Flameseeker Chronicles: The pros and cons of long-running events

I'm writing this while I wait for the next round of the Canthan New Year finale to begin -- I need my fourth lion mask; it's important!

Guild Wars festivals are always fascinating to me, and not just for the bump to my sugar, booze, and party points. They are a great opportunity for people-watching, so to speak. Canthan New Year has been a recurring festival for a long time in Guild Wars, and today I want to take a look at the ups and downs of having the same event over and over.

First, though, let's take a peek at what MVOP has been up to for the past week. We are still blasting through Factions, but we took a small break last Thursday night to enjoy the festival, run a few quests and frankly embarrass me during a few rounds of Dragon Nest. Once the guild learned that I have never participated in that particular festival event, it was insisted that I remedy that right away. As it turns out, a speed buff of some sort is highly desired in Dragon Nest, and if you don't have one, you will likely spend a lot of time trundling around trying to tag baby dragons while competing players zip past you shouting about sugary blue drinks. Note to self: Save up some chocolate bunnies next year.

Once we'd enjoyed some festival events, it was back to our regular path in Factions: Unwaking Waters. We completed that quest and set plans to continue next Thursday night as always, so if you'd like to join us, visit our forums and drop us a line! For now, follow along after the jump to read about the pros and cons of a long-running festival like Canthan New Year.

Same old, same old

The fact that the festival events are largely the same year after year is probably the most polarizing part of them for the community. I've always said that it depends largely on your point of view. To me, complaining that we get the same quests every year is like complaining that it's dumb to hunt for eggs every Easter. "This is boring. We know we are going to find eggs. Why don't people hide bacon this year?" I prefer to view it as a tradition rather than a redundancy. These are quests and events we only get for a few days out of every year, so let's just sit back and enjoy watching Hapless Chong be struck by lighting!

This doesn't mean that I can't see the other side, however. I have to admit that the way the quests are designed makes them very easy to turn into a painful grind. They're low-effort, low-reward (in the current GW economy), and able to be done on any level 5 character with no prerequisites. They are also "FedEx quests" for the most part, something I mentioned as my MMO pet peeve in the most recent Guildcast. Fetch tea for Guwon the Wise, go put out the fireworks for Elder Nofuun, and so on. Thankfully, we're saved from monotony by blowing up firecrackers in the faces of rampaging Nian and by racing to provide ingredients to demanding chefs.

That is probably my favorite part of the festival -- providing ingredients for the feast during the finale events. It's a true community effort in which the community pitches in as a whole and everyone benefits. This, of course, brings me to the biggest pro as well as the biggest con to these long-running festival events:

The human element

As I said, this is one of the most fascinating parts of Canthan New Year for me, because it's one of the largest examples of a game community pulling together to make something happen. The more people who cooperate, the more everyone is rewarded, so there's great incentive. Over the years, the community has held a tradition of various guilds volunteering to "host" a district. The host guild or alliance agrees to provide the chefs with all of their ingredients for the finale events, allowing everyone else in the district to relax, socialize, or AFK Nine Rings and enjoy the full benefits. The hosts get to provide something nice for the general community and enjoy the opportunity to promote their guild.

What's interesting about this is how well everyone has made it work even though ArenaNet does not provide an official Guild Wars forum. There is a thread on Guild Wars Guru every year that is generally accepted as the place to claim and advertise your hosted district, and for the most part the community as a whole abides by that.

Notice I said "as a whole." Part of the human element of anything includes those who are unaware or unconcerned about a generally accepted yet not officially sanctioned guideline. This gives every Canthan New Year an element of bickering and district shuffling as people arrive in claimed districts only to find that someone else got there first. Neither group is willing to withdraw, as both have spread the word within their circles and don't want to inconvenience those people.

The great thing is that although there is that inevitable strife, it's short-lived. In the end, at least one group will realize that more hosted districts mean more treats for everyone, wish the others best of luck, and withdraw gracefully to another district. It's a real pleasure seeing players be gracious and polite rather than create a district full of fighting and griefing.

This is absolutely one of the biggest advantages to a long-running festival with consistent events. The Guild Wars community as a whole knows exactly what to expect and is able to start planning well in advance to ensure that everyone reaps the full benefits.

In the end, I have to stand by my long-running opinion: The fun of having familiar events year after year lies solely with you. I'll gladly admit that some of the quests can get a little tedious. I made it through three rounds of quests on two different accounts before I said, "Forget it. This is incredibly boring," and went to do something else. Thankfully there is so much more to do that there's no reason to bore yourself grinding for Lunar Tokens. Yes, it is a great opportunity to gain title points, but thanks to the community effort, simply parking your character in a hosted district for the duration of the finale will get you a huge jump on the title.

Now if we could just get Tien to stop screaming at his mother for a dumpling, all would be well. Seriously Nishu, feed that child!

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.