I didn’t have the stomach to make perusing the forums and reporting the good bits into a regular feature here, but Today’s AMA answers a bunch of important questions and spurred me to action. I understand the AMA is not finished yet, so I will edit/comment in new answers if it proves needed.
Loot Treadmill Concerns: I totally called it at the end of my last post–Chris indicated in several of his answers that the new Ascended rarity introduced by the Lost Shores patch is something that, in hindsight, should have been in the game at launch. It comes as a huge relief that they’ve taken this perspective, rather than one where grinding for a new rarity of loot every few months is the new norm. Explicitly, Chris says they do not intend to introduce a new tier of loot above Ascended, but attached a typical ArenaNet “we do not make eternal promises”-type disclaimer to several such statements.
“In retrospect Ascended should have been deployed pre launch and earn able throughout most activities in the game (which is how we are moving forward).” context
There are several mentions of the “time gap” between Exotic and Legendary and how this was key in the motivation to introduce Ascended gear. The thinking was Exotics were “too easy” and Legendaries were “too hard,” so players wanted something inbetween. Problem is, I don’t buy it. I didn’t want an inbetween step. None of my regular guildies and groupmates wanted an inbetween step. I know my group and I don’t speak for everyone, but who are these people? Did they really want this as the solution to their problem?
“Zero Grind”: Chris caught some flak for claiming that the patch was adhering to ArenaNet’s philosophy of zero grind and that Ascended gear does not violate the Manifesto. He takes a step back and admits that there has been some straying from the Manifesto that they would like to fix:
Q: “With regard to minimal Grind, how is going from 5 Ectos to 50 Ectos for a piece of gear minimal? 5 T6 items to 250 T6 items, minimal?”
A: “… We are currently discussing these particular items and it is fair to say that we don’t want have such big hikes in requirements moving forward.” context
Q: “Any plans to have high-end items feel more like adventure than grind/trading post? I like to go to zones and do cool things, battle through a DE chain I’ve never seen before, things like that. Piling up stacks of 250 high-end items and dumping them into the Mystic Forge really isn’t my thing.”
A: “Yes definitely. That is most certainly our intention, one that has been misrepresented in the itemization of the FotM.” context
Q: “What is your/ANet’s definition of grind? Serious question.”
A: “Repetitive game play that is not fun.” context
Taking Ownership: It would be very easy to try and downplay how various things didn’t go well or were mishandled in the last couple of weeks, but Chris Whiteside is not playing that game with us. He shows us a great deal of respect by taking ownership of the problems, both with the Karka one-time events and with the announcement and initial release of the Ascended gear:
“Having said that, we’re also aware that there were certain aspects of the [Karka] event that could have worked better than they did, and thanks to your excellent feedback we’ll be working toward strengthening this type of content moving forward. …” context
“… So in short its an exciting problem but one that has been poorly communicated and handled. And for this i take responsibility and apologies (sic). …” context
On this front Chris echoed something else I said last week–he admitted that the way information about Ascended gear was released caused problems and they’re talking internally about how to improve that process.
Q: “… I think that a lot of the recent drama could have been abated somewhat by giving direct statements to the players, rather than leaking incomplete information to third-party sites. This AMA is great, but it’s a few weeks late.”
A: “… I agree whole heatedly and this is something we have and are continuing to have multiple discussions about.” context
Personal Story/Home Instance Improvements: Chris expressed that they will be improving both of these things in future content additions. Sounds good to me–I’d like it if the Home Instance had more of a purpose than being a fancy quest hub for your level 1-30 personal story. It sounded like it would be more like a Hall of Monuments analog for each of your characters in the pre-release days, reflecting your choices and accomplishments, which would be awesome. Personally I think we won’t see any major improvements here until an expansion, but it’s one instance they know they can improve.
Asura Weapon Sizes: I thought it was great that Chris took this question even though it’s totally outside of what the community at large is talking about right now. The guy cares about all aspects of the game, big and small.
One-Time Events: One commenter expressed sentiments similar to my own regarding the one-time Karka events–he likes the idea of it, but the one-time-ever event that requires everyone to log on at once was not good in practice. Chris said they will “design these events to be as inclusive as possible” in the future.
Guesting: No comments yet. Sad.
Trading Post “Quality of Life” Improvements: Stuff like being able to sort search results by armor class, coming soon.