GW2 I Have Not Forgotten Thee

But I have had a heck of a time a) finding time to play and b) deciding on a character class.


You may remember that I am playing STO incessantly – but that’s rather easy with my schedule.  Even on busy nights (there’s been a lot of those lately) I can log on at 9 or 10pm and crank out an hour of dailies and duty officer assignments on STO, or just que up for a scenario for some extra Fleet Marks.  But for me, GW2 has not been a game to just drop into for an hour.  When I want to play GW2 I want to settle in and enjoy the scenario, have enough time to travel and check off some of those points of interest and what I have come to call “Helping Hearts” (The gold ones…you know what I’m talking about).


And I also have a hard time deciding what to play.  Some nights I feel Necromancer-ish.  Some nights I’m loving my Thief.  My two initial (and highest level) characters, a Ranger and a Mesmer are really two of my least favorite at this point.  The Mesmer’s disturbingly low DPS and utter squishability has me very distressed, because I thought that was me all the way.  And I was running the Ranger solo (and still am) – but its not quite as satisfying as I thought it would be.  So right now I’m mostly playing catch up, trying to get another character where the first two were so that my brother and I can take up arms together again.


Chat clipped because wedding planning details are boring.


The Mesmer has been the real sore spot.  I just cannot figure out how to play one effectively in a group setting.  Solo I just roll out a ton of illusions and stand off with my great sword and damange mantra.  But in group play I’m lucky to get one illusion out before a target goes belly up, and controlling them is a pointless endeavor on such a short window.   Some of the weapon skills are just wonky too.  I saw a player with a scepter/sword combo the other day.  I have no idea why that would be effective – 2 of your 5 weapons skills are used for blocking at that point.  And your only utility dps can only be used twice before it needs recharging, and it hits for so little, it doesn’t seem worth it.


I tried to figure out a trait line to make it a little better, and I did.  So let me pause at this point and deeply, highly recommend this site to you.  It is the best, most useful skill/trait calculator out there, as far as I have seen.  Using it put me in the drivers seat to letting me make the Mesmer viable and helping me choose what class would be “best” for me.  So far its a toss up between the Thief, Necro, and Ranger.  The Ranger I think I will keep as my solo fun toon (the Wild Boar’s Forage skill…so much fun), so the other two are on tap to be my new group main at some point.   I have yet to really try the Warrior, Guardian, or Engineer.  The Engineer I’m not really keen on – looks cool, but I’m just not sure its for me.  The Guardian looks fun, but my brother is running one so if I do one it will be another solo toon – and I like the Ranger too much for that.  Warrior – well, that would be something different for me, I may have to try that at some point.   That leaves the Elementalist of course, but there’s just too many choices there.  I know that’s a good problem to have usually, but I cannot puzzle out a build that would give me everything I want out of the character, so I’m setting it aside for now.


All in all – it’s a little weird to have alt-itis after the last couple of games (TSW, STO) pretty much nipped that in the bud!

Entry Level Social Interactions

I was reading Rowan’s second post on social interactions in GW2, itself inspired by Syp’s post on the same.

I appreciate the social interactions in GW2, perhaps all the more so because of how little I got in The Old Republic.  And I agree with the posts and what they have to say.  The truth is that social interaction in games is always going to start basic.  Its growth depends on the people involved and the relationship.

But how do you offer that initial opportunity for socialization?  That is the key, and in my experience, in MMO’s, the key revolves around allowing players the opportunity to help other players.

Think for a moment about how many of the relationships, friends, and acquaintances have started because you were helping that person or they were helping you?  Certainly all of Rowan’s examples fit that mold.  Think about what a guild represents – why are those people there?  To chit-chat with – yes, perhaps, but even the chit-chat is a means to the end of having people who are willing to come and give you a hand.  Or who you are willing to set aside your playtime for to give them a hand.  Even outside of MMO’s – the friends I have in Battlefield 3 that I don’t know in real life, are there  because of helping interactions we’ve had.  I pulled them out of a tight spot.  They ran the server we were on and helped us with a player who was cheating.  The list goes on.

