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TMORBG - Temper's Massively Overblown Ranting Blog [about] Gaming

After 25+ years of gaming, it's fair to say that some opinions written here may be older than some of its readers.

Author: VanadromArda

Guild Wars 2: Predicting Zhaitan

Posted by VanadromArda Tuesday August 14 2012 at 11:30AM
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Predicting Zhaitan Title Image

An Article by TemperHoof (August 2012).

        Table of Contents
 
 

   Are the Dragon boss fights of Guild Wars 2 really as epic as they say they are? I’m going to come right out and say it — no, no they are not. Early footage of the great dragons of Guild Wars 2 has been available on the web for nearly two years now, and what betas and additional footage have revealed in recent months do paint a pretty clear message of what we can expect from Guild Wars 2 post release. But what I aim to wager with this article is that Zhaitan, the most powerful and supposedly most epic boss of the first stage1 of Guild Wars 2, may not be as epic as some may expect.

   In recent vodcasts, the ArenaNet team has spoken a great deal about the Ruins of Orr, a great land mass that Zhaitan himself erected from the deep sea. The peninsula remerged and became known as the lair of Zhaitan, the great elder dragon of the undead. While the events leading up to Zhaitan himself may be epic in their scope and scale, the battle itself may be quite lackluster in comparison to those events. But in what way exactly will such a fight with such a massive dragon be considered lackluster?

   Just because Zhaitan will be big, doesn’t mean the fight will be anything more than an impressive visual: an unarguably stunning show of cinematic craftsmanship. Will the battle itself truly feel dangerous and have the kind of real skill driven difficulty it takes to make such a powerful dragon truly memorable for all who encounter it? Probably not! The key to this reasoning is looking back upon the trends of MMO gaming and taking a look at some of the most epic dragon battles. We will see why Zhaitan may not be as epic as he could be, and why we have to deal with that reality. We will also look over what we as customers can do in the future to help improve our overall gaming experience, and question ourselves what it is we really want — and what really, truly is... epic.

 

 

Zhaitan Side View

Epic.

   While there are many definitions, only two really seem to come to par with what we as gamers tend to relate with the word.

  1. heroic; majestic; impressively great.
  2. great size or extent.

   We also have to remember, what may be epic to one person may not be epic to another. Everything boils down to experience, and let’s be honest with ourselves — a lot of people who are going to be playing Guild Wars 2 may not have actually experienced many impressive MMO battles and may have a very low bar of expectation. Some people on the other hand have seen it all, and have taken down some of the greatest dragons that gaming has to offer — and it is those people who may see Zhaitan as coming up a bit short. Yet that doesn’t mean the battle will be any less visually impressive.

   For me, Epic means not only big and visually stunning, but also incredibly challenging and difficult to master. Something which takes a lot of work to overcome and the chance of failure is so high that managing to come through by the bare skin of your teeth is utter satisfaction. So to this degree, I do not expect Zhaitan to live up to such expectation and standards. If anything, I may be harshly underestimating him by looking through the lens of age, experience, and also a realistic prospective of Guild Wars 2’s true core PVE audience — the casual MMORPG gamer.

   Guild Wars 2 wants to be inclusive, not exclusive. They want to include you as a gamer into some of those big, great moments of monumental cinematic history. Instead of feeling the risk and potential stress of massive failure, they want you to be a part of a greater moment of unanimous success. You are but one of many people, not Aragorn ready to challenge the dark lord Sauron, but one of the many faces who get lost in the crowd who stand behind that truly epic figure. You are not merely watching the battle from a sofa prospective, but watching the battle in a more intimate viewpoint in the middle of the chaos.

   And chaos Guild Wars 2 offers aplenty. Instead of epic, these dragon battles are more chaotic in nature. The chaos comes from every direction, and the more people who are present for the battle the more chaotic it is likely to become. This is what the developers intend, for if there is much more chaos on the screen then the player will be less likely to notice just how static and potentially uninteresting the actual dragons they are fighting really are. Is this a harsh critique of ArenaNet’s choice of boss fight style? No, I see it as more of a compromise.

   ArenaNet may be meeting people halfway, giving them a little bit of what they expect and taking it a step forward without going all the way in the direction of cliff-steep difficulty scaling. They want you to have your cake and eat it too. Let’s be frank here, ArenaNet will likely want users to win fights more often than lose them. All of this is just critical foresight, but all of it comes from reasoning. Dragons are not new to MMOs, and have really been a staple in a lot of RPGs since the old days. Everyone looks forward to a big fight with a dragon, and over the years some of them have been much harder than others.

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Guild Wars 2 Dragon

The Dragons of Old.

   Let’s roll back the clock a little and look at some of those big dragon battles from other RPGs and see just why it is that the west seems to desire a more light-handed approach to the subject. Why do western RPGs pussyfoot around when it comes to what are supposed to be some of the biggest bad-asses of all gaming? So now we take a brief glance of some major dragon battles of gaming that have taken place between 1999 and 2012. To get a fair look, I’m going to separate western and eastern titles in order.

   One thing you’re going to notice is that I pull in quite a few dragons from World of Warcraft and especially Monster Hunter. Let’s put it this way, Monster Hunter is the World of Warcraft of Japan — I’ll go into this later.

Kerafyrm - The Sleeper – Western DragonEverQuest (1999)

Image / Video

   This massive dragon was a one-time only boss. Known for being the most difficult boss in EverQuest and considered unkillable for a long time. This great beast took a lot of cooperation and hours to take down. While it only offered a handful of animations, it was a challenging battle for many EverQuest players. And those who took him down had a real pleasure — because once he was killed he would never-ever respawn on that server again. As the video shows, there isn’t much to him in the way of cinematics. As a matter of fact, by today’s standards he looks silly. Yet his poor looks didn’t make him any less challenging or memorable.

Xanxicar Pre-Nerf – Western DragonDark Age of Camelot (2001)

Image / Video   

   The great twin headed dragon of the Crystal Cave, Xanxicar, before his difficulty was reduced, was perhaps one of the hardest raids available in any game at the time. While once again not a cinematic masterpiece, this limited animation creature still proved a great challenge for those in the game. People who defeated him still look back fondly and wear their victory as a badge of honor. Those who beat him talk frequently about it when looking back on their exploits amidst gaming with good friends and good times.

Bahamut – Eastern DragonFinal Fantasy XI Chains of Promathia (2004)

Image / Video / Theme Song

   Final Fantasy XI was really one of the first MMORPGs to really weave a massive dragon boss into a rich story. Seen in several cinematic encounters throughout the historically long and difficult campaign that was Chains of Promathia — fans of Final Fantasy finally had a chance to test their metal against the king of all dragons himself Bahamut. Before and after the battle there were cinematic movies, but the fight itself was still just a standard collection of scripted animations and basic attacks. The script and numbers were more impressive than the actual look of the fight, despite Bahamut having a beautifully detailed model.

Lao Shan Lung – Eastern DragonMonster Hunter (2004)

Image / Video / Theme Song

   Before World of Warcraft there was Monster Hunter. While it was only released for the Playstation 2, it was an entirely online game. The single player didn’t even have most of the game’s content available to play, and players who enjoyed the online experience had to face Lao Shan Lung as a Right-of-Passage to gain full access to that content. That’s right, he wasn’t the final boss — Lao Shan Lung was just the sub-boss. Lumbering and large, he never really directly attacked players except when he stood on his hind legs before a bridge. Otherwise most of the battle was just beating on him as he ventured through a canyon.

   The battle had many cinematic encounters, but each time the player was physically part of the cinematic. Players could even man ballista, cannons, and a massive drill which could penetrate the massive dragon’s belly if properly timed. It required skill and teamwork, but the dragon seemed rather oblivious to the player most of the time. While massive in scale, Lao Shan Lung was actually one of the weakest and uneventful of the encounters in Monster Hunter — but it was and forever will be an entirely memorable experience.

Fatalis – Eastern DragonMonster Hunter (2004)

Image / Video / Theme Song

   More difficult, more cinematic, and more memorable than Lao Shan Lung; Fatalis, the final boss of Monster Hunter, really put the player in the middle of a fight with a big dragon. After a grand entrance with thunder and lightning streaking across the sky, the massive black dragon would drop down into the courtyard of the castle and the players had to deal with him the hard way. While cannons and ballista were available, they were largely ineffective against this massive beast.

   Players had to utilize either powerful close range weapons to knock him down or use explosive ammunition and guns to shoot him out of the sky. There were no stages to this fight other than you could repeatedly repel him three or four times in 45 minute intervals. During the battle he’d show signs of scarring, including his eye being ripped out, horns being blown off, wings being torn, and his chest being scarred.

   RPGs in the East began to take steps toward bringing dragons to life with more lifelike animations and more unpredictable behavior. Less and less were fights about numbers, but more about the fighting the beast as though it were real — and really, really hard.

Onyxia – Western DragonWorld of Warcraft (2004)

Image / Video

   By now a trend had begun to be set in stone in the west. Clearly people were alright with large dragons that remained fairly static throughout the battle and performed merely a handful of animations. Onyxia is just one of those big dragons who performed difficulty through code and predictable stages. Long seen as one of the premiere raids in World of Warcraft, this impressive dragon was long sought after for rare loot and bragging rights. Yet while difficult, there was nothing visually striking about this dragon — but players who fought and defeated it found it memorable. A shame that all Onyxia is good for these days is really amusing Meme2.

Valakas – Eastern Dragon Lineage 2 (2006)

Image / Video

   With a slightly more cinematic approach to massive dragons: Valakas was, for a while, considered the ultimate boss of a server. About as large as Onyxia from World of Warcraft, this blistering fire dragon sported a mixture of cinematic intro and outro with some quality animation during the fight itself. Indeed, it only sported a handful of animations, but the model it boasted made an impressive show. While the battle was not quite as dynamic as a more action RPG approach like Monster Hunter, the battle was still one of the most impressive dragon battles you could find on the PC at the time.

White Fatalis – Eastern DragonMonster Hunter 2 (2006)

Image / Video / Theme Music

   Still leading the way in realistic dragon animation and action, Monster Hunter once against proved its merit by sporting a new version of Fatalis. This time the creature is white and sports a number of new animations. While there have been many versions of Fatalis before this one, the White Fatalis is known for being a very cinematic experience as you battle this beast on the highest floor of a ruined tower. With a storm raging all around you, the massive white Dragon often rained down lighting upon his foes making the fight very unpredictable. Not to mention, the music really does have a big effect on the battle itself.

Nightbane – Western DragonWorld of Warcraft: The Burning Cursade (2007)

Image / Video

   Another oversized and perhaps silly looking undead dragon from the World of Warcraft era, Nightbane did a least mix it up a little with brief periods of flight and minion summoning between each of its standard animations. Though it’s pretty inescapable that even after years, dragons really haven’t evolved very much in their looks and behavior in the west. They are more about looks than behavior, and they certainly do look like dragons but still perform like any standard everyday monster.

Sunlathir Western Dragon Warhammer Age of Reckoning (2008)

Image / Video

   For people who were new to Warhammer back in 2008 and decided to play the Dark Elves, they were introduced to a pretty impressive dragon for such low levels. But while the fight was interesting for mixing it up with a big gold dragon, many people couldn’t help but notice that dragon had similar behavior and animations that were familiar to creatures of Everquest back in 1999. While the dragon looked better, there was still lack of actual fluid movement.

   A hit box that didn’t make sense confused players and an oddly rotating pivot point based around that hit box made for ugly execution — western dragons simply were not evolving in how they moved and reacted to the player. At the time, Western MMOs began to come across as being trapped in the past when it came to large scale dragon fights.

Monster Hunter Dragons (2008 2009)

   Clearly Monster Hunter continued to dominate this field for several years by throwing down new and more impressive dragons with each update and expansion. Since that game specializes in massive dragon hunting and slaying, it pretty much owned this department in many ways. I would argue Monster Hunter was truly the cutting edge of dragon hunting, but I can’t help but still feel that its potential will be forever held back by lack of quality localization and a company who has turned Monster Hunter into a product pusher in recent years — this too I will clarify on later. But for now, these just speak for themselves.

Berukyurosu – Eastern DragonMonster Hunter Frontier (2008)

Image / Video / Theme

Jhen Mohran – Eastern DragonMonster Hunter Tri (2009)

Image / Video / Theme

Raviente – Eastern DragonMonster Hunter Frontier (2009)

Image / Video / Theme

Shinryu – Eastern DragonFinal Fantasy XI Heroes of Abyssea (2010)

Image / Video / Theme

   Final Fantasy XI still managed a visually impressive dragon, despite being limited on an aged engine. Shinryu kept the Eastern tradition true with cinematic into and outro, realistic animations, and powerful attacks that can be seen as well as felt. With difficulty that is on equal ground with several tough bosses — Shinryu’s only flaw is the game system itself. Sadly he was far too easy to kill with the right tools, and once he was defeated the hard way a chain-reaction occurred, which only made him easier and easier as time pressed on. Beautiful arena though. That alone is probably more memorable than the fight itself!

