Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

23 November, 2012

A look at Guild Wars 2, continued
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 11:42 AM

This is a continuation of the last post about my experiences in Guild Wars 2.

I talked about the good and the bad, time to talk about the ugly, the things that make me weep in anguish that lessons from the past decades of MMO development have simply not been learned.

Character Update

After a bit of playing, I got my Asura Engineer up to maximum level. I ran a PUG dungeon (Ascalon Catacombs in story mode) and found out my character wasn’t very survivable at all. I was a one-hit wonder against most of the bosses; I adjusted my upgrades to focus some more on Vitality. Unfortunately, it looks like I got booted from the instance right at the end as I was watching the end cinematic, so I got no end rewards and didn’t even get credit for the dungeon; not sure what happened there, if it was malice from another player or a bug. I did notice that everyone else was racing through the game even though I was trying to watch the cinematics.

For character build, I’ve swapped out the thumper turret, which was mostly used for emergencies, for the elixir gun. Some fun abilities there and I have something to swap to in longer battles instead of waiting for cooldowns, but my original point remains: there still feels like too few options and my rotation is pretty much always the same.

I also earned enough gold to get 800 gems on the exchange to buy a new character slot. This was a goal I had set for myself to test the bounds of the economy. I go into some of my disappointment with the economy; I think there’s a whole other post about this topic, though.

Anyway, on to the complaining!

Crafting

Crafting is hit or miss for me in games. I was a perpetually disappointed Skinner/Leatheworker in WoW, feeling like my craft never really paid off even when I was a raider. In EQ2, my crafting level was often higher than my adventuring level, although my profession (Sage) didn’t feel overly useful other than making some of the best items for my character when I found the proper rare components. In LotRO, I mastered all the crafts on various alts before they raised the maximums with Isengard. In DDO, I’m a reluctant crafter, especially since I play a lot of alts on many different servers so I have to duplicate that mind-numbing grind multiple times to benefit all my characters.

In GW2, I’ve returned to my WoW experiences: I’m just not fond of crafting as a system. There are two main reasons for this. First, for most professions you need drops from monsters to craft. In some cases you need A LOT of drops. To the point you have to go murder monsters and grind out materials for a few hours. Only Jeweler can progress without monster drops, but you need gems that randomly generate from harvest nodes. For most of my characters, I’m sitting on a bunch of basic crafting materials (leather, cloth, ore, etc), but I’m missing the bits and pieces from monsters necessary to craft items.

The one bright spot to crafting is the “discovery” process. At least for cooking, it’s pretty fun to see how the different ingredients come together to make stuff. Of course, this leads to a ton of intermediate ingredients, so I haven’t played around with cooking much at all. Cooks are the other exception to needing monster drops, but you need karma-purchased ingredients from hearts for a lot of stuff, and you create a lot of intermediate ingredients that you can’t stuff into your collection space, taking up precious vault or bag space.

The second problem is that the economy doesn’t support crafters. When my Engineer hit level 60, I went and bought a complete upgrade of all my stuff off of the trading post for a grand total of about 7-8 silver, and did the same at levels 70 and 80. I wasn’t getting the top-of-the-line stuff, but I got sizable upgrades. This included full armor upgrade plus 2 new pistols and a new spear gun. There’s little point to grinding out crafting if upgrades are so easily available. Of course, I figure there are probably high-level crafting items that are highly sought after that will make the tradeskill somewhat profitable if you stick with it. I’m working up Jeweller to see how things work at top level.

The Economy

Wow. Where to start? The economy seems to be okay if you’re an established player or if you got in early. People brag about having piles of gold. Coming to the game a few months after launch, it’s been a nightmare. One big problem is that the economy is shared across all servers. This means that every seller is competing against every other seller. Great if you’re a buyer, sucks if you’re trying to sell, especially lower level stuff that will be less in demand as people race through the levels.

Economics has been described as the study of scarcity. If we had infinite resources that were available everywhere, there would be no need for economics because there would be no scarcity. This is basically what has happened to GW2′s economy. Stuff drops continuously, and you can put it up for sale from anywhere. Players can sell seemingly infinite items and there are no durations on sales, so there are a ton of things up for sale. The only restriction is that you must post items for at least one copper more than the price you can sell it to the vendor for; funny enough, this means the person would be selling it for less than the vendor will buy it for, as the 5% posting fee and 10% sales tax will almost certainly come to be more than 1 copper.

In WoW, the behavior observed was that people would tend to undercut each other by 1 copper. But, while in WoW you might be competing with thousands of other players, in GW2 you’re competing against hundreds of thousands of other players. This means that a majority of items that are not disposable or consumable tend to drop down toward the minimum price as everyone tries to undercut each other. The only items that seem to go for any significant amount of money are high-end rare drops.

As I said, this economic model is murderous for crafting. Prices on the trading post usually mean you’ll probably get better prices from the vendor. Buying components that normally drop from enemies is a black hole money sink you’ll probably never make back through selling finished products. And, even if you do find something that sells for above the minimum price, you’ll might log on the next day to find a hundred people have posted items undercutting you, leading to the price dropping significantly below your costs.

Arbitrage is much more difficult, as you’re competing with every other person in the entire game with the same idea. The most profitable things to arbitrage are the items that cost a lot. And, given the sheer flood of items, trying to corner the market on something is likely losing proposition, leaving you with an inventory of rapidly depreciating stock. It’s also funny looking at guides on how to make money from even just a few weeks ago are misguided; one guide from only a month ago said how a certain drop you could farm would “sell for 40 silver, not a lot” when now that item sells for 2.5 silver.

Let me give a personal example of how poorly planned out it seems the economy is. At level 63, the cost to repair my min level 60 gloves that were damaged by death was 1 silver 24 copper (or 124 copper). The cost to buy the same gloves from the trading post? 70 copper. Let that sink in a moment. And, the old gloves will sell to a vendor for 69 copper, so my repair bills for any commonly available item will be 1 copper piece if I can make it to the trading post. (Or I could salvage the old gloves for crafting materials, but given the cost of the salvage kit use and how cheap the materials might be on the trading post, I am still probably better off selling the item and then buying materials from the trading post.) Anyway, I think this shows a lack of planning and design as far as the economy goes.

I also think there’s a problem with inflation as the amount of gold required to buy gems is going up at an incredible rate, almost as fast as I can make money even though I play several hours every day. I’m not sure what sets the price for the gold to gems exchange, but I assume it’s based on demand and/or money supply in the world and the rapid inflation is a sign of a lot of money being generated by the high level characters in the game.

I suspect I’ll be writing a post about MMO economies soon, going into more depth about the troubles with GW2′s setup and how it could be fixed (or at least designed better in the first place.)

Levels

On one hand, I think levels can be designed away. I also really enjoy being able to go into lower level areas and still have the content be meaningful. On the other hand, GW2′s system feels like an half-hearted attempt to design away from level-focused design. With level scaling, the only benefit of level is to limit progression. It feels like level only tells you what you cannot do, what you cannot wear, what you cannot do during an event. It’s there solely to satisfy the Achiever urge to see a number increase. Given that you will downscale in level if you got to a low-level area, though, there’s no sense of progression where you can feel more powerful than the content you left behind.

I much prefer either eliminating level altogether, or having downleveling be optional. EQ2′s Chronomages are an example of how this could work. You can voluntarily lower your level and then go on a daily quest to get additional goodies. It keeps older content usable by the players while not diminishing the levels they’ve earned.

As I said before, though, I’m not an Achiever, so I’d be happy seeing the number go away so I can play the game at my own pace.

Static World and Incompetent NPCs

This closes the circle on one of the problems with story: the world is still static in GW2. I might go and kill a bunch of enemies harassing some beleaguered person, and they’ll send me a letter about how I “helped”, but I go back and still see the enemy there in the same numbers as before. Or, I might kill some horrible beast marauding the countryside to complete an event, but I come back not 3 minutes later to see that same monster marauding the same location with the same event. Or, I might do a series of events where a location is captured for the good guys, only to come back a bit later to find good guy corpses all around and a few monstrous mooks wandering around having re-captured the point I worked to get.

