23 March, 2007

The Problem with Guild Wars

Last summer, before I rediscovered World of Warcraft, I fell madly in love with Guild Wars. I was disappointed in or intimidated by every other MMO out there, and most of all Factions is just really, really nice. But the last few times I tried getting back into the game it couldn't hold my interest. In fact it made me angry.

Fine, don't have an auction house. It's not as though Blizzard ever copied anyone's ideas. It's not as though Guild Wars is 90% Diablo II. So they filter WTB and so forth onto a Trade channel, which no one uses. It's an EULA violation to evade the filter, but the only means of reporting violations is (last time I checked) buried in the website and requires inclusion of a screenshot. Well is that even fair? What if I don't just want to single out five or ten people? What if I want to report everyone?

So it is, as near as I can tell, literally impossible to use the general chat channel for general chat. Even if you wanted to, the only other people watching tend to be those stupid or angry enough to tolerate or thrive in such an environment.

I asked for help with a quest I was stuck on. A guy helped me then asked if I'd like to join his guild. I figured what the hell. There was only one other member. I figure he must have done this before, and maybe it'll be fun helping put a new guild together. He gives me some gold for recruiting, because the game charges gold for that.

I don't log in, then I do log in. I don't know how to give him his gold back. I feel like a thief. How do you find another player in Guild Wars? Ask the de facto tradebot channel that is the main chat window if anyone knows him? The world is split into a thousand pieces.

I didn't have this trouble in Anarchy Online back in 1991. In 1993 the chat system for Asheron's Call 2 not only broke for several months but continued to work often enough that people kept trying to use it. There was no way of knowing whether it was working or not at any given moment. Were the other players busy, or did they not see what you said at all? This may have been the singular factor in the game's demise two and a half years later. The only detail that challenges it is Turbine's bald, proud contempt for their player base.

Guild Wars is set up worse than this, and yet it recently inched out Eve from the number one spot on mmorpg.com's chart. This is not a small or meaningless accomplishment; over 65,000 people voted in the website's awards last year. You could fairly argue that Guild Wars is the most widely loved game in the world right now. Why? How do people put up with it?

I miss playing, and I know someday I'll look back to AC2 and think, "I should have learned my lesson and played Guild Wars while I could, and now it's too late." But right now the idea of playing the damned thing makes my skin crawl. Kind of a drag considering it's my second favorite game.

1 comment:

Crucifer said...

We Asheron Call 2 players should unite and demand an MMO for us to play on.

It's a pity that a game that even now outranks current MMO's was run into the ground by bad management/marketing.

I wish for AC2 too! :(

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