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Veni, Vidi, Vici

May 14th, spent the whole Stress Test playtime cruising around through WvW. In this post I’m going to tell you a bit more about my experience in WvW this Monday (I’ve taken some Screenies, hooray!) and drop some knowledge on WvW in general, stick around.

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During the first Beta Weekend Event I did not have enough time to play WvW. I decided I wanted to explore a bit more of the initial PvE experience first, play the two classes I was most excited about (Elementalist and Warrior) and then, maybe, play some WvW. I can’t say I regret my choices, but this monday I realized WvW is probably the coolest PvP format I’ve ever experienced, it was well worth the 4+ hours of playtime I dedicated to it, hell, playing WvW only 4+ hours straight is way too little!

Before I start with WvW, I should say I also created another character. I wanted to try out a different class and so I ended up creating a Norn Guardian. I skipped most of the character creation process, not because I wasn’t interested but because 1) I realized I would be spoiling my experience at release and 2) I didn’t have much time to play, so I wanted to get my hands on the gameplay as soon as possible. The Norn starting zone seems interesting, the tutorial got my fighting against a big minotaur-bull kind of thing surrounded by other smaller fellows, which was an interesting fight. After that I fought the initial boss, a giant blue worm (forgot the name of the species). Suffice it to say, the bastard went down. I’d say ArenaNet could change just a little thing about that tutorial experience, instead of making it “Hunt an X, Y or Z” make it “Hunt an X, Y and Z”. I was expecting having to fight a few monsters, so when I noticed it was over after killing the first one I felt like… it was a bit poor. Other than that, it was about as cool as the human starting experience, and that is a good thing.

That’s a big ass worm!!

My Norn is a Viking 😀

I eventually got a bit “bored” with my new character and decided to log into my Elementalist. I didn’t realize how much I had missed him. It’s funny, I knew I missed the game, but not my character. This has only happened to me two times, and the other was when I was playing WoW 6 years ago.. That’s a good sign 😉

Don’t worry, I’m here

So on to World versus World!! Before the BWE, I had not read much about WvW. I knew the very basics of it, but there was a lot of things I did not know about. For instance, and this might sound really dumb, but it was not until a few days after the BWE that I found out WvW is not fought on one hug map with 4 subzones. After doing a bit of reading and watching a few Youtube videos I discovered it’s actually fought in 4 different zones, without connection between each other other than portals. Another thing I did not know about and did not understand in the BWE were Siege Weapons and the Supply system. Understanding these concepts is essential if you want to have a fun and successful experience in WvW.

Siege weapons are feature the usual suspects. If you ever played any Historial RTS (think Age of Empires) you probably know what Catapults, Trebuchets, Ballistae, Rams and Cannons are. Then there’s also Arrow Carts, Mortars, Pots of Boiling Oil and Siege Golems. Each weapon has a different strength. For instance, with an arrow cart you can wipe out large groups of enemy players pretty quickly at a moderate range, while with a Flame Ram you’ll deal massive damage to Gates at very short range. Another thing that differentiates the weapons is their objective. Some are used to defend structures while others are meant to be offensive. Of course there’s some flexibility, for instance you can use the arrow cart in both styles as it is very effective either way.

Trebuchet getting ready to fire…

… and BOOOOM

In order to get a Siege Weapon ready to fire you first need to acquire it’s blueprint. These are one-use items you buy from specialized NPC’s in WvW. You can find Siegemasters at your team’s base and you can also hire them to your keeps and to Stonemist Castle. I’m not sure if you can hire them for your towers, but I don’t think so. The blueprints cost a few silver coins, except for the Siege Golem blueprint, which costs 1 gold. Of course these are BWE and Stress Test prices, but I think it’s safe to assume Siege Golems will cost more. Note that not all weapons can be built with blueprints. Only Arrow Carts, Ballistae, Siege Golems, Catapults, Trebuchets and Flame Rams can be built with blueprints. The other weapons are built on structures and require Sctructural Upgrades from the Quartermaster avaiable in the Keep / Castle.

After that you’ll need to gather supplies to set the weapon up. Supplies are resources mined at Supply Camps scattered around the maps. Near a Tower or Keep there’s almost always a Supply Camp. These work just like the Towers and Keeps, in the sense that they can be conquered and controlled by the player teams. Once a team gains control of a resource camp, every few minutes a Dolyak will spawn carrying supplies to the nearest tower(s) or keep(s). This generates a Dynamic Event that requires you to defend your dolyak or attack it if they’re an enemy. I don’t know how much supply a dolyak carries on each route, but I’d guess it’s a decent number.

After the dolyak provides the tower/keep with supply, players can now pick some up from the supply depot. Each player can carry at maximum 10 units of supply, and that is the amount you pick up every time you go to a depot (unless, of course, you don’t have 0 supply on you; if you have 5 supply then you only pick up 5 units from the depot). These supplies are used in a number of different tasks: you can use it to build a siege weapon, to repair a siege weapon (I’m not 100% sure about this), to repair structures like walls or gates and, last but not least, it’s also used by Tower / Keep workers when they build structural upgrades on the objective.

Dolyak delivering supply

I didn’t get to play with many different Siege Weapons, but I got the feeling they were all pretty much well done and balanced. Sometimes I’d get 1 shot out of the blue by a cannon miles away, but it didn’t make me think cannons in particular were overpowered, it makes sense honestly. If you get hit by a massive cannon ball that is speeding down towards you, what are the chances of surviving? Besides, most of the siege weapons, offensive or defensive, can be destroyed fairly easy with cooperation between players, so they need high damage to compensate for that. All in all, siege weapons are an essential component of victory, as without them you’ll see yourself mindlessly bashing at a gate for hours and notice you’re still not even half way through the health bar. Siege Weapons deal massive damage to structures and are key to breaching the defenses and conquering objectives for your server. On the other hand, they might also be just the thing you need to hold your structures, and they are particularly helpful when you are at number disadvantage.

