Archive for the ‘Guild Wars’ Category

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Battle Bards Episode 22: Guild Wars

March 4, 2014

Battle Bards

I know it’s been a while, but you can’t keep the Battle Bards away! We are back with a new episode, this time featuring the songs of Guild Wars.

That’s right, we’re talking Guild Wars the First, since we’ve already covered the soundtrack of Guild Wars 2 in one of our past shows. Join us as Syp, Syl and I see how the music of the original stacks up against the sequel!

LISTEN NOW

Guild wars

Episode 22 show notes
  • Introduction (including “Prophecies Theme” and “Resplendent Makuun”)
  • “First Light”
  • “Ashford Abbey”
  • “Over the Shiverpeaks”
  • “Under the Dark Span (Asura theme)”
  • “Eye of the Storm”
  • “Factions Theme”
  • “Festival of Lyss”
  • Which one did we like most?
  • Mail: Joseph’s speakpipe (JVT Workshop)
  • Mail: Rory’s speakpipe
  • Mail: Doone
  • Outro (“Alternate Theme”)
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Battle Bards Episode 5: Guild Wars 2

June 11, 2013

Battle Bards

Episode 5 of the Battle Bards MMO music podcast is now up and ready for your listening pleasure.

This week’s topic: the Guild Wars 2 soundtrack! Tune in as the bards bring you our favorites from Jeremy Soule’s masterpiece.

LISTEN NOW!

Guild Wars 2 logo

Episode 5 show notes

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Developer Appreciation Week (DAW): Saying My Thanks!

March 21, 2011

Last year, Scarybooster came up with a concept — one that I would love to see become a tradition — called Developer Appreciation Week (DAW) where for one week, gamers put aside all their criticism, gripes, and general negativity to show our devs some love.

I thought this was a wonderful idea. I mean, we all play the games we do for a reason, right? We play them because we like them, and because we find things we enjoy about them, and because they are fun. But too often when I look around the blogosphere, these reasons are overshadowed by even the smallest grievances and complaints. So how great would it be that for one week, we get to bury all that for a change, and just focus on the good things? To lavish praise where it is due? To be given leave to be as big a fanboy/fangirl as you please?

Last year I participated in DAW with a post that thanked entire teams and companies for making the MMOs I have enjoyed over the last twelve months, and I think I will continue with that format today. It’s too difficult for me to even pick one creative team to focus on, let alone an individual person! As Scary himself says, it is such a hard process to find a specific developer to praise because each of them deserves it. It takes a team to make a game, and they’ve all done such great work in my eyes.

To Funcom and the Age of Conan team – Thank you. Thank you for all the hard work you’ve put into improving AoC and for the Rise of the Godslayer expansion released last year. You brought to life the breathtaking world of Khitai and gave me the chance — even if it was only for a brief time — to experience the meaning of true beauty in an MMO. To this day, the time I spent in AoC remains one of my most immersive experiences. To Funcom, keep up the good work and I look forward to The Secret World.

To Cryptic and the Champions Online and Star Trek Online teams - Thank you. Thank you for being the company that works its butt off. Cryptic will always have a special place in my heart, for all the great memories their MMOs have given me and continues to give me every day. In making Champions free-to-play, I was able to jump right back into a game I never truly really wanted to leave in the first place (technical difficulties) and I never realized how much more fun it was in that game to play with other people. F2P makes that easy — I look forward to fighting villains with my friends Blue Kae, Talyn, Oakstout and others again soon.

To Daniel Stahl and the hardworking men and women developing STO, the good things I want to say can probably fill a book. I was so happy to be part of their one-year anniversary in-game celebrations. The game has had its ups and downs, that is true…but I have seen much passion and effort in the past year reflected in the updates and Q&As, and you listen to your fans, which I respect immensely. I still feel this game is one of the more underrated ones on the market; issues with ground combat and complaints about the awkwardness of ship maneuvering abound, but rarely have I seen real praise for what I truly believe is a unique and innovative crew system. And no appreciation post would be complete without a nod to their Feature Episodes — I am eagerly awaiting the next arc, as my weekends feel a little more empty now without them.

To ArenaNet and the Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 teams - Thank you. Thank you for daring to be different, and for giving gamers the gift of more choice — from offering us subscription-free business models to other innovative approaches in online gaming. I was glad for my opportunity to delve into Guild Wars this last year, and I am eagerly awaiting to see what Guild Wars 2 will bring. It is hard not to get excited, when each piece of news or information that comes out is filled to the brim with creativity and interesting ideas.