Deathwing – Western DragonWorld of Warcrtaft: Cataclysm (2011)

Image / Video

   Finally deciding to mix it up a little, Blizzard took a page from Eastern dragon battles and added some cinematics. Though the attempt merely broke the battle up into separate arenas where the players would still be gathering in a cluster and beating on odd things that weren’t very dragon-like. Indeed, the overall size of Deathwing was so big that he just wasn’t visible to players most of the time. The only time where he was actually visible was in the very cinematics where the player really didn’t have much an impact on the fight itself. It did show some evolution in the west, but clearly not enough to make a memorable impression.

   The battle did do its job, but the dated engine and low quality graphics really took away from the overall experience. As many games were already miles ahead, World of Warcraft joined the party way too late to have a meaningful impact on the evolution of dragon battles.

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Zhaitan Stands

Why So Different?.

   Well, back in 2004 there was an interesting division.

World of Warcraft — A highly advertised game came out for the PC in the United States but wasn’t released in Japan.

Monster Hunter — A highly advertised game (in Japan) barely made a blip on the radar in North America, wasn’t advertised at all in the United States, and was released only on consoles — which wasn’t a heavy hitter for gaming state-side just yet.

   Gaming companies took it as cultural differences, evolving certain gaming mechanics in two vastly different directions. The west embraced World of Warcraft, which steadily made gaming easier, and the east embraced Monster Hunter, which steadily made gaming more challenging. Both of these games have existed for just about equal amounts of time in the gaming world, and both are suffering from age and decline.

   While it has been well versed why World of Warcraft is on the downslope, it is important to cover why Monster Hunter is suffering too. Currently the game is struggling because the company releasing it is mainly using it to push outdated products. Instead of evolving and pushing the limits of gaming systems with complex AI and rich graphical battles, Capcom is content making low quality ports that don’t strive too far beyond what they’ve already achieved. Risk and experimentation have been replaced with familiarity and normality.

   Like World of Warcraft in the west, Monster Hunter has deeply seeded itself into casual gaming culture which probably is the biggest hindrance to its evolution. Capcom exists in the exact same trap that Blizzard is in with World of Warcraft — profits and sales mean more than the continued evolution of gaming.

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Guild Wars 2 Dragon

Where does ArenaNet fit into all of this mess?.

   Well this article is about Zhaitan after all. There may be expectation that perhaps Guild Wars 2 will offer the next bump up in evolution for MMO gaming, especially in the dragon battling department. But from what ArenaNet has put on display so far, it’s pretty clear they’ve decided to find a more neutral ground on the subject to please both camps. This is the element of the compromise I mentioned before.

   By observing some of these videos, we can see some of the bigger dragon battles that Guild Wars 2 offers to us this year. Are these dragon battles bigger and better than all the rest we’ve seen before? No, and that’s pretty clear in the videos themselves.

Tequatl the Sunless Guild Wars 2 Dragon – (2012)

Image / Video

   We can see already that Tequatl has a more classic Eastern introduction. While the animation is very cinematic in nature, it doesn’t stop the flow of gameplay for a full on movie — this perhaps is one of the few new things these dragon battles do offer to the table as potentially new. Whether or not Sunless has a theme song is also unknown, many of these tech demos were filmed well before the game was fully completed. So it’s tough to say just how much has changed in this encounter, but it’s safe to assume that the structure of the fight hasn’t altered too much since last year.

   By watching the video we begin to see that Tequatl has only a handful of movements and animations and he remains largely static and stationary throughout the entire battle. His model and animations are a step way above average Western MMOs, giving him a very fluid look for each of his actions. Yet instead of merely pouring down massive amounts of code and script to overblow the overall difficulty of his limited animation sets, ArenaNet has decided to litter the battlefield with various forms of busy work to keep several players distracted and occupied.

   In many of these dragon encounters there is more to worry about than just a dragon. There are dragon minions being unleashed, guns to man and repair, obstacles to take down, and players to support. With so much going on there is little time to notice that the dragon itself is still pretty docile. This feels like more of a hybrid of western and eastern dragon encounters, but still strongly leaning more towards the more bland western side of the equation.

   Another example comes in the form of The Shatterer, a sizable champion dragon that still is dwarfed by the still unseen Zhaitan.

The Shatterer Guild Wars 2 Dragon – (2012)

Image / Video

   Once again we are blessed with an amazing cinematic intro, outro, and various fluid animations which are superior to other western MMOs. But as the battle progresses, we are left with very much the exact same formula as Tequatl the Sunless. The Shatterer is indeed a very big and visually impressive dragon, but one which only utilizes a handful of animations and doesn’t move at all from its fixed position upon the battlefield. Players keep themselves busy in numerous ways, being tasked with lots of distractions throughout the entire battle.

   Zhaitan may not be so different.

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Shatter

More than just Boss Fights.

   But this is not a purely negative outlook on Guild Wars 2. What may make up for the lack of depth and evolution in these grand dragon encounters may be made up for in how much these dragons effect the world outside of the quests they’ve been driven into. With the exception of World of Warcraft Cataclysm to some degree, many of the massive dragons witnessed in MMO history have not had a direct effect on the game they exist in. They were merely there waiting for players to come to them.

   Guild Wars 2 changes it up by pushing the envelope with a Live Team3 which creates unpredictable events caused by the dragons during normal gameplay. Zones which may seem predictable to some, can suddenly become corrupted by The Shatterer just casually flying by.

   This by far is more than just new --- it’s also hard to fully imagine. So without risking over hyping the game with assumption, I am merely going to leave it here. The dragons may have numerous parts and encounters throughout all of Guild Wars 2, and it is unlikely they will be so easily beaten upon the release of the game. Many of the most powerful dragons may continue to haunt and plague the world for months to come — giving you as the player even greater stake and reason to truly hate them as you witness their impact.

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Shatterer Flight

Predictions of Zhaitan.

   The ultimate boss of Guild Wars 2 is, upon release, Zhaitan the Elder Dragon of Orr. I stated at the very beginning that the battle with Zhaitan, and that is the final battle with him, may not be as epic as we may want to believe. Yet it is my strong belief that Zhaitan is much more than just a creature waiting to be reached — he does not merely linger in a lair at the end of a long dungeon. The end game of Guild Wars 2 has been spelled out pretty clearly by ArenaNet, they have spoken of the Ruins of Orr and the great siege upon it.

   But there needs to be reason to advance upon Orr, there needs to be a drive more than just merely the swarm of undead flooding from its borders. Zhaitan may appear in the story at choice portions, making Final Fantasy XI-like cinematic appearances potentially leading to brief but memorable moments throughout the game. Everything will inevitably come to a battle with a large stationary dragon that’ll probably play out much like Deathwing from World of Warcraft. A truly massive dragon is likely to have stages, and in each of those stages will become weaker and weaker.

   Whether the dragon itself will be slain so soon in Guild War 2 is tough to say. But without a doubt there will be plenty for lots of players to do during the battle with Zhaitan. Cinematic moments are inevitable at this point, but each one will probably play out without stopping the game to watch a film. How big Zhaitan is and how much players will be able to physically affect him with normal attacks has yet to be seen, but it’s probably safe to assume that just about anything a player has in their arsenal will largely be useless.

   Furthermore, ArenaNet may be potentially sitting on something we haven’t seen yet. While I won’t go as far to say that an entire zone could very well be Zhaitan, it is safe to say that an entire zone can be devoted to merely fighting him if it comes to that. Either way, because of his size, he’s going to have limited movements and animations. He will not depart too far from western traditions aside from his fluid animations and cinematic impact. He will be beatable, and not overly impossible for people to slay. Because it will take an army to defeat him, it is unlikely an army of players will end in failure each time.

Will Zhaitan be difficult like Eastern Dragons? Unlikely.

Will Zhaitan be killable? Unlikely.

Will Zhaitan have Deathwing-like stages? Likely!

Will Zhaitan’s battle match the formula near beat-for-beat like The Shatterer and Tequatl? Likely!

Will Zhaitan have a Theme Song like Eastern Dragons? Very Likely!

Will Zhaitan remain static and largely motionless like Western Dragons? Highly Likely!

Will Zhaitan only have a handful of repeated animations and signature moves like Western Dragons? Highly Likely!

Will Zhaitan have lots of busy work for players to do during the battle so they don’t have to focus on Zhaitan? Highly Likely!

Will Zhaitan and all events relating to him be memorable? Highly Likely!

Will Zhaitan have cinematic impact like Eastern Dragons? Extremely Likely!

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Backbone

Conclusion.

   ArenaNet’s Guild Wars 2 may not step up to plate for evolving and furthering massive scale dragon battles very far, but what they do bring to the table is taking the dragons out of the battle and putting them into the world. Sure Zhaitan may not be the most revolutionary gaming experience, but it may be all about the journey — not the destination. So far ArenaNet has proven that they can bring something new to the table, and it is clearly not the dragons fights themselves. They’ve not only promised, but shown they can have dragons shape and affect the world to help drive a great story through the work of an active Live Team.

   Because of that reason alone, the battles with the dragons themselves may pale in comparison to the rest of the game. They may truly be lackluster and limited in their execution, and may keep player’s senses busy with distractions to avoid seeing the clear lack of animation and variety. Yet the actions of a dragon can be much more than just mere animation and attack. The actions of a dragon can be far reaching due to the efforts of a diligent Live Team constantly changing the game as it is being played. This alone gives the dragons infinite possibility outside of the battles they are normally seen in, and put them in a unique position to provide emotional impact on the player.

   Perhaps one day we can urge companies like ArenaNet to go a step farther and make those battles more lively and unpredictable. The resources are there, and now with Monster Hunter on the decline there is certainly a vacancy to be filled in the area of more lively and action driven battles. Indeed, I would love to see Dragons in future installments of Guild Wars 2 be much like those beasts of Monster Hunter. Zhaitan doesn’t have to be so complex, but there is absolutely no reason why smaller dragons can’t be just as memorable.

   Without a doubt we all love dragons, maybe ArenaNet can pick up the fallen torch from the east and carry us all into a new age of dragon hunting. Maybe we can all finally enjoy the thrill of the hunt that has long been postponed in the west!

   Unlikely, but I remain optimistic.

   The potential is there, and if we want to see dragon battles become more rich and complex — all we have to do is make it known that such a thing is really in demand in the west as well. Are we really satisfied with big, beautifully animated sitting ducks that wait to be shot at? I believe western gamers are better than that. Then again, I’ve been wrong before.

 

1 First Stage – Guild Wars 2 will have several updates and expansions that will continue to drive the game forward and shape its overall story. While not everything may be available at launch, it is likely things will emerge in a matter of Stages. These can be considered Episodes, Updates, etc. But the first is of course, where it all begins.

2 Meme – The Onyxia Meme I speak about is the famed 50 DKP Minus raid rant.

3 Live Team – Guild Wars 2 will have a full time team of operators overlooking several zones of the game and dropping in random events that may never happen again. This is the whole idea behind the ‘Living, Breathing World’ they aim to present. The major story behind the game are indeed the Dragons, and it is likely many massive events will be related to them as the game matures.

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Guild Wars 2 Profession Workshop @ 6pm EST July 25th

Posted by VanadromArda Tuesday July 24 2012 at 7:29PM
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Engineer

Alright everyone, we are holding our first public meet for Profession Workshops at 6pm EST on July 25th. We invite anyone and everyone to take part in this event to help promote the betterment of the Guild Wars 2 player-base. For those of you who may be unaware of what Profession Workshops are, check out my previous announcement "Profession Workshops".

Remember, this is not the first official Workshop. This is just a discussion to get a feeling for those interested in helping the project grow and simply want to spend some time recounting some interesting profession tips and tricks. This will be a very important first meeting, mainly because it will help us to put format and structure to future Profession Workshops post release of Guild Wars 2.

We decided to hold this meeting on July 25th because Beta Weekend #3 should still be fresh on everyone's minds. We want to pick your brain and see what you're made of.

Furthermore, we're going to be hosting this meeting on RaidCall, a new free VOIP service we are helping promote for this cause. The software is free and easy to use. The server we'll be using is also provided by one our sponsors: http://kajidic.enjin.com/, Simply enter in the Kajidic ID on your RaidCall software to join into the meeting: ID #169680

Several of our sponsors will be showing up, so we how to have a good time and get some important work done towards this great and ambitious project. See you there!

Recounting the Asura in Guild Wars 2 BWE #3

Posted by VanadromArda Tuesday July 24 2012 at 11:16AM
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Temper Hoof Asura

 

Recounting the Asura in Guild Wars 2 BWE #3.

- TemperHoof (July 2012)
 
 
 
   Adorable and goblin-like, the ancient race known as the Asura made a big impression during the Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend Event #3. They look like a cross between half a dozen species, all of which trying to cram the cutest features into a squishy-faced little ball of huggable genius. Imagine someone Stitch-ing Rabbits, Koala Bears, and Gnomes together to come up with something that belongs in a Disney film.
 
