Tag Archives: GW2 Beta

GW2: More screenshots

I’m late, I know. Real life and all that. You probably know how it is. ;)

We had planned to write an in-depth posting about our Beta Weekend Event and Stress Test experience but eh, sometimes, there just isn’t enough time. So, to keep it short (as I need to get up in a few hours and go to a conference from which I’ll thankfully return Saturday evening), our stress test experience in a nutshell: My client crashed twice which is twice as much as I had last BWE. I had created an elementalist to maybe finally try out that class but figured I actually rather wanted to spend those four hours playing my warrior and not having to learn a zillion new skills. I did end up unlocking skills for her off-hand weapon which meant learning new skills, but at least, I was familiar with the gun and the sword in her main hand. Other than that, I had a look at the scenery outside the cities (just as pretty as the towns) and we got to enjoy the company of DragonSeason, the guild. Being as silly as we are, our highlight was killing Tilion right after he had teased us in guild chat to do so. Ah yes, we finally got to experience the event that ArenaNet had originally planned to take place at the end of the last beta weekend event. But enough babbling for now. Enjoy the screenshots. :)

Criticizing Guild Wars 2

DISCLAIMER: If you want to criticize my post, feel free to do so (constructively, of course). However, if you want to do so, please READ it. Especially point 4 and its subject line: I complain about their marketing strategy. I do NOT complain about the skimpy armor. I even say so in the text. Read it, then complain about the actual content and not about what you THINK I wrote. Thank you. :)

First things first, as a regular or even casual reader of our blog, you’re well aware of the fact that I’m a huge fan of the game. But let’s be honest: the game isn’t perfect and I know it never will be a perfect game. Why? Several reasons. For one, no game is ever perfect. They’re too complex to get them bug-free and especially MMORPGs evolve and get content added, mechanics changed, etc. All of that means plenty of risks for adding new bugs. But even when not looking at bugs, there just can’t be a perfect game out there simply because there are too many players who all like and dislike different aspects. Some won’t accept a game without PVP in every region, others need their weekly raid evenings, and so on. That means that we will always have people argue about a game and its (lack of) perfection. And it also means that the probability of a game company developing a game in exactly the way that I want is very slim/non-existing.

Guild Wars 2 is still in beta, so bugs are to be expected. In general, I am always very careful when criticizing games in beta. It is a work in progress, after all, and I wouldn’t want to hurt a game’s – and company’s – reputation by writing something too negative about the game before it’s even been released. On the other hand, if we never speak up and say what we dislike, how are the developers supposed to know what the players think of something? There’s a reason companies have beta tests and ask for feedback.

Having said all that (should my intros be shorter, I wonder…), I’m now going to list a few things about Guild Wars 2 that I know will annoy me – more or less strongly – and that will probably make the game less perfect for me – but not “bad”! That’s a big and important difference.

1) Mystic Chests
Syp over at Massively wrote a good piece about lockboxes in MMOs. To be honest, I was shocked when I saw my first lockbox in Guild Wars 2. I’ve always found it cheap when games had those and it was disappointing to see it appear in this game. While there may not be any “advantage” in there, I still think it’s a terrible way to earn money. What annoys me is the whole gambling part: You never know if spending money on yet another key will result in you getting that special item from the lockbox.

If you ask me, it’s abusing a weakness of us humans when it comes to calculating probabilities. Some spend 50 times 1 dollar trying to get a specific reward and end up empty-handed instead of just buying it for 35 dollars, for example… mostly because there is the probability (albeit a very, very low one) that they might get it on their first try and end up having spent only 1 dollar. And then they spend another dollar, and another and another and at some point, they think that now they have to finally get it, right? And they have already invested so much money that quitting would mean they have simply lost their investment without earning anything.

Bookahnerk has also found an interesting comment about this system on Reddit, where a poster mentioned Lunia and that in this game, you drop keys and need to buy the boxes from the shop. It sounds less tempting this way. After all, you don’t have the “item” wrapped in a box in your inventory already. You only have a key. And if you ever feel like getting a box to use this key, it’s fine. And if not, no harm done because there’s no item rotting in your inventory, just a key. Yes, I’m aware of the fact that it’s technically exactly the same thing. But the perception is a different one. And I’m pretty certain that there’d be less temptation to buy boxes whereas if you have lockboxes drop in your game, your players will probably buy more keys from the shop than they would buy boxes for the dropped keys. We’re curious and can’t calculate probabilities correctly (well, I’m sure a lot of people can but from personal experience, I’d say that this is the minority). In other words: It’s an easy way to earn money. But from where I stand, it’s cheap and dirty.

However, this is me criticizing something I haven’t seen the full scope of so far. We do not yet know enough about what will be in the lockboxes (exclusive items or not), if they will have keys drop in the game, if the lockboxes have a (e.g.) 90% chance of including another key (I think I read somewhere that a player found a key inside together with an item), if we’ll be able to sell the items we find in the lockboxes, etc. I’m just saying I really dislike this general concept, but I am curious how they will handle it specifically.

