What is the One Thing You’d Change in Your Favorite MMO?


What is the one thing you’d change in your favorite MMO?

Here’s my take for 2 excellent games I played over the past year: World of Tanks (WoT) and Guild Wars 2 (GW2).

What I’d change in World of Tanks

I’d remove “premium ammo” from the game.

WoT has game mechanics which collectively create a high skill cap – player skill truly matters. One of the most important game mechanics is penetration, i.e. piercing the armor of a target to deal HP damage. Unfortunately, the use of premium ammo trivializes penetration.

Take for example an IS-4 firing at another IS-4, with the target tank properly angled to minimize the probability of penetration. Here are the heatmaps, one with premium ammo and the other with normal ammo:

Penetration heatmap for an IS-4 firing at an IS-4 with normal mmo

Penetration heatmap for an IS-4 firing at an IS-4 with normal mmo

Penetration heatmap for an IS-4 firing at an IS-4 with with premium mmo

Penetration heatmap for an IS-4 firing at an IS-4 with with premium mmo

As you can see, with premium ammo makes penetration easy-mode (the target’s armor is green), because the penetration value is 82 points higher (340 vs 258).

Let’s consider another example: a T-62A firing at an IS-4. The penetration differential between premium and normal ammo for a T-62A is 66 (330 vs 264).

Penetration heatmap for a T-62A firing at an IS-4 with normal mmo

Penetration heatmap for a T-62A firing at an IS-4 with normal mmo

Penetration heatmap for a T-62A firing at an IS-4 with premium mmo

Penetration heatmap for a T-62A firing at an IS-4 with premium mmo

Even with a lower penetration differential of 66 instead of 82, it’s still clear that firing premium ammo trivializes penetration.

I’ve been able to tell the difference in penetration even with differentials around 20, and premium ammo tends to provide an increase of 60+. One category of premium ammo (ACPR) is supposed to have more penetration decay over distance than AP ammo, but net-net is that premium ammo is still win. StranaMechty provided a detailed analysis on decay based on the game’s configuration data.

Some veteran players try to justify the presence of premium ammo by pointing out that it’s purchaseable with in-game currency, whereas it used to be purchaseable only with gold, i.e. real money. While that is true, for the following situations, a player may not be able to afford much or any premium ammo

  • The player is not paying for a premium subscription, which costs real money
  • The player has not purchased a premium tank, which costs real money
  • The player is newer to the game (< 5000 battles) and is saving money to buy new tanks and new equipment

Simply put, the presence of premium ammo favors paying customers and veteran players. Veterans already have the benefit of experience, and that’s enough of an advantage in a high skill cap game.

What I’d change in Guild Wars 2

I’d scrap the endgame gear system and acquisition.

The process of acquiring one full set of Ascended gear for one character is grindy as heck. The irony is that GW2 was positioned as having no gear treadmill pre-launch in the memorable ArenaNet blog article Is It Fun (bold emphasis mine):

When your game systems are designed to achieve the prime motivation of a subscription-based MMO…the best stat gear requiring crazy amounts of time to earn, etc.

Fun impacts loot collection. The rarest items in the game are not more powerful than other items, so you don’t need them to be the best. The rarest items have unique looks to help your character feel that sense of accomplishment, but it’s not required to play the game. We don’t need to make mandatory gear treadmills, we make all of it optional, so those who find it fun to chase this prestigious gear can do so, but those who don’t are just as powerful and get to have fun too.

There is no simple fix unfortunately. Ascended gear is deeply embedded in the game’s crafting, rewards for daily/weekly/monthly quests, and Fractals.

In my opinion, AN has been trying to solve for keeping players actively engaged and playing on a consistent basis. When player activity began to drop in the months after launch, my guess is that AN had a kneejerk reaction and Ascended gear was introduced into the game.

The underlying problem is that GW2 launched without meaningful horizontal progression at endgame, the kinds of things I’ve been talking about on this blog (Why Games Should Scale Horizontally Instead of Vertically and Why PVE Content Shouldn’t Be a Coral Reef), and as a result players complained about the lack of progression. And so we now have Ascended gear.

Players debate the value of Ascended gear over Exotic gear, but the general consensus is that Ascended gear provides a 5% increase in stats, with the weapons providing a larger benefit due to the increased weapon damage. Skilled players I’ve talked to in [oPP] (OverPowered People, a WvW guild on Blackgate) have told me that they believe it makes a noticeable difference, and that makes intuitive sense to me.

So that’s my take. What would you change in your favorite MMOs?

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Posted in Game Design, Guild Wars 2, PVP, WildStar, World of Tanks
68 comments on “What is the One Thing You’d Change in Your Favorite MMO?
  1. I wish all MMOs would use the Guild Wars 2 model for dyeing all of you gear. Everything should be able to be dyed. It’s one way that everyone can have the same gear per class but still be unique and show your own style.

    • Definitely agree with the GW2 changes. I literally did one character and felt burned out by the one character grind.

      I am currently playing Rift and watching Wildstar closely. I’m hoping for big things from Wildstar. I just hope they find a way to deliver a balanced game that is fun to play. I’m a literally worried about the business model, but we’ll see if they can pull it off.

      Rift doesn’t have to much I would change. I believe they nailed the F2P model perfectly. I love it. I would love the GW2 dyeing system though. That would be great.

      Just hoping for a great WildStar release/launch.

    • taugrim says:

      Everything should be able to be dyed. It’s one way that everyone can have the same gear per class but still be unique and show your own style

      I agree 100%.

      Dye systems are an opportunity for player self-expression and a potential revenue opportunity for F2P game developers, a win-win.

      Thanks to the dye system, you see creative players like this:

  2. If TERA could’ve managed to…
    A) structurally support the giant guild wars their Nexus events heralded
    B) provide arenas and battlegrounds earlier and
    C) remove some (or a lot) of the RNG of the combat system
    … I might’ve stuck around.

