GamesCom 2011: Link collection for GW2

With PAX around the corner, I wanted to do a collection of links with interviews, videos, pictures, etc. from GamesCom. Of course, all GW2-related. :) Some of them were posted on German websites but the interviews are in English. So maybe you don’t know all of those links already.

Overall, I think it would be impossible for me to give you a complete collection of all tidbits of information about the game that came out of GamesCom. Information overload! So I’ll just try to collect things I find interesting and also some links that I haven’t yet seen posted a zillion times.

First, three short videos from the NCSoft booth that we just uploaded today. They weren’t ready yesterday or I would’ve added them there already. One of the annoying and negative parts of the GW2 booth was that crowd cheering guy. I’m just not a fan of those silly yelling games. Anyway, the crowd was cheering, so he certainly did a good job: I say NC… you say…Yell louder if you want t-shirts thrown your way and boy, was it crowded there!

Now, let’s continue with the more interesting bits and pieces. Links are in no particular order (except for me listing our links first… shameless self-promotion and all that).

Nerdy Bookahs:
Pictures and the videos we’ve uploaded: – most of them are PvP matches we filmed.

Some more YouTube videos:
Here are videos of the PvE demo that shows the fight against Tequatl with lots of players (Asura and Sylvari because those were the ones you could play at a higher level). A video of PvP commented by Izzy Cartwright showing the engineer, the ranger and the trebuchet.

GW2 Onlinewelten is a German website about Guild Wars 2. They did some interviews: One with Izzy Cartwright (talking about several things including ranger’s pets, the sidekick system, a bit about WvWvW,…) and one with Colin Johanson (also different things like the lobby for PvP, item shop content, race’s armour…).

Wartower (Interviews):
Wartower is another German website about GW2. Al’Ellisande conducted several interviews. I already summarise-translated the one with Martin Kerstein here.
She talked with Ree Soesbee about lore and the Sylvari (my personal favourite interview!), with John Ryan about about the writing of the Guild Wars 2 story (starts at 07:37), with Izzy Cartwright about PvP (up to 11:40) and with Daniel Dociu about the art (starting at 28:38).

They also uploaded a video about the character customization. At this point, I’d also like to link you to another blog entry about character customization so far: Namely, it’s not all done yet!

Asura Emotes:
Even though I prefer The current Asura over the GW2 asura when looking at their faces, I still definitely need to have at least one Asura (I’ll probably end up with a whole farm of them, thoug ^^). Watch some of their emotes here.

GW2Guru has a rather long link collection for GamesCom 2011, so I’ll leave you with that now.

Tomorrow, PAX starts. I wonder if we’ll get to hear about something new or if it’ll just be the same (which is okay. I wouldn’t mind some more videos. I haven’t seen enough about warriors yet, actually ^^).

Bookahneer’s Geekwatch (August 24) – GW2GC edition

Those who know me say that I’m often quite critical and can be overly harsh. So enjoy the following while you can because this’ll most likely be a rare entry full of fangirlism. ;)

After Warhammer Online and its hype leading up to the release of the game, I have become quite skeptical and even cynical. Don’t believe what a marketing guy says (especially if he mentions bears). It got worse when I read about Kotick’s “The goal that I had in bringing a lot of the packaged goods folks into Activision about 10 years ago was to take all the fun out of making video games”. I am well aware that companies need to make money. It is a business, after all. And at the end of the day, each employee needs to earn some money to feed him-/herself and their families. But should it ONLY be about the business? Should it not also be about your passion? Or about fun? Doesn’t “having fun while doing your work” also transpire into your work and consequently also onto your customers who might then become happier customers. Or at least, more satisfied with the product you’re selling to them because they can see that people did their best to make it a great product and not just one that earns them lots of money while not living up to customers’ expectations?

When I started school and finally learned how to read, a whole new world opened up to me. I loved escaping reality and I hid in the worlds I read about. Books were my passion and the worlds that other people had created in writing were my hiding places. When bookahnerk first introduced me to MMORPGs, I found myself walking around in those fantasy worlds. I don’t necessarily need to hide anymore – I actually quite like my “real life”. But from time to time, it’s still nice to be somewhere else even if it’s just in my imagination. And those games greatly help with that.

