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Cosmetic Reward is not the best carrot for an MMO


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#1 Zhaitan

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 06:27 PM

=====================================

DISCLAIMER: This is not a pro-mudflation post.

=====================================

That's my opinion after playing GW2 for last several months since beta (2x lvl 80s - Ele and Guard and a few sub-80 alts) and after playing GW1 considerably since launch (champion of the gods, gwamm and phoenix).

I think cosmetic rewards worked for GW1 beause the primary focus on GW was multiple formats of PvP with "looking good" as the secondary aspect of the game to fill the downtime. Many players collected skins while completing other PvE objectives like getting GWAMM, filling up HoM etc. Also, we need to keep in mind that concept of cosmetic only reward came in to being after factions was launched. With no increase in level cap and no significant powercreep (with the exception of assassin splits in GvG), there was really no need to introduce armor sets with different stats.

But, in GW2, the concept of cosmetic reward has been introduced during the launch itself. It may be an insinuation of the community but, that notion is prevalent and still makes me struggle a bit to fathom the reasoning of the introduction of the higher stat ascended gear in the game. I wonder if the devs are regretting because they allowed this "cosmetic only" concept to become a widespread notion in the community during the development without nipping it in the bud. Maybe they were afraid that they would lose a solid differentiator, something that sets GW2 apart from the other MMOs. Hence, they allowed that to continue.

As the game is new, it can't offer as many objectives that another established game can offer. Hence, some portion of the community feels that the game lacks content. I think, in other MMOs, gear grind is a huge endgame content, if not the only one. And that grind feels like content to the playerbase because the gear that you attain is actually better in overall number, and not only in looks. To divert people from that mindset, it'd require ANET to move GW2 in a completely different direction if most of the rewards in the game remain cosmetic only.

And, that direction should be not RNG driven pseudo-content. It should not be Korean MMO: ANET Edition. Maybe that direction should be emphasized focus in content that has more human element, more human interaction. Here are some thoughts:

Open Arena non-instanced Fights - Spars, duels etc. Would you not like to see two players duking it out in a colleseum in Orr? Would you like to bet on the outcome of that fight for a chance to make some money? Would you like to prepare yourself for such duels instead of being a sideliner in the future and earn portion of the collected bets as reward for winning the bout? This can also be a decent money sink instead of forcing players to spend attrocious amount of gold to obtain the looks of cultural armors.

World vs. World Competitions - How about rewarding the guilds that make the most impact in defending their own lands or lay waste of the enemies in the enemy territories during monthly seasons? How about making more guild objective raids or rewarding the guilds with tangible cosmetic rewards or temporary boons to the guild members?

World Bosses - How about adding random events where multiple of the current world bosses spawn adding more challenge to the inhabitants of the world to tackle. If the inhabitants prevail, reward them appropriately with something that can be used to attain their futire goals.

There can be many such ideas, practical or impractical. But, the real notion behind all these is to let the community feel that they are spending time in the world and adding value to their account - not playing for the sake of fun only. I know, everyone play for the fun.. for sometime. But, without clear attainable objectives, motivation dries out. Adding gear treadmill can alleviate the problem temporarily but, in the long term content wins over pseudo-content. Real useful rewards win over cosmetic only rewards.

These are my thoughts. What are yours?

tl;dr: Provide interesting objectives that motivate players to do something. If you are looking at gear treadmill, you are looking at the wrong direction. That's my opinion.

Edited by Zhaitan, 05 February 2013 - 08:10 PM.


#2 kalendraf

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 06:39 PM

My biggest problem with GW2's current cosmetic rewards (specifically armor skins) is that there aren't any of them that I find appealing.  In GW1, there were several armor skins that I found attractive and I put in the necessary work to get all of them that I wanted.  Unfortunately, most of the GW2 armor stylings seem to be intended for those players with a trenchcoat and buttcape fetish, and the tiny number of alternatives don't include any styles I like.

