[GW2] Lion’s Arch: The Mnemonic Connection

This morning I had my coffee while doing my daily. As usual, I do my last 1-2 daily achievements in World vs. World. The exit portal from that eternal battle heads in to Lion’s Arch, where I usually log off now. It’s just a nice place to be. A place with history.

When I logged on – in Lion’s Arch – I had an NPC on a broomstick floating by. Other days I see Suriel the Blazing Light jogging through the city to train for her next fight. The city feels alive, but more important than activity, the city feels personable.

I know friends who have bought the gem store broomstick so when Mr. Broomstick goes floating by the pot stirs with a plethora of those memories. I have fought Suriel, and her presence brings up memories of the Queen’s Gauntlet and that whole celebration. There are memories and secrets tucked in to every corner of the city. Bhagpuss covers secrets quite well.

I think ArenaNet hit the perfect MMO city for those two reasons – memories and secrets, that is. Any MMO developer can create a fantastic city of activity and architecture. ArenaNet themselves created five more. Yet, unless there is a connection to be there, all the superficial beauty in the world is wasted. Continue reading [GW2] Lion’s Arch: The Mnemonic Connection

[GW2] Meaningful “Guild” in to Guild Wars

The end of last week was a huge info dump in Guild Wars 2 with 6 blog posts detailing the guild system that is coming with the Heart of Thorns expansion. I admit with the extent of this information, I have not been able to process the entirety of it, but my gut reaction was that “they are bringing ‘guild’ in to Guild Wars”.


Guilds have been part of the lore since the pre-history of Guild Wars 1, where they were so powerful they started shaping the flow of kingdoms. The kings were not able to control them. They fought against one another. There was no peace across the land. It was in a way ironic to name the game after such a dark time. I wonder what some original concepts of Guild Wars 1 looked like; EVE Online perhaps? Finally, the charr invaded and the human kingdoms crumbled since the guilds, more powerful than any kingdom’s army, were already embroiled in conflicts of their own.

The power of the guilds never reached any similar level in the gameplay of Guild Wars 1. The closest it may have come to this prehistory might was a huge reputation grind in Factions, where a guild could “own” an outpost. The GvG system also helped a little in that a guild was an entity that fought on the leaderboards. It appeared that whatever powerful mechanics guilds would have imagined by early ArenaNet, they really did not culminate.

Guild Wars 2 had this inside joke: “where are the guild wars?” Guilds could claim objectives in World vs. World, which had little meaning to the attackers. Guilds joined teams for competitive PvP, but they felt like a shadow of Guild Wars 1 where people would sell off guilds that had won championships just to be able to have a cape trim. In Guild Wars 2 PvP teams will merge, separate, rename themselves and boot someone out without thought for the brand of that guild. A guild was a pretty bare social construct in early Guild Wars 2.

Finally, ArenaNet is going back to the earliest fiction and game concepts of what it meant to be a guild, and they are implementing those ideals in game. Continue reading [GW2] Meaningful “Guild” in to Guild Wars

Revive or Flatline?

Expansions are intended to reinvigorate games, but they are also what usually convinces me that I am done with an MMO.

When I am into a game, every new thing is exciting. Changes may or may not be good, but I am passionate about them. Revamping major systems is a learning opportunity, a whole new batch of Theory of Fun fun for a spade like me who is an Explorer of design and mechanics. Every set of patch notes is the seasonal menu at a fine restaurant, and an expansion is a smorgasbord of new content.

When I am not into a game, I can coast for a long time. Sometimes that is just downtime, waiting for something new to revive that spark after I have done all the things. Other times, it is a misguided sense of commitment and loyalty, not yet ready to admit that I am done. The current free to play trend lets one drag that out for a long time, logging in for a quick daily to keep a faint spark alive when a subscription fee could force an “is this worth it?” decision point.

An expansion forces that decision point on a grander scale. You need to buy something. Large mechanics are changing. The level cap is probably going up, and if not the population will still be moving to the new areas, so you must follow or be left behind.

And so I look at my emotional reaction. Do big changes inspire interest or dread? You have already made your decision, you just need to recognize it.

: Zubon

[GW2] Lash and Love


Picture this. You are watching your boss on stage at E3. He’s about to launch the pre-order button for something you’ve been working on for months. The community has been positive. You feel good about your work. You have a lot of work left to do. Now people will start to speak with their wallets. It’s a scary time, and then the worst possible public reaction occurs.