Its also no coincidence that these are the most memorable moments in your gaming history.  That time your group banded together to take down the dungeon boss.  The moment when you helped that noob and donated some money to his start up fund.  The time your guild ran an event together to make sure everyone got the achievement/loot.

It is in every game’s interest – even those devoted to PvP – to provide opportunities for players to lean on each other.  GW2 does an excellent job of this with its mechanics, and its a part of the foundation of its success.  I think you can look to other successful games and see the same thing.  I was at a presentation one time where the presenter referred to these types of entry level interactions as “social lubricant.”  The term, while it has a bit of an “eww” factor, is dead on.  That lubricant makes it easier for people to develop a relationship.

Unfortunately, what games still struggle with is building a good community of players who will take those basic opportunities and interactions and take them to the next level.    They also struggle with providing tools that allow blossoming relationships to deepen.   Right now, most of those opportunities are outsourced to third party platforms – private guild forums and websites.   Even just have a place of meeting for a guild in game is a significant step forward.   This is a place where GW2, and to be fair, many MMO’s, are significantly lacking.   I believe, by the way, that this is one of the things that has made EVE a lasting success as an MMO – the ability for groups of people, having formed relationships, to claim a home and a strong sense of group identity, within the landscape (and I don’t necessarily mean that term literally) of the game.

The next game to get both of these things right – the lubricant, and the deepening roots – will be a great game indeed.

Four Years and Counting…

Yeah, I may as well go ahead and post it since Ysh outed me.  Its been a little over four years since I started this fun little adventure.  If I remember right, there are a couple of others who share similar dates. The stats will be a little off since there is an extra month in there, but what the hay – here ya go:

Quick Stats: 

Total Views:  93,987  (41,363 last year, 21,407 or so the year before)

Best Month:   9350 views in May, 2012  (2,947 last January,  2281 the year before)

Busiest Day:  971 views on  May 2nd, 2012 (602 last year, 270  the year before)

Top 5 Posts:  Tips and Tricks for World of Tanks, Naming Your Ship,  TERA Online Review, How Well Will the SWTOR Launch Go? That Depends on How Tolerant You Are, Naming Your Ship 2

Top 3 Most Popular Tags (By Game):  Star Trek Online, EVE Online, World of Tanks

* Note, views to my home page blow all of those away.  This is the up and down of not requiring you to “jump” after a break in the post.

Search  Terms that Make You Go Hmmm:

minecraft hotel lobby  (if you build it, they will come…)

hot jedi  (we’re not that kind of site really)

вестибюль гостиницы (Russian for hotel lobby…apparently I am source zero for hotel lobby information)

otel lobİlerİ (Turkish that time…)

tera character nude (Also about six variations of “tera online sexy” – are people this desperate for porn?)

star wars the old republic nude (I’m seeing a trend here…)

real world controversy (We have that in spades…)

Referrals and Referees:

Top 3 Bloggers Who Helped Me With Traffic:  Nil’s Blog, Bio Break, Stonee’s EQOA Blog

Top 3 Bloggers I Helped With Traffic: GCTAGN, Rowan

Again, theres much bigger numbers in the former than the latter…

Thoughts and Goals:

At this time last year I was still looking for my first level cap.    I got that not long thereafter!  And then once more in April when I did the same in Star Trek Online,  a month after I hit 30.  And STO may be the first game for a multi-cap as well – my Klingon character is a day away from the same Captain milestone.   I have been blessed to have a regular playgroup for a long while.  Starting last June and continuing straight on until this past July, when my little playing group folded its tents in TOR and took a little enforced break while one of the members prepares to head off to basic training, and when my beloved TOR guild shut its doors.  These days I am mostly guild oriented, chatting amiable with my 12th Fleet and Knights of Mercy friends, or some of that old Beskar crew in World of Tanks.  Sadly though – guild oriented does not always equal group oriented.