    Though now that I’ve typed that out it seems like a lot more than it did in my head. Heh.

    • taugrim says:

      B) provide arenas and battlegrounds earlier and

      That would have helped players who want to PVP as they level up.

      I didn’t like the animation delays though. The combat didn’t feel fluid, at least compared to GW2.

  3. Irulan says:

    What I would eliminate in all MMOs is having to look at the UI. I find it incredibly distracting and counter to the enjoyment of game play to have to look at the UI. I have to look at the UI not for the things I want to do but for that the game is telling me I can do.. It is so sad that I have filled my screen with addons, charts, maps and other utilities just to play. When I should be able to play without any blinking icon telling me otherwise.

    What I wonderful game it would be if we eliminated the UI. It would be like playing outside with your friends and interacting with them not because of their class but for the unique nature of the character they have chosen to play. I really don’t want to play with the Frost DK and his AOE but play with John as his character can do some amazing things, and each time we play, John is even more amazing than the time before. He is not limited or defined.

    It would be a game of unlimited possibilities and opposed to a game of confining limitations.

    • taugrim says:

      What I would eliminate in all MMOs is having to look at the UI. I find it incredibly distracting and counter to the enjoyment of game play to have to look at the UI. I have to look at the UI not for the things I want to do but for that the game is telling me I can do

      I think ArenaNet was on the right track with GW2 in terms of a minimalist UI.

      That said, I think we could take it even 1 step further and only show timers for abilities on cooldown. If they’re not on cooldown, once I memorize the keybindings, I don’t really need to see them.

  4. The first “M”.

    I’ve been playing MMOs for over ten years and the novelty of watching a slideshow zerg-fest during events and/or large scale PvP has worn thin. Of course there have been notable exceptions, but by and large anything with more than 64/128 people on screen at any given time is seldom enjoyable. Maybe I’m just getting old.

    • taugrim says:

      slideshow zerg-fest during events and/or large scale PvP has worn thin

      I hear you. I love skirmishing in World PVP, but it’s fun to experience epic fights too.

      No one has really cracked the code on the technical issues with client / server scaling for real-time combat with lots of participants. I heard Camelot Unchained is doing some testing so we’ll see.

      My impression is that server/shard technology has really progressed over the past decade.

    • Lenoir says:

      That’s the number one reason why I stopped regularly playing GW2. I loved roaming solo or with small groups but these large-scale zerg-fests destroy the performance even if you’re on the opposite side of the map.

  5. Geldarion says:

    I wish Star Wars: The Old Republic would work on their Ranked PvP more and make it a priority to fix. They have such imbalance in classes that is well-documented and long-term, but they refuse to actually do anything to fix it. Ranked games don’t pop on most servers because they make the same mistakes over and over again. Mistakes they actually recognize and comment on, then repeat less than a month later. So I want them to work on that.

    • taugrim says:

      Ranked games don’t pop on most servers

      That’s sad to hear.

      My guild was looking forward to ranked warzones back in 2012 but by the time they went live, probably about 60-70% of the guild had stopped playing, and we lost critical mass.

      • FrankyMcShanky says:

        The same thing happened to my SWTOR guild. PvP was so great in SWTOR prior to the 1.2 patch where the devs radically changed classes and how the PvP stat functioned.

        The devs did too much to quickly and it kind of broke the game. After that it felt like the devs gave up on the game.

        I guess we’ll always have the awesome memories of Huttball. Never forget.

  6. Scottpoet says:

    WoT
    I’m actually for premium ammo, it’s a good mechanic. Knowing when to switch between ammo types increases the skill cap. However, I would limit each tank to carrying a small amount of premium ammo making it a risky choice to use on soft targets while other more heavily armored opponents are still alive.

    ammo 40/10/10 as example of a load out.

    One thing you might not know, is that all the consumables used to be gold. Not just the large repair kits but the small ones too. Instant track repairs was a dead give away to a wallet warrior.
    Now proper use of repair and medkits is the norm, and considered part of the learning curve.

    • Trey says:

      I’ve heard this argument before and I don’t buy it- its just a self-justification exercise. Yes premium ammo is better leveraged in the hands of a more skilled player but this is true of about every mechanic in a game. Better players are better at angling armor, aiming, driving, positioning, etc.

      But premium rounds nullify armor, one of cornerstones of game balance. Its made for a more boring game with very little meta-game.

      I like your 40/10/10 example (and have heard it before) and I admit that would be an improvement, there’s really no reason that premium rounds have to be premium. Just cap them at 10 or better yet 5 and make them cheaper so that its not a decision for your wallet, so that its never a case of winning by outspending your opponent. But that again beg the question of why we need them at all.

      A match where no one used premium rounds would be an excellent match- and an excellent game. And even better it would be fairer.

    • taugrim says:

      I’m actually for premium ammo, it’s a good mechanic. Knowing when to switch between ammo types increases the skill cap

      It doesn’t meaningfully increase the skill cap.

      Once targets are spotted (the other key mechanic), you’ll know which targets have better armor and simply change ammo in between reload (which adds 0 extra time) or before you engage the target.

      Some notable WoT Redditors try to make the same argument, but I’m not buying it.

      TrajanMVN told me recently that there’s been an add-on that can detect when incoming shells are HEAT or ACPR, and there have been a lot of threads from people on the official WoT forums that people spam premium ammo.

      It’s pathetic.

      • Scottpoet says:

        I would make an argument, but before I do I would rather ask a question.

        You have 365 games in the VK 30.01(D) and only 44 games in the VK 30.02(D). They have the same gun, handling, and playstyle. The only meaningful difference is the HP pool. They are for all practical purposes the same exact tank.

