Choose My Adventure: Rising through the ranks in Guild Wars 2

    
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Hello, friends, and welcome yet again to another installment of Choose My Adventure. Over the course of last weekend, I’ve continued my journeys in Guild Wars 2‘s fantastical land of Tyria, and although I didn’t manage to accomplish quite everything I set out to accomplish (more on that in a bit), I still managed to get quite a bit done. As such, I’ve got a lot to talk about, so I’ll keep this intro brief so we can go ahead and get to business.

But first, of course, let’s talk about the results of last week’s polls. I asked y’all to vote on which zone I should venture to next and what I should try to accomplish over the course of the weekend. The votes for the next zone were pretty all over the place, which is probably because there were 11 different options to choose from, but in the end, the vote went in favor of the Fields of Ruin, a zone recommended for levels 30 to 40. The votes for which activity I should try to take part in were also pretty close, but the Ascalonian Catacombs dungeon ended up pulling out the victory. So how did all of that go for me? Gather ’round and I’ll tell you all about it.

This weekend’s festivities were a bit of a mixed bag. I’ll go ahead and get this out of the way up front: I didn’t do the Ascalonian Catacombs dungeon. This wasn’t for a lack of trying on my part, I promise you; I tried on multiple different occasions over the course of the weekend to pull together a group using both the game’s LFG system and good old-fashioned map-chat recruitment, but to no avail. Apparently, low-level dungeons like the Catacombs are run pretty infrequently these days, and the few groups I was able to find ended up turning me down when they discovered that I was below level 80 and that I wasn’t intimately familiar with the dungeon’s mechanics.

I do understand, I think, the reasoning behind not including an automated group finder in the game: Leaving it up to players to find parties the old-fashioned way encourages community-building and socialization, both of which I firmly support, but I’ve noticed that it also tends to mean that lower-level players end up having a hard time finding groups for content that is considered obsolete by the majority of max-level players. It’s a shame, really. At any rate, I apologize, dear readers, for I have failed you.

There is good news, however: My time trying to find a dungeon group was not idly spent. I did indeed venture forth into the Fields of Ruin, and I planted my proverbial flag on every vista, renown heart, and point of interest I found, ultimately accomplishing 100% map completion. But I didn’t stop there! I figured that I might end up having better luck finding a dungeon group if I were able to enter some of the higher-level dungeons, so I focused my efforts on leveling up as much as I could and headed straight into Bloodtide Coast, a level 45-55 zone, in which I likewise achieved 100% map completion. I began the weekend at level 30 and ended it at level 54, which I think is some pretty respectable progress.

So this week, since I can’t remark on GW2‘s dungeon experience, I thought that now might be a good time to talk about the overall leveling experience instead. As I mentioned, I spent most of my playtime leveling up by way of map completion, but I got some extra assistance from dynamic events and personal story quests. Overall, the experience was a pretty pleasant one. One thing that I do very much appreciate about GW2 is the variety of ways in which players are able to earn experience over the course of the game. Just about everything you do, from discovering points of interest to harvesting crafting materials earns experience, which means that you almost never have to avoid taking part in the activity you enjoy because it would result in the stagnation of your progression.

That being said, however, there is one major issue I’ve had with GW2 since the day it launched, and it doesn’t seem to have gone away: Map completion — which entails completing all renown hearts on a map and finding all waypoints, points of interest, vistas, and so on — will only take you so far. This is, I suppose, the less-positive side of the “everything you do earns experience” coin that I mentioned above. Since everything earns experience, it sometimes feels as if you’re expected to do everything in order to progress smoothly.

It’s worth noting that, at the beginning of this CMA series, I shelled out some gems that I had left over from the last time I played the game in order to purchase some heroic boosters, which boost both experience gain and the discovery rate of rare items. I have had the booster’s buff active for the entire duration of my playtime so far, and even with the increased experience gain, I’m still not quite to level 55 after completing the entire Bloodtide Coast zone. Mind you, I’ve been completing literally every dynamic event I’ve come across in addition to the usual renown hearts, personal story quests, and map-completion accomplishments mentioned earlier, so it’s not as if I’ve been expecting to just complete a zone and move on, but I have to wonder how much more event-grinding I would have had to do to get to this point if it hadn’t been for the boosters I bought.