In terms of the "carrot" concept, I'd be perfectly happy to do the work to chase a tasty carrot if there was actually a tasty carrot for me to chase.  Right now, all I'm seeing (and smelling) is an orange piece of rotting vegetable matter hanging on a string, and I have no desire to get any closer to it.

#3 BlairPhoenix

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 06:48 PM

Eh, I think the real issue is there simply aren't ENOUGH cosmetic rewards, and there aren't enough interesting different ways to get them. WoW had mini-pets and Mounts, some of which required specific tasks to get them, while GW2 atm really only has gear. I don't feel I need the carrot to be on the stick, but I feel like the carrot ANet is offering atm is a bit skimpy atm.

#4 Baron von Scrufflebutt

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 06:58 PM

Playing for cosmetics in GW2 has no appeal for me personally, because I find the game to be pretty bland. Pretty much all the passion I have for GW2 stems from the fact that it's the sequel to GW1, whereas the game itself fails to excite me.
I think that's best showcased by the fact that i am just reinstalling D3. Despite my insane hate for vertical progression, I love the gameplay so much that I am willing to endure those moronic ideas. And despite how much I adore some of GW2's cute outfits, I am having issues gathering the will to play for them.

So I honestly do not think rewards are GW2's big issue.

#5 jthamind

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 07:22 PM

in general, imo the "carrot" should be fun content. if content is truly fun, engrossing, and able to be played many times without getting burned out on it, then that's much better than carrot on a stick rewards.

#6 Mr_Finesse

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 07:24 PM

I don't know if you know this or not, but cosmetic rewards/needs were a HUGE driving force of GW1 "endgame"/"progression".

So it's not that farfetched that there's a decent chunk of cosmetic related rewards and carrots in GW2.  ANet leans on this more than they lean on stat tiers.

#7 Beta Sprite

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 07:29 PM

*shrug*

I honestly don't care about the perceived carrot.  I don't have enough time for it to matter.  I've got one level 80, a level 71, and a level 51 character.  The level 80 doesn't have all exotic armor yet, although I do have the look that I want.  I have only completed a few dungeons, but I've completed most of the jumping puzzles.

The cosmetic rewards are enough for me, and the addition of ascended items isn't going to change my playstyle, although the addition of events, puzzles, and achievement rewards may, and that's what is incoming in the next few months.

#8 TGIFrisbie

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 07:33 PM

Just a general comment about the general line "playing since beta", it really matters 0 if you played this game in beta.  Period.

#9 Rezo

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 07:41 PM

View PostTGIFrisbie, on 16 January 2013 - 07:33 PM, said:

Just a general comment about the general line "playing since beta", it really matters 0 if you played this game in beta.  Period.
I think you should focus all your skill and learn to read with understanding before you speak.

#10 shiggidyshwa

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 07:48 PM

This really. Content and social interaction in itself is the best reward, which in our commodity-driven mindsets may be somewhat alien but no less true. I challenge anyone who played Guild Wars 1 to list their best memories of the game. Popular recollections might be winning the Hall of Heroes, finishing UW with your guild in record time, or finally building your runner character and experiencing the thrill of running past a ton of ice wurms for the first time.

These took front and center over obtaining gear. At some point, however, even these social achievements lose their veneer and gear grind becomes the order of the day. It works out in much the same way in GW2. The thrill of obtaining vistas, capturing a WVW keep, or finishing a story dungeon happens ONCE per. This may seem obvious, as anyone who grinds the dragon fights can attest. These are long, drawn-out, repetitive events that feel more like mowing the lawn than playing a fun game. But how else should it play out in a scenario that pits hundreds of players against a single target?

I can propose a few ideas off the top of my head that could change things up a bit.

PVE

Open-world zones remain empty after you level your character through them, with the exception of end-level areas like the Cursed Shore and Southsun Cove. Even then, replaying these areas is simply done to grind for materials or the chance for rare drops. Outside of a guild setting, there is no excitement or feeling of group accomplishment. It's a very hollow feeling.

