[GW2] Stolen Thoughts of the Day on Traits

Been busy this morning, but was drafting a post in my head about the trait uproar. Apparently my mind waves were so strong that it was picked up and written over at Under a Pale Tree. They even stole my pun from my brain jelly! (Although I was going to make it Trait-ourous Trappings.)

From a game design perspective, small fees like this serve a two-fold purpose: Helping the game economy, and instilling a sense of worth to your build.  The first part is self-explanatory, but the second: If you can switch your traits at any time, with no repercussions, then do your trait selections really matter?  Who needs to think about it; just drop ‘em in wherever and don’t worry about it until you come up against something too strong.  Then you might as well just pump all those freely “respecc-able” points into whatever trait will maximize your usefulness against that particular mob, and then do it all over again on the next one.

This is the most important part. People feel they can handle infini-selections, but its been proven time and time again that narrowing choice is extremely beneficial. It promotes better decision making, a better feeling of having made the right choice, and, blazow!, it promotes better learning! I know that all the good people raging are 50 IQ smarter than the average MMO player and could easily handle re-traiting in-between mobs and weapon swaps, and don’t need to learn skritt. Still, dumb people like me appreciate that ArenaNet has signaled that traiting is an important decision, and it would be beneficial to take time considering the decision. Maybe I can actually be beneficial on the WuvWuh field?


[LotRO, GW] The Tyranny of Trash

The last instance cluster of LotRO’s previous expansion, “In Their Absence,” was rather good. It had interesting and fair puzzle bosses, a boss fight that involved slapping hobbits, and meaningful trash mobs. Fighting trash took you through a progression of enemies to let you get comfortable with your team, to introduce new mechanics gradually, and to explore variations on those mechanics. The first group might have a few normal spiders with a new poison ability, the second with one bigger spider, and so on until you get to the spider boss fight. Another wing has several types of poisonous goblins, introduced one at a time until the fight where you get to navigate all their abilities at once. And so son. The little of the raid that I saw had genuinely difficult trash fights, in which raids would work out how best to deal with this half-dozen enemies and their abilities given the group composition.

Guild Wars uses more of the standard copy-and-paste approach to trash. Continue reading [LotRO, GW] The Tyranny of Trash

[GW] Very Flashy Blades

Playing a ranger in Guild Wars, you develop the appropriate hatred of enemies that have strong counters to physical attacks, such as enemy rangers using Lightning Reflexes. Assassins have a skill called Flashing Blades that lets them block attacks and return damage every time they do so.

This works at a range. You shoot an arrow from a longbow at maximum range, the assassin deflects it with a dagger, and he slashes you as a part of the block. That is a very flashy blade.

: Zubon

Interview with ArenaNet’s Rubi Bayer

ArenaNet officially announced a couple weeks ago that Rubi Bayer would be joining the Community Team. I met Rubi personally (and finally) at the Fan Day, but I’ve known her for much longer for her Guild Wars work. I jumped at the chance to interview her when she crossed the threshold in to ArenaNet, and I am very thankful that she was able to take some time to answer a couple questions a midst a major life change (access to Guild Wars 2) as well as taking on a new job, tons of beta feedback, and learning Martin Kerstein’s… intricacies. Without further ado.

You’ve made it to the big leagues with ArenaNet. Can you tell us a little about your background, and how you ended up at your dream job?

I’ve been a Guild Wars fanatic since back at the beginning of 2007. It was my first MMO, and I fell head over heels in love with it. The gameplay, the world, the community—I loved it all. Over the past five years, I became very involved with the community in-game, having fun and helping out where I could. In 2009, I joined the Massively staff as a contributing editor. I served as the lead writer for Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 coverage and started the Flameseeker Chronicles column, which gave me the opportunity to become even more involved with the community. It also gave me the privilege of getting to know quite a few people on the ArenaNet team, and they all had one thing in common: they were genuinely happy with their jobs and eager to go to work each day. When you combine that working environment with a game that I love so much (and one in development that I’ll love just as much, if not more), it really is a dream job. When the community team asked me to join them, there was no way I could say no. Continue reading Interview with ArenaNet’s Rubi Bayer

[GW] Elegant Data Display on the Map

The Guild Wars world map is subtle and powerful.

The map is the primary means of travel: click on a town and you are there. This means that almost every zone is immediately accessible once visited, and reaching a new town is also a unit of character progress. This gives extra weight to the few places that require crossing multiple explorable zones to reach.

The map also shows progress on multiple tracks. Blurry terrain indicates Cartographer points to find, although you need a mod to get great precision. Each mission is tied to a town, so the town’s icon changes to indicate mission completion and whether you completed the mission bonus. Missions yet to be done flash gently. You can switch the map overlay to hard mode to see mission and Vanquisher completion there. All of this provides a trail of breadcrumbs for when you lose your place.

As is now common, you can track a quest and have its location appear on the map.

The weakest point is leaving a map. There are three maps for the three campaigns, and Eye of the North shares space with Prophecies. You switch maps by clicking on a boat, which makes sense in that you are sailing between continents. There is one major harbor per continent, and only Factions allows a team of eight in that town, so you need to re-select your heroes with most campaign switches. (You can get around that via Embark Beach or visiting Prophecies through the EotN portal.) Underground and hidden areas are not on the main map at all, so you need to go through portals or remember which explorable areas are caves that are not part of the world map.Part of Nightfall happens in another dimension, with an off-map mini-map. Dungeons are off-map, but their entrances are helpfully marked. I do not know what was supposed to indicate a secret portal from the Chantry of Secrets, but the wiki helped me when I was using reverse induction to find my way to a goal.

