Category Archives: Game Design

Rift: Time of Day

Rift just as many other MMOs has a day and night cycle. This change of light is also happening in dimensions. Of course, sometimes you want to set a certain atmosphere and having the day and night cycle interferes with this mood. If this is the case, there are dimension items that set your dimension to a specific time.

Rift_Time of Day items

Time of Day items

Be aware, though, that the item has a limited range, so in big dimensions, you may need to place several of those items. Thankfully, they are very cheap. Most of them are below one gold, the most expensive is well below 2 gold. For comparisons: My low level alt (level 17) has 18 platinum. Just buy the items off the auction house.

Before you go and buy those 24 items just to see which time of the day you actually want, just have a look at the gallery I made. I chose the Guardian faction’s starter dimension “Sanguine Shores” because it is small, free for every Guardian character, you get it when you’re very low level and it has a nice view with the horizon clearly visible and water to reflect the light as well as shadows from tree.

What you can’t see is the sun and the moon in those screenshots. They aren’t always visible, which is also because there are clouds in the sky. But I did get a few screenshots where you can see them above the water which makes for some pretty effects – well, who am I telling this to? I guess you all know what reflections of the sun and the moon can do to a scenery. :p

 

Opinions on Heart of Thorns

There is this draft sitting here in our blog where I listed all the known facts about the upcoming expansion for Guild Wars 2 and where I have already started adding some thoughts. However, I don’t like just shoving something out there only because it’s the one topic everybody talks about right now. I need time to phrase my thoughts – or even actually realize what it is that I am thinking. :p

Since I’ve last worked on that draft, some more information has come out. Additionally, I have read through the transcription of the announcement again and pondered for a bit more. By now, I cannot even tell you what I think of the expansion. I am not hyped. I am not super excited. But I am looking forward to it. How much depends on quite a lot of details.

GW2 Burning Lion's Arch

For one, I am sorry to admit, but I don’t like the combat in Guild Wars 2. Well, some parts of it. I miss being a healer so much! I miss having a clear role in a group (even “support” or “control” would be nice). And I miss actually seeing what the enemy is doing, what I’m doing and what the other players are doing (see the screenshot above ^^). Anyway, what I found is that while I really don’t like combat in Guild Wars 2, I also really love combat in Guild Wars 2! :p It all depends on the context and the setting. I still strongly believe that just with a few small changes, the marionette fight would have been perfect. On the other hand, I really do love playing pvp in Guild Wars 2. There, if you ask me, the combat system makes so much more sense! Especially in sPvP where there are no big zergs. This is where the system shines.

Having said that, I wish for more things to do that do not involve combat in the PvE side of the game. Fishing, archaeology (something from WoW), minions like in Rift (not really a game, but something to click…) or the pet battles in WoW – hey, what about Polymock? Any of these things would make me very happy! Instead, we are going to get the mastery system.

And here is where I need more information.

What we do know about acquiring mastery points is this:

The WvW ability system is a bit of a parallel for what we’re trying to accomplish with masteries, so you can use that as a concept. We want to provide that same concept and evolve it even more with PvE. It’ll complement everything that you’re doing: combat, exploration, lore, building, crafting… all of those components will have elements that are supported by it, with combat being the most important one when you think about true, meaningful progression. (Source)

Exploration and lore have potential, but again “combat being the most important”. So, we’ll see.

The one thing that did get me a bit excited were the guild halls. However, this is also the feature that doesn’t seem to get much coverage at all at the moment. I assume (note: subjective impression here :p) that ArenaNet hasn’t actually implemented much of that feature yet. We do get to see a very short scene of guild halls in the trailer which shows them being built in fast forward mode. I hope that they will be more than our home instances and that they will be meaningul and customizable (again, not like home instances).

I would also be excited about the Revenant, but I have to try out the profession first in order to tell you whether I like it or not. In theory, I should absolutely love the necromancer in Guild Wars 2. I love everything about it – in theory. But once I try to play it, I close the game and walk away from the PC within a few minutes. I don’t know what it is, but I cannot play it.

