Category Archives: Game Design

Rebuilding Lion’s Arch…?

GW2 Lion's Arch rebuilt crafting stationsWhen the latest patch got released, I headed over to the forum to read the patch notes as I always do, but when I read the part about Lion’s Arch, I logged into the game to see it with my own eyes. I can’t tell you how disappointed I was – and yes, I may have ranted and raged a bit here in front of my PC. But let me explain what happened.

When, before the patch, I had read that the Zepyhrites would be offering their help to rebuild Lion’s Arch, I had imagined that we, as players, would be helping as well. I thought that this meant that with the next few patches, this would be part of the living story content. Imagine this: helping the citizens of Lion’s Arch out and with the next Living Story release, the bank would be back in place. After that, the lion statue, then the Trading Post. Up until in the very end, the portals would finally be back and fully working!

Or why not let us all collaborate? Make it a race between the regions: EU and US servers – which region gets Lion’s Arch back on its feet first? Different challenges, activities, etc. drop and award different special materials that are needed for the rebuilding process. Make it a game, give us a mini lion’s statue that is placed in our home instance as a reward. Make it fun!

GW2 Lion's Arch rebuilt mapInstead, after logging into the game, I found that everything we need is already back. Yes, Lion’s Arch itself is still in ruins! But it’s fully functional again. 3 crafting areas, 4 banks, 4 trading posts, the portals, mystic forge, etc. One could say that it’s better than before – or more convenient, as you can choose which area of Lion’s Arch you want to spend your time at while putting items into the bank. This isn’t “helping rebuild”. In fact, I fail to see why they would need any help from the Zephyrites or anybody else. The amount of vendors, banks, trading posts (just think of all the trading post fees we’re paying!) should be more than enough to pay for the rebuilding of the rest of the city.

This was a swoosh with a wand and some fairies granted us a wish and made it flawlessly perfect. But at the same time, at least for me, utterly boring. I had been looking forward to getting the rebuilding process as content, to tell all the future newcomers: “I was there. I saw this city before it was attacked, I saw it and defended it while it was attacked, I saw it when it was in ruins and I was here helping rebuild it! This is partly my doing!” Instead, I was handed everything on a silver platter within a few minutes.

We can maybe help make the city look pretty again, but for me, there’s no sense of urgency to it. And yeah, while it may be good to give citizens back their homes, I have to admit that as long as I don’t get my own house, I don’t care where the NPCs are living either. ;) At the same time, I do hope that we will be asked to help out in some way in a future patch and get to rebuild something. Maybe not a trading post or the portals, but at this point, anything would be nice.

And this is probably also why I shouldn’t assume and imagine things. Expectations can lead to great disappointment…

Lion’s Arch: A look at what’s happened to the city

I have seen the question “What happened to Lion’s Arch” asked frequently in Lion’s Arch map chat in the last few weeks. I will gladly give you an answer here: Scarlet happened. But as I was thinking about how to explain the happenings in as few words as possible (the chat in Guild Wars 2 does not really allow for lengthy replies), I realized that since launch, a lot more has happened to Lion’s Arch. Usually nothing this big, but still big enough to show you here. So before we get to the most recent “happening” (also known as the destruction of Lion’s Arch), let me take you back in time.

A word of warning, this post will be picture-heavy and you may have to scroll quite a bit. ;)

GW2_Lions_Arch019Guild Wars 2 launched in August 2012, but before that, players who had pre-purchased the game got to participate in the so-called “BWEs” (beta weekend events). During one BWE in April 2012, I went through Lion’s Arch to take the first screenshot gallery of what seemed to become an addiction of mine later on. Go here to view it.

GW2 Loading Screen LA Halloween 2012Not long after launch, the first Halloween was celebrated. I still fondly remember the one moment we had all been waiting for. No, actually, it was controversial. ArenaNet had announced that something would happen that would only happen once. So, if you weren’t able to attend for whatever reason, you would miss it. Thankfully, while it was great to watch, there were also players who recorded it and I don’t think it’s less impressive to watch it now: The Mad King broke free into Tyria and destroyed the Lion statue. It wasn’t until January, 2013, that the statue got fully rebuilt, by the way.

While this destruction was the only more permanent change, the temporary decorations in Lion’s Arch were still awesome to look at, too!

GW2 Karka in LAThe inhabitants of Lion’s Arch did not get a lot of rest, as in November 2012, Karka attacked Lion’s Arch. This time, the Lion statue was safe, but instead, the Light Tower got destroyed. This was another one-time event, but without such an impressive cutscene. Still, the lighthouse got destroyed and was not rebuilt like the lion statue. Instead, a new lighthouse was built a bit next to the old one.

Fast forwarded to December, 2012. The first Wintersday in post-GW1 Tyria. Again, the focus of attention was on Lion’s Arch and the whole city had been decorated accordingly. This time, nothing had been destroyed, but instead an enchanted snow globe had been put on top of the Mystic Forge.

