Let’s be playfully controversial today.
Breaking news of the last few hours is that two of the core three Aussie guilds that laid big foundations for the Isle of Janthir server, Southern Cross (SC) and The Kelly Gang (TKG) have transferred off the server and moved on to Jade Quarry.
While I’m a little disappointed that a core bit of the server community will no longer be there, and the logical thinker in me understands perfectly, the cynic in me is chortling.
Say whatever pretty things you like about “commitment,” it appears that there are many different types of commitment after all.
There’s commitment to the server and its community (aka server loyalty,) there’s commitment to one’s guild and personal friends (aka guild loyalty) and there’s also, horror of horrors, commitment to having fun (and all the varieties thereof.)
And it turns out, some are prioritized over others.
It is clear that for SC and TKG, that lately, the Isle of Janthir has not been giving them the level of professional hardcore WvW action that these guilds, regular 7 days a week, rain or shine participants, have been seeking. The Oceanic timezone in particular seems to be a morass of casual leaderless zergs pitted against some huge, well-led, tactically minded teams. Uphill fighting against stupidity is always hideously morale draining.
(Personally, I’ve flipped my hours some on the weekends and been playing more in the NA timeslot which seems to have better tactics and use of siege, so yeah…)
And after, we presume, a carefully considered decision, they’ve decided to prioritize the enjoyment of their guild members and their fun by moving on to a decidedly more WvW-focused T1 server, where the fights will no doubt be a lot more exciting and constant and competitive and at the level which they prefer.
I rest my case.
Fun über alles.
Chortling aside, it makes me start to wonder if this guild moving phenomenon we’re seeing has been considered by the designers when they made WvW.
Are we seeing something that will ultimately be healthy for WvW, in that these periodic guild shifts provide change and novelty to servers who are moving towards stagnancy in their tiers based on ELO rating?
Some people claim they’re getting sick of seeing the same faces in WvW, the same guilds and the same tactics for the past, oh… 2-3 weeks now. More and more, it’s looking like players -don’t- have long term patience after all and a one week matchup is about as long as ArenaNet can push it. The hoped-for two weeks? I suspect a rebellion would be had and 75% of WvW players will turn up in Orr and in dungeons instead.
Guild movements shake those things up, with a little drama spice on the side. Especially if it’s a big guild shifting territory. Titan Alliance and RUIN in particular have sent Henge of Denravi and Eredon Terrace on a freefall towards the bottom rankings, causing a mad jostling of servers as they inherited pieces of TA.
Alas, all the excitement is to be had on the corpses of two servers.
Personally, if something that drastic happened to IoJ, I would transfer out too. (My own criteria is a crowded server, enough to PUG dungeons with at the timezones I play, enough to accomplish DEs in Orr, and to a lesser extent, enough WvW action going on.)
Or is it unhealthy, in the sense that these multi-game-spanning guilds are more focused on their own communities and less about fostering -server- communities?
One of the constant complaints from players of oldschool MMOs is that these newfangled MMOs simply don’t feel like home anymore, no one recognizes each other, there’s no familiarity and certainly, no such thing as server loyalty.
For a while there, I harbored a little idealistic hope that perhaps we would see something different in Guild Wars 2, that as more level 80s migrated to the WvW endgame, trust and respect would be engendered and there would be more server togetherness.
More and more, it’s looking like this optimism is getting brutally shot in the face. For one thing, WvW is not the only endgame. It does look like a hefty helping of PvE players would never be caught dead (or alive) in a PvP zone, as sanitized and un-trash-talky as WvW is. When I take some time out to farm stuff in Orr, I see a whole bunch of new different faces that I’ve never seen in WvW before.
Trust, respect and server togetherness? Hahaha. Since the week of IoJ’s tier 1 foray, where I think a shit ton of people pushed themselves over and above the limits of human endurance and monetary expenditure, the WvW maps have gotten somewhat worse in terms of armchair commanders, less communication and scouting calls, and an increase in tactical bickering that has led to a minor server implosion. I suspect SC and TKG are not the only guilds to move out, I haven’t seen certain other tags lately either.
I’m only relieved that it’s so far, been a minor implosion. Other servers have had it worse in terms of how much drama surrounded their “tactical disagreements.”
