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New Player Questions & Feedback: Does the Writing Get Better After HoT? [SPOILERS]


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(I enjoyed the personal story. My stance on it and HoT is very subjective as it felt really personal to me. That's why a major part of what I think and feel about it can be interpreted as whining, so I am putting that as a separate optional section below.)*

They say playing an MMORPG for the story is like watching porn for the plot but I just can't play a game if I cannot get invested in its story, so I want to believe the above statement isn't true. I've been sinking a lot of time in this game lately but recently I've become wary of getting too invested in the story. Does the writing get better after HoT? I've outlined four points of consideration.

1. Gameplay and story balanceAre they blatantly at odds, e.g. plot elements getting inserted not because it makes sense but because some quota has to be filled ("We need an enemy for a fight quickly! No time to develop a character and we need to cull some characters anyway, so let's throw a dice to determine which character goes mad kitten and has to be put down.")Orr, because the game should feel challenging, making an NPC's stats and mechanics so terrible that in a fight they are a liability while, lore-wise, they are supposed to be powerful allies. Nothing ruins a character's reputation like constantly spamming the same lines and getting soloed by a cow.

2. Story consistencyStory seems plausible so far, my only gripe is the classic "character dialogue out of context", exacerbated by the occasional out-of-touch voice acting.E.g. When Fridgelinda gets killed everyone is supportive of Jory, even chapters after the sad accident people are still trying to comfort her, we really see her trying to come to terms with her sister's death. When the player character loses a close friend (and, for some, a brother), the reaction is... no reaction.Canach talks about a great change for himself, Caithe talks about freedom, Rytlock talks of swagger and Jory, the very person I, given the above, expected some sympathy from, talks about Belinda and relationship problems.The only somewhat plausible excuse here could be lack of resources on the developer's side. Oversight is not an excuse, this is the conclusion of your expansion, right? "We'd better not mention a character so many people disliked" is not an excuse, it's an insult. To the story you created and more so to the many people who got invested in that character. Either ways this is plain bad writing.

3. Character consistencyDo characters act "in character" or do they suddenly experience a personality change to fill a role / simulate development? I'm all for well-thought character development as a logical result from experiences but the truth is that people rarely change, and when they do, they merely start exhibiting more of another aspect of their personality. You need an extraordinary world-shattering event and/or brain intervention for a drastic change of character.Caithe's actions in HoT made some sense, Braham's, however feel shoehorned, as if somebody just felt our merry band needed some internal conflict but didn't really consider how best to introduce it.

4. Community FeedbackDo the developers know how to listen to and understand player feedback? Because, for every player that wants one thing, there is another who wants the opposite. Does Arena Net manage to strike a balance between satisfying one group of players without offending the other while still staying true to their creative ideas?

  • Optional Whining Part_I couldn't really get too close with Caithe. I tried to be buddies with her but she kept creeping me out. Then He appeared. The representation of a personality I've always longed to see, yet never met in the sea of fashionably badass characters. The only character that has ever made me change a game's audio language because I couldn't stand the way he was talking. And then it hit me. As a shy introvert, I don't like listening to myself speaking either! I talk to strangers in a similar way. I do try to liven up my speech a bit but then again I haven't spent most of my life in complete isolation. Missions rolled, I felt I have found the best (NPC) buddy ever and anticipated us two stuck-up bookworms going on great adventures together. I was happy to supply him with the tool he needed to complete his Wyld Hunt. You really need NPC powers to make use of that thing, trust me. It's an annoyance to wield as a PC. Then there was Clawr Island. Oh, no, no, no, you don't want to, you can't possibly lead those people, neither of us should! I really got PTSD flashes of times I was called to lead - not because I wanted to but because people automatically assumed that if I was knowledgeable and could get work done, I could be a good leader. Fortunately, that went well. For him (not quite plausible writing?), not for me. The Source of Orr was the culmination of the PS. The music, the visuals... "Here, at the end, I am glad that it's just you and me. We will cleanse Orr together - as we were meant to do." Screw Bioware, this is true romance! The party at the end was fun. "Where are you hiding, fellow wallflower? Ahhh here you are. Let's dance awkwardly together now!"Season 2 was even better. He spoke better, he fought better but, after mother was attacked, he started to worry, growing angry and frustrated. I feared he would do something rash and he did. How do you think a character moves on after having a dear friend and a brother die by her hand? With a smile. Talking to people about relationships, freedom, personal goals and swagger..............The worst part, however, was in the real world when I finally felt spoiler-proof enough to check the forums. It suddenly all clicked in - his absence until the end of the story and the manner of his death. At least he didn't get Faolained or killed by a cow. He died a hero. Not the hero many wanted, nor the one many deserved.And yet, Trahearne's death is not what made GW 2 the only game that has managed to make me cry so much. It takes a lot of effort to make me that angry. I wouldn't be that bitter over his death, had it been handled properly. It felt like a mindless fan service to those who hated him and an insult to those who liked him. This made me relive my primary school days when bullies punched me despite me trying to be kind to them. They did it just to get a reaction out of me, because I was too calm. And got good grades (actual quote). I know I shouldn't mix real life and fiction but I can't control my mind's associations and the feelings they provoke.Don't call the nut hut please, I'll be good, I promise.
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IMHO, Season 1 and Heart of Thorns were the lowest points in the entire Guild Wars franchise.

For Season 1, this was partially caused by the unsteady and constant revising of how ArenaNet worked on their content, combined with them introducing a character that received massive backlash and them revising (read: retconing) the character thrice over before her death.

Season 2 was an improvement, but they were still getting a handle on how they wanted to work, so it wasn't that good. The overall writing quality seemed to suffer as well, as if they didn't have proof readers.