Solve this by expanding the dynamic, persistent event chains of each zone. Give each zone a cohesive story-driven event chain that spans the entire zone. Zone-wide notifications alert players to urgent quests that must be completed to advance the event chain. Rather than creating the events as token, optional, make sure there are concrete consequences for failing the zone's event chain.

I'll use Gendarran Fields as an example.

- - -

Zone Event - Prevent the Gendarran Pirates from Obtaining the Vizier's Staff

The Pirate crews have united to attack the Undead stronghold and obtain the Vizier's Staff. With this, they can control the Undead host and lay waste to the farms of Gendarran Fields. Band together and prevent their assault!

Benefits of Success:

- Increased appearance of gathering nodes
- 30% increased drop and gathering rate
- Players gain 15% to vitality

Consequences of Failure:

- Large bands of undead with large aggro range rove the countryside
- 30% reduced drop and gathering rate
- Players suffer from 15% reduced vitality

Event Chain One (North Sector) - Build Trebuchets on the Provern Shore and Sink Paz Gorga's Pirate Fleet

Main Quest - Man the trebuchets and sink the fleet (after Minor Quest completion)
Minor Quest (req'd) - Clear the Provern Shore of Basilisks and their Den Mother
Minor Quest (req'd) - Find and eliminate the Pirate assassin Vexx before he kills Priory Engineer Taluth
Minor Quest (req'd) - Use Peacemaker Malthus' weather modification device to produce favourable conditions for the upcoming battle
Minor Quest (bonus) - Rescue Peachy Pie the Quaggan soprano from the clutches of Skank the Pirate

Event Chain Two (East Sector) - ETC

Event Chain Three (South Sector) - ETC

Event Chain Four (West Sector) - ETC

- - -

You get my drift.

These four event chains would have to be completed within a few hours of each other, or else players would face the consequences until a "take-back" event chain occurred. This allows sufficient time for players to just go in and farm if they want without participating in the event. At the same time, the consequences make it unfavourable to simply go and farm, but not impossible (except maybe for bots who would suffer from the randomized mob movement patterns upon event failure).

If the time window for completion and the difficulty scaled with the current zone player population, could this be a positive step for dynamic event development? If bosses encountered during the Main and Minor Quests dropped unique loot that scaled to a player's level (not necessarily skins but stats), it would be an added incentive for players.

Needless to say, the quest and story execution would need to be above par. Nobody wants a boring zone-wide event chain that ultimately becomes a gathering quest. That's BS. These events must somehow strive to be on par with dungeons, while realizing that dungeons are top-tier (difficulty, drops) content that can't and shouldn't be experienced in any old zone.

As it stands, many open-world zones remain empty except for the obligatory story instances. These can remain unaffected by the persistent event chains so as not to handicap new players.

The game infrastructure for a development like this already exists. Heart quests and event chains are already scattered among every zone. They only need refinement and the injection of social and material incentives.

Thoughts?

Edited by shiggidyshwa, 16 January 2013 - 07:55 PM.


#11 TGIFrisbie

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 09:08 PM

View PostRezo, on 16 January 2013 - 07:41 PM, said:

I think you should focus all your skill and learn to read with understanding before you speak.

Better to be silent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.

#12 lagrangeify

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 09:19 PM

Some solid ideas bro, I guess Rift managed some of what you're suggesting to a degree.

As you say, all the groundwork is in place already. Assuming ArenaNet are still devoting fairly significant resources to the live game, I can't see any reason why they won't find ways to continue to develop on what is after all the star of the pve show (for me anyway - I love DEs despite the crumby incentives to do them)

#13 asbasb

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 09:19 PM

Let me enhance your title: Cosmetic Reward isn't enough to satisfy the portion of MMO players a fully fledged MMORPG like GW2 needs to stay alive.

Edited by asbasb, 16 January 2013 - 10:25 PM.


