Ever feel like you’re running in place just trying to keep up?
Ever feel like you don’t like where the train is headed but feeling obliged to stay on or be left behind in the dust?
J3w3l has a post up about Firefall’s Free-to-Play model affecting the feeling of a community once it opened its gates in beta.
Apparently, all it takes is a couple of selfish-minded individuals to grief a generally cooperating community, suddenly creating bad blood and mistrust and a tendency to retreat back to more insular groups.
I can’t help but see a number of parallels between that and what’s currently happening in Guild Wars 2 after the Queen’s Jubilee patch.
Like Bhagpuss, I too, in the spirit of *ahem* enquiry, took a gander at the various “farms” and gold grinding methods that have sprung up in response.
1) Champion Pavilion Legendary/Destroyer/Pirate Farming
The most obvious one is where most of the population gravitated to, especially in the early days.
Ironically, given what the developers have mentioned in their stream, that they were trying to create a challenge for 20-30 people and that the map holds 75 or thereabouts, I can’t help but think they had these vague hopes that the zerg would simultaneously split into two groups to tackle both legendaries at the same time.
Except, of course, Guild Wars 2 players being all so cooperatively zerg-y (and also wusses in terms of daring to tank a Legendary by themselves or in a small group) very quickly developed a communication ritual of picking one Legendary to tackle at a time as a huge mass of 50-60 people.
Even easier if a commander was on the map – “follow the blue dorito” being an ingrained response to almost anyone who has dabbled in WvW or done guild missions.
The reward for cooperating is significant. Everyone gets two champion loot bags, two chests with watchwork and a ticket, and plenty of veteran loot opportunity. In the downtime, people spam 1 on destroyers, hoping for lodestones, or go after pirates for their bags.
The problem of a farm being too popular, though, is that everyone goes there. Framerates plummet as a result. Tagging can be a challenge with so many people racing to get hits in. Supply is plentiful and prices also take a downward hike. (T5 and T6 claws are a prime casualty of this, and even destroyer lodestones have taken a noticeable plunge.)
To make matters even more interesting, some individuals have jumped onto this ride hoping for free levels as a lowbie. Except non-80s, while they do upscale, simply don’t do as much damage or have as much survivability as 80s. So there’s plenty more people keeling over, the Legendaries are taking longer to go down, slowing down the farm considerably.
I had a good time at the start with running around the Champion Pavilion zerging, to the point I managed to hit DR on my magic find geared character and had to swap out and let him rest for two days or so. (I’m not sure if spending time logged on doing nothing would have helped, but I got so depressed at seeing only white loot pop off mobs, even in normal maps and hitting different mob types, that I had to put him aside and run around with another less afflicted character instead.)
By the time I came back though, some of the initial loot pinata enthusiasm had worn off, the surge in popularity of the Pavilion over the weekend was leaving me at a consistent 9-10 FPS, which was annoying me severely, and I had picked up a new standard of comparison…
2) The Frostgorge or Orr Champions Loop
… Facing the onset of DR in the Pavilion, it was time to go elsewhere and one had already heard the rumblings and talk about an even more lucrative loop than the Champion Pavilion, which had suffered a nerf or two.
It took slightly longer to find, but the presence of blue doritoes was a dead giveaway and random chatter on map chat also helped in the learning process. The first loop or two, I resigned myself to chasing after the zerg, always slightly behind and missing champions here and there. Once one figures out the pattern and locations that the group is using, then one is able to get in on the fray more effectively.
I had another decent time following a commander who only used one waypoint in his Frostgorge loop, for several hours, but there were always these rumblings of noncooperation threatening to arise.
Visitors from other servers would come by to criticize the particular loop that was chosen. Some frustration would be expressed at folks who dared to take down a champion out of sequence. Another blue dorito with their own ideas on the specific chain to be used could spring up and pull their own followers, causing two groups who might work out of sync with each other.
Out of curiosity, I went visiting Yak’s Bend and Sanctum of Rall, to discover that different servers had somehow evolved their own distinct preferences on the exact order to kill champions in.
More frustrating to me personally were loops which used too many waypoints. Loading times are annoying. I understand I can delete my Local.dat file, which might help, but I haven’t been ready to face the erasure of my customised settings just yet. Trailing behind causes missed champion tags and decreased farm profitability.
Besides, while zerging was fun in a mindless kind of way, it was getting more than a little boring and getting on my antisocial nerves.
(And don’t get me started on farms that are built around intentionally failing or failing to complete events. I don’t participate in those.
I find those completely antithetical to the spirit of the game, with the eventual result that some poor well-meaning but ignorant soul who comes along will get yelled at for not instinctively knowing what to do, or promote “griefers” who really just have to play the game as intended but get the extra satisfaction of pissing off a whole bunch of cooperating “exploiters.”
It’s just a war waiting to happen. I simply don’t want to be there and the sooner developers address those, the better, in my opinion.)
3) Deadeye Gambit Farming
The supposed high risk high reward option for solo players, with the caveat that one needed the right builds, gear and profession.
