November 27, 2012

[GW2] Let’s Talk About Fractures

Guild Wars 2is a popular game. It’s popular for many reasons, one of which is undoubtedly that there is no subscription fee. This has brought a considerable number of players from all online communities together.

When the game launched, this was great. The community was quite wholesome. People were just playing the game. But now, you look at any GW2 forum and are overwhelmed with a barrage of negativity and dissent.

I go to the GW2 reddit to find out the latest news; same with the various community or official forums.

What I don’t go there to do is be made to feel sad about the game and how it is being run. But just looking at thread titles I’m overwhelmed with this negative vibe, and I’m not always able to look past it.

A lot of people say “you have to look past the whiners”, or “the minority is always the most vocal”: and I know this is true. But I can’t help but be affected by it anyways.

I’m being turned off playing GW2 not through the content of the game itself, but the people that play it.

Chris Whiteside, one of the senior designers on GW2, did an AMA on Reddit last night as a follow up to his blog post from last week about the issues with The Lost Shores events. He admitted a good chunk of responsibility for many of the problems and consequent backlash from the community.

Why go back on your word to a loyal playerbase that supported you guys for so long?

But I feel there’s a line to be drawn under what is acceptable in terms of backlash. It used to be that a sincere apology was enough for most people. Not so anymore.

So this AMA ended up repeating the same questions and answers again and again. Why did you introduce Ascended Gear? Why did you lie? Why did you break/disregard your manifesto?

This riles me.

Firstly, a manifesto is a statement of intent. It is not a promise.

Some progression is ok, but pushing players onto gear treadmill isn’t ok and isn’t what the game is about.

I might intend, as a writer, to sit down and write a gritty psychological thriller. I might even advertise my intent to do so. But that is not a promise to my readers to do so. It might be that I end up writing a gritty, psychological supernatural thriller. Or it might end up being a black comedy psychological thriller. My intent will always give way to my artistic integrity, about the choices of what was best for me as a storyteller.

ArenaNet have not changed their statement of intent. They still want a game that lacks much in the way of mandatory grind. They still want a positive community. Sure, there have been missteps on the way — the game is young, yet. It’s been out barely three months. They’re trying new ideas, gauging community response. And it is that community response that pisses me off so much.

I read through almost the entire AMA this morning, and over and over and over again all I saw was people bitching and whining that Whiteside hadn’t answered their question. He had. It was two paragraphs up. Or you had people complaining that he hadn’t answered in sufficient detail. He had. It was a few more paragraphs up.

There was an absolute ton of heartfelt apology, as well as assurances that they had learned a lot and would try and do better in the future.

judge us by details, and not by making slippery-slope arguments

But that still wasn’t satisfying people.

I mean, what do you people want?! The guy took seven hours, amongst his other tasks for the day, to answer your questions. He didn’t have to. Sure, it’s good PR to interact with your community etc, but he could have had better things to do with his time than interact with rabid fans — and I use the term “fan” here in the sense of “fanatic”, since that’s how people are really acting these days; complete with negative connotations.

Sure, there were some grateful, thankful people.

This is not how the game was advertised, and had I known about this beforehand, I wouldn’t have bought this game.

But the overwhelming avalanche of negative shit heaped on the guy was unfair and unbecoming of what was once a great community.

I can still log into GW2 and have a ton of stuff to do. If I was to estimate, I’d say I’ve done maybe 30% of what the game truly has to offer in my 582 hours of play. (I think it’s actually a chunk more than that but Raptr broke for a while).  I’ve not set foot in a single dungeon other than the Mad King bossfight. I’ve barely touched WvW or sPvP.

Why? Because it involves interacting with a community that, as many cynics predicted right at the start, would soon become toxic.

Now I don’t think this is endemic to the GW2 community. In fact, I’d say this is a problem with society as a whole these days. The extra layers of anonymity from the internet contribute greatly to the visceral nature of individual commentary. And I’m all for freedom of speech.

But I also believe in speaking things that you would put your own name to.

this has finalized my decision that I will no longer be making any gem purchases on this game moving forward

I have no problem with people knowing my “real” name — it’s at the bottom of every single blog I post. But people in online communities don’t need to do so. Which is why I feel sorry for Chris Whiteside. He stood up, put his name to some mistakes, took responsibility.

And then a horde of nameless, faceless individuals went off on one at him.

I understand frustration and disappointment when something you are passionate about and believe in takes a turn you don’t agree with. But, as with all online endeavours, thousands of other people may be openly celebrating this change.  And it is those thousands of people — the thousands still happily playing GW2 and enjoying every aspect of the game that they are involved in — that I have to try harder to remember.

Because they’re not on the internet, screaming bloody murder.

Because they’re not the ones who won’t accept a guy’s sincere apologies for problems that have arisen.

Because they have a better attitude. Or maybe they just don’t care and are happy doing what they are doing. Who knows?

All I know is that they aren’t giving the community a bad name.

I’m sure nobody reading this is going to feel ashamed for what they have done. Pride amongst gamers is notorious, as is the ethos these days where you “never back down; never surrender”. Hell, I’m sure now I’ve said that that some people might point out that this seems to be what ArenaNet are doing — but these are the same arrogant people who are posting vitriol on the forums and reddit.

At the end of the day, it is ArenaNet’s game. They make the rules. They also make mistakes. They’ve admitted them, and apologised for the way stuff has been handled. But it is still their game. And raging at them with all the negativity you can muster is not likely to make you part of the demographic that they’ll take seriously or listen to.

Rant over.


NB. All quotes through this blog are taken from responses in the Reddit AMA.

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Written by: demajen
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About the Author

Jon Burrage, aka Demajen. Urban Sci-Fantasy writer, digital artist, supply teacher, evil genius. One of these things is not like the others...



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  1. You have hit the nail on the head. The toxic community and the need to derive pleasure from trashing MMO’s.
    This has been an ongoing process though. For years MMO’s have dropped the ball, with every release since WoW being compared to WoW and its success.
    I have yet to get even close to finishing what I want to do in GW2, and I enjoy every minute. There are still problems, but with time I feel they can fix those and create the best new MMO since WoW.


  2. […] Demajen — Let’s Talk About Fractures. “Guild Wars 2 is a popular game. It’s popular for many reasons, one of which is undoubtedly that there is no subscription fee. This has brought a considerable number of players from all online communities together. When the game launched, this was great. The community was quite wholesome. People were just playing the game. But now, you look at any GW2 forum and are overwhelmed with a barrage of negativity and dissent.” […]

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