Jump to content

  • Curse Sites

Shayne Hawke

Member Since 19 Aug 2009
Offline Last Active Today, 04:18 AM

Topics I've Started

Basket Brawl - just a really inferior Keg Brawl

23 August 2016 - 08:20 PM

Basket Brawl is a new limited-time activity released today accessible from an NPC in Lion's Arch near the Grand Piazza for the next two weeks.  I played it for half an hour and determined that it sucks.

There is another brawl game that has already been around since the game's release that is much better - Keg Brawl.  Here's a list of what Keg Brawl provides that Basket Brawl doesn't:
  • Better shooting and baskets - The Shoot skill in Basket Brawl is devoid of aiming, autotracking the ball towards a miniscule basket, and whether you score or not appears to be a total roll of the dice.  You can jump before you shoot the ball for the placebo effect that you have a better chance of hitting a basket, but it really seems to do nothing.  The goalkeeper in Keg Brawl is much easier to hit and notice, and you can actually aim your throws and lobs so that reaching the goal is a matter of skill instead of a dice roll.
  • Better passing - The Pass skill passes automatically and directly to seemingly the closest ally, and this happens the instant you use the skill.  Passing in Keg Brawl involves a short windup so that people can actually recognize what you're doing, and instead of passing to an automatically assigned target or location, you can aim your short throws in Keg Brawl to go straight to a teammate or near their feet.  Or, if you just want to throw away the ball, you can do that in Keg Brawl, but you could only drop it at your feet in Basket Brawl.
  • Visible balls - The ball in Basket Brawl is near impossible to spot in the air because there is very little contrast between the ball and the arena ceiling.  The ball is near impossible to see in the arena because there is even less contrast between the arena floor and the ball.  The ball is near impossible to see in other players' hands because it is extremely small and hard to spot, still mostly blending in with the floor, and the action of moving and passing can keep you guessing.  Through all of this, there is no marker for where the ball is, except when the ball comes into play after a team has scored.  In Keg Brawl, the bright blues and whites of the entire arena contrast with the dark brown of the keg, making the keg easy to spot by itself in most places.  And, when players carry a keg, they not only have a marker over their head, but it has their team color so that you can tell who has possession.
  • Better reset of gameplay - When a basket is scored in Basket Brawl, a ball is spawned for the other team near their basket with the only ball marker that exists in the game (in other words, the most consistent place to find a ball is the only place that is made to stand out, top notch design there).  As soon as this gets picked up, it can be stolen (no rule against back court play or whatever that is in basketball that stops the ball from immediately being contested again), allowing a dominant team to score many quick baskets.  This quickly overwhelms a losing team and leaves little room for comeback.  When the ball is sent out of bounds, it resets at the center at a random and unannounced time for the luckiest player spamming F to pick up.  In Keg Brawl, when a keg is scored, a new keg enters play by being announced with a loud sound upon launch and upon landing, and this landing is roughly in the middle of the arena (slightly closer to blue though because no polish or balance).  This provides a (mostly) fair opportunity for a losing team to fight back by starting again from halfway.  This also somewhat simulates the bringing of the "ball" back to half court to resume play.
  • Better player interactions and skills - Fast Break has nothing on Charge or Dive Roll.  Screen and Throw Elbows are laughably useless.  Interceptions really aren't a thing in Basket Brawl.  Interesting skills like Stomp and Pour Ale don't exist.  Steal, apart from working much less consistently than Disarm, has no windup, making it hard for ball carriers to tell when to dodge, and immediately transfers possession of the ball when successful, unlike how Disarm can bring about chaos over the keg by having merely knocked it onto the ground or ending up in the hands of a third party.  Shoot and Pass are bad for reasons already covered.  The more interesting ways of shooting, passing, and knocking out the ball had to be sacrificed for Jump so that players could feel like they could be Air Jordan without ANet giving players a sixth skill and players having to stretch their fingers to press it.
  • Incentives - Keg Brawl has achievements and rewards, Basket Brawl does not.  That might be fine if Basket Brawl could stand on its own as a decent game or if ANet hadn't cultivated a playerbase of skritt, but neither is the case.
This game should never have been made.  I don't even know why it exists.  I don't pay attention to sports, but I have to assume that either a new basketball season is starting, something important is going on in basketball, or ANet is just late on making an Olympics tie-in.  Whatever the case, this was a waste of time to make and is a waste of time to play.  If they really wanted to do some kind of basketball promotion, they should have just made some changes or improvements to Keg Brawl and made it available all week instead of just Sunday.  They could even swap in a game for Sunday that people actually want to play, like Aspect Arena.  I can only think of two good reasons of why they didn't take this route, and they both seem plausible.  The first is that they just forgot Keg Brawl exists, which I wouldn't put past them as they've hardly done anything with any activity in the past year or so, positive or otherwise.  The second is that whoever looked at the team responsible for this content recognized that they lacked any ability to understand what made Keg Brawl any good to begin with.  If they touched it, they would undoubtedly make it worse in a permanent way, so they were instead told to make something else which ended up being totally inferior to Keg Brawl.  Then it was shipped without any rewards attached so that players wouldn't feel compelled to stay long enough to realize how flawed and awful the game was.