This is exacerbated by the fact that the world feels like it’s full of NPCs who couldn’t pour water out of a boot with instructions printed on the bottom. It’s not unusual to go to an event and find a bunch of NPC “corpses” lying around, where the NPCs couldn’t even put up a token fight against the enemy. (Of course, most of them can’t “die”, unless it’s required in the story script.) I suppose it’s supposed to make me feel like a big darn hero where everyone relies on me, but honestly it just makes me feel frustrated with the world. Especially funny when my Charr Guardian goes along, a proud member of the Blood Legion who are the fiercest warriors in a species of fierce warrios, but all I see at an event are tons of defeated Blood Legion characters. They’re a crack suicide squad, with emphasis on the “suicide” part, I guess.

Ultimately, it never feels like my actions have any real consequence to the world, even though the words on the screen say they have. And what change does happen is temporary. Worse, any change I want to make to the world has to be recognized by the system and part of an event. If I want to re-take a location for the good guys, I have to find the NPC that triggers those events. Given that I haven’t found the need to care about any of the NPCs, it feels like my actions ultimately mean little to the world. All the more frustrating since you get a tiny taste of what it could be like.

PvP/WvW

I’ve only done a tiny bit here. I went into the WvW area to do the jumping puzzles, but I got ganked for my troubles. :) I did finally get one of the jumping puzzles done, though. In the other, I got my first WvW kill when some poor bastard stumbled into a group of allies.

WvW looks like it has some promise. But, for now I’m enjoying the rest of the content.

So, there’s my full impression of GW2. Again, it’s a very well-made game. I like the visual style. But, there are a number of flies in the ointment that really harm the experience. I’ll likely keep playing for a while. But, we’ll see if I’m more interested in developing my characters in GW2 or changing my focus back to DDO.

What about you? What are your favorite things about GW2? Your least favorite? The things you can’t believe they didn’t learn from other games?


« Previous Post:





28 Comments »

  1. WvW is quite ridiculously addictive. Mrs Bhagpuss is out in the frontiers for hours every day and I’m getting drawn in too. Most evenings I do my Daily there now. It is pointless but that isn’t affecting its entertainment value one iota.

    I hear all kinds of comments about the economy being “broken” but as far as I can see it’s broken only for those people who want to “play the market” as primary gameplay (they can go find another genre as far as I’m concerned) and people who want to buy their way to Legendaries (where scarcity has raised the prices to insane levels). For everyone else it’s incredibly convenient. You can buy most of what you want or need very cheaply and conveniently, but you can also make good money just as easily (by “good2 I mean more than you are spending). A couple of days ago I upgraded every armor, weapon and jewellery slot on two characters from the TP and selling just two items I had in my oacks on the TP paid for all of it and left me in profit, and the two items sold in minutes.

    This has been my experience with the TP since beta – it gives me what I want for cheap and pays me for what I don’t want. And as for selling on the TP for slightly under vendor cost once the commission is taken, that’s well worth it for the convenience of being able to empty yout bags at any time from anywhere. I just put stuff on there for storage sometimes, priced outrageously so it won’t sell, and then reclaim it when I need it – it’s a virtual Pawnbroker!

    Would write more but I don’t have long this evening and I want to go play!

    Comment by bhagpuss — 23 November, 2012 @ 1:14 PM

  2. Regarding the Ascalon Catacombs: For some reason ArenaNet felt the first dungeon must be the hardest. Let me repeat that, it’s way harder to play the supposedly easier story mode with level 30-40 characters than to do the later “explorable” modes/paths with level 80 characters. People will have trouble, PUGs a lot of trouble and it will frustrate many to no end. Caudecus Manor, the next dungeon, is already so much easier. What were they thinking?

    Crafting & Economy: Crafting is only needed for certain things related to legendary weapons. Because you are absolutely right, even more so than in WoW people pour lots of cash into training crafting. Discoveries are a joke, as the discovery pattern is fixed and thus predictable in everything but cooking where you really have to guess the recipe. Materials are gathered at a lower rate than you level up, as you get XP for gathering, gathering the mats makes you even level up faster. Crafted gear never matched my level.

    I am rather selling Orichalcum (rare high level mining node material), salvaged Ecto, Mithril and most -berries for cooking on the Tradingpost. This is my main source of income, only dungeon runs come close to my “Ori runs”. My other way to make cash is buy orders: I order yellow quality weapons and armors to salvage them and sell the materials for more than I bought the source item for.

    There is some kind of economy there and oddly it works. People just love to craft stuff and sell it for much less than the materials cost them, just to level crafting, right? They must, otherwise I couldn’t afford exotics that easily. People also love to sell 1,98s orbs (gems) for 1,98 on the trading post and pay 0,11s listing fee for that… instead of selling them to the merchant.

    All in all – the economy and crafting a mess and indeed not well planned. Funnily older MMOs had better economies. UO had item decay and people could loot your stuff. Items had value there, and there was constant demand. For what is crafting good nowadays other than for people who really feel they want to craft unpersonalized gear (UO put the name of the maker on the item!) for themselves for several times the price they can just buy it for?

    WvW requires its own topic, IMO, so let’s talk about levels:
    Half-hearted describes the system of GW2 best. They didn’t dare to take away with levels, but also made them pretty meaningless through all level-adjust mechanic at the same time.

    What pissed me off in the Beta weekend already was the “IMPACT ON THE WORLD” rating for various events. There is one event that builds a bridge over a chasm where you otherwise must walk all around this chasm. But you are right, exactly the same event recycles, so… this was maybe the most meaningful and world impacting event, but how to rate the others? Basically, it doesn’t matter, people do events and hearts for zone completion and karma and the “world” itself is not much if at all changed. This is something that they promised for GW2 and still ask people about how they “feel” this has been accomplished. Well, I am afraid they didn’t quite make the events as dynamic and world-changing as they wanted them to be.

    You also probably noticed how much the Karka Event changed the world of Tyria forever. Because a new zone got added where there was nothing before, but else…?

    Comment by Longasc — 23 November, 2012 @ 1:54 PM

  3. bhagpuss wrote:
    I hear all kinds of comments about the economy being “broken” but as far as I can see it’s broken only for those people who want to “play the market” as primary gameplay…

    As I said, it’s broken in a terrific way if you are buying. For pretty much every 10 levels from 50 to the end I was able to buy full upgrades for a small amount of money. This was great as I was saving up my money to exchange it for gems. And, yes, if you keep an eye on the market you can find places where demand actually exceeds supply for a bit, but you can’t plan to exploit those for long because you are competing directly with every other player who has noticed that same problem. I found a few of these myself with some casual searching, but I noticed after a few days most of these opportunities were noticed prices were driven down.

    But, I think it’s pretty obvious that the economy was poorly designed. When I can buy completely new gear for cheaper than it costs to repair the item? When pretty much every blue quality item I found from levels 60-80 was already posted up on the trading post for the minimum price? I have a hard time believing this is what the designers intended to happen.

    As I said, I’ll probably need to write a post about how to design an economy, focusing on what went wrong with GW2′s economy.

    Longasc wrote:
    You also probably noticed how much the Karka Event changed the world of Tyria forever. Because a new zone got added where there was nothing before, but else…?

    Yeah, it seems ArenaNet does pretty good at marketing and PR, at least. :)

    Comment by Psychochild — 23 November, 2012 @ 3:14 PM

  4. On a whole…

    I think they had a lot of ideas they thought were great . . . and when they went to make them in practice it turned out not to be 100% what they were shooting for. It’s frustrating sometimes to see what I think the intent was supposed to be and seeing the reality. Someone might ask “well how can you miss that it didn’t work that way?”

    I’m a writer. An amateur writer, but all the same I write. I have actually saved the “rough draft” of a couple stories which were two sentences scribbled on a note pad while I worked a kiosk in an airport. The finished product resembled those two sentences only on the most basic level, and I am certain that the story I had in my head at the first two sentences was not the one when I wrote the last two.

