This week's article of The Scrying Pool asks how limited is limited time content.
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, be that 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.
About a month ago The Scrying Pool talked about the Living Story. The Flame and Frost content had just released its final patch with the new story arc in Southsun not yet released. That article was focused on the story. What we had already seen and what could we see in future stories. This week is again about the Living Story, but this time focusing on a side effect of its living design: limited time content.
One of the goals behind the Living Story content was to help build on the living, breathing world of Tyria and give it a sense that it is changing and evolving. Part of this is that not all content can be around forever. The world wouldn’t be changing and evolving if places stagnated at a certain points in the time and story. For example, Christmas isn’t celebrated year round and so Wintersday in GW2 is removed at the end of that season.
The limited time content doesn’t stop with just holidays either. Every content patch has had limited time only content including most of the Southsun content (and the Ancient Karka event back in November) and everything from the Flame and Frost story.
This use of limited time content can help drive a story and make it meaningful or special. The Ancient Karka was meaningful as there was just that one Ancient Karka. Players are not killing it then planning to come back in two hours to kill it again after he respawns. It was also special as it was a one-time only event. Just mentioning invisible karka will remind anyone who was there of the Lost Shores weekend.
It also presents a unique way to tell the story in an MMO. In most MMOs the story is told as you progress through a zone. If more story wants to be told it often involves creating a new zone or dungeon to tell it. With using limited time content, a zone can be freed up to be used again. Southsun is the best example of this with the story told in November. Because that story was a limited time only story it wasn’t in the way when ArenaNet came back in May to tell a different story on that same island.
Limited time content however, isn’t all positive. The most obvious is that content can be missed. Players who were not able to play will always see those achievements and rewards that are forever unattainable. Maybe players did attend the events but were not able to snag rewards like the rarer items from the Molten Alliance dungeon that were available for only two weeks.
Returning players is another concern. If all of the content goes away after a month, would returning players come back to find nothing was added to game since they last played? Of course there was lots of content added to the game, but almost all of the content was also removed from the game before they came back.
Another thing that isn’t all that much fun about limited time content is when fun activities are removed. Players who enjoyed the Molten Alliance dungeon or the Crab Toss activity are out of luck if they want to play that content again.
Before the last Flame and Frost patch that added the Molten Alliance dungeon, I was invited to a special press early release. A developer was asked if this dungeon was going to be truly gone forever, that all of the work that went into this dungeon would just be wiped from the game. The developer jokingly said that forever was a long time, but also that nothing should ever be counted out.
This was mimicked in a more recent explanation of temporary content by Colin Johanson. In the forum post he said that content may come back in the future with a few modifications. The Super Adventure Box is an example of this. The content was available throughout the month of April before it was removed from the game. The SAB isn’t gone forever, however, as it will make another return with more content included in the game within a game.
This comes out to limited time content not being one-time only content. Some things like the Ancient Karka event we might never see again, but the SAB is an example of good content coming back. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the SAB will be around forever, but that the content will be back in the game again. It is very likely that the SAB will return for another month long, limited time run before being removed from the game once again.