   But their cuteness aside, the Asura have a remarkable kind of charm that captured the heart of this author. Yet it wasn’t love at first sight, of this I can assure. Actually it took me a while to really catch on to what was happening and how best I should feel suited in that world that ArenaNet has clearly put a lot of time into building. The following now is my spoiler-free recount of my Asura experience and why I chose to devote nearly my entire weekend to realizing why it is I now want to play the Asura even more.
 
   Once upon a time there was a race of short, stubby little Care Bear-like creatures. The magical geniuses of their world, they perfected the lost art of summoning and created golems with silly names. Their city was complex and difficult to navigate yet a true splendor to behold with a unique appearance and a nifty implementation. They often considered themselves the most brilliant of all the races, and despite their small size they made up for it with massive amounts of magical power and attitude. That’s right I’m talking about the Tarutaru; Final Fantasy XI’s premier short-but-powerful playable race.
 
   Anyone who has played Final Fantasy XI can easily find the similarities between the two races, and since I was a resident of the Federation of Windurst for 9-years — it’s very difficult for me to ignore them. When I first hopped into Guild Wars 2 this weekend, the first thing I did was attempt to make a classic Tarutaru character known as Shantotto. For Final Fantasy XI fans she is best known for her manic magical exploits and her signature condescending laugh. Making a Tarutaru just felt right for me, and when I got into the game there was a similar feeling and handling.
 
 
   Yet in many ways, the Asura outshine the Tarutaru — and that is due to the world builders over at ArenaNet who established Metrica Province and Rata Sum; the Asura starting zone and capital city. When I first dropped into the game I had little idea on what exactly what was happening and what I should expect from the Asura. My experience with them does span back to Eye of the North and Guild Wars, but I didn’t read the novels which left me with little understanding of the key story character featured in the event — Zojja.
 
   Long after I had finished the event and began working on the Personal Story, I discovered the importance of Zojja and learned more about her personality and attitude. So my very first impression of the Asura was a bit confusing, especially being dropped into what felt like the end of an event I missed out on. Surrounded by a bunch of weak golems going on what was supposed to be a rampage, I was able to adjust my controls and get a handling for the feel of the game once again.
 
   At that point I didn’t pay attention to the surroundings as much as I should have. Being too busy trying to assert my brain to handling the character and getting comfortable, understanding the story surrounding me was falling to the sidelines. It wasn’t until I got to the third mission of the Personal Story did I finally understand just what was going on during the introduction event. I went back and replayed it, taking notice to all of the key characters and listening clearly to their dialogue — I started to realize I not only missed a lot of things during my first play through, but that it was also very easy to miss them too.
 
Zojja
 
Listening to NPCS
 
   I have to admit, there really wasn’t a lot of talk about Guild Wars 2 having so much spoken dialogue throughout the game. But the dialogue is not just simply spoken in cut scenes, but throughout the entire world. Hearing various characters talking and conversing before and after cut scenes or performing everyday tasks was something I didn’t expect and had to get adjusted to. Much of the information I needed to understand the Asura starting event was not even executed in a cut scene of quest box — it was just naturally spoken by NPCs as it was happening.
 
   The more I explored the region, the more I heard NPCS talking to one another. This not only made the world feel more lively, but it also helped me to get a much better feel for the personalities and culture of Asuran society without having to do any extended research or reading. I admit it took me a few hours to get into the habit of doing it, but by the end of the weekend I found myself just standing around waiting for NPCs to converse. Often they’d have something vital to mention, or what they’d talk about would relate to an event about to unfold, or maybe it would mean another event was about to branch off of that one.
 
   Even the casual banter of the world gifted me with knowledge of the workings of Asuran Government; who the Inquest really were; what happened between Guild Wars 1 and Guild Wars 2; and so much more. After exploring and listening to a lot of NPCs, I felt very much at home amongst the Asura and felt like one of them. I could recount history enough to hold a decent conversation with anyone who was actually interested in Asuran culture — and all of this was absorbed just by simply playing the game normally.
 
   Heck one of my favorite NPC chats was something which reflecting my own thought exactly at the moment. Having recently come across a complex full of crafters, I wondered why there was no cook. Not but a moment after thinking it, I heard an NPC complaining about the very same thing! Instantly I had the urge to join on the conversation, the only problem was that it was just a bunch of NPCs talking — yet the effect was potent enough to make me laugh. I found that I listened to the NPCs more and another Asura suggested heading north for some lunch. Taking their advice, I did venture north to see if I could find anything related to cooking. While I didn’t find anything of value to me, the fact that I ventured there purely based on eavesdropping an NPC conversation leads me to want to find more. Who knows where I’d be led to next!
 
   By the end of the weekend I was so engrossed with Asuran culture that I swear if ArenaNet had an Asuran library somewhere in Rata Sum I’d have sat down and read every book — especially if one of those books gave me a clue into some sort of ability to build and control my own pet golem. After watching Zojja and her golem, I really do want my own Mr. Sparkles.
 
Golem
 
Being Part of the World
 
   Since this really was my first weekend drinking in the PvE portion of Guild Wars 2, this was the very first time I could really experience the fluidity of World Events. I was surprised to see just how big they really were and how large sections of the zone were often devoted to a network of connecting events that required me to pay attention to my surroundings. There were two which were most memorable to me while making my way through Metrica Provence; Power Overwhelming and the Fallout.
 
   I dare not impress upon details, but let me just say that it was interesting to walk into an NPC conversation only to watch it explode into a fight. Then watch as that fight leads to more conversation and additional action. Such actions led me to literally follow the story in progress, taking me to new locations to do something that really did feel important and naturally heroic. I admit, it has more impact when you watch people get captured before your eyes. Then you have to make an effort to save them, working your way into a complex to achieve that goal before time runs out and their precious lives are lost.
 
   Events would lead to some unique rewards. After following many of the key characters in the event, they would temporarily turn into Merchants between event sequences. You could buy items from them that you just couldn’t find anywhere else, and that alone makes the idea of following the event from start to finish even more tantalizing. Many of the events would lead to things I wouldn’t have expected, which led to some rather laugh-out-loud moments. I didn’t realize that going into a cave picking up fragments of a broken Asura gate would lead me to discover an NPC that would later repair a gate and take me somewhere I didn’t anticipate.
 
   Without me, she would fail to achieve her goal and the gate would blow up and the entire event would reset. I actually let the event fail, and I watched as Skrit came and took the fragments back into the cave. The event didn’t just reset and the fragments magically returned to the ground where I got them — it set in motion an actual event to reset the event. Sometimes failing can lead to some interesting alternative outcomes.
 
Asura Gate
 
Design and Implementation
 
   One of the key things which really stood out to me visually first and foremost was the Asuran Architecture. Never did such strange structures interest me and entice my imagination to proceed as much as these did. Now I’ve played a lot of games, and I’m something of a real nit-pick when it comes to how I feel structures should be handled in a game. One of the big complaints I’ve long had with other games the past ten years is that many of the structures looked and felt awkward. Sure some of them were wonderfully made, but they looked like they were just dropped onto a static terrain map — that’s not the case with Guild Wars 2.
 
   As a matter of fact, the only game before I praised considerably for making the structures look old and part of the environment was Final Fantasy XI. Now ArenaNet has raised the bar with Metrica Province, which in my opinion is by far one of the most visually unique zones in the game. The Asuran structures look both remarkably simple in nature, but deviously complex in their execution which seems to be a trademark quirk of the race itself. The entire zone gives the player a very comfortable Sci-Fi feeling, which goes beyond the simple Fantasy themes one may expect from the game.
 
   Dropping into this zone for the first time was a little jarring. Being surrounded by computers; bright green glowing turbines; mechanized golems and robots; and all of it at the heart of a sprawling jungle was truly something to behold. It was like being dropped into a space port in the middle of a fantasy game without the space or the port. Perhaps the real piece of masterwork is Rata Sum, a city that is nothing short of a floating Rubik’s Cube with structures woven throughout the heart of it. While confusing at first, after a quick run up and down its network of stairways and ramps — players may find it to be one of the simplest cities to navigate. It just looks difficult.
 
   There really is a lot of size and scope to behold, especially when you take a moment to remember that the Asura are a short race by human standards. Their structures however are large and settled very naturally into their surroundings. They don’t feel out of place or abnormal, and even a clear color scheme can be visible throughout everything Asuran in nature. Eventually it can become easy to identify what is an Asuran structure and what isn’t, just based on its color, design, and implementation. Perhaps it’s even a bit optimistic on the developer’s part, seeing such a high-tech structures so passively mingled into the nature around them.
 
   There are other themes though, and the only time structures looked intrusive on the landscape were those made by Inquest — which are sort of the bad kind of Asura. Even their structures reflected their lack of care for the environment. Many areas around them were barren and ripped up and not so naturally nestled as the kinder Asuran structures were. A nice touch I have to admit.
 
Rata Sum
 
Animation and Quirks
 
   Before the Beta Weekend Event, I didn’t hear a lot about the Asura animations and the subtly involved with them. Watching the amazing facial animations were one thing, but watching their bodies in motion was something different entirely. They are short and stubby yes, but they are extremely animated to compensate for their short nature. One thing no one really took time to mention was the ears. Asura can have big floppy ears and it’s clear there was a lot of work to make those ears more than just static elements.
 
   While the Asuran eyes are big and animated, the ears are even bigger and even more animated. While running they may flop about comically, but when entering into combat they become erect and alert. They stick up and firm up too, directing themselves towards trouble and remaining so throughout combat. By performing emotes, you also are triggering a lot of different animations for the ears too. Cowering can cause the ears to tuck back and become passive, while cheering makes them stick up and become excited. Of course there are plenty of different stages between, but it’s just about as nifty a quirk as noticing the Asura have very sharp teeth.
 
   Yes, they do indeed have dangerous looking chompers beneath those chubby cheeks. When watching them speak, perform spells and various other animations, you’re bound to catch those piranha-like teeth sticking out. After a while, you may find it not only looks natural but in many ways it even makes them cuter — in my opinion of course. But the real icing on the cake is watching the Asura in combat. They hover, climb up on staffs to perform spells, swing their swords so fast they take up like helicopters, and jump around wildly and flip each time they dodge.
 
   What most impressed me though were the simple things. Something as basic as the Ponder emote would have an Asura stop to think. The real beauty of the animation comes when the Asura gets a thought, and there is a tiny twitch of the eyebrow and the eyes just faintly open a little wider. The smile that dawns upon the Asura’s face after the animation is complete is one that suggests a good matter of self-pride, and it really does sell some realism in their nature. They look natural in just about everything they do, which is extremely difficult to pull off in most games and really should be commended. There hasn’t been game animation this keen for short floppy eared characters since the Ratchet and Clank series.
 
Thinking
 
Mindset of the Asura
 
   But of course, perhaps the real reason I felt so at home with the Asura is their mindset and outlook towards life. By simply playing the region and doing various Events related to the Asura, I got a very good taste for what they were all about. Clearly they value intelligence, but it’s that non-stop pursuit of it in a space where there is no one to hinder you from doing so which makes them appealing. The players they are bound to attract are those who not only value thought and thinking but also want to share it openly.
 
   Whether you are a role-player or not: just simply being around the Asura long enough will inspire a desire to learn. Whether or not this is healthy for the game is questionable. Perhaps it may provide too much demand from people who really do want to take on the Asuran mentality and build and design unique inventions they can show off to other people — such a feature is not within the game as far as I know. This can lead to some people becoming very let-down, especially being surrounded by such possibility. Watching so many Asura build golems for their own personal use may lead players to wish to do the same. As far as I know, much of that isn’t actually possible within Guild Wars 2.
 
   Hoping for some new additions to the game is foolish to say the least, but there is always hoping that perhaps there is something to satisfy this desire. But in the meantime, the Asura have plenty to offer when it comes to personality and charm. Players may find it very easy to fall in love with them because of all the races theirs does seem to be the most fleshed out, despite their lack of presence in previous games. Of course of this is opinion and prospective. As I look back upon the weekend, I look back with fondness as I recount each of those things I did in the Asura regions.
 
   After three days I became integrated into the Asuran society and could even feel myself thinking like one of them. Players who are looking forward to Guild Wars 2 should certainly give the Asura a try — especially if they are the learned type. The Asura do not come off as condescending, but friendly in their own superior way. That sort of atmosphere doesn’t turn me off and may not turn off other players either. Several people praised the Asura this weekend, and without a doubt that praise was not in the slightest bit unfounded.
 
Asura Guardian
 
   If you enjoyed this article and would like to make suggestions on future article topics, please send me an email at TemperHoof ( @ ) G M A I L . C O M or send me a Private Message.
 
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Guild Wars 2 Redefines Open World PVP

Posted by VanadromArda Saturday July 14 2012 at 5:56AM
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Guild Wars 2 Redefines Open World PVP
- TemperHoof (July 2012)
 
 
Does Guild Wars 2 have Open World PVP or does it not? There still confusion on this subject and it feels like almost every day there is someone debating it. The answer to the question is not exactly YES and not exactly NO: I intend to argue that it’s something of both. This is because ArenaNet is not applying their game to the classic, chaotic ideals of Open World PVP as the genre has known it for so many years. Instead of adhering to the tried-and-true, they are rewriting the rules and redefining what it means for a game to have Open World PVP.
 
