Archive for the ‘Guild Wars 2’ Category

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My Top 5 Gaming Highlights Of 2012

January 1, 2013

Happy New Year! Here’s my first post of 2013, whose title I confess should really be “My Top 5 Gaming Highlights of 2012…And Then Some” because while 2012 was indeed a great year for games and gamers, admittedly I found myself struggling to come up with pure gaming-related entries for this list. It’s not that I haven’t been impressed with the industry’s offerings this year so much as I find myself with less gaming experiences to draw from, because the truth is I played less games these past twelve months than I have in recent years. Time has been so tight, there are so many games on my to-play list that I never even got a chance to go out and buy, let alone play. I can’t say that I’ve ever been so behind before.

Then again, so much has also changed in my life in 2012! Let’s take a look back at the memories:

5. Pet Battles and the Return of the Dynamic Duo

Pandaren

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria released on September 25th. I won’t go as far as to say it’s my favorite expansion so far, though I’m aware it is for many. Nevertheless, I’m still playing it more than three months later, which is already more than what I could say for its predecessor Cataclysm.

I will say that the new expansion has provided me more reasons to stick around, even after hitting the new level cap. For one, the companion pet battling and collecting system has me hooked — 431 pets to my name so far, and I’m still hunting, always hunting. Also, the mister and I have both taken a break from the endgame grind to work on a couple of Pandaren Monks. More than anything, I love playing MMOs with my husband. Leveling characters has always been our special way to bond, and nothing brings us closer than facerolling our enemies together with our Spinning Crane Kicks.

4. 122 Books

stats

I’ve always been one to go looking for challenges, which I have to say sometimes leads me to give myself some pretty random dumb goals.

As with most random dumb goals, I didn’t really have a reason for it, but a few years ago I just decided one day that I wanted to read 100 novels in a year.  I attempted several times, coming so close in 2011 at 83 books, and being pathetic I went and retroactively lowered my Goodreads challenge that year to 80 just so I could get the achievement badge. Well, no need to fudge the numbers for 2012; I kicked the challenge’s ass with a total of 122 novels and so you can even say I read enough to make up for last year.

Interestingly, the more I read the lower my average rating for books seem to get. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting more critical, or that more books under my belt just simply equals more mediocre ratings.

3. Mercy Gaming

Mercy Gaming

2012 was a rather turbulent year for Star Wars: The Old Republic to say the least, and neither has it really been smooth sailing for a lot of us who kept our subscriptions going until free-to-play. I think the most gut-wrenching part of it all the worrying I did about whether my Republic and Empire guilds will fall apart. After all, I got to meet and play with an amazing group of players, and I’ll always have SWTOR to thank for that.

I needn’t have stressed myself. The Republic Mercy Corps and Imperial Mercenary Corps may be shadows of what they once were in the game, but many of our members have kept in touch. Rebranded Mercy Gaming, the guild lives on, becoming a multi-gaming community that continues to adventure together in games like Guild Wars 2, Borderlands 2, The Secret World, Minecraft, World of Warcraft, PlanetSide 2, and many many more. It’s always a party with these folks, who have all become my very good friends.

2. The Secret World

TSW

Never have I ever played an MMO like TSW. The only other game that even came close to capturing my heart and blowing my mind this year was of course Guild Wars 2, but even that gets edged out, albeit just barely. For one thing, while my playtime in GW2 has tapered off until I can find more time in my schedule, I am still playing TSW regularly each week because I just can’t seem to get enough of this game! I suppose it does have a certain je ne sais quoi that made it stand out to me above the rest, and it’s not just the unique genre or playstyle.

For one, I like that it came out of nowhere and surprised me (in a good way). In fact, months after its release it’s still regularly doing that. While it’s far from perfect and definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, it does sometimes feel like with every issue update and TSW Monday, I fall hopelessly in love with this game all over again.

