In Defense of The Small Game

On the GW2 Reddit, there are threads bemoaning the lack of an endgame right alongside threads in which new and returning players profess their utter overwhelm and confusion with what to do next.

leglight

Looks surprisingly not-too-bad on charr, and horrifically silly on anything else with the extra tail. Though when I’m ever getting around to playing a charr mesmer is another thing altogether.

Personally, I’ve just come off the really long term goal of making a second set of legendary armor (heavy and light now done, medium to go… at some point far far into the future); am still eyeing Astralaria with temptation but utter trepidation (second gen HoT legendaries are intensive); and settled on the more medium term goal of repeating a easier first gen legendary because I want the shiny title and the 25AP.

Besides earning gold and collecting a vast amount of T6 materials (which have thankfully crashed in price with the last few episodes and lack of economic controls), map completion for a third time is on the cards. That warrants a whole list of to-dos to eventually tick off.

In the meantime, because I’m in no hurry to chase yet another long term goal, I’ve been trying to complete the smaller, tinier achievements and collections that have been accumulating since Living Story season 4 began. There are a frighteningly large number of them.

Just when I think I’ve got a handle on what to do next, episode 3 “Long Live the Lich” drops.

So now there’s “Play Through Story Chapters” – which breaks down into three chapters, “Earn Roller Beetle Mount” – which breaks down into three multi-step collections, “Play Through, Explore and Complete New Zone” – which consists of a never-ending set of crisscrossing for dynamic events and clickable objects (the harvesting rabbit hole is a black hole of time suck for me), a slightly more finite set of map completion (albeit on only one character, lots of other lvl 80s to go, should I want to) and achievements of varying difficulty.

First impressions, by the way, is that this episode is very much a “new tech” episode.

formations

There’s a lot of what seem like under-the-hood tweaks to improve storytelling: from better NPC AI that form formations, in-instance object changes and scripting and zone phasing that are mostly remarkably used well in the service of telling a story, possibly over-fancy tweaks to the UI to indicate new status conditions, and of course, an obsession with multi-phase boss mechanics (with a visible focus on trying to stress to all players the importance of the special action key and the break bar)… and the beetle mount.

I’m overall quite okay with it; my opinion of the game these days rest more primarily on whether the servers are behaving or if I have to endure the multi-step process of logging in on a VPN to play.

Two weeks ago, I was entertaining the vague notion that I might pop back into Guild Wars 1 to attempt reaching 50 of 50 points of the Hall of Monuments.

gw1in2018

Launched in 2005, looks like this in 2018. Who’d thunk?

I logged in for long enough to admire the graphics update (for such an ancient game, it’s really good!), discovered the same annoyance with server ping still existed (obviously, it’s the same AWS servers after all, if the route between me and them is fucked, it’s going to stay that way unless I take a different route via VPN), then realized I had the same problem as all the new and returning players to GW2.

The game was too overwhelming. I didn’t know where to start.

Yes, there’s a very good wiki.

Yes, I could start from scratch. (And did take a new-ish assassin character out for a short spin through some quests.)

Yes, I could take a random stab at a Hall of Monuments goal, wiki it up, and then attempt to do it with an existing character.

(Granted, that would mean I have to also a) tidy up the character, b) remember how to play that character c) figure out the overall party build and how to operate all these heroes again and d) figure out which part of the map to go to… while e) attempting higher difficulty content that I didn’t do the first time around because other stuff was easier to go for points-wise.)

The length of time I would have to play to get anywhere stretched intimidatingly in front of me, while the little voice in the back of my head whispered, “You could be spending the same time doing the shorter GW2 achievements too.”

This reluctance to play games that are likely to take a good 30-100+ hours to get anywhere has kept me from playing most commercial mainstream games out there for quite a while now. (And if I do play them, I dabble an hour or two into it and then end up distracted by something else and not quite getting back into them.)

Instead I end up playing and enjoying odd little small games, like this free gem recommended from Rock, Paper, Shotgun: Princess Remedy in a World of Hurt.

The screenshots are nothing much to look at, but in play, it is reminiscent of Game Boy sprites, with accompanying 8-bit music.

You play a Princess out to HEAL -everybody-. Ostensibly, your final goal is to cure the handsome Royal Prince, plagued with a multitude of ills.

remedy2

But you’ll also go through ducks, ghosts, skeletons, mummies and even the odd human townsperson or two. Yes, Dark Lords are also included.

remedy1

Maybe healing him wasn’t such a great idea.