“The overall design for Guild Wars 2 does not support fully open world PvP and it would take a prohibitive amount of work to even make it possible. World versus world is our version of open world PvP, and while it isn't 'true' open world PvP for more PvP purists, it does contain many of the elements that make world PvP so exciting. Hopefully it will mostly satisfy people that want open world PvP.” — Mike Ferguson
 
Indeed, World versus World is ArenaNet’s version of Open World PVP. Unlike many games which allow for chaotic and boundless regions of non-level restricted and unbalanced player on player violence — ArenaNet has taken the elements of what they felt worked best from those games and made an effort to rebuild their own in a new way. Despite popular belief, WvW is not simply a static set of zones full of just structures to capture and upgrade. ArenaNet’s WvW is modeled off of classic Open World PVP mechanics, just with a bunch of new toys added to the mold.
 
Guild Wars 2 PVP 01
 
Introduced in more recent Beta Weekend Events, it has become noticeably clear that WvW does indeed have thriving Player versus Environment content. In June alone saw the introduction of several dynamic events, bosses, and skill point challenges which often populate the standard PvE zones throughout the game. This content will likely increase during Beta Weekend Event #3 and fans of WvW will find that the various zones have a method to the madness. Like all Open World PvP games, WvW has level progression — and the maps reflect it.
 
I’m no stranger to Open World PVP.  I know what it’s like and I know what it means to be part of that context. While perhaps it wasn’t the most hardcore of examples, my most recent experiences with Open World PVP have come from DC Universe Online. Players could join into a PVP server, which pretty much meant there were no limits to what could take place. Players of all level ranges could dive right out of the sky onto whatever zone they wanted and start beating up on people who just started a character. This gave the feeling of danger, and it was that constant threat of death that led a lot of people to work closely together and defend their own.
 
Ultimately, I feel that is what Open World PVP is about — the constant threat. Like an animal in the wild, you have to keep peeking over your shoulder for the signs of predators lurking in the bushes. The only difference is that DC Universe meant that many of those predators looked exactly like Ronald McDonald and were named something remotely close to Burgers McSpankYoAss. Does Guild Wars 2 compare to this? Well yes it does, because like DC Universe, a player has to start from the bottom and work their way up the food chain. With every level they gain, the more they can compete with other players until they are the one that everyone is afraid of.
 
Guild Wars 2 does not prevent a player from becoming the ultimate predator, it just changes the rules. Guild Wars 2 offers reason versus chaos and structure where there was no structure.  ArenaNet is striving to redefine what it means for an MMORPG to have Open World PVP.
 
Guild Wars 2 PVP 02
 
The popular definition of Open World PVP is: “Combat can occur between players in a non-instanced fashion anywhere in the game world where permitted by the server rule-set. Virtually all Open World PvP games place some limit on where and/or when this type of PvP can occur. This is typically done by zone, area, or character level. Regardless of the restriction, if this type of combat can occur, it is considered Open World PvP (Rift Wiki).”
 
Guild Wars 2 does indeed offer a non-instanced game world and four set zones for Open World PVP to take place in. They’ve made an effort to make two game worlds to suit this purpose. The basic world, Tyria, is the PvE segment of Guild Wars 2 that is in essence a giant safe-zone where people can enjoy a full game without limits and without the threat of other players. Here they can choose to relax, not having to constantly feel threatened and be able to calmly enjoy the game at their own pace. The Mists however is an alternate world within the Guild Wars 2 universe that could be the closest thing it has to an afterlife.
 
 
The Mists
 
"The Mists is the oldest thing in existence and the space between worlds and realms, connecting to all worlds and binding the multiverse together, including the past, present, and future, and is the source of all things and where creatures from across the worlds converge. The Mists is the proto-reality that exists between the worlds which in turn are the building blocks of reality. It is where the various afterlives and the homes of various gods and other powerful entities reside. The Mists resonate from the worlds around them, forming bits of their own reality - islands of existence that reflect the histories of their worlds." — Guild Wars Wiki
 
Mists
 
World vs World is considered a war within the Mists, a war between worlds, a war between separate realities which clash time and again until the ending of all things. It is within this world that ArenaNet has chosen to construct Open World PVP within Guild Wars 2. While you as a player are not bound to the rules and restrictions of most Open World PVP games, preventing you from instantly progressing to the highest and most difficult zone — Guild Wars 2 does not. And it is from here that confusion about the Open World PVP system stems.
 
“In the Mists, players all fight at the same level. Any character below level 80 will be adjusted so they are roughly equivalent in power to what they would be at level 80. This makes combat among characters of any level not only possible, but actually fun!" — Mike Ferguson
 
Since players are instantly balanced to level 80 upon entering WvW, they know no limits. They can easily miss the careful design of the zones within the mists, or simply the developers have not fully encouraged them to pay attention at all to that design — mainly because it’s just not been finished and won’t be finished until August 25th. World vs World now offers five very sizable maps, three of which service as homelands for each world. These are identical in nature, as they are supposed to be alternate parallel realities of the same world.
 
Settled in the north of every homeland is a protected Citadel. This is supposed to be the central hub for an entire server. Within the boundaries of that Citadel a person can find safety as the primary guards are indestructible and do instant-kill damage to anyone who approaches that doesn’t belong. Players of an enemy faction may find it extremely difficult to accidently come across these instant-kill guards, as the city is nestled high upon a mountain and is the highest point on every map. A sharp escarpment in the south separates it from the rest of the map, allowing only players of its faction to jump down in relative safety.
 
Gw2 Levels Example
 
Like any Open World PVP game, Guild Wars 2 provides a safe zone. Here players can shop, craft, gather supplies, and form groups. This is also the place where new players are supposed to begin their experience within World vs World. This was clear during BWE #1, when only the Citadel had a Tutorial NPC. They have expanded to all other zones since then, but that doesn’t change the fact that that Citadel is the official starting point.
 
But there is much more evidence proving that ArenaNet intends players to start with the Citadel at low-level, showing a keen sense of foresight when the game is post release and the world is scattered with several predatory players. The general area around the Citadel is nothing short of low-level content. The Citadel itself is home to a comfortable little town that can potentially be home to Renown Hearts in the future. But it’s the gathering nodes for Harvesting, Logging, and Mining that are all level 0 within this region — meaning that people at low level will earn the greatest amount of experience points here instead of jumping directly into the Eternal Battlegrounds; WvW’s central map and high level PVP content.
 
Heading either directly east or directly west of the Citadel will provide content that caps out roughly at about level 14. Mining Points offer a key indication of the regions difficulty by upgrading from Copper to Silver which can only be successfully harvested from level 10 players. While players can approach this point and mine from it freely at any level, they will not get bonus experience points for the daily, weekly, and monthly gathering achievements or acquire the precious ore to utilize for quick experience points in craft. The areas in the far-east and far-west are home to Skill Point challenges and basic 2-step Dynamic Event chains. Players in the surrounding region must kill a certain number of a creature to spawn a boss event that completes the chain.
 
Daily Achievements
 
With such large scale events in the north and a plethora of low level content, there is bound to be a large population of players at one point. This population will make it an uninteresting target for many predatory players due to the sheer number of activities within the region — inevitably offering greater protection for those new to the World vs World experience. Yet this does not hinder the brave or the bold from taking a strike party into the far north of each map. It is entirely possible for a small band of hardcore griefers to establish a small network of Ballista on one of the hills to camp this region if they so choose.
 
In the upper region of the East resides Mistwrought Dungeon, a small jump puzzle that is extremely rewarding for its minor challenge. But the path to Mistwrought is easily ventured for an enemy army, meaning that if players were to try risking this dungeon alone — they may find unhappy endings as enemies can easily single them out here without being noticed. Predatory players will likely be using Mistwrought as a popular camping spot, considering the tight quarters, the numerous ledges for clever hiding places, and the bonus rewards for raiding an enemy dungeon once a day.
 
During the Beta Weekend Events, Mistwrought’s enormous treasure chest would net a plethora of siege blueprints, decent gear that could be salvaged for runes, and Medals of Honor; the point rewards related to killing players and key targets in WvW. There is little doubt that people will see the value in these chests and realize that when in enemy territory the chance of getting even better blueprints and equipment increases exponentially. Without a doubt, the developers of Guild Wars 2 have placed this here as an incentive to create conflict and increase risk and constant threat.
 
Mistwrought
 
The central portion of the map reveals Iron Ore to be the primary mining node, meaning that players should be at the very least level 10 for this region to get the most benefit towards their experience. Also this area introduces Veteran Boss Dynamic Events which are no walk in the park for a new player, and these will scale depending on how ever many players are present trying to kill them too. Each of these bosses are easily soloed at around level 15. This portion also introduces players to potentially facing up against NPCs like the Guards and Lords if the enemy had claimed structures in this area. Taking down a Tower or Keep is no easy business, but the player is encouraged to see how it is done within this region first before progressing to the Eternal Battlegrounds.
 
Dead center is another Dynamic Event allowing players to lay claim to the Temple of Storms. While the weather effects which follow do provide some additional support to your team, the Dynamic Event is more or less a suitable training exercise in preparation for allied camps in the Eternal Battlegrounds. Within the Eternal Battlegrounds you can gain the affection of other races like the Ogres and the Hylek to capture Supply Depots for your server. Helping the Quaggan build their weather node in the homeland maps will prepare new players for that experience.
 
Progressing south means an ever increasing risk. In the southern portion of every homeland there are two Border Camps for each enemy server. Like the Citadel, these Border Camps are fully protected and offer players a safe haven for crafting and shopping. These are the only entry points for enemies of any homeland, meaning that the southern part of the map is going to be the riskiest and deadliest portions — also the most rewarding.
 
During the June Beta Weekend Event, ArenaNet added several new Veteran Boss Dynamic Events to this region specifically. The creatures on this portion of the map are especially dangerous and highly aggressive, making it dangerous for low level players to try and venture here without a partner or purpose. Furthermore, the gathering points in the region require level 25 tools — highly suggesting this is meant for players who are at the very least level 25 to get the greatest amount of experience.  Players who venture throughout the southern portions of the map should expect to run into a lot of enemy invaders from other servers. Even the Tutorial NPC suggests as much in the screenshot below.
 
Map Tutorial 01
 
By highlighting the southern Supply Camp, which is already captured by Red Server in this screenshot, it’s clear that ArenaNet expects this region of the map to be highly contested during release.  Players who choose to spend a lot of time in this region playing out Dynamic Events and visiting gathering points between attacking and defending strategic structures will gain the greatest amount of experience. This also means these regions will be highly watched by predatory players. Anyone who ventures down here should establish a fall-back point, setting up a Ballista to rush back to if there is ever danger.
 
Since siege remains on the map for 30 minutes between each time it is manned, you can potentially keep a Ballista at a fall-back point permanently while you and your party are on patrol. You can also use siege to quickly take out monsters too, meaning it may be a good idea to establish one within firing range of a powerful boss. Players who are skilled can feel safer if they know how to properly arm the region they choose to play in — keeping keenly aware that each boss is nearby the rear-exit of each enemy server basecamp. This prepares players for the next stage of WvW, the Eternal Battleground.  
 
 
The Eternal Battlegrounds
 
While anyone, at any time, can venture into the Eternal Battleground and gain experience — they may not gain it quite as quickly until they reach level 40. Unlike the homeland maps, the Eternal Battleground is the central map. No server has a Citadel here, instead there are three Border Camps and a short jog outside of each Border Camp players will find Platinum Ore gathering points; a level 40 material. Once again, the get the best experience, it is recommended to begin approaching Eternal Battlegrounds at roughly level 40. This doesn’t mean that no one beneath level 40 should venture into the Eternal Battlegrounds. On the contrary, there is always something to do as battle is likely happening somewhere.
 
Guild Wars 2 PVP 03
 
Yet people who feel they want to get the best experience out of WvW should be mindful of their surroundings and know where to go when things are quiet. As they progress through the Eternal Battlegrounds they will find creatures to be more durable and a lot tougher to take down. Even Dynamic Events become extremely challenging and either cannot be soloed or cannot be soloed with ease. At various points throughout the map they’ll come across Mithril Ore; a level 55+ mining point. But the most precious gathering points are in an unexpected area. During the June BWE the new area was added beneath the Eternal Battlegrounds. While it is connected to the Eternal Battlegrounds, in many ways it is an entirely new zone.
 
While it was largely unpopulated by any kind of PvE element, the Jump Dungeon beneath the Eternal Battlegrounds was entirely PVP driven and included a lot of player driven traps and features. But the deeper a player ventures into the jump puzzle, the more precious the gathering points become. At the final stage of the dungeon Orichalcum Ore is plentiful. This is a level 70+ material, and it’s buried in the depths of a likely to be camped dungeon complex. Predatory players may find a little thrill in here, and large groups may want to venture down to do treasure runs while at the same time pausing to partake upon the precious minerals.
 
