[GW2] Echoes of the Past, Part 2

Fanfic Warning: This is one of three vignettes I wrote about my main character in the original Guild Wars. Part one can be found here. Part three will drop later this week.

Ravious Pretagata sat on the steps leading to the scrying pool centered in the great Hall of Monuments. It was the only warm place left in the massive Eye of the North. He was alone except for the rainbow phoenix that had chosen to reside in the Hall. Ravious had forgot when the great bird had entered, but he had chosen to leave it alone in any case. The lively plumage of the bird subtly contrasted the Hall’s testament to the dead. Continue reading [GW2] Echoes of the Past, Part 2

[GW2] Echoes of the Past, Part 1

Fanfic Warning: This is one of three vignettes I wrote about my main character in the original Guild Wars. Part two and part three will drop later this week.

The family stood on the edge of the misty Krytan swamp. The eldest son pushed the small wooden boat further in to the murky waters. The boat would carry the body of his father deep into the swamp. The widow held her young daughter at her side a few steps away. They watched as the man they called husband and father was slowly carried away to the darkness. The white of the shroud that wrapped the dead man’s body was the last thing they could see as their torch light strained to remain in contact with the boat. The frogs and crickets seemed to give the man a moment of silence as the swamp’s black swallowed the boat.

Once the funeral ceremony was complete, the son turned towards his mother now as the man of the family. A silent glance upward marked the torch-bearing Priestess of Dwayna awaiting at the top of the hill. The Priest of Grenth had not waited to see the end of the funeral rite. His duties of caring for the dead man had finished when the shroud covered the last of pale flesh and the body was placed on the boat. The Priestess of Dwayna’s duties were far from over as she would have to make sure the family could survive with the gaping hole of a lost father. A lost husband. Continue reading [GW2] Echoes of the Past, Part 1

Shopping By Customers

I recently read An Economist Gets Lunch by Tyler Cowen. Much of the book is advice on finding quality ethnic food (and barbecue) at reasonable prices, whether in the US or in their home countries. Don’t eat in the tourist district, do eat where there are several restaurants of the same type in the neighborhood (until I visited DC, it never occurred to me that you could have a half-dozen Ethiopian restaurants on one block). Being an economist, his insights focus on where the restaurants have the right incentives and efficiencies. A place with great atmosphere is selling that, rather than the food; the tourist district does not worry about repeat customers; American shipping systems are great but really fresh seafood and produce is only available close to the source.

Yes, this is one of those extended metaphor posts that takes an example from another setting and applies it to gaming.

The simplest guide is to look at the customers. If the restaurant has the right people eating there, the food is probably good. Who are the right people? The ones with interests aligned with yours. Continue reading Shopping By Customers


Having played GW1 pretty hardcore for the start of the year, burnout was approaching along with the GW2 BWE. Post-BWE I have basically run out of urge to log in. I’ve seen where we’re heading. It’s right over there. It feels pointless to mill about over here. It’s like cleaning something before you set fire to it. GW1 will still be there, but I have my 30+/50, so the value of Achieving has fallen, and I have Explored almost everything. It’s hard to Socialize when most others seem to be in the same state (or furiously completing their 30 or 50), and who wants to Kill against people with 7 more years of experience? I like the Jade Quarry, but my most effective strategy has become dull.

Cleaning the garage is feeling strongly competitive with MMOs right now.

: Zubon

[GW] The Humans Deserve To Lose

or “NPCs I’m glad are dead for GW2”

On a scale of 1 to suicidal, Prince Rurik is one of the worst escort NPCs in the universe. He’s actually not a bad fighter, but he feels free to dive into large groups of enemies, and if he sees you fighting one group while you try to be his bodyguards, he will take a sharp turn to find more. You must protect him in quite a few missions, and his suicide will lead to mission failure despite the way he dies a completely pointless death a mission or two later. Sara Oakheart from LotRO was a great competitor for “worst escort NPC ever,” as she charged quickly ahead and then cowered, also appearing quite often, but her death meant that you failed an optional side quest, not that the main story arc of the game came to a pause.