I thought the decorations for Dragon Bash in June 2013 were less elaborate than the Wintersday ones. When I looked at my screenshots, I realized that I had just forgotten how Lion’s Arch looked during that event.

GW2 Dragon Bash 2013 Login ScreenIt featured, as the name suggests, lots of dragons: dragon piñatas, a huge dragon hologram and dragon decorations! During this event, one member of Lion’s Arch’s Captain’s Council, Captain Theo Ashford, got killed by assassins.

After that, if I remember correctly, Lion’s Arch had some time to rest and relax from all the celebrations until the election for the free spot in the Captain’s Council in July 2013. As probably most of us know, Ellen Kiel had won the election and was consequently shown as a hologram instead of the lion statue. Thankfully, this was only a temporary change!GW2 Ellen Kiel Hologram 2013

Halloween 2013 was pretty much like Halloween 2012, except for the lion statue not getting destroyed that year. Wintersday 2013, too, was like Wintersday 2012.

GW2 Burning Lion's ArchFebruary 2014 marks the time when Lion’s Arch was changed in a much more drastic way than a lot of players thought ArenaNet would dare. I managed to take some more screenshots of Lion’s Arch before it changed to its current state. Scarlet and her minions started the full-on attack on Lion’s Arch. You can find a few of the screenshots I took during that attack here. By the way, Scarlet and her minions had planted a huge drill in the water in front of Lion’s Arch, in order to disrupt some ley lines which ultimately woke up the Elder Dragon Mordremoth and that’s why Lion’s Arch is destroyed now.

In March 2014, we had managed to get rid of all the miasma, and players tried to fight over Lion’s Arch and get rid of the invaders. We succeeded, but the result is the Lion’s Arch you can see today. As you can probably imagine by now, I have a screenshot gallery for this version as well!GW2 Lion's Arch 2.0

Just in case you’re confused: Almost everything that Lion’s Arch had to offer can now be found in Vigil Keep (see here for a guide on how to get to Vigil Keep and the other cities). The laurel vendors can be found in the races’ cities as can be the crafting areas. If you want to get to Southsun Cove, you can find a portal in front of Vigil Keep (where you can also find the NPC to join the activities).

But don’t be sad. The Lion’s Arch we see today is not the Lion’s Arch of the future. As mentioned on MMORPG.com, the Zephyrites will help rebuild Lion’s Arch. So it looks like the tradition will continue and Lion’s Arch will begin to change its face again soon. :) However, we do not know yet whether Lion’s Arch will become the central hub again like it used to be in the past.

Bookahneer’s Geekwatch: Post Feature-Patch

Guild Wars 2 Bookahneer's GeekwatchWelcome to Bookahneer’s Geekwatch! The place about miscellaneous interesting news and rants related to Guild Wars 2 – and on occasion, other games.

Today’s Geekwatch is all about Guild Wars 2. With the recent feature patch, ArenaNet introduced quite a lot of changes. I will not go into everything they have added here now or bore you with what I think about every single feature. Instead, I will just mention two features and one thing I like and one thing I dislike about them, as that’s what stood out the most for me in the last few days.

GW2 Ranger and moaThe first is the wardrobe. I still prefer the systems where you buy wardrobe slots and cosmetic outfit slots like Lotro and Rift have, but that’s another story, I guess. I think it’s great that you can wear your outfits in battle now and that you can dye them (as a whole, not individual pieces). Most of all, that you can dye them! Just look at my ranger in her pirate outfit and her moa pet. Aren’t they cute together? :p It’s also great that once bought, I can activate and deactivate the outfits as often as I like without having to pay anything again. The thing I do not like is that some items, like the reading glasses, did not receive that treatment. You can activate outfits for free, but if I want to wear the reading glasses, which I bought from the gem store for real money just like I did the pirate outfit, I have to pay real money again. Every time I change my character’s head armor, and if I want to keep the reading glasses, I have to use a transmutation charge. It annoys me that I have to pay twice now. Sure, for that, I can also wear them in battle, but at GW2 wardrobe reading glassesthe same time, I can’t wear them at all anymore unless I pay with a transmutation charge. Before the change, I wore them when I wasn’t in combat and I used to alternate between having my mesmer or my warrior wear them. I just think it’s inconvenient that this isn’t possible anymore. Alternatively, I would love to have a white account-bound head item that all my characters can equip, without stats, that I can put the glasses skin on. Then I could still have the functionality I want for them, switch the glasses between my characters and use them in non-combat situations.

