GW2: The Fine Line of Frustration

Look, ma, a pickup zerg killed Pyroxis!

It must be hard being a game developer.

Make things smooth and easy and players will steamroll through content, proclaiming themselves gaming gods and demanding more challenges NOW. Fail to sate them, and they sulk around, declaring the game boring and stagnant and having “nothing to do” and quit before you know it.

Make things difficult and challenging, and when players run into problems, the resulting frustration recoils and whiplashes around seeking any available targets. Forums explode into a frenzy of complaints and stridently worded requests for things to get easier.

I guess I’m watching the fallout from the Crown Pavilion changes and Queensdale champion train destruction with a sort of embittered fascination, rather than frustration, because I’m not very affected by either.

Some bloggers and regular readers may have noticed that I’ve been going around being a tide controversial and combative in their comments bar, for which I do apologize if I come across as an elitist arrogrant prick or argumentative troll.

I stopped to ask myself why exactly I felt prompted to act this way.

And the answer that came back was: I’m waiting to see if anyone gets frustrated enough to challenge me in reply, to stand up for their own argument and get a better handle on why they were feeling frustrated beyond “I tried it once. It was so much harder than I expected.  I felt bad. There was nothing I could do. I don’t want to do it anymore. I quit.”

Because frustration is normal when one encounters a setback and resistance to the fulfillment of individual desires.

Because it’s what different people do in response to frustration that proves interesting.

Four months ago, I was as frustrated as frustrated can be with regards to the Marionette.

There was a great deal of rampant zerg stupidity and much failure in the early days too.

Worse, there were achievements that I wanted to complete that were reliant on the bulk of the playerbase not being SO BAD at the marionette that I would never get the chance to enter the later circles to attempt the various dodging achievements with my piss poor latency.

I wrote a guide, and I tried to force it down everyone’s throats as blatantly as I could, advertising it on Reddit even.

I -could- have just given up, thrown up my hands in despair, wallowed in misery and written reams of whining complaints on various forums instead.

I’m sure my tiny guide was not the sole cause for the playerbase improving at the Marionette.

Many other people stepped up. Commanders tagged up and did their best to count and distribute people into five different lanes, regardless of the willful selective deafness of certain players. Others took it on themselves to broadcast and disseminate info into mapchat. Players who repeatedly attempted the Marionette took their individual steps towards getting good enough to reach a collective success indicator, wherever they were on that journey.

Did we lose some people? Very possibly there were those that just tried it once or twice, died repeatedly and decided, “never again.”

It stands to reason that they would not have gone back to the Marionette, and the ability curve may have adjusted itself upward a tide due to that too.

They were going to be lost anyway. One cannot help those that do not wish to be helped.

I see some interesting parallels between this update’s Champion Pavilion Boss Blitz, and the Marionette and Escape From Lion’s Arch events.

They all have a considerable chance for failure.

Failure induces frustration.

Frustration produces… ???

Complaints, certainly.

And counter-trolling in response.

Neither of which are terribly productive, but very much human nature.

Then again, in the Escape From Lion’s Arch, one super frustrated individual created an entire new megaguild called MEDX, devoted to rescuing Lion’s Arch citizens. An enormous number of people appeared to buy into that premise, perhaps wanting to be heroes to the NPCs or perhaps wanting chances at the great loot, and we saw that guild have some good times in parallel with our TTS community, as we hopped various overflows.

We saw various servers take on the Marionette, and start succeeding over time.

The two biggest differences that I see between then and now:

Megaserver  – We’ve lost our server communities. I’ve not been shy to criticize this as not the most ideal state of affairs ever. Everything is now overflow, filled with more aggressive strangers, given very little incentive to cooperate or communicate because they’ll probably never see each other again. Also, language barriers.

Where Have All the Leaders and Followers Gone? – With each patch that pushes more coordination and communication, anyone who has had the slightest bit of self-interest and sufficient motivation to do something constructive about it has self-organized. They’ve found their communities, that come complete with people motivated enough to lead, and people with enough self-interest to follow.

Those left behind do not appear motivated enough to do anything beyond complain and feel helpless and sorry for themselves.

No, really, it’s not hard. Help is but one Google and some typing away.

I read a random post on the GW2 forums, and I see someone from an EU server talking about GW2Community. Google it.

NA server-wise, TTS is the name on everybody’s lips, but there are undoubtedly others. Just off the top of my head, Attuned does Wurm and so on.

Network. Reach out to people. Send a whisper and ask for an invite to an organized instance if you wish it. Numerous guests and friends of friends have jumped into these events and had a great time.