To Turbine and the Lord of the Rings Online team – Thank you. Thank you for giving me a home in Middle Earth and for the months of joy LOTRO has given me this past year. I’ve always thought of the game as my “MMO spa”, a place to which I can escape for a relaxing game session — and going free-to-play did not change that. My compliments to the developers, who have worked so hard in ensuring that when I log into LOTRO, I feel as if I’m entering a different world. They’ve done so much in creating an immersive experience and fostering a fantastic community, I can’t help but repeat a thought I had last year — that if J.R.R. Tolkien was alive to play the game today, I think he would be damn proud.

To Blizzard and the World of Warcraft team – Thank you. Thank you for still being willing to take risks even after more than six years of success. Despite what others may say, I did think Cataclysm was a gutsy move. I know I’ve complained enough times about my disdain for WoW endgame, but have rarely ever talked what I did like about the expansion — questing and leveling. Yes, I know I say that about practically every MMO I play, but the new quests in Cataclysm were really something. Even if it was only five levels, I personally enjoyed them for what they were. Questing my way through each zone was like working my way through a storybook, and for the first time in years, I actually felt interested and excited about what WoW quest text had to say again.

To BioWare and BioWare Austin – Thank you. Thank you for advocating a bigger focus on lore and character, for pushing the boundaries of video game writing, and for putting story first. Thank you for making groundbreaking RPGs in recent years like Mass Effect and Dragon Age, and delighting me with choices, consequences, and interactions with the game environment and NPCs in ways I’ve never imagined. Thank you for the desire to bring those elements to MMOs. To the Star Wars: The Old Republic team, I appreciate all the weekly updates on the game, even the Fan Fridays and the tiniest lore reveals. Not too many companies do that for their fans.

To Trion and the Rift team - Thank you. Thank you for releasing a complete and polished MMO. And the more I play Rift, the more I find to like about it — from rifting to artifact collecting, from the soul system to running dungeons with my guild. I’ve seen for months people saying Rift is a fun game, but that Trion hasn’t really made any huge breakthroughs or done anything that new — but I tend to disagree. For one, the devs have bent over backwards in some cases to listen to their players. Yet they’ve also stuck to their goals, to bring about their vision for the game. And finally, they made full use of the beta process and managed to pull off an incredibly smooth launch. I feel Trion has in fact managed to do something very few MMO companies have done before. I know it’s a different argument, but it counts for something.

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Read Lately – Guild Wars: Edge Of Destiny

January 11, 2011

“Read lately” is a relative term, because I’ve actually been sitting on this review for a while. I’ve been busy, that is true, but I’ve also been holding off for another reason. Whenever I have an underwhelmed opinion of something, I like to take some time to mull it over to ensure I haven’t been too hasty in my judgment.

After considering it fully, however, my thoughts on Edge of Destiny remain the same, especially when I compare it to other books in the gaming tie-in genre or to Ghosts of Ascalon, the Guild Wars book that came before it. I would gladly recommend the latter, even to people who are just readers of fantasy fiction in general, but I don’t think I can say the same for EoD. Unfortunately, unless you are a fan of the Guild Wars franchise or familiar with the game, there is just not enough to hold you.

For one thing, author J. Robert King takes a different tack with EoD, focusing more on a plot driven story with little character development, with the goal of packing in a lot of action. Granted, that’s not always bad, and I’ll admit the first big fight scene had me turning the pages hungering for more. Well, as they say, be careful what you wish for, because fight and more fight was what I got. In fact, any development in the plot seemed designed to exist solely to throw the characters into battle, and when our heroes aren’t in a fight, they’re either winding down from one or getting ready for yet another. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

In short, I found it difficult to to get into the book because I found it difficult to care about the members of Destiny’s Edge. Between all the fighting, I barely got the chance to know who they were. That is not to say the characters didn’t have potential, or that there weren’t some very interesting dynamics between them, because they did and there were. Rytlock and Logan, for example, two bitter enemies who are on their way to discovering that they have more things in common than they’d care to admit. Snaff and Rojja, for another, in which the apprentice must come to grips with her love for her master all the while yearning to come out from living in his shadow. And of course, what about the relationship (romance?) between Logan and Jennah? Throw a beautiful, royal woman into the mix and you know this can’t end well. Despite it all being somewhat predictable, all the ingredients are there for some great character development, but for some reason, King stops short of taking things all the way, leaving it up to the reader to reason out the characters’ motivations. This led me to question a lot of the characters’ decisions in the end, and led to a lot of confusion when they acted what I felt was out of character, taking some of my enjoyment away.

However, I will concede that perhaps EoD was not written for someone like me. Despite having played Guild Wars and looking forward to Guild Wars 2, I know very little about the game lore and I was actually well past the halfway point before I realized Destiny’s Edge  was a renowned group of adventurers already in the in-game mythos. The novel’s direction made a lot more sense to me after that. I still would have preferred more character development, but I can also understand how fans who are already familiar with Caithe, Eir, Logan, Rytlock, Snaff, Zojja and Garm, would probably be more interested in the details of their many great deeds instead.

