[GW2] Lick ‘em, Stick ‘em Hylek

gw2hot_04-2015_Zintl_with_ItzelSlowing down from the big features after the Stronghold beta, ArenaNet discusses some of the new denizens of Heart of Thorns – the hylek tribes. Players should be familiar with the frogmen who appear mostly in Maguuma areas. I feel their biggest gluts are in Caledon Forest and Sparkfly Fen where they have  meta-event surroundings their territory.

The new hylek tribes are surfer-dude tree frogs – Itzel, and down-to-the-earth, end-of-the-road bullfrogs, the Nuhoch. The latter of which surprisingly has no “L” in their name. I think the article is a pretty good read for lore fans.

What I want to discuss is the core game’s “lesser races” versus what could be in the Guild Wars 2 expansion, Heart of Thorns. By “lesser”, I mostly mean non-player character races. Continue reading [GW2] Lick ‘em, Stick ‘em Hylek

[GW2] Stronghold Engage

star-trek-picard-engageThe Stronghold 24-hour live client beta for Guild Wars 2 was a ton of fun. Mrs. Ravious and I had a blast duo-queuing. It is going to be a fun addition to the PvP modes, but its future is in question.

Engage

I think Stronghold strains towards the edges of PvP. The core of PvP is arena deathmatch. Nowhere to run, kill or be killed. The current darling is probably Smash Bros. Guild Wars 2 has the Courtyard map for deathmatch, and I hate it. Continue reading [GW2] Stronghold Engage

[TT] Deus: Stacking

I played my first game of Deus this weekend. It has one elegant mechanic I’d like to discuss.

You have five types of buildings in Deus (plus temples, which are irrelevant for today’s topic). You build them by playing (and paying for) a card. You place your building, put the card in the appropriate column on your board, and (here is the interesting part) activate every card in that column, in order from oldest to newest. When you build your first production building, you get one production effect, and then the same effect triggers every time you build another production building.

That simple mechanic drives a lot of the action in the game. Because you can have only five buildings of the same type, that is both a snowball and catch-up mechanic. On the snowball side, someone with a good start can quickly capitalize on one good building to get several good effects. Specialization pays off. On the catch-up side, after you complete that tower of cards, it is done. You have placed your five buildings of that type, and you can no longer capitalize. Also, building temples (late game victory points) requires having cards in every column, so a certain amount of diversity is both incentivized by temples and required by the piece limit.

: Zubon

[GW2] The Slight Sting – WvW Pride

Tough Love Critic (TLC) has a very good article over on his blog about the tri-fold pride problem in Guild Wars 2 World vs. World gamemode. It’s well worth the read, and in summation he writes:

How bad rewards are, how effective the zerg is, and how terrible the scoring system is should never be covered over because “that’s the way things are, take pride in what you do have. These deep flaws need to be corrected, otherwise WvW will always be fighting staleness as “the new” fades into a realization that key parts of the game mode are still awful.

This is another thing I was mulling over the weekend, and especially Sunday night when my SBI guild heads to the field for an hour or so. Then it was like the bell rung for Cinderella, and poof everybody just disappeared back to PvE pumpkins. Mrs. Ravious and I were standing there quite puzzled wondering what to do now that SBI did not have a commander on the field.  Continue reading [GW2] The Slight Sting – WvW Pride

[GW2] Legendary Hearts Echo

Full credit to Bhagpuss for the title and idea behind this post. Legendary hearts is such a good way of putting the idea behind last week’s Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns announcement. It’s so good that I have to echo it.

Briefly, getting the precursor weapon for a legendary weapon is going to require use of the mastery (expansion) and collections (currently live) systems to gain a recipe to craft the precursor. It’s also a multi-step process, as in there will be three-tiers of precursor to gain. Here is a third-tier Moot precursor that hasn’t been attuned to YMCA yet: Continue reading [GW2] Legendary Hearts Echo

Good Decisions, Good Outcomes

We have discussed repeatedly over the past year that fun games let you make meaningful choices. David Henderson comments on a recent, high-profile football game and the distinction between decisions and outcomes.