And yeah, dynamic events are a lot of fun; I’m not denying that. But what isn’t fun is running all over creation hoping to find said events, and since they show up on your map only when you wander near enough to them, that’s often what you have to do. Yes, there are other ways of finding events — asking in chat, for example, or using one of the many event timers/trackers on the internet, but for a game that seems to put such an emphasis on providing a smooth, “do what you want whenever you want” style of gameplay, it seems like an odd design choice to make players run around aimlessly looking for dynamic events, which are arguably the primary avenue of experience gain in PvE.

Still, I can only fault the game so much for that because I can’t honestly say that I didn’t enjoy every second of my time in the game despite the headless-chicken scramble of looking for dynamic events to complete for that last bit of XP after getting 100% completion on the map. And yeah, I could have made it easier on myself and just moved to a different zone to complete its renown hearts, but as I believe I’ve mentioned previously, I’m an incurable completionist, and once I get started in a zone, I feel obligated to 100% it before I move on, so I decided I wouldn’t open that particular can of worms.

On top of all that, there’s still one method of experience gain that I haven’t yet dipped my toes into: crafting. And that, my friends, is where your first vote of the week comes in. Over the course of my adventures, I’ve been obsessively accumulating crafting materials to the point where my crafting material collection bank (which is handily seperate from the standard bank where gear and other such items are stored) is overflowing with ore, wood, plants, and other such baubles. I figure it’s time that I put them to good use. So my question for you is this: Which crafting professions should I take up?

The tradeskill professions are as follows: First off, we’ve got the newest trade profession that was introduced with the release of Heart of Thorns, the Scribe, which can create a variety of products, most notably including buff-granting consumables and decorations that can be used to customize the appearance of guild halls. Next we’ve got the Armorsmith, which, surprisingly enough, makes heavy armor, which would probably useful since that’s what my Revenant wears. Then there’s the Artificer, which creates a number of magic-oriented weapons (foci, scepters, staves, and tridents) in addition to useful consumables like potions. The Chef specializes in cooking up a variety of different foodstuffs that provide buffs and experience-gain boosts as well as dyes to make your armor look super fancy. The Huntsman can create an array of ranged weaponry and miscellaneous utility items ranging from bows, pistols, and rifles to harpoon guns, warhorns, and torches. The Jeweler predictably makes useful trinkets like amulets, rings, and earrings. The creation of light and medium armors are overseen by Leatherworkers and Tailors, respectively. And last, but certainly not least, there’s the Weaponsmith, which — surprise! — makes weapons of many different types, including most of those that are usable by my Revenant such as axes, swords, maces, and spears.

CMA: Which tradeskills should I take?

  • Armorsmith (19%, 22 Votes)
  • Artificer (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Chef (23%, 27 Votes)
  • Huntsman (3%, 3 Votes)
  • Jeweler (10%, 11 Votes)
  • Leatherworker (2%, 2 Votes)
  • Scribe (18%, 21 Votes)
  • Tailor (4%, 5 Votes)
  • Weaponsmith (20%, 23 Votes)

Total Voters: 115

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Unfortunately, my playtime this weekend is going to be even more limited than last weekend’s thanks to the fact that I’m heading into the last couple of weeks of classes, and that means it’s time to hammer out research papers and study for exams, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still going to squeeze in as much gaming time as possible. As penance for failing to do the Ascalonian Catacombs dungeons last weekend, I’ll continue trying to find a dungeon group. Although at this point I’d be willing to settle for pretty much any dungeon just so I can report back on what the game’s dungeon design is like, my higher level has opened up a few more options, so if you’ve got a preference on which dungeon I should try to run, cast your vote and I will do my best to comply.

CMA: Which dungeon should I (hopefully) do?

Total Voters: 112

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And last, but not least, I once again need you to decide which zone will be my next conquest. Although all of the unselected options from last week’s vote are still technically fair game, I’m going to exclude some of the lower-level zones in the interest of not presenting you with a poll that’s longer than this article. Check out the list below and cast your vote.

CMA: Which zone should I go to next? (Recommended level range yet again indicated in brackets)

Total Voters: 114

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As always, make sure to get your votes in by Friday, November 27th, at 11:59 p.m. EST. I hope everyone (in the U.S., at least) has a wonderful Thanksgiving, and be sure to stop by next week to see where my journeys take me next. Until then, friends!

