Flameseeker Chronicles: What have we learned from the War in Kryta?

It was another relatively quiet week in Guild Wars 2 news, but here at Massively we had an exciting interview with some of the ArenaNet team members about aspects of Guild Wars 1.

In that interview, John Stumme snuck in some hints of what's to come for Guild Wars: Beyond. We finally got the official name of the Canthan content: Winds of Change. There's much more, too -- Keiran's coming back, there's a wedding on the horizon, and we haven't seen the last of the Lunatic Court.

These new details sparked a lot of talk among the fans and got me thinking about player feedback from the War in Kryta. Follow along after the jump as we take a look, and then let me know what you think!
The War in Kryta experience differs wildly depending on when you came into the picture. If you were fortunate enough to be around from the very beginning, you know the excitement of following the story as it was revealed piece by piece. For nearly four months, the story progressed throughout the country of Tyria and culminated in a grand battle near the end of July.

The combination of so much new content in an old game and the bridge to the story of Guild Wars 2 made it an exciting series of events. What about those who arrived late to the party, though? It's a completely different perspective. Part of what made the War in Kryta so fascinating for those who participated as it released was its depth. There were so many various little stories that we've become familiar with over time, all expanding on their own and coming together to make up the WiK arc. It worked beautifully and delighted most of the community.

For any character that did not start on this in March, these same elements came together to create an insanely confusing mishmash that required a giant flowchart just to figure out what on earth is happening. Any of you who started after July or worked through War in Kryta more than one time knows exactly what I mean. You were running all over, zoning in and out of Talmark Wilderness to get the dialogues, trotting back to the wiki over and over to figure out why you're stalled, and begging guildmates for apple cider and cupcakes. It's a mess.

Shawn and I discussed this downside on the latest episode of Guildcast, but we also talked a lot about the sense of frustration newer players feel when everyone is focused on advanced content that they are nowhere near reaching. This is where things get complicated for War in Kryta and things start to break down with player opinion.

ArenaNet is balancing on a thin wire here, because the playerbase is more divided than it has ever been. Guild Wars has always had a regular influx of new players, but those people were increasingly in the minority. The vast majority of the playerbase has been composed of experienced players for a long time, something that I assume made content decisions a little easier.

The past few months -- particularly since the Hall of Monuments reward calculator was introduced -- have seen an enormous shift in that balance, because new players are simply flooding in. The buzz about Guild Wars 2 is huge, and so many people who were never interested in GW1 are dying to get their hands on this game. The news that GW1 offers both backstory and a jump on GW2 titles and perks caused a bit of a stampede.

How do you keep both sides of this new and improved playerbase perfectly happy? You don't, of course. At some point, the ArenaNet developers simply have to say, "We need to move forward with this." Guild Wars has a development foundation of five years behind it, and going backwards to create something that caters solely to this new group of players would be self-destructive. There are already three full campaigns plus an expansion for newbies to work through -- adding to that would not only be overwhelming for those players, but useless, because it doesn't move the story forward to GW2.

The approach that ArenaNet has chosen makes the most sense, but there is an unavoidable downside in the (understandable) frustration and impatience of new players. It can seem like a monstrous task when you have purchased this game in order to get a jump on Guild Wars 2 only to find out that you have a few years' worth of catching up to do. Unfortunately, there is simply no way around it. It sounds harsh, but those rewards in Guild Wars 2 are an acknowledgment of time and effort put into earning them in Guild Wars 1, and they won't be handed to you for nothing. The problem isn't that the system is unfair; the problem is that the system is very fair. You put in the time and you get a reward.

This might seem like a tangent, but my point here is that it holds true for War in Kryta. Was it too complicated? That answer is purely a matter of opinion. Personally, I was excited to see various storylines weaving together as things progressed, but I -- along with many other players -- had the advantage of participating from the outset and following each reveal over a period of four months. I have no idea whether I'd feel differently as a brand-new player. The reward and advantage were there for those who were involved. It's not punishing those who were late for the party; it's simply the way things work. You've got to put the time in to reach the end rewards -- and never forget that you have plenty of time, so sit back and enjoy yourself as you play. That's why we are doing this, right? Have some fun!

It's a similar situation for those who are not lore fans and feel impatient at being "forced" to sit through all of this boring stuff just to get to the new content. Again, at some point ArenaNet just has to make a decision and go with it. Since the entire point of Guild Wars: Beyond is to carry the story of the world of Tyria into Guild Wars 2, a hefty dose of storytelling is simply unavoidable. The developers could just as easily have said, "You know what? The White Mantle and Shining Blade fought, lots of people that you know helped, and in the end the Shining Blade won. Here's some new content. Also, go buy Ghosts of Ascalon."

OK, maybe not that exactly, but the choice to pare it down to bare bones was surely there. Instead, the developers chose to make us part of the story rather than just tell it to us, which opened the doors to some pretty involved content. Whether or not it's good content is purely a matter of opinion, and nobody's is wrong -- that's the beauty of personal opinion.

For better or for worse, it's a part of the game now. If you want the content, you've got to go through the storyline. Winds of Change, the Canthan segment of Guild Wars: Beyond, is up next. I assume that it will be as story-driven as War in Kryta, but will it be as intricate? What the developers do with the feedback they have received recently is as interesting to me as the story itself.

What do you want to see for Winds of Change?
Rubi is a longtime Guild Wars player and the writer of Flameseeker Chronicles here at Massively. The column keeps a close eye on all the events in Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, and anything bridging the two. It's also the home of a weekly summary of the travels of [MVOP], Massively's Guild Wars guild. Email Rubi at rubi@massively.com.
This article was originally published on Massively.