    Then there comes the problem of when you work on something for very long you can stop seeing what’s actually there and start seeing what you think should be there. Writing a term paper or essay is fraught with this; sometimes typos sneak in and you don’t notice them at all. (Note: I wrote essay answers on a computer before spell-check. I know a few of you probably had the same experience. Even today, some typos can be a word and not get noticed unless you read it over very carefully.) This gets to be a problem when that nice release deadline starts looming closer and you realize you need to do a final check of all the code you wrote in a very rigidly defined limit of time. The closer you get to the deadline, the more you might possibly rush . . . and this is where bugs don’t get caught :)

    I rambled a bit, but the essence of that is that sometimes your finished product doesn’t resemble what you set out to make and *you don’t even realize it* until it’s done and someone points out you made a writing desk when you were supposed to make a table.

    On the Economy

    Big issues, yes, and while they’re trying to work on it there’s a serious gap in some aspects. They said they were interested in making it so Crafting wouldn’t be profitable at the vendor; they did. However it’s also not very appealing to other players until you get higher and people find it easier to go buy off the Trading Post than hope a piece they need drops.

    They put in the Gem Store so now they have the very real problem of “someone can turn real money into gold” and the economy balance for your average game is out the window. Anyone at any time can drop more money into the system so long as they’re willing to spend. Initially I wasn’t bothered by it. Lately I’m more worried as some people are essentially going “how else can I afford this?!”.

    On repair costs

    Yeah, they’re a little harsh when you’re in tough content. My first run at a dungeon cost me . . . a lot for that time. And a couple times in Orr (big, high-level zones rife with undead who can dogpile you very quickly and very easily if you’re not cautious . . . and sometimes even if you are) I wound up drying out my wallet completely.

    I took it as a lesson to be more careful and less daring. Also . . . to learn to dodge more. Look for patterns and signals, like if one of the undead was going to fling a harpoon and drag me in close to begin beating on me. Dodge now, because if you go in there you’re going down, little ranger . . .

    And on the other hand, so long as I turn around and vendor anything I don’t need . . . friends don’t need, and isn’t of value on the Trading Post, I generally have money for repairs and waypoints. Especially when I was feeling rushed for time to join guildmates doing the Claw of Jormag fight, and needed to hit the bank.

    I don’t know what I’m doing differently than most of the population. I’m not RICH by any means (15 Gold to my name) but neither am I ever scrounging for coppers to get my boots shined after some Drake drooled all over them.

    Comment by Kereminde — 23 November, 2012 @ 9:16 PM

  5. A followup question for bhagpuss: do you do crafting? If so, which one(s)?

    Again, I think that the economy should have been prepared to tolerate a crafting system where you were expected to churn out more items than you would personally need in order to advance. I think the current economic design really discourages crafting as actual gameplay. Crafting does give a lot of xp, so I could see it as a way to work up alts to a higher level by pouring money into the alt, though. Probably not what the crafting designer intended.

    Kereminde wrote:
    … but neither am I ever scrounging for coppers to get my boots shined after some Drake drooled all over them.

    Oh, I made money. I earned about 10 gold pieces on my way up to level 80 and exchanged them for 800 gems to buy a new character slot. (I’m waiting, though to see if the Black Friday sales are going to put character slots on sale.)

    My point about repair costs was to point out the absurdity that it was cheaper to buy new items than to repair the items. That means either the designers were punishing the inattentive or they didn’t expect the prices to get that low in the trading post. Either way, it’s poor design.

    The way I made my money was pretty simple. I started out trying to sell crafted stuff, but quickly realized that I’d get undercut quickly. I found a few things that I could sell for a bit of a profit. I also invested heavily into some lower level Rare jewelry materials hoping to score a big profit, but those items are still sitting on the trading post these weeks later. Every once in a while the price gets close to what I posted (actually, re-posted, but I refuse to throw away the posting fee again). So, I just focused on grinding out stuff. White drops were salvaged for parts, blue and better drops were sold on AH if I could make at least 10 or so copper more than vendor price after posting fees, etc. The other 99% of the time it goes to the vendor.

    Again, the problem isn’t that the economy is great for buyers or that I couldn’t make money, but that the design just isn’t fun and it seems to work against other parts of the game. That’s poor design in my book.

    Comment by Psychochild — 23 November, 2012 @ 10:07 PM

  6. “Oh, I made money. I earned about 10 gold pieces on my way up to level 80 and exchanged them for 800 gems to buy a new character slot.”

    Ahhh . . . wait, you needed another character slot? You made that many characters, or just wanted an extra one to mess around with and try it out? (Note: I’m guilty of the second. Terribly guilty of the second. In any game where I have a choice, I’ll try to do BOTH things on different runs to see how it turns out. If I feel like playing a game again, of course.)

    “My point about repair costs was to point out the absurdity that it was cheaper to buy new items than to repair the items. That means either the designers were punishing the inattentive or they didn’t expect the prices to get that low in the trading post. Either way, it’s poor design.”

    I’m leaning towards “a little from column A and a little from column B”. They’ve admitted or implied the way players leapt in and devoured content much faster than was expected. If they’re doing that, then all sorts of stuff is entering the economy more than was anticipated. And for all that profit, there was precious little to sink money into for those who could make that much, so . . . yeah, that’s probably why they did the recent debacle. (I will say no more here on that topic.)

    But at the same time, it’s obvious they wanted people to master and be agile rather than stand in one spot and mash skills. To move, evade and be more active. So the punishment for not evading is taking a big hit, and this increases in severity the further you get. Also, and this is a suspicion of mine . . . it weeds out bots from those big events since I don’t think you could easily program the bots to evade on a cue you don’t know is coming. So this encourages active breathing players are there at the Claw of Jormag.

    “…but that the design just isn’t fun and it seems to work against other parts of the game.”

    Yeah, but I’m sort of weird. I don’t find “did it drop this time?” to be fun, and I have a tenuous kind of fun with trying to play a market in a game. (I’m really just bad at predicting it, and have a tendency to hold on to stuff on the off chance I might need it . . . I blame RPGs for that. Can’t sell those Antidotes, what if I need them? Can’t use those Megalixers, can’t buy more! Yes it’s the final boss but what if . . .)

    I think the only game I had fun with buying and selling was “Recettear”.

    Comment by Kereminde — 23 November, 2012 @ 11:47 PM

  7. Of course, I figure there are probably high-level crafting items that are highly sought after that will make the tradeskill somewhat profitable if you stick with it. I’m working up Jeweller to see how things work at top level.
    Nope. The high-level items are just as likely to squeak in at just about the price of materials, if not under that, too. High-level armor’s even worse than working with jewelry or weapons, as it takes the extremely-expensive Gossamer cloth type, and Karma and WvW Honor gear can replace most of the sets folk would want anyway. Most of the high-ranking food buff items actually make more sense to sell ingredients and buy completed than cook yourself.

    There are ways to make money through this sorta stuff, but you really do have to look at strange bits of the market, and unfortunately the most lucrative things are simultaneously the most random — tossing stuff into the Mystic Forge until you transform four masterworks into a rare or four rares into an Exotic or lower tier crafting materials into top tier ones, receiving an Exotic or Precursor from a chest reward, or finding a Lodestone drop. For the most part, it’s an economy where everyone has perfect information, there are a large number of sellers, and individual sales are 85% efficient. That’s simply not going to favor sellers.

    As it is, individual players need only craft if they have a relevant Legendary they’re aiming for, if they’ve already found most of the materials, or if they want the achievement points. Unfortunately, it’s a really hard problem to solve. Shrinking the market’s size only makes it more prone to abuse, without really helping the proportion of sellers to buyers.

