Monthly Archives: July 2012

Bookahneer’s Geekwatch: “Tyria ahoy!”

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 ^^). Today, we are focusing on Guild Wars 2 and its upcoming release.

As you can see on the left on our homepage, it’s 28 days until you can finally play again – well, if you have pre-purchased! If you preordered, you will get one day headstart. The difference between those two isn’t so difficult, although I have seen both of them being confused with each other several times. Pre-purchasing means that you pay the full price now. If you buy at a local store, you will probably get a little DVD case that says something like “pre-purchase box” (we got the German version, so it’s written in German for us). If you preorder, you do not yet pay the full price. Here is a list of all retailers. Some may already be sold out!

The last beta weekend event is gone and, as mentioned above, we still need to wait for one more month. If you missed the last BWE or want to see how others experienced it, here is a – very short – collection of blog posts sharing their adventures. First up is Ruins of Rin with a few of his impressions. As he says there, he is going to “break it down into a couple of posts”. So follow him to read them all! Hunter’s Insight is also sharing his experiences which include, of course, the sylvari and asura as well as various other things like jumping puzzles or the keg brawl. And finally, there is Rakuno who also writes about asura and sylvari. Read his entry to find out if he’s still going to play a charr engineer when the game launches!

As Ruins of Rin’s post mentioned the soundtrack in Guild Wars 2, I’d like to link you to the theme song from Guild Wars Prophecies. As a comparison, listen to Guild Wars 2’s main theme. I think it’s very nicely done and it’s those details that make me fall in love with Guild Wars 2 over and over again. ;) Either way, a funny detail: When you’re searching for “theme song” or “main theme” for Guild Wars 2, more often than not, you will find this song which is actually the Norn theme song. At first, I had believed this to be the main theme as well! Bookahnerk and I spent quite some time yesterday researching and trying to remember where we first heard this song and why we believed it’s the main theme. It’s very likely from the GamesCom trailer from 2009. You’re introduced to the story and the trailer seems to be building up… at one point, Destiny’s Edge is shown and that’s also when the Norn theme is playing… towards the end of the trailer. So we assume that this is why people thought it’s the main theme. It definitely sticked. And while we’re already watching the trailer: Is that Rata Sum that we see in the trailer (at around 2:50)? Certainly different from what we could see in the game now. The Black Citadel also looks a lot different now.

Speaking of main theme…

Again, it’s all in the details they put in…! I can’t wait to return to Tyria and experience and see everything myself.

Speaking of experiencing the game, if you want to have a look at the game’s cities and don’t want to wait until the game’s release, we have a picture gallery for each of them! And if you’re new to the game, you may find our FAQ for new players quite useful – or maybe you know of friends who could be interested in giving the game a try! I am also still looking for advice that you’d give to a new player.

But enough about me and our blog entries here. Let’s have another look at other fansites and blogs.

GuildMag is hosting its 4th Blog Carnival. Okay, so technically, it’s my own post and thus, it’s still about me in a way. ;) But I’m really interested in reading about people’s memories and I’ve always loved GuildMag’s Blog Carnivals. 5 years is also such a long time and it’s interesting to not only read about how others first noticed Guild Wars 2 but also what has happened in their lives in the meantime and how Guild Wars (1 and 2) has influenced their lives. As it’s a blog carnival, in order to participate you need your own blog or need to find one where you can publish said article. ;)

DragonSeason has launched their Dragon Arena! It’s all about the sPvP here with tournaments, etc. Great initiative! Go and check it out/sign up if you’re interested in structured PvP and want to participate in tournaments.

Of course, ArenaNet are also preparing for the game’s launch and while we’re waiting, they reminded us that there is the Hall of Monuments that connects our Guild Wars account with Guild Wars 2 and will give us nice (cosmetic!) things to show off in Guild Wars 2. Read their blog post for more information.