Heart of Thorns felt like a rushed release, no ands ifs or buts about it. There was even confirmation that some plot elements got cut (and pretty critical ones like Malyck and Nightmare Court's involvement) due to both the lack of time, and inability to fit it into the race-against-the-clock plot alongside all the other detours already presented; rather than rework the timer in the plot, they decided to scrap elements and left a lot out of the loop.

Season 3 and Path of Fire do have their downsides to them by anyone critically analytical to it, but it's definitely an improvement over Season 1 to Heart of Thorns. And Season 4 is a definite improvement above that. It seems they finally got their flow straightened out and can handle getting quality work again.

As to your post in specific:

@"Vayanne.4702" said:1. Gameplay and story balance

This is a bit of a delicate balance to be held. They want the player to do the fighting, so they could not simply allow NPCs to carry players (this does, sadly, happen sometimes though). The personal story attempted to solve this by making allied NPCs decent hitters, but poor tanks. In Season 1 and later, they've changed how they did this. Starting with Season 2, except in exceptional locations like Prisoners of the Dragon's vinetooth fight, allied NPCs cannot die - if they go to 5% health they get stunned and regen a bit. But at the same time, they do pathetic damage.

2. Story consistencyFor the "no reaction" to Trahearne's death, keep in mind three things. First, it's the end of the story instance. Second, there is post-Hearts and Minds dialogue if you talk to the NPCs in the "lobby" area (though most are about Mordremoth's death, I do think Caithe talks about Trahearne as well?). And third, at the next reset you'll get a direct follow up in the Knight of Thorns achievement chain starting with a mail. The Knight of Thorns side story is easily the best one and closes Trahearne's story wonderfully.

But from the characters' perspective - not many of them would have known Trahearne or know of your relation to Trahearne. And half of them were pre-occupied with their own loses and hopes for the future to dwell on Trahearne. Not to mention that this is a bit realistic in that people constantly faced with grievances prefer not to focus on them, even in the form of condolences (this is why, I would argue, that Season 3 is full of humor - humor is one of the two largest ways people faced with constant depression or depressing things cope, and makes it feel more realistic to me, even though many folks hate it).

3. Character consistencyThe only "sudden personality change" I've ever really seen was Braham in Season 3, though it's hinted at off-screen it really felt like a 180 from where we left him in Heart of Thorns. And I would argue that people do change, but it tends to be either temporary and folks fall back on their own habits, or a very gradual thing (or, sometimes, both - constant temporaries turning into a gradual rollercoaster before it changes completely).

4. Community FeedbackYes, and we've seen some changes due to this. Particular things of note being Scarlet's background and Marjory's survival in Season 1. Throughout Season 1 after her initial reveal, Scarlet's backstory got changed two times (as well as altered a bit in Season 2), no doubt due to the backlash of players disliking her. The finale of Season 1 was also supposed to feature Marjory's death and the biconics becoming an official guild dubbed Destiny's Orphans - however they decided against this in part due to how much people enjoyed Marjory.

And I do feel that Trahearne's death was decided upon due to the dislike he got for players who believed that he "stole the spotlight". They even redid some of Trahearne's dialogue in the personal story because of the playerbase's hate for him.

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@"Ardid.7203" said:IMO Season 3 with the Lazarus and Balthazar scam was the worst by far.

That reveal was definitely bad, though I'd still consider Scarlet worse. However, the only problem I really have with Season 3 is simply two things. 1) that it was too short; the plot was too contrived for such a quick conclusion; 2) that Lazarus only showed up at the end, had he been around since the beginning then things could have been more interesting as we had "Lazarus acting like two different people, but wait it's Lazarus and someone pretending to be Lazarus" rather than "Lazarus is not Lazarus now lets go kill real Laza- ups he's dead."

Had Season 3 been 9 episodes instead, they could have made Episode 4 beginning with Braham cracking the tooth in Hoelbrak (rather than a short cinematic that ended with us seeing Braham leave the cave after the cinematic) and delving into the norn situation and watch as they begin to rally at Anvil Rock; Episode 5 delving into a White Mantle civil war between real Lazarus and Caudecus, with us investigating Lazarus' ploy and killing Bauer as the episodic villain (could take place north of Brisban, make use of that bridge portal!); Episode 6 could have been The Head of the Snake with our real aspect artifact to seed the question of "is Lazarus real or fake?" Episode 7 takes us to Abaddon's Mouth where we learn Lazarus' true goal to wipe out humanity completely by re-creating the Bloodstone Fen explosion but without anything to absorb it, the last of the Mursaat intending to bring down all life with him, and during the encounter he says that is our first meeting (despite us seeing him in Bloodstone Fen and Dragon Vigil) thus telling us that there was both a real and fake Lazarus; Episode 8 investigates the fake Lazarus, taking us to Orr (I wouldn't have used Siren's Landing, personally, as that creates a massive hole in lore not only for the river now landlocking the Arah fleet with its waterfall, but a huge chunk of land being undocumented in map making for a millennia? Unlikely!; instead I'd have gone south of Malchor's and send us into Arah like Head of the Snake sends us into Caudecus' Manor) here we learn that "Lazarus" has stolen stuff from the gods' vaults a while ago, and has hired mercenaries to replace the White Mantle he had recruited, and we reunite with Marjory here rather than upon Lazarus' reveal; then Episode 9 could have been Flashpoint (especially since the very first story mission of PoF made it so we didn't need the damned Eye).

And with a longer season, they could have added a fifth raid wing, taking players to Janthir's shore.

But the past is the past. I should stop making these rantings.

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