    At level 63, the cost to repair my min level 60 gloves that were damaged by death was 1 silver 24 copper (or 124 copper). The cost to buy the same gloves from the trading post? 70 copper… Anyway, I think this shows a lack of planning and design as far as the economy goes.
    Yeah, both repair and transport costs don’t scale terribly well. I think it’d be easy to tweak, but it rarely makes sense to repair until you’ve got 80 rare armor and frustrating if you find yourself needing to replace equipment in the field. Likewise, the Asura gate nexus encourages some rather pointless detours (using the PvP tab to go to the Mists to go to Lion’s Arch to go to a racial city can save a good three or four silver at 80).

    It feels like level only tells you what you cannot do, what you cannot wear, what you cannot do during an event. It’s there solely to satisfy the Achiever urge to see a number increase.
    To a certain extent, this sort of limiting progression lets them get away with a lot of teaching. The level 10-40 Ettins and Cave Trolls, for example, are pretty obviously there to teach players that they need to dodge before they reach the 60-80 Risen Abominations, which are vastly more deadly because they pick up speed and attack rate if you’re not attentive. I’d prefer games where that’s not guided with levels — contrast Portal — but it’s useful.

    Unfortunately, the level- and skill-point-tier system also produces a lot of problems. Structured PvP lets everyone use the same tools regardless of normal level or progression (presuming you’d master the stuff on a training dummy), but WvW only uplevels you without giving everyone equalish stats or even skill access (and consumes a nontrivial amount of silver pieces), so that produces a lot of problems.

    Again, I think that the economy should have been prepared to tolerate a crafting system where you were expected to churn out more items than you would personally need in order to advance.

    For the most part, you’re not supposed to. There are a few gaps where batch production makes sense (mostly a few spots near ~50 for Jewelcrafters), but because Discovery is so much more valuable than normal crafting it’s quite plausible to only be crafting one or two items in a set. In practice, the drop rate doesn’t work out that way — you usually craft stuff that’s several levels below you, and make different stat typed pieces of the simplest craftable type (gloves, boot, warhorn, pistol, earrings, etc).

    Crafting does give a lot of xp, so I could see it as a way to work up alts to a higher level by pouring money into the alt, though. Probably not what the crafting designer intended.
    Crafting only gives XP on level-up, so each Crafting discipline is worth about ten levels from start-to-finish. You’d have to switch crafting disciplines to get anything more than the basic result. And you still can level an alt by pouring cash into them. So it’s not a terribly good solution (contrast just capping crafting XP at some value).

    Comment by gattsuru — 24 November, 2012 @ 12:42 AM

  8. P.S. just noticed that the numerous Karka and Sharks in Southsun Cove are excellent sources of Potent Blood and Large Scales. Gathering definitely got improved.

    Comment by Longasc — 24 November, 2012 @ 6:38 AM

  9. @Longasc

    They also are a source of the next tier up, the drakes drop claws . . . yes, it’s a bit better. But it’s still not fast, alas.

    Comment by Kereminde — 24 November, 2012 @ 10:19 AM

  10. Kereminde wrote:
    Ahhh . . . wait, you needed another character slot? You made that many characters, or just wanted an extra one to mess around with and try it out?

    I wanted to see how the “exchange cash for gems” system worked. I set a goal for myself to buy a new character slot. Actually, I’d like to buy a total of 4 more: to have one character of each class and one left to play around with. But, I’m not grinding it all out right now. I’ll probably play around with the characters I do have. I could delete characters, but I don’t want to for various reasons.

    They’ve admitted or implied the way players leapt in and devoured content much faster than was expected. If they’re doing that, then all sorts of stuff is entering the economy more than was anticipated.

    Which, of course, is bullshit. We’ve known people devour content for over a decade. Hell, the original Guild Wars should have probably showed that. Very tired of the whole “we had no way to know that!” excuse. But, hey, it keeps working!

    gattsuru wrote:
    There are a few gaps where batch production makes sense (mostly a few spots near ~50 for Jewelcrafters), but because Discovery is so much more valuable than normal crafting it’s quite plausible to only be crafting one or two items in a set.

    Even if you go purely by discoveries, you’re creating more stuff than you’ll use. Doing all the discoveries in a typical tier of jewelcrafting gives you 3 rings, 3 amulets, and 3 earrings. Seeing as you can only use 2 rings and earrings and 1 amulet, you’re crafting a lot of extra stuff. It’s worse with armor and especially weapons, where you’re crafting whole sets of armor you won’t use or types of weapons you cannot use. This means a lot of surplus gets made beyond what the crafter will personally use.

    All those extras have to go somewhere. The usual place is the AH/TP, but then you’re competing with every other crafter of that type in the whole game. Or you’re salvaging them back for raw materials (but not for the monster drops, so that’s kinda useless) or shoving them into a vendor for minimal cash.

    The fact that the economic design didn’t take this into consideration strikes me as a design flaw.

    Comment by Psychochild — 24 November, 2012 @ 1:45 PM

  11. You don’t generally need — or, often, want — to discover every combination in every tier of jewelcrafting. Once you’re past copper and pebbles, you usually only want to make a little under half of what’s available per tier. The problem is that, because amulets and rings are more expensive than earrings, and because you get a roughly even distribution of gem types but only actually want the items corresponding to one or two gem types, it makes the most sense for all of those discoveries to be in the form of earrings, with rings or rare-level embellishes to fill in the gaps. My Jewelcrafting Elementalist is just about done with the gold tier, and hasn’t made a ring or necklace since copper.

    The fact that the economic design didn’t take this into consideration strikes me as a design flaw.

    Pretty much. Both crafting and just general drop rates need to make more sense, and right now it’s really butchered a number of mechanics.

    Comment by gattsuru — 24 November, 2012 @ 5:30 PM

  12. “Which, of course, is bullshit. We’ve known people devour content for over a decade. Hell, the original Guild Wars should have probably showed that. Very tired of the whole “we had no way to know that!” excuse. But, hey, it keeps working!”

    Only because I’ve had that kind of experience on tabletop games. “Oh, um, second level of the dungeon already? I don’t have those notes with me, can we pick that up next week?” I’ve also seen streamed games where the GM would go: “Umm . . . I totally didn’t expect you guys to do that, hang on a bit I gotta figure this out. Now’d be a good time for a smoke break or something.”

    . . . still not good, from many standpoints, just understandable to me. Though aside from over-producing content so you have stuff “on deck” for after release seems the only sane option to combat that instead of working for a release date then focusing on the next batch of content.

    Mistakes to learn from and correct later I guess? Or get bitten by again and again.

    Comment by Kereminde — 24 November, 2012 @ 6:46 PM

  13. I have a level 400 Leatherworker, 320 Chef and all my other characters (I have 8) craft to some degree. As I was commenting back in the Beta Weekends, GW2 crafting is loads of fun.

    I craft in every MMO I play for any length of time. Ideally I like to make my own gear and make gear for friends and guildmates. I have absolutely no interest in making money from crafting and indeed I dislike the whole concept. The actual process of craftign, though, that I really enjoy in almost all MMOs.

    I find economies in MMOs a complete distraction from what I see as the core purpose, which is to have adventures. I’m not at all opposed to economic sims set in fantasy worlds but I see that as a different genre entirely, and one that I wouldn’t play were it to come into existence. Why the concept has gianed such traction in MMORPGs is beyond me. You’d think adventure gamers would be happy not to have to bother with trading.

    My ideal MMO would not allow any direct trading between player characters, period. If you wanted an item you would have to go to where it dropped and kill what dropped it. If you wanted to craft something you would have to go to where the raws grew or dropped and gather them or kill whatever had them. Crafting for anyone but yourself would be done purely on consignment (EQ2 has this system although there it is optional). This would extend the killing/gathering as far as the specific customer, rather than insisting on the crafter doing ALL his or her own gathering and hunting, but that’s as far as I’d go.

    As for the prevalence of Blue quality items on the TP, it took me a couple of weeks to get my head around this but Blue items are effectively trash loot. It’s the switching of Blue for Green in the quality index, which is the opposite of MMO convention, that makes this unintuitive. I sell all blue gear straight to vendors without even thinking about it (unless my bags are full and there’s no vendor near, when the TP becomes the Pawnbroker I mentioned before, although once I realised I could go straight to WvW, sell and bank, then camp out and return to the exact spot I was at, the TP lost it’s attraction as temporary storage).

