Asura home instance: before and after personal storyline

We were curious to see how many things change in the home instance once you are done with your personal storyline. Flummi, my mesmer, is the only character that is through with her story so far, so I used hers to see what’s in there. I then created a new asura with exactly the same choices, ran her through the tutorial instance and then immediately entered the home instance. So she hasn’t done anything other than the tutorial zone. For fun, we also included screenshots from bookahnerk’s home instance. His thief has also completed the personal storyline, but made different choices than my mesmer. Other obvious differences: My mesmer joined the Durmand Priory, his thief joined the Order of Whispers. Obviously, we also decided for different paths throughout the story, but it would be too much to list every single different step now.

A word of warning: Since this is about the personal storyline, you will find spoilers about the personal storyline here!

Edit: If you want to know more about the personal storyline, I recommend this article: “Personal Storyline – In a Nutshell”.

First things first, apart from the personal storyline, we have seen some bits of living story that gave us items in the home instance. If you haven’t done those, I’m sorry to say but you won’t have them in your home instance and it looks like you may never actually get them unless ArenaNet decides to reintroduce them somehow. Those items are the raw candy corn and quartz crystal formation gathering nodes which give you candy corn and quartz crystals once per day per account and the krait obelisk shard.

Going up on the right side of your home instance in Rata Sum, you can find a little well or spring. If you have done the corresponding living story part, this is where you will find the krait obelisk shard. It gives you one skill point per character (if your character is level 10+. My poor test character could just stare at it in awe, but was not allowed to commute with it yet) and after that, lets you transmute 25 quartz crystals into 1 charged quartz crystal. This can be done once a day per account. You do not need this shard to do that, though. Any “commute” skill challenge can be used for that. It’s just handy to be able to do it when you’re already in the home instance anyway to gather candy corn and quartz crystals.

Other than that, you can also see Peredur. He’s a sylvari that joins your home instance when you have chosen the transatmospheric converter during character creation and when you have played through the corresponding personal story quest. Bookahnerk chose the Infinity Ball, so he does not get Peredur. But you can see a little quaggan in his screenshot: Shashoo joined him as he chose to help the quaggans during his personal storyline.

Further up, you can enter a small area which I almost forgot to screen capture. Bookahnerk reminded me of it. During character creation, you choose a former master. This one will be here. My mesmer chose Professor Blipp, bookahnerk chose Professor Bronk with his thief. As you can see, Meffa, my test asura, has the professor in her home instance as well. So this isn’t something that appears after playing through the story. The NPC will be here as soon as you can enter the home instance for the first time.

Let’s leave this area and go down again. Hronk is another asura that is here from the beginning on. He is there in all three home instances, because each of our characters chose the College of Dynamics. So this is identical to the professors above: It does differ between characters, but it’s an NPC that will be here from the start. You do not need to do anything or play through a story step to unlock the NPC.

Next up is yet another asura, Krasso. This one is an NPC that you get only after completing the corresponding personal story quest. I do not know which one it is exactly, but I assume it’s at the end of joining an Order. Krasso belongs to the Durmand Priory. This explains why my little test asura does not have her in her home instance and bookahnerk doesn’t have her either. As mentioned above, he joined the Order of Whispers. Instead, you can see another asura on the left in bookahnerk’s screenshot: Shodd. He is the counterpart to my mesmer’s Peredur above. You get Shodd when you choose “Infinity Ball” during character creation and after playing through the corresponding story step.

Carys, a female sylvari, is a bit of a mystery here. She does not appear for my test asura, but she is there for my mesmer. At the same time, she cannot be found in bookahnerk’s home instance. He also does not have another NPC instead. So while I got her, he got nobody. Consequently, I must have made a choice during the personal storyline that led to her joining me and he either never met her or did something that made her not want to bum around in his home instance. ;)

Shashoo was already mentioned above in the Peredur screenshots. Next up is Gara. He is not there for my test asura and bookahnerk doesn’t have him either, as he had decided to check out what the quaggans are up to while my mesmer decided to find out more about the grawl. I already knew that quaggans are cute, but can be deadly if provoked. Grawl sounded intriguing. And now I have my very own personal grawl in the home instance. Not sure what he’s doing there, though. I doubt he can help that asura with her research.

Octavian Inkblood with his pet Amphebe and Mira. To be honest, I do not remember ever seeing any of them. Apparently, they do appear at some story step that has to do with Orr and I may have not paid any attention to what I was doing at that point. ;) I just wanted to get through with the personal story after a while. I loved everything up until the end of joining an Order and then it got boring. But well, this is not supposed to be a rant about the personal storyline. This is just showing what’s changing in your home instance. So there you go: My personal corner with the comfortable hammocks is now taken by those three. When I first saw it, I really loved this corner. But it’s no longer mine, apparently.