The impression we both got about ArenaNet – before and especially during GamesCom – was that there are people who are passionate and who love what they’re doing. I guess the question they asked most often was: “How do you like it?” They took in all the feedback they could get and seemed to honestly want to know what their fans thought (positive and negative opinions were welcome). To us, ArenaNet did not act like other companies. Have a look at the pictures we took from that booth and note the people in white shirts (with the Guild Wars 2 “2” on front and “ArenaNet” on the back. The other white GW2 t-shirts were given out to fans at GamesCom). There’s hardly a picture without one of them. And they aren’t just some people hired for the event who have no idea what this game even is. Apart from Rytlock Brimstone, there was also not a single booth babe. The people walking around in ArenaNet t-shirts were the community managers, designers, artists, writers etc. Those people who are actively working on the game. Everybody could approach them anytime and ask questions. Quite a lot of fans did as far as I could see (I think the only “issue” was that not everybody dared speaking English to them ;) ).

On Thursday when we arrived at the GW2 PvP booth and saw Stéphane Lo Presti, we waved at him and he came over to us immediately. We had brought him a package of Hanuta after seeing his tweets about how much he loved them. He was positively surprised and judging from his first reaction “So… you know me?” he seemed a bit puzzled. Apparently, he had never experienced the power of Twitter before. ;) He talked a bit more with us before we left the booth to stroll through the other halls of GamesCom.

On Saturday, while standing at the main NCSoft booth, he walked by, saw us and came over. He even gave us the chance to ask questions. Of course, we didn’t have any good ones. We weren’t prepared! ;) I only asked the question that al’Ellisande also asked Martin Kerstein… well, you can find that in my last entry. I also told him that the only thing I would ask of ArenaNet is “Don’t do a Warhammer Online!”. He smiled and shook his head.

After what felt like a very long time (which isn’t meant negatively! We appreciated him taking so much time to talk with us!), Sarah Witter (who can be seen in the left picture speaking with the Asura) appeared, apologised and said that she had to take him away from us because somebody dressed up as an Asura was there. He went off and she told us that we could follow him if we wanted to see the Asura as well. We sure did. Once there, I took a few steps back and looked at the whole scene: There he was the Asura. But what was impressive was actually, once again, ArenaNet. It seemed like every member of the team had been gathered and they were all there for pictures, autographs and admiring the costume (said Asura also got a t-shirt signed by everybody I think). Such a big fuss just because a fan showed up in a costume! And again, that’s not meant in a negative way. It was great to see them getting excited about a fan! :)

Whatever they did during GamesCom, to us it always seemed like they were actually positively surprised and happy about the feedback they got from the GW2 community. I especially loved listening to Ree Soesbee talk about the lore of Guild Wars 2. The way she talks about her work is just inspiring. I want to explore what ArenaNet is creating! I want to see every corner of the world and soak in every piece of lore they put into their game. I don’t think I’ve been this excited about a game since Warhammer Online. And, well, I doubt that GW2 will turn out like WAR. ;)’s interview with Martin Kerstein (from GamesCom 2011), a German Guild Wars fansite, published an interview from al’Ellisande with Martin Kerstein, who’s the German community manager of ArenaNet. The topic was, of course, Guild Wars 2. As it’s in German, I thought I’d offer a short English translation (not literally but so you get the gist).

Whenever you see (( )), that’s where I’ve added my own thoughts or additional information. ;)

1. When we’re at max level, will end game be horizontal or vertical? Or will I just try to get items faster?
– There is content in the game meant for max level, e.g. instances or events. He wasn’t sure what she’d meant with “getting items faster”. He mentions the possibility to (automatically) downscale your character and look at lower level content that you might have not seen so far. And PvP, of course.

2. The goal of the game isn’t to get to max level before you can “really” start playing the game and have fun. Your path is your goal. Have fun while levelling.

3. She talks about how lots of players are altoholics in Guild Wars and enjoy having/playing all classes. Then she asks if it can or will be the same in GW2.
– Especially with the personal story, it will be interesting to play several classes because the story will branch out at different points. So playing again with a different character will be interesting because it won’t be the same. Martin also says he’s an altoholic. ;)

4. In Guild Wars, you can leave the game for a while and when you return, you can get back into the game without having to get some specific armour or weapon first. Will GW2 be the same?
– The way Guild Wars 2 is built speaks against this concept. You shouldn’t need to get certain items or certain stuff in order to play with others. You can specialise/finetune with items but won’t have to get certain things first.

