Flameseeker Chronicles: Weighing in on the Guild Wars 2 WvW poll

    
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The first WvW poll is about to close and the votes have been flying in during the last few days, driving home that Guild Wars 2 fans all over have been relishing the opportunity to have a hand in the future development of the feature. The changes we’ve seen in last month’s update were a fantastic first step towards improving Heart of Thorns and finally revamping WvW, but many more changes and improvements are in the pipeline over the next few weeks and months.

ArenaNet‘s poll is simple: Players are asked to show a preference (if they have one) for either a set of quality of life improvements or an overhaul in scoring mechanics and following the poll whichever side wins will become the first priority of the WvW dev team. In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll talk about each poll option in turn, evaluate the content of each proposed direction, and weigh in with some opinions on why I voted for one section over the other.

Working with the community to improve WvW has been an ArenaNet staple for quite some time now, but the ante has certainly been upped recently since Mike O’Brien stepped back into the Game Director role. The sort of quick-fire polling we’re seeing now not only gives the company a snappy quantifiable overview on where public opinion is landing, it also gives a great base of comments to support the quick figures and extend the in-house thinking without dedicating a higher proportion of the team to WvW.

The poll preamble was clear in that no matter which option led the poll, continued effort would be put into balancing and bug fixing the content, which will surely lessen the worry that fundamental issues will be put aside in favour of flashier crowd-pleasing developments. Pair this with the promised return of Alpine Borderlands that came as part of the May 3rd patch and we have a picture forming of ArenaNet delivering on promises and focusing on what matters, which I hope continues. Let’s look at the actual content of the listed options to appraise how useful they’ll be if implemented.

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Quality-of-life improvements

Topping the list of proposed quality of life improvements that could become the next focus of ANet’s WvW team is an option for reducing the annoying nameplate clutter that currently can be problematic during highly populated skirmishes, but a far more exciting improvement to make the list is cross-map team chat for enhanced team coordination across all fronts. Cross-map team chat has been greatly requested and is sure to encourage some additional votes for the QoL camp, but the rest of the proposed list makes more of a squeaky pop than a big bang in my opinion. Although enhanced map markers, a WXP-gain trail, and objective tooltips are nice to have, they’re not as game-breakingly pressing as clutter reduction and cross-map communication.

I’d recommend voting for these improvements if you’re the sort of player who is easily frustrated by irksome UI fussiness and clunky impediments that slow down your play, especially if you’re not especially concerned with winning or losing and are more into the content for the gameplay. I personally worry that this option could perhaps add more unnecessary visual noise that just replaces the components it seeks to remove: Do we really need a sparkle trail and more floating indicators, ArenaNet?

gw1

Scoring improvements

Opening the scoring section is quite a controversial proposal: The WvW team wishes to reduce the impact of night capping, which could serve to alienate the night shift and lessen its usefulness to the war effort. I’d certainly want to see a more detailed outline of this feature before I’d be comfortable saying that it’ll be a good improvement to WvW, and that’s from my rather PvP-shy bubble. Lessening the gap between the winning on losing scores should be a sensible move, providing it ties in well with glicko and doesn’t act as too much of an unfair counterweight for the winning side. The score rebalancing measures could be great, but again I’d want to see much more than a simple bullet point to outline the specific changes the team means to implement.

I personally voted for the score category despite my reservations and the lack of detailed information available purely because I believe that the scoring changes could also help improve the continuing balance issues if implemented correctly and in unison with ongoing balance tweaks as promised. I see plenty of very polarised opinions on how scoring and balance should be addressed in the discussion thread that accompanies the poll, and I can only imagine how gruelling this process will be for ArenaNet. Still, the work is necessary and I think that true PvP fans should strongly consider voting for these changes, especially since doing so will open up further, more detailed feedback about how to proceed.

gw0

The no preference option

I was happy to see that a no preference option was included in the poll because it allows ANet to capture the volume of players that don’t feel strongly about either development direction, which should act as a neon sign to point dev eyes to the comments for more qualitative feedback should the vote close with a high percentage in this slice of the pie. I’ve seen some other equally noteworthy gripes in those comments, not least of which is the issue of severe lag faced by players in such high-density scenarios. A few sensible solutions have been suggested that I’d love to see implemented, and I particularly liked the notion of adaptive graphical scaling that optimises your visuals in order to prevent low FPS.

Players are also screaming for build templates, and it’s reasonable that the WvW team might be well placed to work on those. Another vocal group of voters explained that they would prefer to see elements from both sections lumped together, noting that their votes for no preference were a reaction to the simplistic, binary nature of the poll and not because the chosen features were truly equal.

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How the votes lie and what it means

As it stands in the final full day of voting, the scoring improvements section is narrowly topping the poll with 49% of the total votes in its favour. 45% lies with QoL improvements and the remaining 6% of voters showed no preference. I have to say that I’m surprised that the vote is as close as it is: I was expecting scoring to be a runaway winner, but I’m guessing that the lack of detail in those bullet points combined with cross-map chat being included in the QoL camp made the vote much trickier for players. One thing that is apparent is that the WvW players are going to be rather hard to please if the polarised voting and wide range of opinions aired in the comments is anything to go by.

