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Archive for July, 2011

A few items that escaped my memory when I made my last post, some of which may have limited interest outside of my husband and myself:

  • As soon as I spawned in the world as a Norn, I promptly ignored my Personal Story and killed a few minotaurs. When I did, I found I could loot Minotaur teeth from them, which, incidentally, are one of the trophies required as part of the Personal Story. “Neat,” I thought. “I’m going to need this later.”

    Yet, when I initiated the Personal Story, I still had a mission to collect a minotaur tooth, and it did not update until I had killed another minotaur and looted a second tooth. Now, I know that in another MMO, I would not have expected to get credit for the tooth until I collected it in its proper time, but more importantly, I would not have expected to be able to even loot the tooth prior to having the requisite task in the first place. Whether this is an oversight or operating by design, I don’t know, but it is a question we plan to raise at PAX. Like an idiot, I did not think to bring it up to Zack, the QA person and Guild Wars Support Forum guru who specifically asked me how I found the demo. I was too busy gushing about the necromancer at the time.

  • Interestingly enough, if you head off to take part in The Great Hunt with Eir and other players are already in the event, the doors are closed to you and you get the following alternative event instead. I wonder if they have put anything similar in for the Human starting area when others are already fighting the giant Earth Elemental boss.

You can take part in this Festive Moot Fight while you await your turn in The Great Hunt

  • I did jump off the side of a steep hill and land on my face. It was hilarious.
  • I forgot to do a /dance emote with my Charr. And I’d really been meaning to.

I cannot express enough gratitude to Katy Hargrove and Matt Barrett who signed copies of their prints for both Mr. Randomessa and me, Andy from the City of Heroes team for the swag, and Zack for offering me the chance to snag another go at the demo, and for just being generally awesome folks.

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Bless the Alienware Mobile LAN Tour. I don’t know how it managed to escape publicity, but the benefit was all mine, as I was able to demo Guild Wars 2 a bit more than I’d expected. I even left to see about getting some SW:TOR playtime in, saw the line stretching around the block, and pivot-turned back to give the GW2 demo another go.

Although I still want to play an Engineer, the things I’d been hearing about its complexity as a profession had me wary of jumping right in with one. I’m a slow burner; I expect to become just about competent with my Engineer by the time I face Zhaitan. I could only embarrass myself given 40 minutes with the class, so for my first moments in GW2 I went with a Norn Warrior. This turned out to be a mistake.

I thought a warrior would give me a nice, survivable character to ease into the game with, but I found melee really difficult without the auto-run to target that I was used to from GW1. It’s just me, and a case of old habits dying hard, but GW1’s auto-run to target is precisely why I don’t play warriors in any other game. I suck at chasing down targets and determining proximity and all that fun stuff. And so I did what I do best in Norn territory, which is flail around ineffectually until stuff died. I did get better, though. By the time I was wrapping things up, I was surviving my run-in with the Broodmother… right up until I ran out of energy from dodging her attacks and she seared me with her fire breath. But, hey, I learned how to dodge!

I then tried a Charr ranger at level 28, but I didn’t do very well because the next computer I was on had terrible glare, either due to my height (very short) versus the screen or the position of the sun or something, and I could barely see anything. My pet died constantly, but I did complete a couple of dynamic events and fought some pirates who kept bombing me into oblivion. This was neat; there was always a huge tell – in this case, the pirate winds up and lobs a bomb – miss that tell and you’ll be standing in the fire. The pirate would often follow that up with a Net Shot so you can stand in the fire even longer and ponder your failure to heed the game’s warning. I’m going to go ahead and blame my impeded vision for this one. I can’t tell whether I’d still like to play a Ranger, since without the pet mechanic really intact, it’s hard to say how I expect it to be.

Finally, I gave a few of the other classes a go; Necromancer, Guardian, and very briefly an Elementalist. The Necromancer really shot up in my rankings after playing it today. Out of all the classes I tried, it felt the most sturdy when push comes to shove and you have dodging malfunctions. Then again, two pets to fire ranged attacks might be contributing heavily to that survivability, and unlike with the ranger pet, they are quick to re-summon instead of revive. I hadn’t been keen on the necro this time around because I found the graphics almost too good; that is to say, creepy and unnerving. I had much less of a problem with it in-game than I thought I would, so I am re-considering the necro’s place in my roster.