And, as I found out, also a decent computer with FPS above 10.
I own a berserker guardian. You would think I’d be able to do this without a hitch. He doesn’t have scholar runes or ascended trinkets though, which does drop his damage by a smidgen.
I went for four gambits instead of five, choosing not to risk a giant quaggan getting in the way or losing damage, and after a few false starts of trying to figure out the best rotation (wait for him to teleport over? teleport over with flashing blade to speed things up?) and getting killed shotted for daring to experiment, I was generally managing to take him down 3 or 4 times out of 5.
What was getting me killed consistently was not having enough time to react between his disappearance and me hitting a teleport before he began kill shot. If he failed to get blinded in time, bam, went 12k damage on me, and I only have 12.9k or so health.
I eventually got around this by hitting renewed focus around the time he disappeared then judge’s intervention’ing in, leaving me 3 seconds of invulnerability to soak that kill shot whatever the range, but that meant waiting for the cooldown each gambit attempt, which does, of course, delay farming rather significantly as compared to say, some berserker thief with signet of malice and a pull, or a warrior who smashed him before he could even teleport.
Timing was still an issue. If I hit renewed focus too early, he’d kill shot me just as the damn thing wore off. If I hit it too late, he snuck it in before my animation even started. Timing, of course, being very unpredictable when you’re hovering at 300ms latency from your geographic location and 10 FPS from the zerg doing farm number 1.
There were a couple of odd bugs that got in the way now and then. Deadeye disappeared from my arena a couple of times, leaving me perplexed for a minute or two before he decided to return with a kill shot.
One also ran into the problem of wait times. As the Deadeye farm got more popular, more people start wanting to do it, and once you’re in queue with 3-4 other people, even if all of you manage to kill Deadeye without a hitch, everyone’s collective profit per hour falls off. This naturally leads to some distinctively selfish behaviors showing up in some individuals, like refusing to rez or snatching turns in queue.
Even if you run into nice chaps all around, you can’t help but think you’d all be better off if you could each find an arena to yourselves, so time is also spent running around and trying to guest to hopefully lower population servers – which still aren’t that empty when everyone is funneled into one zone and people with the same idea as you have also guested over.
And while I was fortunate enough not to run into anyone who openly laughed at me trying to kill Deadeye and failing, I couldn’t help but feel just a little embarrassed if I made a timing misstep or annoyed if stuff happened that was out of my control (My finger is over the button in anticipation, Deadeye disappears, I whack teleport, bam, dead at his feet. I’ve no human way of reacting any faster than that, alas. Packets take time to get to my computer and back again, apparently.)
Feeling too much at the mercy of my 2.13GHz processor and mightily sick of the feeling of wading through mud in the Crown Pavilion, I slunk away with my tail between my legs, wondering what else I could do.
At this point, an outsider might be wondering…”Why this crazy obsession about gold and grinding for it?”
Has the bulk of the GW2 population been caught up in some kind of mass hysteria? Why is everyone scrambling to keep up with the Joneses?
Well, besides the natural urge of some people to desire spending on luxuries like working on a Legendary or a shiny new weapon or armor skin or some gem store item once they own a surfeit of cash, TP prices -are- creeping upward steadily as the bulk of the population gets a little wealthier.
Joining a zerg is something most players can do, after all.
This leads to anyone with an interest in not losing too much purchasing power to try their darnest not to fall behind in earning power.
But it may also result in players feeling forced to play a certain way, else feel like they will be facing an unlevel playing field soon.
Granted, there are some gold sinks in place in the Jubilee. Wanting to collect all the rune recipes will set you back 3.75 x 6 gold, plus 275 x 6 watchwork sprockets. We will not mention how much everyone has probably spent trying to get past Liadri. It’s unlikely that inflation will get too runaway.
I’m also anticipating that the coming days of Black Lion Sales will also serve to sink a considerable amount of gold via Gold to Gem conversion, driving up the price in the meantime. This is bad news for anyone looking to “get free stuff” with gold, but moderately good news for anyone prepared to spend money on the Gem Store and maybe even convert Gem to Gold the other way around.
I have a hunch that with the one-year anniversary coming along, this is exactly what ArenaNet is aiming toward, pushing up the currency exchange price a little higher, creating more temptation to just directly lay down cash for Gems instead, or convert it to in-game gold.
Being someone who is prepared to go either way on this currency exchange, I’m relatively unmoved as long as I don’t have to pay more than a month’s MMO subscription to simply keep afloat.
Also, after some thinking on the various ways one might be able to earn gold in-game, I realized that there were less obvious means to generate gold that have been downplayed over the mass zerg farms taking center stage. The new dungeon update, for example, does yield a gold per day for each different dungeon path run. There -are- champion loot bags in the dungeon too.
TP flipping has always been alive and well, through hell or high water.
And there is always some profit in taking the road less traveled and supplying things obtained where the bulk of the population is not, but still want anyway. That’s where I currently am.
It might not pay as much, but it lets me share in some of the wealth being generated, and gives me far far better framerates.