    GW2′s economy may be “broken” but it suits my needs as well or better than most MMO versions. As I said, I’d rather not have an economy at all, but if we have to have one then this seems no worse than any others I’ve suffered under and better than quite a few.

    Comment by bhagpuss — 25 November, 2012 @ 11:45 AM

  14. After playing a bit more, I think I’d like to add another point to the discussion:

    Combat Difficulty

    Combat generally isn’t difficult. Until it is. I was finishing up the night with trying to finish a skill point location, when the “Veteran” spider in Timberline Falls turned out to be a lot tougher than other Veteran-class monsters. Wiped the floor with me. Really soured my whole night. (I was also close to the “earn a bunch of XP without dying achievement”, which I’m not usually motivated by achievements but this felt like insult to injury. I got that later when I did a massive amount of crafting.)

    Seems a lot of bosses out in the world like to use high-damage AoEs. That was something I wasn’t fond of in the Lost Shores event, the little I did attend. The monsters would cast massive AoEs and do one-shot damage it seemed. (That is, when you could actually see them.) It feels more frustrating than fun.

    gattsuru wrote:
    You don’t generally need — or, often, want — to discover every combination in every tier of jewelcrafting.

    You’re missing the point. Okay, let’s say you’re super-efficient and make 7 earrings with the 7 jewel types in that tier of materials in jewelcrafting. I can wear 2, so I have 5 left over. That surplus gets dumped on the market. Ignoring drops, that means that stock will pile up in the trading post if more than 2 out of 7 people do jewelcrafting. And in drops and you’re looking at a surplus of jewelry that will glut the market, as it has.

    This is a potential problem with any crafting system where you have the core design principle of “you gotta create a lot of stuff to advance”. It’s not impossible, though. LotRO had a very robust crafting economy with a similar design.

    Kereminde wrote:
    Only because I’ve had that kind of experience on tabletop games.

    The problem is the excuse. Lots of games have claimed they didn’t expect players to chew through content so quickly, and every game after EQ1 or WoW has been able to see previous games saying this. It’s a tired excuse. What they really mean is, “We didn’t create enough content given the game design.” But, that’s accepting responsibility for one’s actions.

    To use a metaphor from tabletop gaming, it’s like your friend running a 3 level dungeon and finishing it up in 2 sessions. Then you run a dungeon, only draw out the first level, and are “surprised” when the players take less than a session to complete it. You had the data right there to know how fast the groups would go through the content!

    This isn’t ArenaNet’s first game, and their parent company NCSoft should have a ton of data about how fast people play through content. I’d like to see design advance to the place where we don’t keep doing the same things over and over again and using the same excuses when the same weaknesses become apparent every time.

    Comment by Psychochild — 25 November, 2012 @ 12:16 PM

  15. I agree with some of what you share and disagree with some too, of course. To briefly share my personal experience, I came to GW2 during the summer Beta after an extended run with the now-broken WoW, so my relative MMO experience is far more limited than yours. I also played Runescape WAY back in the day, and I loved the intellectual-challenge (e.g. puzzles) that game provided. I should offer that I purchased and downloaded GW2 with a full-commitment in mind. I was not looking to “test drive” the game, I was looking to immerse myself into the experience and to try and learn to accept the game on its own terms. I was determined to stick with the game until/unless it completely failed or disappointed me, and so far it has done neither of those things.

    As a result of the above, I’ve found myself incredibly immersed in the “story” surrounding my Sylvari Engineer. Yes, I do find my “toon” more knowledgeable and able in the world of Tyria than am I as a player, but I like that aspect of the experience: I find myself amused and sometimes amazed at the level of my character’s immersion in the world, I like that I am sometimes playing a bit of catch-up to him in learning/remembering all of the little bits of history and relationships he has that play out before me.

    I do agree about the too-casual “social” aspects of the game. While it is incredibly easy to “partner” with fellow players in the world, such partnerships felt far too fluid and temporary to me. It’s taken me a while to begin to get into the social aspects of GW2, but I did finally find a great & active guild with an over-active chat, and that helped a lot! Outside of that, GW2 does feel like what WoW has become: a single-player experience played alongside many other live players. Fortunately, the game design here seems built for this (node/mob sharing, etc.) vs. something like WoW, which is very competitive and not in a good or a social, friendly way.

    To touch on some of the play-through flaws you mention, I do agree that it is all too easy to hop from heart to heart (or event to event) without feeling a ton of connection to what is really happening. This I blame on my still-lingering “WoW/MMO-mentality” which seems to demand a constant search for new MEANINGFUL EVENT type stuff to complete. A while back I decided to simply hang out in an area to see what might transpire after I’d completed the immediate “quest objectives.” I was mildly shocked and quite pleased to find myself in a mini-story “loop” of sorts, one that plays out over a very long time. In other words, a gather/collect quest is the result of observable NPC events and relationships (complete with backstory, personality, and relationship nuance). The results of the gather/collect then eventually led to another type of quest, let’s say an escort quest, one related to the mini-story arch that is happening in that area. The Escort subject makes it to his/her destination or not, and the mini-story unfolds accordingly from there. It seems that the content and fabric of this game is a mile deep and that is not at all evident when one is simply hopping from map-marker to map-marker. In this way, GW2 seems to be designed from the ground-up to appeal to many different player types, except for that damned “MMO-programming” instinct which compels me to still jump around far more than I’d like to. Bottom line, so far I feel like I am missing a MASSIVE amount of content that is part & parcel of this game, and yet I still feel satisfied to a degree. I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface of GW2 at level 65, which I have to admit is a wonderful feeling (especially as GW2 has no monthly fee and there is no particular reason to plow through everything).

    I agree with you on crafting: I’ve barely touched it, but I AM fascinated. The economy is a bit of a mystery to me still, though I’ve been able to make the cash I need while leveling via the auction house.

    I HEAVILY disagree with your “take” on combat/choice depth, but again this is a result of my decisions coming into this game. As a fellow engineer, I agree that it is easy to discover a skill set that works and to stick with that. But I have purposely chosen to switch out a skill or two at a time, simply to learn and to become familiar with the capabilities of that skill. I am well aware that there are TONS of aspects to this game I haven’t yet touched (again, by decision), such as non-holiday dungeons and PVP. I fully intend to follow my own history of becoming a PVP-centric toon, as I did in WoW back in the day, and I’m becoming aware that not all of the skills I’m finding useful in PVE are going to be at all useful in a PVP setting. So I am trying to “force” myself to test-drive untried skills in order to train myself for the PVP experience.

    Not mentioned in your thoughts is the massive amount of underwater content to be found, which I find most beautiful and quite challenging compared with on-ground combat. The other aspect of GW2 that I am loving is the level of challenge the game presents. Back in the OLD days of WoW, I’d sometimes find myself dying to mobs while questing at lower levels, but those days are long, long gone from the WoW experience. Heck, even Dungeons and such are no huge challenge in WoW anymore. GW2 constantly challenges me, my abilities, my ability to survive. As you mentioned, it does become wearying to have to FIGHT your way constantly through the world, especially at latter levels, but I prefer that to the faceroll that WoW has become in recent years.

    Finally, I do love the combination of mental/intellectual and combat/skill mechanic challenges GW2 presents to a player. It’s a rare game anymore that actually requires a player to THINK – along with the button-mashing combat skill – and this aspect, along with the sheer depth of this world, has me continuing to be enthralled with the GW2 experience.

    Two final thoughts, and I am not sure what to make of them (e.g. no conclusions drawn yet):

    I don’t find myself compelled to log into GW2 as often as I did with WoW “back in the day” (meaning BC and early Lich). This might be a product of the carrot/stick progression that WoW lays before your feet, there is always a very easy to follow path laid out in that game with little choice/thought involved. It might also be that, as you observe, levels seem wasted in this game. I’m not even sure why they’re there, other than to appeal to progression types. I could EASILY do without levels here, in fact I think the game would be better without them: the entire MMO “experience” (raiding, questing, PvP large & small, dungeons) is available more-or-less from the outset, so why on earth should I fuss over being lvl 10 or lvl 70? Makes little sense to me, honestly.