        Why did you pay money to skip the VK 30.02(D) but play the VK 30.01(D) far more than you needed to in order to unlock the next tier?

        • taugrim says:

          Why did you pay money to skip the VK 30.02(D) but play the VK 30.01(D) far more than you needed to in order to unlock the next tier?

          Unwillingness to shoot premium ammo. The 30.02D has very low pen for its tier.

          We’ve talked about the tier 7 meds with crappy pen before, so I imagine that this doesn’t come as a surprise.

          I played the 30.01D much more than required because it wasn’t as strong as some of the other tier 6 tanks (e.g. Cromwell, which I also played a lot of) but was underrated, and I was trying to get used to the medium-style of gameplay, but without the super fast movement of the Cromwell.

          • Scottpoet says:

            The Type 64 Chinese premium scout uses a 85mm main gun. In the game, the gun has 144mm of penetration at 100 meters or less. During it’s test phase, the real life prototype could consistently penetrate 500mm of steel at 1000 meters.

            Another way so stating it is if the type 64 were historically accurate in the game, I could penetrate the front of any tank in the game using it’s standard ammo at ranges greater than the length of any map in WoT.

            The damage and penetration values of gun in WoT are completely arbitrary. If premium ammo is completely overpowered, 100% of the blame is on the WoT development team. They are making money off their game by design being unfair. The are making money off the fact, some tanks are so incredibly uncompetitive & painful to grind through players happily pay $10-$20 to skip.

            Paying real money for ammo, isn’t any different than paying real money for the better gun found on the next tank. Pay to win is still pay to win, let’s not kid ourselves. The only difference is in how the player justifies the expense.

            The VK 30.02 (D) isn’t a bad tank, it’s just an uncompetitive tank. Whether you play it well or terribly, 90% of the time you will have no impact on the outcome of the match. However at tier 6, the VK 30.01(D) can easily change the outcome of a game although it is the same tank with half the hitpoints. And that is the real difference.

            My problem with the premium ammo argument is that players blame other players. Wargaming is the gatekeeper. If they wanted to balance the guns and ammo, they could do it in less than a week. They’ll never do that because their market strategy is predator in nature. They make quick easy money off of the imbalance.

            So, for me, I don’t expect honorable play from other players, when the company behind the game makes it’s money by encouraging unsportsmanlike behavior.

            • taugrim says:

              The damage and penetration values of gun in WoT are completely arbitrary.

              Disappointing to hear. I didn’t realize the values were that off the realistic mark.

              They are making money off their game by design being unfair. The are making money off the fact, some tanks are so incredibly uncompetitive & painful to grind through players happily pay $10-$20 to skip.

              Yes, I would fall into the latter camp.

              I can deal with being somewhat underpowered, but being impractically underpowered, e.g. with a gun that is non-functional for a tier, is a non-starter for me because I want to carry my own weight.

              Paying real money for ammo, isn’t any different than paying real money for the better gun found on the next tank. Pay to win is still pay to win, let’s not kid ourselves

              I get your argument, but the difference is:
              a. paying for a better gun is to make myself better
              b. paying for premium ammo is to make your armor worthless

              #b is the issue I have – it makes armor/angling/hull-down not relevant

              The VK 30.02 (D) isn’t a bad tank, it’s just an uncompetitive tank. Whether you play it well or terribly, 90% of the time you will have no impact on the outcome of the match.

              I feel that way on my Centurion 7/1. From looking at my stats, I’m playing at a Unicum level, but I haven’t found the right balance yet of supportive fire versus aggressive pushing.

              Then again, that tank is a huge bloaty whale, so it’s very vulnerable outside of hull-down positions, and even the turret isn’t that great for its tier.

              My problem with the premium ammo argument is that players blame other players. Wargaming is the gatekeeper

              You are absolutely right.

      • Scottpoet says:

        So what you are saying is that you don’t know how to kill an enemy tank hidden by terrain using HEAT?
        :D

  7. sergio says:

    the whole itemization and AA system in Age of Conan, Craig Morrison RUINED the best aspect of that game; skill mattered at PvP , now its PvE grind to PvP. 1.4 Age Of Conan was the best PvP combat of any mmo to date; still miss it.

    • taugrim says:

      Age Of Conan was the best PvP combat of any mmo to date; still miss it.

      I never tried AoC because I didn’t trust the developer, but people have said the aiming of your slashes with weapons was fun.

  8. Torathin says:

    Realm resets.

    I came across this concept in PoE and I love it. The economy is reset. The gear and stash is reset. You start over again with a new character and re-experience launch fun all over again. It changes the way you play. Knowledge, leveling techniques, builds for leveling vs. endgame.

    The emphasis is on being able to level up quickly and try out a new build. Building your stash is more important than building any one character.

    It’s deliciously satisfying.

    Note: for those of you who don’t know PoE your character at the end of the 4 month period just moves to another “standard” league so you can still play them if you want. Same for Hardcore chars.

    • taugrim says:

      Realm resets.

      I don’t know if a significant number of players would want this experience. It really depends to what you extent you value playing at endgame vs leveling.

      I’m certainly in the former camp and would do away with leveling to cap after doing it once.

  9. Mike says:

    I wish GW2 would have stuck to their original no gear grind stance. Also the release schedule of living world content is really taking away from other parts of the game (WvWvW). IMO they went way overboard with living world.

    Being a non-subscription MMO this model caters to a more casual, sporadic, and/or irregular gamer. What they’re doing with the living world, and ascended runs counter to that however.

    • taugrim says:

      I wish GW2 would have stuck to their original no gear grind stance.

      That plus provide meaningful horizontal progression, leaderboards, incomparables for loot, etc.

      Also the release schedule of living world content is really taking away from other parts of the game (WvWvW). IMO they went way overboard with living world.