Nooooo….. but I don’t wanna join a guild or a community! I don’t wanna change instances! I wanna log in and immediately have the world revolve around me and do what I wish and give me loot!

It reeks of being unable to adapt or change. It also suggests you don’t necessarily want it badly enough, and would prefer not to have to interact with a community (some of whom may be people you dislike personally) – in which case, it’s a personal choice and your tradeoff is that you don’t get the reward that you also wanted.

Everything is about tradeoffs.

Still, I see the beginnings of a little bit of hope this time around…

Tarnished Coast WvW used to have what was known as a case of “celebrity commander” syndrome. Jadon, Nightlight, Odinzu, Deyja. The militia would flock to them. Anyone else who tagged up had a much harder time.

But times change, and these commanders moved on, and mostly dropped into various personal guilds, away from the public eye, or transferred away. For a time, the militia ran around lost, helpless, frustrated, losing structures like unthinking headless chickens who couldn’t even find a feather on their bodies, let alone an arrow cart.

Some militia individuals, away from the zerg mind, did their best or what they could, improving their game, be it siege or roaming. New individuals stepped up to command and rally the unthinking zerg.

Out of frustration, very possibly, but they did, because they were motivated enough.

Tonight in the Crown Pavilion, while just cranking through a bunch of my Queen’s Gauntlet tickets for my sick and twisted lottery attempt at the Choice of Lyssa recipe (will never happen, I’m sure, but well, Gauntlet Chances are easier to feed a gambling urge with than lockboxes that require paid keys), I overheard an individual being very chatty on mapchat.

Said person was rallying others, updating on boss percentages, being very friendly and unassuming but being very -present- and indicating signs of activity, and said person had a commander tag.

I looked down through the railing at my feet as someone in the cage I was spectating fell over and died to Liadri, with a grumbled “lag” as I rezzed him, and lo and behold, there was a group of 7-10 people at the centaur boss under us, and over to the left, another group that seemed to be working on ogre with another commander tag in play.

My FPS was 12-14, and I decided the other 40 odd tickets could wait.

I got down the ramps in time to see that two bosses were left, and that this plucky group of pickups was busy taking turns to fall over to Pyroxis’ bouncing projectiles and get rezzed.

Oh, what the heck, I thought. And went to join them.

45 seconds later, I was backpedaling out of combat to put on wall of reflection and shield of the avenger because there didn’t seem to be anyone in the group putting those up.

I was the sole source of reflects for a minute or two, but a few more people started trickling in, attracted by the fight.

Someone else stepped up and spelled it out. “Use reflects on him.”

My one pathetic wall of very sporadic reflection was suddenly joined by a second, and a third, staggering themselves out appropriately. Later, there was a mesmer feedback around the big scorpion destroyer.

We still took turns getting mauled by the bouncing unreflectable lava projectiles, and getting rezzed.

I worked on improving my personal game by getting better at dodging them when I saw them coming (the ones that come in from the sides or behind though… grrr…)

Surprise, surprise, I was having fun.

The other boss must have died at some point, because our group of 10ish suddenly ballooned to 20-25 as a second group appeared behind Pyroxis.

Steadily, his health bar dropped and the meanie scorpion poo-head died.

And we all got a reward chest.

Bronze, yes, because this was cleanup after some other group prior had left the instance at 4 bosses.

But my point was that this one person rallied a map that were willing to sit in an instance left at 4 bosses, doing their own thing, and performed a successful clean up. Said person had to leave to go to work, so there was no further attempt. Still, it’s proof of concept. Proof it can be done.

There have been heartening posts on Reddit that some commanders got together and tried rallying a map – some with positive results, silvers, with eyes towards gold, feeling it almost within reach.

There has been the case of AARM, and another guild on Northern Shiverpeaks whose name I unfortunately forget, who decided to “host” a map. They bring in 30-40 odd guildies, and like magic, when those around them see that a serious attempt is being made, also start to cooperate and coordinate out of peer pressure and self-interest.

Since we now lack server communities, perhaps this is where some guilds may find a niche to step up and step in.

The magic of MMOs is in community, after all.

And sometimes players need a little push before they care to talk to others.

The key, really, is that no one is forcing anybody into this. The rewards are available elsewhere and not exclusive.

Abandon the map if you truly hate it. Abandon the game, even, if you’re that bitter.

But if you’re frustrated enough by the thought of not being able to achieve gold or silver on one tiny piece of temporary content, then maybe start thinking of ways to be part of a community that can manage to do so.