Of course, all of these are weaknesses within the context of the virtues. Most games use maps as maps with no interactive elements apart from fogging out unvisited areas.

: Zubon

[GW2 Press Beta] The Richest PvE Experience, Part 2

In continuance with apologies to Zubon for ending my Guild Wars 2 beta content a little late. Blame it on eye infections and little ones with fevers and gastronomic pursuits.

The End of Beta Game

After “beating” Queensdale, which I will return to in a sec, I headed to Kessex Hills, which is the humans’ second zone going from level 15-25. Kessex Hills is the Wild West warzone to the Queensdale bread basket. The theme of the zone encompasses the centaur battles in the north and mysterious or perilous occurrences ringing around the southern edge. One of my favorite spots was a bit of swamp in southwest Kessex Hills where a sylvari defense force valiantly defends against Zhaitans death minions, the risen. It’s nice to get a bit of sylvari feeling in a “human” zone with their Shadowheart defensive post filled with strange fauna, but the risen bring a new bit of gameplay pervasively found throughout the zone.  The mobs are starting to get more tricks in their “classes”.

There is a brute risen, who appears always crippled. They walk about with one working leg holding a huge 2-handed hammer, and if they get close to player multiple knockdowns are imminent. Any players that have not learned to attack and move will learn to do it the hard way against the brute risen. Then there are some small asura risen. These guys work themselves into a gremlin frenzy and run at the targeted player like a fast zombie. They are glass-jaw attackers, but seeing something running at me at double the pace with an attack buff was a bit unnerving. The quaggan risen, if I recall correctly, were the ranged risen in this area that dealt poison. A bunch of these types of enemies all moving about in one area creates many different tactical situations that I needed to adapt to on the fly. Continue reading [GW2 Press Beta] The Richest PvE Experience, Part 2

Unbattening Hatches

I assumed that most of our readership would be focusing on Guild Wars 2 last week, so I didn’t want to interrupt. Let’s ease back in with an off-topic post. I could find some way to make this link on-topic, maybe connect it to this old post, but why bother? As I have said, primate brain, fire, ooh.

The inherent awesomeness of that link is increased by the subsection “Examples with Zombies.” People don’t always believe me when I tell them that the CDC has a web page on preparing for the zombie apocalypse. The Infernal Retaliation picture, to note, is not an example, because he set himself on fire; the alien he is fighting loses its powers around fire, like Superman with kryptonite. Under the “comic books” tab, however, read the X-Men example. Choice.

Game commentary returns very soon.

: Zubon

[GW2 Press Beta] The Richest PvE Experience, Part 1

“Just play.” That’s been my tagline for Guild Wars 2 PvE, and really all of Guild Wars 2, but PvE especially. MMO PvE is so mired in invisible rules. Don’t kill steal. Don’t help other people. Don’t waste time doing X if there is no quest for it. Pass through these tasks because this task is gated. I don’t know how many times I’ve given up explaining these ridiculous rules to other gamers. I feel even stupider when I try to answer their simple question of “why”.

Right from the start, it’s apparent that strict theme park rides have given way to a big playground. Sure there are still rides, and even a few lines, but at least I can run around! Here’s an account of my run through the Queensdale zone especially in regards to renown hearts and player guidance.

Continue reading [GW2 Press Beta] The Richest PvE Experience, Part 1

Rumors of my demise…

… have been more or less accurate. You all have to thank (or complain to) Zubon for poking me and dragging me out of my hermit’s cave to post again. Work has sapped most of my will to write and free time, which combined to 2011 being not really that exciting game-wise, contributed to a lack of things I’d be remotely interested in posting about.

What I’ve been doing all this time: After growing bored of Rift I went back to LOTRO for a spell, since it was free (as in beer), but soon enough my old issues with the game peeked over the corner and off I went in search for something new. Which I found, curiously enough, in a place where had it not been for boredom I would have skipped entirely; Champions Online. I had the good fortune of finding an excellent roleplaying supergroup and it’s been good times since then. I’ve also started recently dabbling in Star Trek Online since it went F2P (notice a trend here?) so I’ve been splitting my time between both of Cryptic’s offerings. At some point I’ll have to sit down and post some impressions, since these two seem to be two games few people talk much about.

Incidentally, I’ve discovered that it’s pretty much official by now: A game won’t hold my interest unless I can get a good RP kick with it. So that’s the player I’ve slowly turned into.

More to follow soon. I’m trying to escape Zubon’s whip here, so there’ll be some stuff coming.

[GW2] Sunrise on the Plains of Ashford

Fanfic Warning: the following is part of my actual play in the press beta written “in voice.” I just needed to write something quick in a different way because my PvE article is getting monstrous. It’s a small, early part of the charr zone in Plains of Ashford. I had started there when I found the servers had opened early like my bud, Lewis B at Tap Repeatedly (read his amazing account here). Hope you enjoy, but if you don’t… you’ve been warned.

Continue reading [GW2] Sunrise on the Plains of Ashford