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Zone Populations - What is the Solution?

November 7, 2012 - 5:36am -- Xerin
Guild Wars 2

Server populations are always a concern in MMOG’s, but one thing that has affected the more social questing that Guild Wars 2 brings is a necessity to have players populate all zones, all of the time.  Without people and lots of them, events become impossible for an individual and make levelling an alternative character incredibly difficult. As it currently stands and having recently revisited low level zones on my mesmer to obtain 100% world completion, it’s frightening how quiet they are.

The same problem occurred in Warhammer Online but Mythic were too late in responding to it, to prevent lasting damage.  If an MMOG is to continue encouraging new players into the fold, it has to support them from the very beginning.  Having no other players around will turn off those venturing into Tyria for the first time.  Inevitably, no one wants to play by themselves.

ArenaNet need to swiftly shift the balance of play away from the highest level zones and encourage a spread of activity across all zones.  “Downleveling” is a brilliant idea, but this desperately needs to be expanded upon to accurately include loot tables.  As a level 80 player, I should be able to obtain level 80 loot even in Queensdale (of an equal quality to Orr) when downleveled.

Without encouragement to move on from higher level zones, back to previous locations, players participating in them will continue to dry up, leaving new players even worse off than they are now. Is there any wonder so many people take to crafting when leveling alternative characters?

Without me writing suggestion after suggestion to remedy this issue (I have plenty: repeatedable Hearts or unique enemies in low level zones which have a chance of dropping precursors) I’d really like to hear your thoughts on how best to fix the problem.  If interested, there is also an excellent thread on the issue here over on the official forums, with some excellent ideas. 

tzahr
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One thing which Anet has done which I believe encourages some return to the lower levels is the potential for Karma farming.  As a level 80 player it may seem that doing dynamic events in low level areas for the Karma would be a bad time investment, but I'd say the opposite is true.  In Queensdale or any of the other starter zones dynamic events take very little time to complete and will still yield a level 80 player 250+ Karma for gold completion.  Granted that is not as much as events in the Cursed Shore, but again the events are very easy to complete and take very little time, so you could potentially complete many more events in the same time frame it would take to complete the Plinx chain.  The down side is that the loot drops are terrible (which you have already addressed), so the potential for selling drops for gold is greatly diminished.

Nyth_
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I think that dropping similar loot in lower level zones as in Orr would go a long way, especially if they also take a look at the karma across the different zones.

But it might also lead to a ton of people overpopulating the lower level zones, due to faster grinding. They could adjust the karma/hour rates and stuff, but it'll still pull people to specific DE with loads of mobs and high repeatability (like the centaur event in Harati Hinterlands)

All in all though, I do hope they give people enough incentive to move back towards some of the lower level and midlevel zones.

chaosgyro
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A sort of stop-gap solution to the loot issue would be to only scale the loot of event mobs.  After all, events are what we want the level 80's to come back and help complete - not the curbstomping of level 2 river drakes in 1 hit hoping for some rares to salvage.

As a part 2 and 2a of the changes I'd like to see waypoint costs capped at a much lower rate than they are currently, and for gold rewards from events to increase. (likely scaled to level, so the 80's have some more incentive to hang around)  Anet have already introduced karma, a non-tradeable currency earned only through participating in the content that needs plenty of participants...so I don't understand their feverish concern with gold inflation.  Just shift more "end game" stuff onto karma and keep gold for quality-of-life concerns like salvage kits, gathering tools, porting around, etc.

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