    The other “big thought” I have to share is that I’ve yet to find a game that offers what GW2 is offering right now. I offer this as a serious-casual, meaning a person with a life who still wants to excel in-game. I’ve tried an enormous number of MMOs in the last 2-3 years (Eve, FF, Rift – and of course WoW & old-school Runescape back in the day), and they all seem flawed or limited in fundamental ways. Is there really a better option out there for a “serious-casual” player seeking immersion, balanced group-play with other live players, and a real & continuing challenge without the mindless grind found in most MMOs? If so, I’d love to find it! The new Rift expansion seems great in many respects but it also seems to offer the same old-school gear grind found in WoW (not to mention PVP playing second fiddle content-wise). I find myself fascinated with The Secret World, but the mixed reviews, reports of empty servers and the monthly fee reality prevent me from taking that leap so far. The forthcoming Elder Scrolls seems promising, but everything seems promising before release . . .

    I think the real question is, where does a serious-minded gamer with more limited play time (e.g. gamers with a life) land? GW2 – for me, so far – represents the very best option out there at the moment. Am I missing something … ?

    Comment by Toby — 25 November, 2012 @ 3:36 PM

  16. Toby: wow, quite a post there. :) Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    I will admit that I did intentionally play through the game a lot more in the “achiever” mindset. In WoW, I was always lagging behind my friends as I actually wanted to read the quest text. The instantly-appearing quest text mods were a blessing/curse for me, as I got tired of reading them slowly, but the slow text meant my friends were forced to at least wait for me to read as well. ;) I’m going to play another character, and I plan to take it a bit slower to see what I missed the first time around.

    I’ve seen a bit of what you talk about with the follow-on events, but there’s no motivation to stick around waiting for that other than the hope that maybe there will be some sort of follow-up. As I said, I think the Karma currency could have been a great thing here, where sticking around to help after the event is done or heart is filled would have given Karma and encouraged people to stick around to see any continuations.

    As for combat choices, I’ve used pretty much every skill the Engineer has to offer. The turrets are what I like to play with (although I use the elixir gun a bit more now). This probably boils down to a personal preference thing. But, I think The Secret World did the limited skills in a better way with a better design overall. A shame the combat just wasn’t very interesting in that game.

    As for underwater combat, it’s okay. I have a friend who is awful at navigating free 3D space like underwater but does surface travel easily enough, so this is probably something that won’t work well for everyone. I’ve also heard that Engineers do the best damage underwater, so we have a natural advantage; I’ve heard complaints about underwater combat from every single Elementalist I’ve read about, so it looks like it might depend on your class a lot. I think underwater combat makes the problems I have with the lack of combat depth even bigger: only one single weapon option, and at lot of the skills just aren’t usable underwater. None of my Asuran Elite skills are usable, for example.

    What other games are out there? I’m still a big fan of DDO, although my solo DDO playtime has been poured into GW2 currently. DDO does the free-to-play model right, so you’re willing to put some money into the game you can play without a subscription reasonably enough. The character system is a LOT more complex, though, which can lead to sub-optimal choices if you don’t go in with a least a little preparation. But, I find the quests and challenges to be fun and interesting, moreso that what I’ve found in GW2, I’d have to say. If you (or anyone else) is interested, we’re on the Cannith server. Happy to give advice about character builds, etc. so you don’t feel like you screwed up your first character as a lot of people do. :)

    Thanks again for the comment!

    Comment by Psychochild — 25 November, 2012 @ 7:23 PM

  17. after reading all your thoughts on GW2 I have just one counter question thats mostly asking you as a professional in the industry, all the bad & ugly do you think it can be changed? is it a inherent flaw in the design and we (players) have to make a choice to live with it or move on, or can it to varying degrees be corrected with future patches/expansions. Some games have listend to player feedback and overhauled themselves, correcting many of the flaws they released with, such as FFXIV which is actually re-releasing, and even much later down the line such as WoW which completely scrapped their old combat mechanic system for a new one in the recent expansion, could GW2 do such a thing, curious for your professional opinion.

    Comment by Arkanon — 26 November, 2012 @ 10:53 AM

  18. I was finishing up the night with trying to finish a skill point location, when the “Veteran” spider in Timberline Falls turned out to be a lot tougher than other Veteran-class monsters.
    Yeah, that’s a little frustrating. An individual Veteran can range from only slightly more dangerous than a normal mob (I’d rather fight Veteran Boars than normal Reef Drakes), to taking down three or four players if they’re not attentive (Veteran Risen Abomination). I’ve gone on a bit of a Champion-soloing spree on my Mesmer while clearing lower-level areas, and either the auto-scaling tech goes out of whack or there need to be a few more grades there. An individual Champion can have anywhere from three to twenty stacks of Defiant and it’s not terribly obvious which until you try to stun it.

    Okay, let’s say you’re super-efficient and make 7 earrings with the 7 jewel types in that tier of materials in jewelcrafting. I can wear 2, so I have 5 left over.
    Each tier of materials covers a spread of levels. Copper, for example, covers three at level 10, three at level 15, and then the masterwork equivalents at level 20. There’s a design decision there that’s pretty obvious, especially since nuggets rather than ingots tend to restrict crafting opportunities. The immediate problem is that, especially on first characters, you’re not terribly likely to come up with enough materials to keep up to your current level, or spend enough time at any given level to really go nuts about it if you were to. Doubly so since blue-grade stuff doesn’t soulbind, and the Karma vendors are highly competitive.

    The deeper problem is that you don’t want to wear half the stuff on each tier. Power vastly outweighs precision and critical damage until late-game, and condition damage is only useful for a couple builds and barely useful for them. Vitality and healing power almost always outweigh toughness by a huge margin. A mix of random gear equipment is actively non-optimal, and thus these items are found solely for Discovery purposes.

    This is a potential problem with any crafting system where you have the core design principle of “you gotta create a lot of stuff to advance”. It’s not impossible, though.

    Quite true, and I agree with your main complaint: I agree that crafting in the game is terribly unrewarding and poorly balanced for the economy.

    I’ve heard complaints about underwater combat from every single Elementalist I’ve read about, so it looks like it might depend on your class a lot.

    Elementalist underwater is usable (as compared to the Downed skills, which are garbage), but terribly unintuitive and not at all like above-water play. You have to spend a lot of time in Water attunement to kite, which doesn’t really much how any of the other weapon sets work.

    Comment by gattsuru — 26 November, 2012 @ 11:05 AM

  19. Bah, I missed bhagpuss’ reply above.

    bhagpuss wrote:
    I craft in every MMO I play for any length of time.

    Curious how you would rank them. I found LotRO’s crafting to be really fun overall. I think it was the puzzle of how to maximize the crafts without having to harvest an excessive amount. I mostly did the crafting symbols, so I took longer than others but I got to the end. I liked it so much I mastered every craft, as I said. I also think there was a bit of the “adventure” element, where running to Rivendell or Esteldín to continue your work at lower levels was very exciting.

    I liked EQ2′s crafting next best. I liked the active portion to it, but I didn’t like not being able to take a quick break to chat. Wondering if a more puzzle-orientated minigame would have worked better.

    GW2 feels too much like WoW, which I didn’t like.

    I find economies in MMOs a complete distraction from what I see as the core purpose, which is to have adventures.

    Eh, I find it immersion-breaking that people are charging you for commodities in games when you’re supposed to be at war or saving life as we know it. I think this is partially a nod to modern sensibilities, where we feel there has to be capitalist elements in the game to feel proper. I don’t think trying to drop the economy in favor of barter/trading would help, players would just create their own currencies. There’s a classic example of this in M59 where a gold bug made coins essentially worthless, so people started using rarer reagents for PvP-focused spells. Or how people used Stones of Jordan as trading currency for Diablo 2.