As different as it may be, there is little doubt that Guild Wars 2 does have a method of leveling progression to its Open World PVP. There is structure and purpose, though that purpose is not entirely evident.  The one thing that it offers is the ability to harbor an Open World PVP population and give them a place they can call their own. At the same time, it can legitimize ganking and player harassment on an entirely new level. 
  
Orch Ore Image
 
Instead of players beating up on a faction within their server, perhaps inadvertently diminishing the overall population of their server leading to an eventual lack of activity — they are beating up on another server entirely. This means that if they demoralize and diminish the population of the opposing server, they will not feel the adverse effects and may even feel more rewarded in the long run. Instead of being known for your name, you are instead known only by the name of your server. To many Open World PVPers this is something of an insult, as they like to bask in their own fame from time to time.
 
But by giving credit to your server instead of yourself, you start to share that fame with others. While sharing may not be the nature of some players, it boosts the overall morale of the server and creates a friendlier gaming experience for everyone — not just one person. In Guild Wars 2 Open World PVP has a subtle effect on PvE. Players within PvE may never once step foot into WvW, but they will bask in the generous bonuses that WvW generates for them. At the same time, WvW players can potentially benefit from PvE players who may enjoy spending more time crafting and sharing material they find due to the WvW bonuses. All that matters is how all of that material is managed.
 
“We wanted to make WvW fun and easy to get into, so there’s no level grinding required—you can just hop into the battle using your normal PvE character, regardless of what level you are.” — Mike Ferguson
 
As Guild Wars 2 ventures closer to release, World versus World will likely see more and more PvE content steadily introduced. ArenaNet has promised and has so far delivered upon their wish to make WvW an independent gaming experience that will appeal to the Open World PVP fan. While one can argue that since it is not like games before it, then it is not Open World PVP. But in the gaming industry there is progression and change.
 
ArenaNet is offering their own answer to the Open World PVP spectrum, feeling confident they have worked out much of what turned off a lot of people to the experience in the first place. While the most gritty and overly devoted hardcore player may not be swayed, I have argued my point — Guild Wars 2 does indeed have Open World PVP, and it’s new.
 
Sure some of the elements may not be fresh and new, but the combination that ArenaNet has put together feels like it’s a completely new creature entirely. I look forward to seeing how it truly plays once the game launches in late August. I hope to see you there — lurking in the bushes like the elite predatory you claim to be.
 
 
An Official Retort —
 
   Due to the popularity of this entry, I decided to make a slight amendment to it as an addition to the debate happening within the comments. Do enjoy!  — TemperHoof
 
And the debate continues, which I expected entirely. This Blog is not the end all, be all of answers and fact. Everything here is prospective, and it pleases me to see such a thriving community taking interest in this subject — whether it is for or even against my topic. One thing I want to point out is the idea of the “Instance”.
 
“An instance is a special area, typically a dungeon, that generates a new copy of the location for each group, or for certain number of players, that enters the area. Instancing, the general term for the use of this technique, addresses several problems encountered by players in the shared spaces of virtual worlds.” — Wikipedia
 
There are a lot of people claiming World vs World takes place within an Instance, therefore leading to the point that it is not Open World PVP. Perhaps I should ask the general public to understand a simple fact: ArenaNet is making three games: three MMORPGs. One of which is called The Mists. It is a game complete within itself, with PVE content, level progression, end game, objectives, cities, and towns. In addition, there are NOT several copies of The Mists which spawn as it gets full. Once it is full, it’s full — you will have to queue for entry just like any other MMORPG that has a full server.
 
Just because it exists within the same package as Tyria, ArenaNet’s purely PVE MMORPG, doesn’t mean that The Mists is instanced out of Tyria. When you are inside of Guild Wars 2, you can just access your main menu and choose to instantly move to World vs World at any time. You are switching from one game to another, despite the fact they exist within the same universe and are connected to the same network.
 
By understanding that The Mists is a game completely and 100% independent of Tyria, that means that the world is NOT instanced. It is designed to support a large population much bigger than simple Battlegrounds. Unlike DAoC, the Frontier was not an independent MMORPG that was an optional part of the game. The Mists is a fully optional MMORPG that will be populated with content familiar to Tyria, but it will support large amounts of player on player combat.
 
Level progression plays a large part of The Mists, and someone who is level 80 will surely dominate a level 1 with ease. Furthermore, you can gank and grief however you please. I mentioned several examples in my article where you can setup Ballista. Now understand Ballista, these are fast-shooting giant sniper bolt launchers. These can hit players from crazy distances and practically do one shot kills. If you have two or even three Ballista setup side by side, you are going to cause a lot of trouble for the lowbie players and will get your satisfactory feeling of ruining someone’s day.
 
Furthermore you can camp Mistwrought Dungeon and kill lowbies there too! What I’m saying is The Mists is a game within a game: it is not an instance. By claiming that it is an instance, you risk devaluing the very Open World PVP games you use to support your own arguments. No MMORPG is just a big seamless world; everything takes place within a zone of some sort. Each zone can support a set number of players, just like servers. Each server can only support a given population. If you argue that World vs World is just an instance and not an MMORPG, then you are saying that every single game is also just an instance — just a bigger instance.
 
So the The Mists isn’t a huge MMORPG, in respects to its size — which is just five zones — it is indeed fairly small. Yet that doesn’t change the fact that it is still a large world for five areas, and despite it not supporting a flourishing, massively, and expansive world — ask yourself this. Do you truly understand how small the Open World PVP crowd truly is? In your imagination the size may be vast and huge, because you expose yourself to that game crowd a great deal. But does it truly give you an idea just how many people truly enjoy that game style versus the rest of the MMORPG population?
 
ArenaNet has created an MMORPG that they felt was large enough, at launch, for the target audience. In many Open World PVP games, you will likely spend a long time between each encounter. Or vast sections of the game turn into uneventful, useless graveyards of unused, underplayed content because the Open World PVP crowds find little use for those regions. ArenaNet has chosen to streamline it, cut the fat, keep things more straight-forward to allow for more frequent and consistent action to please the diehard PVPer with the ability to quickly drop into the game, find battle, and get the hell on with their lives.
 
They are reducing the need for extended camping; they are also increasing the activity by squeezing a sizable population into a smaller space. This promotes a more intense and active atmosphere, making that small world feel more alive and thrilling. There will always be something happening everywhere in The Mists, while in many other Open World PVP MMORPGs — nothing was happening but a few sparse scrims. Larger battles would take place in more popular regions as the rest of the game was vastly untouched.
 
My argument takes the point of view the The Mists is not an instance, nor battle maps, but a fully fleshed out mini-MMORPG married with two other MMORPGs. Therefore it is an Open World PVP MMORPG.
 
 
If you enjoyed this article and would like to make suggestions on future article topics, please send me an email at TemperHoof ( @ ) G M A I L . C O M or send me a Private Message.
 
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Guild Wars 2 - Profession Workshops Alpha July 25th

Posted by VanadromArda Thursday July 12 2012 at 11:46AM
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Profession Workshops Alpha July 25th
 
Workshop Sample
 
There are many people taking time to put together websites, wikis, write guides, and even create podcasts about the HOW-TOs and HOW-TO-NOTs of gaming. But something has been missing from a lot of these instructional works — the community. Since April 2012, an idea to bring the community together to supply the information needed to create detailed and rich guides and tactics has been slowly transforming into a grand project.
 
Now this is the formal introduction of Profession Workshops, a breakdown of its contents, and the websites and guilds which sponsor its production. Join me now as we cover the basics of this massive idea and why you are invited to help take part in its future.
 
Profession Workshops are a long-term evolving database of tips, tricks, facts, and pointers about the Professions of Guild Wars 2. The official project is scheduled to begin gathering information September 10th 2012roughly two weeks after the official launch date of Guild Wars 2. From that point on, the project will continue working on a very tight, weekly schedule for eight weeks.
 
Schedule
  • July 25 – Community Alpha Test
  • August 28 – Launch of Guild Wars 2
  • September 10 – Profession Workshop 1
  • September 17 – Profession Workshop 2
  • September 24 – Profession Workshop 3
  • October 1 – Profession Workshop 4
  • October 8 – Profession Workshop 5
  • October 15 – Profession Workshop 6
  • October 22 – Profession Workshop 7
  • October 29 – Profession Workshop 8
  • November 12 – Refinement Period Begins
Note, We will be holding an official poll starting July 25th on which Profession we'll do first and what follows it. We will begin with the profession that has the least popularity
 
Workshop sample
 
Each week, beginning September 10th, will mark the beginning of a new Profession we’ll be covering. During that week, we will request that several volunteers who feel they are proficient in that choice profession come in and join us. We will host voice-chat servers for people to join in twice a week, allowing for hours of discussion about that single profession. We welcome everyone to come in, even those people who just want to listen in and learn something new.
 
We are highly interested in finding people who are willing to give details to tactics, skills sets, builds, and more based on their style of play and what type of format they play it in. Each profession behaves differently in WvW, PvE, and Structured PvP — making for lots of possibility for dozens upon dozens of different approaches to the same profession There is no one viable, perfect build — but many. And there is no one right way to play. We are not trying to find the best of a profession: we are trying to record what people have done with a profession to provide a database of tips and tricks to help people learn based on what people are doing with it. We do not wish to tell people what they NEED to be with a profession.
 
A lot of people like to try something new and do something that hasn’t been done before. So by providing a database which quickly allows a player to see what is popular and what most people are doing, then they can potentially put together something totally new and not fall into the classic flavor-of-the-month cycle.
 
All of this information will then be dumped into a website, created as an offshoot to the already present GW2WvW.com. What the website will offer is a way for the community to quickly navigate and identify what the rest of the GW2 world is doing with that profession, but also be able to amend their own suggestions, tips, tricks, videos, audio instructions, and more to the website to help it grow.
 
workshop sample 3
 
The Workshops themselves will provide the foundation to this information, but it will be up to the community to build upon it afterwards in the coming months as Guild Wars 2 matures.This is not a simple Wiki-website, but a more interactive experience that will not just explain mathematics and numbers — but provide testimony from various players about a skill, weapon, or trait that is used by several players in several situations.
 
Let’s say you are curious about playing an Elementalist with a Main-Hand Dagger. When you look through each of the Dagger abilities, you’d get drop downs not only of what the ability does but also of how often it is used in WvW, PvE, and Structured PvP. By selecting a type of gameplay, then you’ll see how people are using it and be linked to testimonies, videos, and instructional guides on how to execute many of those same moves yourself.
 
This database is designed to teach and inform not only new players, but also show seasoned players what other people are doing to help increase their own experience in this vastly complex PvP game. Furthermore, players may be able to acquire fame by being a frequent provider of information to this website. Their name will be displayed by every piece of testimony, video, tip, etc… and if they provide enough their name will be displayed on the top of the “Provider Boards” on the front-page.
 
Workshop Sample 4
 
Consider this a project to create a central network hub where the entire Guild Wars 2 community can amend and provide information for all to share and use — and it’s all made by an independent developement of Guild Wars 2 fans.
 
So come join us July 25th after the third and final Beta Weekend Event. We are going to gauge the popularity of the idea based on the turn out, and whether or not people join will indicate how much more advertising we will have to do before the Guild Wars 2 release. If you are interested in helping out, please attend July 25th and share your ideas and your interests.
 
July 25th's Topic
 
The topic subject will be about Profession Workshops themselves and as a test we will also talk about the subject of Engineers. Come in, join us, and help the community flourish and grow. For more information about this major event, such as the voice server we’ll host it on or if your guild would like to join our sponsors, please send an email to TemperHoof ( @ ) G M A I L . C O M — so that you can be added to the mailing list. Or visit GW2WvW.com for additional news.
 
 
Sponsors (Updated July 17th)
 
 
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How To Prepare for the Guild Wars 2 Launch

Posted by VanadromArda Thursday June 28 2012 at 1:31PM
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How To Prepare for the Guild Wars 2 Launch
 
For a while now I’ve been withholding this article. Quite frankly there wasn’t much reason to release it until the time was right — and that time is now. For many months people have been bouncing around the theory that there was to be some big announcement from ArenaNet on a certain date. This date was 06/28/2012. Originally this date was 28/06/2012, which was more of an EU date-time table, but was altered when ArenaNET released additional photos of their office.
 
Jersey
 
The date came from three jerseys hanging on the wall. Sure enough, the waiting has paid off. And ArenaNET has answered the call of their restless public urging for something to come at the closing of June. They’ve satisfied that urge with not only the announcement of the Guild Wars 2 official launch date (August 28th 2012) but also the date of the final Beta Weekend Event (July 20th).
 
Many people have been waiting for this day. Long have they been holding themselves back, confident that they would not give the game a time of day until there was a release date announced. Well I’m writing this article with those people in mind, and I’m here to offer some pointers for how YOU can prepare for the up-coming Guild Wars 2 release. You may not realize it now, but there is actually a lot to do between now and then, so you’d better hop to it!
 