This is not a post on the right or wrong of the situation. It’s a post in the hopes that fans who have free voice remain mindful of the power of their words. Continue reading [GW2] Lash and Love

[GW2] Parenting and the Heart of Thorns Pre-Purchase

My eldest daughter sits across from my youngest. They both have ice cream. I’d rather be sitting at the dinner table I crafted and chatting about the day with my wife than bringing out the laser level to make sure each bowl of ice cream is volumetrically equivalent.

The eldest sits with a scowl on her face because the youngest had the highest ice cream peak, or perhaps a spoonful more, or just better presentation of the dessert. Her enjoyment of her own ice cream is ruined. All she cares about is that her younger sister may have more.

Pretend you are the parent. What would you do? Continue reading [GW2] Parenting and the Heart of Thorns Pre-Purchase

[GW2] Nec-reaction to the Trait Update Preview

ArenaNet sent out a big email at midnight last night detailing a huge chunk of next Tuesday’s giga-patch notes. Dragon Season in fine form has them up. A lot is shifting. There are some good changes, and there are some pretty wonky changes.

The reaction from the necromancer community is not what I had hoped for. Yes, we are still in paper mode, and I expect fiddling from the community and  ArenaNet after the patch drops. There’s no way that this is balanced. It’s “pretty good” though, I feel.

Except with necromancer. There’s still no feeling of “wow, we should get a necromancer on our team so we can [something awesome]”. I am hoping that some of the developers’ decisions on the necromancer’s “purity of purpose” shines through in actual play. Continue reading [GW2] Nec-reaction to the Trait Update Preview

[GW2] Hidden Mechanics: Community and Death Scaling

A Guild Wars 2 Reddit user took it upon themselves to memory-hack Guild Wars 2 to find out what is up with scaling and player death. It seems that the Guild Wars 2 client is actually sent the numbers for the enemy’s health, but those numbers are kept hidden for good reason.

Guild Wars 2 is all about inclusivity, and seeing a number can have a detrimental effect. When a player runs up to hit a mob to help another player this should be a good transaction even if the mob’s health goes up bit. Seeing the mob’s health go up in number is more off-putting than noticing the per-player DPS affects a smaller portion of the over all health as the health bar goes down.

However, there is a secret mechanic, which should not be secret. Or, it should have been kept secret, but now it’s not. How does dying affect scaling? Continue reading [GW2] Hidden Mechanics: Community and Death Scaling

[GW2] Stronghold, Round Two

Tuesday’s Stronghold beta was good. I feel things are moving forward with the polish of the game mode. Mrs. Ravious and I had a lot of fun duo-queuing, and the household stance is we can’t wait for this PvP game mode to go live. However, there are still a few blemishes and a bit of fat for Stronghold.

The Meta Shift

I wrote last time that having a poor amount of player knowledge and meta is probably the worst part of Stronghold. I realize they are still far out in early beta, and a whole weekend or week of Stronghold play just might not be helpful to ArenaNet. Still, there is no time to cement anything player community wise in 24-hours.

The most important aspect of Stronghold that I felt many players seemed to miss was the gameplay shifts. Supply and creeps are especially important in the early stages, and hero summons and lord room rushes are the late game. I found many times players would still be running supply even after all doors were down. I would get a hero, and no one would join me in the push. Players have to be ready to switch gears, and that teaching didn’t take a lot of times, I felt. Continue reading [GW2] Stronghold, Round Two

[GW2] The Verdant Itzel Story (Beta)

Yesterday I was able make portions of the first and second closed beta runs for Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns. I decided rather than try and take in everything in those short two-hour sessions I would laser focus on one thing. The Itzel meta–event chain in northeast Verdant Brink caught my eye, and that is what I did pretty much the entire time.


Each Outpost in the beta had an attached meta-event. The southeast Outpost seemed to be dealing with a Vinecrawler from what I heard in map chat. The Itzel outpost dealt with the hylek (frog people) issues. These meta-events provided a complete story. I will describe the Itzel outpost story in detail below so SPOILER alert. Skip to the next section to remain unspoiled. Continue reading [GW2] The Verdant Itzel Story (Beta)