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Is the personal story too optional?


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#1 Baron von Scrufflebutt

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 09:40 AM

The personal story ended up being one of those GW2 features that managed to massively reduce my enjoyment of the game. And it's not the story's writing, rewards or something similar - it's the way it's implemented.
And yet at the same time, I am glad for it's current implementation because we all know A.Net can do, and has done, worse.

As far as I can see in GW2, the personal story is completely optional. The player must complete the tutorial, but after that, the player really doesn't need to touch the story ever again. With that, A.Net introduced yet another way of dealing with the game's story: in GW1, we experienced the story in different ways. Which brings me to the why I am glad with GW2's PS implementation.
In Factions/Nightfall the story was completely mandatory for the player to advance. Regardless of how many times one did it already, or how excruciatingly boring it was - if one wanted to advance, the story had to be played though. With that in mind, I absolutely adore the optimal PS.
At the same time, we also had Prophecies - which dealt with the story in a yet another way. The story was only semi-optional - there were missions one needed to do to be able to reach certain locations, but at the same time, there were missions one could easily skip. Not only that, one could do the optional missions out of order. (Let's not also forget that GW1's missions were repeatable, which is also a plus, but not really relevant to this.)

GW2 now mixes multiple approaches to come up with something new and the result, while not reaching Nightfall/Faction's level of stupidity, is still pretty darn bad.
In GW2, single story parts are split among multiple locations, and that combined with paid waypoints makes for a lot of running back and forth. The story is also limited by levels. And lastly, there's no way to skip certain steps.
Not only that, but combined with the rest of the game (DEs and hearts), we can end up with a game where ANY kind of reason why our characters are actually in the world and why they are doing the things that they are doing, is ultimately completely non-existent.

As I have said a number of times, I never do the PS. My warrior ended up at the lvl 10ish quest and my mesmer completed the Jotun cave part. The constant back and forth, waiting for the right level, needing to be in specific locations and not being able to skip parts of the story led to me simply giving up on the story. The story is so optional that you actually need to overcome inconveniences to do it.

As a result, I have absolutely no idea what the connection between my character and the world is - I am simply there, killing deer. While the Nightfall Sunspear story was forced down my throat, at least I knew why I was there. Making everything mandatory is bad, but failing to give you a reason why you are playing the game, isn't that much better.

So, looking forward, I really like the optional approach to the story, but I really hope A.Net makes it MUCH less inconvenient to participate in it. For instance, adding a "Start Mission" button to your PS, so that you can start the next step in your PS from ANYWHERE in the world and are then returned to the location where you started the mission from, would go a long way. Or, removing waypoint fees.
The world simply does not give you enough of a reason for you being in it, to be able to make it THIS optional.

Edited by Protoss, 15 December 2012 - 06:13 PM.


#2 Trei

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 10:07 AM

The personal story is what's currently driving my entire character progression process, especially for alts.

What you consider inconvenience is the complete opposite to me.

Take exploration for example: the fact that I have to travel to the next instance portal for my story means I get to do my story and explore my way to that part of the map at same time.



#3 Alleji

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 10:34 AM

I'm glad that it's optional. If it was mandatory, I probably wouldn't have even played the game till 80.

Think about it: if anyone tried to pitch a single-player RPG with the story, quality of writing and gameplay like in GW2's personal story, they'd probably get laughed out of the industry.

#4 dd790

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 12:01 PM

For me the story pretty much fails across the board but the nail in my personal story coffin is that it is not my personal story. GW1's wasn't but at the time it was good enough to keep me pushing forward (maybe crap by modern standards but it's long time since I played it), GW2's story just does nothing to excite me, at all. It's linear, the player is a passenger not the driving force and most characters are just awful.

I am glad it is optional or I wouldn't have 7 alts as I couldn't face going through the story 7 more times

#5 Xunlai Agent

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 12:20 PM

The story line is not diverse or complex enough to have been made mandatory, sorry. I have completed it four times and I was finding myself retreading far too much of the same content. I realise there are constraints on what they can do however a wider set of branching out plots would have done wonders...

#6 Kovares

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 12:29 PM

View PostAlleji, on 15 December 2012 - 10:34 AM, said:

I'm glad that it's optional. If it was mandatory, I probably wouldn't have even played the game till 80.

Think about it: if anyone tried to pitch a single-player RPG with the story, quality of writing and gameplay like in GW2's personal story, they'd probably get laughed out of the industry.

Pretty much this. They spend millions on fancy graphics, but the storytellig is that of a 3rd grader, and sadly this is industry standard.