GW2_Heart of Thorns_Rytlock_Revenant_049

Rytlock using an ability

So there you go. My opinion in a nutshell: It sounds like a solid expansion and has everything that people expect from a “classic expansion” (in Guild Wars 2-style, of course, with no new level cap or new tier of armor), but it has nothing that gets me “over the moon”-excited either – wait, there are two things:

  1.  The soundtrack! The one song we got to hear is amazing!
  2. The world design. The one aspect of Guild Wars 2 where I never ever had anything negative to say. The art team is awesome if you ask me.

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Heart of Thorns: Screenshots

Bilingual entry: English first. Scroll down for the German translation.

I had originally just wanted to take a few screenshots of the announcement video to complement my “opinions” post that I’ve been writing since Saturday. However, that post is still not done, but I ended up with more than 100 screenshots. For your convenience, I already sorted out the boring ones and present to you screenshots of Heart of Thorns showing all the good in-game scenes that we were already allowed to see during the video: Specialisations, the maguuma jungle region, Mursaat, Rytlock as Revenant, the new WvW borderlands map and sPvP area (not sure which one is which, to be honest) and of course, the really short glimpse at the guild halls.

I did not include any pictures of the concept art as I wanted to limit it to in-game pictures which represent a lot better what we are actually going to get. :)

Scroll down below the gallery for the German translation / Scrollt unter die Gallerie für die deutsche Übersetzung.

Deutsche Übersetzung

A new Gechi!

With the recent news that “The Elder Scrolls Online” will switch to a buy-to-play model on March 17, bookahnerk and I decided that we do want to explore that world. I had tried the game in beta and while I loved the world design, I wasn’t sold on the game itself, especially with a monthly subscription fee.

I am quite glad that they decided for the buy-to-play model as opposed to free-to-play. You buy the game and you get everything you need in order to enjoy the game immediately. In our case, we even got two copies that still included codes from the pre-order edition (“explorer packs”, I think) which allow you to play every race in every alliance. Originally, one faction has three specific races. But I wanted to play an Argonian and I wanted to play on the starter island of Daggerfall Covenant. I know it probably won’t matter in the long run, but still, I was very happy that I had that freedom now. Otherwise, I would have made an orc for the time being.

SWG Gechi Trandoshan

But back in Star Wars Galaxies, I fell in love with playable reptile species. No, I never “really” played SWG. I just played their free 2 week trial. And I was very close to buying the game and subscribing, but then decided against it, because it was a rather old game, I only had limited time and did not want to pay for yet another monthly subscription fee. Anyway, the game’s random name generator (or just a general one? I don’t remember if the game had one… ^^) had suggested “Gechi Rosix” and I really liked it.

Skyrim_Gechi

I also had an Argonian in Skyrim, but I did not play that game too much. I just really loved having another reptile as a playable character. Why aren’t there more games offering a race like that? We got tons of furry species (cows, wolves, cats, …), after all.

Anyway, when Elder Scrolls Online was announced, the first thing I did was check whether Argonians were playable. But as I said, I did not buy the game – until two days ago. Media Markt had the game for 15 €, so I immediately ordered two copies and we went to pick them up yesterday. I just checked their website again and they are out of that version. But guess what? You can preorder the “Tamriel Edition” for the super sweet deal of 49,99 €. I actually expected them to sell that “Tamriel Edition” for more than you can probably get the game before the switch, but I did not expect such a high price. If you’re German and want to buy a copy for the cheaper price, it seems that Saturn still has a few copies left!

But back to my Gechi, the argonian templar.

TESO Gechi Argonian I do feel nostalgic, even though the Elder Scrolls universe and the Star Wars one couldn’t be more different. But the character still feels the same!

So, here we go. On to new adventures – for 29 days, at least. After that, there’ll be a 3 week break before Zenimax switches to the no-subscription fee model. :p

Guild Wars 2 – Heart of Thorns speculation

I assume most of you have heard about “Heart of Thorns” by now. I will try to keep this mostly spoiler-free, but if you haven’t played the latest story bit, you will at least not want to click on the play button of the video. Other than that, I’m not mentioning the latest story bits in this post.

