Posted in Gaming

GW2 Royal Guard Outfit

I’ve done enough grouching about GW2 today, so now I wanna say something nice. The new Royal Guard Outfit we got looks supurb on my baby Guardian, especially with some of the new dyes I picked up. I’ve had a hard time finding a good heavy set of armor for him that works well with red and gold. Not a problem anymore.

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Very dye-able. I like that!

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Posted in Gaming

More GW2 Raid Nonsense

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Reusing this because I like it

In addition to what I wrote on my main blog earlier today, every time I hear something about HoT, it just pushes me further away from GW2. The new MO interview about GW2 proves they’re stepping in the same kind of crap that WildStar would probably warn them against.

Raids are supposed to be super leet and there will be no LFR because PUGs shouldn’t do them.

And he explicitly said no — there will not be one at the launch of HoT, and there are no plans to ever put one in. He emphasized that this was intended to be coordinated endgame content, not something a PUG can tackle.

And, to pour salt into the wounds, they have confirmed that no HoT = No Future Living Story.

Specifically, the Living World story will be only for HoT players. He explained that story itself has moved to Maguuma, and it only makes sense that the new Living World updates will happen over there.

I get it and all, but they better not double dip by forcing people who didn’t buy HoT at launch to purchase back issues of Living Story just because they weren’t there at the beginning for whatever reason, like they have for Season 2. There’s no more of this Living Story is the content crap when you’ve paid for an expansion.

At this point, I’m so discontent with this game’s direction that I can’t be bothered to grouch about it (openly) anymore. Those who read my rants are probably happy to hear that! XD

Posted in Gaming, Guild Wars 2

O Guild Wars 2, Where Art Thou?

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Guild Wars 2 has become like an old college friend whom you kinda lost touch with, only to meet a few years later, and now you can’t recognize them at all.

Note: This is going to be a heavily opinionated piece. 

So, GW2 dropped the bomb this weekend, announcing some major changes to the game. First, the base game is now F2P, and second, raids are being introduced. Both of these elements effect the atmosphere and community of a game so vastly that GW2 is becoming more and more unrecognizable to me now. If I had any curiosity about HOT, it has quickly been squleched for good.

The Original Vision

The Guild Wars series was founded upon the idea of taking a good look at MMOs and seeing where they make things too annoying and time consuming. Then, once that’s identified, take steps to innovate and fix those troubled spots, making a game that’s accessible and fun, especially for casual players.

In GW2, they addressed this by pushing back against the trinity play. Over and over, they noted that you’d never need to wait on a healer because every class could take care of itself in some way. Did this actually end up to be true? Well, I dunno. But the idea was to save time and get you right into game play.

You have waypoints and warping to rob you blind speed up travel. No mounts needed, but also no vast expanses you had to run across to get back to town. Mail is at your fingertips, anytime. Harvest nodes are shared with everyone. Dynamic events don’t require you to group for credit, all you have to do is show up.

The original vision of Guild Wars 2 touted a living and dynamic world. An open world where players would be happy to see another player because people can’t hurt, only help, progress. A game where gear wasn’t king, but skill was. A game where there was no grind to get to the fun. Devs talked about events that could take weeks to cycle through, and the players making changes that mattered.

The Shadow Behemoth in August 2012. Back when he was awesome.
The Shadow Behemoth in August 2012. Back when he was awesome.

In the beginning, when folks were leveling, the dream was real. Players were everywhere, moving through dynamic events. Assisting each other in goals. Leveling and exploring together. Those first few months of GW2 was a casual player’s fantasy, and it was totally awesome! Sure, some events were broken and not doing what they should have been doing, but there was a feeling about the community (I was deeply involved with it) and the world that was open, free, and enticing.

A player like me, who is shy to PUG, could still help and interact. I could still make a difference. And everything really did feel dynamic.

The champions of the dragons came and went on their own whims. People got excited when the Shatterer or Claw of Jormag pre-events kicked off. That was something to write to the Guild Chat about!

Oh! Oh! The dragons are coming! Let’s do this! 

Those are the things that made us ALL feel epic. 