Back on topic, despite the whole story being terribly bad, I didn't find the implementation to be that awful personally. It does somewhat railroad you to certain areas, but I don't have much of an issue with that, since I'd change places at roughly the same pace anyway. I would have liked some more actually different branches, that allow you to chose where you end up in the first place, but that's too much to ask it seems.

#7 Elcee

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 01:35 PM

The personal story ends around 50 anyway. Then you start Traherne's.:P

I agree with the sentiment of the OP about feeling no connection to the world. The voice acting, the writing, the "cutscenes", everything about it was abysmal. guild Wars 1 's story wasn't great, but it was a significant step above this. Maybe other devlopers will take note and realize you can't mask that kind of thing with a bunch of bells and whistles and shiny things. Botching the story was a huge turnoff for a lot of people, including me.

#8 Mastruq

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 01:35 PM

They need to take a step away from an overarching "personal story" for each character and instead make "story arcs" available in game that are self-contained long and involved quests, but any character is free to do or not do any of them and have them not have a specific order (mostly, some "part 2" stuff is ok). In length and involvement, think of the 1-30 part of your personal story as one story arc, then the Order part as another, and "against zhaitan" as a third.

Those were in a certain order and following that order was mandatory, but it doesnt have to be that way. Anet stated they want players out in the world everywhere and are going to rebalance downscaling and rewards towards that (i think?). Making independent story arcs available for several regions that anyone can pick up goes towards that goal, too. I could see a specific "humans vs centaurs" arc going through the hinterlands and maybe the areas before then, whatever ploy by the asuras and nightmare court in those zones, etc. Throw in some extra extended order missions and have you have a nice starting selection to build on, kinda like they introduced fotm.

#9 Sword Hammer Axe

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 06:05 PM

Even the Elder Scrolls games, at least the ones I've played (Oblivion and Skyrim) had completely optional stories and quests. Guild Wars Prophecis had pretty optional missions as well, at least up to Thunderhead Keep, which you had to complete to get to Ring of Fire. Haven't played much WoW, but from what I've played in that I didn't see much need to do the main storylines (though this might just be because I never got beyond level 30). I guess it's a sort of thing that works well for RPGs.

#10 Majic

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 08:49 PM

There's no such thing as too optional.

Celebrate freedom. :)

#11 Perm Shadow Form

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 08:50 PM

Stopped doing after reaching level 30, it's rather boring and redundant.

#12 matsif

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 09:56 PM

I enjoyed it up to level 30.  The beginning quests were interesting imo, as the first 20 were based around your choices in character creation, and the next 10 were based around your race, giving them an actual personal feel.  After level 30 though, it just went downhill.

the order quests (30-50) were boring, especially when you have to select a race to help and then have to port all over the world to get to them if you didn't pick the right one (norn, if you pick grawl it works rather well as dredgehaunt cliffs is right below hoelbrak).  claw island was disappointing and then kicked off the "oh hi, I'm a hero but I'm being trahearne's puppy while these apparent "older" heroes bitch about their problems with each other in dungeons" section of the game, which was longer than any other portion of the story.  Dungeon story modes add nothing to the game except for arah, and that's only because it's required to get pact victory tokens for the pact weapons if you like them and don't want to pay for the skin on the TP.  not to mention they take much longer than exp. for no real reason, and don't give any rewards that are worthwhile.  and to even get that reward from arah, you have to do the personal story up to that point, making it not worthwhile overall as a 1 hour run through of all paths of AC will get you the gold to buy the skin.

on all of my alts, I played the PS until level 30.  after that, its crafting to 80 and doing stuff that's actually enjoyable, unless I really want an armor piece/weapon from an order (vigil pants on my thief).  If you don't want order armors/weapons, there is no reason really to do the PS past level 30 or at all really except for some xp to get you to a high enough level to do other content faster.

#13 Gilles VI

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Posted 15 December 2012 - 10:13 PM

I am glad it is optional really.
Apart from my main character I always get stuck at lvl20 of the personal story on all my alts.

I'm glad I'm not forced to do it, and I enjoy I can do whenever I feel like it.

#14 Arquenya

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 02:36 AM

Yes I almost  forgot about it, the "personal storyline" .. ^_^

There's a few things that make it a bit sub-par:
  • You do it all alone;
  • You need to travel around a lot, which can be quite a chore (and expensive);
  • It consists out of many dozens of very short "mini-quests";
  • It's not neccessary for anything at all (perhaps Order armour);
  • It hasn't got any implications (you can do all storyline dungeons without it);
  • Thahearne.
If you think about how much time and resources are spent on all those 100s of mini-quests (yes, there's really that many), I think it's been a bit of a waste.