The actual “combat” segues you into a bullet-hell shmup screen against the little viruses, bacteria, emotional demons and other beasties that are plaguing the humans and monsters of this JRPG-like Hurtland.

It’s quick, surprisingly challenging in some later encounters, low penalty in that failure means you just try again and pretty whimsically funny.

remedy3

remedy4

The prince was kinda emo. I’m sure the seal will be a better ruler.

It only takes the better part of an hour or so to experience from start to finish, and is available for the low low price of free. What’s not to like?

So the sequel, currently going for 84% off on Steam for less than a dollar in my local currency, made it into my Summer sale Steam cart alongside a bunch of other short indie games.

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One thought on “In Defense of The Small Game

  1. bhagpuss says:

    After six years and tens of thousands of hours I have no Legendaries, neither weapons nor Armor nor anything else and no more inclination to get any than I had when I first looked at the original shopping list back before launch. It looked like insane busywork then and it looks even more like that now. For gear that has no functional use and looks for the most part like total crap it seems not so much like a waste of time as an indication that ant intervention is needed.

    I will probably get the Roller Beetle because the collection for that looks quick and easy (despite people moaning it’s slow and difficult) but I don’t want the stupid-looking thing and unless it performs very diferently to how I imagine I won’t ever use it.

    I am entirely against “end-games” in MMORPGs and have been for twenty years but GW2 makes a very good case for why they’re a necessary evil. Without clear, linear progression you risk ending up with what ANet have muddled their way towards – a mish-mash of largely pointless, purposeless and unsatisfying generalized activities that appeal to few other than completionists, min-maxers and obsessives.

    It was disturbing to see in the recent SuperData report that GW2’s earnings are bumping along beside Aion’s. Either Aion is a muh more successful game than we’ve all been thinking these last few years or GW2 is in fact as unpopular in the market as many people who don’t play it have been saying for years. With MegaServers it’s very hard to tell from inside the game just how populated it is but I’m beginning to think that, were they to have stuck to regular server tech, we’d be down to something like four or five servers each for EU/NA by now. If that. Probaly with another round of server merges on the way.

    Your observations on the new Living Story are interesting. I dodn’t notice *any* of those technical changes. I didn’t see any objects change in play, any zone-phasing or any changes to the UI re status conditions. (Actually, on the last, I pretty much never look at status conditions so I probably wouldn’t have noticed that whatever they did).

    On the contrary, I very much agree with UltrViolet, who said “See all previous comments regarding Guild Wars 2. There’s no need to write a new post. Nothing has changed. Whatever they spent extra time to work on is not evident to me.” Exactly so. The only difference I could see what that it seemed less irritating than usual but that ocasionally happens – I certainly don’t expect it to be a trend.

    I’m at the point now where I think that I might be close to being done with GW2 for a while. Possibly for a long while if they don’t come up with some new ideas. MMOs are repetitive by nature but GW2 is almost a parody of the genre in that respect now. The “new map every episode” is a perfect example of the warning to be careful what you wish for because you might get it. Here comes the new map, same as the old map. I can’t even be bothered to explore this one even once.

    All I do in GW2 now is my dailies (every day, three accounts) and the Krait daily. I don’t really even play WvW at the moment because no-one cares any more and won’t until the Big Revamp, which i wouldn’t expect to see until 2019. If then. Mrs Bhagpuss barely even logs in any more. I’m far more interested in EQ2 these days for the simple reason that DBG routinely and reliably provide plenty of content that is accessible, amusing and offers rewards that I desire for my characters. Plus there’s a very clear, understandable and achievable progression path should I choose to invest the time and effort. GW2 has none of that, despite having a development team that must be literally ten times the size of EQ2’s , at the very least.

    GW2’s drop in, drop out access model means I’m never going to stop playing it entirely but my enthusiasm for it is something I can barely remember any more, let alone still experience. I am still interested in the plot (and how biazarrely it’s being handled) but I can get all I need in that respect from watching YouTube and posting on the (increasingly abandoned and forgotten) Lore forum.

    GW2 needs an expansion every 12-18 months, not every 2-3 years, to hold an audience. It’s not WoW. It also needs something bigger and more meaningful inbetween than quarterly LW updates that take – at the most – a week or two to complete, even for the most casual player. ANet, as a company, are going to need a better cash cow than GW2 as it stands if they plan on being around for another decade. This one’s looking spavined and dessicated.

    I hope they’re hard at work on GW3 behind the scenes.

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