My first Shatterer battle in August 2012
My first Shatterer battle in August 2012

Losing Sight of the Vision

I used to say that you should give an MMO about two years to really mature into the kind of game it would become. I still think that’s true, and GW2 is no exception. It just seems like GW2 tried and tried to experiment with format and development and it, quite frankly, failed in these experiments. It feels like so many things GW2 started out championing, they’ve gone back on.

No expansions! They’ll only release Living Story episodes, which are just as good as expansions! We see where that got them. *cough* Heart of Thorns *cough*

Gear doesn’t matter! There will never be a grind! *cough* Ascended Armor *cough*

Back in August 2013, when there would NEVER be an expansion, and everyone turned out to beat down Scarlet.
Back in August 2013, when there would NEVER be an expansion, and everyone turned out to beat down Scarlet.

Now, with the announcement of raids, I feel there’s a danger of them completely throwing out the whole concept of large, dynamic open world events. Why work so hard to scale something a whole zone has to cooperate to beat when you can reel it back in for a 10-man instance instead? Much easier to develop (and monetize), I’m sure.

What happened to accessibility? Why do you suddenly feel the need to develop content that is “challenging” and “difficult” instead of “engaging” and “fun”?

No, I’m not going to argue about how a small group of leet players banging their head up against a raid-progression wall is someone’s form of fun. But the point is, that’s not what GW2 was originally supposed to be like! It rooted for accessibility, so that everyone could enjoy the content (with the exception of terrible dungeons).

And what happened to originality? Uh, sure, it’s innovated that you’re trying to squeeze a non-trinity group makeup into a raid environment (To quote Trahearne: This won’t end well.), but raiding is nothing new when it comes to MMOs.

Just about every MMO has raids. But not every game allowed me to take part in defending Lion’s Arch against an invasion. Or working with a whole zone to take down a huge army and then a boss. Even though I don’t think much of the story elements of the Living World, I can’t deny the experiences were some of the most memorable I’ve had… because they were large-scale, free-form, and inclusive.

Heck, I was able take my level 15 character to the battle in Lion’s Arch, be upscaled to level 80, and still have a good time with the event, getting some loot and levels to boot! They’ve taken that part of the game away from us now that the Living Story requires level 80 characters and mostly takes place in tiny, constrictive instances.

Sorry, but no raid is ever going to come close to being as epic as this. Look at all those PEOPLE on the bridge back there!
Sorry, but no raid is ever going to come close to being as epic as this. Look at all those PEOPLE on the bridge back there!

What happened to dynamic? When the megaserver change hit, all the large dynamic events were also shoved on specific timers. There’s no more mystery and excitement for when Jormag or Tequatl show up. You now just come to meet him at the exact same time every night. Really?

I guess raids were just the next logical steps to all this. And it makes me disappointed. It’s like GW2 is moving backwards instead of innovating forwards. I really do feel they’ve failed to hold on to the vision that made GW2 something different from the rest… and now they’re trying to spin raids into something new and exciting.

Feasibility

My first thought is how the heck is this even going to work? I remember the pain that was dungeons in GW2. With no real healer class, and every class meant to take care of itself, it was such a bad experience for me that I almost wrote off MMO dungeons for good. Thank you to FFXIV for redeeming them for me.

I can only imagine the pain of raiding in GW2 with this “amazing” active battle, “mechanics,” and no trinity. I remember the long, tedious boss fights in dungeons which often led to being in the downed state almost constantly. If any of your party members tried to rez you, the boss would automatically focus fire on that person, and then there would be two down. After they forced you to pretty much wipe the party to rez again (no rezzing at the waypoint when other party members are in battle), I quit dungeons.

Back in the days you could actually do dungeon content at the level you unlocked it.
Back in the days you could actually do dungeon content at the level you unlocked it.

The sad thing was, they gated story behind those dungeons. And though they said they’d do something to make the story modes a bit easier, they never did. Still, till this day, if you actually try to do a AC at level 30, when it actually opens to you, you’ll be lucky to find a party that won’t auto-kick you for not being 80. :/

That leads me to the biggest concern about adding raids to GW2: the inevitable raider mentality.

Raiding Mentality and Community

GW2 was originally a beautiful experience because it was built to be inclusive. If anyone thinks that raiding in GW2 is going to be inclusive, I have a plot of land in Lion’s Arch to sell you where you can build your personal home. Personal homes are being released in HoT, right? Right? 

