Getting More Out of My Game

Last week I posted concerning the topic of “More,” and ended with the question: “Is it possible for me to simply be happy with what I have in Guild Wars 2?”

It’s interesting how we always want more and more content, but how often do we find ourselves being satisfied with what’s been given to us? Satisfaction in our gaming is a choice. I mean, we don’t always “click” with every single game or every single playstyle, but after a certain point we’re forced to either enjoy what’s offered to us, or not. I’ve hit this wall since having an 80 of every single profession where I felt like the game wasn’t worth playing anymore and I asked: “Why is this?”

One thing I mentioned last week was the whole concept of having the carrot dangled in front of us–as if we need this. I’d go so far to say that we should feel our intelligence is being insulted if we have to be told to have a specific goal in a game. Sure, it’s a beautiful thing to have a story crafted to guide us and engage us, but shouldn’t we find value in the journey itself? Once upon a time I played MMOs such as World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings Online where your goal for your character was maxing your stats, getting the best gear (that would always be updated and render your last gear obsolete), and running the same dungeons over and over. I remember in LOTRO’s Riders of Rohan expansion, finally getting all the top gear and feeling proud that I finally accomplished it. Actually, I got TWO sets for my Captain (one for healing and one for DPS), and then stepped away to play Guild Wars 2 for a bit. When I came back, it was all useless.

[…]shouldn’t we find value in the journey itself?

Yet this was the premise of every game I’ve played my whole life. Console RPGs, I’d get the best gear and hit max level and kick the living daylights out of the final boss. In WoW, I just wanted to get my character to max level (I played pre-Burning Crusade, which was pretty awesome back then). Guild Wars 1, I felt myself confused after I hit Lv.20 because it made no sense to me. It was all aesthetics. There was no carrot to chase, other than completing objectives that were set. Wasn’t this a good thing? Isn’t the intended direction of Guild Wars 2 exactly what I needed?

Yet I’ve been so conditioned.

Perhaps I’m being too idealistic, because as I noted in my last post, I tend to need that carrot. I love the idea of freedom and exploration, but when it all comes down to it I just get bored. Too much freedom and I feel like I’ve completed everything and move on.

Take the acclaimed Minecraft, for instance. It’s a purely sandbox game that’s based on discovery and exploration, learning more and more about what you’re capable of through different materials you gather and combine. It’s tremendously fun to play, but I get quite tired of it after a while. Why? The lack of the carrot.

In terms of Guild Wars 2, it became extremely clear that when I got all 80’s I felt like I had achieved everything. My completion of the game was tied to reaching “the end.” It’s where people fall flat on their faces and ask: “Now what? Where’s the end-game content?” To be honest, this is really hard reprogramming that ArenaNet has been trying to do. Instead, they’re moving into the concept of meaningful, horizontal progression that goes beyond fashion through their mastery system in Heart of Thorns.

Will this be enough of a carrot? Will progression in the mastery system be gained through multiple areas of the game? Will exploration and pure enjoyment of Tyria feed into this? I’m honestly not sure how this could be done well. Either you constantly dangle carrots, or you open up the sandbox. Is it possible to work somewhere in-between?

I know ArenaNet is trying to find a beautiful medium there, and I hope they achieve it. I think they’re on the right track, but it’s definitely taking some reconditioning of… well, me.


Maybe this blog post is ending without an answer. It’s more of a scattershot of thoughts based upon last week’s post. I guess I want to get more out of my game and I’m finding some ways. Do you have any suggestions on how to get more out of Guild Wars 2? Be sure to post your comments below. I’d love to read, and respond to, as many as possible!

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