Usually, the best strategic choice is the one with the highest expected value (probability of outcome times value of outcome). People frequently look at solely the outcome and then attribute it to the decision, whether or not the outcome was a likely result of that decision. Winning the lottery is a good outcome for you, but playing the lottery is almost never a good decision because the cost of a ticket is more than (odds of winning) times (value from winning); depending on how you estimate taxes, inflation, and the chance of splitting the prize, the Powerball even-odds point is around $1 billion.

I have mixed feelings about games where you make good decisions and lose. This is not the case of single-player games scripted to be perverse, where what looks like the right choice is a trap or all choices are traps. I am thinking of multiplayer games that are anything less than 100% strategy with all information known in advance. We want some unknowns, and making decisions in the face of unknowns means occasionally things come down against you. When the odds are 50-50 and you lose a coin flip, yeah, that happens all the time. When you win unless you lose 5 coin flips in a row, that still happens 3% of the time. I like to think of myself as comfortable with probability and true randomness, but having a 97% chance to win and still losing through no fault of your own is really frustrating. It is absolutely necessary that players lose 3% of 97% chances, but it is still really frustrating.

It is frustrating on another level when people celebrate those 3%s as great victories, rather than blind luck. Don’t get me wrong, if you are in a position where your only chance to win is five coin flips in a row and playing conservatively guarantees a safe loss, take that chance. High variance solutions can be your friend, and even if you lose that game (as you most likely will), it was still the right decision. But if you started with equal odds and fell into a situation where you needed five-in-a-row to win, you probably made some bad decisions along the way. And if you are that guy who immediately set up a five-in-a-row situation to win immediately or quit immediately, you are what is wrong with online gaming.

Celebrate your victories, but also celebrate good decisions, whether or not they lead to victory in that particular case.

: Zubon

It’s a different sort of unsatisfying if the game comes down to a coin flip.

[GW2] Let Me Stress This: Amazing!

I was able to putz around in the Guild Wars 2 beta stress test yesterday. I think Jeromai’s comments all around, I can just echo (or see my comment there as well). It was a fun, very well polished slice. All it tells us, I feel is general direction of the upcoming PvE. It’s a good direction for sure, but not wholly indicative of the final result.

There was one truly amazing thing. It blew my mind. Bleed stacks over 25. 

Now since my main for years was a condimancer, who has recently switched to a powermancer to play around with daggers, I am ecstatic. I love conditions. I love the ensured death from DoTs (damage-over-time). ArenaNet design lead Jon Peters writes that what we saw was a first [public] test of  ArenaNet working on condition caps. I am ecstatic that this may be another feature for Heart of Thorns, or possibly before!

But, that’s not what was amazing. Continue reading [GW2] Let Me Stress This: Amazing!

Perspective

I sometimes find it helpful to make explicit the “imaginary” in front of something from a game when speaking aloud. “I’m upset because the imaginary zombie bit my imaginary warrior.” “Curses, someone else was willing to pay more imaginary gold for that imaginary sword on the imaginary auction house than I was!”

Your loved ones are sometimes worried that you forget that whole “it’s just a game” thing when the game affects you emotionally. And let’s be honest, sometimes you can use the reminder. This will reassure them that you are aware that you are reacting to an imaginary wizard’s struggles with an imaginary rock monster.

Although some people will be even more worried when you acknowledge that things are imaginary but still react to them.

: Zubon

[GW2] Have We Been Beta’d?

I’ve been working on one of the rare collection achievements as a long-term goal waiting for Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns. It is a “hardcore” goal requiring a lot of commitment, and if you don’t want to go insane, a lot of community support. Luckily there’s all of that in my wheelhouse, which I will write about later this week.

Anyway, I started pondering ArenaNet’s greater plan. We had years of Living World updates with new systems, new zones, and a general polishing of the entire core. Now we have an expansion coming. Everybody, facetiously, wanted an expansion. That was the Guild Wars 1 way. That’s what most MMO’s do. We aren’t paying a subscription for this constant update nonsense so give us a huge content drop we can buy.

Perhaps, I pondered, whilst sifting through hundreds of handfuls of sand… Perhaps, ArenaNet was not ready for an expansion. Continue reading [GW2] Have We Been Beta’d?