I did the storyline up to Arah with 1 character but have no intention of doing anything with my other characters. There's no meaningful reward, reason or incentive to do them beyond the Order part.

#15 Trei

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 03:05 AM

My friends and I frequently join each other's stories, so not always alone no.

I also explore my way to new chapter locations so I didn't need to spend much on traveling.
I even earned more coin and exp as a result of doing stuff along the way.

But I agree the quality of the stories leave much to be desired, especially the voice acting.

Edited by Trei, 16 December 2012 - 03:07 AM.


#16 Khlaw

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 03:08 AM

It's fairly optional, so I guess that's good for folks who aren't interested.  It's got some variation (I've nearly completed it 5 times) so it's not totally repetitive, and the rewards for doing it (around 1/3 - 1/2 a level each) make it attractive even if you aren't into the lore so...  I think it's just about right.

#17 Mystika

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 03:13 AM

I really like the idea of an "enter mission" button for the story quests. I hate all the running around from one place to the other, and it is expensive because of the waypoint costs. They need to make the story more player friendly, but still optional.

#18 sty0pa

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 06:12 AM

View PostArquenya, on 16 December 2012 - 02:36 AM, said:

Yes I almost  forgot about it, the "personal storyline" .. ^_^

There's a few things that make it a bit sub-par:
  • You do it all alone;
  • You need to travel around a lot, which can be quite a chore (and expensive);
  • It consists out of many dozens of very short "mini-quests";
  • It's not neccessary for anything at all (perhaps Order armour);
  • It hasn't got any implications (you can do all storyline dungeons without it);
  • Thahearne.
If you think about how much time and resources are spent on all those 100s of mini-quests (yes, there's really that many), I think it's been a bit of a waste.

I did the storyline up to Arah with 1 character but have no intention of doing anything with my other characters. There's no meaningful reward, reason or incentive to do them beyond the Order part.

...after about level 50 it's not your story line.

It's like you're a flippin' background spear-carrier for the 'real' important carrier (setting aside the fact that he's about the most depressing, emo, self-doubting, whiny baby-bitch of a 'leader' I've ever seen, that's a whole 'nother thread), who the hell would buy a golf game where you get to play the CADDY?

Because THAT's the 'personal' story in GW2.

(Also setting aside that the climactic battle is "press 1-1-1-1, now 2! now 1 a bunch of times, now kill some trash" (rinse, repeat)...and you've defeated the greatest evil ever faced by Tyria!)

It's really quite bad.  Glad it's optional, although when levelling alts I hold my nose and slog through it as it's great xp for someone playing solo with really utterly no risk at all.

#19 Baron von Scrufflebutt

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 08:01 AM

View PostMajic, on 15 December 2012 - 08:49 PM, said:

There's no such thing as too optional.
Celebrate freedom. :)

As it stands now, I feel like I am playing sports, but I don't know if I am playing basketball or football.
As I said, I love the freedom and I absolutely prefer having the story be this optional over some other alternatives, but with the game making so many things optional it fails to give you a reason why you are in the world. And that feels almost as bad as the lack of freedom would.

#20 Kid

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 11:51 AM

We have our "personal" story? I thought it was Traherne the sue and another 5 glory hogs' story.

As of now, I would be a lot more compelled to do any of the story missions IF they are about us, NOT those bickering idiots.

#21 Kaiarra

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 12:51 PM

View PostArquenya, on 16 December 2012 - 02:36 AM, said:

Yes I almost  forgot about it, the "personal storyline" .. ^_^

There's a few things that make it a bit sub-par:
  • You do it all alone;
  • You need to travel around a lot, which can be quite a chore (and expensive);
  • It consists out of many dozens of very short "mini-quests";
  • It's not neccessary for anything at all (perhaps Order armour);
  • It hasn't got any implications (you can do all storyline dungeons without it);
  • Thahearne.
If you think about how much time and resources are spent on all those 100s of mini-quests (yes, there's really that many), I think it's been a bit of a waste.

I did the storyline up to Arah with 1 character but have no intention of doing anything with my other characters. There's no meaningful reward, reason or incentive to do them beyond the Order part.

I'd argue that one of the main things I hate about the personal story is the opposite of this - forcing you to party for the last quest. You are able to invite people to party with you for the majority of of your story line, if that's what floats your boat; on reaching the last quest however, you are forced into party, with no other options (well you can just not do it, but that's hardly a decent option).