    I have some interesting ideas this direction, but not quite ready to share them yet. ;)

    …it took me a couple of weeks to get my head around this but Blue items are effectively trash loot.

    Which isn’t supported by much of the rest of the design. This means that half of what you can craft is effectively trash loot; imagine if half the items you could craft in WoW were white quality. Blech.

    I did notice the blue/green quality level swap compared to the usual convention, but in other games the “one level above what vendors sell” items are still pretty good and there’s some demand. The fact that these items became commodities, to me, is a sign that something in the design went wrong compared to other games.

    Arkanon wrote:
    …could GW2 do such a thing, curious for your professional opinion.

    Yes, but the question is how much they would have to change. Some people, like bhagpuss, enjoy the current system just fine. It’s a question of how much a change would make people happier compared to how many people would get upset enough to stop paying money for the game. I think the economic aspects could be fixed (and I’m pretty sure I’ll write a blog post about that in the next week or so), but there would be a period of transition.

    It’s almost always easier to do something right the first time than to try to fix it after the fact. But, the beauty (and terror) of MMOs is that the game can change, sometimes very drastically, even after launch.

    gattsuru wrote:
    Each tier of materials covers a spread of levels.

    We’re basically saying the same thing, from different points of view. I’m talking about the number of items you have to create, you’ll only wear a few. You’re talking about the variety of things you’ll have to create, and you’ll still only want to wear a few. The end result is the same: you make more than you need to wear, which means stuff goes on the AH. Since blues are “trash” as bhagpuss points out, that means the bulk of what you’re making is trash competing with drops.

    …and condition damage is only useful for a couple builds and barely useful for them.

    I wouldn’t say “barely useful”. My Engineer is focused on condition damage, mostly using the Carrion type of damage. I noticed a big upgrade in damage when I started focusing on that stat. But, most of my abilities bleed, poison, or burn.

    Elementalist underwater is usable

    If it’s a different playstyle underwater, that’s probably a design flaw. It seems to be unpopular with most of the Elementalists who bother to post their experiences.

    Comment by Psychochild — 26 November, 2012 @ 5:06 PM

  20. The economy still has plenty of room to make money via arbitage; I’ve had a bit of a break from guild wars 2 recently, but it still takes only moments to find items with a decent margin (comparing buy orders to sell orders). Just put up some buy orders, then resell using sell orders later.
    Try rare weapons, mid levels, for example. It’s not hard to find things that can be bought at 10-15 silver each, and resold at 20-25 silver each.

    Comment by Ben Sanders — 27 November, 2012 @ 4:52 PM

  21. Again, my point isn’t that you can’t make money. You can. I’ve made a fair amount of money from different methods as I poked and prodded at the economy. But, the effective ways to make money are simply not fun for a lot of people.

    I think some people don’t really understand how much I dug into the economy. I did arbitrage, for example. I looked up several videos and pages about how to make money; as I said, anything over a month old seemed horribly out of touch, which is kinda sad for a game only a few months old. I figured out how fast I could make money just grinding out events. Quickest money maker for me so far? Running the jumping puzzles in Lion’s Arch. Even if I get garbage blues (or greens, it seems at level 80) I can make 4-5 silver per run, a good item might sell for several silver. And, I’m pretty fast at the puzzles.

    Let me explain one failed experiment. I was looking at crafted stuff as I was working on Jewelery crafting. I noticed that Carnelian Silver Stud of Strength (Rare) was selling for about 30 silver pieces. I added up the costs of getting the components I didn’t have (the Carnelian stones) and figured out it would cost me about 15 silver to make. Wow, 100% return on investment! So I poured about a gold and a half (almost all my money) into buying 10 sets of gems to craft the rings, plus 2 more rings that I had the materials for. I posted them on the trading post before logging off, with visions of newfound wealth in my head.

    I log on the next day to no money waiting for me. I check the prices. Overnight, the price had fallen from 30 silver to 20 silver. Lots of people had posted the item, trying to undercut by a copper. One person dropped the price down to 19.99 silver for no apparent reason. Probably what he or she had posted before. Keep in mind that I spent about 18 silver posting these up on the trading post in the first place. I sighed, took the items down, and reposted them at a lower price: 19.98 silver, paying about 10 silver to do so. During the day, the price kept dropping lower and lower.

    At this very moment, the current price is 16.60 silver about 2 weeks after I posted my earrings up. If I were to pull my auctions down and try to re-sell them at this price, I’d lose money considering how much I’ve already poured into posting costs. (Of course, the money already spent is a sunk cost, so getting anything out of the items might be better than nothing.) I firmly believe that part of the issue is that because the trading post is global, the pool of competition is so much larger than in other games. You get a lot more downward pressure in prices because the sellers are competing so heavily with each other, and a spike in drops can easily outstrip demand and drive the price down.

    So, yeah, you might be able to find a good item for arbitrage. But, what happens if a bunch of other people notice the same discrepancy? What happens if someone sells enough stuff to cover your buy orders and a few other people, then the other buyers get into a price war with you? What if the price drops below your cost + reposting fees?

    Now, I can definitely understand for some people this is part of the thrill. But, I’ve played enough other games where you could make money without arbitrage that I see this as a flawed design. As I said, I’ll write a post with more detail about economic design, but just because you can make money and some people do doesn’t mean this is a good design, or that most people will find it fun.

    Comment by Psychochild — 27 November, 2012 @ 11:07 PM

  22. It may sound a little odd but . . . I found I made the most money in Guild Wars 2 by not actively trying to chase making money. I wish I could explain better, but I haven’t gone out of the way to try riding the Trading Post aside from dumping some Gold Ore onto it when I wound up with close to three stacks banked at a time.

    About the only thing I do actively is to try very . . . very . . . hard not to spend silver where I don’t need to. If I can run a distance rather than waypoint, then I do so . . . and often in Orr this means killing absolutely every Risen I can take on between point A and point B. Which leaves me with a gain since there’s usually loot involved.

    I wish I had more to say or pick apart but . . . it’s a constant happening for me in most games. I make money that the NPC-run economy for basic gear and supplies isn’t an issue but I never seem to make enough that a Player-run economy actually is something I can play in. This includes during the aforementioned period where rare reagents (or the awesomeness that were Inky-Cap Mushrooms) in M59 were the standard currency instead of actual gold; I just rarely get enough currency to be a player in the market, so all I find myself concerned with is “can I do this, and hold a profit after restocking my essential supplies?”

    Comment by Kereminde — 29 November, 2012 @ 12:56 AM

  23. Psychochild said:

    Okay, let’s say you’re super-efficient and make 7 earrings with the 7 jewel types in that tier of materials in jewelcrafting. I can wear 2, so I have 5 left over. That surplus gets dumped on the market. Ignoring drops, that means that stock will pile up in the trading post if more than 2 out of 7 people do jewelcrafting. And in drops and you’re looking at a surplus of jewelry that will glut the market, as it has.

    I’d be cautious about drawing conclusions about what the game will be like in steady-state from what it’s like during the first surge. In steady-state, this might be a good ratio, providing supply for people who aren’t jewelers at a reasonable rate.

    At the moment, the content vultures are chewing through this game, and it has an effect. They will be on to the next game soon, what will things be like then? As a no-sub game, that’s a really interesting question.

    Comment by Toldain — 29 November, 2012 @ 1:13 PM

  24. I’ve had a different experience with the economy than yours, but that’s because my professional background was in economics/finance before I switched to software engineering. MMO economies are interesting experiments, and I enjoy figuring out the economics of a system.

    As you noticed, the markets are very efficient, so that opportunities don’t last very long. That makes the GW2 economy very much like the real economy, very competitive where you don’t have a monopoly advantage or some other barrier to entry. You have to be very nimble, and expect profitability to disappear quickly. I rarely make more than two of any profitable item, and then only when one has sold almost immediately.