This beats out Lunatic Inquisition for the worst activity of all time, and you really have to just not care at all about what you're doing if you put something out worse than Lunatic Inquisition.

New legendary shortbow to be released, no more legendary weapons thereafter according t...

27 March 2016 - 07:28 PM

So Mike O'Brien has recently said this (emphasis my own):

Mike OBrien said:

In the upcoming Spring 2016 Quarterly Update, we’ll launch the new legendary short bow, Chuka and Champawat. The team outdid themselves on this one. This new precursor journey takes you through a memorable experience inspired by a real-world story, and the bow you craft at the end is the perfect commemoration of that journey. I hope you all check it out.

Last year we talked about plans to gradually build out a second set of legendary weapons through live content updates. That’s a big responsibility. We have a team of six developers working on that, who could work on it for years to come.

As game director I have to make tough trade-offs. One thing I believe is that we have to focus on the core game first before taking on additional responsibilities. I wrote in the Guild Wars 2 Design Manifesto in 2010 that our vision was to create a living, dynamic world, where there’s always something to do. Let’s ensure we succeed on that front.

So, after shipping Chuka and Champawat, I’ve asked that we indefinitely suspend work on new legendary weapons. This team of developers will instead shift their efforts back to Living World style content, building new journeys and events for everyone to participate in.

I know this will be a controversial decision. I’ll hang out with you here on the forums for a little while today to discuss it. And I’m always available by email.

I think that this decision and this statement is very illuminating on the state of the game and the nature of ANet.

First of all, new legendary weapons were a big selling point for HoT, a bulletpoint on the back of the box were there ever to be one.  People have said that they bought HoT specifically so they could get new legendaries, and I don't think it's incorrect to say that people have been expecting new legendaries to come into the game ever since we all saw the first set of them.  Certainly there have been enough artists at ANet to churn out new costumes and weapons on a mostly consistent, biweekly basis, and since legendary weapons are often not much more than the unique model + flair + effects that many unique shop weapons were like (see every DE 2.0 weapon), they could have done this at any time.  They chose to wait to release new ones until their first expansion that came over three years past release and advertised it as a selling point along with other legendary gear.  So far, only three legendary weapons and two legendary back pieces have come out.  After the new shortbow comes out though, there won't be any more legendary weapons.  Production will stop at a mere quarter of what ANet claimed they would be releasing.  This is in addition to the stunted release of legendary armor, which is tied to the raid wings that ANet have only been able to develop once per quarter.  Only after the last wing is released will there be any chance of legendary armor existing according to what is known by the public.  Legendary armor was a selling point too, and I can't imagine that people are satisfied with hearing that and only having available to them two back pieces, but at least MO hasn't come out to say that it's cut (he has, in fact, said the opposite).  It's just going to take a really, really long time for them to deliver on what you paid for, and by then, who knows what they'll present you?

Second, this is being presented as a trade-off, as something that by canceling, they can make significant improvements in another area.  Six people weren't getting what needed to be done done as far as legendary weapons go, but if we put their talents to use on, say, the Living World season 3.  There are lots of ways to interpret this:
  • Six people weren't enough to make the legendary journey for each legendary weapon in a reasonable time frame; or to put another way, the legendary journey system ANet conceived and planned to use for all future legendaries was too much work;
  • The Living World season 3 team is so small/inept and/or the scope is so large that six more people are going to make a big difference in its release;
  • ANet can't afford, attract, or find the talent to fill work that needs done;
  • ANet thinks the community is not very interested in legendary weapons; or, ANet thinks the community is really interested in Living World season 3; or ANet thinks the community really prefers Living World season 3 over new legendary weapons; AND ANet thinks the community will accept the loss of future legendary weapons as a way for Living World season 3 to be developed in an appropriate and timely fashion (or at least better than its current course);
  • Same as the last point, except replace "Living World season 3" with any other team not mentioned (like the team working on the next expansion);

Take your pick.  I honestly can't find a way to hash this that makes ANet look good in any way.  Maybe if you still trust them as a business, you can look at this as a restructuring that will make them do more efficient work, though I don't know where you can draw that sense of trust from.

Thirdly, the manifesto is suddenly important!  Nevermind all the times when people said that Guild Wars 2 didn't actually have everything about Guild Wars that people liked.  Nevermind all those times that people pointed out how grindy it would be to get their new ascended gear.  Nevermind that the phrase "Living World" didn't even exist as a phrase in ANet's vocabulary up to and during the initial release.  If ANet can reference something they said about their game in 2010 that has an incomplete-at-best relation to their game today and successfully virtue signal you into believing that their manifesto was always, still is, and will be not merely their goal, but everything they are, then you are a lost cause.

If I were writing this when the thread first came out, I would stop here, but since then, MO has gone on to say a few things.