Over to you!

I’m hoping that the changes proposed in both sections come to fruition eventually, and I am especially eager to see further explanations of those scoring points. I feel as though I didn’t have quite enough information to go on, and I did note that several commenters were also asking for elaboration on certain points too. Whichever option wins when the voting closes, I’m hoping to see the WvW team reacting swiftly to player feedback and continuing the open discussions we’re seeing right now.

If you managed to get your vote in, where did it fall and why did you choose one set of improvements over the other? What tops your personal WvW improvement list? As ever, share your thoughts in the comments.

Tina Lauro has been playing Guild Wars 2 since it launched and now pens the long-running Flameseeker Chronicles column, which runs every other Wednesday and covers everything from GW2 guides and news to opinion pieces and dev diary breakdowns. If there’s a GW2 topic you’d love to see covered, drop a comment Tina’s way or mail her at tina@massivelyop.com.
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TheZebes
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TheZebes

schmidtcapela Sorenthaz TheZebes You could eliminate the score all together, but that’s still addressing the scoring issue. There is also a question of whether people would care about the structures if they essentially awarded no points. 

It tends to be good to have some secondary objective in a battle when it comes to pvp. You could eliminate the score, but then why have the structures as so? There would be no need for gates on the keeps. They’d just be further terrain if they served no scoring purpose.

BritoBruno
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BritoBruno

Karl_Hungus I’m a little obtuse when it comes to things like this, can you give me the bullet points of why scoring is way more important than QoL, Karl?

BritoBruno
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BritoBruno

EntropyAlwaysWins Karl_Hungus >:C
We like Karl’s attitude here.
We don’t take kindly to your people talking bad about our Hungus, partner.
*puts cowboy hat*

7BitBrian
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7BitBrian

bryanjturner Then check out the most recent patch. Has a bit of content added that many are theorizing is leading into Season 3.

schmidtcapela
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schmidtcapela

Sorenthaz schmidtcapela
Oh, I play anything PvP to the best of my ability*, and keep trying to improve; that is indeed a large part of my fun in playing PvP. I just don’t care in the least if I win or lose, and even tend to leave games that try too hard to make me care about winning.

Or, in other words, in a PvP game my true opponent is myself, in an unending battle for improvement and perfection; whether I defeat the other players doesn’t matter.

I’m just not competitive. I see no reason to care for winning or losing in a game. And no, how skilled I am doesn’t matter in whether I care for winning or not; I’m easily the best Mario Kart player among my real life friends, for example, but that doesn’t make me any more intent on winning when I play that game with them.

* To the best of my ability if my opposition is at least as capable as my side. I find no fun, no enjoyment at all, in wiping the floor with my opponents, so any time my opponents don’t have any chance against me I will either handicap myself to even the fight — and then fight to the best of my ability within the parameters of my voluntary handicap — or outright concede and leave.

TheZebes 
Depends on the person and the game.

For something like WvW, where there are already clear objectives to be conquered, I effectively prefer to not have an aggregate score. Knowing the results of the skirmishes inside the larger battle is already enough, the aggregate score is merely a distraction that for someone like me is more likely to hinder the fun than to contribute to it.

Karl_Hungus
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Karl_Hungus

Akami 
It instills competition for seasonal rewards. They won’t remove it entirely so it needs to work better.

Karl_Hungus
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Karl_Hungus

EntropyAlwaysWins Karl_Hungus 
That would give “butt stuff” a whole new meaning.

EntropyAlwaysWins
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EntropyAlwaysWins

Karl_Hungus Hmmm. You may be right. But based on your attitude I’m going to guess your ass is the thing right below your nose…

TheZebes
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TheZebes

schmidtcapela Sorenthaz TheZebes The scoring system feeds into how you have fun. Drastic score differences turn people away, give you less to fight with and to fight against. Structures relative to the score tend to attract groups which then lead to fights or crazy ‘things’. 

As much as people would like to, you can’t really separate the scoring system from the fun.

Sorenthaz
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Sorenthaz

schmidtcapela Sorenthaz TheZebes The whole “I just play to have fun” mentality within competitive PvP games/modes has always baffled me because it is almost always used as an excuse for poor performance and not playing towards the overall goal of the game/mode, aka winning.   
I understand that one side will win and the other will lose.  That’s just nature.  But that mentality has been seeping so heavily into competitive games even at higher levels (see: League of Legends).   For a god chunk of people, winning or at least playing to the best of their ability to win and learn + improve from their losses is what’s fun for them when they play the mode.   So I really don’t get the whole “it’s just a game bruh no need to worry about winning or losing” mentality that’s become so pervasive in most PvP games these days.