1. “Baby Mogsy”

MMOGC Jr

Welcoming our first child in February 2012 definitely made me and my husband a lot busier. While taking care of a baby has left me not as free to do a lot of my hobbies anymore, I’m loving motherhood and I cherish every single moment I spend with my little girl, even though she’s probably the biggest reason why my time spent gaming has dropped so dramatically in 2012! But you know what? I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Even from the moment I found out I was pregnant, I knew I’d gladly give up anything for her.

Our daughter has changed our lives, bringing us such joy and making us feel blessed each and every day. At 10 months old now, every moment with her is like an adventure. She is just full of surprises, and I don’t want to miss a single one!

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How Do You Feel About One-Time-Only Events?

October 29, 2012

So I was fortunate enough to be online in Guild Wars 2 yesterday, waiting in Lion’s Arch, at the advertised time for the special Halloween event. And after all that build-up, all the secrecy, the “one-time-only” event that we were all waiting for amounted to a cinematic cutscene that lasted about 40 seconds.

Whether it was worth it or not is a matter up for debate, one I’m not going to get into here. Personally, I thought it was a wicked cutscene, followed by a fantastic encounter with the Mad King in his otherworldly lair, and that overall the ArenaNet folks did an amazing job bringing us Act 3. I was thrilled to have been a part of it.

But I still dislike the idea of one-time-only events.

Quite simply, they’re bad news, and hard to justify. Don’t get me wrong; I think it’s great that game designers are still freely experimenting with special events and timing, but when you’re planning an in-game holiday intended to be enjoyed by everyone, then 1) announcing a one-time-only event, and 2) not giving any details about what to expect is probably one of the quickest, easiest ways to alienate and piss off a bunch of your players.

Speaking for myself, yesterday just so happened to be a lazy, rainy Sunday and I had some free time in the afternoon. But I’m aware not everyone was that lucky. Australians and folks in Asia were setting alarms to wake up in the wee hours in the morning on a freakin’ work day, and a lot of East Coasters in the US were out shopping for supplies and preparing for the Frankenstorm. Come on, people, we’re living and gaming in an international community! There’s also conflicts and unforeseen circumstances that can always pop up! Crap happens! When you know full well that everyone and their mother is going to want to participate, why still consider one-shot events?

Not to mention how they often lead to not-so-fun problems associated with overloaded servers. If you ask World of Warcraft players present at the Gates of Ahn’Qiraj opening event, most will tell you about the horrific lag, and I still recall the long server queues being a hindrance at Rift’s River of Souls event last year. GW2′s event wasn’t perfect, but I do however have to give a hat tip to the team for the relatively smooth performance yesterday — though not indicative of everyone’s experience, I had absolutely no problems before, during, and after the wait in Lion’s Arch nor during my showdown with the Mad King. At least before the servers sputtered and died, that is.

But what does this all mean? It occurred to me that dynamic, truly spontaneous events with persisting and enduring consequences that will change the game world are still possibly a long ways off. After all, can’t an impromptu, extemporaneousness event which can cause our actions to alter our surroundings permanently for everybody arguably be perceived as a one-time-only event? As much as we ask for it, as temptingly awesome as it sounds, even if it were technologically achievable, player resistance will probably be a significant obstacle. As gamers, none of us like to be left out or miss anything in our favorite MMOs. And really, who can blame us?

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KoM Does Ascalonian Catacombs

September 10, 2012

Last Saturday night, the stars must have aligned because I finally managed to cobble a Guild Wars 2 group together for Knights of Mercy’s first completed run of Ascalonian Catacombs. Ultimately we had one level 80 (Kahill), one 60ish (Bippa), one 40ish (Kriin), and two 35s (myself and the mister) but in keeping with the game’s philosophy of level and adjustment we were all scaled down to the story-mode dungeon’s appropriate level of 30.

Before I begin, I want to separate and make a distinction between the overall experience I had (it was a blast!) from my thoughts and opinions of the actual instance itself (on this matter I have a lot on my mind).