I expected to enjoy the guardian, and it didn’t let me down. I played using the scepter because I specifically wanted to try for a ranged, cleric-y feel. That Line of Warding skill is really all kinds of awesome. I don’t think I played it long enough to get a real “feel” for the class, its place in the lore of Tyria. It “felt” just like playing a warrior I sucked slightly less at. I’m not sure how to explain it. As for the Elementalist, I mainly ran one through the Norn starting area simply because I hadn’t seen any video of a female Norn elementalist. So, they exist! That is all. Oh, have this nifty video of her dancing:

Other thoughts and comments:

  • I wondered how I’d take the glowing auras around characters and items. Others have said this, but allow me re-iterate – it’s very unobtrusive in the actual game. I didn’t even find myself actively “noticing” the glowing aura other than to note that red meant an enemy and green was a friendly, etc.
  • “Glide-y” animations: when watching videos of gameplay it sometimes seems to me that characters sort of glide across the ground from time to time as though they’re not really connected to the ground. While I’d still hope this is being worked on and improved, in-game it was not an issue. I specifically went in hoping to note examples, and it never caught my attention in all my demo play.
  • Mood-setting: something really nice that I noticed was a couple of events involving the pirates had a plot setup! That is, the pirates would run up and be invulnerable for a time, while they chatted about their plans and (probably) dropped hints as to what was going to happen and the various ways the event could go. This took place before your “new event nearby” notification popped up, so you could very well stumble upon an event in its preliminary stage and get a head start on thwarting it. I like that.
  • Stuff: I could not stop running around randomly and exploring, completely ignoring the green arrows and stars on my UI. There seemed to be quite a variety of things to do, even barring the dynamic events. Random things pop up in the world, like seeing an egg and picking it up, then finding a broken tree root that is interact-able. A text dialog offers you the opportunity to fix the broken tree root, and then suggests you place the egg you picked up earlier into it. And lo, one of the hearts on the map is partially filled by your efforts.

    Things like this were all over the place, and not marked by the map – even if you’re not paying attention to the hearts, just by interacting with everything you can, you’ll get stuff done and have plenty of things to do. I finally feel like I get it when ArenaNet says there are no quests. I understood it intellectually, but really feeling free to just do anything and not have to worry about whether it’s being logged or you didn’t talk to the right person first so it won’t count or whatever is so very nice. Heck, you can wander off in the middle of it and still get credit for what you did. I just cannot express how cool that is.

  • Dodging was harder than I thought it would be. I was basing my expectations around Champions Online, which has casting-while-moving and a block feature, but blocking is far easier than dodging. As I said above, I did start to get the hang of dodging after a while, but it’s just not something I do much in other games and so required a real re-mapping of my expectations, and learning new things is going to take a while for me. I didn’t even begin to get into the weapon-swapping aspect of it.

    That said, you definitely can choose your difficulty. Fight yellow mobs at your level for the kind of combat where you don’t really have to move a lot to stay alive. But boy howdy, if you want a challenge, take on some of the smarter social mobs a level or two above…. if you don’t dodge them, you’ll get to know your waypoints well (because downed state is not the easy-mode some people think/fear it will be).

  • One last point, following up on what I said above. Playing the demo really drove home to me that Guild Wars 2 is the sum of its parts. It is not a series of gimmicks thrown together just to claim “innovation” or just to do things differently. These features work together and depend on one another.

    Yes, you can heal yourself, but only every so often and not for as much as you might think.

    Yes, you will have to dodge, but the game warns you when something is happening that you can avoid.

    Yes, you can rally from downed state if you kill an enemy, but you have to be pretty close to killing it before you fall, and if it has friends you will likely be downed again or defeated immediately after rallying unless you retreat or change your tactics.

    Yes, you can teleport to waypoints, but these waypoints aren’t terribly close to the action, and they will be disabled if your area has been taken over by a dynamic event full of hostiles.

In closing, I wish I could have stayed longer, but I was hungry, my car was parked ages away in a seedy area, and I wanted to get to it before sundown. Latest news is that Sylvari will be playable at Gamescom (and therefore, PAX) and that is the next thing I will be eagerly looking forward to getting my hands on. My anticipation for GW2 is officially through the roof instead of the roughly roof-like level it was at previously.

