The quasi-monolithic list of changes to the game as part of today’s Living Story content drop have been released, and there are some pretty big things here. Of note, the next chapter of Flame and Frost has been brought into the game, leaderboards for WvW, sPvP and achievement points have been added, a new WvW leveling system has been implemented, new items have appeared in the gem store and an update to the NCSoft user agreement has been made, requiring all players to re-agree to the agreement prior to getting in game.
The update also includes story instances for the Living World. Those are detailed below, and the rest of the biggest updates are included after the jump. If you’ve got about an hour to kill though, you can read the notes directly by going here.
OPEN WORLD: The Molten Alliance has begun spying on the people of Wayfarer Foothills, Diessa Plateau, the Snowden Drifts, the Plains of Ashford, and the Iron Marches. The Vigil have stationed collectors in these areas to reward adventurers who return logs of all data collected by the enemy.
INSTANCES: Living Story instances telling the stories of both Braham the norn and Rox the charr have been added to the world. In-game mails and achievements have been implemented in order to aid guidance to the relevant locations. These instance locations are marked on the world map with a golden portal marker.
If you’ve hung around World vs World long enough, you’ve probably heard people talk about culling. It’s a huge issue where your game client is either unaware of or unable to render entire players (or NPC’s, as this sometimes happens in large PvE gathering as well.) Imagine a giant mob of 100+ Mists invaders coming by and killing you, and you didn’t even know they were there because you literally could not see them. This is culling. As mentioned, it’s super prevalent (and a major pain) in WvW when the battle lines can be moving and you’re caught unaware and die from invisible enemies. Habib Loew over at Arena.Net earlier today proudly proclaimed that they are “ending culling” in the March 26th patch.
If you’ve ever played World vs. World in a large group, you’ve probably noticed that there were some enemy players that you couldn’t see. That was an unfortunate side effect of a process called culling. I’m pleased to announce that in the upcoming patch on March 26, we’re going to turn culling off completely in WvW. This will make invisible enemies (except those using invisibility skills, of course) a thing of the past.
Great news! Visible players everywhere! Problem solved! Right? Maybe? If you’re like me, you’ve been thinking the following: Wait a minute, isn’t culling mostly a graphical issue with computers not being able to render models fast enough? In that case, you’d be partially correct. There are multiple types of culling, or rather, multiple things that can go wrong with getting a character model to show up that the community as a whole calls culling collectively. But, when ArenaNet refers to culling, they’re referring to one very specific version of culling, which is the data the server reports to the client being limited, and thus causing the culling effect. Here’s Loew again, emphasis is mine:
For the sake of clarity, I want to make a clear distinction between our usage of the term “culling” in this post (meaning to limit the amount of data the server reports to the client) and other uses of the word “culling” related to graphics (discarding backward facing triangles in models, triangles or whole models that are occluded, etc.). Our changes are to the client/server culling and have no bearing on basic graphics operations in the GW2 client.
Yep. Got an older computer? Culling will still exist for you. Guild Wars 2 is insanely CPU intensive, and large WvW battles push even high end Core i7′s and AMD FX’s to their limits. Chances are, if you’re running on older hardware, culling is in fact not dead for you. If anybody remembers back to the early days of the game, the client/server culling wasn’t an issue then either, as the server more or less just sent everything. What was an issue though was there being so many models to render that it tanked many computers that could otherwise play the game. If you tried to walk out into a starter area a couple of hours after launch, you probably have an idea of what I’m talking about. ArenaNet has added some extra graphical options to help relieve this problem. We’ll go to Loew one more time:
Under the new system, characters can be rendered in three different ways:
- High resolution models - These are the high-res character models that you’re all already familiar with.
- Lower resolution fallback models - These are the models that we’ve been using as placeholders in WvW while the hi-res models load. They differ depending on race and armor class, though human, sylvari, and norn share the same model.
- Nameplates only - We don’t render the model at all and instead only show the nameplate for that character.
We’ve also added two new options to allow players to select how WvW characters are displayed:
- WvW Character Limit - This controls how many of the reported characters render with a model and how many are rendered only with nameplates.
- WvW Character Quality - This controls how many of the characters rendered with a model use the high resolution models and how many use the lower resolution fallback models.
This is a good solution, and much, much better than the status quo, but it’s not quite the “end of culling.” I guess nameplates are better than nothing.
We were lucky enough to snag some time with one of ArenaNet’s Dungeon Content Designers, Robert Hrouda.
How do you feel about the current state of dungeons? Do you think that they are in a good spot in terms of what they provide for PvE players? Or do you think that they could provide a bit more?
We’re working on dungeons, and coming out with new stuff for them that we hope will be entertaining and challenging. There’s a lot that goes into what we are doing, but suffice to say we are looking at encounters and such and modifying them.
What are your thoughts on the current dungeon token system? Is it too burdensome, or are you guys pretty okay with how it has played out?
