The Scrying Pool: Transmutation Woes

This edition of the Scrying Pool wonders if the transmutation system is all it could be.

In each article of The Scrying Pool, I look at what is and what could be. After taking a look at what is present in Guild Wars 2 now, whether that be lore or game mechanics, I then ask What If? What if this happened in the lore or this feature was added in a future patch.

In Guild Wars 2 there exists the Transmutation system. Through this system players can combine the stats of one item with the appearance of a similar item type, such as the stats of one staff with the appearance of a different staff.

This process is done through the use of Transmutation Stones and Transmutation Crystals.  Using a transmutation stone or crystal opens a window with two slots: one for each of the two component items. After placing both items in the window, the player can select the appearance, stats and upgrade that will become the new gear item.

One problem with this system is that while two items are always put in, only one item comes out. If a player acquires two unique swords with amazing skins that he or she really likes, instead of using the transmutation system to alter the sword's appearance the player is instead carrying around two swords to preserve both skins.

While that in itself is not too much of problem, it does create the side effect of stagnation. While there are many different skins for armor and weapons, most players end up finding the coolest combination of armor that they would wear for the rest of forever. It prevents players from having a flavor of the week while also making some armor and weapon skins very common sights.

The other cause of this problem is that this system runs almost solely on gem store consumables. The only difference between stones and crystals is that if either piece of gear is level 80 a crystal must be used. If both pieces of gear are level 79 or lower the stone can be used. While stones can be obtained fairly easily in game, crystals are almost solely obtained through the gem store.

This means that a level 80 character is going to be paying 50¢ (USD) every time he or she wants to change the skin on each individual piece of gear. Want to change the look of your entire armor set? That's $3.

One suggestion that comes up occasionally is for there to be a PvE Locker. The idea is to make a version of the PvP Locker for use with PvE gear. This idea, however, only targets problems of storage presented with the transmutation problem. Even then it doesn't solve storage woes as the PvP Locker only stores a single piece of any gear skin.

The PvP Locker also doesn't have to worry about different stats. Any weapon or armor piece that can be stored in the locker has a default set of stats, unlike in PvE where you might have a level 20 Bandit Sword and a level 40 Bandit Sword with one having Power as the main stat and the other with Condition Damage as the main stat. Even weapons with sigils will lose the sigil when it is stored in the locker.

An inherent part of the locker is that every PvP weapon shows up within it, something of which I am not very fond. A negative of this was shown when the Super weapons were “leaked” almost a week early due to them showing up in the PvP Locker. Having every weapon shown removes any mystery of what is out there, in addition to being another thing completionists need to fill or unlock.

Between the slight negative of the locker showing everything in the game and that the locker most likely would not be able to handle different stated weapons, I don't think that a PvE locker would ever be added to the game.

So how do we improve the transmutation system?

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Seriously huge things you're forgetting...
# Apr 12 2013 at 1:27 PM Rating: Decent
6 posts
You do not have to pay 50 cents/3 dollars to reskin your armor or weapons.

What you pay for them are gems. It's one's choice to pay for gems with real money, but you can also buy gems with in-game currency, whose price fluctuates on supply/demand.

Every single time I see people whine about the microtransactions in GW2, they always ignore this. Whether or not it's because they never bothered to look at the 2nd tab of the Trading Post or if they have some sort of motivation to provide misinformation to their readers is up in the air, though.

A second problem with your conjecture of their expense is that the transmutation gems can be obtained by random drop via the daily achievement system, for free. I've played this game non-consistently over the last few months (I didn't play at all during January or February) and I've still managed to get a stack of about 60 1-79 basic transmutation gems and 20 lv.80 transmutation gems just sitting in my bank. Unless you do serious constant re-skinning or gear customization most players do not have to buy these stones with gems at all.

But I strongly suggest you should edit this article to reflect these facts, as this seems to be the crux of why you think this system needs to be fixed.
Seriously huge things you're forgetting...
# Apr 12 2013 at 4:18 PM Rating: Decent
5 posts
That is true that you can exchange gold for gems, but as ArenaNet has said many times over the last year the gem exchange system does not create either gold or gems. To exchange to get gems someone else in the world had to put gems in, which is what fluctuates that supply/demand. So in a way someone is paying for the 50 cents/3 dollars.

But if you want to just say you are paying for the Transmutation Crystals with in game gold: at current speculation it would be about 1 gold per crystal, which is how much the cheapest costing level 80 exotic gear is. Why would I pay 1 gold to end up with 1 level 80 exotic gear with a different skin when I could just pay 1 gold to have 2 differently skinned level 80 exotic gear?

I do know that you can get the Transmutation Crystals from the daily achievement system. I have gotten them before. I believe I have gotten it twice since launch. That means that in almost 8 months I have collected enough to change a third of one armor set for free. The idea behind the dungeon token system is that these Transmutation Shards would be like 10 tokens from any of the dungeon merchants. So running a dungeon path once could give you enough tokens to change your entire set. If you don't want to do constant re-skinning you would be able to sell them, which would allow non-dungeon runners a (hopefully) cheaper re-skinning than the current 1 gold + skin source cost.

Lastly, I have a similar surplus because I don't change skins regularly. The only time I have used Transmutation Crystals is to get that one look that has been on my level 80 characters since they have been level 80. Like I said in the article, this works counter to players trying out new skins or keeping around those "mediocre" skins. If I change out the armor skin on two of my level 80 characters (something that is going to happen soon since I have two characters about to hit 80 needing some cool gear) then my entire stockpile of Crystals is going to be gone. The system I proposed would hopefully counter the idea of "Let's stockpile Stones/Crystals in case something awesome falls in my lap/is added to the game." And like I said in the article, this will be in addition to the current system. So players who just want to have that one skin set for the rest of forever will still be able to do that.

EDIT: Just for clarification, the crux of this change is partly due to the cost as you say but also partly because one of the pieces of gear is destroyed in the process. I wouldn't mind the cost if the gear wasn't destroyed, but this then creates the storage problem mentioned when you are keeping every gear you would want to switch to. Instead this system reduces the destruction of item to once while unlocking and also reducing the cost in switching, so instead of eliminating either problem it is reducing the effect either has.

Edited, Apr 12th 2013 6:28pm by MattstaNinja
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