#14 Stigma

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 09:26 PM

How do we keep the game F2P... and at the same time ethically not turn it into a Real Money shop... and at the same time offer great looking gear w/o using the Gem shop and not turn the crowd away from microtransactions to support the game? I think this endless cycle is the problem GW2 faces causing its blandness.

#15 leongrado

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 09:39 PM

I think the thing about GW1 that made it so appealing to play was that you didn't have to worry about gearing and leveling nearly as much. Seriously if you played the nightfall campaign, you could ferry to consulate docks and buy max gear at level 2 and never have to worry constantly about buying new armor and weapons. Level 20 was easy to achieve and the price of non-cosmetic max weapons was laughable(WHICH I THINK IS A GOOD THING). This is why I found that going for cosmetic weapons and armors was acceptable. In GW2 You have to worry constantly about new armor and weapons even when you reached level 80. Not to mention how freakin long it takes to get to max level compared to the first game.

#16 shiggidyshwa

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 09:40 PM

View PostStigma, on 16 January 2013 - 09:26 PM, said:

How do we keep the game F2P... and at the same time ethically not turn it into a Real Money shop... and at the same time offer great looking gear w/o using the Gem shop and not turn the crowd away from microtransactions to support the game? I think this endless cycle is the problem GW2 faces causing its blandness.

Well this is the eternal dilemma any company faces if they want to stay profitable. Don't we see this from electronics manufacturers, car manufacturers, restaurants, etc? Quality becomes inversely proportional to profitability for obvious reasons of overhead costs and the added factor of increased shareholder influence.

People - ANET is not immune. How could it be when it chooses to play the same game as everyone else?

#17 The Comfy Chair

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 09:46 PM

I think the best carrot is no real carrot at all. People bored of a game? let them leave for a bit.

If a game *needs* a carrot as it's only form of enjoyment, it's a bad game. If a player *needs* a carrot to enjoy a game, then that's a pretty bad case of conditioning ><

Although there are a lot of players who are definitely in the latter category :P

Edited by The Comfy Chair, 16 January 2013 - 09:47 PM.

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#18 shiggidyshwa

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 09:57 PM

View PostThe Comfy Chair, on 16 January 2013 - 09:46 PM, said:

I think the best carrot is no real carrot at all. People bored of a game? let them leave for a bit.

If a game *needs* a carrot as it's only form of enjoyment, it's a bad game. If a player *needs* a carrot to enjoy a game, then that's a pretty bad case of conditioning ><

Although there are a lot of players who are definitely in the latter category :P

Your statement needs clarification. If by carrot I take your meaning as the "hook" that keeps gamers in, then every game is supposed to have a carrot.

The issue is that the carrot in GW2 corresponds to vertical scaling. Vertical scaling being the progression of your character through gear, stats, and acquiring items. One might argue that this isn't vertical at all because the prestige items are arguably cosmetic only. Personally, they're the same to me. Grinding for max stat gear or grinding for unique skins are flip sides of the same psychology of commodity acquisition. It's like choosing between buying a high performance roadster or a luxury sedan.

Contrary to vertical scaling is horizontal scaling, where your character's (and you by extension) progression is tied to its capabilities in the game, independent of gear acquisition. Theoretically, a lowbie could access the same content as a higher leveled player, albeit with fewer skills and effectiveness. This system is inherently flexible in the amount of content and social grouping made possible.

Commentator Taugrim covers this in his video. I disagree with his idea that individual achievements are the way to implement it. IMHO, creating meaningful and dynamic group content that forces players to take responsibility for each other and the game world creates much longer-lasting content that outstrips any short-lived giddiness a new set of gear will bring.

#19 BnJ

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 10:03 PM

View PostZhaitan, on 16 January 2013 - 06:27 PM, said:

Open Arena non-instanced Fights - Spars, duels etc. Would you not like to see two players duking it out in a colleseum in Orr? Would you like to bet on the outcome of that fight for a chance to make some money? Would you like to prepare yourself for such duels instead of being a sideliner in the future and earn portion of the collected bets as reward for winning the bout? This can also be a decent money sink instead of forcing players to spend attrocious amount of gold to obtain the looks of cultural armors.