I think Nolani Academy is my favorite Rurik moment. He lives in a fort so well planned that a charr scout starts inside and you find the back door by following it out. The idea is to clear the front so that Rurik can come out and proceed safely. If you over-leveled normal mode and are going back, there is a convenient “just let them all come” lever to open the front gate. The problem is that, if Rurik sees you approaching, he will open the front gate to greet you, no matter that there are more than a dozen Charr between you and the gate. That is still the “just let them all come” lever, and Rurik will of course try to solo a dozen enemies that are all higher level than him. The image the game wants you to have is the sneaky skirmisher or assassin, taking out the charr in their encampments, but you are really hiding from the idiot prince.

Many guildmates can be drawn into helping others complete Prophecies just for the chance to kill Prince Rurik when he comes back. I don’t know if GW2 has escort NPCs; I hope not. I don’t know if Undead Rurik will be a dungeon or raid boss in GW2; I hope so. I also don’t know if the charr deserve Ascalon, but the humans certainly deserved to lose it.

: Zubon

Guild Wars 2 Interview with ArenaNet’s Chris Lye

Two years ago, Kill Ten Rats interviewed ArenaNet’s Global Brand Director, Chris Lye, who toed the curtain that would soon unveil the Guild Wars 2 marketing campaign. Since that time, Guild Wars 2 has consistently been a marketing force. For example, mmorpg.com, a major MMO news site, has pegged Guild Wars 2 as the most anticipated MMO even through other big MMO launches. I asked Chris if he would want to follow up on that interview, and he was able to bend space/time to add another hour to last Tuesday to answer. Check out his thoughts on community, the gem store, and big marketing moments below. Continue reading Guild Wars 2 Interview with ArenaNet’s Chris Lye

A Stable Bass

This is one of the occasional music posts, so depart here if those annoy you. This one gets the WoW tag: we have a five-person group with three in the flashy front roles, but I’m focusing on the two in the less visible roles. Rather than one song, our music of the moment is Pentatonix in the third season of The Sing-Off. You can see all their performances in this compilation, but I encourage you to pursue the YouTube links for videos from “mrduckbear11,” who posts clips from the show, because the judges’ commentary is actually useful rather than just “the nice one, the mean one, and the overly excited one.”

The Sing-Off is essentially American Idol a cappella, skipping the part where you humiliate the lousy singers. The winners in the third season were a small, young group that was mostly noted for their interesting and risky arrangements. Five people, three lead singers, lots of interesting sounds. Listen to at least a few, and then listen to a recurring theme in the judges’ commentary: their percussion and beat box are great and tie everything together so that their lead performers can shine. Try starting at 4:30 on OMG or 6:08 on the Forget You/Since U Been Gone mix. Shawn Stockman’s phrase is “meat and potatoes”: they are strong on the fundamentals, not just the flair. Compare that to Delilah, another group from season three that started with one of the best performances in the series but was eliminated after a performance with a brilliant lead but a failure of support. The lead on that is actually better than The Band Perry, but the commentary is on-point: it becomes discordant without a base to stand on. Compare to Ben Folds’s discussion of their first performance, when the support worked well.

Do I need to unpack the analogy at this point? We even have the perfect analogue with a 5-person, 3-DPS group. You need those big, shiny numbers to win, but they don’t matter without your tank and healer. It got me thinking about the offensive line in (American) football: it is an unglamorous role with almost no statistics to support who is better or worse, and the camera is on the guy running the ball, but you can definitely tell when the offensive line fails and the quarterback is crushed before he can try to do anything interesting. If you know to watch, you can see the tank quietly being a superstar, but good support is usually invisible. (Grabbing another game, a friend loves to watch StarCraft replays at LAN parties and should about how the player trying to do something flashy or cheesy gets crushed on fundamentals. Grabbing a third, I still play League of Legends Dominion occasionally; people chase for kills, but capping the points wins the game.)