Welcome to Choose My Adventure, the column in which you join Matt each week as he journeys through mystical lands on fantastic adventures — and you get to decide his fate. Be gentle (or not)!
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KirkSteadman
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KirkSteadman

mosselyn yeah unless you have thousands of gold lying around scribing is gonna be a bad time.

mosselyn
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mosselyn

I can’t discourage scribing strongly enough for this exercise. It is a craft that’s meant to be supported by a whole guild, so the materials requirements are pretty onerous for an individual. It also requires large quantities of mats that you do not have access to pre-80, other than through the trading post, where you’ll discover they’re quite expensive.
I’m sorry (if unsuprised) you had trouble finding a dungeon group. Add me to your friend list (mosselyn.5081), and send me a tell if I’m online when you want to try again. I can try to press gang some guildies. :)

bensku
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bensku

Did you put “story, first time” (or something like that) to LFG title? I mean, if you put a group like that, no one will except you to be an expert… But anyway, there is a very few players running (story) dungeons currently, so even that may not help :(
 About xp… Well, if you want to level fast, it is possible to farm. Or, if you prefer to not join xp trains, you can also really do your personal story; it gives you roghly 2 levels every 10 levels.

Craywulf
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Craywulf

Digest Speed clears are not exclusive to GW2, but they are a symptom of the leveling mechanic. As much as people might enjoy blazing through instanced content as fast as they can as if there’s a legitimate skill avoiding content that was never really intended to be ignored. It’s about as antisocial as it gets. The whole point of massive online roleplaying games is to adventure together and experience an epic story. Not about efficient acquisitions of rewards. 

Developers have stop using rewards as method of motivation, the reward should be about opening new story paths, not just your own path but paths can can be open by co-operative play. It can be done, even a simply game like Candy Crush  rewards you by opening up a new puzzle….opposed to asking you to repeat the same puzzle to meet an xp quota. When a gamer solves a candy crush puzzle…the joy is getting to see the next puzzle. Not the score or some fat bonus loot. They play for the next challenge.  I know I am going off tangent with this thread, but point I want to stress here is online roleplaying games can be designed without leveling, its really just a matter of how willing the developers are about creating legitimate content without making it a contest of acquisitions.

Digest
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Digest

Craywulf Dungeon in GW2 is the most stressing part of the game imho. People always do this like a 100m dash instead of cleaning the whole dungeon. Not a newbie friendly place to be. Comparing it to WoW, FFXIV, even ArcheAge, GW2 have terrible people running those dungeons like they’re just there for the loot for some gold selling black market. 

That’s why you end up into soloing dailies, farm, or WvW.

Craywulf
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Craywulf

Siphaed Character growth or progression can happen without leveling, but gamers who enjoy only RPGs See it as a staple because gamers have been fed to believe there’s no alternatives to leveling, or other progression mechanics aren’t good enough of a method to measure growth or superiority of their physical prowess. Simply showcasing your ‘max’ status is supposedly the measurement of whether your ready to play with each other. 

Do you think Frodo would be considered worthy to enter the dungeons of Moira if the mysterious Strider knew the Hobbits were level 1? You think Boromir would request a Gear score from Legolas? That fellowship was ragtag team full of amateurs, and veterans. A young Hobbit and a self-exiled King, An old man with a tall cane, an adventurous elf, and grump dwarf. None them had the same path, none them on equal ground, but all them ventured forth together. They didn’t wipe 5 times and bitch each other out when they got their asses kicked in Moira. They picked each other up and moved forward.

Leveling is the root of all that is wrong with RPGs because there’s absolutely nothing roleplaying about a mechanic that finds ways to literally slow your progression down and force you to do what everyone else does. So in order for that Fellowship to step into Moira, everyone would need to be literally the same level with each other and most likely at ‘max’ because players wouldn’t have it any other way in order to speed clear (skip shit) to the loot. Does that sound fun?

Here’s an alternative to leveling. You start out with plain clothes and a knife, no classes. Your stats are completely hidden, so there’s no need to repeatedly fill a quota of XP just to get stronger. You pick where you want to start on the global map. Your progression is entirely story/exploration based. Meaning you explore and meet NPCs and players and adventure with them in order to gain new story pathways.