World vs. World Competitions - How about rewarding the guilds that make the most impact in defending their own lands or lay waste of the enemies in the enemy territories during monthly 72 hour competitions? How about making more guild objective raids or rewarding the guilds with tangible cosmetic rewards or temporary boons to the guild members?

World Bosses - How about adding random events where multiple of the current world bosses spawn adding more challenge to the inhabitants of the world to tackle. If the inhabitants prevail, reward them appropriately with something that can be used to attain their futire goals.

These are some of the things I expected to be in GW2 from release when I first started following the game along with GvG, guild halls, etc.  This game you're imagining sounds awesome.  I have a sliver of hope that features such as these will eventually make it into the game, but not for a very looooong time

#20 ilr

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 10:36 PM

View PostThe Comfy Chair, on 16 January 2013 - 09:46 PM, said:

I think the best carrot is no real carrot at all. People bored of a game? let them leave for a bit.
+1

The first year of Guildwars1's release, I think I played all of 2 or 3 weeks before I got too frustrated with trying to get my NON-Minimaster Necro over IronHorse Pass ... I went and played City of Heroes the rest of the year instead.  I didn't come back until my CoH supergroup all decided they needed a break from COH and we all played through Prophecies together and that's when I really started getting into GuildWars.  Then they released Nightfall with customizable heroes, and I never looked back, I quit playing COH almost completely and did nothing but Guildwars & TF2 averaging 4000 hours each of playtime between both of them.  It's fine if the first year doesn't appeal to EVERYONE.  It doesn't have to as long as they actually try to innovate later on and add things people want.


This time around, instead of just waiting and hoping that they'll add the right things, I plan to be more pro-active by trying to more directly provide the more diverse art resources that others were obviously clamoring for in this thread..  I've already got a good start on some of the more classic styles from Gw1 for the Seraph theme and hope to start building them in Maya once I get the whole Workflow learning hurdle out of the way.

Edited by ilr, 16 January 2013 - 11:15 PM.


#21 Krazzar

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 06:23 AM

Cosmetic rewards are never really the carrot. They weren't the carrot in GW1 and they aren't the carrot in GW2. Wealth is the carrot in GW1 and GW2 and nearly all MMOs.  Even when the level of wealth was so astronomically high in GW1 that players had no feasible use for it all players kept farming (and continue to farm) every single day.

There are issues with GW2 being far more open than GW1, and giving incentive that isn't simply vertical progression is apparently difficult, but we'll see how the additons to the daily and monthly achievements help that.

#22 Baron von Scrufflebutt

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 07:18 AM

View PostThe Comfy Chair, on 16 January 2013 - 09:46 PM, said:

I think the best carrot is no real carrot at all. People bored of a game? let them leave for a bit.

If a game *needs* a carrot as it's only form of enjoyment, it's a bad game.

So, GW2 = bad game?

#23 Afyael

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 08:23 AM

The gameplay in GW1 was more fun, the current rewards are not enough to entice people to play but fixing that is only part of the problem. People need to be engrossed in the game before they decide to spend their time chasing rewards. Most people aren't going to decide to go for a legendary and spend the hundreds of hours(or thousands) needed to acquire one if they think the game isn't that great and simply want the achievement.

Anet needs to revamp the combat(slightly) by making the mobs and dynamic events more challenging (other than hitting harder) and work on getting the PvP up to scratch with more game modes and possibly new maps. World versus World is fine in terms of mechanics (although I wouldn't say no to more features) but the rewards are sorely lacking, giving greater individual and guild rewards for doing well in World versus World would go a long way to increasing its popularity.

#24 Waar Kijk Je Naar

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 09:06 AM

2 words:

No townclothes.

#25 XPhiler

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 09:25 AM

View PostProtoss, on 17 January 2013 - 07:18 AM, said:

So, GW2 = bad game?

