GW2: Perhaps Those WvW Season Achievements Are On To Something… (Or Maybe Not.)

I love yak backside... Not in THAT way though.

As I respawn for the fifth time last night, resolving to myself THIS time that I should be running the fuck away after successfully taking out dolyaks, rather than try to push my luck and be greedy for a 1 on 1 test of my 250ms ping and inability to see anybody’s animations at lowest model zerg-defensive crash avoidant settings, on a bloody thief at that (landing cloak and dagger on anything smaller and more mobile than a dolyak’s backside is not easy, let’s not even talk about being able to predict and evade anybody’s attacks)…

… it occurs to me that maybe the WvW achievements are working as intended.

(If somewhat clumsily and overshooting at times.)

You see, I wouldn’t keep coming back to be a victim if I didn’t have the little 135/150 number that I had decided to increment.

I’m a Bartle Explorer-Achiever. In lieu of anything new to explore, I amuse myself by selecting a goal at random and seeing if I can achieve it. At the moment, that means chipping away at the remaining six achievements of the WvW season 1 stuff, two of which are the minimum I need/want for the mini dolyak.

I have a ridiculously low Killer percentage – I don’t really get the whole dominate or be dominated thing.

I found a nice post on the SWTOR forums that gives a nice overview of the Bartle types, and then takes it a step further by positing that there are positive and negative variants of each type. The poster uses it to explain the predictability of Ilum Rage on his Ebon Hawk server, but we can also apply the model to GW2’s WvW.

As one might expect, WvW attracts a high percentage of Killers. Some of these are Black Hats, people who want to lay waste to others and aren’t too concerned if they massively outnumber their opponents, as long as they get to win. Others are White Hats (or at least portray themselves to be on forums), people out looking for a challenge and ‘fair fights’ to test their prowess and “skill.”

If you ask the Killers, nothing makes them happier than a whole MMO or server or world (or map) filled with other Killers, living the PvP dream, in ‘good fights’ paradise.

But the problem is, a world full of Killers isn’t self-sustaining.

As the SWTOR post mentions:

In the 1996 article, Bartle talks about the only 4 possible player populations that can assure stability/sustainability absent outside factors, one of which is the “null” scenario where no one plays. The other three populations are:

1. A balance of Achievers & Killers — the meat of a PVP server
2. A four-type equilibrium, where a heavy population of Explorers — the meat of a PVE server
3. A Socializer-dominated population — the meat of an RP server (this, in practice, has a secondary type that keeps it a “game” and not a “chat room”, requiring either a type 1 or type 2 population underneath the Socializers; hence having “RP-PVE” and “RP-PVP” servers)

Kenneth Hong also summarizes the same thing, pretty much, in another nice article about Bartle Types:

Bartle determined that only the following three configurations of player types were stable.

1. Action-oriented MUDs dominated by Killers and Achievers.
2. Games dominated by Socializers
3. Games with a balances of all four types

We can see this decline in effect with FFA PvP sandboxes like Darkfall where population numbers keep dropping while the game was niche to begin with. I was never there, but I hear Ultima Online crashed hard post-Trammel once all the PvE-inclined players promptly moved on to greener pastures.

Eve Online survives (and thrives, by some definitions anyway.) Why?

I posit that Eve is either a world of Killers and Achievers, or a world of four-type balance, or moving between the two in unsteady equilibrium. Earning isk is an incrementing of numbers. Crafting is an incrementing of progress bars. They’re drawing in enough Achievers willing to put up with and play with the Killers.

Explorers get a number of different systems to explore. Be it actual crunchy mechanics types of systems, or galaxy type of systems. Socializers get their corporation politics. But there’s always that fundamental foundation of Killer/Achiever balance to begin with.

How about in GW2 WvW?

When the game type began, there probably was a mix of all four types trying to see if they could find a niche.