2) Voice of female norn

Norn are supposed to be really tall. And with that, naturally, comes a deeper voice than we would expect from the average human. If I hear the voice without looking at the screen, it fits and it sounds like a wonderful choice, but once I see the norn’s doll-like face, I’m not so sure anymore. It just doesn’t fit to hear her with such a low voice. But maybe this isn’t a problem with the voice at all but rather with the next point…

3) Idealized female characters

I’ve mentioned it before, to which Kadomi had reacted as well. ArenaNet’s stance can be found in this interview:

Univers-Virtuels: So, at the moment the humans are very young and it’s not possible to make it older as a character, or it will be possible to turn off the make up for woman?
Kristen: I’m not sure, we have some variety in there, but largely we want an idealized beautiful base face, so I think the humans are probably going to remain within a certain spectrum.”

I was happy to see that they have added one face that makes the character look a bit older. Then you can further customize it by changing the look of the nose, mouth, chin, etc. But that is only for the human and it’s only one face. The others still have that certain doll-like look. It’s especially annoying for norn because they’re tough! It seems weird to have them appear with a doll-face. I also don’t like the sound of “idealized beautiful base face”. Yes, this idealization is what we’re seeing in women’s magazines every day. This is what’s called one of the reasons for the rise of eating disorders (in women and men)… I understand that they want to add beautiful faces. I would assume that more people choose those faces than faces that the general public wouldn’t call “pretty”, “beautiful” or something like that. I just do not get why they refuse to add some more regular faces. Especially as the question above was aiming at faces “without that much make-up”. Either way, I will go for the regular face they have added because I find it more believable (ah yes, I know we’re in a fantasy setting, so theoretically everything is possible and thus, believable. But still…). On the other hand, we can see that you can go for some extremes when creating your characters. I’m not sure they would call the nose that you can see in the screenshot “idealized beauty”. But at least, we can reenact Cyrano de Bergerac. ;)

I will most likely play asura and charr as my main characters, so it won’t bother me that much. And I do like having a pretty doll character – but I would really love to have more variety. What is the harm in having an older face (one with wrinkles or just more defined facial features)? After all, they are in the game for the male characters. They have added one face for the female humans, though. So there is still hope we could maybe see something like that for the norn as well. Something that makes them more equal to the choices we have for male characters.

4) Armor and ArenaNet’s marketing strategy

As mentioned above, Kadomi wrote about the faces but in the same entry, she also addresses the “armor issue” which goes hand in hand with the idealized faces (and she says it much better than I will here, so if you’re interested in this topic, go read her blog post about it). Why do they present the female characters in suspenders? A word, by the way, that I only learned now thanks to Guild Wars 2 – that is, the English term for it, of course. What does it tell you about a game that teaches me the English terms of “sexy underwear” (“Reizwäsche” in German, by the way… in case you were wondering). I’m not happy with them presenting this as the typical clothing for some of their classes (mesmer and elementalist most of all) as this is what the characters look like when creating them.

After playing for a bit, I did get to see cloth armor that wasn’t as revealing and they have a system in place that makes it possible for me to merge the better stats of an item onto a piece of clothing that I like. So I’m not annoyed that they have revealing armor in the game. I am annoyed, however, that they presented us only this sexy underwear as armor. And even though there was a large outcry (not just from me, I might add!) in their fanbase, they did not add pictures of different armor in order to show us that when they said we would have choices, they didn’t just mean “a choice between a bra or bikini top”.

5) No scenery screenshots
This is something that makes me grind my teeth and scratch my head. I just don’t get this decision at all. ArenaNet doesn’t want us to take screenshots of the scenery without featuring our own character because they want us to get attached to our character. I love looking at screenshots of the game’s world but I am not interested in looking at some person’s character at the same time. This doesn’t interest me at all. Also, I do get attached to my character and if I want to take a screenshot of “me in Lion’s Arch”, I will do so. But if I want to take a screenshot of “this nice windmill”, then please let me do that without having “me in front of this nice windmill that you can’t see because my dear character is blocking the view”. There is a workaround, by the way. You can either /sleep or /sit and then work with the camera angle to get a screenshot without your character on it. I used /sit for my screenshots and unfortunately, my charr’s horns can be seen in a few of them. Oh well. Most of the time, it works just fine but why do we have to resort to such a workaround in the first place? Guild Wars 1 allowed us to zoom in and I haven’t heard anybody complain about the game and its design because we can do that.

While this workaround is fine for taking screenshots, video makers need to ability to move around without having their own character centered all the time. Machinimas probably won’t work in Guild Wars 2 and that’s just really, really sad if you ask me. There’s a not too old discussion about this on GuildWars2Guru.