I did get a bad feeling about WvW though. I got the idea that no one (at least on my server) was defending. You know, it seemed like people were just zerging around to the nearest objective. Ok, we had most objectives dominated, and it was just Beta, and not everyone understands WvW yet, and there wasn’t much organisation between the players and people just wanted to play. I get it. I hope when the game is released I see strategy and planning being a much more central and important piece of WvW. I’d hate it if it just became like Alterac Valley: a mindless zerg to the objectives.

The Eternal Battlegrounds are ours!

There are still a few (dare I say many?) problems and bugs with WvW, but I think it’s nothing that won’t be fixed soon. ArenaNet could and should make some improvements to how WvW info is delivered to players, how they are directed to interest points, etc. For instance, I was at Lion’s Arch trying to decide which map to go to but since there’s no information about WvW outside of it (apart from the scoreboard), I felt it was a matter of luck. I wanted to find fights going on, but there were big chances everyone was clustered in a single map because of the very short time to play. There’s even problems finding battles inside a map. The orange swords system is interesting, but it’s far from perfect and the small green dots indicating players should be noticeable from a greater distance, it felt like I could only see the green dots when I had the players in my field of vision, and that’s not very helpful.

At the end of the day, World versus World is definitely on my top 5 reasons to love Guild Wars 2. The gameplay is awesome (as it is in the rest of the game), there’s enough room for immense planning and strategizing battles (which is something I have direly searched for) and the rewards you get from participating in WvW are interesting too. Couple that with the excitement of PvP and the challenges WvW presents in terms of battle balance and you got a winning PvP format if you ask me. I’m dieing to get my hands on some WvW action again, I thought the Stress Test would sooth my GW2 addiction but it only made it worse!!

Until next time Stonemist Castle

PS: I took a couple screenies with max Graphic settings like the one above, this game looks so amazing, It’s a shame my computer would probably melt down if I tried playing Guild Wars 2 on full settings 😛

End Game Content

This time around I’m discussing something that I was a huge fan of when I played World of Warcraft: end-game content and raiding. It’s something a lot of people work towards to, while a lot of other people dismiss. Another breaking point in an MMO, it seems the discussion is taking epic proportions with Guild Wars 2.

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What is end-game content anyway? The most common answer is “instanced dungeons you experience at maximum level, that requires some degree of equipment quality and proper team composition”. There are many other definitions or complements to this definition (such as Faction, Achivement and Profession grinding, among others), but I feel this is what most people think of when they hear/read end-game content, so I’ll discard those alternatives in this discussion (I’m also excluding PvP for now, that’s worthy of a whole post).

How has this been achieved in other games? Let’s take a look at WoW. When you get to maximum level you’re objective stops being leveling up and is now (among other things) getting better equipment for your character. Most common route is to do 5-man dungeons so you can get a decent minimum level in order to advance to harder 5-mans or start raiding. It was like this in 2006 and I would bet it hasn’t changed significantly since then.

Now, lets look at Guild Wars 2 and see what can we expect from it. I wasn’t able to find any Official post or article or news bit about this (although I’m 99% sure I did see it somewhere, sometime…), but I’ve read it from a lot of sources and it seems to be the general acceptance: there are no raids in Guild Wars 2. 

This is that sentence that has generated so many heated arguments around the Interwebs. Now, I didn’t say there is no “end-game content” I just said there are no “raids“, as in there are no dungeons designed for 10-40 players size groups, which, to my knowledge, aren’t even possible to form. Even so, this has put a lot of people off, people that are used to the WoW system. For a long while people will be comparing, as they have been, any MMORPG title to WoW. But Guild Wars 2 isn’t like any other MMORPG. And yes, Guild Wars 2 will have a lot of end-game content. First there’s the 5-player dungeons, each with 4+ different paths and events, making it 4 different dungeons to be honest. Then there’s the giant boss encounters throughout the game. And this is where ArenaNet’s Sidekick system will make a stand regarding end-game: since you get sidekicked down to match the recommended level range for the zone you’re in, any boss encounter made for lower level zones (like the Shadow Behemoth in Queensdale, The Shatterer from GamesCom 2010 or Tequatl the Sunless in a more recent event) will still be hard and fun for you. This is maybe a weird concept to grasp: end-game content at early- and mid-game.

The Shatterer

Tequatl the Sunless

But having raid encounters anyway wouldn’t hurt right? I have to say it’s something I think I will miss as well. Raids feel epic and that’s something really important in fantasy games, MMO or not. Fighting giant evil monsters alongside 30 or 40 other players is cool, there’s no escaping that. But there’s another thing that I feel makes raids (as we know them at least) not viable in Guild Wars 2 , and that is the removal of the “holy trinity”. Not having the “normal” damage soakers (Tanks) coupled with the healing bots completely turns raiding upside down. I’m not saying it’s not possible, hell I’m sure ArenaNet could make it work, but it breaks a design orientation that ArenaNet follows (read below). Would I love to see it in Guild Wars 2? Yeah definitely. Can I live without it? Sure I can.

I think the bottom line is understanding how ArenaNet is building this game. It will not be another WoW clone, doing the same things with different names and characters, it’s going to be a whole different game, I dare saying a whole different genre. This is a game focused on the social side of MMORPG, on enjoying a fun multiplayer game with your friends. Eric Flannum said in an interview some time ago that levels in Guild Wars 2 are more progress markers than power markers. It might be hard getting used to this idea if you just started following this game, but in time I’m sure you will stop comparing GW2 to WoW (or most other MMO’s really) and realize it’s like comparing apples to cars. To quote Eric Flannum, “we don’t want people to feel like the game only starts when you reach max level“. That is why we get to fight the Shadow Behemoth at level 15 out in an open area. That idea summarizes this post very well I believe.

What do you think? Will Guild Wars 2 be able to keep players interested without having raids? Do you think we’ll see high level players travel to lower level areas to specifically fight bosses like Tequatl and the Shatterer? Post your thoughts below 😀

Why did my max health suddenly drop?

