Tags: Guild Wars 2, MMO, mmorpg
Wintersday was the biggest and most popular festival in Guild Wars so Guild Wars 2 had a lot to live up to with Wintersday 2. I’m glad to say that the festivals so far have blown the original game out of the water.
It seems surprising that they’ve actually managed to put together so much content in such a seemingly small amount of time since Southsun Cove was released. Their production teams must be running on all cylinders. Guild Wars festivals had a lot of content but typically they were built up over the course of years, I feel like Guild Wars 2 has trumped them on Halloween and Wintersday their first time out.
Fully original set-pieces for the mini-dungeon, snowball fight, jumping puzzle, and bell choir. Decorations strung up everywhere, skins, and cash shop items available aplenty. Very little of it is disappointing.
The things I like the most are probably that we get to build our own mini, although I’m saddened that seemingly we don’t get build each one, unless I’m misinformed. Some of the skins are really great, like the slingshot. The slingshot is genius. The earmuffs as well.
As usual the chests are not worth buying. While I’m sure there are a ton of things in them to entice people to buy them, the vast majority of people who do will be disappointed. With the gem exchange becoming virtually useless for changing gold to gems for the average user, it’s best just to avoid random number generators.
As for the activities. I like them a lot actually, but I’m much better at describing faults than pointing out victories.
A long time ago, years before Guild Wars 2 was released, I blogged about the musical instruments of Lord of the Rings. Players there can learn songs and play them for others on various musical instruments. I had wanted Guild Wars 2 to incorporate the same thing. I can’t find the post. In any case I was lead to believe that wouldn’t happen, and, pleasantly surprised during the 3rd beta weekend when I came across an organ in Caledon Forest that you can play. And now with Wintersday we have both bells that you can acquire and play songs with, and the Bell Choir.
Bell Choir is a bit of fun similar to a Guitar Hero like game. And if you like that you’ll like this, but I’ve never been a fan of those types of games. I did play it enough to get the achievement and a few extra rounds for gifts so I do have some observations.
I thought the wait times were too long. Nothing more interminable than having to wait and wait and wait just to be bad at something.
I kind of thought rewards could have been handed out after each round as well, so that I could come and go as I please.
As for the difficulty, it does take a lot of practice just to get to a point where you’re not making a fool of yourself. I thought the timing of when you’re supposed to hit the notes could use some work as well. It seemed counter-intuitive to hit the notes after the lights disappear rather than at the point they cross the line. Took me a while to figure that out.
The free play portion is great, for anyone who can play or understands music. I do not. That’s a full minute of wasted time for the vast majority of people.
Winter Wonderland is a fantastic contrast to the Mad King’s Clocktower of Halloween. It really shows off what is good and bad about both.
Probably the worst thing about the MKC was that the vast majority of your time was spent in that first 5% of the puzzle. So if you’re not any good at jumping puzzles you were stuck with the same aggravating problems over and over. With WW that problem is thrown out the window with 3 different paths and the timing gets tighter at the end of the puzzle, not at the very beginning.
The difficulty is a lot easier for Wonderland too, while MKC threw in a few twists in difficulty throughout the puzzle (some intentional, some not) WW has a few specific hurdles that you can quickly get a grip on. I think that’s also reflected in the rewards. MKC gave up exotic boots, but the most you should hope for from WW is 3 ugly wool sweaters, one of the currencies at the Wintersday vendor. Fair enough.
The snowball fight is really well done and I would say one of the best festival PvP schemes they’ve put together, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have gripes.
For one I think the scout skillset needs some work. It’s tied to some of the regular games issues with longbow on ranger not being accurate enough. It’s just too easy to dodge the scout making the class weaker than the others.
Another complaint is just the starting area. I really despise having to face plant or take falling damage the moment the game starts. You can avoid it most times through some extra effort but I don’t see why you can’t just start running to the gift.
Which is another thing, the achievements get in the way of a good game. It’s hard enough to be paired up with a competent team, you’ll likely either dominate or be dominated when in snowball fight, but if half your teams motivation is either to bring gifts back or stop gifts from being brought back, not to wait for the next gift or play strategically, then we’ve got an annoying problem.
Finally Tixx’s mini dungeon. It’s actually pretty spectacular. The destructible model houses are obviously the best part as the actual objectives are fairly straightforward and uncomplicated. I thought the end boss could be more complicated, there’s really only one boss move you have to avoid, but it was fine with decent rewards. I have to wonder if any of that will change up for its future locations but at least the setting is amazing. As with the rest of the festival.
Tags: Guild Wars 2, MMO, mmorpg
There are a lot of negative vibes going around in regards to the Mad King’s Clock Tower in Guild Wars 2. It’s the Halloween themed jumping puzzle you can find after talking to an NPC inside the Mad King’s Realm. It’s got an achievement and rewards a pair of exotic boots for your armour class.
There are a lot of complaints.
- The time limit.
- The cinematic plays too often.
- Unclear edges.
- Camera movement.
- Length of time to make a successful run.