      I don’t have a problem with the living world, but I wish there were by-server controlled events with GMs triggering events like large-scale invasions of cities or other key areas. I experienced this back in Meridian 59 and it was fun.

  10. Jae Sun says:

    Totally going for all the ascended stuff isn’t worth the effort if you just do wvw. Grab the amulet, maybe the rings, and the weapons and you’ll be fine, imho. After the ability to level characters through spvp got introduced I leveled all 9 chars to 80 with all my valor, and i’ve been kitting them out with full exotics and playing them to wvw level 10, getting ready for the world xp merge. Even in roaming, i’m still winning 80% of my 1v1’s and having a blast in small group play.
    I would have preferred not having ascended gear at all, but if its necessary to keep the population involved in wvw, its a necessary evil. Some people in pvp need a gear advantage or they wouldn’t win and would stop playing, hence the rollercoaster ride that is the active spvp population.

    • taugrim says:

      Totally going for all the ascended stuff isn’t worth the effort if you just do wvw

      It matters based on what I’ve seen and heard from top-notch players.

      After the ability to level characters through spvp got introduced I leveled all 9 chars to 80 with all my valor

      How does the rate of leveling via sPvP compare to PVE?

      I would have preferred not having ascended gear at all, but if its necessary to keep the population involved in wvw, its a necessary evil

      There are other games, notably WAR, where people did World PVP even though the chance of getting better via that mechanism wasn’t really high. At least it was that way on Phoenix Throne, where neither side capped a Fortress for several months.

  11. I agree with you on the ascended grind in GW2. Ascended could have been fun if it was a skinbased quest with a living story or based on (hard) achievements. Stat increase is so useless. Nobody can see it around you, while a cool skin ppl can see and think “wow he really is good at thing X in this game”. And I don’t mind if they wanna put some grinds on some of these rare skins as they are optional and I can leave them aside if I don’t want to do it. Statgrind isn’t as bad as other MMO’s, but I still think they made a huge error by going for it.

    The other thing I would really change in GW2 would be adding collision detection. I think to much in PVE and WvW is about stacking up in one place and spam fields and combo finishers. This nullifies many dungeon boss mechanics which are rly fun if you play it properly but ppl use stack tactics. In WvW it doesnt make sense that ppl stack up in the same space. Of course ppl could abuse this by blocking ppl off to troll, but i think there are ways to fix that. For example be able to push ppl aside, or portal past them.

    In WvW I don’t really enjoy the well organise clump in one place zergs. I avoid them like the plague. I do like the messy small zergs where you can use some real PVP skills and that really feels like a battle and not like a combo blast spam fest.

    • I agree on collision detection. A major part of GW1 tactics was body blocking – at least in PvE. I can’t recall if PvP had collision detection (I think so, but that might be nostalgia).

      Adding something to keep people from standing inside each other or moving through each other or through NPCs changes EVERYTHING about fight mechanics. And in a good sensible way. More challenge, but challenge that intuitively makes sense.

    • taugrim says:

      The other thing I would really change in GW2 would be adding collision detection

      I love collision detection – it really helps a smaller force hold off a large one. We saw this back in WAR.

      It does seem very calculation intensive and therefore adds load to the server.

  12. Yeah the Ascended Gear grind is the exact opposite of what was promised. And you’re right – a lack of horizontal progression and a knee jerk reaction left the game with it.

    They now have a form of horizontal with the constant updates (which is what actually caused me to leave as they were lore violating)… so the Ascended ramp is now ‘in the way’…

    I’m actually back in WoW at present, and sometimes FFXIV – games with the vertical progression I disdain, but at least honest about it. And WoW at least gives you an easy bump up every time they push the dial up (a new 90 at present gets free gear of one tier below the current raid tier – all you literally have to do is go to an island that has chests on the ground everywhere and open them all – in about 1 to 2 hours your new 90 is ready to raid current content, all you then need to bring is player skill…).

    Never thought I’d give props to WoW over GW2…

    FFXIV is an odd beast. Feels fresher than WoW, but slower, and more vibrant than GW2, and yet less alive. I don’t know how to really describe it. Something in there is really nice – but if you step back you can see that its an old-generation MMO. They have managed to capture the right mood and make the world feel really engaging – without using ANY new gimmicks / mechanics. Mostly: they just do better story than other people. Its too new to say how they will pan out in progression topics – but at launch they were lacking in variety so the clock is ticking for them the same way it was for GW2. We’ll just have to see if they make the same mistakes.

    • taugrim says:

      And WoW at least gives you an easy bump up every time they push the dial up (a new 90 at present gets free gear of one tier below the current raid tier

      WoW has seen so much vertical level progression that they had to provide a shortcut for players who want to jump into endgame quickly.

      I knew plenty of guildees who would put in the dozens of hours to level up new toons to level cap, but I found that extremely tedious and unchallenging.

      FFXIV is an odd beast

      Some guildees have told me that some of the PVE is really challenging, which is fun, but I don’t know if it will become trivialized with gear progression.

      That was the thing with WoW. The most fun I had with raiding was when we were close to downing a boss, then actually downing it the first few times. Once you get geared, if it becomes farm mode easy then it’s not engaging to me.

  13. Carl Woodthorpe says:

    WOT
    I have to disagree to an extent. That premium ammo is sometimes the only way a lower tier tank can hurt it’s overtiered opponents. The situations the mm puts you in can create that quite easily.A gap of just one tier can be a huge gulf between certain tanks….
    There are HUGE imbalances in relative power between different tier tanks, without that ammo you could just end up being epeen boosting fodder.

    • Trey says:

      The matchmaking system is the problem you are complaining about. The spread is often too great, but part of that is to encourage you to use premium ammo.