Nevertheless, I still believe the matter is one of balance. A lot of action in a book is fine, but EoD had it in excess. I felt that the novel would have been a lot stronger if the imbalance could have been addressed with a greater focus on developing the heroes, their internal thoughts, and the relationships between them. I don’t want to reveal too many spoilers, but let’s just say that would have made for a much more emotional and absorbing ending. Furthermore, I think the book would also have appealed to a wider audience, the way Ghost of Ascalon had by giving readers a good background on the game lore and its protagonists without sacrificing the action.

Anyway, if you’re interested in a take of EoD from a long time Guild Wars fan and don’t mind a ton of spoilers, I also recommend checking out Hunter’s review.

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My Stab At Guild Wars Fan Art: A Sylvari

September 19, 2010

A couple weeks ago, I received an email from an acquaintance asking if I could do a drawing for him of a female sylvari, as in the botanical humanoids encountered in Guild Wars Eye of the North and Guild Wars 2.

Problem was, I know little about the Sylvari beyond a couple pieces of concept art I’ve stumbled across and from what I’ve read in the novel Ghosts of Ascalon which features a sylvari necromancer named Killeen. However, the guy told me not to worry; he wasn’t looking for anything extravagant or overly detailed. In his words, just a nice sketch of something “simple and elegant” will suffice.

Anyway, I was munching on some seedless grapes the other day, and was suddenly inspired by a fleeting image in my head of a girl with hair adorned with grapevines and leaves. I grabbed a 0.5 black pigment pen and an art marker, and quickly sketched my idea of a sylvari. In a few hours, this was the result.

The size of the paper was too big for the scanner so I had take a photo of it instead, on an overcast afternoon when the light had already shifted, hence I apologize for the poor quality of the image.

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Read Lately

August 31, 2010

I’ve been devouring books like a beast in the past few weeks.

Guild Wars 2: Ghosts of Ascalon by Matt Forbeck and Jeff Grubb

As usual, we’ll start off with game fiction, and as always, there will be no spoilers. For a synopsis of the novel as well as a sample of the first chapter, go here.  As reviews go, mine will be nowhere near as detailed as Hunter’s (who even had a live blog going) or Anjin’s over at Bullet Points, but I’ll give my take anyway. For one thing, I had a very different take on the novel as someone who started off knowing very little about the lore of Guild Wars. I had to have a bestiary open on my browser just to look up the races of some of the main characters. Needless to say, there had to be some details of important events or figures that were surely lost on me.

Despite that, I was able to enjoy the book. At first, I thought getting through it would be a struggle because I had expected to lose interest the moment I realize I have no idea what’s going on. That and I had gotten used to the fact that game tie-ins are notoriously bad about giving background information, as if they expect anyone picking it up to be an uber fan of the game and already have all that knowledge. So I was a little surprised to find that I did not have this problem with Ghosts of Ascalon. While there were many details I wish the authors could have elaborated on, all the relevant information was there so I could follow the story with ease, and not once did I feel confounded by the timeline of the major happenings in the lore.

The characters were also a pleasure to get to know, even though most of them were corny cliches that adhered to familiar and therefore standard and very specific archetypes, but that’s to be expected. The way I see it, at least each individual character has a personality, even if they are two-dimensional and never stray too far from their roles. I enjoyed the dialogue and the witty banter, and found myself drawn to the main character Dougal Keane and especially to Kranxx the Asura.

The story itself was also straightforward, conventional and everything you would expect from game fiction, and I would have lost interest if not for the quality of the writing. While it may be cliched and excessively flowery at times, I have lots of respect for authors who can tell a story and express their characters’ intents without overtly giving that information away. My favorite writers always show, not tell. Through the descriptions of Dougal’s actions alone, his emotions and motivations became clear to me, and that should be the way it is. Authors who give a play-by-play on every single thought in their characters’ heads drive me nuts.

A part of me even wishes the novel could have been longer, but it ended well and for the most part it was well-paced. It seemed like every other chapter saw our adventurers getting into yet another fight, but at least the story was moving forward. There’s no doubt this book has gotten me even more excited for Guild Wars 2, and has even renewed my interest in playing Guild Wars, if anything to discover what other tales the rich lore and land of Tyria can offer me.

Non-gaming related:

A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

This was a total impulse buy that caught my eye as I was browsing through the bestsellers in the Kindle store. Told in the first-person point of view of a dog looking for his purpose, and has to be reborn several times to find it, one moment this book was making me laugh, and the next I was bawling my eyes out. It’s cute, funny, touching, and perfect if you’re looking for a casual and easy read.