#22 Jairyn

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 01:03 PM

I think my personal story is hovering around level 33. I just find it a huge turn off. I originally made a sylvari because I felt their opening video had more engaging emotion and language than the flat effect of humans, but they all bland out. The story is dull and without urgency. The weight of the world ostensibly hangs in the balance, but it seems like the lion's share is devoted to misfiring attempts at humor and watching Destiny's Edge bicker.

Put me down for "the heroes ignore the real situation at hand, instead sniping at each other like a pack of Mean Girls and then slinking off to be emo kids" being one of my very least favorite approaches to storytelling.

The voice acting is kind of painful. I really wish they'd just saved time and money and done plain text. This also would've allowed for a lot more options and character personalization compared to the everyman personal story hero who has to work for everyone.

I hate Sieran, Tybalt, and Trahearne. I've yet to meet the Vigil companion NPC, but based on experience I presume their personality is grating in the extreme and their IQ is comparable to that of a jar of mayonnaise.

As Arquenya notes, the episodes are way too short, consisting of one shot miniquests that can often be completed in less time that it takes to wait through all the associated voice acting. Compared to Guild Wars 1's mission structure and bonus missions within missions, I consider this a major failing.

Overall, I still love GW2, but the personal story leaves me cold. I'm glad it's optional.

Edited by Jairyn, 16 December 2012 - 01:24 PM.


#23 pumpkin pie

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 04:08 PM

i like option. personal story is very nicely done, as in you can do it, or not, imho except it has lousy rewards, and one of  the cut scene in particular looks rushed .

#24 ben911993

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 04:12 PM

I'm not really sure there's ever such a thing as "too optional." Imo, it's always great to give players option and allow them to play how they wish. After completing the personal story for the first time, all of my characters since haven't touched the story after the very first mission. Instead I'm going to level to ~70-80 and then go back and do the story alllll the way through, one mission after another, if I decide to do it at all.

#25 Gremlin

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 04:23 PM

I really fail to understand why some people ever get out of bed in the morning, after all life itself is optional.

This is a game and an RPG game at that, you create a character that you would like to play give them a past containing a few choices you made and some you did not make and proceed from there.

If your not interested in role playing that character uninstall and play something else, its not for anet to create something your interested in playing its up to you to Create someone you might find interesting to play go find the rest out yourself.
Options will be given to you as you proceed and its up to you to choose what to do and when.

Only argument I have with the personal storyline is the guilt I feel doing that when I should be saving the world

#26 Baron von Scrufflebutt

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 04:57 PM

View PostGremlin, on 16 December 2012 - 04:23 PM, said:

I really fail to understand why some people ever get out of bed in the morning, after all life itself is optional.

This is a game and an RPG game at that, you create a character that you would like to play give them a past containing a few choices you made and some you did not make and proceed from there.

If your not interested in role playing that character uninstall and play something else, its not for anet to create something your interested in playing its up to you to Create someone you might find interesting to play go find the rest out yourself.
Options will be given to you as you proceed and its up to you to choose what to do and when.

Only argument I have with the personal storyline is the guilt I feel doing that when I should be saving the world

The problem is that the game's default options make for a fairly shitty game. If you don't luck into DEs, then the game is empty and boring as *. If you don't go out of your way to follow the PS, then the game fails to create a connection between the player and the world.
Now, I am not saying those things should be mandatory - but there is a difference between opting out of these options (which would be fantastic) and having to opt into these options (which is what we have now).

#27 Corvindi

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 07:31 PM

Good thing it is optional, especially since you have to group to complete it for some lame, bizarre reason known only to the devs.

#28 chrono06

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Posted 16 December 2012 - 11:34 PM

I loved the story and all of its branches... And am enjoying trying different paths on alts. They did screw up big with treehearne though and the zhaiten fight. Lol

#29 Serris

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 11:29 AM

in gw1 the story missions had more value than they do in gw2. you could replay them and do the optional stuff (or complete it within a certain time), they were difficult enough when powercreep was low.
they were also more casualfriendly, since the missions were longer than the missions in gw2, but didn't take as long to get to.

for me, the story is something i play up to picking an order, which i then pick purely based on armor. after that i stop playing story and grump about not being able to reach certain poi's without doing the story.

#30 Linfang

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 11:45 AM

After I pick my order and finished running missions for them I start to lose interest with the Orr drama. In fact if Anet had a way to hide the GD huge reminder glued to your top right corner of your screen most people would forget about the personal story all together. I wanted a long, loving relationship with my personal story and ended up getting a one night stand.




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