Lewis: With the introduction of Laurels, Guild Commendations and Guild Merits alongside the already existing systems of Karma, Influence, Glory and a multitude of other tokens, Guild Wars 2 is awash with currencies that are all designed to fulfil a different purpose. Has it reached saturation point and was there ever a need for so many?
I’d have to say it has. For a new starter it must be dizzying to hear and see all the different currencies, trying to understand which is for where. What I keep coming back to is the fact that Karma is such a great idea that remains tragically underused. The addition of Laurels is another gate to prevent you getting high level items quickly and yet I can’t help but wonder why they couldn’t have made it so you could exchange Karma for Laurels or bet yet, just retained Karma full stop. It all feels very bloated at the moment. Take the new Guild Commendations, why couldn’t they have been Laurels instead as opposed to adding yet another currency.
Elisabeth: I'd agree that we've pretty much reached a saturation point. We've got currency in most colors: gold, green, blue, two purples, and whatever we'd like to call Guild Commendations, on top of dungeon-specific tokens. I'd like to see these currencies given more uses and value as time goes on from here, rather than having new ones added.
I think the problem with exchanging karma for laurels is that it would've undone precisely the idea for laurels -- that is, that there's a fixed rate at which you gain them. If we'd been able to exchange karma for them, even at an astronomical rate, there would've been people with Chauncey and the cat transformation potion on the very same day as the patch. While that may not have actually been a problem, it would undo the point, as I see it, of the laurels.
I'm also not thrilled with the idea that, after a certain point, our focus is on turning one sort of currency into another (like karma to gold, as it exists now, or the possibility of karma to laurels or any other thing). As I said, I'd prefer to see the different resource sinks strengthened and developed, rather than being left to wonder what the best karma-to-blank ratio
Ravious: I think that for specific activities like guild missions resulting in Guild Commendations, the currencies work. It is where the actions blur, such as karma, or where same actions can result in many currencies that thing get confusing.
I still do not think the community understands karma. It's easy to see where karma comes from and what can be bought for karma, but it feels like an auxiliary reward system. It does not feel as directly rewarding as gold, laurels, tokens, etc. Oh hey, I have 200,000 karma. I guess I should convert that in to gold, or something. I hope that for "end game" karma they focus the currency krewe on that first. I agree with Lis that converting it into the other action-specific currencies is not a good idea because the karma would blur the purpose of those better currencies.
Dungeon tokens are the area I really do not like. There are 8 dungeons times 3 paths as well as a wholly separate progression dungeon, Fractals of the Mists. For one action - dungeons - there are 9+ currencies (depending on whether you count the pink Mists goos). I feel that this splinters the dungeon runners groups far too much. Players begin to ultra-focus on one or two dungeons. I am emboldened by what Turbine did recently for Lord of the Rings Online where they distilled all their dungeon tokens in to a three tier system.
Lewis: I do think Commendations work, but the Laurel system I find frustrating with much of that due to me wishing to obtain Ascended items, that are purposefully gated off from me. If Laurels can only be obtained at a rate of 1 per day, or 10 additional Laurels per month, for me to obtain a full set of Ascended items in this way would take months. This alone undermines the entire point of the currency as it's enforcing a completely arbtirary restriction on my ability to progress. When I suggested converting Karma to something like Laurels it was on the basis that it could suppliment what we already have and provide it with a purpose greater than being a Legendary grind. I'm sure ArenaNet could balance the books in regards to Karma/Laurel exchange rates, say 25,000 for 1.
When it comes to dungeon tokens, the changes made by ArenaNet are better (I ran Twilight Arbor hundreds of times to get my mesmers equipment, before the patch changes increased token numbers) but it still feels frustrating. I think something similar to LotRO could definitely work there is still far too much repetition running dungeons, all because of the currency system.
Elisabeth: If I could get universal tokens from a dungeon that could be spent on other dungeon rewards, I'd have been able to have fully armored my characters with sets from every dungeon in the game off the merits of my CoF runs alone. I'm torn on whether that idea appeals to me. On the one hand, it would certainly be less complicated and I can definitely see the merits of it; on the other, I don't necessarily disagree with ArenaNet's idea that people will know precisely what you did (for example, running CoE about a jillion times) for your armor set.
Lewis: I always thought that universal tokens would be a great idea but with the restriction that they can only be exchanged at a dungeon vendor if you've completed the story mode and/or all 3 paths of said dungeon. So for example, you could run CoF for hundreds of tokens but if you wanted the weapons from Twilight Arbor, you would have to have completed it. I freely admit though that it's a mine field to try to balance out universal currencies as the prospect of players just running the quickest dungeon would be so prevalent.
Ravious: The goal, of course, would be to get players running through many dungeons instead of just the quickest. If players got universal tokens for only a single daily run in place of the token bonus already available that might be something on the right track. Selfishly I hope something like this is considered because I do not relish the thought of grinding Arah for my staff legendary. I guess there is the status of people knowing that with the Bifrost, I have gained of my own accord 500 Arah tokens. Armor sets are obviously a step up on the times players have run a particular dungeon. Still, I feel the 8 dungeon tokens needs to be considered during this year's currency polish.
Each currency has a purpose. The laurels (as frustrating as you find them, Lewis) are aimed at getting players who have little time to log on, play around a bit, and advance. They log off knowing they hit a nice reward chunk AND that more laurels are simply not possible. It's almost like ArenaNet telling these casuals it's okay to take a break. If ArenaNet builds a community of relaxed players coming back nearly daily for a bite or two, they are training them quite well. How great would it be if Guild Wars 2 really proved how MMOs can be seamlessly incorporated in a gamer's activities without requiring such a commitment that would turn so many away?
Elisabeth: Ravious makes a good point about the diverse dungeon tokens. While I'm on board with ArenaNet's intention that tokens would represent mastery of a very specific dungeon, it also puts things like the Arah armor set way out of most folks' realm of consideration. Still, I'd like for there to be something that indicates dedication to a specific dungeon. This would possibly be a great place to throw in new non-ascended back items or something else, that would only drop from a specific dungeon's chest, to show that you've been there.
I do like laurels, and the idea they represent of logging in and having a specific, short-term goal. As I said originally, while I think we've hit kind of the maximum number of useful currencies (oh wait, hello there baubles and bauble bubbles), I'd like to see them expanded in use rather than replaced or merged.
Ravious: It is hard creating currencies that work for all players. I think there are clear currencies that need polishing more than others, but I would like to see the system expanded. Perhaps an equivalent exchange could be a good direction. There are countless others. I hope ArenaNet is going to throw the systems in a harsh rock tumbler because it does need some work.
Lewis: I think that's the answer right there - the opportunity to interchange currencies (or play swapsies) based on whatever value ArenaNet place on them and I think Karma is the perfect conduit for that. It's universal, obtained by doing all tasks in the game (with the exception of Super Adventure Box) and could be valued easily. 30,000 Karma for 1 Laurel or 5 dungeon tokens? Yes please.
GW2Hub wants to thank both Elisabeth and Ravious for taking the time out of their busy schedules to discuss the topic of currencies and as always, we're hoping they'll rejoin us soon for future round tables.