      Remember your tank two tiers down is “balanced” by the tanks of your tier on the other team. When you load premium ammo in that situation (or any situation) you are paying to win, its just a little more justifiable. We all get bottom tier matches. But that balances over time.

      WG does a great job of conditioning its players to adopt pay to win strategies. In fact, you either do it, or you don’t get to be competitive in the end game.

      • taugrim says:

        WG does a great job of conditioning its players to adopt pay to win strategies. In fact, you either do it, or you don’t get to be competitive in the end game.

        Yes, I think that’s a real motivation as to how premium ammo got in the game in the first place.

        It’s a shame, the game is so good I believe players would still pay for the many things aside from premium ammo.

        I haven’t researched War Thunder but I hope they don’t make the same doofy decision with penetration/ammo.

    • taugrim says:

      WOT
      I have to disagree to an extent. That premium ammo is sometimes the only way a lower tier tank can hurt it’s overtiered opponents

      Trey already said what I would: you’re conflating poor matchmaking mechanics with penetration mechanics.

      There is no reason for there to be more than 1 tier, at most, between tanks. Tier 8 tanks fighting tier 10? Just plain stupid.

      I’d rather wait for 3 minutes in a queue and face even-tier tanks, makes for better matches. This is of course aside from imbalances between tanks.

      • Trey says:

        Right. WG’s explanation of its MM system a couple of months ago set out a number of rules, ALL OF WHICH become secondary once a person has been in a queue more than 60 seconds. WG prioritizes getting players in a match quickly above any kind of balance considerations. I actually can respect that from a business point of view and assume it is an industry wide priority among FTP titles.

        That said, 2 tier difference is the norm, not some concession to queue times. I have no doubt that their analytics tell them that a 2 tier difference promotes premium ammo sales. It’s intentionally creating a situation of “Pay-To-Compete” which breaks down players’s inhibitions about “Pay-To-Win”.

  14. Chris Dorf says:

    WoT
    Gold Ammo being common place ruined any chance of me continuing to play the game. The entire penetration system is one of the things that I absolutely loved about the game which rewarded well aimed shots and movement/alignment engaging. I had leveled through many tiers of tanks and rarely felt outclassed unless put up against tanks more than two tiers above me.

    Other MMO’s
    The one thing that concerns me with the current action design is making games lean to much towards a twitch skill element. Will Wildstar feel like an action shooter like game or console game? GW2 fell short in that DPS often became too much of the game versus other elements which where more trivialized in overall play.

    • taugrim says:

      The entire penetration system is one of the things that I absolutely loved about the game which rewarded well aimed shots and movement/alignment engaging

      Agree 100%.

      I also love how important spotting mechanics are – using terrain to hide your movement is such a big part of the game.

  15. Attic says:

    While the whole Ascended gear fiasco certainly was a violation of the promises ANet made pre-launch I wouldn’t even put it in the top 5 things most desperately in need of changing in that game.

    As someone who pretty only did WvW my top 5 changes would have to be.

    1. Bigger maps w/ more areas that are friendly to smaller groups of players i.e. everything isn’t in siege range like it is in EB. Sadly, going by information available, the current size of the zones is the maximum their engine can handle.
    2. Removing or severely buffing the AoE cap because it’s just another zerg friendly handicap in a game that is full of them. Sadly, also a tech limitation.
    3. Actual class balance for WvW instead of just using the PvE split. There’s a number of flat out retarded builds in WvW that don’t get balanced purely because they aren’t OP in either sPvP or PvE. There’s no reason for it.
    4. The whole WvW EXP system they put in is worse than useless. It incentivses siege usage over actually fighting other players, karma train zerging undefended objectives over actually fighting other players, and if by some chance you actually do want to fight other players it provides essentially zero bonuses to you until you grind out over a 100 ranks. It’s terrible. A realm rank system should encourage PvP and be useful at all levels.
    5. The way conditions and condition removals work is awful. Too often you can’t rely on condition removal abilities because their priority is time based instead of based on how debilitating the condition is and on long cooldowns. Being able to set up a customized removal priority for your skills would add a lot of forward thinking and strategy to builds and allow things like negative condition duration to be nerfed.

    Of course, GW2 hasn’t even been installed on my machine since August. And the only reason I read the patch notes anymore is so I can laugh at them and then go troll my friends who still do play.

    The only other game I’ve played recently, that isn’t under an NDA, is Planetside 2. Which is a game in desperate need of more zones to fight in and the old continent locking system from PS1. Thankfully the devs seem to be aware of that fact, even if it is taking forever for it to be implemented.

    Now if only they’d do something about population balance incentives, the stagnant feeling that creeps into the game when you’ve upgraded all the stuff you want to use, working on making vehicles more useful without returning to the old “spawn camp everything with AI tank rounds” days, and making the air game more accessible.

    • taugrim says:

      3. Actual class balance for WvW instead of just using the PvE split. There’s a number of flat out retarded builds in WvW that don’t get balanced purely because they aren’t OP in either sPvP or PvE. There’s no reason for it.

      Yea I’m a believer in games having configurable coefficients/durations/cooldowns for abilities based on context.

      The only other game I’ve played recently, that isn’t under an NDA, is Planetside 2

      Do you recommend the game?

      • Attic says:

        Depends.

        The only real goals in the game atm are all personal advancement: farm the most certs, get the best KDR, get achievements with all the weapons, etc.

        The only time faction wide goals pop up is during alerts, but those only last for 2 hours at most and won’t account for more than 40% of the average total playtime by my estimate. And many of the servers have severe population balance issues that are only exasperated by alerts anyways.

        Without locks forcing players to fight on other continents almost all of the non-alert fighting takes place one 1 of 3 zones, which means you get either intimately acquainted/extremely bored with seeing the same bases all the time.