5. Underwater combat: Will you be able to avoid underwater areas without having any disadvantages? ((<– This question actually came from me. I AM terrified of dark water, whales, sharks, squids and whatever else you can find in dark water. I will get this game no matter what, but I’d prefer not having to go underwater if I can avoid it))
– Martin doesn’t think it happens often that a RL phobia transpires into the game ((I disagree. Sorry. Have seen and heard of enough people with phobias that had to fight with them in games. Not always, but it happens more often than he thinks, I guess ^^)). However, they don’t want to force players to do something they don’t want to do. He has to speculate as he’s not sure but he thinks it should be possible to avoid.
((Again, a comment from me at this point: I’d asked Stéphane Lo Presti the same question. Partly because, of course, it’s important for me personally but also because a friend wouldn’t even buy this game if she had to do any underwater stuff. He wasn’t sure either but so far, he hasn’t encountered anything in game that forced him to go underwater. This included the parts of personal story quests he’d done already while testing the game. So again, not a 100% “Yes, you can avoid it!” but also not a “No way, you need to do that!”))

6. She talks again about changeable underwear ((which I’ve written about here)) and they’re probably happy to hear that they have the best underwear in games. ;)

7. Weapons in underwater combat. What about environmental items/useable objects, a bottle, for example?
He can’t answer that question. He speculates that you might let this item drop once you go underwater. Also, specific utility skills might not work underwater. The first time you go underwater, you decide for specific underwater skills which will be activated by default whenever you go underwater again.

8. Nothing about guild halls yet. Nothing about the guild system so far.

9. Jeremy Soule is again creating the music for the game.

10. They talk about the music system. You can add your own playlist to your game. Even in a way that music will change dynamically depending on what happens. They’ve written about the audio team recently in their blog.

11. GW2 will not be playable on tablet PCs. ;)

12. Marketplace/auction house. Not talking about details yet. They are thinking about adding the possibility for players to list items that they want to buy (instead of just listing items they want to sell).

13. They are in friends and family alpha testing. He’s talking about longtime resources management but he doesn’t know what the designers are planning.

Impressions from GamesCom 2011

I want to write more about Lord of the Rings Online and Guild Wars 2 later. But for now, I present you my impressions of GamesCom 2011 along with several pictures we’ve taken.

We went there twice, on Thursday and Saturday. Thursday was already full but Saturday was crowded and hot. I didn’t feel too well on Saturday due to heat and having that horrible thought ‘What if there’s a fire now?’ in my mind. However, on both days we met a few friends and acquaintances, so that was great (*waves at her G+ gaming circle*)! GamesCom itself was disappointing in a few aspects. Having to stand in a long queue at the Skyrim booth, for example. A friend walked around it until he finally found somebody he could ask what’s actually inside the cube. The answer was that no, there was no demo to play. Instead, they showed you some kind of preview. Nowhere did it state that it’s just a preview that’s shown to you. Said friend had hoped to play the demo. Luckily, he asked before he had decided to queue (long queue, of course. Wait time about 2 hours, I think), so he hadn’t wasted any time on that. The whole 18+ deal is probably responsible for that. You can’t show anything publicly because a minor might see it. So you have to hide everything inside cubes. It would’ve just been nice to state somewhere what you’re queuing for… or have a whole hall dedicated for all the 18+ games with an age check at the entrance.

This was on Thursday around 4pm or so in the main hallway. It was fuller than Saturday last year (I think. My memory could fail me here, of course ^^). Compared to this year’s Saturday, that was empty, though. In this picture, you can even see the floor! On Saturday, that wasn’t possible. I didn’t even dare to stop to take a picture of how full it was because I was scared to stop moving… If you could theoretically see the floor, however, it was full of paper (flyers, magazines, etc.). People are slobs. There were dustbins everywhere! Either don’t take the flyer/magazine/whatever or throw it away in a dustbin but don’t throw it on the floor! It was also slippery because of the paper. They had people clean the stairs, though, so at least that was less hazardous than it could have been. You can also find YouTube videos showing the amount of people wanting to get in on Saturday (they apparently had to close their doors for a while because too many people wanted in).

The SWTOR booth was also constantly crowded. The huge screen usually showed the cinematic trailer (maybe more than that also but it always just showed the trailer when we passed by). I haven’t spent much time there, so I don’t know what else they showed. In front of the wall were PCs where you could play the game. You can see the monitors in the pictures. Of course, queues were also very long. I didn’t see any Bioware people there but I know that at least their community manager was there. Even with the crowded area, if you went closer, you could actually see some of the gameplay on those monitors. So that’s a plus compared to other booths. Queues were always long but if you could at least watch something, I was happy already.