    The only part of ordinary crafting that shows a profit has been making rare equipment, for a few reasons:
    first, there’s a barrier to entry in the form of karma for the recipes, so many people aimed at the endgame ignore those;
    second, the demand for the key material, fine mob drops, is driven by the requirements/prices of the rare items;
    third, discovery is the fastest way to level up, so people make a lot of Fine equipment (and Masterpiece if they don’t make and sell Rares instead) on their way to max level.

    The main component difference between Fine, Masterpiece, and Rare equipment comes from the number of fine mob drops required: 3,8,15. The prices of those fine drops are driven by Rare equipment prices. The costs for Fine and Masterpiece equipment are driven by Rare equipment prices, and that linkage causes real profitability problems for crafting Fine and Masterpiece items.

    Fine and Masterpiece equipment is in severe oversupply. The main reason seems to be that players are leveling up alts quickly via crafting, and dumping the results on the TP instead of vendoring. In other words, player time is much more valuable than the few silver saved by walking to the vendor. (Many players seem to be driven to the endgame, rather than playing through the content. This suggests that the designers’ model for keeping content interesting isn’t really working.)

    I’ve been enjoying crafting up, and made money at it. It’s fun to find the cheapest way to make something, and figure out if it’s profitable. I’ve spent about half my GW2 time crafting up this way, and have finished all professions except Cooking. Overall, I’ve made enough gold crafting to buy a character slot and a couple bag expansions, plus putting rare equipment on my three played characters as they level up. On the adventuring side, I’ve only got one character at 80. It is easier to make gold adventuring at 80 (and in PvP areas) than at crafting, though.

    I haven’t looked at the endgame economy enough to see if it’s working decently.

    Comment by Daulnay — 2 December, 2012 @ 1:46 PM

  25. Daulnay wrote:
    I’ve had a different experience with the economy than yours, but that’s because my professional background was in economics/finance before I switched to software engineering.

    Actually, I have a minor in business; I took classes in finance and economics. And, I’ve run my own company. So, I’m no stranger to economics.

    That makes the GW2 economy very much like the real economy….

    Which is rarely the point of the design for a game economy. You want the economy to be fun and to support other parts of the game. People who are good at navigating the offline world economy could be doing that, so catering to that audience in a game makes little sense, speaking as a game designer.

    I’ve been enjoying crafting up, and made money at it.

    Guess they found at least one fan. :) I find it completely unrewarding, but I have a pretty low tolerance for grinding. And, if I an get a full upgrade of masterwork gear for a few silver pieces, little sense in putting up with the unrewarding grind.

    I haven’t looked at the endgame economy enough to see if it’s working decently.

    From what I can tell, it’s dysfunctional in a different way. You need whole stacks (250) of the rarest drops to make the best items, so there’s a market for those. But, that drives up the cost of making your own gear. Crafting also seems to ramp up the requirements for items a lot, so even after you get done with the crafting grind, you need to do the harvesting grind.

    I guess if you can tolerate the first grind, the second grind possibly won’t phase you.

    I’m working on a post about economic design. Should have it up sometime this next week, I hope. :)

    Comment by Psychochild — 2 December, 2012 @ 7:20 PM

  26. I wouldn’t say “barely useful”. My Engineer is focused on condition damage, mostly using the Carrion type of damage. I noticed a big upgrade in damage when I started focusing on that stat.
    For Pistol Engineers with the right traits, it starts making sense in the late 30s or early 40s. Same for mid- to late-game Sharper Images or Staff Mesmers, dual-sword warriors, and a handful of other class-weapon-build combinations. The problem is that it doesn’t make sense for many classes to use at all, and it doesn’t even add much to most conditions: Confusion is terribly weak against most PvE enemies (although strong in PvP), and Poison and Burning only stack duration and thus generally don’t benefit from it. So you can have things like a Pistol/Dagger/Shortbow Thief who has a number of conditions, but will still vastly prefer other stats.

    Moreover, several design decisions mean that condition damage has other issues that Power doesn’t : teams hit the caps quickly, DoT overkill tends to be very high, the Magic Find+Condition Damage stat combo doesn’t have a Crest or Gem or craftable armor and only shows up as one dungeon’s armor set or drops, so on. It’s workable, and there are folk for whom Rampager and Carrion give slight benefits (most largely that Ancient Bones are very cheap compared to other crafting materials), but it’s a lot of extra complexity for a game that really doesn’t need it. Deriving Condition Damage from Power and/or Healing Power and/or Vitality wouldn’t really add or remove much customization.

    ((The stat blocks in general are a lot more complicated than they should be. +1 Power is worth +1 Might-on-stat-screen, which works out to a certain level of damage, which is fine. But Might-as-a-Boon is worth +power and +condition damage, a distinction that’s vital for several Elementalist and a couple Mesmer builds.))

    If it’s a different playstyle underwater, that’s probably a design flaw.
    At least when causing this level of problem, probably so.

    From what I can tell, it’s dysfunctional in a different way. You need whole stacks (250) of the rarest drops to make the best items, so there’s a market for those. But, that drives up the cost of making your own gear. Crafting also seems to ramp up the requirements for items a lot, so even after you get done with the crafting grind, you need to do the harvesting grind.

    It’s… a little strange. Rare level 80 gear for non-Jewelry is trivial: you need 15 of a tier-5 fine ingredient and some base materials (mithril, silk, the right level of leather and wood). It’s not very lucrative, because tier-5 fine ingredients have been running at about a silver each, and rare gear is common enough from various sources. Exotic level 80 gear only takes 5 tier-6 items, and those go between 2 silver each (Ancient Bones, used for Carrion prefix) to 25 silver (Potent Blood, used for the Berserker prefix), the tier-6 base materials such as gossamer or orichalcum, and then five Ectoplasm per piece. The Ectoplasm is the costly part: since it can only be found by salvaging rare or exotic items of level 68 or higher, a lot of the late-game economy comes from crunching the cheapest possible Rare items through a salvage kit. Right now, Ectoplasm’s been hovering at 25 silver a piece. As a result, the crafted Exotic must be worth at least 1.5 gold and generally twice that to make sense to build.

    The 250 tier-6 fine ingredient recipes aren’t actually crafting recipes; they’re Mystic Forge recipes (and AFAIK, all results are Account Bind-on-Pickup), and are either visual-only or only cover the back slot Ascended piece. They’re some of the demand, certainly, but Gossamer/Orichalcum and Ectoplasm are pretty hard limits, too.

    ((Jewelry is different in that it requires Ectoplasm earlier, three per rare level 80 item. As a result, you can’t crunch Ectoplasm with it.))

    Comment by gattsuru — 3 December, 2012 @ 11:51 AM

  27. How to design a game economy

    [...] I said in the last post, economics is really the study of scarcity. This is one of the tools in a game designer's toolbox [...]

    Pingback by Psychochild's Blog — 9 December, 2012 @ 5:14 PM

  28. Playing Guild Wars 2

    [...] do I like the best” and they will pick a combination and stick with it.   Psychochild complained that with his engineer he seemed to stick to one thing.   However, there’s a huge potential space [...]

    Pingback by Toldain Talks — 21 August, 2013 @ 4:10 PM

Leave a comment

I value your comment and think the discussions are the best part of this blog. However, there's this scourge called comment spam, so I choose to moderate comments rather than giving filthy spammers any advantage.

If this is your first comment, it will be held for moderation and therefore will not show up immediately. I will approve your comment when I can, usually within a day. Comments should eventually be approved if not spam. If your comment doesn't show up and it wasn't spam, send me an email as the spam catchers might have caught it by accident.

Line and paragraph breaks automatic, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Email Subscription

Get posts by email:


Recent Comments

Categories

Search the Blog

Calendar

November 2014
S M T W T F S
« Oct    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30  

Meta

Archives

Standard Disclaimer

I speak only for myself, not for any company.

My Book





Information

Around the Internet

Game and Online Developers

Game News Sites

Game Ranters and Discussion

Help for Businesses

Other Fun Stuff

Quiet (aka Dead) Sites

Posts Copyright Brian Green, aka Psychochild. Comments belong to their authors.

Google