[GW2] HoT Ultimate Limerick Contest

ArenaNet rocking down to the launch of the Guild Wars 2 expansion Heart of Thorns at midnight (Pacific) tonight decided to hand me a code for the Ultimate Edition. The Ultimate Edition gives access to all the upcoming Heart of Thorns content as well as 4,000 gems, another character slot, and a bunch of other goodies.

Well, I decided, having just re-read the Kingkiller Chronicle that limericks are fun and underused in our day-to-day musings. A contest with them would be a fun and necessary thing.

So you can enter once, and each entry costs a limerick from your mind about ArenaNet or Guild Wars 2. No personal attacks or other such nonsense. Please be sure to have an email I can use to contact you in the comment. I will randomly select a winner for the code, and to sweeten the pot. Second place will get a Shadow Sword skin for their revenant. Third place will get a Daydreamer’s Shield skin. A Guild Wars 2 account is required for each winning.

Colin’s smile was like a fable
He spread it across the lands as he was able
He thought it untoward
to swing another sword
But, you know, nothing is off the table

Good Luck!


EDIT: I forgot to say. I will pick the winner when I wake up tomorrow (10/23/15). I am guessing around 4-5 AM Pacific.

EDIT: Mach Dice has randomly spoken. Congrats to Vlupius (HoT Ult), Ithurien, and Jacob!

PMI Code of Ethics

When getting my PMP certification, one of the principles hammered repeatedly in the training materials was “no gold plating.” “Gold plating” is going beyond the approved project to give the customer more than was asked for. You give the customer exactly what was asked for, says the code of ethics, and you get approval through an integrated change control process if you want to go beyond that.

When crafting in Shop Heroes, you can randomly get a critical success, which raises the quality of an item. Higher quality items are worth more, are stronger, and break less often on quests. The customer, however, ordered a lance, not a good lance, and will not accept a good lance to fill that order. You can spend energy to suggest the good lance (at a higher price) or spend another 10 minutes crafting a lance. If you get “lucky” with crits, that customer might be waiting a half-hour while you keep trying to work down to his standards.

: Zubon

Bad Habits

I decided to play a bit of Borderlands 2 and see the quests I never did back in the day. I also stumbled into the Minecraft Easter egg, which was kind of neat.

I was playing as the Mechromancer. Her bullets bounce off surfaces to hit targets, and she has a pet that flies around to kill things. If you ever want to get in the worst possible FPS habits, play a character who negligently runs around and fires shotgun blasts in the general direction of enemies. And it works. It seems like that should not receive positive reinforcement.

: Zubon

[GW2] The Last Core Weekend

I would say I’ve been diligently keeping the coals warm in Guild Wars 2. Every Sunday is guild missions, every day at some point (before work or post-kids) I do the daily, and then I dally here and there. Silverwastes farming is a decent go to since I can still gamble for the bee jewel. Recently, I’ve decided to slowly get actual alt’s to 80.

It might surprise many that I only have on alt. I have many tools, but I don’t really care about them beyond their function. I don’t play them with the joy of them being a “character”. I just started three more alts, and I plan on enjoying when I play them. This might be a rare thing, rarer after the expansion launches.

Over the course of the year I have stockpiled a bit, splurged a bit, and kind of kept a wary eye on the horizon. Sometimes there is not else to do but wait.

Yet, the waiting has a comfortable energy of goals long in the fire. Of having completed what I’ve wanted to. Next weekend will be one of a fury and fervor. Already, I feel there is too much coming.

Will I explore the new WvW map? Work on finally getting a legendary? What about the Heart of Thorns maps and that content? Stronghold PvP where Mrs. Ravious will surely be every day? What will my guild be doing? I don’t even want to think about raids and the time that will take away from everything else. Oh, and Halloween. Halloween is the worst and best of all because it is temporary.

Will I focus or dabble? I honestly don’t know. I do know that I don’t have time to do everything.

I will enjoy this last weekend of comfort and boredom. I will dally with my alts. I will complete the daily on the usual whim. This is the last time for that. Maybe months from now it will return. I tend to doubt it. If ArenaNet falls silent like they have this year after Heart of Thorns they will have wasted momentum. I expect them to ride this surge forward for a long time.

Enjoy this last weekend. Things are sure to change.