That community might be a guild, a cross-server community, that very map instance you happen to be on, or the GW2 community at large.

9 thoughts on “GW2: The Fine Line of Frustration

  1. I like your post and agree with the underlying principle you advocate. However, the problem here is NOT the players. It is Anet’s schizophrenic design approach to the game. One minute it is about a dynamic world and the next they are amping the achievement focus to eleven. Is it any surprise that the players reacted they way they did.? Anet cultivated a farming and achievement culture in their game. While I welcome some of the changes they are making, players are right to be angry. The implicit contract was I farm and go through your achievement treadmill in return for rewards and mildly challenging but predictable content. Anet is adding more interesting challenges (which I welcome as I am less achiever focused) but players have not received any additional benefits from having to work harder. Instead the treadmill is now more tedious. Anet has designed a themepark game that is achiever and reward driven. If they want to introduce more challenging content, they may want to have a rethink on the basic farming premise of their game in the first place.


  2. I object to the very existence of cross-server guilds. I made that position quite clear when TTS was formed. I said that if I couldn’t kill Teq on Yak’s Bend with people from YB I wasn’t interested in killing him at all. Cross-server guilds represent the worst kind of selfish, self-serving cynical opportunism. Then, I dislike guilds in principle and believe MMOs would be far better off without them at all. Cross-server guilds are just a bloated, diseased exemplar of the worst excesses of the system.

    I went on several serious Teq attempts in the first couple of weeks. I went so far as to join the voice chat (and I loathe and despise voice chat in MMOs). I wasn’t in any successful attempts. After a couple of weeks YB gave up even making serious attempt I likewise gave up any interest or expectation in ever doing Teq.

    Then came the Megaservers and was no longer able to make an attempt as Yak’s Bend. I went to see how Teq was doing under the new regime and succeeded on my second visit. Pleased to get it ticked off but it was a pale experience compared to what it would have been had I done it on YB.

    Marionnette I absolutely loved. I did it as many times as I could, I didn’t count but I must have done it 70 or 80 times at least, mostly on Overflows. I never even thought about whether was doing it on YB. Server loyalty simply wasn’t a thing there. The loyalty was to each individual attempt and to my Lane or Platform. Logic? Consistency? There is none? It’s all about the emotion.

    Queen’s Gauntlet was dull as ditchwater the first time. The rewards were (and are) horrible. I don’t care that it’s changed, only that the new version is just as tedious and boring as the first, albeit for different reasons. So far I have spent a total of 10 minutes there.

    I think that you’re trying to paint shiny gold paint over a rusting hulk. The way to revitalize and bring back community feeling in MMOs is not to add content and systems that encourage a whole raft of disparate, separate, meta-communities. Unity, openness, inclusion: what we thought GW2 was going to bring to the form, none of those things is in any way enhanced by any of the design decisions currently being enforced on an increasingly surly and unwilling population.

    I’d say a lot more but there’s a Tournament to win – er, come second in…hope that was the kind of combative rebuttal you were looking for 😛


    1. See, the difference is that you’ve evaluated it and decided it’s not for you. And happily switched to other priorities without fuss or muss.

      I can’t really bring myself to like fractals too – I do the bare minimum for what I want when sufficiently motivated enough, but it doesn’t really resonate for me. I don’t sit around kicking and screaming that other people are doing high-level fractals and getting their grawl shaman fractal tonic and that I’m not, and that this is objectively BAD content.

      It’s content that doesn’t suit me, that I don’t like, period. I have other ways to access Ascended gear, though there are a few exclusive rewards to fractals and I could in theory build a better case against it.


  3. Thanks so much for this post. I had all but given up on the FotFW but you have made me decide to at least try. 🙂 And hey, maybe i’ll shove a guide down everyones throats too. 🙂


    1. Please do.

      And if you’re on an NA server, feel free to friend and whisper Finder Blazebane – if I’m in a Crown Pavilion instance, I would be happy to show you what coordinated or organized groups can achieve.

      Really, it’s just about asking for help and making connections.

      There’s tons of people on Reddit just saying they need help with such-and-such, and people are replying back with suggested strategies and help.

      Nor is everyone in TTS (or most other organizations) is a god at gameplay, we’re all average ordinary people, some better than others in different things.

      But the difference is that there’s teamwork.

      And we do need some content for this type of gameplay as well.

      Even if I do solo a ton and spend 75% of my time in the Labyrinthine Cliffs, I’m glad it’s there for the 25% that I do feel like grouping, and that others who love 100% grouping and coordination get their day in the sun.