My vision this year is tilted backwards.  The only MMO I am looking forward to is ArcheAge, and there is little evidence that it will land here in the next year.  And my Beta stuff has slowed down – only one I’m actively involved in at the moment is MechWarrior Online, and for my two cents, once you take people’s money for the game, its not a Beta anymore, no matter what you want to classify it as.

That said, there are several games I want to revisit this year – EVE Online, and Vanguard.  Pirates of the Burning Sea and maybe a stint in Everquest, since I never could bring myself to log in and say goodbye to EQOA.


MMO’s: Rift (3 months), TOR (7 months), The Secret World (2 months), TERA Online (1 month), GW2 (1 month), STO (7 months), Istaria (1 month)

Other Online:  WoT (12 months), WoWP (2 months), MWO (1 month), Stronghold Online (1 month)

Alphas/Betas:  Dawntide, Heroes and Generals, MWO, WoWP

Table Top/RPG:  Call of Cthulhu, Mansions of Madness, Anima: The Card Game, Anima RPG, Hellas RPG, Houses of the Blooded RPG


Thanks to the Casualties of War crew for keeping the wheels turning all these years, especially Genda’s hard work, though I do miss his blogging (poke, poke).   Thanks also to my wonderful – dare I say – online family in Beskar, who made the last two years so fun.  And thank you to KoM and 12th Fleet for taking me in – here’s to the future.    And a big thank you, and congratulations to my brother and his then-fiance-now wife, for helping me make so many of my gaming dreams come true in the last year.  Big ups playa.

The Evolution of Storylines

Back in the day when I first started up with MMO’s, we didn’t really have a whole lot of storylines.  Well, we did, but we called them quests.  You know, back before quests were just a way to give you a bonus for grinding the same thing for hours instead of exploring.  Back then, every quest was a storyline quest by default.  In EQOA part of the reward of grinding was hitting a level that had an available quest, which would usually take several days to complete and lead you over multiple zones, with the end result usually being enough XP to move you up another level.  You’d pay attention to the text, you’d probably need a group, or at least another friend or two, and with the story text and some imagination, you could spend a week RP-ing the snot out of that thing.


But I digress…


This all comes up because my brother apologized to me last night.  We’ve had some problems with the overflow instancing in GW2 preventing us from being able to play together.  To be fair, while its not the best system (and it is broken right now apparently – there is an option to join your partymate, but it gives you an error message), it was our fault because we had a little miscommunication when the queue was up about whether we were going to stay in the overflow or not.  And we never got re-linked because he was zoning all over the play working in his storyline quests.  Hence his apology – “I’m sorry, I just got sucked into the story.”


And I thought – wow, what a  change.  A month ago we were complaining about how the storylines in TOR were slowing us down and not at all interesting.  And we frequently apologized when the action had to be interrupted for one of us to go advance a storyline or pull us the wrong way on the map to update a related objective.  And that led to a bigger question – how is it that Guild Wars 2 stumbled into better stories and arguable a better way of telling those stories, and with more meaningful dialogue choices (a three axis personality system rather than two), all while seemingly not making it a priority above anything else they were doing.  Granted, roleplaying and storyline were a part of their manifesto, but so were gameplay and fun and all that jazz.


And of course this led me to the inevitably sad “what if” scenario.  What if TOR had allowed your personal story the same level of customization that GW2 does?  Some of the early leaks around TOR indicated that you would be choosing a background for you character – but it was tied directly to your race – in other words, you had a single three point decision to make that decided both your back story and your race.

One of the small blips in the aftermath of TOR’s crumble was an anonymous posting by an alleged developer who complaining that it was the communities fault for giving bad feedback.   I am wondering now if it wasn’t bad feedback – it was the usual Bioware “allergic to listening” miscommunication.

You see, when images like this started being leaked, people hit the roof.  It was restrictive, it was draconic, it was foolish, it put us too much on rails…and at that point in the raging, Bioware pulled the plug on it and started opening up more race options for each character class.  They ended up throwing out the baby with the bathwater, because what people were actually saying was “What if I want to play a ‘Merc’ – who is not a human?”  What if instead Bioware had kept the three backgrounds, and separated them from race?  Or, as Guild Wars 2 has done, separated them *by* race?