I’ve been browsing the official Guild Wars 2 forums for a while and came across a topic that many players seem to be worried about. Content scaling is a feature ArenaNet decided to include in GW2 and it’s purpose is to allow players to play with their friends without restrictions and keeping it fun. Let’s take a look at it.

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The first time I heard of Content Scaling (in this video by Alexrediculous) I was pretty excited with it. ArenaNet’s idea of getting players playing together without restrictions is in line with their mentality regarding the rest of the game and it’s a good thing. I sure missed this feature in WoW back in 2006. I had my best friend playing the game with me, but I was a lot higher level than him, so everytime I took time away from leveling to go help him out I’d be missing precious experience and although feeling good for helping him out it was also a bit boring.

So how does Content Scaling work? ArenaNet’s system (actually called the Sidekick system) is something I’ve experienced first hand when I was playing the Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend Event. Basically what it does is it scales your power down to the match the recommended level range of the zone you’re in. It’s not really the content that is scaling, it’s you. You’ll be less powerful than you really are, have lower health (it’s probably the first sign you’ll notice) and deal less damage. This way you won’t just walk over the content in the lower level zone you’re in, you’ll have somewhat the same challenges as the rest of the lower level players. You keep all the skills you’ve unlocked and gear pieces you’ve acquired (even if they have their stats diminished) so it won’t be as hard as to new players, but you won’t see yourself gathering all the mobs around and casting a single AoE to clear them all.

While playing scaled down you’ll still be getting experience points as if you actually were at the recommended level of the zone. I didn’t do any testing as to compare the rate of experience gained while being at my “normal” level to the rate while scaled down, but I assume it will still be a bit lower. But anyway, you’re not supposed to level from 1 to max in the same area, you’re supposed to go out and explore the world. Besides, how boring would that be?

ArenaNet says: play with your friends! Meanwhile you can impress new players with your awesome equipments!

Back in earlier beta builds the Sidekick system also worked the opposite way. It was possible for lower level players to join their high level friends in high level zones. They would get boosted to the approximate level for the high level zone they were in, getting a boost in stats as well. This side of the system was scrapped by ArenaNet in more recent builds without any official reason, as far as I know. I can think of two main reasons for this: one it could lead to players skipping a lot of content to go level up in high level zones, where they can also get access to high level items and materials; second I guess that boosting can present problems in terms of mechanics and such. I wasn’t really too fond of Sidekicking up anyway, if I can get boosted to max level what are the incentives to stay in lower level zones? It was a good thing the developers got rid of it.

There’s some players worried about this system. Some people say that Sidekicking is sort of punishing players for leveling up and it limits player choice. I strongly disagree with these arguments. This system is really cool if you ask me. I have an altoholic friend and this feature guarantees I can always play with him and not feel like I’m missing out on stuff. It also allows me to go back to earlier parts of the game and experience things I haven’t had the opportunity to experience before. In either case I can be sure I will have fun playing the content, and that’s what I bought the game for. I see no downside to this system, good job ArenaNet!

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A big shoutout to Blackhydra866 @ for the support 😀

Check out my Gear! /flex

Tonight I focus on Gear in Guild Wars 2. The way I see it, there’s two real topics on this. First, how should the gear system work? As in, should the game follow the standard MMO method in which ultimately the character’s power is very deeply influenced by his gear, or should it follow it’s predecessor’s method of making gear a secondary thing? Second, what methods should there be to obtain gear and how should it be distributed across the different methods.

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I believe this is another one of those community splitting topics. On one side you have the guys defending the “traditional” gear system, where you keep obtaining better and better gear as you progress in the game which allows you to deal more damage, heal better, tank better etc., which in turn makes possible trying to clear harder content for newer and better equipment, and from the top again. On the opposite side there’s the guys argumenting that gear should not be a stamp to a player’s skill. They believe gear plays a secondary role in an MMO (or should play) and that a player’s power should come from his skill and not his gear (think Guild Wars 1 on this). The way I see it, there is no really universal truth, no right or wrong side on this matter. It’s a matter of opinion.

On one hand I think gearing up is always an incentive, somehow, to keep playing as it feels like the game is rewarding me for the time I invested in it and in my character. It felt awesome when I got upgrades for my Tauren Warrior back in the day. Besides, it’s something that makes sense, as your character progresses and develops, he/she will want better equipment to reflect his/her higher level of knowledge and power. Gear also serves as a way to further customize your character, allowing you to make options that further differentiate your character from those of the same class.

On the other hand it’s also true that gear tends to become a very proeminent indicator of a character’s power, sometimes the only one. This is a bad thing. We all know one’s gear isn’t always a viable indicator of one’s power. We have all had that dude in one of our groups that had those amazing pieces of equipment but was actually pulling your group back. There’s another problem. Above I said gear also served as further customization. But in fact, quite often do you see people (yourself included maybe?) become more and more alike the other players of the same class, as gear choices tend to funnel down as you move towards higher difficulty content.

Check out that gear! “We’re all unique!!”

Trying to come up with an objective answer as to what is the better system is, in my perspective, impossible. It’s time to take on the second issue regarding gear and equipment.