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Guild Wars 2 Weekend

Thanks to ArenaNet, who did indeed hear my plea to make Guild Wars 2 demos available to the ticketless this Comic-Con weekend, I will be in San Diego engineering it up on Saturday. Or elementalisting it up. Or necromancing it up. I really am not sure what I’ll decide to play faced with a brand spanking new demo.

If things get exciting, between this and our planned trip to PAX in August, I may even have to start a Twitter account!

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I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. Really, I don’t. The Catacombs dungeon cinematic was a thing of glory, and I reveled in watching 8 minutes of dungeon combat, artfully filmed by ArenaNet and showing off a dazzling array of abilities.

But one thing I’d really, really love for ArenaNet to do is a dungeon walkthrough, much akin to the way they first presented the Thief, and introduced underwater combat. Having seen the Alderaan flashpoint video for Star Wars: The Old Republic, and now the menace lurking in the Savage Coast of The Secret World, I think it would go a long way to demonstrating just how this non-trinity kind of combat works, and actually show off the mobility required in a way that the existing dungeon footage does not. A nice developer voiceover explaining what everyone is doing would put a bow around the whole thing.

Pretty please, ArenaNet? Just one dungeon walkthrough? It doesn’t even have to be through the spoilery bits! Maybe we’ll get it at Comic-Con, or PAX….

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Stop Reading Our Minds

Just the other day, Mr. Randomessa and I were discussing the methods of sharing personal storyline quests in Guild Wars 2 based on the previously-revealed information that said that if I chose a particular path in my storyline and my husband joined me on my quest, he would get karma for helping me, but his own story would be unaffected by my decisions. In this household we preferred this method to one where we could be overruled by other group member choices. However, we wondered what would happen if we happened to make all of the same decisions, from race to backstory to choice of faction. We found ourselves wishing that there was some way we could choose to “sync up” our decisions if we agreed on them, and have them count no matter who was visiting who’s personal story.

Whether we underestimated ArenaNet’s dev process or they simply read our minds, we will never know:

Eric Flannum: Let’s say you and I are playing together and you’re a human and I’m a Norn, we’re playing in human lands and we’re doing your story. What happens is that you’ll get the really cool rewards for the mission but I’m going to get experience and gold and karma for helping you. So every time you complete a story step the game is going to say ‘well this guy helped you’ so we’re going to reward him as well.

Every single story step has awards that it hands out to every person that helped you. If we do happen to be on the same story step then we can choose to – if there were any decisions made during the step – have the outcome count for me as well. If I didn’t agree with the choice you made then I can just say no and go back and redo the mission the way I want to do it.

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Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, shall we? Among my list of games I would play if they were F2P, one just joined in on the fun, and the other will be there by fall. We are at 50% saturation… come on, WAR and Vanguard, you know you want to.

So, 15 months after making this statement, instead of “would I,” the question is “will I?”

The answer is “yes,” and “yes, but.”

I am quite looking forward to being able to pop back in to City of Heroes/Villains with my old “paid” characters; my husband and I had a nice thematic team going, and although I don’t foresee it becoming  our main, default log in each evening kind of game (though nothing really fits that bill at Chez Randomessa), we have plenty of good times ahead of us, I’m sure.

Age of Conan, I’m much less sure about. In the time since last year’s post, I have discovered I have an animosity toward a lot of MMO conventions, and Age of Conan skirts enough of them to significantly dampen its appeal to me. As I stated even then, once the Destiny quest content had petered out, there was little that really held my interest in Hyboria. Perhaps Mr. Randomessa and I will take our characters through the Gateway to Khitai just for the heckuvit. That’s more, at least, than we had before. And if we like it, I wouldn’t be opposed to purchasing the rest of Khitai for us to own and play on our own time!

Also on our desktops is an icon for Fallen Earth, just waiting for the gates to officially open. Mr. Randomessa and I like harvesting for craft materials something fierce… although sometimes we like the comments our characters make when we click on items they are not sufficiently skilled to harvest even more:

“Why’s all the good stuff always inside the rock?”

“Maybe later… when I’m not such a noob.”

My roster also consists of time spent in Wizard 101, on which I have happily and voluntarily spent some cash buying access to areas, and Champions Online, which I am still trying to wrap my head around and can’t quite come to a verdict on whether I enjoy it or think it “meh.”

Oh, but today…. today, we play Hellgate: Resurrection.

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