GW2: What Would You Do, Before the Last Day?

“The last day dawns on the Kingdom of Ascalon. It arrives with no fanfare, no tolling of alarms. Those who will remember, will speak fondly of the warm morning breeze. People carry on with their daily lives, unaware that in a short while… everything they have ever known will come to an end.”

All of Tyria is threatened.

There is no turning back.

You will face a decisive moment.

The point of no return.

gw2-noturningback

All this messaging has set off an interesting Reddit speculation thread, choice snippets of which I include below:

reddit1reddit2reddit3

Nah… there’s no way… they couldn’t…. could they?

Our desire for static unchanging persistence, for “permanent” content, for lack of change, screams “NO.”

Apparently, the promise of an MMO for the bulk of its players is not that it is “living” or simulates the real world with changes that ensure you can never step in the same river twice, the attraction is more the promise of permanent persistence, that it is always there and constant and piling on more and more stuff, a hefty elephant getting bigger and bigger and clunkier as it gets older.

But this is a company though that has proven willing to kill its babies, its already-built content. Stuff gets removed, replaced, new art assets come in to take the place of the old. Changes and iterations, in search of the next optimal or best.

The sylvari didn’t start out looking like how they do now.

Kessex Hills and Lion’s Arch are forever changed.

And you know what, as much as we might hope for rebuilding to occur, for some of that old beauty to return, truth is, we really can’t step in the same river twice.

I don’t think Anet will ever be so lazy as to just patch back in the original art assets and go, hooray, rebuilt!

If Lion’s Arch does get rebuilt again, one day… it might harken back to the old, but I bet it’s going to look different… hopefully better.

But you know, just like that Reddit user said, “I still have this pre-searing feeling…”

Let’s think about it.

Anet wouldn’t want to split the playerbase. Chucking in an expansion’s worth of zone content into a normal expansion box pretty much means that everyone who wants the new stuff will have bought a box and gallivanted off to the new lands. What about the slower players who haven’t played through Tyria, do we make them go through it before they join us in… say, Elona or Cantha?

Well, if open world Tyria isn’t habitable anymore, that kinda solves that problem, doesn’t it?

New players might just start as new Canthans, or new Elonans, or new visitors to the new land. If the content is still spread out on a 1-80 scale, they can pretty much level up in Elona or Cantha without ever knowing Tyria, with completely new personal stories that our Tyrian-origin characters won’t have.

Lore-wise, the waking up and movement of an Elder Dragon means a swathe of destruction on a scale that we as players have never witnessed in person before.

It may not happen abruptly in real time. Anet appears to have learned that a two week/four week pacing seems to keep most players on track as far as story beats are concerned. For something of this scale, they may let it stretch out to months (which also gives them time to polish up the next dribble of content.)

How better to create demand than to also artificially create scarcity?

What if we knew that Tyria as we knew it was going to be no more… come… oh, I don’t know, Q3 2015 or something.

Six more months to do whatever you want to do in Tyria, before we say goodbye.

Wouldn’t it be enough time? A new player could buy GW2 and pretty much play up all the Tyrian content in that time, if they wanted.

If they wanted to come in, like, one month to world’s end, there is also always the possibility of saying, “hang on, wait a month and then you can buy GW2: the Elonian edition, the standalone expansion and come play with the rest of us in the Crystal Desert” or something along those lines.

Well, all this is still hypothetical, until we hear what news they choose to share with us at PAX.

But even if it never happens and they’ve got some completely different ideas on the table, perhaps, just perhaps, it wouldn’t hurt to play the game as if we were never going to see Tyria again.

If each zone as you knew it was going to blow up the next day and be wrecked, or even just change and be lost in some other way, what would you have wanted to see or save or preserve in your memories?

gw2-spiral

This weekend, I’m entertaining thoughts of and trying to formulate a plan to carry out The Great Screenshot Pilgrimage.

The scope of it, I’m still trying to nail down, given the supremely limited time I have available and all the other more achiever-oriented things I also want to do.

Ideally, I would want to preserve each zone in my memories doing a walking tour like what I did for Orr, just ambling around and taking screenshot photos of pretty much anything that catches my eye. There’s a lot of unpredictable beauty in GW2’s zones and it’s simply the best way I know to stumble across a scene composition that just sends chills of awe down your spine. But jeez, it takes time and can use up 2-3 hours in one zone. There’s like 28 zones in Tyria. I can do that over a period of months, not this weekend before next Tuesday’s update.

So I started brainstorming a whole list of options for a screenshot project, that might be completed in differing spans of time:

gw2-thaumanova

  • Take the -one- defining picture of the area or zone. Or take a picture of the first thing you think of when you hear the zone’s name. (Those may not be the same thing.)
  • Take 3-5 representative pictures of the zone, covering the major landmarks and scenery.
  • Do it encyclopedia or wiki-style, a picture for each point of interest or vista or named landmark.
  • Do a walking tour of the zone to capture pretty much whatever catches your eye.

gw2-oakheart

Basically, I think my primary desire is to take sufficient “photographs” to recreate my memory of the place, with the secondary desire of wanting to capture unexpected moments of perfect beauty to share with others.

