A Plea Against Mods/Addons in Guild Wars 2

Today, again, someone asked if Guild Wars 2 will have addons. Honestly, I wish there isn’t.

I’ll take my history with WoW addons as a base for my argument, so there may be disagreements about it if you pick different sets of addons.

There are addons that help improve the game HUD. Honestly, I prefer the cleaner, current HUD: The skill cooldowns are very visible, the health bar is a huge indicator and there is no need to check mana. The only thing that needs improvement are the mesmer mantras, as there is very little difference between an uncharged mantra and a charged one.

And there were the addons to manage mail. This was due the fact that all auction house results went through mail: You sold something, you’d get the money through mail; you lost a bid, you’d get the money back through mail; an auction expired, you’d get the item back… through mail! Guild Wars 2 actually do that all through your bank: You sell, you get outbidded, you win a bid, you get your expired auctions all back to your bank. And, if you really need the gold/item straight away, you can teleport to the city and then back (or use one of the mobile banks).

And there were the addons to improve chat. Honestly, their functionalities were slowly merged back to the official chat — and that’s a good thing. Surely, Guild Wars 1 could use a good addon to help improve some colors, but one can live with the way things work right now.

And then there was… Recount. Oh yeah, the loved bane of that game. Sure, everyone says “I want to improve my rotation” but really, what 99% of everyone who use it, use it only to have some satisfaction with their own e-peen. I load it because it doesn’t check the situation: Your DPS was low? Did it check that you had to move out of reach ’cause the tank didn’t move the boss to the proper place? Does Recount show that? Does you HPS was low? Does your Recount shows that your team was organized enough to stay out of fire and use their damage reducing abilities? Does Recount show that?

There are too many variables for Recount to be useful. There are too many situation for Recount to give a good answer for anything. And now you have a game with no defined roles. You could be “tanking” at some point and then go healing. And how would an addon manage all that?

Anecdote time (you guys know I love those, right?): Late in the middle part of Wrath of the Lich King (in the Trial of the Crusader), I decided to roll another alt — if my memory doesn’t fail, that’s when I decided to roll my shaman in the alliance, to see “Battle for Undercity” from the other side. Being a tank, I had almost instant queue. At some point, I joined a group for Halls of Lightning. After the Volkhan, the healer posted the Recount stats, showing that I was second in DPS. Before any of the two DPS could say anything, I replied “I saw that” (I was constantly the second DPS since the very start of the run, but those two DPSes were not far and the top DPS was waaay ahead of me) “but I really don’t care.” My motives? I did want the heirloom, but if I could help some guy who just rolled another alt or was trying to gear up his first character, even better. So the healer didn’t want to prove his e-peen, he was trying to shorten other people’s e-peen — which is way more douchy.

And this kind of attitude needs to die. Not only a Recount-like addon would be a stupid thing in Guild Wars 2, it would have the power to undermine the community by giving assholes tools to piss on everyone else.

So you have most functionatlities merged in the game already and some addons that doesn’t deserve to be in the game. There is no reason, at this point, to have an addon/mod system.

PS: Sorry about the double-post: I actually wanted to save as draft and pressed the “publish” button half-way through the text. Freaking out, I deleted the first and added a new post instead — which was just as stupid as pressing the wrong button.

2 thoughts on “A Plea Against Mods/Addons in Guild Wars 2

  1. Diablo 3 is not going to support modding, reasoning behind is the experience with Diablo 2 and the fact that all mods are aimed to exploit game mechanics and give unfair advantages to the users.

    The general feeling right now is that with the transparency of Blizzard’s development process (more often than not you’ll see an official post stating the reasoning behind a game mechanic and most of the times are under the lines of “we want you to play like this, and not like that”) is that the game is artificially balanced, and gains security in expense of freedom (D3 is going to support a real money auction house, so it’s rather obvious Blizzard wants to control every single aspect of our gameplay in order to maintain a balanced economy and avoid inflation/duplications/hacked items/etc…)

    Mod support is ALWAYS a good thing in videogames, one of the arguments against is that it’s the developer’s games and them seeing how we simply scrap their game and make our own hurts their feelings. But if they really did a good job to start with, there would be no need for us to revamp certain things to our liking, especially if the revamption becomes actually popular.

    Your argument limits itself with the addons support from WoW, and that one was rather a limited way of modding. I haven’t played WoW for a good 6 years, but I’m sure there were graphical overhaul mods, including texture, models and effects mods. Those are not necessarily gamebreaking (unless you make textures transparent and are able to see through walls) and add in certain customization aspect and most of the times game life span. The addons you list are all affecting the game play in one or another way, and therefore the balance of the game.

    Now onto GW2, GW2 is notorious for being overly different from the traditional MMOs out there. The fact that something didn’t work on WoW doesn’t mean it translates into GW2 (remember WoW is not the only MMORPG out there) With that being said, as you clearly stated, UI mods are normally unnecessary, if the developers did a good job on the UI, is there any need to change it? The vanilla WoW UI was nice (from what I remember) and I never felt the need to get any addon to change any aspect of it.

    Next are the helper mods such as this recount you’re talking about on the post. These should be forbidden, as far as I remember, WoW had a process in which they had to approve an addon before it was usable ingame, and if they detected a mod that potentially broke balance, they would just ban it from usage. Why can’t GW2 do the same? it shouldn’t be hard, a good developer has control of its program code and should easily know what is an exploit and what is not.

    Mods are not only WoW addons, they can enrich your gaming experience and add life span to older games, I see no reason whatsoever for Arenanet not to support modding from users.

    • Just to clarify, there is a big difference between addons and mods:

      Addons (like the ones WoW and now Rift use) are, actually, “hooks” in the engine where the engine will call your code under certain conditions (for example, Recount attaches itself to the “combat log” hook, so when there is any information in it, it receives that information and compiles it in a graph so you can flail your e-peen all around).

      Blizzard never had an “approval process”. What they did was remove commands from the Lua API that could potentially be misused (for example, the sockets API) so your addon gets sanctioned by the removal of API and lack of hooks (that’s why Wowhead needs an external launcher application to receive information and why you can’t change the looks of your character: The first ’cause there is no API and the second ’cause there is no hook.)

      Mods, on the other hand, interact directly with the game engine. So everything that was available to the developers is available to mod writers. That’s how Median XL (Diablo 2 mod) works and can change how the classes behave and their skill trees. That’s how Garry’s Mod works: By exposing every single tidbit of the game engine in one interface that all users can use.

      So addons can’t add content. They can change the way content is displayed or collect information about said content, but only if the developers allow it so. To extend a game’s life, you’d have to add new content, which is what mods do and can’t be done when the content itself actually resides in a server (ok, it’s a bit more complex ’cause you have the content in your computer and it interacts with the engine in the server, so even if you change your fireball to an ice lance, the server will still act like you thrown a fireball and count it as burn damage, instead of ice damage).

      The point about helpers is took directly from my experience from WoW, yes, which is based on the fact that WoW has the largest addon base around for MMORPGs (actually, it maybe be even the largest base of any MMO, but I’m not a connoisseur of MMORTSes, MMORPGs or anything like that). The thing is: There are clever ways to avoid the necessity of those (as I pointed, the problem with lots and lots of messages from the AH was solved by making the trading post interact with your bank account instead of your mail account, thus eliminating the necessity of such thing).

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