Massively OP Podcast Episode 239: Astellia ascending

    
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Hello, art discussion prompt.

On this week’s show, Bree and Justin greet Astellia Online’s official entrance into the MMO field, gawk at World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2’s latest patches, see what excitement there is to be found in PlanetSide Arena’s debut, and wonder if there’s something that can be done to make gaming time more productive.

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

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Barnoc N'Draak

So, the intersection of the mailbag playtime question and Justin’s comment about playing for fun instead of rewards hits on something I’ve been thinking for a while, particularly in gw2.

How much time do I spend in games doing activities that I don’t particularly enjoy because there is a reward for them.

I feel like guild wars 2 is particularly bad about this, with many of the activities being arbitrary/designed to be a currency or time sink. I’ve been much happier in game since I decided to just ignore all the other stuff and map/explore.

I don’t think gw2 is unique in this regard, but I wish more mmos would work more on being intrinsically fun as opposed to trying to manage us via rewards.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

I completely agree. I started having much more fun when I started playing my unloved toons and doing things like mapping and hero point collecting again. It takes like a concerted effort to focus on that and not get sucked into the thing the game is dragging you toward at any given time too.

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TomTurtle

Bree, it’s definitely strange to hear your excitement and enjoyment of GW2 at a time where I’m the opposite. So many times in the past it’s been reversed.

ArenaNet hasn’t even drastically changed the game from the times you were tepid about playing it. And unlike what some Reddit hyperbole claims, I don’t think ArenaNet has abandoned the raiding content.

That you’re just now noting how the game doesn’t feel pigeon-holed into raiding isn’t something new. Not even when raiding was introduced did it become that way. I was certainly concerned about that at the time, but fortunately they’ve stayed focused on casual content, including soloable story content.

And I remember a time when you were very ho-hum about elite specializations, yet now you’re also experiencing some transformative enjoyment they’ve brought to how you play a profession.

I’m curious what changed in how you approach the game. I know you still have issues like open world difficulty, which at the very least ArenaNet has stepped back from the days of Heart of Thorns, but not enough for you I know.

Also, thank you for acknowledging that it’s not just the more hardcore players who have been let down by GW2 lately. It’s easy to point to them alone due to how vocal they are, but even a casual solo player like me has been feeling irked.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

Nothing’s changed, honestly. I think ArenaNet is still an extremely problematic company with wildly haphazard development. I hated the clear shift to pander to hardcore types across multiple slices of content in the last few years, and I will continue to mock their terrible communication, which has NOT gotten better. But I’m still having fun playing the game atm exactly the way I want to. This *particular* Saga has made noise about walking back the raid-or-die mentality that had been encroaching too, and it gives me a bit of hope. But that’s how it always is for me – when the game’s systemic nuisances start to get louder than the fun, I will wander off again.

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TomTurtle

I interpreted it as creating a stepping stone to raiding, similar to what Blizzard aimed with LFR. They’ve said as much in the PCGamesN article:

Strike missions are a way for us to look back and go, ‘Okay, we have the group that raids, and we have a group that says raids are either stigmatised, too difficult, there’s jerks in there who are elitist.’ There’s all these things, and we’d say, ‘No, no, no, we can show you a path to get to this content.’ We can show you the way that you can get better – that you can experience things that you didn’t necessarily think possible either because of preconceptions, or because of lack of time, availability, those types of things.

As I see it, the only reason they’d be less focused on raiding initially is due to the poor planning from management before the layoffs and the sad mess that the layoffs created. Among other issues that created like no expansion to show for themselves.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

Yeah, that’s possible, if you buy what they are saying. I’m thinking about Eliot’s take on Blizzard, and how Blizzard was always so confident that the reason people don’t raid is that they’re scared of it, so you just have to make the barriers to entry for raiding low. Except that Blizzard ignores fact that a lot of the playerbase doesn’t want to raid period, and making it more accessible won’t change anything for those people at all. Anet about to learn that lesson?

I guess I’m inclined to believe that when the hardcore raiders are this mad, the game’s turning away from them. They were never really a sustainable audience, either way.

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TomTurtle

Even the raiders have argued that an easy mode won’t really change participation in the end. I suspect what it’s at least partially about is to be able to include the main story in raiding content rather than having to relegate it to side stories. They also didn’t like how story important to GW1 players was put behind a raid. They specifically called out the dissatisfaction players had with the White Mantle raid story and Saul D’Alessio.

It feels like it’s trying to get the best of both worlds. Probably doesn’t hurt that it might reduce the resources to produce both types of content by marrying the two to a degree.

I never wanted raiding in the game, but I can’t help but feel about that content like I do with flying in WoW. It was already supported for so long that I feel that ArenaNet shouldn’t just neglect it so much. It’s already bad that sPvP and WvW have faced this issue for much longer.

The raiding content pacing had always been a bit slow, but I didn’t feel that it took away from the main game at least. Raiders are worried ArenaNet is abandoning that content, which is understandably exacerbated by the aforementioned poor communication skills.

But I predict they’ll return to the usual turnstile approach of fractal patch, raid patch, fractal patch, etc. At the very least, they’ll probably still put out raids here and there. Which if that’s the case, it won’t really feel all the different to most players that don’t raid anyhow.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

This is all really insightful. You’re probably right they will revert back to the easy pattern in the end. (Not that I don’t think fractal players deserve the content too).

“I suspect what it’s at least partially about is to be able to include the main story in raiding content rather than having to relegate it to side stories.”

And this would definitely make me nope out, so I hope your gut on it is wrong. But I worry you’re right because some of the things they’ve said have trended in this direction.

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TomTurtle

Minor spoiler about the Saga prologue

I know you haven’t gotten to it yet, but they kind of already did this with the first strike mission. You still do the fight in the story, but then you get the option to do it again in the strike mission, but it’s harder with more mechanics. It’s minimal impact story-wise as it feels like a redo more than anything.

They intend to include future versions of the same fight that gets progressively harder in future episodes. There’s still a chance that strike missions are recycling main story fights while raids are their own side content thing. Hard to say right now though.

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GumpsGang

Justin! Holosmith … GW2 … so fun! Bree! This is your fault!

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

Right?! It super saved Engis for me. I was that dummy running around still going “but I like turrets, sob” against all sense until I gave in to the lightsaber. :D

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NeoWolf

You just have to hose the little buggers down with Purell before they get within 20 meters of you Bree lol

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McGuffn

Agony booth. And if you likehate agony, wait until you witness the red circle overload in Jahai Bluffs and later content.

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Minimalistway

About Edutainment, i’m sure i read this somewhere, some MUDs (or is it MOOs?) provide a way for the player to program the world, they are not just consuming content they are making it, and since they are doing this in text-based game, they can add so much details to everything.

“I have no dog in this fight!” that’s what keep me coming, dad jokes 😂