I’ll just start by saying this — whether you will enjoy AC (or I guess GW2 instances by extension) will be heavily dependent upon your personality type and on the reasons why you choose to do group instanced content. If you like the traditional order and planning that goes into an instance run, can appreciate the beauty of everything running smoothly like a well-oiled machine and the myriad steps coming together just perfectly to culminate into success…well then, you’ll probably find GW2′s instances lacking. In contrast, if you’re the more laid back type, enjoy working creatively with others, are less achievement-driven and don’t mind too much the occasional randomness or when things get chaotic…you’ll love it.

Myself, I think I fall right smack in the middle of these two extremes, which is why I’m not surprised I came out of AC with mixed feelings. As someone used to playing support roles like healers and tanks, I have to say the experience distressed me — but not for the reasons you would think. In fact, I initially thought that getting used to not being part of a trinity would be a problem for me, but here I surprised myself because in reality, moving past that was so very easy.

Yes, in most games I’m usually a healer and more often the tank — but do you know why? It’s certainly not because I particularly relish the role of being the meatshield and taking damage for others, and I was actually more than happy to shed that responsibility. While I like playing support roles, they’re definitely not as fun as being DPS and being able to pew-pew-pew-pew-pew to your heart’s desire. Plus, as any experienced tank or healer will tell you, sometimes it’s stressful as HELL. But I do it anyway, because what I really love is helping others. As in having the ability to keep others, especially my friends, alive.

Now I’m not saying you don’t have that kind of dynamic in GW2 groups, because if anything, you’ll find that pretty much everything you do will be helpful to your party, just in more subtle ways. The only difference is, there will be nothing like an “oh-shit heal” or “snap aggro” to save the day. Chances are, you will be watching your fellow friends and adventurers fall to defeat like flies around you, time and time again. In the end, it was this nagging guilt I ultimately found to be the most distressing, because I am used to being able to “rescue” others, not because I missed not having a role.

Fallen.

The good news is, I got over it quick. I had no choice, because the truth is, you will probably die in AC. Not only that, you will probably die a lot. You get used to it, and that’s just the truth of it. In fact, I see many indications that this is actually meant to happen, which I will go into later.

Like so many aspects of GW2, when it comes to the matter of difficulty, the first instance also serves to illustrate an example of yet another duality — in some ways it’s so easy, in other ways it’s so hard. Initial trash mobs actually gave us more trouble than two of the bosses, namely Master Ranger Nente and Kasha Blackblood, as we took both of them down first try without anyone being defeated. Other encounters, like the lovers Ralena and Vassar required our group getting a little creative. Having no tanks and aggro in this game, we instead relied on knockbacks, roots and boulders to separate them and keep them apart.

King Adelbern was another story. There really is no other way to put it, he was a bitch of a fight. We fell to the final boss again and again and again. And yet, there was actually never any uncertainty that he was going to go down and we were going to come away with a dead, grumpy ghost at our feet. Not once did we ever have to stop and say to each other, “Oh crap, guys, there’s a real possibility that we might not be able to do this,” the reason being a waypoint located a mere hop-and-a-skip away from the encounter. Yes, during the fight it’s best to try and stay alive, but if defeated, continuing the fight involved no more than warping back up and running back in again.

Once again, I thought I was going to hate this aspect of GW2′s dungeon fights, but in the end I found myself strangely fine with it. As one of my guildies said, “EMBRACE THE ZERG!” That became my mantra. Not only that, these instances were tested extensively and I have faith in ArenaNet’s competence that I do not doubt that the encounter would have been what it was if they hadn’t intended for things to be like this. I truly believe everything is the way it is for a reason.

I have some thoughts as to what those reasons might be, of course. For one thing, taking the away the “fear of wiping” allows the group to become more confident in experimenting with their abilities — an important effect, considering this is story-mode in a starter instance. With experience, I’m sure the reliance on zerging will go away, but at this point, without that threat of failure looming over our heads it was amazing how much of the pressure was lifted. It made us more relaxed and apt to get creative, encouraging everyone to look around and try to string combos with our fellow group members.

