It’s coming up on the first anniversary of Guild Wars 2. I honestly can’t believe it. So much has happened, but in many ways it feels like it was just yesterday that the game was releasing. A lot has happened in the GW2 scene, both in game and in the community surrounding it. In many ways, it feels like this was ANet’s freshman year in college. There were so many ways they could go, so much they could do, and they needed to do some experimentation and soul searching to figure out where they wanted to end up. As we close the year, I think ANet is ready to declare its major, metaphorically speaking.
Before I continue on with the narrative of the game, I also want to talk about the community. There are an astounding number of amazing folks in this community, both in the blogging/reporting/working side and in the simple player side. Some have departed, but even most of them simply decided the game was not ultimately for them, very little vitriol comes from those who have quit.
I’ve made some great new friends. I finally found a guild that is fun and sociable, and who like to (or at least tolerate) listen to my ramblings on various aspects of the game. They (TWITguild) are a great collection of individuals, and I am proud to be friends with all of them.
Stepping out of the game for a moment, I’m a very strange mix of being incredibly gregarious, verbose, opinionated, outgoing, and incredibly shy. I am terrified of imposing on people who don’t know me, of making them feel awkward, like I’m that annoying dude that you can’t get rid of. I have intense anxiety about feeling like I am butting in, being an unwelcome nuisance. Of course, once I know that you don’t hate me, I can talk your ear off about an enormous variety of topics.
What’s really amazing though is that GW2 has somehow helped me with that. I haven’t felt as anxious about branching out. My friends in TWIT are all people that I respect deeply, and am incredibly humbled that they have let me into their midst. Being able to actually hold conversations with some of the hosts of some of my favorite GW2 shows, with other community members whose blogs I have read for years is such a wonderful feeling.
Instead of sheepishly asking if I can tag along with some people this year at PAX (or not asking at all), I’m actually doing some coordinating for the meetup. To any of my GW2 friend out there who may read this, I just want to say thank you for everything. Now back to our scheduled programming.
I remember the months leading up to launch. Hell, I remember the years. I was eagerly awaiting GW2 ever since it was announced officially in 2007. There was such a feeling of giddy excitement everywhere. Was GW2 really going to live up to the hype? Could it deliver its promises of a flat leveling curve? Could they create a living, breathing world? Would the population be able to sustain such development on microtransactions alone? Finally, would I still be playing it in a year? (Spoilers: yes)
The rush of those first few days and weeks was indescribable. Ignoring the bugs, which compared to normal MMO launches there were very few of, the game played amazingly. There were people exploring everywhere, dynamic events were firing left and right with people flocking to them, there was an amazing sense of comradery. It was like surfing an amazing wave.
As the year started, we saw several great events in the form of holidays and the lost shores events. Even these first three events show the experimentation ANet was willing to do. In Halloween, we had both craftable and BLTC chest skins. These skins were all sellable on the TP, which is how I got my scythe. At Wintersday, there were redeemable tickets that give you the item you wanted (instead of random chance like Halloween), but those items were soulbound. Later, we got the SAB which had earnable (and droppable) skins, the latter of which could be sold.
With lost shores we saw the problems that arose from literal one-time events. Huge lag, disconnects, it was basically unplayable. They have been experimenting constantly with how to deliver this temporary content, refining it each time as they went. ANet didn’t simply choose how they were going to do things and then just keep doing it, they actively tried and experimented with different methods, and learned from their mistakes and successes. It really is fantastic.
As the year has come to its completion, we have settled into a much tighter rhythm. These two-week content cycles are pretty packed full of new assets and goals. New weapon skins, new enemy types, sometimes new zones… it’s pretty great. While I have some issues with the living story, I have to say that looking back on my criticisms from earlier in the year ANet has consistently been addressing them in manners similar to (or better than) what I had proposed. I feel that their track record shows a great degree of self-awareness on their part. They know that there are still things to iron out, and they actively try and find the best solutions for them.
From a personal standpoint, I’ve done what I would consider to be quite a lot. I’ve clocked in roughly 1100 hours I think, which means I average 91 hours a month, which means I am pulling an average of 3 hours a day. That’s a lot of one game. I play a lot of other games and have a lot of other hobbies and social activities, so clearly GW2 has had some great stickiness for me there. I’ve gotten 6 characters to 80, and 2 more in the 30’s. I have completed one legendary weapon and am decently into the second, having completed the gifts of mastery and money. I’ve done all of the jumping puzzles, a moderate number of the dungeon paths, and participated in every living story chain. Most importantly though, I’ve made a lot of great friends.