The raid announcement stressed again and again this content would be difficult. Challenging. And rewards will be legendary.

To me, this just keeps saying Leet! Leet! Leet!

And the moment the word raid is murmured, the community starts to divide between those with Ascended gear and Legendary weapons (all which aren’t supposed to matter) and the scrubs who have not.

Take this post for example, aptly titled “Hardcore” folks dont want “casuals” pugging.

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Hardly even got the announcement out and already “hardcore” people are ragging on the “casuals”… who GW2 was originally made to appeal to! What’s it gonna be like when raids are actually in?

Update: The devs have confirmed in this MO interview that they agree with the above “hardcore” mentality.

I asked about a group-finder system for raids — whether there is one in HoT or will be in the future. And he explicitly said no — there will not be one at the launch of HoT, and there are no plans to ever put one in. He emphasized that this was intended to be coordinated endgame content, not something a PUG can tackle.

This attitude has pretty much decided things for me. I haven’t been playing GW2 much beyond logging in daily for the rewards and using the free tomes to level characters to 80. I’ll probably keep doing this just because I’m a completest and I’d like to get those few remaining characters I rolled 3 years ago to 80. Go figure.

Fare thee well, GW2. Call me when you're a game that I'd enjoy playing again.
Fare thee well, GW2. Call me when you’re a game that I’d enjoy playing again.
Posted in Blaugust, Gaming

What’s on my Phone? ~ #Blaugust Day 30

This is part of the Blaugust series!

I was late to adopt a smartphone, and for many, many years, I didn’t need one. It wasn’t until my sister and her husband picked up iPhones a few years ago and started lauding their uses that I became interested. So, I took the plunge and bought the iPhone 5S on release day. It’s the phone I still use till today, and I really don’t have any intention of changing anytime soon, even though it’ll be turning 2 years old next month (?)

I actually don’t play a huge number of games on my phone. That being said, there are a few that have stood the test of time… usually being something I can quickly log into and do while my computer is booting up every morning.

Continue reading “What’s on my Phone? ~ #Blaugust Day 30”

Posted in Blaugust, Gaming, Writing

I’m Writing for MMOGames ~ #Blaugust Day 29

This is part of the Blaugust series!

mmogameslogoI realized from Murf’s comment from when I shared my most recent column published at MMOGames.com that I never officially announced that I’m writing there. So, I guess I’m officially announcing that I’m writing there, in particular for the Eorzean Evening Post column. I kinda kept it quiet, aside from sharing posts on social media, because I wasn’t quite sure how this would work out. The kind folks there keep posting my writing, so I guess I must be doing something okay! ^^;

The Eorzean Evening Post is a weekly column, usually posted on Tuesdays, dealing with topics in the FFXIV world, which I hope I’m fairly equip to tackle. It’s been a while since I’ve done freelance writing, so I was both excited and nervous to take the position when it was offered to me.

While the posts may look like something similar to what I might post on a personal blog, the truth is freelancing is a whole different sort of writing when compared to blogging. With a blog, if you don’t have a topic to write about or you just don’t feel like writing for a few weeks, you can set it aside. With freelancing, you have deadlines to meet, whether you feel like writing or not. And while picking a topic is up to me, I do have an editor that comes behind me who changes what they feel needs changing to better match the content the site is looking for.

I think my biggest fear is running out of ideas to write. As bloggers who have pushed through Blaugust may have experienced, when you are blogging under the pressure of a deadline, it feels far easier to draw a blank on what in the world to write about. I’m not sure why that is – if you leave me to my own devices, I usually don’t have a problem finding something to write about… but the moment you slap a deadline on something, that changes the whole game.

I’ve started to use Evernote to jot down article ideas when they occur to me. That way, I hope if I ever do hit a dry spell, I have a list of prompts I can pull from somewhere down the line.

I also want to note that I’m not the only blogger-friend who is writing for MMOGames! Here’s a few other folks that I’m aware write for the site (sorry if I miss anyone!)

So I seem to be in very good company!

