The Scrying Pool: Time to Eat

In this week's Scrying Pool, we talk about how food and cooking could be better.


The Scrying Pool is a Guild Wars 2 column where I simply ask what if? Nothing is off the table as I dive into possible features and future content, looking at what currently exists in Guild Wars 2 before I answer my own what if question with how I think the feature and content could be implemented.

Food in any MMO has an odd place, typically requiring time and resources to level up a cooking profession. The road of this progression is always filled with the leftover remains of lower level foods that remain unused in favor of higher stated nourishment. Guild Wars 2 also falls into this trap, but what could be done to fix the warehouses full of unwanted, non-perishable foods?

Food in Guild Wars 2 has a few problems. The first is the abundance of food that isn’t useful due to its reduced effectiveness or the amount of time its food buff lasts. For example, why would I want to use a Cherry Almond Bar that gives 18% Magic Find and 10% Gold from Monsters when I could use Omnomberry Bars that give 30% Magic Find and 40% Gold from Monsters?

This gets into another problem with cooking: the cost of materials to make these foods. A market exists in gathering and trading some of the rarer ingredients that are components of these expensive foods. While a market flourishes for these foods and ingredients, many of the remaining foods and ingredients become worthless for all but new players and those hoping to use cooking as a way to gain experience for new characters.

The biggest problem I have with food however, is the clunkiness of using it. The time doesn’t stack if you use multiple of a food. Instead of stacking, the second food will just replace the previous with its own buff. This can lead to food running out in the middle of content, such as dungeons or WvW, where it isn’t ideal to dig through your inventory to reapply the food. This problem can be alleviated with the use of Metabolic Primers, but the disparity of value between using multiple foods versus buying a Metabolic Primer is just too great and as such is something that I think hardly sells in ArenaNet’s gem store.

My idea is to move food away from a stat based system to a time based system. This doesn’t mean that food buffs don’t give stats, but that the stat isn’t earned by eating specific foods. Instead, players would select a stat in a menu somewhere—most likely somewhere in the hero panel—and food would add time to a nourishment pool that grants the stat the player has selected.

The idea behind this is that each food would have a set amount of time tied to it. That level 1 food worth almost nothing might only give 10 seconds of time, while that level 80 food that uses a lot of rare ingredients and maybe requires the recipe to be bought with a large chunk of geodes would give 20 to 30 minutes of nourishment. With this, every food item would still be useful for players to use and hopefully will balance food across the board of value.

This also creates a large competing market. Those that want to get the most value for their buck can go through and find the food that gives the best gold-to-time nourishment. If something is found that is way more beneficial than another food, the community will help self-regulate it as that food is bought up and shifts the supply and demand.

This grand scheme isn’t without its problems. It would take a lot of work on ArenaNet’s part to go through every single food in the game and determine its new time value. Then there are some concerns with foods that are bought with karma, as well as going through the all of the cooking recipes that create more than one of an item, such as White Cake and its incredible five slices of White Cake per recipe.

As you might have guessed with the mention of food that only gives 10 seconds of nourishment, part of this system is the ability to stack duration of nourishment. This is pure speculation, but I think the inability for food to currently stack lies with the stats being tied to the food. When a second food it used, there isn’t a way for it to check if it was the same food that was previously used and will always just replace the previous nourishment buff. Buffs that are unique to themselves such as the gem store boosters and the experience boost granted by Lunar New Year fireworks all stack. Making nourishment a pool not dependent on what was used before it could give it the ability to stack duration like these other buffs.

Giving nourishment the ability to stack duration does create the problem of what to do with Metabolic Primers as they would become even more useless than they currently are. My thoughts on this problem is to just remove Metabolic Primers. This however, creates the problem of collections whose sole reward is a Metabolic Primer. In place of the primer, I want these collections to give a new item called Metabolic Facilitator.

While giving nourishment the ability to stack duration is awesome, there has to be a limit to that awesomeness. This could be as simple as saying the max time is 24 hours, but I want it to be more interesting than that. My idea is that nourishment would be capped at 30 minutes. This cap might seem pretty low, but that is the idea as Metabolic Facilitators would be account upgrade items that would increase this time in intervals such as 30 minutes added to the cap for each Facilitator used. With Primers removed, the Facilitators would be rewarded from collections that give Metabolic Primers—and of course rewarded retroactively for players that have already finished them.

The change to a new item is for a couple of reasons. First and foremost is that if the new system used Primers, it would penalize players who had earned these Primers from the collections previously and already used them. Newer players or ones that never used their Primers would then have a leg up on the competition so to speak, not to mention players who might have extras from the gem store or Black Lion chests. The other reason for the new item is that I would like to see this not be a gem store item. Instead, it would be a reward item that can be gained through completing the collections, new collections added in the future and maybe even be added as a reward from the achievement for getting Cooking to 400—and maybe the Cooking 500 achievement when it is added in the future. So while you may be limited to only 30 minutes at the start, completing the Fine Dining, Fine Wining and Brewmaster collections would immediately up that limit to two hours with the ability to increase this as ArenaNet adds more of these collections. This would also add some more value to completing these types of collections.

There are a couple more things that would need to be considered. The Birthday Blasters for example would either end up being too good--granting lots of time for free—or completely useless now that it doesn’t grant a unique, if slightly weak, food buff. Maybe the Birthday Blaster could be changed into a costume brawl weapon we use to cover our enemies in cake.

Trays are also a bit of a concern as they could also be incredibly good. Their ability to share time with others is awesome for the community to share nourishment time with others, but the acquisition is terrible in terms of the recipes and uninspired with the actual crafting of the tray. I wouldn’t mind seeing trays be removed in their current iteration and either be reintroduced with Cooking 500 as a more generic feast system or rolled into guilds with things like the Guild Banquet.

The biggest problem I see is time. The way that food currently works is not very good, resulting in food rarely getting used outside of a few high-end areas such WvW and the Triple Trouble Wurm. It would take a lot of time and work by ArenaNet to convert this major system into a new form. The work will pay off I think, as using food becomes more widespread, potentially balancing out the food market and making things easier for adding more foods and recipes into the game without introducing a stat power creep.

Matt "Mattsta" Adams thought Shiro looked a bit meh.

I have now finished all of the dungeon collections! In PvP I am now starting work on Glorious Armor, but I am not using the potions that are rewarded from the daily achievements. I am saving the potions until HoT to quickly unlock the two Mist Champions. What are you working on while we wait for Heart of Thorns?

If you have a question for me or a topic you would like to see talked about here, leave a comment below. You can also tweet your question and topics to me on twitter @MattstaNinja. Also, check out my site Mattsta.Ninja that focuses on guides and more for Guild Wars 2.


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