Progression should be very much story-oriented experience, and there’s no better way of showcasing that exploration and communication. Exploring new areas and meeting new people is most natural way of gaining experience. What if instead of gaining experience points by killing mobs, you gained inspiration points (InsP) for being social? Such as meeting new players and exchanging formalities. You can meet player at tavern, gain InsP for offering a beer, trading biographies, joining them on a quest, inviting them to social events like festivals, regal ceremonies, weddings, funerals. campfires stories, exchanging relationship emotes, introducing them to new players. There’s a dozen more social activities that can provide InsP. There wouldn’t be a quota, but rather InsP would fluctuate based on negative actions and communication. InsP would be like currency that is used to provide stamina and open up new story progression. You would not see how much you have, but you’ll notice the benefits when you are social as new dialogue options pop up, NPCs treat you differently and recognize your inspirational status.  

The InsP would then in turn be used to increase your stamina, which in turn allows you to carry more skills, weapons, bag capacity and affect the speed your character. The stamina mechanic should affect your physical and mental energy (mana). Everything you do, from walking, running, jumping, dodging, swinging a weapon, and casting spells. Your stamina bar/pool should drain at various rates depending on the duration of your actions. Ultimately when you run out of stamina, your character should fall to the ground and pass out. So food and lodging in new areas replenishes your stamina, meeting new people and being social increases the stamina pool’s capacity.

Games are so incredibly visual today, so there’s no need to have all that math to interpret or simulate progression. I’m not against math, I’m just hardcore about playing an actual roleplaying game, as opposed to a stat-crunching grinder.

Siphaed
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Siphaed

MatthewRiddle 
Repeatedly?   They did this once after a long standing head turned away from the issue that dungeon farming was generating too much currency into the game without a sink to balance it out.  They first turned up dungeon rewards some time about 6-12 months post launch just as incentive to get them to be ran based on the simple fact that most people were farming world events and practically ignoring dungeons.  Now it is still rewarding, just not as excessive as it was before (everyone should hone up and admit that 12g+ an hour is ridiculous).  And that was on top of it rewarding tokens for exotic armors/weapons that could be broken down for more valued crafting materials.

Siphaed
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Siphaed

Craywulf 
Leveling is just a single measurement.  Every game will have its elitest playerbase find ways of measuring other players to a set standard.  WoW, for example, is done via Gear Score (even before Blizzard did it themselves, this was done via 3rd party tool called by the same name).  In other games like FPSs it is how many kills a player has racked up.
Leveling is a key feature of RPGs in a way of expressing character growth and development through experiences in the game’s universe.  A staple to the genre that shouldn’t be removed just because some elites use it to belittle other players, nor because other players see it as some sort of barrier for them in entering the elite pantheon.

Craywulf
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Craywulf

You know this article highlights the biggest issue I see in online games. The notion that everyone’s path to glory is exactly the same through leveling and completing exactly the same tasks. These games are suppose to foster social interaction, yet developers put up barriers to slow the consumption of content. It was leveling disparity that ultimately prevented Matt from doing group content. He was prejudged solely on the basis of his level. Had neither player knew each other’s level rank, they would’ve more than likely taken a chance on doing the dungeon together…through communication, you know social interaction! The thing that online games are suppose to be about!  All Matt had to do is convince the veteran players he was good enough to hang with them, or maybe he straight up asked for help because these guys look like experienced players. Not knowing their true talent for their class or how good these veterans might be.

Get rid of leveling and mix up the content so not everyone needs to complete 1-2-3 in order to play together. I mean think about it for second….everything Matt did to get to level 54 everyone else did too. So how’s his path to glory any different? What makes Matt so legendary if we are doing the same shit? 

Let me use a sports analogy. Peyton Manning’s legend is radically different than say Joe Montana or Tom Brady, yet all three are regarded as the best QBs in NFL. Manning only won 1 Superbowl yet he’s easily compared to the other two who have won multitude of times. It’s because Manning’s path to glory was entirely different yet all three are QBs. Now let’s look at Ray Lewis a defensive player and compare him with Barry Sanders who was a runningback. Both are legends yet neither has anything to do with each other. Now you can argue that the term legend is subjective, and your right…but that’s entirely the point. There’s nothing subjective about your path to glory in online games. It’s all quantified by leveling…and not remotely based on your own actions.

Leveling create a unneeded disparity, and it seriously gets in the way of every other mechanic in online games. There needs to be a better way to do personal progression without interfering with the rest of the game.

Crystalis
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Crystalis

Do NOT go Scribe even if voted for. It was designed to be supported with a guild’s worth of effort and until the prices stabilize prohibitively expensive.