        Infantry weapon balance isn’t all that it could be. There’s issues with flavor of the month things, but they tend to only affect the extremes of things. All of the default weapons that everyone gets for free are extremely solid and perform well, which is more than can be said for how things were at launch.

        The air game has both 1) wonky flight controls (whoever heard of putting yaw on A & D and roll on mouse X axis?) and 2) an abundance of vastly more practiced and better equiped players who will make your early stints in the sky very short. Though I’ve heard it’s much better now than it was even just a few weeks ago.

        Really, that’s the overall theme for PS2: it’s better than it was before. It’s also the only F2P game I’ve seen that I can imagine people actually not paying for. You get access to all vehicles by default. There’s very few weapons you can buy that I would classify as direct upgrades over the defaults, and you can buy every weapon in the game (minus some cosmetic variants) with currency earned in-game.

        Real money can only get you shortcuts, like the ubiquitous exp boosts, and cosmetics, like hats.

        So I guess my answer is: if you want to play an FPS that has more ups and downs than say, BF4, that also is constantly improving on itself and you don’t really ever need to spend a dime on, then yes. I recommend it.

        • taugrim says:

          Thanks for sharing your detailed thoughts on PS2.

          And many of the servers have severe population balance issues that are only exasperated by alerts anyways.

          The old 2-faction conundrum?

          It’s also the only F2P game I’ve seen that I can imagine people actually not paying for. You get access to all vehicles by default. There’s very few weapons you can buy that I would classify as direct upgrades over the defaults, and you can buy every weapon in the game (minus some cosmetic variants) with currency earned in-game.

          Real money can only get you shortcuts, like the ubiquitous exp boosts, and cosmetics, like hats.

          That’s how I prefer to F2P games to work, instead of flat-out pay-to-win. I wonder how much money the developer is pulling in.

          As Trey pointed out with his comments on this thread, there are some games, such as WoT, which are F2P, but they heavily incentivize the player to pay-to-win.

          • Attic says:

            More like the old “people are terrible, rationally irrational herd animals” problem.

            Simply put, if one faction becomes overpopulated on a server there is no real impetus for the two smaller factions to gang up on the larger one.

            Instead, what tends to happen is either the two small factions attack each other whenever possible to get more even fights or one of the small factions will get focused by the larger faction while the second small faction just goes around capping territory largely uncontested until the big boys decide to go back and attack them for a while, letting the first small faction start capping uncontested territory.

            Additionally, there is a large contingent of people who play multiple characters on different factions on the same server, and they tend to jump boat to whatever empire is currently doing the best so they can “win”. This gets especially bad when the game gives people a concrete win condition, like when an alert pops up and gives everyone on the server a stated goal like “gain the more territory on this specific continent” or “cap all the bases of this particular type”.

            And, of course, this is all exacerbated by the fact that the developers won’t do anything beyond give the underpopped side a negligible to moderate exp bonus. As opposed to the exp bonus + stat increases they gave us in PS1.

  16. S0krates2020 says:

    If you like true aiming and full loot hardcore pvp, that uses a real terrain, compared to all the other instanced themeparks (that passes for pvp) you should try and survive in Darkfall Unholy Wars. The one thing I would change is that massive sieges 100vs100 demands more in terms of Server HW and maint/optimization. Other than that you will get more than your hands full when playing DF. Both Solo and running with smaller and larger more or less tuned groups/roles. That is the true STR of Darkfall Unholy WARS.

    • taugrim says:

      If you like true aiming and full loot hardcore pvp, that uses a real terrain, compared to all the other instanced themeparks (that passes for pvp) you should try and survive in Darkfall Unholy Wars

      That video was an interesting watch. The game aiming/movement seen very twitch-based. It was a bit hard for me to tell what was going on – no floating damage numbers, etc, but the combat looked tactical.

      Re: full loot hardcore pvp, did that tend to cause people to gank / zerg smaller groups? I tend to dislike mechanics that reinforce that style of play.

  17. I would remove Ascended gear in Guild Wars 2 as well. I might just change it to add the extra infusion slots, which allow for Fractal Progression without creating any significant power gain.

    What I also would have changed is the removal of levels from the game. Some of the design team wanted to go level-less and this would have been really daring and (imo) great. I think it would have sent a very clear message to the playing audience what they were getting into. It would have grabbed the populace by the neck and shouted “HORIZONTAL PROGRESSION TRY SOME DIFFERENT BUILDS OUT WHY DON’TCHA!”

    As is, I can run say 6 different Mesmer builds in the game depending on what I am doing, and depending on what I am doing, they are all effective. So there is horizontal progression. The majority of your population will just be lazy and run what they hear is best. If there were no levels, it would naturally push people towards what the game was really about.

    I would also something I’d change about Taugrim blog. =P I would suggest you not base things on second-hand accounts from buddies. The MMO audience is completely unreliable. Everything sucks, everything is wrong, no wait just try this new thing, oh wait it launched so now it’s bad. Playing MMOs for years, and trying multiple MMOs, all I know for certain is that even my MMO friends are terrible sources for critical feedback on a game. Too much groupthink and nonsense. Heck, I complain about Ascended gear, but it’s not that big of a difference, even in WvWvW.

    • taugrim says:

      Some of the design team wanted to go level-less

      I hadn’t heard that before.

      Do you have any links?

      I would suggest you not base things on second-hand accounts from buddies. The MMO audience is completely unreliable

      Understood.

      In articles, I tend to only reference people’s opinions that I know and trust, and in this case (GW2), I have also experienced fighting against better geared players – you can duel in WvW with players from other factions and talk to them about what they’re doing/how they’re geared.

