Pixel.8012 Posted March 15 Share Posted March 15 Hey everyone, the world's loudest willbender player here again to talk about something that is, surprisingly, not willbender this time – I want to talk about the way ArenaNet approaches Guild Wars design, the concerns I’ve seen from a large portion of end-game players across modes, and (hopefully) how ANet can actually start moving in the direction of actionable solutions. While I feel like my reputation on this subreddit is mostly “the willbender person” I actually have a background in community management and specifically parlaying community sentiment into actionable, discrete feedback for the development team – something I think the community at large would agree that ANet kind of desperately needs. I think most people agree that there’s a severe lack of community management and official community interaction between ANet and the broader playerbase that have, in my professional opinion, directly led to a handful of issues that I’d like to draw some attention to. So consider this a bit of an open letter to ANet and, hopefully, create a productive discussion for what ANet can learn from its community and, in turn, what the community can realistically expect from ANet. TL;DR: There's no expectation shared between the devs and the community in any capacity and it's a massive communication issue that manifests in other parts of the game's balance, and anet needs to be willing to invest in open communication with the community if this is a problem they feel is worth solving. Up at the top, I would really love to highlight some positives that I've noticed recently in the past year of the game. With all of the issues with the content release cadence, both in general and as a function of living world season 1, ANet is really honing in on a much more diverse game than I think a lot of us have been historically used to, and a lot of the community discussion with and around ANet hasn't quite caught up to that fact yet. I really do want to commend a lot of the hard work that has happened over the past 8 to 9 months, because it's really not easy and while there's still a lot of work to be done, the work that's already been done should not be understated or underappreciated. Balance at a meta level is markedly more diverse than it's been in a very long time and I really, really think anet has done a good job iterating towards that direction. But the biggest thing that concerns me here is that, by and large, no player deeply entrenched in any mode actually feels like ANet designs the game for them. Open world players feel like balance is focused around endgame PvE content, WvW players feel left hung out to dry from years and years of a stagnant meta with no meaningful movement on alliances until very recently, sPvP barely gets any attention vis a vis rewards or incentive to drive players to the mode so it just hemorrhages players, and endgame PvE players feel like the content cadence and balance indicates little development attention to that kind of content. This is a problem. No part of the player base feels heard or catered to, and both balance and content feel like an afterthought. In order for a game to have a community with a long-term relationship with its developer that propels the game forward, the communities within the game need to feel heard and understood, and it hasn’t really felt like there’s been an active effort to interface with the multiple communities that make endgame guild wars so diverse and vibrant. Part of this manifests in balance. I want to speak mostly to PvE balance here because it’s my primary mode, but I do also play PvP and a lot of what I’m going to articulate here is broadly applicable there as well, and I’d imagine WvW balance is similar. In any case – expectations for class/build output feels largely arbitrary. Why do some classes (guardian, mesmer, engi) get to do everything, but warrior, thief, and necro have incredibly limited utility? Why does Condi Quickbrand get to have 37k dps but Condi QuickZerk loses like 8k off that for absolutely zero net gain? Why does staxe mirage get to do 35-36k dps on content but Alac Specter sits at 28-29k? I could go on, but the point is, ANet doesn’t seem to have an internal goalpost for what output they’re okay with among builds, and it’s frustrating trying to play within that framework when a lot of it leads to builds that just sort of obviate everything else because they can either do WAY more damage or have WAY more utility – or, often times, both. ANet could really stand to benefit set an upper bound for the damage output of builds, and try not to stray from that except for in exceptional cases, and work down from there in terms of percentage of that damage and/or utility other types of builds should have access to, so content desifn and spec balance feel more cohesive and intertwined. This sort of fluid design would be more acceptable if the top end of GW2 content was constantly moving upwards and the design could evolve with it like other MMOs, but because GW2 stops at a lv 80 cap, this sort of emergent power creep both within roles and on the game at large has a knock-on effect on how compelling endgame content can remain in the long-term, and that’s dangerous. I think most people want to see ANet make big moves on balance and make the game interesting and dynamic – given the alternative is atrophying that Reaper/Dragonhunter players have been contending with for god knows how long now – and fail openly with a willingness to make changes and address feedback, but ANet needs to be 1) open with their expectations for what they want from different kinds of builds (how should selfish DPS compare to more utility focused dps builds? What percentage of the pure DPS builds’ damage do they want the boon dps builds to meet? How much utility is too much utility for a build to have access to?) and 2) Willing to invite public feedback on when and where they miss the mark, and then adjust their balance approach accordingly so the game can evolve to a point that the community understands why and how the builds have landed where they are, at least broadly. Lastly, and this is a personal grievance of mine but one I’ve seen echoed by more than a few players – There’s a sort of underlying sentiment that ANet’s balance approach, for better and for worse, has a tendency to focus its attention on the builds/specs that are currently already noteworthy, and this is dangerous because over a long enough time this leads to a sort of bias that begins to exclude builds that might not have yet captured their audience, or may have lost that audience long ago. Spellbreaker took almost 5 years to be a reasonable choice for PvE play, willbender finally found a meaningful identity a year into the expansion that released it, Harbinger STILL doesn’t have a mathematically optimal rotation because the inherent design is so jumbled that it feels inconsistent to an almost unpredictable degree, Vindicator’s had a dodge bug where you can force an equipped weapon strength modifier onto the dodge instead of the intended unequipped damage mod for five months now without even an acknowledgement from ANet. And this isn’t just constrained to specializations either, Warrior rifle and offhand dagger, revenant hammer and shield, guardian offhand sword, thief sword and mainhand pistol, and basically every core necro weapon save for staff have pretty major issues inherent to the weapon’s usability that ANet has largely ignored because they’re weapons that are kind of sitting quietly by so they aren’t receiving any attention, which is indicative of a larger pattern – ANet’s design philosophy is built around the squeaky wheel getting the grease, with quieter builds getting pushed to the forefront basically at their internal whim without much conversation happening with the players that do play and enjoy those builds/weapons. As a rhetorical question, why did firebrand tomes get fixed the patch after they got reworked but warr rifle, rev hammer, and thief sword have been near useless for years and years? These are the kinds of things anet needs to bare in mind during design, and the community should remember when it comes to the way we discuss builds and expectations for builds with ANet. Discussion with your community is important. Hard conversations with your community are important to have. But for the long-term health of both the game and the community, this kind of communication is inherently worth investing in. That’s how you end up with communities like Final Fantasy XIV that are willing to be empathetic to their development and work with the dev team insofar as they’re able, instead of feeling like an outside observer at the whims of the development team. For a long-term live service game like an MMO, this sort of relationship is critical to long-term growth, retention, and player well-being, and a lot of the issues I’ve highlighted above indicate that these aren’t investments that ANet has seen worth it in the short term, but both inherently and implicitly they have value for the game that can absolutely pay for itself. ANet, we love this game. We love this community. We want to see it succeed, and we want you to do so in a way that’s sustainable long term and lets us enjoy the game for years and years to come. But there needs to be investments in the community and in balance that makes the game feel sustainable, and establishing that expectation comes with a lot of active work. Hopefully, this open letter begins that conversation, because I don’t ever want to see it end. Thank you 💕 1 4 10 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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