First up is Rift and End of Nations. The picture on the left is from Thursday. It wasn’t this empty on Saturday! I have no idea why they had that thingy (shown in the picture on the right. The correct word for “that thingy” eludes me right now) there apart from letting one person get in and have their picture taken by friends etc. It didn’t do anything but it looked interesting when they rolled the stairs close to it so you could get up – or down. I assume it was part of their End of Nations game. From the distance, the game looked like StarCraft II. No idea if that’s true for the gameplay or not as I didn’t get any more information about the game (I didn’t try, though, so that’s not Trion’s fault here! ;) ). I was a bit disappointed not to see more of Rift. It always seems like they’re having rather aggressive and proactive marketing so I would have expected something more. On the other hand, the booth was behind NCSoft’s stage, so I probably missed all the interesting bits. ;) At least, queues weren’t long and we could’ve played Rift if we had wanted to do so. But we didn’t. Bookahnerk wasn’t captured by this game at all and I have recently played it (when they reactivated accounts for a week) and while I did have fun, it wasn’t enough to let me spend a monthly fee on this game. Sorry. :o/ I do still wish them all the best because I think it’s also a good concept to put out content updates fast and regularly. Keeps the players on their toes.

I found the “China Pavilion” funny, actually. We didn’t stop and only passed by. The picture on the right didn’t turn out too well. We got the camera recently and I have no experience in taking pictures apart from a few snapshots here and there. It probably shows. ;) Anyway, this booth had all those walls with advertisement of various games. I didn’t recognise any of them. They also had tables and chairs. I have no idea what for… well, apart from having tired people sit down and chat. But there didn’t seem to be any interaction between the people who belonged to the booth and the visitors. Again, this could be a false impression as we’ve only walked past a few times.

I’ve played one of the Anno games some years ago. I always forget which one. I’m usually a fan of games with a historical and/or fantasy background. While I do find science fiction fascinating, I’m not a big fan of it. So when I heard that the new Anno game would take place in 2070, I was a bit disappointed. Not for me, I guess. But seeing those pictures piqued my interest. It’s not dark-science fictiony apparently. So maybe it will be interesting, after all! We watched players on two monitors and saw the long queue (not surprising by now, is it?). So no queuing for us. But at least watching was possible.

Not much to see on the left picture. This is the beginning of the queue. It went all around the booth, I think. But the layout was interesting. Unfortunately, I apparently only took this one picture of the booth. I think the booth was about Risen 2. Not sure if that’s the actual queue for it.
League of Legends was there as well. Their booth was crowded. So we didn’t stay. They also had some tournaments going on in the ESL area. Crowded as well, of course. As were all tournaments there, I think. You can see the area in the picture on the right. At least, they had lots of chairs there, so watching the tournaments was probably comfortable – if you had managed to get a chair, of course. Starting on Thursday and ending on Sunday, they showed several different games on that stage. League of Legends, of course, as well as Starcraft 2. I was surprised to see that Guild Wars 2 also had some show matches. One team consisted of players from ArenaNet, another was some guild… no idea who they were exactly. But they didn’t do too well. Not surprising, I’d say, seeing how ArenaNet probably gets to play the game a little more often than other people. ;) If you’re interested, here is a video showing one of those matches.

There were actually a few areas at GamesCom that weren’t crowded at all. They had a case modding competition and here you can see two of the final cases. You could vote for your favourite. I don’t know which one has won, though. When we were there, the voting was still going on. It was pretty nice to look at, though! I’m just glad that my own PC is in a black case now and the old beige cases that always looked like you were a chain smoker are out of style now. Ugly colour! Why did that become the standard anyway?

One of my favourite areas. Also not crowded at all! The retro corner. I squealed when I saw Bubble Bobble on one of the monitors. And yes, you could play it. It was also fascinating and a little bit amusing to see teenagers play those games. Guess what? You don’t always need high end graphics to entertain customers as long as the game itself is good! None of the teenagers I watched looked bored. Of course, I didn’t take a picture of the Bubble Bobble game. Figures. ;) I used to play it so often as a kid, though. One of the few games I could play with my brother without us fighting and yelling at each other (we didn’t exactly get along well with each other… ^^). They also showed old computers, consoles, etc. I just had to take a picture of the Commmodore 64! My very first computer. Bought it off my brother when he’d bought himself a new one (Atari, I think). That was also the first time I’d ever gotten in contact with a strategy game. You were the manager of an airline and had to buy planes, staff, food for guests while they’re travelling on your plane and all that. At first, I’d been disappointed that you couldn’t actually fly a plane or at least watch it fly. Took me a while to figure out what this game was about and it quickly became my favourite. I think I was around 7 or 8 years old back then. Ah, the memories. Nostalgia. Sadly, I don’t have my C64 anymore. We gave it away to family members.