And we’re already at the last part: Kalliee. She belongs to the Durmand Priory. Neither my test asura nor bookahnerk have her in their home instances. Bookahnerk found another member of the Order of Whispers in his home instance, though: Otto Barenjaard.

Let’s summarize this: My test asura, Meffa, has two NPCs that she got by choosing her former master (Professor Blipp in her case) and the College of Dynamics (Hronk).

After completing the storyline, my mesmer, Flummi, had those two plus six more NPCs. Octavian Inkblood and Mira seem to belong together which is why I’m counting them as one. Other than this couple, there are Peredur (Transatmospheric Converter), Gara (grawl), Krasso and Kalliee (both from Durmand Priory) and Carys.

Bookahnerk, on the other hand, only got five more NPCs: Octavian Inkblood and Mira (again counting as one), Shodd (Infinity Ball), Shashoo (quaggan) as well as Batanga and Otto Barenjaard (both from Order of Whispers).

I did expect a lot more from the home instance when I heard ArenaNet talk about it before release. I knew very well that it was no housing or they would have told us all about it immediately. But I did imagine there would be a lot more changes than just adding static NPCs. The worst part of this is that those NPCs seem lifeless. They stand there, doing idle animations, but nothing else. You cannot even talk to those NPCs! If you don’t recall a name, well, don’t even think about hearing anything from the people hanging out in your home instance. There isn’t even any flavour text, nothing. Go google it, use the game’s wikipedia page, but the game won’t help you.

I’m disappointed and them adding the gathering nodes does not really help make this place more interesting. They did announce it as such a great feature to see what great things you have accomplished during your personal story and that they will be different from one character to the next. The differences bookahnerk and I found were 6 out of 8 NPCs. So yes, while that is definitely a difference, it is rather small, since you cannot even talk to them and well, they’re only a handful NPCs. The structure itself does not change at all. I don’t even know if the home instance is my own lab or not. There is no personal space in there, nothing. Maybe we will see improvements in 2014, but at the moment, I doubt they will use their resources for that.

Ask Nerdy Bookahs (November 21, 2013)

It’s time for another “Ask Nerdy Bookahs”. We have looked at the questions in the search terms that led people to our blog for which we know we do not have fitting entries and we’re trying to answer those questions now.

What determines day or night in Guild Wars 2?

A full circle of day and night takes 2 hours. It’s night for 45 minutes out of those 2 hours. We actually did write about it before as I just remember. So technically, this question doesn’t qualify for the “Ask Nerdy Bookahs” category. But I just love the video too much that bookahnerk made. So I’m featuring it here again for your viewing pleasure.

I can’t think of a name for my asura.

This isn’t a question, but a shocking piece of information. Thanks for coming to us. I will try to help you. First of all, asura names are often quite short. They love their double consonants and they do not have a last name unless they’re very eccentric. Apparently, if they have a name that deviates too much from the naming convention, they are ridiculed. So asura parents should always pay attention to what they want to achieve with the name they give their offspring.

Female asura usually have a two-syllable name with a double-consonant. The names often end with a vowel. Male asura have shorter names that end with a double-consonant.

I’ll give you some examples (those are my own and bookahnerk’s asura, so those names are taken!).

GW2 asura necromancer SynnliFemale: Flummi, Paerjja, Synnli, Yippu, Tendda, Avvla, Groffa

Male: Sproingg, Plimff, Blimff, Pimff, Gromff, Yarff

Of course, a lot of combinations are taken by now. However, I did create Blimff and Synnli not too long ago (about a month for the first and a week for the latter name). Get creative, play around with the vowels and consonants. Or tell your asura that it’s great to be eccentric and give him/her a last name. Or how about something like “Ingenious” in front of the name? Everything that makes them  look as marvelous, magnificent and intelligent as they are is a good thing.

Guild Wars 2:  Melee Engineer?

Yeah… no. Not really. The engineer can use pistols, rifle and shield as weapons. However, engineers can equip weapon kits. One of those kits is the Tool Kit. This replaces your ability bar (1 – 5) with melee skills. The maximum range is between 130 and 240. There is also the “Magnet” skill which lets you pull a mob towards you. Other than that, the engineer has no option of meleeing it. I don’t know how viable this Tool Kit is and if there are builds around it. All I know is that it was quite fun to play when I tried it out.