      • I am not sure if I can dig up the articles where this is mentioned, but I’ve heard it mentioned many times before. I believe it goes back to before launch, and the company discussing Hearts in PVE. At first, there were no levels and play testers felt lost, and then still a bit lost once levels were added, so they put in hearts to give direction of where to go.

  18. cantafrond says:

    It is unfortunate that ArenaNet promised one thing and delivered another, but the Ascended gear grind does bring one benefit to the game: it gives “hardcore” players something to do and something to work towards. Guild Wars 2 is certainly geared (pun intended) towards more casual play, but attracting at least part of the “hardcore” audience is good for the game because it adds some variety to the playerbase.

    If they removed the gold sink from it, I think it’d be a lot less problematic for many players.

  19. Sunjammer says:

    For what it’s worth, I can corroborate aseriousmoment’s comment regarding GW2 levels. I remember reading something like that, and I tried looking around in old Arenanet postings and even web archives of their old company blog (since they’ve taken it down), but can’t find a link. It’s possible it may have come from a third-party interview of Arenanet very early in GW2’s development, maybe even a magazine (print) article.

    As for the one thing I’d like to see changed in GW2, like many others have mentioned, it has to do with Ascended gear, but my take on it is a little different. What I’d like to see is a hard cap on gear stats to exotic tier on WvW. In other words, players can continue to bring Ascended, Legendaries, and whatever other gear tiers Arenanet decides to introduce in the future, into WvW, but the stats on them in WvW will be capped at exotic level, essentially rendering these items as cosmetic variants of exotics. That way, in PvE, the stats can continue to increase to accommodate Fractal dungeons or whatnot, but players in WvW won’t have to be concerned that they lost a fight simply because their opponent spent an extra half-year grinding away for the extra 5% in stats.

    Although I can’t say how difficult it would be to implement such a change since I don’t work at Arenanet, from a design perspective, I think this would be easier to put in rather than gutting the whole Ascended system. Like you mentioned, Ascended gear is now so ingrained into the game (with the crafting, Fractals, etc), it would be very difficult for them to remove entirely. However, the gear stat cap, I think, would at least help to level the playing field for WvW, where a more equal footing between players playing against each other would be more ideal.

    Anyway, thanks for time and thank you for all your posts. I find a lot of your articles to be very insightful and thought-provoking. Please keep it up!

    • taugrim says:

      For what it’s worth, I can corroborate aseriousmoment’s comment regarding GW2 levels. I remember reading something like that, and I tried looking around in old Arenanet postings and even web archives of their old company blog (since they’ve taken it down),

      You wouldn’t happen to know why they pulled the plug on their blog, do you?

      I love dev blogs, it gives us insights into their design thinking.

      I would love a game without levels, where everyone starts with a base set of functional abilities, and over time you can specialize in those abilities or acquire new ones. But that at any given time you can only slot a dozen or so (just as a rough idea).

      So a veteran player may have a bigger menu to choose from in terms of their spec than a new player, but the new player can still be functional right out of the gate.

      As for the one thing I’d like to see changed in GW2, like many others have mentioned, it has to do with Ascended gear, but my take on it is a little different. What I’d like to see is a hard cap on gear stats to exotic tier on WvW. In other words, players can continue to bring Ascended, Legendaries, and whatever other gear tiers Arenanet decides to introduce in the future, into WvW, but the stats on them in WvW will be capped at exotic level, essentially rendering these items as cosmetic variants of exotics. That way, in PvE, the stats can continue to increase to accommodate Fractal dungeons or whatnot, but players in WvW won’t have to be concerned that they lost a fight simply because their opponent spent an extra half-year grinding away for the extra 5% in stats.

      I really like that suggestion, but I’m sure a lot of the hardcore “I deserve to have better stats than you in WvW because I put in the time (or money)” crowd would disagree.

  20. Richie "Bog Otter" Procopio says:

    As you know, I play quite a bit of Guild Wars 2. The grindy nature of acquiring ascended armor and weapons has lead me to simply not do it. It’s not fun to me, and I haven’t spent the time and resources to do so.

    But I also don’t feel like it’s necessary to collect ascended gear. I played WoW for 7 years and as an endgame raider I felt compelled to acquire every single advantage I could in order to be more effective during raids. I would grind out reputations, level new tradeskills, and do all sorts of grindy tasks to improve my DPS by a few percentage points.

    I don’t have that incentive in GW2. I can run dungeons and fractals just fine. You don’t need it at all for sPvP. I’m not a big WvW’er, so I can’t comment there.

    Overall, I’m hopeful we’ll begin to see some horizontal progression open up in GW2. I think we’re going to see the ability to acquire more skills (for weapons, utility, heals, and elites) and unlock different weapons for different professions. There has been some community/developer collaboration threads on horizontal progression happening on the official forums.

    • Scottpoet says:

      Basic simulation of a 5v5 pvp match illustrating the effects of gear imbalance.
      Team1 +5% stat bonus to gear Versus Team2 no bonus.
      Note subsequent results from previous match carried over to next iteration.
      5v5 4v4 3v3 2v2 1v1
      5 – 5 6 – 3 7 – 1 12 – 0 —
      10 – 10 14 – 11 13 – 7 14 – 2
      15 – 15 18 – 15 16 – 10 16 – 4
      19r1 – 20 19r3 – 19 19 – 13 18 – 6
      19r6 – 21r3 19r7 – 21r1 19r3 – 15 19r1 – 8
      _______________________________19r6 – 17 19r3 – 9
      _______________________________19r9 – 19 19r5 – 10
      _______________________________19r12 – 21 19r7 – 11
      _________________________________________________19r9 – 12
      _________________________________________________19r11- 13
      _________________________________________________19r13 – 14
      _________________________________________________19r15 – 15
      _________________________________________________19r17 – 16
      _________________________________________________19r19 – 17
      Team2 eliminated round 32 while team1 can still field 2 players.