GW2 Skkia asura thiefAnother big thing is the megaservers. Oh yes, those dreaded things. No, I actually really love that change! Levelling up my thief, who is now level 32, it feels just like post-launch when the lower level regions were crowded. Almost dying in an event because it’s too hard? No, doesn’t work that way anymore, since there’s almost always somebody close who will join and do the event with you! The only downside was that until this morning, the EU servers saw quite a lot of flaming, and using very inappropriate words and insults when people dared to speak a language that isn’t English. The problem here is that despite people rolling on a French or German server, they get put onto a megaserver with the rest of the EU players. There was a certain lack of tolerance towards people using foreign languages. Actually, as sad as it is, that’s not that different from the flames I see in whatever MMO – including Guild Wars 2 – when playing on a EU English server and people use a language that isn’t English, but the amount of flaming increased a lot with the recent change.

GW2 Map chat settingsWith the latest hotfix, however, the default setting is that you only see map chat from people whose client language is the same as yours (with a few exceptions mentioned in the patch notes). You can disable that functionality (click on the wheel icon on the upper left of the chat window and remove the check) and then you’ll see the chat from the other two client languages as well. But if you do that, I think it’s safe to assume that you’re okay with people using different languages in your chat channels. I personally would have preferred to have separate map chats that you could join (simultaneously, of course, so that you don’t miss out on any language if you don’t want to) for the different official languages (and maybe a few more than that, because… why not?).

GW2_Trading Post consumables foodThen there is a something that I haven’t seen in any patch notes: The “Consumable” category in the Trading Post is finally working correctly! I have no idea when that one got fixed, but I do remember clicking “consumable” and then “food” to buy food for the Daily Feast and only getting beverages as a result. Today, I clicked on those categories again and I was positively surprised that they’re all working correctly now. Finally! :)

So yeah, apart from the reading glasses, I’m happy. But those I clearly do miss and I’m working on my ascended helmet for my warrior, so that she can get her glasses back on an item that I’m going to be wearing for a long time.

The excitement of getting an expansion

MMO shelfIf you’re following Rift, you may have noticed that they’re handling their second expansion, Plane of Water, differently than they did the previous one or than what other MMO developers are usually doing: Instead of giving you everything at once, they are giving us the expansion piece by piece. The reason they stated is that they don’t want their players to wait until every last thing is done and release all features together, but instead, they want to give us the features when they’re ready. The first part was a new crafting profession, Dream Weaving, together with new dimensions. The profession mainly makes items for your dimensions and it can also craft the keys for the new dimensions. The second part was the PvP dimensions feature which got released with the last patch.

The next part will be the four new souls (something like “skill trees” for the non-Rift players) which we were told would arrive some time in May (but not late May!). I’m excited about that, because it means my warrior will get a healing soul and bookahnerk’s mage will get a tank soul. So, we can be an unconventional healer/tank duo!

Don’t get me wrong, I think it is really great to get those features as soon as they are done. I am slowly levelling up Dream Weaving and others are creating their first PvP dimensions. It gives us something to do and I have had those short moments of excitement when logging on after a patch knowing there will be something new in the game. But at the same time, I am not sure I really prefer it over the “traditional expansions”.

I still clearly and fondly remember my very first MMO expansion: World of Warcraft’s Burning Crusade. Bookahnerk, his cousin, a friend and I drove to a city nearby for a midnight sale that a shop was having. We went out for dinner first, then went to that store. They had us wait in front and at first, I felt a bit silly. World of Warcraft was my first MMO and here we were, in front of a store, at night in cold January 2007, waiting for them to open the doors, so we can buy an expansion and it would be very late until we got back home. The employees of the store actually walked along the line and handed out free hot beverages (coffee at 11pm – smart idea! :p).

While waiting there, we started talking with some people behind us. As is usual, we first checked who played which faction (For the Horde!), then we talked about which servers we played on, which classes were our mains and so on. At some point, I had a look behind us as I had not paid attention to the line and I was shocked: The line that hadn’t looked too long in the beginning had grown huge. I had not been able to see the end of it. All those people were there only for one expansion? After they opened the doors, I think it took us 20 minutes until we finally got to buy our expansions.

After that, we still had about a one hour drive back home. I installed the expansion, downloaded another patch and created my blood elf mage at which point I fell into bed. But to be honest, it had not been about playing in the night. It had been about going there, meeting other players, and doing something with friends. This is something that I miss with the digital expansions only. But while it is a nice memory, this post isn’t about digital or physical expansions. It’s about the lack of an “all at once” expansion (or, in ArenaNet’s case, developers considering not doing an expansion at all).

The next morning, I was ready to get into the expansion. Finally! I did not even know where to start: Blood elf starting area with my mage or should I rather take my main character to the expansion region? Or did I actually want to make a short trip to Alliance side and see what the Draenei were all about? Did I want to check out the new crafting profession? There were so many things I wanted to see and check out! I felt the magic again that I had last experienced when I had first set foot into World of Warcraft. The feeling that I always get when I explore a new MMO for the first time.

And this is the reason why I’m sad that we’re not having this with Rift (and maybe Guild Wars 2 as well). As nice as it is getting expansion content piece by piece and not having to wait, it also takes away this magic moment of feeling like the game is brand new again.