Where should it come from? For a lot of people, gear comes from loot. Period. These are the dudes that you see running the same dungeon(s) time and time again to get upgrades or the more-than-casual raiders. I remember back in 2006 WoW was like this. There were a few equipment-crafting professions but they would almost always be overshadowed by loot, for two main reasons. For one, the “upgrades” they provided would get outdated pretty soon; second, crafting high level gear required a lot of investment, be it gold or time (most often both). Creating professions that require high amounts of grinding to get compensations that would in fact become obsolete rather soon, is a big mistake if you ask me.  “Recently” in WoW (anything higher than 1.12 is recent to me, pardon my ignorance) a “new” way to get gear was introduced, trading gear for points. These points would be acquired in certain dungeons and/or raids and would be tradable for certain pieces of equipment in specialized merchants. I always felt sad whenever I would read about this. To me it’s very un-MMO-y. I feel it kind of tells players “Hey there’s this dragon over there, go kill it so you can get awesome stuff from this Merchant right here!!”. Know what I mean? The dragon is now somewhat secondary. I know they still kept loot on the bosses themselves and you needed a Token for the vendor gear, something that had already been used in a way when the original Naxxramas (patch 1.11) was introduced. But still…

As far as I’m concerned, Guild Wars 2 should follow a hybrid between the two gear systems (standard MMO vs GW1-style). I feel none of the systems is really better than the other, so a mixture of both seems ideal. Keeping gear’s rewarding nature without allowing stats to feel a mandatory thing to min-max in your character. From what I’ve seen of GW2, I think the developers followed this idea. I enjoyed the rare upgrades I found along my path, but never did I really really notice a deep impact equipment X had on my gameplay. Plus, the trait system seems to have higher impact on my stats than gear. So we get the best of both worlds!  Of course you could argue I’ve only seen a very very small amount of game and equipment. True, but I have faith!

Regarding the source of gear, I’ve always loved Crafting. To me it’s sad that some crafting professions are abandoned or simply not picked because they don’t really offer anything interesting. I didn’t get a chance to give GW2’s crafting system a decent look, but I plan to in the future. I’ve read and heard good things about it, so let’s see how it ends up. The ideal way of delivering equipment to players, in my honest opinion, should be a mix between Loot and Crafting. “But wait, you said you “loved” Crafting?”. Yes I love the idea of players being able to craft at least some of their gear and give them the possibility of trading with other crafters for pieces they cannot create. But not everyone wants to dedicate time to crafting. I’m actually a bit like this. Maybe it’s because I’m used to a grindy crafting system, but sometimes I don’t really want to spend time gathering materials to craft a piece of equipment, even if it is a solid and lasting upgrade. Besides, loot is always a good thing if you’ve just killed a boss. There are (a lot of) people that get enough rewards in knowing they overcame the challenge, maybe they even did it with friends which boosts the reward feeling they get from beating it. But not everyone thinks the same way, and loot is somehow a “one size fits all” reward, everyone likes new stuff.

You no take skills!

When I was younger I used to torture flies by ripping out their wings and burning them with a magnifying glass. How does this relate to my blog? I have no idea whatsoever. In this installment I’ll take a look at your action bar and how ArenaNet is an evil company striving to prive MMO players from their acquired rights!

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If you ever played an MMO game before you are probably familiar with this: the Spellbook. This is the UI element that contains all the info about your skills and spells. There you pick the ones you want or need, drag them to your action bar and go stomp on things. This is how 99% of the MMO’s work regarding skills. And, surprise surprise!, Guild Wars 2 does it differently.

In this (awesome) game, you lose the ability to select the skills you want to use. “Wait, WHAT??!” That’s right, ArenaNet has prived you of one of your most basic rights as an MMO character! By forcing you to accept the skill choices they made they are in fact neglecting your right (and need!) for customizing your character and playstyle. Now before you go flame their Twitter account, read this: It’s actually a really fun and interesting feature, so don’t be turned off by the small size of the action bar (you got a dirty, dirty mind!!).

In most other MMO’s your character is given a number of skills throughout the game depending on your class choice. At level one you have maybe 2 different skills, by the time you get to max level you’ll have a lot more. The specific number varies from game to game, but I believe it’s safe to assume by max level you can expect having 30+ different skills and spells. But, in all honesty, who uses over 30 different skills? It’s true that with the now very common Talent feature, you end up focusing on one school or type of skills, but even then it’s not granted you’ll use all of the skills relating to your talent choices. What’s more, quite often the talents you choose end up giving you extra skills!

I’m really only using half my spellbook

Let’s try this, go log in to one of your MMO characters and count the number of skills and/or spells you have avaiable. Now count the number of skills and spells you have in your action bar(s) and compare the two. I bet you that the former is greater than the latter. And furthermore, that is most likely what happens with every other player around you, on your server and in the game itself. Some might say there’s not really a problem with that, you’re given a lot of different skills, some of them with a very specific use others with general and broad utility, there’s no downside to that. I’m forced to agree on that, aside from maybe (it’s a remote chance) giving players a bit of work browsing through the spellbook, there’s not really a problem. Or is there? There might be, read on.

Why did ArenaNet decide to give players diminished privileges regarding skill choice? In my opinion, ArenaNet is trying to induce playstyle choices on players. They are trying to make the Engineer A play different then the Engineer B. As in, they want each class to feel unique when compared to the other classes yet still allowing players to play their character they way they want to. I was very interested in this when I first heard of it and playing the Beta Weekend made me fall in love (yet another time) for the game. As I mentioned before my favourite class archtype right now is the Mage, which in GW2 takes the form of the Elementalist. Yet I’ve also always been very passionate about Warriors (not the GW2 profession, the archtype). But the gap between the two meant I never could enjoy them both. ArenaNet scraps that and tells me “Hey, you want to play a melee mage? Sure, take a look at this fella right here, he’s an Elementalist wielding dual daggers, try him out”.

So how does the developers’ intentions of having a number of different playstyles in each character relate to having a (some might say very) limited choice of skills for your action bar? Couldn’t they just give us those skills and nevermind the weapons we use? By limiting our choices ArenaNet is in fact making every warrior who decides to use a two-handed hammer play the same way. Some insight has been given my ArenaNet developer’s here regarding this issue. But a piece of that post made me think of a problem that some players might have with this. By making some of the work for players by giving them pre-built viable builds, the problem of differentiating good players from bad players arises. In Guild Wars 1, apparently, a part of being a good player was coming up with a good build. Ok you can look it up on the internet, but if you do you’re at least trying to become better, and that’s a sign of being good in my opinion. If everyone has a viable build already, that margin of evolution in one’s skill vanishes. In response to this argument, I believe granting that to players is actually a good thing. Facing a huge number of different skills can be overwhelming to new players and to me it’s boring and un-fun having to browse the internet for the “acceptable builds”. It’s as if I’m not playing MY character but a preset type of character, and that’s bad. And besides, I dont feel it’s WHICH skills you on your action bar that makes you a good player (or a bad one for that matter), but HOW you use them.