How to Understand Guild Wars 2 and its Servers
 
One thing you want to understand first and foremost is that Guild Wars 2 is not your standard MMORPG, just about any article in relation to that topic can fill you in on the details. What we are covering today is something that goes unsaid most of the time, and that is the mentality of the Guild Wars 2 Servers and how the current player base sees them.
 
Unlike other MMORPGs, Servers are not just static worlds where you can meet your friends and party together. They are not places where you can just jump around to in hopes to find a population of your choice size, and they are certainly not things to fear of whether they will be too thick or too thin post release. Servers are teams. That’s right, teams. A Server’s name is the Team’s name, and joining upon that server means you will become an active member of that team.
 
gw 01
 
Long before you may even choose a server, these “Teams” have already been forming well in advance. Many, many guilds of vastly different shapes, sizes, and structures have been drawing out plans to not only bring themselves into a certain team — but ALL of the additional guilds they work closely with as well. Alliances are a massive factor in Guild Wars 2, and they’ve already been established across the board. People have been planning the foundations of their server populations well in advance, and come release day these alliances will shuffle to a server of choice to block and prevent all other players from joining it.
 
In order to prevent yourself from mistakenly choosing a server you and your friends will be unable to join, you should also be preparing well in advance — even if all of the final server names haven’t been announced. All of this is because of World vs World, the ability for servers to be facing one another in Open World PvP combat. Each server will be pitted against two other servers every couple of weeks and then be ranked, graded, and placed up against equal level servers in the following weeks afterwards. While you have been sitting on the side lines, guilds throughout the world have been teaming up and marking territory.
 
You need to get with the program, and the best way to do this is find a community and discuss the plans about how they are handling the server issue. But before you can ask someone any questions, you need to first look at yourself and identify what it is you want out of Guild Wars 2.
 
Identify Your Play-Style
 
Are you purely someone who wants to go up against scripted content in a PvE (Player versus Environment) experience? Do you want to engage in role-play as you do it, and dive deep into the story of your character so that you can experience it all one step at a time? Or do you want to pit yourself against hardcore guilds, fighting for the top spot so everyone knows your Guild’s name and more importantly, YOUR name!?
 
Whatever your play-style, you may want to take time to actually make a brief list of what it is you’d like to get out of Guild Wars 2. Put at the very top of this list what it is you’re after and what you feel is most important to you. Remember, no one can tell you how you should play your game and enjoy your experience. Don’t let people push you around and tell you “this is how things are and you have to do this, this way”, because that stuff ends with Guild Wars 2.
 
Servers are here to divide the game into different communities, and in order to ensure you find the community that will help you get the most out of your experience — make a list of your most desired wants and final a guild that best fits that list of wants.
 
gw 02
 
Find a Guild That Fits that Play-style
 
Just like each individual in this world is different in their own way, so are Guilds. There are Guilds of all shapes and sizes, of all types and tropes. Don’t just find the first one that comes to you, you really should take some time to research. Guild Wars 2 is a very rare kind of game, never before has there been such a mass preparation of Guilds and Alliances. The sheer number of Guilds preparing for Guild Wars 2 even outnumbers Star Wars: The Old Republic — mainly because so many guilds from SWTOR are now moving to Guild Wars 2!
 
If you find locating a Guild difficult, remember that many guilds keep in touch with other guilds. Actually opening a dialogue with one guild may be a window into another, and then another after that. But please try not to join a guild just to step into another, that’s rather rude. You should take your time and talk with the people you want to play with and see if they are what you really want in a community.
 
There are guilds out there of huge mass and number, priding themselves with population alone. Joining guilds like this will surely net you people to play with. There are also smaller guilds of people who prefer more like-minded members for long-term friendship and experience, these are a lot harder to find. And of course, there is everything in-between. So there really is no shortage of Guilds to join, and you should make a point to become a part of one and feel it out WELL in advance before Guild Wars 2.
 
If you don’t find a guild that is suitable for you — you may find yourself paying for it in the end. By either blindly joining a server or joining a guild without foreknowledge of their server plans, you may find yourself unable to take part in elements of the game you want to play! For instance, let’s say you want to join for the epic World vs World portion of the game. Well if you blindly join a server that is dominated by a massive alliance — you’ll likely be population-blocked from World vs World at all times and never get a chance to play. Meaning you’ll have to shell out money to switch servers! Oh no!
 
gw 03
 
Ensure that Guild is building an Alliance with others matching that Play-style
 
So let’s say you find a guild, now you have to worry about who that guild is talking to! Are they teaming up with a massive 500 member guild that will try to dictate your every move? Or will your guild be teaming up with other stable, like-minded guilds that fit the play style you best favor? Make it a point to find out and ask questions. If your Guild isn’t part of an alliance, ensure they make an effort to talk with other guilds and see if they can put one together!
 
What’s even worse than you not finding a good server to be a part of — is an entire guild finding themselves unable to join the same server or totally blocked from World vs World due to some of these huge pre-built alliances. Then many more people will have to shell out money to switch servers and that can have a massive impact on your fun-factor. Don’t look to ArenaNet to solve this issue with free transfers either, that may not happen.
 
ArenaNet has not only been supporting the growth of guilds and alliances before release, but they’ve been insisting upon it! The responsibility now falls upon YOUR shoulders to make sure you pick a Guild, Alliance, and a Server than best suits your needs. They’ve gone out of their way to establish a lot of servers to make sure these alliances can find homes in many different places, allowing the population to spread out and create fluid teams.
 
They do not want everyone crowding to the same server. This is not about activity, high-pop and low-pop, “what-can-I-do-during-Prime-Time” worries like previous games. Servers are teams now, find a group of people and talk about where you want to go. Make sure everyone else in every guild you talk to and work with is going there too. Make sure they can work with you, not against you.
 
For instance, if your Guild enjoys creating Role-Play events, make sure you become part of an alliance of Guilds that enjoy those kind of events and will not hinder them. This will ensure your members will find fun within your server community come release. Don’t wait for release to do this, as it will be far too late by then!
 
gw 04
 
Pre-Purchase the Game
 
You’ve likely been putting this off for a release date. Now they have one, go ahead and drop some money for this because you will want to take full part of the 3-Day Head Start which begins August 25th. You will also want to take part in the final Beta Weekend Event on July 20th, because likely there will be something special in it for you.
 
Not only this, you can get a dry run with your Guild-Mates in game and start to get a feel for them and how they will approach Guild Wars 2. This is your last chance to get a feeling for your guild before the release, so it’s important you take time to experience some parts of Guild Wars 2 before the release — even if it just adjusting your key-binds and control scheme.
 
There are really nifty gifts you get from Pre-Purchasing, and while they will not make or break your experience in-game, they will at least make starting out Day-1 a little more fun. You can also combine them with Guild Wars 1 Hall of Monument Rewards at the same time — giving you a massive amount of free stuff to play with out of the gate!
 
gw 05
 
Get to know your Guild-mates
 
One of the most important things to do before the release of Guild Wars 2 is to get to know your Guild-mates. These are people who you will be spending time with for many hours through the night and weekends. Make sure these are people you want to play with, and not just ‘people’ to fill the void and to prevent you from playing alone. Guild-mates really should be very much like you, and should stick with you thick or thin. People like this are not easy to find!
 
You have plenty of time before release to find the right set of people, but please do not wait. If you join a server you put yourself in a bad position of having to only join up with those guilds related with that server. This will force you to Guest around to other servers for a while to play with other people before you have to drop money to switch over. Don’t put that burden on yourself! Guilds are something you should take very seriously — even if that guild doesn’t play very seriously at all.
 
Play games with your Guild-mates! Find something you have in common and join them in those games before Guild Wars 2. Come Beta Weekend and Headstart, you should already have a good idea on who you are playing with and who you can call upon to be at your side. Don’t join a guild and expect people to flock to you, or you’ll find yourself playing alone even in a guild full of hundreds of players. You should not settle for that experience. The responsibility is yours now, make a strong effort between now and release to make new friends! Time spent searching now means more time playing the game in the future. Don’t wait!
 
gw 06
 
 
Do your Hall of Monuments
 
Once you find a group of people, you may want to make a stab at Hall of Monuments. This is easier if you already have a Guild Wars account and have all of the expansions. If you don’t have all of the expansions, I recommend purchasing the key-codes from places other than NCSoft. Don’t drop $29.95 for each expansion, that’s just wasting your cash! If you shop around the internet, you can find the whole set from Flameseeker Prophesies to Eye of the North for $10 per installment.
 
If you want something to do or maybe get that nifty Flame Sword, take some time to play with your guild-mates to reach these achievements. If you don’t own Guild Wars 1, don’t worry. The Hall of Monument Rewards are mainly cosmetic features for people to wear and show off in later portions of the game. Guild Wars 2 has plenty of cosmetic rewards within itself as it stands, so you’re not missing much.
 
gw 06
 
Avoid Forums
 
Since February 2012, an absolute flood of information has been released about the game. The Beta Weekends never had an NDA on them, so ArenaNet has insisted that all fans create articles, share screenshots, make videos, vodcasts, and just about anything and everything they could think of to share Guild Wars 2. There are thousands of hours of gameplay available online right now for you to watch, hundreds of in-depth articles explaining features and details. Even better than that, there are dozens of guild-mates who have played the game first hand!
 
There is absolutely no need to jump onto any forum and ask “What’s this game about?” or “Try and sell me Guild Wars 2” because frankly — that’s totally pointless! If you do that, you’re insulting your loyal and fellow gamers who have taken precious hours of their day to write articles and produce videos for your viewing pleasure. Many players love Guild Wars 2 and they will be more than happy to share those things first hand. Do not jump onto a forum and try to make a judgment call based on the opinions of forum-goers, these days forums are not as good as they used to be.
 
Find living, breathing people who you can talk to either face-to-face or VOIP, you’ll find them more than willing to share you all they know about the game. Don’t know where to find people face-to-face? Go outside to your local game store, you’ll certainly find someone there who is excited about Guild Wars 2. If not, MAKE them get excited for it. You’ll probably find yourself new guild-mates this way!
 
gw 07
 
Ask Questions
 
You may be the kind of person that doesn’t want to spoil the whole Guild Wars 2 experience for yourself, and that’s great. So don’t ask questions about certain features of the game, but ask about servers, communities, guilds, and what people intend to do with the game once it’s release.
 
Yet, if you are the type of person who wants to know everything about the game before release now that there is a release date — then by all means, find people you can talk to and ask questions. Don’t ask questions on forums, ask your guild mates! Build conversations and a dialogue with people you intend to play with in the future, because the more you talk with them the more comfortable they are with you. This will help to make for better in-game experiences once the game begins.
 
For not only will you be more knowledgeable about the game, you’ll also be capable of playing smoothly with everyone you are playing with. Don’t leave yourself in the dark; make an effort to learn key things about the game before release. Make sure Guild Wars 2 is really the game for you, and try to figure out why so many people consider it to be the new and biggest thing to happen to MMORPGs.
 
gw 08
 
Clear Your Schedule
 
Without a doubt, Guild Wars 2 is going to be a momentous game. Make an effort to clear your schedule come late August because this game is going to consume your heart and soul. If you haven’t had a chance to get your hands on it, know that this game is going to suck you in and keep you playing whether you like it or not. If you don’t make an effort to empty your week and plan for some vacation time in advance — you may find yourself kicking yourself in the head.
 
Guild Wars 2 will have a profound impact on you when you first get your hands on it. So the one thing you’ll want to do is at least spend a week or two playing it with friends to get it out of your system before you return to a fluid work week or daily like schedule. Don’t wait! Start writing your letter or proposal for your next vacation right this instant!
 
I’m suggesting this for your own good, as you don’t want your work and real life to suffer tremendously from your potential lack of proper foresight and the overestimation of your own personal will-power. Just for once in your life make time to play a game, or else that game may haunt your real-life more than you desire it to. Guild Wars 2 is going to stick around for a long time, it’s here to stay.
 
Don’t make the mistake of just asking for launch day off or the Monday before, because Guild Wars 2 is going to be huge. You want time to endure some of the potential, inevitable frustrations of any game on launch day. Give yourself and the game a wide birth, drop those vacation days in line for a whole week or even two. You have been warned!
 
If you'd like more advice on finding good communities, contact me via Private Message or email: Temperhoof ( at ) g m a i l . c o m – and I will share them in future blog entries.
 
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Friendly Hardcore Guilds – They Live Again in Guild Wars 2!

Posted by VanadromArda Friday June 15 2012 at 11:07PM
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Quite recently I sat down and spoke with the founders of two very promising Guilds preparing themselves for the upcoming title, Guild Wars 2: Colfy of RAGE Coalition and Rorek of Infamy Gaming. The reason why I spoke with them in recent interviews is because I was approached by them after my more recent article, “What’s Wrong with Guilds Today? They expressed mutual concern for the way guilds were being managed these days, and I couldn’t help but appreciate their dedication to upholding a competitive spirit while at the same time creating an easy going atmosphere. At that moment I couldn’t help but feel that perhaps there may be hope for guilds that still follow the Old Ways.
 
