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.

Lion’s Arch post-Scarlet

Back during the beta weekend events, I already did a screenshot gallery of Lion’s Arch. I’ve always loved the style of the city and I couldn’t believe it could be a target and be destroyed one day. I did take the cues, though, and before anything happened, I did another screenshot gallery, just so I’d have enough pictures of the city. During the attack, I took just a few screenshots, as I was usually too busy trying to fight and survive in there.

Now that the dust is settling, I felt that I had to go there again and capture the scenery after Scarlet’s attack on Lion’s Arch. Yep, it’s definitely destroyed. There are places and areas where you think: “It’s not that bad.” And other corners, where you realize just how bad the attack really was. But, as usual, I’m not here to just go on and on and rant about the look of the city. I’m here to show you the pictures I have taken. So judge for yourselves! :)

Flammkuchen

Flammkuchen_onions and baconUpdate April 10: I forgot to edit this post to say that this is, of course, just an April Fool’s Joke, but to be honest, I did not expect anybody to fall for it anyway. ;) I just remembered that last year, I had posted a nice recipe on April 1 already and wanted to continue with this tradition. The recipe is real, though! :oD

We had to wait 1,5 years for  ArenaNet to announce quite a lot of the  features coming on April 15 that the community has been asking for. Is it a coincidence that all of them are ready for release at the same date? I don’t think so. Instead, I am absolutely certain that they postponed all of them to shove that stupid Living Story down our throats. You may have noticed it, but the content here in this blog has become about so many other games recently and we hardly ever write about Guild Wars 2 anymore. It’s just not a game that I enjoy playing anymore. I’m sorry, but here it is. The truth is out. The decision was made even easier for me, since our guild has recently decided to move back to Guild Wars 1.

But what about our tiny little blog here? I had previously tried to add some more flavour to this blog by adding a baking recipe. The truth is, while I can bake cakes and muffins, I don’t do it often nor am I really that good. But I can cook! So, from now on, I will concentrate on other things that I enjoy more. For example, my new gaming addiction: Sim games. I’ve tried out a pig sim which was fun enough. Then I tried out a railroad sim and the last game I have gotten addicted to is a cooking sim which even lets you add your very own recipes! This is perfect and lets me combine my two hobbies! I will try out cooking recipes in this sim and if my sim people like it, I will present the recipes here. So don’t worry, I will still be writing about games here, but it will only be about the cooking sim from now on!

The Flammkuchen recipe will make the start. That’s tarte flambée in English – although I’d prefer calling it “flame cake” instead. ;)

Dough
250 gr flour
125 ml water
2 spoons of oil (vegetable oil preferably, nothing like olive oil as the taste is too strong)
a bit of salt
Sauce
100 gr sour cream
100 gr crème fraîche
salt and pepper
Toppings (can vary)
1 big onion (sliced in rings)
200 gr bacon (pieces)

Pre-heat the oven (250°C). Get the flour, add the salt and the oil and then carefully add the water. Try adding less than the amount mentioned above first. The resulting dough should not be sticky! Depending on your kind of flour, you may need less or more than the water mentioned above. Also, taste if there’s enough salt in your dough. It shouldn’t be too much, but the dough shouldn’t be „tasteless“ either. Then roll out the dough very thinly on baking parchment. It’s important that it’s thin. This is not a pizza! ;) You may find that the dough is actually enough for about 1,5 baking trays. That depends on how thin you actually manage to make it. Now mix the sour cream and the crème fraîche. Add as much salt and pepper as you like. Coat the dough with it. Add the onions and the bacon on top. Put everything in the oven (~ 7 minutes, 250°C). The amount of time it needs depends on your oven, so stay there and watch it! Take it out if it’s getting too brown.

Flammkuchen_rocket goat cheeseThe toppings can vary according to your taste. Get creative here! What I mentioned in the list above is the Alsacian tarte flambée, but really, you can add just about anything you like. Use e.g., tomatoes, mozzarella, rocket, mushrooms, leek, brie,… – even olives and feta work quite well! Just never overdo it with the cheese. As I said above, this isn’t a pizza. In the picture below, you see a variation made with rocket and goat cream cheese. An important tip: Keep the rocket off the dough until it is finished baking! I had a brainless moment once and had put the rocket into the oven. ;) Only put the goat cream cheese on it and when it’s finished baking and out of the oven, add the rocket. We also experimented a bit with the sauce. The Flammkuchen on the picture below was made with sour cream and low fat curd cheese which makes the whole Flammkuchen a lot lighter and thus, allows for things like goat cheese without feeling bad about all the calories in it. ;) It does taste a bit differently than the original recipe, but it was still really good!

Flammkuchen_rocket goat cheese 2

That’s it for today. Just remember: From now on, this blog will feature cooking recipes and my reviews of first person shooters. :D

Get ready for Healing Over Time!

In a bit less than two hours (at 10am GMT), Healing Over Time will start. This is a charity event, run by several guilds who will be playing and streaming multiple games for 24 hours! You can see who is participating on their official website.

You may have already heard of such gaming marathons. They are often pretty much the same: A person or a team of people plays for 24 hours, streams it, asks for donations and often hands out prizes should they get to certain donation milestones. HoT is a bit different from most that I’ve watched as they are not just “one group” but rather, Sam, the organizer of the event, managed to get 8 gaming communities to join. Seven of them will be streaming. Our guild, Dragon Season, had been invited, too, but unfortunately, nobody from us is able to stream for such a long time. Either because of technical reasons or as in my case, the inability to stay awake for 24 hours. As much as I would like to do that for charity, I’m just not capable. You will see Tilion, me and bookahnerk in the chats of MYST’s streams, though, and we may also join in for a few of the games. Where HoT does not differ is that they, too, will have some prizes to hand out (just have a look at the list of supporters!).

As is usual with such marathons, the participants do get breaks, of course. ;) You can see the schedule as well as a list of the games that are going to be played here. Relics of Orr, Subterfuge and Viking Nation are going to start 3 hours later (at 10am EST) than the rest since they are US-based. Of course, they will also be playing and streaming for 24 hours once they have started!

Now on to the most important part: Why are they doing that?

For charity! But to be more specific, their goal is to raise $5000 for Child’s Play, an organization that provides children in hospitals and in domestic abuse shelters with gaming equipment, so they can play, have a little bit of fun and forget about their worries at least for a little while. If you want to know more, you can read all about their goals here.

I’m proud to participate and help out in such an event!