But we still haven’t figured out why did ArenaNet link skills to weapons. I must admit I did have a hard time thinking of a good reason for this. Not that I disagree with their system, I don’t. But some players have made some good points counter-attacking this system. As you probably know, there is no auto-attack in this game. It’s all skills and / or spells. This might help figuring out our problem. If a Warrior is wielding a one-handed sword, it makes no sense they would have a skill called “Crush” that stuns your opponents. You can’t (to my knowledge) crush someone with a sword, you’ll need a blunt (Hammer) type weapon. At the same time, some other player wielding a two-handed sledgehammer can’t “Slash” anyone with it. It’s kind of stupid how obvious this is. So linking what skills you can use to what weapon you’re using makes sense. Some other games handle this issue by inserting a weapon requirement on the skill (I’m thinking of WoW’s Rogue’s Backstab ability). But it always felt strange to me having locked skills if I dont have the required weapon equipped. At the same time, I can’t think of types of attacks that can be used by a Hammer, a Sword and a Dagger (think WoW’s Warrior’s Mortal Strike). I would at least expect different effects if I’m using different weapons to use the same attack. Crossing over to the real world, you just can’t attack someone with those weapons in the same way. So the case is cracked – at least partially.

     I’ll cut you with the sharp end of my hammer!

There’s one thing I can’t really explain. The casters. I really can’t come up with an explanation as to why my Human Elementalist can’t cast the same spells when he’s equipping a Dagger and when he wields a Staff. I would love to hear your theories about this, post a comment below if you have an explanation for this 🙂

So do ArenaNet developers really have an agenda to try and dictate how us, players, live our characters’ lives? I don’t think so. To me this system is very cool and (at least in some cases) logical. It’s a fun change from the standard MMO and leads to always having a different way to play your character, which I think we all agree is a big plus. And it lets me play a melee Mage, how cool is that?!

So I Thought of a Cool Boss

In response to BattleChicken’s Challenge, here’s my take at creating a Boss you’d like to see in game! Note that this is just fruit of my imagination, and although I did try to keep it plausible in terms of Guild Wars Lore, I’m far from being an expert about it, so nevermind the eventual errors.

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So I’m supposed to come up with a Boss for an MMO I play. Well that creates a problem, since I don’t play any MMO at this time (I don’t play Guild Wars 2 right now because the Beta Weekend has ended 😦 ). Since I haven’t played WoW actively for years, I’m also not going to try and create one for WoW. Soooo… I’m going to (try to) create a cool one for Guild Wars 2 even if there’s still a lot to learn about the game. Maybe it even gets implemented and I get a big fat check and credits for it, like him having my name!! That’s a possibility right? So enough chit-chat. Ima create a bawss!

Recently a group of Norns, Asuran and Humans settled a camp in the far reaches of the world, in a mountain in the Far Shiverpeaks to the North. Work on the excavation site started right away in hope of digging up well-hidden secrets of an ancient Seer civilization. The huge underground city lied hidden beneath the mountain and it’s entrance was covered by a 4 meters thick layer of snow and rocks. Unrecognizable symbols carved in the  arched reinforced steel doors indicated a fair level of intelligence of the city’s inhabitants. Leaving the huge Norn workers to open it up, the Asuran and Human historians debated what should be done regarding this lost city. As soon as the doors opened, a chilling breeze ran through the camp – so cold not even the Dolyak fur coats could prevent everyone’s bones from shivering – followed by deep, anguished cries of despair. Darkness the only thing past the huge doorway and fear the only thing in the Norn workers’ eyes. Despite what some less brave explorers would call clear signs and warnings of danger, the Asuran Nakre the Historian, leader of the entourage, decided the team should move on towards the depths of the city. Little did they know what awaited them inside.


Deep inside the mountain carved city, Dairogh patiently awaits incautious adventurers. The giant bat like Undead is the king of the beasts known as Fleshreavers. His body is thicker than the average Fleshreaver, his head adorned with a crown made of bone and his knuckles are in fact skulls from some notorious yet ultimately weak foes. In his right hand he carries a long sword, it’s blade strangely pristine and sparkling. Freed from Rragar Maneater’s chains, Dairogh established himself as leader of the Fleshreavers given his superior strength and intelligence among his peers. He and his band, the few specimens left of this horrible race, settled in Fiirya, a long abandoned underground city thought to have been a Seer village. For years explorers ventured into these halls, doomed to never see the light of day again. Dairogh’s intentions and motives remain unknown though it seems plausible to assume violence and terror is all in this wretched being’s mind.

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Leaving the setting and lore behind, here are my thoughts on the Boss as an NPC ingame. Seeing as how Guild Wars 2’s combat works and the (in)famous scrapping of the “holy trinity” system, I’ll have to change some of BattleChicken’s “requirements” regarding building the boss. Dairogh’s attacks are a mix of ranged magic and melee. With his one-handed long sword, he delivers powerful arch slashes to melee players standing a little bit too close and a downards thrust that will instantly kill players standing still. Using his free hand he casts spells at ranged targets and melee alike, directing single target spells and AoE’s to ranged targets and AoE’s only to melees.

In his room there’s seven pillars, on top of each lies a runebook that powers Dairogh’s magic abilities. Each runebook symbolizes a spell school: Fire, Air, Ice, Earth, Shadow, Poison and Arcane. The pillars are destroyable yet attacking one sets off the spawning of a wave of Dairogh’s Fleshreaver and Undead minions, as well as making Dairogh concentrate his attacks and abilities on players attacking the pillars and the zone around them. Destroying a pillar gives players the chance to destroy the runebook standing on it, which decreases the damage, range and duration of Dairogh’s spells as well as disabling the casting of that runebook’s spell school; at the same time it causes him to increase focus on his melee attacks. If all runebooks are destroyed Dairogh’s size increases, his melee attacks become close to instant kills and he gets the ability to fly across the room in order to be able to hit ranged targets (think Enrage in WoW). Flying exposes weak points in his body, attacks directed to those cause extra damage. He loses the ability to cast spells at this point.