Do you have a favorite fight where the tanks and the healer really take front stage, rather than seeing people compare kill counts and damage meters? Flip back to the mix video and try 2:53, where the background gets center stage, the a cappella equivalent of a drum solo. Part of the appeal of City of Heroes was how support could be strong, essential, flashy, and featured, while a damage source is a damage source, and then there is the difference in LotRO DPS compared to WoW.

: Zubon

This comes on the eve of the Guild Wars 2 launch, a game eliminating healers and tanks, and I’m nearing the end of my time in Guild Wars playing a ranger as a support class.

A Bad Case of “While I’m Here”

I have several times described myself as making a 5% adjustment to my gameplay in order to work on achievements. That mostly comes through applying a bit of planning and re-arranging my order of content consumption to avoid repetition and grind. I have developed a hatred of being sent back to kill a named enemy that I killed on my way to the quest giver; it is much better to stack incentives if you can foresee it. Guild Wars is particularly good for that because of the rotating Zaishen and other daily quests, so you can plan ahead to combine errands. If you mostly play on the weekends, 5 minutes of picking up quests mid-week can significantly increase your rewards.

Dynamically combining errands, rather than checking upcoming quest lines, is what I call “While I’m Here…” syndrome. I take the Zaishen Vanquish, and I’ll see if I can capture any new elite skills in the zone while I’m here. Maybe I have a quest or two I can advance while I’m here, and I certainly will want to tap the walls to get any cartography points available while I’m here. There could be an outpost I did not need to visit during the main quest line, so I could unlock that while I’m here. And of course if I can get points towards any reputation grinds, I’ll want those while I’m here. Sometimes it starts a bit earlier, because maybe I am here for the Zaishen Bounty, and I notice that I cleared 30% of the zone on the way through, so maybe I should vanquish while I’m here. Hmm, now I have +10% morale, and the next zone over has no adjoining outpost, so maybe I should vanquish that one too while I’m here (or maybe I did that to a previous zone on the way to a vanquish without an adjoining outpost). You can roll this into any quest, dungeon, unlock, etc.: there is probably another goal you can partially advance while you are there.

I find many new players to be very impatient about unlocking their Hall of Monuments points. They got the game two weeks ago, and they need to get to at least 15/50 by the time Guild Wars 2 comes out. Operative phrase: by the time Guild Wars 2 comes out. You get no bonus points for getting it done early. If that is your main point in being here, you should try to minimize your total time consumed, which will mean advancing your various goals efficiently rather than getting a few points quickly and then repeating effort to get the next points. How do you get five HoM points in one day without really trying? Consistently work on several goals and achieve them all at once.

I understand your emotional turmoil at seeing 7 bars 80% full but not completed. Get past it. It will take longer if you rush. You can get most of the may to a lot of titles just playing normally and paying minimal attention to your bonus incentives. “While I’m here” will take care of most of the rest. That last bit is all you need to grind, and there are no extra rewards for having it done before the first day of the early start. I’m right there with you now, looking at my rubies and sapphires and knowing that I could be at 30/50 in one visit to the rare materials vendor, but there are still gem-producing bits of content I want to pursue, so why waste my time and money if I can expect to find a few more along the way? I can instead check the vendor occasionally in case the price dips, try to finish my set of hard mode dungeons, and know that I already have 30/50 in the bag even if it is not on the scoreboard yet.

: Zubon

[GW] Documentation Update

It had previously been documented that when the player sets a flag, NPC heroes will run to it and make it their “home base.” The documentation has been updated to reflect the actual behavior: when the player sets a flag, NPC heroes will run directly into AE DoTs then do laps until they die.

We hope this documentation update will improve your understanding and play experience.

: Zubon