Speaking of combos, all I have to say is: learn them, try to remember them. After Kahill primed our group on combos, we all took a moment to inform each other of our builds and skills, as well as learn how to recognize what to watch for from others and how to follow up with our own set of abilities. I won’t go as far as to say combos will make the instance easier, because with constant movement, issues with positioning, and just in general random unforeseen circumstances happening all around you (not to mention that most combo effect durations are very brief), chances are you won’t be able to pull off most of the ones you attempt. But, it does make things infinitely more fun!

Utilizing combo fields.

So that’s what I was doing during the last fight when we weren’t worrying over wiping or failing — experimenting, getting creative, messing about, thinking, observing, learning. Admittedly, it does take the fun of organization and execution out of group play, but then again, the type of freedom I just described would not have been possible in a million years if the encounter had been designed any other way. At one point, Blue Kae (Kriin) mentioned that the fights actually reminded him of those from Champions Online, and I have to agree. That was another MMO which allowed you to embrace “the self” and superhero-dom, relying more on simply letting you enjoy your own skills, and less on adapting them to roles.

That said, I shudder to think what my experience in AC would have been like if I had been with a PuG. At least in this learning phase, I highly recommend going with a guild group or people you know (but then again, I advocate that for all group content anyway, regardless of game/instance/experience!) because the more you communicate and learn your own and each others’ play styles, the easier and more predictable things will get, not to mention the many more opportunities you will get to synergize. It’s much better than trying to second guess or anticipate a stranger’s actions every time.

Ultimately, my AC run with my guild has been an eye-opener. There were aspects of it that pleased me greatly but at the same time things that irked me to no end. Going back to what I said at the beginning of this article, how you personally feel about them will depend on who you are. I for one would not get too hung up on people’s claims of what GW2 did “right” or what they did “wrong” when it comes to their instances. To me, that’s akin to debating what thunderstorms do right, or what the color red does right, or what the taste of pickles does right. GW2 dungeons are different, but they are what they are.

I also meant it when I said that I believe everything is the way it is for a reason. Whether you like them or not is going to come down to taste, which is as personal as whether you like piña coladas or getting caught in the rain (and in case you’re wondering, I think piña coladas are too sweet, though I don’t mind getting caught in the rain. It’s incidentally why I also like thunderstorms, though I am ambivalent towards the color red. Pickles, on the other hand, I happen hate hate hate hate hate hate HATE the taste of them).

If you’ve stuck around this long and are still reading, I just have one final thing to say: if you find yourself heading into AC for the first time, the best advice I can give, and that I personally followed, is: 1) play with friends! 2) stay flexible and keep and open mind! 3) Just sit back and enjoy this gripping tale about a fallen city — being a fan of the Ghosts of Ascalon novel, being able to stand amidst the ruins of this significant place was especially poignant. Do all this, and it won’t really matter how you feel about the instance or its fight mechanics or its design and all that crap…because you will be having too much fun to care.

Group shot.

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Back To Queensdale

September 6, 2012

I think I’ve mentioned in an earlier post that out of all the starting areas I experienced in Guild Wars 2, my favorite was Queensdale. Well, I’m very happy to be back there now, working my way through the map and enjoying its bucolic picturesque landscapes.

No, I haven’t started playing on an alt. In fact, I’ve pretty much lost all motivation for alting in this game, for two reasons — 1) because if I’m on an alt that means my husband isn’t around to be playing together on our mains, and I’ve discovered that unlike other MMOs, I just can’t seem to enjoy GW2 when I’m by my lonesome. And 2) that my alting time is usually limited to during the day when the in-game population is low, and as some of my friends on Twitter have already noticed and pointed out, it becomes nigh impossible to do some of the better and bigger group events when there aren’t enough people around.