      I realize this probably doesn’t make sense to anyone but hey I scratched it out while looking at this thread @2am & felt like 30min of work deserved to be posted.

      • Scottpoet says:

        wow the text program really messed it up FU

      • Richie "Bog Otter" Procopio says:

        Keep in mind though that ascended gear doesn’t effect GW2 PvP. Everyone has the same gear in PvP.

        • Scottpoet says:

          I don’t remember the post, but Taugrim mentioned that Ascended gear amounted to being 5% better in WvW than exotic gear according to the people he used to play with on Blackgate. It’s not particularly modeled after GW2 but it is a good excercise for anyone into MMO pvp to understand the consequences of a small buff to gear in pvp
          5% = 1/20
          Take a player that requires 20 actions to kill another equally geared player and who in turn can survive 20 actions. Roughly a 30second mirror match fight.
          However with a 5% gear bonus to one player means they can kill that same player in 19 actions while a 5% bonus to defensive stats allows them to survive up to 21 actions. A coin flip of a fight turns into on player surviving consistently with 10% health.

          Basically I just used those numbers to estimate a 5v5 between a team with a 5% gear advantage and a team with no advantage.

    • taugrim says:

      As you know, I play quite a bit of Guild Wars 2. The grindy nature of acquiring ascended armor and weapons has lead me to simply not do it. It’s not fun to me, and I haven’t spent the time and resources to do so.

      You are too wise and sensible, Richie!

      I don’t have that incentive in GW2. I can run dungeons and fractals just fine. You don’t need it at all for sPvP. I’m not a big WvW’er, so I can’t comment there.

      Yes, the PVE design for dungeons in GW2 is more about properly managing the fights, not a stats-based enrage-timer challenge.

      There has been some community/developer collaboration threads on horizontal progression happening on the official forums.

      Would love to see those bear fruit :)

  21. Jake says:

    I’d change the PvP class balancing system in Word of Warcraft. Some classes are just too overpowered while some are very squishy. I’d also change the loot system…if I’m a PVPer, I shouldn’t get PVE items from world bosses all the time (when I don’t get gold). There should be a feature where you can set whether you want PVP items or PVE items.

    • taugrim says:

      I’d change the PvP class balancing system in Word of Warcraft. Some classes are just too overpowered while some are very squishy

      I heard from a good friend that the balance in MoP was better compared to Cataclysm.

      Would you agree?

      I’d also change the loot system…if I’m a PVPer, I shouldn’t get PVE items from world bosses all the time (when I don’t get gold).

      It would be much more convenient if a player can play the kind of content they want, earn credits, then spend it as they please.

      That said, I know that would make hardcore PVE players made when PVP players get PVE gear through PVP as good as theirs, and vice versa.

  22. Sujitsu says:

    The Combat Revamp… Now that its out of my system..
    I don’t think I could just pick one thing from a specific game, but maybe as a whole I think what would do the most good in games these days is to drop the hand holding/ no need to be better than you are today design philosophy. I can’t tell you how often I find myself playing with random individuals that have so much potential but never seem to reach it. Why you ask? Because in today’s games they simply don’t have to. Its this one size fits all crap we’ve been fed in western culture for the past 10 years. We need to get back to the idea that its OK to fail at something and that others just might be better than you are right now. It gives us something to work for and it makes us appreciate things when we get them.

    Still trying to find that perfect game,
    Sujitsu

    PS: I miss you buddy, we need to talk soon.

    • taugrim says:

      maybe as a whole I think what would do the most good in games these days is to drop the hand holding/ no need to be better than you are today design philosophy

      I agree.

      The game should teach you the basics, but they should take a long time to master. That’s what I like about WoT: easy-to-learn combat, difficult-to-master.

      Still trying to find that perfect game

      Are you playing ESO?

      PS: I miss you buddy, we need to talk soon.

      Yea it’s been a long time since we talked. I drop by Mumble now and then but haven’t seen you.

  23. Sujitsu says:

    I’m actually not playing ESO. I also tried the beta, but I played about 15 hours of it. And it just wasn’t for me. I didn’t think it was horrific or anything, but It just wasn’t enough to justify another purchase.

    I actually Don’t even have mumble installed atm, my SSD finally died after 3 years and I haven’t bothered to reinstall it. But I’ll get that done when I have some time off work.

  24. Syruz says:

    @Tau-grim, I totally agree with you on premium ammo. At first it’s like “Well you can purchase it so everyone technically does have the ability to access it although for some it is harder than other via premium tanks and accounts…then you get in a t8 tank in a t8 game and… everything is penetrating you… it’s like wtf is the point even being in a heavy tank if every bloody tank is gonna penetrate me anyways. I mean at the point some mediums are doing respectively close to the same damage and moreover they have the ability to get in positions heavies just can’t. They have greater field presence during a changing battlefield, they have lower profile with generally more bouncier turrets, they are faster and have greater maneuverability to where if a medium catches a heavy out in the open well it’s dead anyways. They also make great flankers… I mean you put that up against everything the heavies are supposed to be… The strongest armored tanks with the biggest guns next to tank destroyers and really they got nothing because the armor is being totally negated. In fact I switched over to mediums and have found myself liking them more just for those reasons. After T6 in the t150 most people know how to play the game and the veterans carry around 5-10 Heat rounds for the “game winners” so really… I mean I believe that this idea of premium rounds is one of those “Good intentions but, fails in appplication” type of situations. I totally understand being in the bloody pzIII/IV with no heat ammo… The tank couldn’t penetrate a wet napkin with a diamond blade cutter.. but when you are putting premium ammo into tanks like.. the t-69, Batchat,- and Su 152, and just penetrating everything with the simplest ease takin off half of peoples health in a burst… well I’m no genius but there might be a problem.

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