The question here is, is it the game that forcing carrots on people or are players forcing on themselves carrots from other MMOs?

Whats the biggest complaint you get now? The game is a FoTM grind.

But is it? I didnt bother with Ascended gear, hey didnt even finish my Exotic gear set. So how am I being penalised? generally speaking to have a carrot on a stick you need to be penalised until you reach that carrot. You know If I am level 15 and I play level 5 cotent in most MMOs I am penalized by not getting any progression until I get back to following the max level carrot. If I dont get better gear in most MMOs that mean I get cut out in many cases unable to complete dungeon / raids if i dont get gear within a few tiers of that dungeon / raid. None of that exists in Gw2 but some people still feel like they have to max their stats. Nothing wrong with that obviously but lets be objective. The game allows you to play the way you want without penalizing you. If you want the best gear, if you want the best rewards whatever it allows you to do that but dont pretend thats only what the game is about. I for one dont care about the best gear, I dont care about the best reward I care about story, I care about Lore, I care about exploration, I care about estetics so thats what I do and in over 600 hours I have yet to come across a situation where I feel blocked because I didnt get the best gear.

#26 Serris

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 09:59 AM

gear with slightly higher stats is not new content.
doing the same dungeons over and over again are not new content.

the dungeons themselves are content.
the way other mmos use threadmills spaces the content and forces players to do the same content a couple of times in order to see new content. gw2 allows you to see everything at lvl 80.

i think gw2 has a better approach. you're not forced to do a dungeon you hate to get statistically better gear to progress to something new.

#27 Gruunz

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 12:35 PM

I'd prefer a much much larger armor selection :[ many of the stuff aren't appealing or simply fit into a generic theme with the other items e.g. all medium armor stuff tend to look the same. Beginner sets are ugly too unfortunately.

#28 The Comfy Chair

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 12:46 PM

View PostProtoss, on 17 January 2013 - 07:18 AM, said:

So, GW2 = bad game?

Nope, it's not objectively bad. You can't argue that point without looking supremely silly, so don't bother.

However, you just don't find the base game all that engaging. So, find a different game which does? There's no point wasting your life here if you don't enjoy the game.

The rest of gaming is open to you, why bother playing a game you dislike?

Go forth and have fun!

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#29 raspberry jam

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 01:19 PM

View PostZhaitan, on 16 January 2013 - 06:27 PM, said:

But, in GW2, the concept of cosmetic reward has been introduced during the launch itself. It may be an insinuation of the community but, that notion is prevalent and still makes me struggle a bit to fathom the reasoning of the introduction of the higher stat ascended gear in the game. I wonder if the devs are regretting because they allowed this "cosmetic only" concept to become a widespread notion in the community during the development without nipping it in the bud. Maybe they were afraid that they would lose a solid differentiator, something that sets GW2 apart from the other MMOs. Hence, they allowed that to continue.
They were also trying to con GW1 players into buying GW2 by promising them a similar experience.

The fact that GW1 had cosmetic rewards as a secondary aspect is, I think, the most important point in your entire post. It is absolutely vital to understand. That is also the same reason why GW2 players cum buckets over jumping puzzles even when it's a player who would not even touch an actual 3D platformer.

#30 shiggidyshwa

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 01:36 PM

View PostXPhiler, on 17 January 2013 - 09:25 AM, said:

The question here is, is it the game that forcing carrots on people or are players forcing on themselves carrots from other MMOs?

Unfortunately, yes, the former.

It's unrealistic and outright silly to believe that the limitations placed upon players by the game have no bearing on their psyche, and subsequently, their actions.

A game where the dynamic and meaningful content ends upon completion of the endgame dungeons leads players to seek alternate forms of replayability, hence the gear grind and the endless fotm running (even for the challenge of high level fotm).

The self-achievement aspect of grinding fractals has been compared by some people to attaining personal bests in things like golf or team sports. I tend to disagree because the latter involves thousands and thousands more variables and infinitely more social reaction and reward.




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