members. On the other hand, what benefits could be gained by having items like these?
Guilds in general were criticized at that point for not feeling like guilds should and more like a chat room with friends. At the same time, guilds were seen as well implemented in GW2 as they do not feel like exclusive membership clubs and because people can naturally fall into the guilds that they fit in. With the way guilds are, a player can join different ones for different needs and different in-game activities (dungeon runs, WvW and so on).
This would be a nice feature to return from GW1. In order to establish connections, you currently need to invite additional people to your own guild, so that they can get to know your guild and communicate with the guild.
Minis could have some functionality. Aion was mentioned as an example where minis come with a function, e.g., auto-looting corpses or auto-buffing you and so on. It could be a fun addition if the functionality for each mini could be chosen by the player. Also, the problem of minis getting put away constantly was commented on. A mini slot on your hero panel which would have the chosen mini active all the time was suggested as a possible solution.
Another topic that comes up every so often was mounts. I think we agreed almost unanimously that we do not want flying mounts as that would not just make the world feel a lot smaller, it would also destroy jumping puzzles, unless there are no-flying zones around jumping puzzles. One argument for pro-flying mounts was to see the world from a different angle. As a kind of flying mount, an airship crafted by engineers was a suggestion.
A counter-argument to having mounts (non-flying) was that the maps in the game are too small for mounts. Still, while waypoints are nice, it could also be nice to ride to the next village instead of waypointing there. Useful additions like a mule that increases your inventory space could be better than just adding mounts.
Some professions’ elite skills aren’t seen as too viable.
GW1 is a great example of how easy it can be to change builds. You can locally save build templates on your PC from within the game and load those templates whenever you want to switch your build. It is just one click. For GW2, it was suggested to have a way to save builds, but also add functionality to link to traits and builds. Being able to inspect other players’ build was also suggested, but with the added note not to allow this in PvP.
While some like leveling in GW2, others do not like it too much. Having an easier way to level to 80 was expressed as a wish. It was noted that leveling per se is easy enough already, especially with crafting as an alternative way. Having your alts automatically get all level-appropriate waypoints could be nice. Dynamic events add a nice feeling to the world when leveling, making the maps feel more unique. Paying to gain a few levels for lazy levelers was a suggestion.
New regions. Cantha
Cantha was brought up, as well as Jade Sea, as possible new regions that would be popular in GW2. It would be great to see how those areas look in today’s Tyria and with the graphics of GW2. Somebody added that Cantha couldn’t be added due to legal reasons, as can be seen in the former Canthan district of Divinity’s Reach being collapsed after it had been designed and built already.**
*If this is just one spreadsheet, a link would be appreciated!
**The GW2 Wiki page “The Great Collapse” mentions in the trivia section that it was collapsed after receiving negative feedback from China and Korea since the Canthan district featured a mix of Asian styles.