It’s looking more like what’s happening is that there is a WvW community forming, rather than separate server communities. Like professional athletes, some of the more hardcore WvW guilds look to be cycling from team to team, wearing whatever colors suit them at the moment, pitting themselves against the challenges they prefer. Screw the server, they’re all just pretty names, ultimately it’s the guild tags they wanna fight.
And I do have to wonder what this means in the long term for WvW.
PvP is an inherently competitive dog-eat-dog format. What we often see in FFA open world PvP scenarios is a few large guilds clambering on top of everyone else, destroying the will of the majority to even enter the fight. The sheep wander off somewhere else to have fun. The wolves run out of sheep and start preying on each other. And then even the weakest wolves quit and the remaining few look up and start whining that there’s no one left to beat on. Cue the end of that short-lived open world PvP MMO.
WvW is obviously not as bad or as accelerated a death spiral as that. But word is that even the biggest servers are finding WvW participation dropping off, that the outmanned buff has been seen at various timezones and the queues are shortening (except on reset days and weekends.)
Do we read into these guild movements a sign of server consolidation, a circling of the wagons, PvPers seeking out their own kind, a hope that they can achieve the holy grail of three servers fighting 24/7 indefinitely (perhaps six servers was too optimistic, given the forces of entropy acting on a three-month old MMO?)
It’s really hard to say, because a month ago, a lot more guilds dispersed out the other direction to attempt to fill 5-6 servers.
But I really wonder, in the long term, if we’ll see these guilds closing ranks again as attrition takes its toll.
What’s the cause of the attrition? I’m not sure. It could be a combination of many factors. People get tired of the MMO and stop playing, period. Tons of new games to hold their attention with. Or people getting tired of the lack of, ahem, external reward in WvW. PvPers live for the battle, but there isn’t enough of them to fill all the maps, and I suspect PvE folks are discovering that other GW2 activities are a lot more profitable in terms of virtual monetary gain.
I can run a dungeon three times a day and get 75 silver easily in just end-of-dungeon reward, not to mention the spare coins from the items in the chests and the mobs which may drop 5-15 silver.
I put on a magic find suit, and go to town spamming staff 1 in certain Orr DEs – I still hate Plinx, it’s over-farmed, but I’m quite fond of the Gates of Arah and Grenth chains – and it’s like a loot pinata of blues, greens, crafting materials and the occasional yellow. (Only still in the 90-100% magic find range. It might get even better with higher.)
I spent an hour flashing blade teleporting into various air elemental sparks, killing them meditatively to music, and I even met two guys in my timezone to party with, and all three of us popped 4, 3 and 2 charged lodestones respectively. You know how much that goes for on the TP? 2 gold each! (I’m still debating on whether I should be hoarding my measly two in an effort to get 250 for a pretty greatsword skin, or if I should just offload the darned things now.)
If we run the merry go around supply camp karma train in WvW, maaaybe we might get an insanely good karma rate and decent gold return, but frankly, it isn’t tactically sound at all. No, instead, most of the tactically sound options are goldsinks. It’s draining, in every sense of the word.
And I think, increasingly, people are wondering, what’s the point?
If you’re a T2 or T3 server, there’s a common goal. Wheeee, we wanna get to T1!
When you get there, the brutal truth is that you find out it’s just more of the same. More relentlessly paced.
Which really starts to differentiate those who love the art of killing and live for the ganks, while weeding out those who don’t really find it fun.
Not to mention, for some people, there’s also commitment to real life, to balance out commitment to fun and all the other types of commitment mentioned above.
I used to push 8-10 hours easily on weekends just WvWing, probably 12-16 when it was really ‘important’ with time out only for meals and an afternoon nap. Weekdays, maybe 3-5 hours in the night. Fun in the moment, fun while it lasted, but nothing lasts forever, eh? It’s like riding the launch wave because those crowds only come around once.
Some rethinking of my priorities later, it seems more personally healthy to me to only commit say, 1-3 hours as and when I feel like it, because obligations lead to burnout.
Surely, I’m not the only one.
And slowly, but surely, the WvW population might begin to shrink.
Let us also expect a dramatic crash next week, as the new and novel PvE content rolls out. Depending on how interesting and rewarding and repeatable the upcoming Lost Shores dungeon content is, I wonder how long it might take WvW to recover, and whether it will ever be the same again.