Asheron’s Call had (technically has) in-game paper you could write on. You could get a single sheet or an entire book. This may sound weird to the modern MMO player, but it was important at the time.

RPers, lore-hounds, and fan fiction writers would write stories in them. Some might exist in a single copy, or amateur scriveners might copy from one book to another. There was a library near Hebian-To (and elsewhere, but Hebian-To was the active spot I knew on Morningthaw) where people would gather to read the official in-game stories or share their own. There was not such a thing as a bookshelf where you could contribute player-written lore, but people might drop books for others to find or stand about as librarians/booksellers.

Beyond RP, books were extremely useful because Asheron’s Call came out in 1999. In 1999 you did not have wikis, extensive spoiler sites, or even a second monitor to refer to while playing on the other. Even if you had a second monitor, as the previous sentence suggests, finding info was a different matter; Google was still a new thing at the time, founded in 1998. Having a book of locations and directions was really helpful, and getting a book of location coordinates from a guild leader patron was a huge boon for a new player.

Sometimes it does not feel that long ago, and sometimes I remember that some of our readers have never known a world without MMOs.

: Zubon

Humble Monthly

The Humble Bundle folks are trying something new, a monthly subscription service. So you pre-pay for games without knowing which games. That sounds bad.

Spending $150/year on games I don’t know and probably won’t play seems like a bad investment. In the early days of Humble Bundle, I bought quite a few out of a mix of supporting the charity of the week and the indie developer of the week. Years later, my Steam catalog is bloated, and I have liked a small percentage of the games. Over time, the Humble offerings have expanded in various directions, and they more or less feel like a perpetual Steam yard sale on indie games through a different store front.

If I had more trust in their curating, this would probably be a great deal. If you buy almost every Humble Bundle, this is for you. If you maybe see a few games you like every few Bundles, bad. And I’m not especially sold on LootCrate-style deals where you pay someone to go buy things for you, but then I have rather niche tastes for my major interests.

: Zubon

Shop Heroes: Portable Pro-Sociality

At Tobold’s suggestion, I have been trying Shop Heroes, and I think Recettear converts to a mobile/social media game nicely. Why be an adventurer when you can be a shop owner selling things to adventurers? In the inverse of normal MMO mechanics, it is the adventurers who buy random crap, and they buy a lot of it because most of it has a 5-10% chance to break every adventure. Strangely, they do not actually use equipment you sell them, but rather you sponsor their adventures by equipping them with goods from your shop. Those items they break.

I would like to highlight the game’s City upgrade mechanics. I am not high enough level to see what it does in the late game, but it immediately seems to encourage players to be pro-social in a variety of good ways, while also making the high-level players’ drive for advancement subsidize the low-level players’ development. It does undermine the permanence of social bonds, which may be a good or bad thing depending on your view of this sort of thing.

The City is the equivalent of a guild hall, and it starts with a few buildings. Some of them help you get resources, like a mine for iron. Upgrading it increases the rate of iron provided. Upgrading your town hall expands your City, both in terms of population and getting new buildings. New buildings provide bonuses like new adventurers, bonuses to them, crafting bonuses, and raising the level cap on your crafters and adventurers. Those bonuses are effective for a limited time after anyone invests in building upgrades, 30 minutes for a minimal contribution up to 24 hours for a full upgrade bar. City members’ contributions are broadcast to all members, with an overall contribution rating on the member screen.

While there is an obvious anti-social incentive just to leech off others’ contributions, there are a variety of pro-social incentives here. If you want to raise the level cap for yourself, you contribute to the team. If you want to activate bonuses for yourself, you contribute to the team (even minimal contributions add up). Beyond mechanics, there is the social incentive of receiving public credit for contributions, along with the implicit social obligation to contribute to the team embodied in that members screen. That can turn nasty, in the way some MMO players consider a low gearscore to be leeching, although it also promotes reasonable stratification by player type if hardcore players who contribute a lot end up in cities with other hardcore players who contribute a lot. I would also expect to see social cities, where a few workhorses power their casual friends.

The last detail: your contributions go with you if you change to a new city. Wow, that’s big. Have you ever contributed to a guild only to be the last surviving member? Given it your all and had to abandon your sunk costs? Shop Heroes has no guild sunk costs. If you want greener pastures or to switch to a friend’s guild, you bring your investments with you. If you kick someone out, s/he takes her/his investments too. That might make someone hesitant to kick a toxic but rich person from the city, but I have yet to find how to be toxic in this game. Chat is hidden by default, and we are all off in our own shops.