The fight is on a timer, at the end of which Dairogh lets out a chilling scream of anger, causing Vulnerability and Chilled conditions on all players in the room, as well as granting himself Swiftness and Might (in other words, wipe :P). Regarding speech, Dairogh speaks a demonic language and taunts players around during the fight, rejoicing on player death (when a player is defeated, not downed) and yelling out the chants for his spells. He also calls forth his minions with a deafening cry.


So what do you think of this boss? Would you like to see something like that in your game? How do you think the fight / lore could be more interesting? Post your comments below 🙂

To be or not to be an altoholic?

Altoholics. Everyone knows at least a handful of people who play a number of  online games / have a number of characters in a game / both (!). Maybe you’re one of them too. I’ve always admired these maybe-not-so-rare specimens, read on and find out why.

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So let’s say you’re entering a virtual world. Most commonly the first choice you have to make is about your character. Who will you be in this world, how will you look, etc. When it comes to this matter, this is how I usually adress it: I choose the race and class (or whatever names) I fell I’ll like the most and login. Throughout gameplay, I get hooked on improving and developing that one character. A dear friend of mine does it differently. He does it the altoholic way. He creates one character, plays if for a while and then moves on to create another one… And another… And by the time I notice it, 40% of my friends list are his characters.

What is the motivation behind being an altoholic? I mean, when I’m playing I feel compelled to move forward, getting to max level, obtain better gear to take on harder encounters or PvP, etc. When I look at my friend (for example) he seems to be happy playing medium level content, sometimes quite often the same again. What’s even more curious from my point of view is that he wants to play end-game content but rarely has a chance, since none of us are really hardcore players and don’t have the time to play as much as some other folks do. So what’s the reward in leveling a bunch of characters to mid level versus having one high level character to experience the end-game content with?

An obvious answer comes to my mind. In a game, there’s content for all levels and races / professions / classes / whatever. Playing only one character (or mostly one) means I’m missing out on a lot of content that was designed for the other races / classes /(…) . That means knowing more about the game and, potentially, it’s lore. That’s a plus I guess. From this one derives another one: by playing different professions / classes you understand better how they work, what’s their strong points and their flaws and how their playstyle will be. That’s also true I guess, but then again, you’d want that information for your high level character right? But there’s two issues with that: 1) you have no high level character [**] 2) to truly understand a class / profession you probably need to play them to high level. I admire the hardcore altoholics’s ability to keep track of multiple high level characters. It’s something I probably would not be good at.

** – Yes, I know sometimes people create different characters after they reached max level and/or experienced most or all content. But I’m focusing on those people who’s character list has 10 level 53 characters (think WoW on this one)

Hi, my name is Kav, Hob, Zog, Mia, Funnyhats, Iwillavengeyou, Mrwhisker, Deolia, Deoliana, Deolias and Coky, nice to meet you. / Credits to I Have Touched the Sky

What are your feelings on this? Are you an altoholic? Do you think there’s maybe a psychological reason behind creating a number of different avatars? Post below your thoughts on this 🙂

World of Warcraft circa 2006

Hello once again. Today I’m stepping a bit away from Guild Wars 2 and sharing a few memories and stories I have of World of Warcraft from back in 2005-2006. I don’t have any material from that time (videos or screenies) so sorry since you won’t be able to see how badass my Tauren looked wielding his purple (item color, not rarity :P) scorpion mace at Crossroads.

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World of Warcraft, my first MMO. I still remember the day I got home with my mom from the mall with the game box in my hands, just dieing to get to my computer and start playing! We’re in early 2005 and I did not think twice when it came to creating a character: Tauren Warrior. Being a faithful Warcraft III player from way before and seeing as my main race had always been the Orcs, picking a Tauren was an obvious choice, ’cause they just rock 😀

Azeroth was pretty “young” at the time. The only raids avaiable were Onyxia’s Lair and Molten Core, with Blackwing Lair being released shortly after i started (or shortly before, I can’t tell now). There were no battlegrounds and the Honor system had just been implemented. So Alliance raids on Crossroads was our daily bread. Well in that case, I was their bread.

Just another normal day in Azeroth / Credits to The Lost Cause

The game felt wonderful at that time. Everything, really everything, was awesome. I think the true World of Warcraft was the old pre-60 content. That’s where all the fun was. Dungeons were not a mere zerg through the mobs to get loot, loot didn’t even mean much to me in those dungeons, what I wanted was to kill harder stuff. Looking back I giggle every time I remember the corpse runs back to Wailing Caverns. There was a lot of stuff, important and helpful stuff, that we didn’t have at those times and had to be compensated, most times not perfectly, with Add-Ons. In a way, WoW today is better for having some recent tools and whatnot. On the other hand, I feel it has lost other times’ epicness. Some say the game got worst, some say it has moved on on it’s natural course of life.

All I know is those were 2 awesome years, 2006’s summer will be in my memory for a long time. It’s been 7 years now since i first logged in to World of Warcraft (Bloodfeather-EU by the way), and the game has changed a LOT, so did the genre as a whole. Perhaps I can find another home in Guild Wars 2 🙂

Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend – General Impressions

It just struck me: I’ve already made two posts commenting on a couple particular issues about Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend but I haven’t posted a General Impressions discussion. This should do it, I hope 🙂 I did not take any Screenshots from the Beta (for some reason my keyboard’s SS button decided to take a few days break), so all pictures you see are someone else’s. Whenever I can find them, credits will be posted.