Speaking of preparing for launch, this also – sadly – means that they will not be at GamesCom with a playable demo. Sad but understandable as they can’t just send one or two people there to organize everything, make sure the PCs are working, etc. And I’d assume that most of their people are very busy this close to launch. Fortunately, the Community Managers aren’t that busy and are sent to GamesCom to chat with us players (source, in German only). They will be at the NCSoft lounge – open for everybody – with Stéphane, Martin, Ramon, Mélanie, Aidan and David. That’s quite a lot of people and I’m looking forward to meeting them (again).

Last but not least, a few more screenshots from the game. When I think of how little of the world we have seen so far, I really get very impatient. 28 more days and I can really start exploring the world!

Lotro down at the moment…

As I’ve seen traffic to our blog through the search terms like “Lotro down” and “Lotro forums down”, I thought I’d make a quick update redirecting you to Contains Moderate Peril who are gathering all the information they can find here. They will also update you if they hear anything from Turbine about it.

You may also want to follow the Twitter hashtag #lotro or follow the official Lotro Twitter as they may update you on the situation there. :)

 
The servers are apparently back up! :)

Which one piece of advice would you give a Guild Wars 2 newbie?

For the last beta weekend event, we were lucky enough to receive a beta key that we gave to a friend. He had already been with us when we went to GamesCom last year and everything we have told him about the game has fascinated him. But he doesn’t have much time for playing games and so never read up on the game himself. And while we had done our best to promote the game, Guild Wars 2 isn’t the only thing we’re talking about with said friends and so, all in all, he hadn’t gotten that much information from us about the game’s mechanics. When we finally managed to be online at the same time and chat with each other, he asked me one question: “How do you get new skills in this game?” – This made me realize a few things.

First of all, the tutorial is really, really bad right now (it’s mostly tool tips and especially when fighting the boss monster at the end of the tutorial zone, you really don’t have the time to read those tool tips). Not for people like me who have read so much about the game so far. But for people who are new to Guild Wars 2 and I would assume especially for people new to MMOs. On the other hand, I also assume that the tutorial is something you do at the end once the mechanics are all finished, etc. So I will not complain about it (yet). ;)

But no matter how great a game’s tutorial is, there will always be questions that newcomers have and that are left unanswered. With that in mind, which one piece of advice would you give a person that is new to Guild Wars 2? What’s the one thing that you think may be difficult to understand or easy to miss even if it’s explained in a tooltip?

 

The Glorious Rata Sum in Pictures

Guild Wars 2 really is coming. This is the last piece of my screenshot collection showing off the different races’ cities – and Lion’s Arch.

Rata Sum was exactly like I had imagined it just with more vibrant colors and a whole lot more awesome than I would have thought.

Enjoy the pictures! In case you have been counting, there are more than I had for the previous cities. I am not saying it’s the best city of them all – because they really all do have their own style and it’s hard to compare that – but asura are grandiose. They simply need more.

GW2: Picture Impressions of The Grove

I have to admit that The Grove surprised me. I had imagined a huge greenish brown tree that has lots and lots of sylvari living on its leaves. While I was certain that it would be pretty (as I find Guild Wars 2’s art style in general to be very pretty), I had also been a bit skeptical because surely, this could get boring quickly. Hoelbrak with its snowy region did have that effect on me: It’s pretty but after a while, I had enough of it and moved on to other places. The Grove, on the other hand, was completely different. I found myself going back there several times this weekend to make sure I had really seen it all and taken enough screenshots to capture its beauty. And I am certain that I have missed some corners.

The waypoints, points of interest and vistas do give you a great “tour” through a city, though. If you want to check one out yourself just use them as orientation and you will get to see most of the city.

Enjoy the pictures! And as usual, feel free to use them (as long as it complies with ArenaNet’s copyright, of course). :)

Looking Forward to the Sylvari and Asura

Only a few more days until we can finally get our hands on the sylvari and the asura! Last year, they have been playable at gaming conventions like GamesCom. Have a look at our sPvP videos from GamesCom 2011 to see sylvari and asura in action. However, they were not playable in their respective starter areas and we haven’t been able to play them during any of the beta weekend events.