  4. Well, this post kinda ticks me off. ^^ I think it’s because I have been doing these things that you’re saying people should do, since the proper “difficult” open raid type things started, ie Tequatl. Though, I’ve not bought a commander tag and nor do I plan on wasting a 100g on that. I’m a member of TxS and was happily doing plenty of Tequatl and Wurm runs (and even a few Marionette runs) until the Megaservers and horrid boss schedule hit.

    You can think the rest of us who find the Pavillion to be utter fail are whinging, but I think a lot of us are getting to the point where we’ve had enough of fighting against overflows and now Megaservers. We’re getting sick of pleading in map chat, hoping that other players will have a modicum of common sense or the ability to read.. yet so many just don’t. We’re sick of having so little control over the people who we are paired to play with. Since the Marionette, this game has so blatantly highlighted why I always joined more serious kins/guilds/alliances in other games for content. I like to play at a higher skill level and play with like-minded folks. I know you’re so very against hard core groups, but that’s just too bad. 😛 Everyone has the right to play how they like and no one should be constantly forced to teach. (I’ll do so sometimes.. like just on Wednesday I joined a CoE 1 pug with “be nice” in the description so I knew it wasn’t going to be some l33t run. Soon it became apparent some of them had never been in the dungeon. I stayed and I taught and I was nice. :P) I’m tired of fighting with over/underflows, and pleading, and coddling with players who don’t appear to want to cooperate, etc, etc, I think it sucks that server communities just aren’t there anymore… it’s all wearing me out. It’s frustrating as I love Tyria, I like GW2’s mobile combat.. I want to be having fun.

    An earlier commenter said “the problem here is NOT the players.” Well, no a lot of it isn’t. A big part of the problem is ANet not giving us the tools to organise, get in the same map as others, and try to herd cats. But also a lot of the problem is the players: the ones who can’t bother to read map chat when so much information is being given there or let alone just read the text under the bosses’ vitals. It’s utterly depressing to be honest.

    GW2 seems to be yet another game that’s showing how open world raids fail.


  5. Btw, if you’ve not seen this video, you should as it accurately represents my experience when trying to do things with TxS:

    But hey.. just google things and be part of a community, hmmm? 😛


    1. So what I’m hearing from you is:

      “I do not like the process of getting into an organized map as it involves a great deal of spam-clicking and waiting”

      “Anet has not given us sufficient tools to organize randoms into coordinated groups on megaserver maps”

      “I am not willing to be constantly teaching or leading an endless mass of players who don’t seem to be listening or willing to improve at all”

      “I would prefer to have a private instance where I know my spot is guaranteed and I get to play with likeminded people on the same page”

      Please feel free to correct me if I got the gist of your argument incorrect. I think it’s important to chunk these because you’re representative of another subset of players that can get too easily mixed in with the prevailing tendency for one group of players to call another group “bads.”

      I actually agree with you to varying degrees on the first three, to be honest.

      I have sat around spam-clicking for 30-45 minutes because I know the organized maps are super popular and in high demand. There’s always more followers than leaders. I put up with it as a tradeoff because I’m a follower, I really don’t enjoy leading and it aggravates me a lot less to click patiently by myself for half an hour than herd cats.

      Can this experience be improved by Anet? I would love it if they could. Be it through a queue or lottery queue that we could just select then go about our business until it pops, or something more clever that hasn’t occurred to me.

      I am in total agreement on the second as well. I’m not a fan of voice chat, and the more in-game communication and coordination tools we have, the better. Again, for now, I tolerate the workarounds, but this experience can always be improved.

      I just don’t think the fourth is the only necessary byproduct and solution. And it may simply mean we have to exercise a bit more patience and extend a little bit more teaching (I like guides, fer instance, I don’t have to repeat myself over and over, and perhaps it helps -someone- new somewhere down the road) as we iterate down towards it with Anet using us as guinea pigs.

      If one is convinced that private hardcore instances are the most satisfactory solution and doesn’t mind being exclusive about it and hates the thought of Anet experimenting with open world raids in their Living Story updates, that is also a valid preference.

      It doesn’t make the Crown Pavilion objectively bad, but subjectively not your cup of tea.

      I do think Anet’s playing with a new-ish niche here, as private instance hardcore raiding is covered and done better by a whole morass of other MMOs. This sort of fits folks with irregular schedules and allows easier penetration by newbies at the cost of a touch more frustration working with different people.

      It’s not like private instance hardcore raiding doesn’t have a whole different set of frustrations to go along with it too. 🙂


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