GW2 Engineer melee weapon tool kit

Guild Wars 1 Nostalgia: Costume Maker

GW2 Synnli asura necromancerI deleted my norn mesmer yesterday. She was my second mesmer and my only norn, but no matter how hard I try, I just do not like playing the norn. I like their lore and everything, but I prefer small races (like dwarves, hobbits, gnomes, asura,…). I also needed that character slot for my new asura necromancer!

Anyway, just before I logged her out, I realized she still had the Mask of the Night Skin in her inventory. Phew. I put it in the bank, then deleted her. Ever since then, I can’t help but wonder: Did she also have a costume equipped? I don’t think I gave her anything, but what if I did?

ArenaNet’s reply to this is:

Right now, having an agent research the matter and somehow replace the item would extend the time we take to respond to players with other issues, like account hacks. So this isn’t a service we currently can offer.

This means that even if you previously spent real money on an item from the gem store and then delete the character without remembering that your character even had that gem store item. It happens easily with town clothes… I am pretty, but not 100% certain that my mesmer didn’t have any town clothes equipped. I’ll have to check if I’m missing something. ;) Anyway, this isn’t about me whining that I was an idiot and forgot to take the item off. This is me being nostalgic and sad…

Guild Wars 1 had such a cool function, the NPC Costume Maker. I had bought two costumes in Guild Wars 1 and also collected some other cosmetic items and I can get them on every character on my account as often as I want. Why did they not implement this function for Guild Wars 2? I can understand them not wanting to devote so many resources in their customer service team for restoring items, but to me it just sounds very reasonable to take care of the problem by helping to avoid that this problem exists in the first place. Oh, also, I would love to be able to have a cosmetic item on more than one character without having to put it in the bank and exchange it between characters that way.

I’m pretty certain that for every new and cool feature we got with Guild Wars 2, there is one thing we’re missing from Guild Wars 1, right? ;)

My new love…

GW2_GromffI created my elementalist months ago… probably on the day of the headstart launch.

I never got around to playing this profession, but I really love my Gromff – or as I call him, my “Streifenhörnchen” which would be “chipmunk” in English. Those stripes are adorable! I don’t like most of the asura hairstyles for males, so I chose this instead.

It took me a long time to try out the elementalist and give him a real chance. Instead of getting used to two weapon combinations with 10 skills, you choose one weapon set with the four elemental attunements which means 20 skills. Playing him just once every few weeks meant that I’d always forgotten his skills again. I’m currently playing with dagger/dagger, but I’m not sure it’s really what I like the most. The staff was nice but I preferred daggers. I should give the scepter another try as that was really fun to play as well. If only daggers had a tiiiiny bit more range.

5 days with Guild Wars 2

I’ve been wanting to write about my impressions of the headstart and the game itself but decided to hold off for a little while longer. Part of that was because I rather wanted to play the game and not spend my time writing blog entries that surely, nobody else will read as we’re all playing the game currently. But it was also because I wanted to give ArenaNet some more time to fix things before judging them for it.

On Saturday, the day of the headstart, we got up at 5.30am. When the servers went live at exactly 6am, we could log in without any issues and managed to grab all the names we wanted – well, I guess most of them wouldn’t have been claimed by others anyway (or did anybody want Grola Hazelfur or Huldra Yeodottir? ^^), but I was very happy to have Paeroka and Flummi. The latter is my main, an asura mesmer, which you can see on the left where she’s proudly wearing the t-shirt we got at GamesCom. The hat is available for free from the gem store, by the way. The hat can be dyed, the shirt can’t.

Before I continue writing about my experiences in the game, what Flummi has seen and done and why I really love the game experience, I want to focus on the negative aspects.

The following tweet is from Sunday and sums up the issues that the game has been facing and, as of this writing, some of these issues are still present.

Issues with guilds, the trading post, parties, instances, overflow shards, Hall of Monument and other related things are known and being worked on. #GW2 ^RD

The login servers did cause problems on Saturday which led to us not being able to login. I decided to hop onto my crosstrainer in the meantime. The problem still wasn’t solved afterwards, so I started playing Dirt Showdown – a game I love a lot more than I probably should. So much fun! But that’s not the point of this article. It is, however, what I did during my Saturday afternoon. We could login later that day and apart from login issues right after patches, it seems that the login servers are doing fine now. That is to be expected after launching a new MMO as I’ve seen several MMOs with issues like that after launching or after releasing an expansion.

The guild functions had been buggy, too, and switching between guilds had not been possible at times. I could either not leave at all, or I could leave but then couldn’t represent another guild – or the same one – anymore. It seems that this was fixed now, though.