If you’re wondering what to do until next weekend, here’s a selection of links that will give you plenty to read and listen to. I wrote two posts at Talk Tyria about the sylvari and the asura. I had looked at the asura from a more roleplaying point-of-view: Are they cute and cuddly or heartless and selfish? How much will we be able to identify with our asura characters? And then we have the sylvari. I have a friend who always makes an elf character when that race exists. Will players like him be happy with the sylvari? How much “elf” is in a sylvari? Okay, I am mostly focusing on their looks and not their character. But you’ll see that if you read the entry.

The reason I even remembered those postings in the first place and thought about putting them here was that AJ Wolf on The Tyrian Order recently wrote about sylvari and asura as well. They’re much broader than my postings as she gives a general overview of the races, their history, important characters (careful: those parts contain spoilers for the novels if you haven’t read them yet and don’t want to know what happens), and so on. She also lists her sources (as did I on Talk Tyria), so there’s plenty of further reading if you can’t get enough of those two races.

If you don’t feel like reading, you can listen to the two TowerTalk interviews for the sylvari and the asura instead: The one about asura is a bit older by now, but the lore shouldn’t have changed that much in the meantime. Don’t let the German website scare you. The interviews are in English! “Englische Transkription” is – probably easy to guess – the English transcription of the interview. The sylvari interview was released not too long ago. Both are really great interviews with lots of information and insight about the two races.

Last but not least, as you know, I have taken lots of screenshots so far and while I do not have any from the sylvari and asura cities yet (you will get to see those galleries here after next BWE, of course), I did take a couple that show those two races and I thought it’s the perfect way to end this short article.

GW2: Will it really lack endgame?

Update July 13, 2012: There’s an interview on Twitch.tv with Eric Flannum and Colin Johanson where they’re talking about endgame in Guild Wars 2. :)

I have seen several people talk about whether Guild Wars 2 has an endgame and whether it needs one. Some articles/discussions are a bit older, others are newer.

Let me toss in my opinion and thoughts as well. First, I should clarify what I mean when I say “endgame”, that is, which definition I am going to use here now. I will ignore the PvP part of “endgame” because the discussions usually do not revolve around the PvP part but they are instead concerned about the PvE part. ArenaNet also treats those two areas differently as structured PvP, for example, does not even let you play with a low level character and you immediately start with your character being max level and having access to everything (traits, gear,…). As I said, PvE is different. Let’s say “endgame” means “doing something differently than what you are doing while levelling up”. If that is the case, then I guess Guild Wars 2 really is lacking “endgame”.

What we have in the PvE area are dungeons (story and explorable mode), events/dynamic events and meta events. All of which can be done at low levels already. Events can be soloable (while scaling up when more players are around) or specifically designed for groups which make them very hard to solo. What Guild Wars 2 does not have is raids, at least not in the “traditional” sense as we know them from World of Warcraft or Star Wars: The Old Republic. Those raids are typically seen as “endgame”: You level up to max level, and once there, you collect proper equipment, join 9 to 39 other players (numbers are arbitrarily taking from what it took and now takes to raid in World of Warcraft) and head into an instanced area where your group can fight against certain boss monsters. Since those raids take place in instanced areas, only you and your group can fight. It is basically a very structured environment. It is “save” in a way that no random person can join whenever they feel like it. You – or the raid leader, at least – decide who gets to go with you, which classes you take, which equipment level you allow in your group – by not taking those with lower equipment with you – and which skill level those players that you take have. Typically, you are connected through voice-chat and can direct tactics and strategies that way. If this controlled environment is the only thing you want to experience as “endgame”, then Guild Wars 2 will be disappointing for you. It will not have raids. The closest it has is dungeons for a maximum of 5 players.