So I’m actually back in Queensdale on my main, Kilioe the Sylvari Guardian. I admit I was first lured there by copper. I need tons and tons of it for crafting! Not to mention some lower level gems. I don’t usually craft when leveling up in an MMO (it’s not my favorite thing to do), but GW2 has been different — the experience you gain for doing it is significant enough that I actually feel compelled to. I’m so ambivalent towards this aspect in games that I don’t think I’ll ever decide to craft for crafting’s sake, but I have to say that GW2′s crafting has done more to appeal to me than any other game, even if crafting is still bleh and I and am being solely motivated by the experience gain alone! It’s something, right?

And that’s not all — I love that I can go back to lower level zones for whatever reason — gathering starter crafting materials, in this case — and still feel like I’m accomplishing something, because my level is adjusted and doing the hearts, dynamic events, farming gathering nodes, etc. all give me experience, plus I’m also working towards completing the map. What is that, like, two, three, four birds with one stone?

So that’s what I’ve been up to in GW2 lately. We’re into September now, when gaming life is starting to get a little crazy. While I’m usually terrible at juggling games, I have to say GW2 is working out very nicely as a casual and fun diversion, just as I’d intended. Having no subscription fee, I certainly don’t feel pressured to play it as much as I can, but at the same time I’m also playing more than I expected, despite not having that sense of that “urgency” tickling at the back of my mind.

Just the other day, in fact, I discovered I’m not going as slow as I thought I was. In a guild discussion about organizing runs for Ascalon Catacombs, I could have sworn my character was barely high enough, hovering in the high 20s. To my surprise and embarrassment, I logged in and discovered I was actually level 31! Methinks the scaling down of levels has been screwing with my mind.

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Vistas = Pretty Wallpaper

August 29, 2012

Step 1: Find Vista point on map.

Step 2: Jump, jump, jump, fall, swear a blue streak, jump, jump, jump, repeat as necessary until arrival at said Vista.

Step 3: Press F

Step 4: Spam PrtScrn PrtScrn PrtScrn PrtScrn PrtScrn PrtScrn PrtScrn PrtScrn PrtScrn PrtScrn…

Am I the only one who does this? Somehow, I don’t think so. Here are some of my favorites. It’s too hard to choose just one for my wallpaper, so I just have them all on rotate at the moment.

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Played Lately: Some Thoughts From The GW2 Headstart Weekend

August 27, 2012

In a word, my experience during the Guild Wars 2 headstart weekend was awesome!

One of the things I love about GW2 is the fact each race has its own starting area. Maybe you make multiple characters of the same race, but you don’t want to do the same starting area over and over again. Maybe you love a particular race but hate their starting area or vice versa. It wouldn’t matter one whit, since you can move to any of the other starting zones pretty much right off the bat. It’s one of the things I’ve always appreciated about World of Warcraft, and really missed about some of the recent MMOs like Rift, Star Wars: The Old Republic or The Secret World where all of us are funneled into pretty much the same zone or limited areas on start up.

This weekend, I only did Caledon Forest because I was a Sylvari and their starting area was the only one I’d never seen, as I had purposely saved it for live. In the future, I’ll likely start in Queensdale all the time, because while I dislike the look of the human models in GW2 and will likely never roll one, I love their lands with their fat cows and little pink hearts.

Ultimately, I achieved 100% completion in the zone, collecting all the Waypoints, Vistas, Skills Points, Points of Interest, and Hearts in Caledon Forest as well as in The Grove. Since GW2 doesn’t have a real quest log, exploring entire maps will do nicely to satisfy my “checklist syndrome”. The was rewarded some nice loot, including a nice chunk of experience as well as a Black Lion key, allowing me to open my locked Black Lion Chests, which led to more loot and more keys. The result was a pile of gear, tonics, and a whole bunch of boosters like the ones you can buy from the store. Better be careful, Arenanet, I want to spend money on your game, but I see you’re not going to make it easy.