I -was- hoping to kill a few birds with one stone and use a character that needed to a) map explore and b) travel to all the dungeons, but I found out to my dismay that the camera height for an asura is set so low to the point that /sleeping doesn’t really hide one’s body from the image.

Grrr. It’s still possible, but very annoying to try and find workable angles on the asura, whereas I can pretty much just hide interface and /sleep on a charr anywhere and not have to worry about it, beyond the odd shoulder or arm spike getting in the way *hides everything.*

So it looks like I will have to do my screenshots with my tallbies, one of whom has completed map exploration – which would at least make waypointing convenient, but not get me anywhere in terms of map completion, or with the rest at some 40-50% completion, the partial fog of war making it a bit hard to figure out just where I’ve been or not that particular session… bleh, still deciding.

One thing’s for sure.

I tried experimentally doing Metrica Province and Caledon Forest today to get an idea of the time it might take for each zone, and I noticed that I was absolutely playing the game in a different manner, with my goal to look for beauty, rather than the next thing on the to-be-completed list.

gw2-caledon

The act of photography really prompts a lot more in-the-moment mindfulness and a new way of seeing, making you more aware of things you would previously not have seen, being so focused on doing your other mundane things.

Perhaps we should all try playing (or even living) as if we might never see the zone we’re standing in again, rather than assuming it’ll be around for forever.

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17 thoughts on “GW2: What Would You Do, Before the Last Day?

  1. Miss Mojo says:

    I don’t play enough to have a opinion nor to speculate. I just wanted to say I really loved your screenshots 😛

  2. pyrusic says:

    So I might only have 6 months to save up for PC upgrades and get started on this awesome-looking game before most of its content disappears? That sort of sucks =(

    But it also sounds really exciting. That ‘never step in the same river twice’ feeling sounds really cool to me. I’m sort of tired of bumming around worlds that don’t ever seem to change.

    Of course, if the new content turns out to be less interesting than the old, it’ll suck. But if it’s at least just as interesting, then the big shift of losing something as near and dear to so many players’ hearts as the land they’re standing on and the places they’ve been… That just seems so damn epic.

    • Jeromai says:

      Well, this is all just speculation. Nothing is confirmed.

      We have an update on Jan 13 that is meant to conclude this season’s Living Story, and an anticipated big announcement some time Jan 24 at PAX South, I think it was.

      You probably don’t need a big PC upgrade to be able to begin playing GW2 now. I was playing it two years ago on an already six year old computer, albeit on more minimal settings. It still looked pretty enough, because the artists also checked that the game looked good at low resolutions.

      • pyrusic says:

        Awesome. Glad to hear someone still cares about poor people these days, haha. Both my video card and storage are in desperate need of a step up, though, which means a power supply as well. And, what-do-you-know, my case doesn’t take power supply upgrades. So all-in-all, the minimum I’d have to spend would be around $500. And I’m between jobs at the moment. It wasn’t originally meant for gaming so I’m paying for it now.

        How’s the game for people new to the genre, though? The only similar game I think I’m passable at is League of Legends.

        I’ve read what you wrote on classes and builds, how it’s more skill/creativity and less grind. That’s definitely a plus.

        • Jeromai says:

          Well, one of the original goals of GW2 was to be an MMO very different from the traditional genre MMOs, and thus be friendly to both people completely new to the genre, and people tired of what the usual suspects were doing.

          Personally, I’ve often found that the people who struggle the most with GW2 are players used to WoW-style MMOs and come in with that baggage, unwilling to let go of what they already ‘know’ to be ‘true.’

          My opinion is that the revised new player experience does make it easier and more guided for new players, and the megaserver ensures you’ll always see other players in the lower leveled zones.

          The big thing I think people completely new to the genre really struggle with, would be WASD controls and mouselook camera.

          If you’re a gamer, with prior experience of WASD keys for movement and turning the camera with mouselook from other genres like first-person-shooters, that kind of stuff usually isn’t a big deal. Players not used to the controls will tend to have to put in more effort and personal practice to get the hang of it before other things.

          Everything else, learning the important of timing or movement in combat, how to gear or create builds, etc. can be learned over time. The community has certainly a much better reputation than League of Legends’, and is generally happy to answer any questions.

  3. bhagpuss says:

    “Perhaps we should all try playing (or even living) as if we might never see the zone we’re standing in again, rather than assuming it’ll be around for forever”

    Or perhaps we should see this as the equivalent of a book-burning. An attempt to remove a work of art entirely from the world, in this instance for commercial purposes rather than for reasons of ideology. That’s how I’d see it, should it chance to happen.