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So the Beta has ended a couple days ago now. I was highly anticipating this past weekend, just anxious to get my hands on this game. I’ve been following this game closely for over a year now, and I believe I had seen every video about it avaiable on Youtube and read every major article about it. So expectation was peaking. And I can positively say I didn’t feel disappointed in this game, at all.

Let’s start in the beggining. Character creation. This is something that ArenaNet and a lot of other folks have discussed and hyped a lot about. GW2’s character creation system offers players a huge amount of possibilities for customizing their basic character’s appearance. Honestly, I didn’t spend more then 2-3 minutes on it. I was more anxious to start killing stuff and enjoying the beautiful world of Tyria. I don’t mean to say that character appearance isn’t something I’m interested in. But I figured, since I had only the weekend to play, and a big part of my weeked was already reserved for my activities outside the virtual world, I’d just skip the appearance stage. I did, though, arrange a cool color scheme for my armor 😛

Doesn’t quite look like her, but it’s close / Credits to talesoflumin @ Youtube

After hitting Play I was presented with a relatively short clip describing my character’s origins and whatnot. The art in that clip was amazing. ArenaNet’s decision to mix in those hand-stylish graphics was right on track if you ask me, not only is it visually appealing, I get the feeling it matches the whole Guild Wars theme. After that I appeared outside Divinity’s Reach, surrounded by I’d say about 40 to 50 other players. As you may know, the Human starting experience puts you “in charge” of a battle against an invading army of centaurs that also summon some sort of elemental. The town in question, Shaemoor, has this very dark atmosphere around it at this time, it’s raning, the sky is dark and covered in clouds, there’s smoke coming out of buildings and whatnot. Right off the bat it puts you on a scenery that induces some feeling of danger and peril.

I really enjoyed the starting experience in Shaemoor. After watching it so many times on different videos, it felt truly amazing to be experiencing it first hand. I felt that new players were a bit thrown into the lion pit here though. In my opinion, you’re thrown into battle even without knowing your the game at all. Yes, these are fairly easy battles, but still, if I hadn’t seen a lot of videos before, I think I would have had a bit of trouble with it. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it might be a way to tell new players “Hey this won’t be an easy task, here’s an harsh situation to learn it the hard way”. But no one likes dieing. It’s a fact. Even more, no one likes dieing AND not knowing exactly why and how it went down. In my opinion, ArenaNet needs to change the starting experience a little bit, because it will be a bit overwhelming to new players and that might mean they’ll stop playing the game (think a player on a GW2 Trial or trying the game out somewhere).

From that point on, the game flourishes. You get introduced to your Personal Storyline (truthfully it starts with the centaur attack on Shaemoor), you realize you already have two skills on your left action bar (!!) and you’re out killing centaurs on the same place you destroyed the Elemental from the start. Taking a deeper look into your UI, it might seem awkward at first. Sometimes I found myself searching for something in the UI that I was used to having easily accessible (such as Guild Panel). It takes a bit of time to get used to how it is laid out, but it’s nothing major in my opinion.

Credits to Bettadenu @ AlienWare Gamer Forums

By now you probably already encountered your first Dynamic Event and you’re either put off or overly excited about it. For players who expect a loot reward for every task, most dynamic events will be disappointing, you  “only” get an XP injection, karma points and some cash. Karma points are a kind of points that you can use to trade for stuff at Renown Hearts vendors for example. I feel this is an issue a lot of players will have problems with, maybe myself included. We’re used to getting a sweet ass sword after killing a hard monster or group of monsters, it’s “common sense”. I think giving players some loot at some particular Dynamic Events (think Shadow Behemoth at Godslost Swamp) would be a plus and yet another incentive to go out and explore the world.  I know we only had the opportunity to play the very early game and therefore might not have a good idea of how it works, but then again, that’s where players decide if they stick with the game or not.  Now, if you played the BWE, you’ll know there were some issues with the scaling of events. Some would easily become zergs through waves of mobs, some would be invincible Shamans that you could not kill (poor, poor Charr players). That’s (hopefully) a Beta problem, it needs some tuning so I won’t bash on it at this moment.

What? A giant boss like that at level 16??? / Credits to

Let’s discuss combat. This is one of those breaking points in an MMO if you ask me. Its most of the fun for me, and if a game’s combat system does not appeal to me, then most probably the game won’t either. A good example of this was Lineage 2. The combat felt so boring and sometimes so unbalanced that i ended up not playing the game ever again. I’m sure there are a lot of good things about it, but it just lost me with it’s combat’s stillness. WoW in my opinion had a very strong case on this. Combat was a lot more fluid then before and that was about enough to capture me (in all honesty, i was also a Warcraft universe fan, it played a huge part as well). But GW2 takes a giant leap forward on that. Combat is now more in the style of an action game and movement is more important than it ever was in an MMO. I have never payed much attention to GW1 and it’s lore, but nonetheless I felt compelled to play and explore more about it, because the combat felt awesome and fun. I would say this is probably on the top 3 pluses for GW2.

Hard to show how combat is with a picture, but this one looks really cool / Credits to

For quite some time have I been trying to fulfill the void in my gaming (oh so corny :P)  that WoW left. Never again did an MMO get me so excited and hooked up, until Guild Wars 2. Maybe it’s because its something completely different and I get the same feeling of experimenting something new and truly exciting as I did back when WoW appeared. Maybe its something else, all I know is I’ve been in love with this game and the Beta Weekend definitely put the ring on my finger for good. Is it me or no other game out there feels interesting now?


Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend – Experience vs. Experience

Hello once again, welcome to my humble Blog. This time I’m going to discuss another very battered topic: Experience. Now if you’re an MMO player you’re thinking: “Rough amount of quests / mobs / whatever that i need to go from level X to X+1, easy”. Wrong! That’s only half of this topic. I want to discuss another kind of Experience that I feel has been slowly fading from MMO’s through time, the Player Experience.