The weekend was not without its hiccups. Though I was mainly unaffected, a chunk of downtime occurred on Saturday morning and server errors abounded. Methinks that a few years ago, the quality of this launch would have been hailed as amazing, but the near-flawless launches of some of the aforementioned MMOs in recent years have no doubt raised the bar. The GW2 launch was no where near the best I’ve experienced, but then I have been through worse, much worse.

My weekend was only marred by a few negatives — there were the little ones, things like a non-functioning trading post, and then there was the HUGE one — the wonky overflow system. An otherwise great concept, ironically it sure made it hard to let you play with your friends. As longtime readers know, my husband and I place a lot of importance into playing together, especially during an MMO launch. Alas, out of the many hours we spent in GW2 this weekend, our characters were only able to spend a small fraction of that time in-game adventuring with each other.

We experienced the worst luck of never being placed in the same overflow instance. Sometimes one of us would also log in first, but enter the main world last. We tried every trick, logging out and logging in together, entering cities and exiting together, partying up and not partying up, but we never did manage to find a consistent way to work around it; there just didn’t seem to be any rhyme or rhythm. What we ended up doing was tackling our personal story quests, entering and leaving those solo instances until we randomly happened to end up together. When that happened, we took care not to zone again, which explains why I’m finished with Caledon Forest but still way behind on my main quest line there.

I expect many of these issues would be ironed out by Arenanet, or even disappear altogether once launch hype winds down and the zone populations start to spread and even out. In any case, I still had a great time playing this weekend and hanging out in guild vent parties. Being part of the greater gaming community while everyone is playing is my favorite part of a new game launch; the company and the fun I had made up for any and all obstacles I encountered.

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GW2: Insert The Standard Launch Character Introductions Post Here

August 25, 2012

It’s inevitable, I’m writing a character intro post which must mean Guild Wars 2 headstart has kicked off and is live!

It’s also inevitable, that the very fact I’m not playing right now but am instead banging out this post means that we’re experiencing some hiccups at launch (it’s around 8am at the time of this writing). I just hope that most people will be patient and realize launch days are going to be full of unexpected downtimes like this. I was grateful that Arenanet decided to bring up the servers three hours early last night, allowing me to create my characters and sneak in some brief playtime which I otherwise thought I would not have, and for the most part my hour-to-two-hours played beautifully and without a single hitch. I even got the names I wanted, without having to give last names.

If you’d like to say hello, my ID is Caylinn.6459, my guild is Knights of Mercy, and the server is Fort Aspenwood. I think most people have committed to a home by now, but if you happen to be still looking or if in the future you’re looking to guest, ss my Asura would say, we’d be pleased and honored to play with you, bookah! Without further ado, let’s get on to the new additions of my MMO family.

Kilioe (pronounced Kee-lee-oh-eh) – Sylvari Guardian

Kilioe, or Embelia pacifica, is actually a plant native to Hawaii. Not only had I wanted a flora-related name for my Sylvari, as I looked upon my Guardian in the character creator I suddenly recalled this name from a college botany project and to me the the name just seemed to fit. The current plan is for her to be my main.

Moggsi – Asura Thief

I frequently go by the abbreviation MMOGC, which some people in the blogosphere/twittersphere have taken to pronouncing it “Mogsy.” While I admit to thinking it was the most unfortunate nickname at the time, since then it has grown on me. I “Asura’ed” it up a bit, doubling up the “G” and replacing the last letter with the more feminine “I” associated with female names in Asura culture (I’m such a lore nerd). You can’t really tell by her celebration hat and town clothes, but my Asura Thief is pretty much the splitting image of the one I made in beta.

Sooner or later, I’m sure their stories will take shape and develop. (One thing I do know though, is that my Asura will be getting a happy childhood and not the damaged past that some commenters seem so fond of bestowing upon their own Asuras ;) )

One of these days I will also be making a Charr for our guild warband, a completely voluntary and fun project promoting camaraderie by KoM. Since the custom is to involve a common word in all our names (which as a guild we’ve chosen by popular vote as “Knight”), it’s going to take some idea brainstorming.

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