    I mentioned something on a thread at Hardcore Casual the other day and this firms my feelings considerably: I’m done with virtual worlds. Not interested any more. Once I thought they were a good idea; now I realize I simply didn’t have the knowledge or experience to make that judgment. They aren’t. Or not for me, at least.

    I’m absolutely in the camp that wants “unchanging persistence”. I already live in a world that changes constantly in trillions of ways over which I have no control. Why would I need a pathetic shadow of that, spooned out to me in the form of glib entertainment? Unchanging persistence is something I can’t get in the “real world” and it’s something I very much desire.

    If they do this insane thing will I quit? I doubt it. If they announced a brand new MMO I’d play that; this would effectively be the same thing. I already dislike almost every decision they take, though, and, were they to make a decision of such crass, selfish insensitivity that dislike might well turn to contempt.

    ANet have long struck me as arrogant. Some cabal within the heirarchy is more in love with its own self-image than anything and this kind of flamboyant “look at me!” behavior would be entirely in keeping with that hermetic worldview. What players want or need won’t matter. Even what makes the most money won’t matter. This is all about the perceived personal prestige of the individuals involved.

    GW2 reeks of that solipsism and always has done.

    • j3w3l says:

      I think their might be two interpretations of the living world here. Arenanet seems to believe that does mean constant change, to remove and replace what is already there as a way of continuing the story of the world. The Other way is just continously add or maybe tweak what’s there enough to keep the illusion of change while at least keeping a sense of sameness.

      I definitely like the later and it seems those moments within gw2, like maybe southsun and the festival of four winds… just wish we got to keep the later.

  4. Andy F says:

    I wonder if the ‘decision’ to be made is whether (or when) to move your (level 80) character permanently to a new set of zones.

    Like, 1–80 you’re still in the regular Tyria we know and love, but at 80 you get the chance to change the entire world and unleash the (ahem) cataclysm, forever breaking the old world and forcing that character, and only that character, into the new.

    • bhagpuss says:

      That had also occurred to me. How did that work at Level 20 in the original GW? There was a rite of passage transition there too as I recall.

      The problem with that is that it’s effectively maintaining two MMOs simultaneously, although I guess the current game could go into maintenance mode and all development could be directed at the new area. That might work rather well – kind of a have cake/eat cake solution to the change/stasis dilemma.

    • Fascinating. When you put it that way, it doesn’t sound so bad.

  5. I was half-joking when I wrote that (first screenshot); one of the responses was a Michael Bay reference which I found to be amusing. It appears, however, that some players are quite willing, at this point, to undergo the equivalent of a second Searing in order to gain access to the new content. This isn’t a new method of content delivery to veterans of the original Guild Wars or, as Bhagpuss points out in his latest blog post, players of World of Warcraft’s Cataclysm expansion, so the idea that ArenaNet is deliberately engaging in a period of extended silence designed to psychologically prepare players to accept whatever devil’s deal they have in store for us in exchange for access to our refugee camp in the new Dying World is not entirely untenable.

    Personally, I despised the Cataclysm expansion. I had been playing for five years at that point and had become accustomed to a relatively static set of terrain, NPCs, and quests within zones. The simple act of dividing the Barrens into North and South killed it for me. Other zones were more “cataclysmic” and became unrecognizable.

    Fast forward to Warlords of Draenor and Blizzard is back up to over ten million subscriptions, at least for now. So it only takes, what, four years or so for players to get over a dragon ravaging the world?

    I haven’t been playing GW2 for quite as long as you have (technically a year, realistically the equivalent of a couple of months) so I’m not as attached to the current zones. I never saw Kessex Hills in its original form; I never experienced the discovery of Southsun Cove during The Lost Shores. And I’ve been through a dragon before, so it’s not entirely new to me. The notion that this may actually be a genuine method of content delivery, while still emotionally wretched in my view, would be going all-in on destruction as an art form.

    I suppose it explains the lack of substantive content changes over the past year. Why iterate on something you’re going to blow up anyways?

    I’ll end up playing with a bit more sentiment and appreciation but I tend to catalogue my experiences in the form of memories rather than pictures. I look forward to perusing your eventual gallery of screenshots, that is, if you intend to publish them somewhere like you did with your underwater tour of Orr.

  6. […] a rather hard guess considering Anet’s usual eccentric and enigmatic ways of development. Why I game wonders whether this will mean a Tyrian apocalypse much like what the original guild wars saw where […]

  7. […] Jeromai of Whyigame posed an interesting question- “What would you do, before the last day“- and answers it by taking a lot of screenshots in some kind of photography project- he even […]

  8. […] mentioned Jeromai’s question about what to do before the end in another blog post, but i want to leave it here, again. His musings about what might happen come […]

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