Also on Saturday, the trading post was put offline for maintenance. We have yet to see it return. That’s surely a long time for maintenance and it is one thing that really bugs me. I had been looking forward to having a game with an active economy and an ingame auction house again (which Guild Wars 1 is definitely lacking) and now it isn’t there. Of course, I can still play the game per se, but that trading post is a vital part of my gameplay fun and not having it means that I am lacking some fun that I could be having otherwise. On top of that, ArenaNet discourages trading in other ways anyway. You cannot directly trade with another player. The only way to give somebody an item is via mail. Mail is lacking a “cash on delivery” option which means that if you want to trade, you send the item or the money in one mail and the other player will then hopefully send the item or gold as well. You need to trust them because there is no way to know they will actually send their stuff to you. So be careful when trading with strangers! Instead, I have salvaged all items, sold them to merchants or given them away to guild members or friends for free.

So all in all, there have been hiccups and some are still there. I am mostly disappointed in how long it’s taking them to fix the trading post and how they are calling it “maintenance” without any further information. Of course, I understand that they’re not deliberately keeping it from us just for the fun of it. On the contrary. It must really suck to not be able to give us that part of the game. But with the limitations in trading, I feel very isolated and that’s not what this game is about. So I can’t help but feel disappointed that this part of the game was not ready when the game launched.

After complaining about all of that, I can only really dislike the game, right? Thankfully, that’s not true. The game itself, apart from the issues, obviously, is great. I haven’t had this much fun in a game in years! What usually annoys me in MMOs does not exist in Guild Wars 2. There is no “queuing” to kill a named quest mob. There is no kill stealing in general. And no stealing of resource nodes either! I do not feel that I have to go from quest hub to quest hub and check off the available quests in each of them. In fact, most of my time in the game was spent just strolling along to see where I would end up. On my way, I often run into an event or two and end up with a few more levels at the end of my gaming session. Yeas there are moments where I have “nothing to do”, but that’s okay and I like just walking along, spotting things in the distance that I want to have a look at and running into an event on my way.

One time, I wanted to see what a wall and the gate in between were all about (who’s with me that tengu will be the next playable race, by the way? ^^) and I saw a player fight against a tengu. I decided to help – because, well, why shouldn’t I? – and as it was a skill challenge, I looked forward to getting another skill point. But that mob wasn’t that easy. The other player got downed and I got downed a bit later as well. Fortunately, the mob decided to concentrate on the other downed player at that point and I managed to rally myself. I hurt the tengu quite a bit and then… I got downed again. It was his 10 hitpoints against mine (roughly estimating here) and I won! That rallied me back up, I resurrected the other player and we both went on our ways. But this is what I call an adventure!

I do not feel like I have to play a certain way or do certain things. Instead, I can do whatever I want in the game and at the end of the day, I will have gained experience. But it’s a side effect rather than the reason for playing the game. I am amazed how ArenaNet accomplished this.

I don’t know much about the issues with grouping because so far, grouping has not been necessary at all for me and yet, the game has not felt like a single-player game at all. It’s true that until now, I have never had to talk about a strategy or tactics with other players that were around for an event, but I’m still not high in level (21 is my highest at the moment) and I assume this will come later on. Yet, it has always felt like a group effort. No need to ask for help, cry for a resurrection or anything like that. Players that are around just naturally come up and help you. There’s no more “well, I have to do my own quests now, I don’t want to go out of my way and do something else to help this player”. On top of that, players are rewarded for helping because resurrecting somebody gives you experience points and helping others kill a mob gives full experience and loot for everybody who contributed.

During my time playing through the low level areas of the sylvari and asura, I found one bug. One single bug: An event didn’t start. That’s it. One. Also, my client crashed to desktop two or three times since headstart.

One thing that shouldn’t go unmentioned is that so far, what I have seen from the support team was really great. I got replies within 24 hours in the first few days. I haven’t heard from them again in the last two days, but my issues aren’t a priority and I can wait (it’s nothing that is keeping me from playing comfortably). But support has been polite and helpful.

And then there are Aidan and Ramon who operate the international and the German twitter accounts during the day (well, European time, of course). In the last few days, I have been observing both accounts to spot news about the trading post immediately and I have seen them trying to help whenever people had questions or problems. I know it’s their job to care for the community, but I guess we all know that “it’s our job” and yet, we do not always work with 100% motivation, especially when it’s on a weekend or overtime. ;) But they have really impressed me with the amount of help they have offered!

So all in all, I still feel very positive about the game and I hope they can get those issues fixed fast because it casts a cloud on an otherwise perfect-for-me game.

Since pictures say more than a thousand words and because I think the game world looks gorgeous, I am ending my entry with some screenshots from my adventures.