We will get to hear more – or anything other than the title “Heart of Thorns” – on January 24 (either at PAX or online on Twitch). Until then, there’s not much left for us to do than speculate. I guess in my case, it’s not so much speculation as rather a whole lot of wishful thinking. :p

Who here remembers World of Warcraft’s Cataclysm? In case you have no idea what that was, it is their third expansion. And not just any expansion. In the beginning when the game launched, there were two continents (Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms). With time, new zones, raids, instances etc. were added. Every bit of that also added story and continued the world’s timeline. But the old zones remained mostly static and stayed in its original time. So, if something big happened with the introduction of a new zone, this mostly did not reflect on the old ones. NPCs were still going around their daily routines just as if time stood still. Quests you did there stayed the same and were set “before” whatever happened in a new zone. Cataclysm changed that. Not only did the whole world get changed in appearance, Blizzard also used this opportunity to bring all zones to present time. No more confusing “this zone was here before the other zone, so what happens here is actually taking place 2 years before what happens in that other zone”. For one short moment, it felt like Azeroth was “alive”. It changed and evolved.

With the Living Story in Guild Wars 2, we have already seen something like this. Lion’s Arch got destroyed and is now slowly getting rebuild (look here for several screenshot galleries of the old, intermediate and destroyed Lion’s Arch). At the same time, however, when we do a Personal Story part that takes place in Lion’s Arch, we get to see the present time Lion’s Arch and not the old one anymore (this is due to technical limitations, actually, which doesn’t make it easy for them to have the new LA present as a map and an old LA present for when you enter that zone for your personal story). This makes it quite confusing, but it also shows that ArenaNet is dedicated more to the living story and the world evolving than in keeping the personal story in its own time frame.

Now wouldn’t an expansion (I am certain that this is what “Heart of Thorns” is going to be) be the perfect opportunity for ArenaNet to bring all zones to the current time again? Again, I don’t think personal story – which can’t just be brought to the current time – is a limiting factor for ArenaNet, as can be seen with story bits taking place on the Lion’s Arch map.

Lion’s Arch (and parts of other maps) has been changed already, but other parts of the world haven’t been. NPCs are still concerned about Zhaitan, even though we already killed him. Scarlet came and left. ArenaNet could bring the whole world to a post-Scarlet state including new dynamic events everywhere which would make the whole “old world” much more interesting again for those of us who have seen everything by now anyway. They could change all NPCs accordingly, so the stories, concerns, thoughts reflect what has happened in the last 2,5 years. I think this would definitely make the game world feel much more alive than it currently does.

Other than that, I guess I am hoping for “the usual” that other MMOs offer with their expansions. A new race would be nice, but even though everything seemed to hint at the Tengu in the beginning with them hiding behind their wall near Lion’s Arch, I’m not sure they are still in the focus and I don’t know what other race could become playable. A new profession would be great. I always loved the dervish in Guild Wars (I started with Nightfall, after all) and would love to see something similar in style in Guild Wars 2. But even though I am wishing for a new profession, I do not think we will get one, to be honest. Instead, I think we will rather get new weapons for existing professions. Maybe even only already existing weapons – I have wanted my mesmer to be able to dual-wield pistols from the very beginning. And why can’t my engineer wield a hammer or a spanner? New weapons for the professions or existing ones but new to that specific profession, I don’t really care. I just want more choices! :)

I am also expecting them to deliver guild halls. This is a feature that’s been asked for even before launch. I don’t know what they will include or what we’re going to be able to do there, but there you go. Guild halls! :p I would love to see housing, but to be honest, I don’t think we will ever see it in Guild Wars 2. It just doesn’t really seem to fit the direction they are going with the game.

 More legendary weapons is another thing I would love to see (mostly because I don’t like any of the current ones enough to get into the grind). But again, I am not sure this is their focus now.

In the end, I think the expansion will mostly be about new zones and more living story. I like to keep my expectations low, so that I won’t be easily disappointed. Anyway, we will know more soon! Less than a week from now.