Note: I said I’d discuss Elementalist mechanics with this post, but I started a draft about this topic and by the time I noticed, it was a fully formed post and I couldn’t leave it waiting 😛

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Back when WoW was at it’s prime (2006 if you ask me, but that’s a subjective matter) I was having a wonderful time playing the game. Why? For one, it was my first time playing an MMO (which in itself already caused a sense of awe and astonishment); second, the game felt Epic. That’s a word that has been used so much in so many (bad) games that it kind of lost it’s meaning. As I ventured through Azeroth I was amazed at the world, I used to do a lot of exploring around the different zones and environments and dream of Molten Core. The world felt big and I felt compelled into running around and viewing all the beautiful landscapes and places the game had to offer.

But there was a bad thing about exploring in WoW. Those 30 minutes you spend on running around the zone means you’re potentially losing 30 minutes worth of XP, which means 30 minutes less of max level playtime (and all the neat stuff that come with it). Of course you could find a few scorpions along the way and whack their heads out, but the amount of XP you’d get from that was meaningless. This derives from what I think is a bigger problem about WoW: it mostly focuses on leveling up from 1 to Max, because that’s where all the fun happens. Back in the early versions (think: before AQ40 was released), this wasn’t true. There was a lot of fun content prior to max level (60 at the time); in fact, most of the content was made for the 1-59 game. I have a lot of cool episodes in my memory regarding a big cow wearing a red and yellow armor set, wielding a giant two-handed hammer and running through Tanaris while killing scoprions, basilisks, hyenas and collecting herbs from the floor. Maybe some other time I’ll expand on this. Let’s focus before I start rambling too much! 😛

Check out these armors! Coooooool stuff bro

Nonetheless, all this fun content was a side thing about the game. Your purpose as a player (or as a character) was to kill as much monsters as possible, finish as many (boring) tasks as you could find, all in order to get to level 60. If you decided to take some time from the intense questing, you’d actually be getting punished with the loss of precious XP. So if you were thinking of checking out if there’s anything interesting about that cave hidden there behind those rocks and trees, you can forget about it! Now Guild Wars 2 takes a whole new approach to this.

Note: From personal experience, I can only comment on WoW and GW2 (a little bit of Lineage 2, but I won’t touch that). If there’s a game out there that has also made steps into changing this (like SWTOR, I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about it) then feel free to leave a comment about that below 😉

So why is Guild Wars 2 any different? Why did I feel I had to make a post about this? Because GW2 takes into consideration the other “Experience” I mentioned earlier. In Guild Wars 2 the most important experience is the one you, as a player and character, have. It’s not about powering through the levels to get to the fun content. ArenaNet developers have taken a giant leap into making this game as much fun as possible, removing all the boring stuff that has become “mandatory” in an MMO. Scrapping the whole idea of Questing is a major step in this.

Map Exploration Objectives on the left
Image by Syp @ BioBreak

You now have a fantasy world in front of you, not a list of tasks that you MUST do. Coupled with the Dynamic Event system, you now have a handful of incentives to go out and explore that world. And you won’t feel punished for doing so, in fact you’ll feel rewarded!! Not only you might end up finding a cool dynamic event when you go check out that cave (you know, the one behind some rocks and trees? 😉 ), you will also feel a sense of accomplishment with the Map Exploration feature.

Notice the yellow hearts? These are ArenaNet’s response to everyone begging for a list of stuff to do. There’s lot of players that really want/need a list of tasks to go through. That’s fine, I myself like to feel there’s something to go to when I feel bored. Are these any close to WoW’s quests? Not even slighty; these are mostly mundane yet funny tasks that you can do (not have to) that also serve to guide a player to adventures. You can bet that near those hearts you can stumble upon a few dynamic events. You might be turned down about the “mundane” part of it. I felt a bit weird the first time I decided to take on one of those. It involved, if I’m not mistaken, watering some hay stacks of something down by a little farm. At first I felt like I was wasting my time there, but about as soon as I started, a band of Bandits (or were they centaurs? Can’t remember) started attacking the farm and we had to drive them back. Result: I went from a mundane task to a full scale fight in just a couple minutes. And what’s more, the NPC related to the heart task had some rewards I could acquire 😀

You could say, “yeah ok, but those are specific and marked spots on the map, there’s no really exploration about that”. Ok let’s move on then. See the third simbol on the left? A orange square with a thick white border. These are Points of Interest. They are points pinned in the map that are of interest to either you (as a player or character), your personal story (more on that in a future post) or the lore in general. Alone, they don’t mean anything special or have any rewards. But don’t forget the Dynamic Event system 😉 I think I can count with my fingers how many of those did NOT have a Dynamic Event going on by the time I got to them. A few of those also helped me finish some heart tasks I had unfinished, which was cool.

Last, but not least, see the blue upwards arrow on the map? Those are skill challenges. Those are locations where you can complete challenges and earn skill points. The type of challenges appear to be pretty diverse. In the Charr starting area there’s a Skill Challenge NPC which, after being defeated, gives you your Skill point; in the Human starting zone there’s a swamp that has a skill challenge marker there. It’s underwater and it’s a small circle on the ground that you can interact with to get your skill. The catch about this last one: the area is full of enemy monsters wandering around, and the circle is protected by a Champion (an Elite mob of sorts).

Ah, I almost forgot. There’s also a Completion Bar that fills up as you progress through these objectives and uncover areas on the map. Filling up a bar (most probably, I’m not sure about this though) will award you an achievement related to Exploration. That’s another nice feature for those workhaolics that really need a lsit of work to get done or the Achievement addicts. Either way, it’s fun!

So bottom line: in Guild Wars 2 you deviate from the standard “Go into this Zone, speak to that NPC, who will then tell you the only thing interesting about that Zone is the X number of monsters you need to kill to get the Y amount of XP points you need to level up.” ; now when you step into the game world, you’ll be starting an adventure without knowing exactly where it might take you. And you won’t feel like your missing out on anything while venturing through the world, that’s EXACTLY how you are supposed to play the game!

In this game, your Experience will not be the distance between two consecutive levels, it will be the awesome world that ArenaNet has developed and how YOU will help change it.