Posted in Ark, Gaming

ARK: Meet the Flintstones

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Now that I’m shaking off the effects of Blaugust (I have the rest of this month’s posts queued to go on my other blog), I hope to get back to posting here more regularly. So, let’s start with last night’s ARK session.

The tribe wanted to restart the island and try a different starting location, so I learned how to wipe the server and we all started from scratch. This time, instead of naming the tribe myself (Ooga Booga), I took suggestions. And, well we became…

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Though, most of us didn’t follow canon naming conventions. Just Mr. Barney Rubble pictured above. XD

This time, we were armed with more information about what to do and how to progress. We made our home between some hills and piranha-infested waters. I think we had more deaths to piranha than anything else last night. In fact, Syn (known as Rawr in this game) was on a mission of vengeance to make piranha an endangered species before the night was over.

I conducted impromptu animal taming lessons for the tribe, which resulted in a flock of tamed dodos outside our house. Over the course of the night, they obtained different names as tribe members learned they could rename other people’s pets.

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We got lucky to set up camp near a consistent supply drop area. The first box gave us building materials that got our little house off to a good start. Help from the tribe built up the rest of it. Good enough base for now.

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My ultimate goal of the night was to recapture my Para mount, Happy. I managed to tame one Para, but at a good distance away from the base. As I was leading her back to the camp, I heard the sound of battle music. Next thing I knew poor Happy was chow for a Carno.

This was the first time I’d run up against this kind of dino. It was big, mean and very aggressive, charging at me with its horn. I seriously thought I was dead, but somehow I managed to kill it with my spear… just a little life left to me. Looting it provided me with a ton of hides (which we needed for a bed), and the rest which I used to prepare a Para saddle for my next mount opportunity.

This happened sooner than I expected, when I caught a Para up against a cliff. I managed to tame it, take it home and saddle it up. Yes! Happy has returned!

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One of the things I want to note is the amazing speed at which this development team is pumping out patches. This week alone has seen at least 3 patches that I know of, including two new dinos (not taking into account last week’s new creature addition). Updating the server takes a while, and there’s no way I’m even near experiencing any of this new content, but I’m not complaining at all.

We’ll see how this new tribe progresses, though it’ll probably be slowly since we have to gather together around work and other things.

Posted in Gaming

FunCom’s The Park ~ #Blaugust Day 28

This is part of the Blaugust series!

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News was released this week that FunCom is planning to launch a solo game called The Park this fall. One glance at the images and at the trailer shows a lot of similarities to the amusement park in The Secret World.

A few months back, TSW community was saddened as FunCom moved Joel Bylos from off the team for another project. He reassured players that TSW story would continue and that it would be just as top-notch horror as it’s always been. It seems that this is where his creative mind was shifted to.

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While I always found the park on Solomon’s Island a bit annoying, that was mostly because of the enclosed area and the densely spawning enemies within it. I was quite eager to figure out the story and puzzles within the park, and those pesky carnies were in my way!

Overall, I’d say that The Park is something to look forward to right around Halloween this year. It seems like the first time a team has plucked a specific area of a MMO zone from a game and spun it into its own stand alone story. I always enjoyed the story aspect of TSW most, so I’ll be keeping my eye on this one. I know that I want to support FunCom as much as I can, and this may be one way to do it.

Posted in Blaugust, Blogging, Geek Stuff

My D&D Alignment ~ #Blaugust Day 27

This is part of the Blaugust series!

I thought that StarShadow’s post about D&D alignment was interesting, so I also took the online quiz for myself, and not any of my characters. I haven’t played D&D seriously, though I used to dabble in it with my sister when we were much younger. I know I have some old D&D books hanging around somewhere, though. I’ve never considered what my own alignment would be.

So, after taking the test, I ended up with Neutral Good.

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The site notes:

A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. The common phrase for neutral good is “true good.” Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias toward or against order.

–excerpted from the Player’s Handbook, Chapter 6

I’d say this fits me, and the majority of the hero-type characters I write, fairly well. I feel that though laws and ruler ship are there to provide order and structure, they are fail-able and corruptible human things. Doing good doesn’t always mean you follow the rules, but that you sense the most pressing needs of people and tend to them based on the situation and with compassion.

Or, in the words of the wise KluYa of FFIV:

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Yes, I made an animated gif just for this post. XD