Mike OBrien said:

you each posted a variant of an accusation I’ve seen many times over the past few months on the forums, something along the lines of, “AN shipped half an expansion with HoT.” I take issue with that. We shipped a new region full of content, a new mastery system, gliding, guild halls, a new profession, nine new elite specializations for existing professions, and more. Then we shipped precursor journeys for existing legendaries, and said, “We’ve been working hard on new legendary weapons, the first handful of which will be introduced in Heart of Thorns, with more to come in subsequent updates.” While I fully get that you’re disappointed today, this is not about us shipping half an expansion pack.

It's true that HoT came with a lot of stuff that ANet did deliver on.  That's not the point.  The point is that ANet said they would deliver in excess of what they have released.  They said 16 legendary weapons were coming, but now there will only be four.  They said there would be raiding and legendary armor, but it didn't come at release and won't be all done until likely a year afterwards.  Living World season 3 was said to be coming out, and you can either look at this as something that didn't come with the expansion (which means expansion features are getting cut to work on things not related to the expansion), or this is still another case of features being claimed as part of the expansion that weren't ready on release and are taking a long time to come out.

What would the alternative to be?  Don't say that legendary armor or raids were going to be features of HoT.  Don't say there are going to be 16 new legendary weapons when there are only going to be three.  Don't say there's a new Living World season when it doesn't exist yet.  I'm sure someone who still plays this game can probably remember where there were more features that were claimed to be released with HoT or in the months after, but either didn't materialize at the start or totally flopped (WvW).  But if you "cut" all those features by not claiming they will be part of the expansion, will it sell as well as you want it to?  Doubtfully, but I'm certain ANet has identified since a long time ago that their playerbase can be so hyped full of hot air that they don't even need gliders to travel the Maguuma.

Mike OBrien said:

I strongly believe that we will in fact entertain you. We’re a team of people who love the game that you love, and are working on things we’re confident you’ll love. But I’m not here to convince you of that, and I wouldn’t expect you to take my word for it. You can make that judgment in April, and each subsequent time we ship. I will work to make you happy, and I’ll do it by making you happy with what we ship, not with what we promise to ship.

That would be great, except this whole topic is about something that was claimed to ship, not something that did ship.  Nobody needs to wait until April to pass judgment on that.  The only concern that ANet needs to be worried about now is whether people will remember and care about this once they start talking about their next expansion.  This is not the first time that ANet has delivered something different from their claim (re: manifesto), and it won't be their last unless people wise up to what's going on.


11 November 2014 - 11:47 PM

Official site: http://www.gogigantic.com/

New shooter being developed by Motiga, a relatively new studio that's got some old names from ANet such as James Phinney and Katy Hargrove.

Why don't people like Activities?

19 March 2014 - 01:00 AM

Over the past month or so, I've spent a lot of time playing Sanctum Sprint, making an effort on my own part to see how fast I can finish the race.  In that time, I've witnessed a lot of something that I've seen happen in the other activities - people don't stick around.  Over the course of one match, the room might fill up to have ten or more people participating.  Once the match finishes though, everybody evacuates, save for perhaps a couple people.  This is clearly from people coming in just to get their daily requirement.  If people do stay at the end of a match, I typically won't see them play more than three or four matches in a row.

This leads me to believe that many people don't see value in playing activities (referring for now only to those within the daily rotation).  When people see value in something, they invest into it, either with their time or their money.  There's no way to invest money into activities, so if people think playing an activity is worthwhile, they'll spend their time playing it.  It would seem then that the only value that most people can find in playing activities is to get the easy participation award for their dailies, because again, they come in for one match, it ends and gives them their daily, and then they leave.  If there were no daily requirement for doing activities, such as during previous achievement systems where doing things in Keg Brawl would only sometimes show up, then very few people would end up playing them at all.  Any regulars to Keg Brawl back in the day would have noticed this as well.

It's not to say that activities have no value to people outside of their daily achievement, but perhaps they don't have enough value.  If time is the only means to invest into activities, then there must be other things which are a better use of their time.  Or, perhaps some people have so little time to spare that they feel compelled to do other things that are more time-sensitive, such as anything time-gated.  In the first place, what makes activities such a poor use of people's time?  Is the demand for coin and karma so great that the paltry participation rewards aren't good enough?  Are the games just not fun somehow?  Is the problem not with the activities being un-fun or worthless, but instead with heavy pressure being placed on doing other things in the game over some span of time?

I'd like to hear what people here think of activities and why they themselves or others don't spend more time with them.  Specifics on each activity are okay, but I'm really looking for an answer on the general scope.  I could give my own spiel on why I think Sanctum Sprint isn't drawing in a bigger or better crowd, but that's a topic for another time.

Sanctum Sprint in three minutes.

12 July 2013 - 01:50 AM

Because being a good racer in Rollerbeetle Racing is no longer in style.

I have no love left for ANet, but I could not pass up an opportunity at another racing minigame.  There may be no leaderboard and no reason to compete for time, but that doesn't mean I can't push for the fastest time I can manage.

For those of you out there who are struggling to finish, I hope this offers a guide on how to play (where to go, where to use skills, etc).  Those of you who are fast can take this and do it better, because this is by no means perfect.

If anyone wants to ask questions about SS or start a discussion about it here, I'll entertain responding.