Dog lovers will enjoy it, and while I’m not big on the anthropomorphizing of animals, I still have to admit Cameron does a pretty good job of delving into a dog’s mind. Several times while reading this book, I’ve gone over and give my Cavalier puppy a hug, or thought about my other dog, a Beagle that’s now living with my parents and getting on in years. You don’t have to own a dog to love A Dog’s Purpose, but for someone who does, it definitely makes you consider your role in your dog’s life and vice versa.

The “Millennium” Trilogy by Stieg Larsson

Set in Sweden, it takes a while to get used to the names and customs in this trilogy, but overall the English translation was done really well. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first book, introducing Mikael Blomkvist the financial journalist who after being convicted of libel exiles himself to an island to investigate a family mystery for the man who hires him. Then we meet Lisbeth Salander, a young woman with special talents who rejects social norms but who has been under state guardianship since her early teens. Together, they work to figure out the fate of a teenager who went missing almost 40 years ago, but along the way uncover more depravity and corruption than they ever could have imagined.

First and foremost this book is a mystery thriller, and I knew this before I started reading. So after the first few chapters, I still remember wondering if Amazon had screwed up and sent me the wrong book. The story doesn’t pick up until after about the first quarter, when the plot elements finally come together and I start having a better idea of where the mystery part of the story was going. Several themes like the ugly truth of violence (especially against women), fascism, and financial crime are also interwoven into the main story along with multiple plot lines, and after a while you start to see how it all comes together. At times shocking and unpredictable, by the halfway point of this book I was completely hooked and I couldn’t put it down until its conclusion.

Not wanting to wait, I jumped right into the second book of the trilogy, The Girl Who Played With Fire. Again, more thrills and investigations when three people are murdered on the same night — and Lisbeth Salander is the main suspect.

I didn’t like the second installment as much, since once again it was slow to take off and took even longer for the story to take shape. Also, I loved The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for the mystery and the clue-hunting by the novel’s protagonists. On the other hand, The Girl Who Played With Fire, while having its mysterious elements, is more a thriller than a mystery. Again, there are multiple plots and themes, but they all come together less coherently that I would have expected. The focus here also clearly shifts to Salander, though Blomkvist still plays an important role in trying to prove her innocence.

Despite its flaws, The Girl Who Played With Fire is still a solid book, even if it doesn’t pack a punch like the first one did and drags on at times. At least I liked it enough to continue with the third and final book in the series, and I’m glad I did.

In a way, I like to think of The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest as one big novel. For one thing, the latter picks up right where the former left off so we don’t miss a single beat. In this one we go hunting with Blomkvist for the people who framed Lisbeth for the murders and turned her life into a living hell. It is a book about collecting information, preparing for a trial, and ultimately bringing those who are responsible to justice.

If you read the second book, the third one is a must. It. Is. Good. Again, perhaps not as strong as the first novel, but definitely in my opinion better than the second while providing it with a satisfying conclusion which answers all the questions and ties everything up beautifully as well. For the ending of this book alone, I feel both are worth reading. What a shame it is that the late Stieg Larsson will no longer bring us more adventures of Blomkvist and Salander. After finishing this book, I was actually overcome with a little sadness.

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Mesmerized

August 25, 2010

My problem with free-to-play games is that I have great difficulty motivating myself to play them. A subscription game costing me $15 a month will have me logging in on a regular basis in order to feel like I’m getting my money’s worth, but my lax attitude with F2P has always been “meh, what the rush? It’ll always be there.”

This is the main reason I believe why I haven’t been giving Guild Wars the attention it deserves. The game hasn’t cost me a dime since I bought the trilogy a couple months back. Of course, there have been other factors too. After a handful of play sessions, I found my interest in the Prophecies campaign gradually tapering off. I had learned the basic gist of the game and gotten a handle on my abilities, and was ready for the campaign to take off. Unfortunately, I never felt it did. Nonetheless, I’m not sorry I started with Prophecies; despite its slow pacing, it was still a great starting point for a newcomer like me.

Recently, I decided to jump back into Guild Wars, this time with Nightfall. I have high hopes for this campaign, since PVE’s my thing and I’ve heard that Nightfall is geared more towards it. Thus far I’ve also had no luck getting my husband to play Guild Wars with me, so I was intrigued by the prospect of Heroes, these super NPCs that are similar to henchman but whose skills, attributes and equipment I can customize. In other words, solo play made easy.

And I haven’t been disappointed yet. Koss loves tearing things up.

However, I’m starting to think I made the wrong choice when it comes to profession. I initially chose the Mesmer because they looked fun and really unique on paper, though in practice, I think I’m more suited to a profession that’s less about control and support and more about in-your-face brute strength. I’m still holding out in the hopes of choosing a good Secondary profession that will complement my Primary, and I’ve reached the point where I can choose one, but haven’t yet until I learn more. I’ve started to do my own research, but as always I’m also open to suggestions.

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