My personal oasis in Rift (December 2014)

The last time I have shown you my dimension was in November after the expansion had landed in Rift bringing with it the minion system which led to an influx of dimension items. I’m still more or less drowning in them, but I’m also slowly getting a better feeling for the variety of items and what exists and what doesn’t exist – and thus, needs to be built with individual pieces.

My problem is that when I look at a butter churn, I see a butter churn. Others see that the bottom of it can be used as the plates on the oven. I wish I had those people’s creativity! But I can learn from them, can’t I? So I regularly go visit other dimensions to see how other people use what we have in the game.

Without much further ado, here is the gallery again of how my dimension looked like in November.

Today, I spent quite a bit of my time in my dimension again and worked on the interior of the building. I really want a full kitchen in there. It’s slowly coming along, but I think there’s still a long way to go before it stops looking empty.

I have now put 257 items into this dimension. Still not that much. I have bought the maximum capacity of 760 and can still buy more (for in-game credits or alternatively real life currency, whichever I prefer – in case somebody wonders about that).

The next project, apart from the kitchen, will be a pathway to the ship workshop and the lake. I also exchanged the heavy granite plate with wooden platforms as I found them warmer and more inviting. At the same time, the first metal pole was exchanged with a red wooden one and when looking at the screenshots, I realized that I also have metal poles holding the terrace outside. I’ll have to change that as well. One day, I will also work on the terrace. But I don’t really have a good idea for it yet, so it’ll stay empty for now.

Trove: Candy Barbarian revelead!

Trion Worlds made a news post revealing the candy barbarian yesterday. Or rather, revealing the skills that new class will have. We already know its name, after all. :)

Trove Preview Candy Barbarian

I’m going to be lazy and copy and paste the skills and their descriptions here:

Gum Drop (Passive): When you hit (or are hit by) enemies, you’ll spill candy on the ground. Scoop it up for sweet boosts to health or speed!

Vanilla Swirlwind: Spin like a cotton candy machine gone berserk, striking all enemies within range.

Sugar Crash: Launch into the air and crashes down on your target with devastating force.

Eis-Crom Cone (Ultimate): Invoke the powers of Eis-Crom, god of all things candy, to waylay your foes with an exploding ice cream cone of terror!

The first skill is passive which means that no matter what happens, this will always be active. Boosts to health or speed sounds a bit RNG. That reminds me of the elixirs that the engineer in Guild Wars 2 has which have that element of surprise as well (or did they change that? I haven’t played my engineer in ages, but I know people always complained about the random nature of some elixirs).

To me, the Vanilla Swirlwind sounds the most fun! Spinning and hitting. Of course, this only makes sense if there is more than one enemy, I assume? You cannot see any numbers in Trove, by the way. There is no combat log and no tool tip showing you that you did x amount of damage.

I wish they had streamed last night, so that we could have seen the candy barbarian in action. They wanted to, but seemed to have technical issues.

Anyway, I am a bit skeptical, actually. I know Trove is a fun game with silly stuff in it, but so far, the classes always still seemed “serious” enough to just put them in any fantasy game. The candy barbarian – not so much. On the other hand, I did write about classes and expectations and it is nice that they’re trying to be creative here with themes and class names etc.

Trove Candy Barbarian fighting

And look at that! The candy barbarian is a dual-wielding class! I love dual-wielding. My favourite classes are usually warrior-like types who dual-wield swords.

The patch that will bring us the candy barbarian will arrive on November 18, by the way. I can’t wait to try it out. If they go with it the way they have released the other classes, then we’ll be able to get it for 5000 cubits (the in-game currency) or alternatively, for 1050 credits*. So, go do your daily dungeons in Trove to earn the cubits needed for this class. :)

* For 18,99 €, you get 3250 credits. So, that class would cost you something like 6 € (plus a few cents). But if I were you (and wanted to support the game and buy credits), I would rather spend the cubits on the class and buy something else for my credits which cannot be paid for with cubits like costumes, some mounts and so on.