One complaint about MMOs that I have seen several times is that the game worlds’ importance in MMOs is constantly diminishing. Once players have reached the maximum level, they disappear from the general game world and spend their time idling in the cities instead while waiting for the dungeon finders to put them in dungeon groups or they’re waiting for raids to start where, again, they disappear into instanced areas. The areas outside get abandoned because players are focusing on the “endgame” which means they are either preparing for raids by farming dungeons for better gear or they are participating in raids where, again, they’re often farming gear (some play for the fun of it, of course ^^). In this aspect, Guild Wars 2 does things differently. For one, you can visit the lower level areas because you’re automatically down-leveled when entering them which will probably keep the whole world interesting even at max level. But that’s another topic. The other thing is that while there are dungeons (and structured PvP which is instanced as well) in Guild Wars 2, they are not required for getting the best gear. You either do them because they are fun or you don’t do them. At the same time, with the lack of instanced raids, we can hope that the game world will see a higher population.

Without raids and without the requirement of farming gear, what will players do at max level? Basically, it’s the same that you’re doing while leveling up: Dungeons, events, the personal storyline (until it’s finished, of course), etc. I would assume – this is guessing, after all, as the game is not released yet – that dungeons and events will be the main attraction for people in PvE at max level. In my opinion, events is where the potential for long-term motivation in PvE can be found. And this is where I say that the success all depends on the game’s design and it leads to a few questions that are left (mostly) unanswered so far:

How good will the scaling be? The Wiki says that the “regular” events scale for up to 10 players which would probably mean that a group of 20 players will rush through them easily. The more difficult events, however, scale up to 100 players. Let’s say we’ve got a good organized group (together with whoever else is in the area and joins). How many events will be trivial for organized groups and how easy will it be to find the more difficult encounters?

Will those events have a satisfying complexity? How about the general difficulty (tied in with the “scaling” above)? How about certain strategies? I have always found boss fights with the “tank and spank” strategy to be very boring. It would be equally boring if the fights in Guild Wars 2 were all about trying to stay alive yourself while dealing damage.

This is what I have mostly done when I played Guild Wars 2. I paid attention to myself and my needs, tried to stay alive and deal damage and if I used a combo it was by accident and usually not planned. ;) Then again, no matter how we look at it, we are all still new to the game and have not played PvE in the high level areas. I would guess that most of us have seen what combos are but at least in my case, I have not yet memorized every detail about it and until I have, I will not be able to use combos efficiently. But I certainly do hope – and expect to a certain extent – combos to be very helpful and maybe even required in some cases in order to be successful during events. This is one aspect where we can see professions interacting with each other. We do not have healers or tanks anymore and while I think this is a great change, it also means that we should see having to interact in other parts of combat or else we would just be lots of solo players all doing our own thing while seeing the boss’s hitpoints go lower and lower. And that would be boring. I want support and combos to be required and timing to be essential because that will be part of the challenge. That, and, of course, interesting boss mechanics that require us to do more than trying to stay alive while damaging the boss (like the Shadow Behemoth where you need to destroy portals that appear).

For me, the big question is: How do the events work at max level? How complex will the fights be in general and how much strategy will they require? It probably won’t be easy to find that balance between being too boring and being too difficult, especially as every player in the region will be able to join the fights and we will not always have that controlled environment where everybody listens to the raid leader and does exactly what they are told to do. If strategy is required and if they find this balance, then I am sure we are in for a treat and I, personally, will not miss those old raids at all. For me, interesting endgame in Guild Wars 2 is not “doing what we have not done at lower levels” but it is “being challenged in group-type settings”.

All things considered, I would answer my question with: “Yes, it does have endgame, but it is different from the endgame we know from games like World of Warcraft”. If you ask whether the endgame will be good in general and, also important, good enough to keep us interested in the game for a longer time, then I would say that it probably still is a bit too early to answer that one. We have not seen those areas yet to properly judge this aspect of the game and either praise or doom Guild Wars 2’s endgame. Soon, however, we will be.