On the right, you can see a bit of the booth for Siedler Online. I do play the game every now and then, so I was curious what they had there. Took me a while to find the booth (I’d written down the location but of course, hadn’t brought that note with me. Yep, smart move ;) ). They changed the English name of the game to Castle Empire, apparently. Here is a review. It’s in open beta in German, so if you know German and want to check it out right now, visit the official homepage. I was sad to see that they had a zillion laptops but not a single one had a bigger monitor, so people could actually see what the game looked like etc. Of course, you could stand behind those people and try to get a glimpse but you stood too far away to actually see any details. If you wanted to know more, guess what? You had to stand in line and wait. Well, I already know and play the game, so I didn’t do that. But apart from that, there was nothing going on, I guess. There were some girls/women who looked official walking around but they ignored me. So they probably didn’t have anything interesting to say about the game to curious bystanders. ;)

On Thursday, I met Rick Heaton (community manager of Lotro). We didn’t talk much and I didn’t even think about asking him any questions. He was nice and friendly. He also gave me pins with the symbol of the warden, the ring and the white hand. They also handed out coupons for a mount in game* (the Cremello one that you could also get at PAX East). I was still pretty disappointed. There wasn’t a big banner saying that this is the LotRO “booth” and calling it a “booth” would be an exaggeration already. It was a bench with three PCs in front of a wall. On the other side of the wall, you had the same setup for DDO. Apart from Rick Heaton, there was one other guy but I have no idea who he was. On Saturday, we didn’t see Rick but just one German guy who asked me which class I play in the game. I didn’t know the German name so I said the English one “warden”. He looked at me like I’d just spoken Japanese. So I said “the tanking class that wears medium armour”. More staring into emptiness from him. *sigh* Just for the record: The German name is “Hüter”. We figured it out after a while – without the help of the German guy because he was clueless about LotRO. ;) He did try to be helpful and said that there was one other guy, who was on break when we were there, who has other than the class pins to give out for veteran players (I assume he either meant the ring or the white hand pins). He told us that we could come back later to see if he’s back from his break. We could recognise the guy as “the older man”. Before he left (to wherever… I think to the DDO-side), he added: “But he’s British!”. I can just assume he meant Rick Heaton… who knows. *shrugs* We didn’t return because we had our class pins already, didn’t want other ones and wanted to see one or two more PvP matches at the GW2 PvP booth before we left and went to eat at the Hardrock Café (where, not surprisingly, we found a queue. 25 minutes of waiting time to eat dinner… -.- But at least, we got to sit at the bar and have a drink while waiting).

Now, for our personal highlight: Guild Wars 2. The one great thing about their booth was that it was totally open. No walls to cut off people. Also, even though the queues were very long (again 40 minutes for each demo. *insert dramatic sigh here*), waiting or just looking wasn’t boring at all as each wall had two bigger monitors on top where you could see what the players were doing in the game. As mentioned above, a few other booths had done the same and I was always glad to see that. Most of the booths, however, weren’t as prepared. Only two pictures for now. I’m going to write another entry about Guild Wars 2 and will post more pictures there.

* We may or may not have a few spare coupons for said mount from people who didn’t want theirs. Watch out for a giveaway of sorts that may or may not happen here next week if you want that mount and haven’t had the chance to get it yourself at GamesCom or probably at PAX this weekend. ;)

GamesCom 2011 Part 2

We’re in the process of uploading our GW2 videos. Apologies for the spam to all those who already know about it because they’re following me on Twitter and G+. ;)

You can find all videos here:

All in all, we have about 15 videos. Give or take a bit. They all range from a few seconds up to 8 minutes of playtime. With the current video sizes, the uploads should be finished tonight. I don’t remember right now but I think we filmed two complete PvP matches shown from one player’s point of view. The PvP booth has two monitors: One from the player on the far right of the blue team and from the player on the far left on the red team. As the queue is standing right in front of the monitor of the blue team, our videos are always from that one player on the red team.

We’ll go to GamesCom again tomorrow. So expect at least one or two more videos on Sunday. ;) My impression – without having played myself! – is a very positive one. The PvP seemed fast-paced and moving was important. It also looked like fun and the players mostly had smiles on their faces after they’d played a match. Always a good sign. ;)