And that’s it for today. All in all, it’s not a “list of things gone horribly wrong” or something like that. It’s just some things that bug me and that I wanted to get out of my system. I have to say, however, that the inability of taking screenshots or making videos without having my character in the center is the biggest issue I have here. The other parts probably won’t spoil my general fun in the game (especially the marketing – who cares about that in a year, right?) but taking pretty screenshots is what I really enjoy. I have a ton of screenshots from all sorts of MMOs I’ve ever played or tried out stored on an external hard drive and I’ve taken 640 screenshots in Guild Wars 2 so far and that was after only playing for 4 days! And most of those screenshots are from Lion’s Arch… I can’t wait for doing the same in Hoelbrak, Divinity’s Reach, Black Citadel,… (but next time, I will choose a character without horns! Asura would be perfect… *hint*)

Guild Wars 2: Stress Test Fun in WvW

On May 14, ArenaNet had a second stress test for Guild Wars 2. After being in the loading screen, stuck at 95%, for about 10 – 15 minutes, I got into the game and didn’t have any problems at all anymore. Weird. ;) But maybe Monday evening wasn’t the perfect time for a stress test because lots of people have to work and can’t devote time to that. Saturday could have been a better choice or even Friday. At least, if they wanted to test the login servers. Either that or they have managed to improve their systems greatly (I certainly wouldn’t mind that ^^). Nevertheless, I was really tired and didn’t stay long in the game.

The first thing I did was take a few screenshots that I was missing for a post that I still haven’t written. Oh well. It’s yet another draft that may never get published. I semi-regularly look at all my drafts and delete a few, so there are never too many around. ;) Then I went to Lion’s Arch to have a look at the fountain there. The first time I saw it, I immediately noticed the little figures in the water… ships and sea dragons. But the rhythm of the “water spits” being passed from fish to fish is also fascinating… and it does make almost relaxing sounds. I watched it for a few minutes. This time, I just took a video of the sequence. So, in case you haven’t gotten the chance to see it yet, here it is:

And then I got bored. What do I do now? I’ve seen all there is to see (well, not really, of course. But I’ve seen dynamic events, I’ve seen structured PvP, I’ve been sight-seeing in town,…). The only thing still missing was WvW. And even though I was very tired, I jumped into the action. And that’s what you get to see in the video: A casual player who’s tired from work trying to find some fast and fun action. And that, I did find! ^^ I’m definitely not playing well because – did I already say I was tired? ;) But I didn’t upload it to show the world how great of a PvP player I am. I uploaded it so people can get a feeling for what WvW may be like when you log on and jump into the action without first getting a team together, strategizing etc. In other words: Watch me shoot down a gate! ^^

I didn’t know my way around on the map, so I went to where bookahnerk said he had seen players from one of the two enemy realms. I’m fighting only with my gun because ranged seemed like the best option. As you can see, it takes quite a while to get a gate down. A ram can help a lot with that! Make sure to always carry a few supplies (I think 10 is max per player) with you in case somebody wants to build a siege weapon.

As you can see, I spent most of my time attacking the gate, looking around and just trying to scare the enemies away from the pinnacles, so they would stop attacking those of us who stood on the ground attacking the gate. ;) I also tried to figure out when an enemy was “obstructed” and where they had to stand on the walls, so I could successfully attack them in ranged combat. I know that I’ll definitely enjoy playing my warrior with a rifle!

What I took away from that short trip to WvW is that you can get some “fast action” in WvW as well. Of course, once the servers are up and we’ve been playing for a longer time on our “real home servers”, it may be different and we might need guilds and fellow group players to be successful out there. But for this short time (all in all, I was only in WvW for half an hour), it was lots of fun. It’s just too bad I didn’t get much direct combat with other players. But for that to happen, I guess we shouldn’t have a gate between us. ;)

Bookahneer’s Geekwatch (May 12, 2012)

Welcome to today’s Bookahneer’s Geekwatch! The place about miscellaneous interesting news related to gaming (will most likely include at least one piece about Guild Wars 2 ^^).

NCSoft has gotten a new German Community Manager. Please welcome Ramon Domke! I’ve only met him once so far where he was sent to say “Hello” to me from Al’Ellisande. ;) But maybe we get to meet again during GamesCom. Germans may know him from Wartower which is a pretty big German Guild Wars Fansite (I don’t know if it’s *the* biggest. I just know it’s big).

His first day of work will be on Monday (May 14) which is also the day ArenaNet is hosting their next Guild Wars 2 stress test. You can find the announcement here. Our task in this stress test is written down in more detail here. They’re asking us to “rush the servers and crowd Tyria”. In other words: Don’t expect to get to play much. ;)

On Tuesday, May 15, Diablo 3 will finally be released. Now while I haven’t bought the game and probably won’t do it for quite some time (read: until it’s much cheaper), we will get one copy that was bundled with the subscription for a gamer’s magazine I got bookahnerk for Christmas. So we will get to play the game. In order to get back to the setting and the story, we had a look at YouTube and found a few nice videos with the cut scenes from Diablo and Diable 2. You can start watching them here (for Diablo) or here (for Diablo 2). Those videos show the cut scenes and the most important conversations within the game. If you just want to see Diablo 2′s cut scenes, you can find them here.

Also, don’t forget that the Newbie Blogger Initiative is still running until the end of the month. If you’ve ever wanted to start your own gaming blog, now is the perfect time to do so!