In entries before, I spoke of my remorse for the loss of the Old Ways. As of ten years ago, much of the beliefs and philosophies of running fun and cooperative guilds has begun to fizzle out. The idea of playing with a group of friends, a fellowship, and a band of brothers – started to die out in favor of more structured and determined guilds. The guild name became precious, became the key focus of all things. The world must know the guild’s name, and all must take notice that there is only one guild that is greater than the rest. These ideals came into being with EverQuest, Final Fantasy XI, EVE Online, and later World of Warcraft. People became a resource, something that was faceless and easily replaced. This was the mindset of a business, and that model was steadily being applied to guilds.
 
I mourned the loss of guilds which held the individual higher than the name, believed in friendship and fun, and the same time remembered that there is life beyond the game. There is a purpose to life beyond the guild’s name and recognition of other in-game players. My call to action sounded out, and believe it or not some people heard the call and decided it was time to bring back the Old Ways. The Ways in which guilds were a unified and cooperative group of growing individuals. Quite recently I was contacted by some of these guilds. They told me of how they understand the problem of guilds today, and that it is a shame that some of the more friendly community driven guilds are fewer in number than ever before.
 
Guild Wars 2
 
After some conversation and discussions with the members of these groups, I decided that the only right thing to do was to share my findings with the rest of the world. I felt I just had to take the time to spotlight them. I feel that perhaps there are readers out there who truly desire to find guilds that are far separated from that of the business structure and works as a whole unit to achieve a goal as friends – not co-workers.
 
Perhaps some of you don’t even know what it it like to be in such a guild, and can’t even imagine what it is like within them either. Long now have the raiding structures of Final Fantasy XI and World of Warcraft held dominion over how guilds should be run. Thanks to World of Warcraft, the gaming world has seen a large influx of gamers who are interested in MMORPGs, but since WoW was their first undertaking they have little experience outside of that mold. We shouldn’t forget that even the console market has grown a great deal as well, and that there are players out there who wish to finally expand into PC Gaming and experience MMORPGs for the first time too.
 
For many people Guild Wars 2 is their very first real MMORPG beyond World of Warcraft and console games. For them, the Guild experience is also something new and foreign. For these reasons I felt it was dire to inform my readers that yes – there are guilds out there that have risen up to take pride in following the Old Ways. Guilds that really want to treat people with kindness, respect, and friendship. I want to climb the highest peaks and shout out the names of these guilds, and point the way to the beacon of light and hope to show that all is not lost. There are sane people in this world after all!
 
Guild Wars 2 02
 
For those of you who have followed my entries, you may know that I'm not exactly a big fan of the needlessly hardcore. There is no point to scheduling hours for your guild member’s to work, there is no need to apply penalties to your members if they have to excuse themselves for their daughter’s birthday. There is no reason to lord a person’s mistakes over their head, and keep a list of each time they’ve stepped out of line. Let's face it, we all have real lives, there is no need to turn your favorite form of recreation into a job too.
 
Playing a game can be a real struggle for starters, and what's worse is that sometimes so can being in a Guild too. Let's be honest with ourselves, not everyone is going to be perfect: always smiles, always a good attitude, always polite, always informative, and never-ever one to offend anyone. These people are few and far between, and even those who seem to wear that appearance aren't as genuine as they seem. Yet still, many guilds expect everyone to be just like this no matter what their personal backgrounds really are. On top of that, many guilds expect you to be somewhere and do something when you may not want to or do not have time to. If you don't show, then you will lose out on precious guild points and lose your overall standing in the guild.
 
That can be a massive headache to anyone who is really just trying to have fun and have a good time. Nobody is perfect, and a lot of people have forgotten that in their pursuit of perfection and complete domination of all things guild. I'm not a big fan of those guilds who want their name to be to be known throughout the world, as that only inflates the egos of just a handful of people --- namely the guild's founders. In guilds like that, it is those founders who will benefit the most from the hard work of the guild-mates they consider expendable underlings. I think it's time someone put the spotlight on guilds who are taking things in the right direction.
 
I speak of course of RAGE Coalition and Infamy Gaming. As no person is perfect, nor are guilds. But there are always certainly different flavors among them which help them stand out from the rest. With these two in-particular, I've taken time to speak with their guild leaders in conversation, in interviews, and I've even played with them in game in several occasions. They do stand out as groups which have come from a different time period, a time before World of Warcraft – where the individual was more important than the guild name. These guilds are not always seeking the best, this is because they believe the best can only shine when they are playing with people they know, love, and have learned with since the very beginning.
 
Rage
 
People who feel themselves to be elite, who feel themselves to be better than everyone else – will carry that with them wherever they go. They will join guilds, thinking themselves an asset that has to be pampered and pleased because of their 'skills'. But let's be honest here, skills are learned, and can be learned by anybody. These guilds believe it's best to take time to teach those skills to new players and treat them to a friendly, fun environment where everyone can have a good time and become hardcore at the same time.
 
At present, popular guilds are really only popular because of their mass number. They have no real special key assets over any other guild, or what any other guild could have with some dedicated players behind the helm. It would be wise not to fall down into the trap of following behind those big named guilds, just to be part of the crowd and bask in the glory of your guild-mate's hard work. Perhaps you may find it more personally satisfying to challenge yourself and venture into a smaller guild, where your skills will really shine as you are now part of the quality --- not the quantity.
 
IG
 
One thing I've noticed from RAGE and Infamy is that they really do appreciate what it means to play and get to know people on a very personal level. The concept of friendship is not lost beyond the anonymity of the internet. From what I've discovered, as long as you are mature and want to give it your all --- it doesn't matter if you can't hit the broad side of a barn; you are still very welcome to join in with these people. Games are about having a good time and achieving things together, and if you are going to run with them you are not going to be a friend one day and forgotten the next. If you are honest, you're going to find some real friends in guilds like these.
 
I suppose the reason why these guilds are run by such a mature crowd, is because they’ve come along in age. Many of the people who I’ve found within these guilds are well over their mid-30s, and have actually come from a time well before World of Warcraft even existed in the minds of its creators. Back then, guilds were run very differently. People had to utilize a lot of imagination and devote a lot of time to make sure that people were happy and had a lot of fun things to do. This doesn’t mean that it was a fantasy land where everything was perfect, no.
 
There are always people out there who are determined to give everyone in the guild a hard time, and just really want to be annoying, immature asses no matter their age. These old fashioned guilds believed that everyone had a say, and since people were very active and very friendly – this also meant they were very connected outside of the game. So when someone was causing a problem, it was easy to get in touch with the bulk of the member base to make a judgment call on someone who was really trying to cause great harm in a guild. It’s easy to tell someone who has personality issues apart from a troublemaker, and often these guilds are very understanding to those who have a tough time socializing.
 
Guild Wars 2 02
 
People inevitably rub people the wrong way. That is just how personalities work. But these guilds do not believe in keeping records of problems. They will try their best to work it out with the people to secure and hold onto strong friendships they want to see grow and flourish. To forgive and forget, that is their philosophy. These days, that is very, very hard to find. Like it or not, most guilds these days will not think twice about throwing out a person who may be mildly disruptive because they really want to put on a good face. Anyone who threatens the guild’s name and face is considered toxic and a potential hazard. I for one don’t like being considered a toxic hazard, so I like guilds which not only give me a chance but take the time to understand my personality and help me when I stumble.
 
Only friends will help you when you stumble, they’ll be there to pick you up and brush you off and give you a hand. Friends do not see you as dead weight or a potential liability. These days, it’s easy to forget that there are people playing games with you. It’s very, very hard to find people out there who are truly willing to listen and help out the people that are willing to not only show guild pride but also build friendships. I am proud to say I’ve found a pair of guilds who really want to push this philosophy, and I look forward to seeing them blossom in Guild Wars 2. I can only hope many will follow in their footsteps, making Guild Wars 2 the game that not only changes the face of the MMORPG genre, but the guilds that play them as well.
 
If you feel your guild fits these positive philosophies and you’d like them featured in future articles, contact me via Private Message or email: Temperhoof ( at ) g m a i l . c o m – and I will share them in future blog entries.
 
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Arena.Net, This June We Need Action!

Posted by VanadromArda Wednesday June 13 2012 at 7:01PM
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This week, many gamers around the world are shaking off the shell-shock of not being able to Login to Guild Wars 2. Naturally I include myself in this equation as I look back upon the weekend with a feeling of mixed satisfaction and frustration. What lingers now in my mind is a single question, “How long until this thing is released?”. Well in my head I hear the battle of both prospectives, and I write this now to work out my own feelings on the situation.
 
The weekend was not without its problems. Friday saw difficulties problems with imbalances of server populations. My entire guild's plan to join a server was inadvertently cock-blocked by the server transfer protocol and wasn't fixed until several hours later, long after my guild had already switched to a different server we did not plan to join. Saturday saw continued issues of course, as suddenly Siege could not be deployed properly in World vs World causing a lot of people to become frustrated because they could not execute any battles that had measured impact.
 

Image 01
 
The only day that appeared to be fine was Sunday, but the Tournaments and Structure Player vs Player match-ups were also broken and not working as intended. This was only just scratching the surface on the many, many, many issues that plagued the game to the point of causing a lot of people to question whether or not Guild Wars 2 really was the awesome game everyone said it was. But at the end of the weekend, everything slowly seemed to just come together.
 
Even despite all of these problems, I still feel as though my overall experience with Guild Wars 2 was more than satisfactory. Why? Well let's be honest here, it's still Guild Wars 2. The game is just really great for me, and it really does manage to keep me busy doing something even when other things aren't working quite as they were intended to be. Quite frankly, the entire weekend was a complete and utter disaster, but it was still the most fun I've had gaming in the past six weeks (the last Beta Weekend Event).
 
Now I find myself in reflection, thinking about how close the game may or may not be to release. After everything bad that happened, I still want to play. That to me is a very good sign. That to me is a very healthy sign. And that sort of sign, really shouldn't be ignored. Ever since February 2012, I've really been keeping my ear to the ground on this one. Been keeping a close look, reading articles, forming guilds, and trying to put together material people can use and enjoy for the upcoming title. Now, more than four months have gone by and I find myself feeling just a little bit frustrated.
 

anger
 
I imagine this frustration will grow, but in small, tiny increments. For instance, I was sweating bullets when it came to wondering when the Beta was going to happen back in March of this year. So much was happening, Beta Invites coming through and then a Pre-Purchase!? People falling over one another just to log in and submit a code onto an online profile, just to have it say “Congratulations, you've purchased the game! Stay tuned for information about future Beta Tests.
 
At the end of April, all of my questions were laid to rest and I could finally spend time just sitting back and playing. After the weekend ended, I felt completely sated and satisfied. Years of pent-up frustration has been ejected from me like a tween-boy who finally figured out how to bring himself to orgasm, and perhaps the end result was equally messy.
 
Six weeks later, we get to do it all over again with some improvements. Indeed, the game had a lot of differences in it, but ultimately it was the same game and really had the same feel. I liked it, it was very nice. I felt happy and comfortable, and even though something may have gone wrong or maybe I found something to be broken --- at the end of the day none of it matter. I had fun. I had a lot of fun. I can safely say that.
 
fun
 
I had so much fun I question myself, would I still give Guild Wars 2 the benefit of the doubt and keep playing, and keep giving their game positive PR even though the game was breaking on a daily basis and even my most favorite toys were ruined for several hours --- would I still keep playing? Yes. I fully know, through and through, I would keep playing. I'm a loyal gamer. I'm not a whiner, though I do complain a lot, but I'm not going to bitch my way into another game – because frankly I've found the game for me. That game is Guild Wars 2.
 
At this point, the only way they are going to lose me as a customer and eager GemStore money giver is by pulling a StarWars NGE and completely flipping the game onto its head and started all over again. I don't see that happening, and quite frankly it's laughable to even think a mistake like that is going to happen twice in my lifetime. I know, beyond a doubt, Guild Wars 2 isn't ready for release. But I really don't care. I'm really one those people who can devote hours of my time and life to spilling into the game because I want to see it blossom and become a fantastic piece of work.
 
I've spent years of my life in Final Fantasy XI because no other game really matched what it was. But now, Guild Wars 2 has come along and I really don't want to see it turn out bad. But at the same time, I really don't want to sit patiently for release, nor do I want them to hold back on announcing another BWE. The fact that the last one took them five weeks to announce was pretty painful enough, but waiting that duration again? Well that would just be bloody sadistic at this point. I don't think I can endure that kind of pain.
 