Of course, all that is assuming that Bioware actually had that background programmed into the extensive voiced dialogue they had recorded, and I think we are all pretty clear on what the chances of that were.

So for now, we’ve ended up with some pretty decent stories from a game that didn’t set the bar too high, and took a long hard look at the feedback they got to try to give the people what they want.  And still managed to provide voiced dialogue for all its stories – thought sadly not for Bill the Barkeep, or Sally the Forlorn Imperial Navy Officer.  But try not to kill me for saying that I wish beyond wishing that The Old Republic had been some kind of love child between these two games.  The IP of Star Wars with the design philosophy of Arena Net.

What an MMORPG that would have made…

And as for the evolution of storylines – I guess the lesson here is that while the form has evolved, the importance of their inclusion and featuring in the game never has.  Its was there from the very beginning.  It was just that some games ignored that feature, and some worshipped it.   Guild Wars 2 manages to strike a nice balance between the two.

Deciding on a GW2 Server

I realized today that I had probably put some effort towards picking a server.   The list is large enough that throwing a dart is a fair possibility, but since the list has been published early and guilds and alliances are getting set for WvWvW, it can also land you on an overcrowded server.   On top of that, as I understand it, guesting (server hopping for PvE) will be disabled initially,  so if there is anyone I want to wave “hi” to anytime soon, I better get it right.

Heck, you’ll need GPS just to get around town it looks like.


So I started checking around with some of the guilds and people I’m familiar with.  The CoW’s have not announced a final location yet, but are probably headed to Northern Shiverpeaks (Arena:  “That’s totally not innuendo, we swear.”)  The Lion’s Arch Irregulars are headed to Stormbluff Isle.  I’ve not yet heard if the other blogger’s guild that is running around out there (which tends to change its name from game to game) will be in the game and if so, on what server, but I’m curious as I wouldn’t mind taking a turn with that crew.


Just going off of names, I’d probably go with Gate of Madness, just because it conjures images of Lovecraft (and my particular favorite among the Cthulhu Mythos, Clark Ashton Smith).  But there are several there that would be great.   I often pick names simply to avoid embarrassment.  Others do the opposite, apparently in droves (see also The Fatman server in TOR).


So what about you?  Where are you headed?  And what guild are you headed out with?  Are you fretting a decision (particularly if you intend to be an active WvWvW person and are worried about the server pop)?


All Hail the Savior of the MMO World (?)

So, like many of you out there, I had a chance to spend some of the weekend playing Guild Wars 2 (though not all of it, as I was in attendence at Liberty Con again after a year hiatus).   I would be lying if I said I was not impressed.


There is a great deal about the game to like, from the general way that quests and exploration is laid out, to the unique advancement and skill unlock system that gives you a nice sense of progression without making you feel like you have to cap level to be fully effective, to the highlighting of a storyline that is configured to your play style.   I even have admiration for the few old school/hardcore nods they put into the game – like separating starting areas by race.  I can tell many of you all are impressed as well – if not from the glowing posts of praise, then at least from the fact that you gave all the half-naked female scholar models a complete and total pass.


But I’m hesitant.  Maybe its because I’m a little gun-shy from previous promises.  Or maybe its because I just don’t trust this franchise not to suddenly make the whole world go boom, or because of the way they carefully avoid the term F2P/Free to Play.   Or perhaps the way in which, unless you got lucky like I did, you had to actually buy the full game to try it out.


But mostly I think its the way that everyone is tripping over themselves to tell you how great it is, how its the next big thing, etc.  In other words, my BS alarm is going off in the back of my head.   Surely there are things about this game that are bad, right?  Things that we don’t like, yes?  If I tried to review this game from my limited playtime and maybe supplemented with everything I’ve read so far, I wouldn’t even have to put a Bad or Ugly section in it seems.


So here’s what I need.  I need to know what is bad or wrong or faulty or weak with this game.  If you have some insight, feel free to drop it here or write a post about it.