- Other players obscure view.
- Other players can troll you with various skills.
I’m sure there are other problems, but that’s the bulk of it. Zubon even goes on to say that it is “a new contender for the worst piece of content ever put into a game” which I have a hard time agreeing with. Frustration leads to hyperbole I guess.
My own experience does happen to find most of the above problems to be realistic however. The first portion of the puzzle, up until around that first jump down to a cube is entirely too difficult for all the stated reasons. My camera jumped in and out, I tripped up all too often on impossible to see bumps and edges. I couldn’t see myself due to all the other players, don’t even get me started on norn and charr. And it took me far too long to do a festival activity. Over two hours, maybe longer, doing the exact same thing over and over. That seems to be strange theme Arenanet has going on this festival. Pumpkin Carving anyone? Crafting Halloween themed weapons? Festivals should not be a grind.
But my only real problems with the puzzle are other players obscuring my view, and the miasmic goo rising too quickly during the first half of the puzzle. Remove these two obstacles and the puzzle would become much less of a giant pain in the ass. I can’t tell you how many times I missed a jump because someone was in my way. I counted the number of times I died on the exact same spot, that little jump down to the cube. 19 times.
Here’s the thing. I get the impression the designer wanted it to be difficult. That’s a good thing in my opinion, I like a good challenge. I don’t even have a problem with designing something so that only a certain elite few can complete it. And hey if you’re going to pour a lot of company resources into content it should provide hours of play time, not minutes of farm.
My problem is if something is a piece of festival content it should be for everyone. That’s why you make it available in low level areas, with low level mobs, where everyone can go. That’s why you make it accessible from the big hubs that everyone can get to.
You don’t design festival content that some people will never be able to finish.
That said I’d like to take a moment to discuss some of the finer points of the puzzle. Visually and thematically it is fantastic. The opening cinematic, the voice-over work, the little rhyme at the beginning are all great atmospheric set pieces. The effects as well are well done, the hands grabbing up at you, the goo rising up, the lightning at the end, I even like the spinning. Plenty of cool jumps and misleading paths as well.
I also like the second half of the puzzle much better than the first. Maybe because there are far fewer people, but there is definitely a better pace being set once you make it past that one big drop. It’s less of a mad dash. The reward is pretty good too. An exotic pair of level 80 Mad King’s Slippers. Best piece of loot I’ve gotten in Guild Wars 2 yet.
And yeah the end is pretty great, the jump in and the satisfaction of knowing. Not knowing that you’ve completed a difficult challenge, but knowing that you won’t ever have to do this again. There is a big difference there, and I hope the designer learns that difference.
On a final note, at least go in and check it out, it is worth the look.
Tags: Guild Wars 2, MMO, mmorpg
This post will be readable one time only to the people who happen to be around when it is posted. I’m not going to say why I’m doing this but it will be a big event! If you can’t be around to read my post at the time of posting hopefully you can read it later on youtube. Also reading it on youtube would spoil it for you, so I hope you don’t have to do that but you will since you are spineless nerds. I know some of you can’t be here when I post it but I’m doing this anyway. Yes, this sucks, but trying to accommodate everyone would suck more! I know reading my blog from someones fraps video isn’t quite the same as reading it on my blog but this is necessary to achieve…. some as yet unidentifiable dumb idea I had.
Okay, I ran out of steam at the end there, but this is the same reasoning Arenanet is using to justify why there will be a one time only event, “the pinnacle of the Halloween event (Act 3)”, in Guild Wars 2.
As some of you noticed, we have published the time of the special event which will occur on Sunday, October the 28th at 12:00 PM Pacific Time/19:00 GMT.
On the holiday team, we are fully aware of the fact that not everyone can be logged into the game at specific time. We’re also aware that people live in different time zones, and those times can potentially fall on different calendar days. This is why each act is a phase, or a period of time, rather than a moment in time.
The one major exception is the beginning of Act 3, which is something that I think most people will want to be around to see. The choice of 12:00 PM Pacific Time/19:00 GMT on Sunday was a very informed, calculated decision. It was primarily based on the fact that it’s pretty much the peak of our weekly concurrency, which means it satisfies the highest possible percentage of our users. It also means that it’s the same calendar date whether you’re American or European.
For those of you wondering, having the event at separate times for separate zones is actually one of the worst options. Whatever happens is going to be on livestreams instantly and then on YouTube about five minutes later. At least this way, everyone has a chance to experience it in the game, without having it spoiled by the rapid availability of video on the Internet.
One of the things I don’t like about this is how they don’t really address any of the complaints. They know one time events don’t really work. They know they’re upsetting large numbers of people. They know that timed events worked much better in the past with Guild Wars.
One time only events in MMOs are usually big disappointments. I can’t think of one that was a big success.
I honestly do hope this decision turns out well, I hope it’s a big success, and I know you can’t please all the people all the time, and far be it from me to tell Arenanet what things they can try and can’t try, but yeah, I will not be surprised if this doesn’t turn out well.