The token system is something we are looking into. It serves its purpose, but we feel there is more we can do. As always we are modifying and adjusting our reward scheme for dungeons to try and hit the sweet spot.
At the moment, the person that enters a group into the dungeon is in complete control of the whole party. They can attempt to kick others without fear of retaliation simply because if they are kicked, the whole group loses their progress. Can we as players expect a fix on this soon?
We’re looking into the dungeon instance owner problems, and developing solutions. It will take time to get right, and I can’t answer anything about dates and tech for that – it goes a bit above my head.
Have you reviewed and considered any of the suggestions from the “Community’s Voice: Dungeons” thread from a few months ago?
We read the thread. I won’t point out the suggestions we took, but we did take some from it. One of my jobs is to look at that feedback and figure out what the actual desire of the player is. Reducing mob HP for instance, isn’t just a call for lower HP… it’s for a quicker less grindy Mob experience. It’s my duty to take that feedback and do something with it.
Also you have to realize that forums can’t dictate what we do. The people who go to forums are a very small percentage, and usually they are going there to discuss a problem. Otherwise the 50 people who post in a popular thread would dictate the direction of the game, and we can’t have that.
Have you guys thought about maybe adding some kind of side-bonuses to dungeons before? Something similar to the extra things you could do in GW1 in Missions to get bonuses. It could be something very simple, like perform X amount of combos on bosses, or trying to survive the dungeon without dying once. This could be used to reward players for better gameplay, and you could give them things such as more tokens, or even specific rewards for that dungeon.
I would LOVE to add more content to dungeons. Random events, bonus events, awesome puzzles – you name it, I want more in it. There’s only so many hours in a day that two people can devote though, and right now we’re doing some pretty substantial work that our next content patch will have. When we get time though, you bet I want to add more.
Have you guys considered perhaps that not every dungeon needs to be based around killing bosses? It could be fun to have a dungeon that’s chock full of puzzles. And I mean actual puzzles, not mini-laser hop “puzzles”. Something to the effect of Zelda dungeon puzzles?
Whats wrong with mini-laser hop puzzles? :3
Yes, I would love to do a dungeon that is just puzzles. It wasn’t in the scope for our launch, but it is surely on my mind.
Have you thought about maybe adding Lodestones as a reward for Dungeon Tokens? It would help bring their prices more in line and obtainable for Legendaries, as well as get more people running Dungeons they’ve already completed before.
We’re always looking at rewards for dungeons and trying to improve them. Trust me I know how you feel about the lodestone issue, but my hands are tied a bit on the matter. It is something I routinely bring up to the people who have the responsibility, but you have to understand that they have an entire game’s balance and economy on their hands.
Thanks a ton to Robert Hrouda for sharing his time with us to answer a few questions!
The much anticipated update to World vs World has been delayed from its anticipated launch of February to March, with ArenaNet saying they want more time to test and polish the new content. Game Director Colin Johanson took to the forums to deliver the news, and to detail more of what we can expect for WvW updates in the future. WvW is the one major area of Guild Wars 2 (the other two being PvE and sPvP) that has not received much attention. While we’ve seen a new arena in sPvP and plenty of new content in PvE, WvW has soldiered on with only some balance changes since the release of GW2.
Some of the new content we can expect to see in March include a new progression system, new titles, and WvW specific bonuses and abilities. Johanson also laid out some other improvements we will be seeing for World vs World, not in March but in future updates beyond that. Those include…
- More work on the culling issue (where the engine cannot render models fast enough, leading to players being temporarily invisible. This is prevalent in other parts of the game, but hits WvW the hardest, where entire enemy groups remain hidden until you’re already dead.)
- More incentives to win in WvW beyond the point totals and the minor temporary bonuses that servers
- Ways to help more people play WvW, such as dealing with queue issues that occur on very active WvW servers
Specific details are sparse as of now, but Johanson tells us that more concrete information will be given as the updates get closer to launch. It’s apparent that ArenaNet are having trouble setting reasonable update timelines, as releases getting pushed back are becoming regular announcements. The “expansion worth of content in January and February” has turned in to February and March, for example. All of the free content has been awesome, but let’s hope the release date estimation improves in the future.
You can read the original forum post over on the Guild Wars 2 Forums
Today, ArenaNet announced an upcoming release, the Flame & Frost prelude update, via the official Guild Wars 2 website.
The details of this update include a new PvP mode as well as a new map for paid and free PvP tournaments – Temple of the Silent storm.
Outside of PvP, there are new achievements to be earned daily, as well as unique ones for each day of the week. Along with these new achievements comes a new achievements tracker as well as redeemable tokens in the form of laurels. The laurels can then be used to obtain rewards like ascended gear and transfusions.
Guesting is also officially in, and while being free the free world, transfers are being replaced by gem-paid world transfers (as they were originally intended to be).
There will also be continuous updates in terms of balance, UI and bug fixes along with some cool new items in the gem store (two words: Quaggan Backpacks).
Quite the start to the new year, and this is only the prelude. Hit the update for the full story and comment below!