I was pleasantly surprised to see the new wolverine adventure. As far as I remember, it is the 1st combat content that is tied to a leaderboard, and even has an additional score to make things more interesting. It's pretty much a new technology on the game!
Elaborating on that, I hope Anet really expand on this concept. Competition can work as a powerful motivator for some people, as shown by the success of the "Elitist Raiding Party" organized by MightyTeapot and by some friendly rivalries people develop over some racing leaderboards. This motivation is harnessed well on PvP, where people compete on automated tournaments to get the ultimate shiny look-at-mee, but there is some opportunity for it to motivate people on PvE too.
As I remember, the last time Anet considered to do that in game was the famed "Fractal leaderboards", that became kind of a joke on the community because Anet planned on itthen they didn't see how they could deliver on that in a way that makes sense. When I did that adventure the first time and saw the "instabilities", I thought "well if those change everyday, the leaderboard will be meaningless". So I was very satisfied to see those were fixed.
If Anet wants to harness competition to motivate people to do content, there is a lot of things they can do next:
- Make sure all instances of cheating are detectable. One way to do that is to, for the top spots on the leaderboards, to record all positions and skills used on the instance, and auditing those to verify, prune (and ban?) cheaters. (That might present more challenges that it seems at first glance because, while an arcdps log stores those things for a raid encounter, the server would have to do that for every people who tries an adventure, to later prune "irrelevant" entries. That might result on a sizeable performance hit).
1a. Storing all those things also allows the game to do a "replay" of an adventure encounter. It can serve to teach people how to attain a gold performance! In game!
- For leaderboards, experiment with the weights of "encounter score" (impressive!) and time spent. On the current adventure, time has primacy to the milissecond and then the score is a tiebreaker. I imagine that can be toyed with, for example to consider that everyone on the same 5-second slot (e.g. 20 to 25 second) has the same "time score", then tie-break with the "impressive score", then tie-break with "exact time". Also, every new adventure could score different things, incentivizing people to play in another style. It could even be use to "tutorial" people on essential battle concepts, like CC, stunbreak and condition cleanse! Lots of possibilities.
- Next step: do leaderboards for multi-person encounters! Strike mission leaderboards here we go. Strike missions already grade groups on gold/silver/bronze, so a leaderboard is a natural next step.
- Next step: instead of daily leaderboards, make them reset monthly (plus on new balance patches). And, when the leaderboards reset, the people/groups on the top spots receive special look-at-me rewards. First idea on my mind would be a time-limited infusion, golden/silver/bronze, that expires in 1 week and then becomes a normal +9/+5 infusion thereafter. Also, for everyone (that got gold on the adventure?), deliver them by mail a valuable participation reward on the end of the month (5 gold?), making sure people have an incentive to do the content at least this much and to do it well.
- Next step: challenge motes have a separate leaderboard! That gives people an incentive to re-do those. Also, shiny rewards for top spots on those leaderboards?
- Next step: retrofit leaderboards to raid encounters! Including their challenge motes.
- Next step: create "Final" tier fractals. Those would not count for fractal dailies, would have fixed or no instabilities, and increased HP on bosses to compensate for instability removal. This way, they lose the randomness that makes leaderboards on fractals meaningless.
- Fractal leaderboards! With the same idea of monthly resets with special rewards for the top spots.
Well that is the gist of my idea. I really hope Anet doesn't squander their new toy, there is so much potential and it would be a shame for it to be just a one-off adventure.