: Zubon

[GW2] Heart of Value and Reason

I was pretty amazed at the amount of features ArenaNet delved in to yesterday in discussing the guild upgrades. Dulfy, Angel of Text Transmissions, as usual puts things in highly readable and digestible form. My favorite bullet points are multi-guild chat and the new guild missions. It seems like another really good update coming with the expansion, and most “core” owners will get most of these features as well. Heart of Thorns, I feel, is adding a lot of value to basic things.

My daily usually goes something like hit a vista, gather somewhere, go to WvW to stand on a ruin. I admit it is pretty rote right now. Mrs. Ravious and I used to do it together, but now we each have our preferred times and ways. She, a much better person and player than I, will usually do it through midday PvP. I just grind it at night out in the most menial of ways.

The new guild missions might shift that focus a bit. Say the daily is “capture a supply camp”. I can check to see if a WvW guild mission is up for capturing supply camps. The main rub is that at least 3 guild members need to capture the supply camp for it to count. This sounds like ArenaNet has created, for me, a reason to pause and collaborate with my guild beyond “fun” and “companionship”. Sometimes I need that objectivity. Continue reading [GW2] Heart of Value and Reason

Realm Grinder: Catching Back Up

Realm Grinder‘s reset mechanic has the important effect of speeding the player back to where s/he left off. In MMO terms, think of this as letting your alt quickly play where you main just was. There are drawbacks, but this seems generally a good thing that could be adopted elsewhere in some form.

For those who have not played this sort of game: after a slow first run while you are learning the game, you reset and advance steadily until you hit a wall in terms of progress, when you run out of new multipliers and abilities; you then reset, which gives you a bigger bonus and pushes the wall further out. Realm Grinder accelerates you towards that wall, which sounds bad to phrase it that way so let’s instead say that it brings you back to your personal late game. You are banking progress and continuing, not starting a long journey over.

This will not be to everyone’s liking because some people really love the early game. Alts! New characters! A simpler game in a purer spirit! Let’s say that incremental games do not have the early game feel that The Shire does. And games recognize that you have played the early game enough, hence boosts to near-max level or GW2’s birthday gifts of scrolls to skip the early game. To the extent that the early game is exactly the same whenever you start over, you want to accelerate/skip it; in a game like Civilization, the early game is often more interesting than a same-ish late game.

In Realm Grinder, this works out very well because you explore the early game diversity pretty completely the first time you play a faction. After that, your new multipliers quickly get you back to where you were. If you are going ten or a thousand times as fast, there is no more early game. You go through it as quickly as you can click. As you accummulate gems, you skip the early game and get back to prestige races in minutes rather than days. As you accummulate reincarnations, you zip back to the Mercenary stage in hours rather than weeks. In the late game, these bonuses just push The Wall out a little further, but they are ridiculously effective in burning through the early game, which you already know, to the late game, which might have something new for you.

If you are a “the real game starts at the level cap” player, really trying something new involves getting back to the level cap.

: Zubon

[GW2] ArenaNet TV and Information Bites

TwitchCon happened this past weekend, and while I didn’t have a care for the mainstream channels, I avidly watched ArenaNet’s shows. They had two days packed solid. There was some weirdness and patience was required by the audience in part of the some production hiccups. All told it was really fun.

The absolute highlight for me was the segment “Live at the Crow’s Nest” (at 1:38:00) where Maclaine Diemer was accompanied by two other musicians to do a small-set ensemble of many Guild Wars musical favorites. Diemer (along with other ArenaNet employees) has taken the in-house role of providing the music since Jeremy Soule has long moved on (and fled with DirectSong funds). I personally think the music quality has gone way up. Songs have been way more memorable to me post-launch, and there was really no song with launch that has stuck with me with the exception of “Dawn in Shaemoor”. Anyway seeing a guitarist, a bassist, and a violinist produce some exceptional renditions of Guild Wars 2 favorites was an absolute treat. The usually brilliant Twitch chat (sorry while I break for sarcasm overload) was clamoring to have those pieces, or something similar, in-game. I agree! Continue reading [GW2] ArenaNet TV and Information Bites