But as time wore on, Explorers figured out everything they wanted to know about WvW and got bored and may have decided to move on. (Ie. lack of new maps, stagnancy, lack of change.) Socializers either found their guilds and stayed, or found an increasingly veteran-elitist mapchat too abhorrent and left. Achievers kept seeing the Living Story achievement shinies and ran like skritt after the next checklist every two weeks.

Leaving the Killers squabbling among themselves, consolidating every now and then by server transferring up and down to try and get the best population balance for fights amongst themselves, while fretting that WvW is dying because there’s less and less people participating in it and no changes and attention seem to be given to it.

Enter the WvW league and a whole bevy of achievements.

Suddenly the Achiever floodgates open.

Killers scream in fury because the balance has swung far too fast in the opposite direction. They’re completely outnumbered by these dirty PvE achievers who have no real clue of what to do in WvW.  They’re constantly dying and weakening their team and doing all manner of horrible non-kosher WvW things in the name of achievements. The queues are terrible! The fights are ridiculous!

As time wears on though, I wonder if we aren’t starting to approach back to something that more resembles a balance point.

The really hardcore achievers are probably done with their checklists and have likely turned their attention to their next 1000g or next Legendary goal and moved on. The easy path achievers have probably fairweathered out by now, having done their part contributing bodies and loot bags to the cause.

Leaving only the middle of the road average achievers still willing to work slow and steady on their individual goals, while dying to much better built and specialized characters of the Killer players, and possibly with the potential to get better while tracing the same road of progress that a youngling Killer takes. (Die, try again, improve eventually or keep dying.)

In the meantime, they’re bolstering the population and providing easy kills and wins to keep the Black Hat Killers of the opposition happy, while the White Hat Killers are kept busy either training their new militia or zergbusting larger more-disorganized numbers or running into their opposing number.

Of course, it’s easy for the equilibria to slip in a hurry.

If the White Hat Killers give up and get fed up with the admittedly sizeable onrush of Achievers (blame the PvE Living Story training of the past year!) and close ranks or disappear, leadership dissipates, the Black Hat Killers of the other side run rampant for a while, chasing away most everyone on one world, then throw up their hands and whine that they’ve run out of toys to play with.

The Achievers too, may leave after their checklist is done, looking for the next shiny and shift the population once again.

It makes me wonder about the new Edge of the Mists map now and then, and the GvG arena they’re putting up in the Obsidian Sanctum.

If the White Hat Killers are drawn to those places as a competitive format instead, I wonder what fate the older WvW maps will face.

Will there be any chance they reach a point of 1, 2, or 3 balance?

Or will they face the fourth option – the “null” scenario state where no one plays…

Whatever.

150 yaks done. 75 more to go.

Fights lost: A few. (Killers happy.)

Fights run away from: Lots.  (Killers QQ.)

Fights won: Um…

Every dead yak is PPT, right?!

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4 thoughts on “GW2: Perhaps Those WvW Season Achievements Are On To Something… (Or Maybe Not.)

  1. bhagpuss says:

    Very thought-provoking post, so much so that my reply turned into a digression on Bartle’s Archetypes over at mine.

    I actually did the Yak’s Bend Borderland Jumping Puzzle last night, something I have never felt the least need or desire to do in more than a year of WvW. That would not have happened without Achievements so yes I am definitely being manipulated.

    On the other hand, I really enjoyed it. Maybe I need direction and just don’t realize it.

  2. j3w3l says:

    I think it is a little too simplistic to think that all that’s needed for a pvp server or game are killers and achievers. For WvW there are always social types around to form guilds, organise communities and just those who like talking a lot. You need explorers to find the right areas, siege placement and tactical elements; to play around with builds and even what the enemy is using. It looks like I’m an Explorer Killer for instance… actually seems about right considering what I enjoy

    In reading through posts by the pvp community you can see a wide range of player types there, maybe killer is a primary or secondary

  3. […] Inventory Full and Why I Game have been discussing the battle test categories and how they relate to their particular […]

  4. […] and Jeromai each has a similar double-edged sword take on what these achievements are doing as well. Well […]

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