My Summer has only just started, and each day I see it getting shorter and shorter. Each day I see that I'm not doing something that I could be physically enjoying aside from my other daily activities. This is really the only time when I can spend day in and day out just pouring over a game, for when the Summer ends my life begins again and my business kicks up as well as more of my Graduate courses. All that precious, precious time I could be spending working and helping to tweak Guild Wars 2 and just have a bloody good time doing it --- wasted.
 
play
 
At this point, I'm starting to feel like the game may actually benefit from – at the very least, events which happen each and every weekend. Of course I would like an all-out release. But in all seriousness, they really should step up the pace, and start assuring the public that they are on some kind of home stretch. While it may not happen, and more than likely will not happen, I cannot help but feel like it really would be the right course of action for ArenaNet to take.
 
I know it's probably just my system yearning to play, but it's really starting to eat me up. My patience is really starting to get thin, and with each BWE I admit --- it's getting thinner. Each time I play, I really only want more. Each day I spend in the game, means less days I'd be willing to wait to continue. For as I grow in my knowledge of the game, there is more I want to do. There is more I want to try, and it becomes difficult to put those desires aside as I wait for the next signal.
 
I know I will have to wait, just like everyone else. But something needs to change. If not now, then especially after the third BWE. By then, I fear a lot of people are going to be crying foul at that point. So many people were optimistic for a June release back in March, that is why I dropped my money. Something really does need to happen at the end of June. I'm not saying a release, but something to change the face of the game before people become too frustrated. Just think about it.

WvW Mini-Dungeon in Guild Wars 2

Posted by VanadromArda Monday June 11 2012 at 9:26AM
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Another Beta Weekend Event has come and gone, and on this occasion I could be a little more experimental in how I approached the game. Aside from being able to finally record and process video, I was able to get my hands on a lot of the new content introduced to World vs World over the course of the past six weeks. One of the key features I know a lot of people were excited about was the WvW Mini-Dungeon, announced shortly before the weekend by Eric Flannum, the Lead Game Designer at ArenaNet.
 
One of the coolest things that we’ve added to WvW recently is a persistent mini-dungeon that can be accessed through the three keeps in the center map. This area is designed with multiplayer PvP in mind and players can do things like activate the traps in the mini-dungeon to defeat enemy players. Of course, at the end of the area there’s a chest full of rewards.”
 
While we got exactly what he stated, I and many other players were expecting something a bit different. When I say different, I mean less "Puzzly". And when I mean less "Puzzly", I mean the Mini-Dungeon is a giant Jump Puzzle. So far, at least from my prospective, there is a miscommunication in terminology between the developers at ArenaNet and their audience. For Eric Flannum, clearly the word Dungeon is very literal — as the area beneath Eternal Battlegrounds is a giant, sadistic set of pain chambers that are frustrating to deal with. Players on the other hand may think differently when they think of the word "Dungeon". For them, Dungeons have long been places filled with monsters and bosses, rare loot and precious rewards worth fighting over. But sadly, there is nothing worth fighting for in the sunken city beneath the Eternal Battlegrounds
 
This miscommunication did lead some people to expect that the "Mini-Dungeon" would be something like Dark Age of Camelot's Darkness Falls, a contested dungeon with three different avenues of advancement which meet in the middle for a rough and tumble grudge match to have rights to bosses and loot drops. I believe ArenaNet should take this as a clue, perhaps when they are to describe a Jump Puzzle, they should exclusively refer to it as a Jump Puzzle --- not a "Mini-Dungeon".
 
Late Sunday, my server fully conquered WvW and gained rights to the Mini-Dungeon and or the very first time I could venture down and see it for myself. With hopes of banding together with my teammates to gain some extra Experience Points and do something fresh and interesting as a cooperative group --- instead we got something beyond what anyone of us could have imagined. After crossing through the Mystic Portal, I found myself standing on a platform looking at two other Mystic Portals. Instantly I knew that the additional portals were from the other two Keeps within Eternal Battlegrounds, all within firing distance of one another. There were no three unique paths to fight through, no individual experiences based on which Keep you entered. All Keeps could spawn me at the exact same starting position.
 
Image 01
 
Before me was a massive chamber beneath the Eternal Battlegrounds, very much like the Caves of Planetside. The area was huge and the cleverness of the design was instantly apparent. Right in the middle of the chamber was a ray of bright purple light. It shot down diagonally from the ceiling, emitted from a huge purple crystal at the highest point on the map. The light rays bounced off a smaller crystal in the middle of the room, which pointed a ray of light off to the left --- clearly saying "Go That Way". So I did.
 
At this point my eyes were keenly looking around for something to fight. Some sign of activity, some creature or boss or baddie of some sort. But nothing was there, just a huge empty room with slender ledges and platforms. Soon it sunk in, and it was clear that this was going to be a long and painfully complex jump puzzle to solve. And indeed, it did take a good time to solve. I spent three hours recording the whole experience. But I realized I lost about an hour of footage, having failed to notice I didn't record for a while — I was too focused on solving the puzzle I admit. But in the end, I only lost a minor portion of the overall dungeon and can safely say I recorded 90% of it.
 
Image 02
 
At this point I've taken the time to edit the video down considerably, only really show casing at lot of parts that didn't go horribly wrong or were hindered too greatly by PvP combat. At the conclusion of this experience, I realized that what I just went through really wasn't very much fun at all.
 
The only person who seemed to have a great time was the Mesmer in our party, which is no shock to me at all because they have a built in "Reset Button" so they can just Portal back up if they mess up. Unlike most of us who play, who have to backtrack about five or ten minutes to repeat the same portion of the maze over and over again while the Mesmer just keeps going forward without a problem. I can see how he didn't find it difficult or frustrating; he's playing a ridiculously convenient class that has all of the best abilities in the game at present.
 
What truly alarmed me and made me really feel a shock and awe, was when I first ventured down into the Third Stage of the puzzle. You venture down a stairway which takes you into a pitch black chamber where the puzzle is completely done under cover of perfect darkness. The only way to venture through was to illuminate the way with torches and Area-of-Effect-Ground Target abilities to help physically "See" where to go next. I found this to be a needless frustration, as in the end I could see just fine with my abilities and the torches felt like a PvP handicap that forces you to do something you don't want to do in order to endure the trial.
 
Image 03
 
But the first time I went down, I didn't realize I even needed a torch. So I did it all in perfect darkness. Eventually when my team mates came to join me, I informed them of the torches at the entrance and things went a little easier. Yet still, even a minor mess up to any jump at any portion of the puzzle meant you had to reset back to the beginning of each Level. In all, there were five levels to the dungeon. In reflection, I can say that the Jump Puzzle doesn't make a good PvP space. I could find myself just boiling over with intense frustration while trying to work my way through this if I had enemies always a few steps ahead of me manning traps.
 
That is another thing which bothers me, the traps. It seems silly to me that there are platforms where one person can man several traps at once — giving one person the ability to hinder everyone who follows them, even if they are on your own team. This looks to me like it can be a huge problem when the game goes live, as seeing there are people out there who just love to grief and this seems like the perfect place to do it. You can create a living hell for members of your own server, and they can never, ever kill you either.
 
Image 04
 
But after all of that, spending hours of going through and gaining a little bit of ground after a while — the only real reward at the end is to just say "You Did it". Seriously. Of course there is a chest at the end, but it's nothing special. You can earn the same rewards from Mistrought Vault in each of the Server Borderlands, and since there are three of those you can better spend your time getting three times the reward just pushing Mistrought every two weeks. Beneath Eternal Battlegrounds resides a huge puzzle that is even more difficult, but doesn't really net any rewards that value the effort. Even worse, once you finish it -- the thrill of discovery is gone. Any repeat process through it feels more like going through the motions rather than a fun experience.
 
So in the end I wonder, what's the point? Was it fun to do? In a way, yes. But I found fun in it only as way to spend time with my guild mates and get to know them more. Do something other than fight and do something which involves team work and cooperation to get to a goal at the end. That was fun for me. But I could not and do not want to imagine this place as a shelter for PvP, especially if every team starts at the exact same location. You will have to constantly watch your back and man traps for long periods of time, likely not even killing those who venture through them and net you no real reward or experience points - only the minor thrill of ruining someone’s day. I feel ArenaNet can do better, and this just doesn't feel like it deserves to be part of World vs. World. It doesn't feel critical or exciting, heck it doesn't even feel relevant — because frankly it isn't.
 
Image 05
 
Class balance is huge as well, as many classes can easily breeze through this as others have to struggle considerably. Fairness becomes an issue, and if Mesmers do not see a massive change in their skill sets — then we'll likely see these puzzles turn into an industry for Mesmers to make a butt-load of money teleporting whole teams instantly to the end of the Dungeon using their Mesmer Portals. We tested it, it is possible, and that's just stupid. But I give ArenaNet credit. I like it and feel it does need to be in the game — just not in WvW. I share this with you all now so you guys can get a taste of just what this really was. I hope a lot of the feedback from this weekend's BWE will result in a lot of changes to change this dungeon, and perhaps to actually make it a dungeon.
 
In all honesty, I think ArenaNet has accidentally stumbled on something very promising here. People do like doing puzzles in MMORPGs, and these are good and tax the brain in a healthy way. I'd like to see more of these, in fact a lot more. A huge portion should reside in some off-the-grid location where I can invite team mates to come with me as we tackle Jump Puzzles. We can adjust the difficulty, turning on Traps ourselves for greater rewards. Maybe even be able to find items scattered around in hidden locations for special rewards and achievements. That seems like a great thing to do and may be a better use of this map. I just hope ArenaNet and the player-base agrees with me, who knows — time will tell.
 

Wanted: Insane Enthusiasm?

Posted by VanadromArda Monday May 14 2012 at 10:35PM
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enthusiam

Enthusiam...

Currently I'm suffering from this condition, and perhaps it is a condition of sorts, because it seems like it infects like a disease. But can one really blame me? Perhaps there has been nothing quite infectious as the excitement one can build for ArenaNet's Guild Wars 2. But this excitement is not blind fanboyism or a desperate cry for attention --- no. This enthusiam is the seering hot gyser that has been boiling beneath the earth for several years, only to now rise to the surface with explosive force.

Multiplayer games have not been kind to me, or at least kind to my tastes for many-a-year. The only real MMORPGs that ever appealed to me were Final Fantasy XI and Monster Hunter, and both of those were Japanese in origin and not exactly a big hit in the United States. That alone goes to show that my particular tastes are not quite... well... normal for my hemisphere. For ten years I've been forced to suffer with either playing the same games or painfully endure several other MMOs that I constantly looked back and measured based on the two games I mentioned.

The bar I made for games I played was high, extremely high. So high that I played Final Fantasy XI for nine-years, and to finally retire from it for good in July 2011 thanks to the bitter Abysea1. But nevertheless, I still carried with me that bar in which I must judge everything I play. So far the only game that has finally managed to not only reach the bar, but surpass it, is Guild Wars 2. This has only been assured through the Press Events, BWE #1, and the May Stress Test.

All at once, ten years of pent up ethusiam has suddenly began to speed to the surface until the sheer surge has become too much to ignore. Now the heated pressure to do something productive for the game is beating through my skull, filling every poor in my body, and consuming never ever facet of my physical mind. It becomes difficult to concentrate and think, just knowing that something I've wanted for nearly a decade is lingering just on the horizon like the coming of a long awaited hero. Quickly, fetch the red carpet --- my... I mean... OUR savior is coming!

 

red carpet

 

Now I find myself consumed by sheer enthusiam. To the point that it is a monster in itself, often taking control of me and turning me into something that I have never really been before. It is turning me into something that is much more than a fan --- an absolute fanatical lunatic. My enthusiam is actually starting to frighten people, as I've been considered intense and jarring. To the point where I may even alienate people who are looking forward to the game.

Because of this, my mind has began to twist and tamper reality to the point where Guild Wars 2 is not exactly just a game anymore. It is something I understand that will take up a large portion of my up coming days, and I feel those days already slipping through my fingers like grains of sand. Am I frightened of this, and is my enthusiam merely shrouding me and protecting me from the bitter truth that I may lose a precious portion of my life to a digital reality?

Perhaps. Were I to calm down and think about it, that may be the case. My ethusiam may be a shell in which I choose to hide within, wanting to keep my mind focused on projects and things to do so that I do not let my mind linger about what it is I'm about to potentially miss in my adult life. Ultimately I could choose just to ignore it again, choose to put the games aside and actually go on trying to focus on what it is my life demands of me. But  do I really want to?

The struggle within becomes more difficult with each passing day, and as the game grows closer to an ambigous deadline I begin to feel myself even more energized with intense, often uncontrollable needs to keep my mind busy. And not just busy with anything, but busy with game related activities on an epic scale.

Even now I begin to look for ways to start my own Guild, to lay the ground work for many, many pet projects. The only thing that I need right now is one of two things.

  1. Someone to grab a hold of me and slow me down.
  2. Someone who matches my intense enthusiam and together we'll combine to create an unstoppable engine of mass production that could likely be tapped to provide an infinity source of clean energy to fuel the entire planet.

Both are very viable acceptable outcomes I look forward to.

Bring it on people. Give me your best shot.

 

Infinite Fuel

 

1 You can read more about Abysea in my previous forums posts on MMORPG.com.

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