GW2: The beginning… – Looking back 4 years (Blaugust Post 17)

Guild Wars 2’s fourth anniversary is coming up in a couple of days. The headstart began on August 25, 2012. Gaile asked for screenshots from the launch weekend on the official forum and I figured this is a great opportunity to get nostalgic here in this blog as well!

I still clearly remember getting up at 5.30 am and how excited I was to get “Flummi” for my asura. “Flummi” is the German word for “bouncy ball” and it just fits perfectly to her while keeping with the naming standards for asura. :p Anyway, the first time I wrote about Guild Wars 2 after its launch was on August 29. So I gave the game 5 days before I wrote about my impressions.

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!

What’s amazing is that now, four years later, this seems to be a thing of the past! While some games, like Rift, had that feature as well that you can hit on mobs and both get rewards, other games, like Wildstar, implemented it after the players loudly asked for it! At least in my opinion, since Guild Wars 2 had those multiplayer-friendly features, gamers have come to expect it to be similar in other games as well. Especially the inability to “steal” a resource node is something that I still love!

There is one thing that I dearly miss from the beginning of Guild Wars 2: Simply strolling through a map and seeing where my nose leads me. The new maps in the Heart of Maguuma don’t really invite me to do that much. Instead, I always get the feeling that I have to rush from A to B in order to participate and get a map reward. The original maps feel slower and calmer. It makes sense story-wise not to have that with the new maps, but when it comes to exploration, these maps are just filled with events, meta-events and lots and lots of mobs.

Of course, there is a screenshot gallery attached to that impressions piece, but I still went through my old screenshot folder again to see what else I can dig up.

Guild Wars 2 First Screenshot Aug 25 2012 6.13amThis was the very first screenshot I took in the game, apparently. It’s from August 25, 2012, 6.13 am. To be honest, I do not know what I am doing there. It looks like a male human guardian and I never actually intended to have that character. I took another screenshot of that guy and then there is a lot of screenshots of the character creation screen to make sure that I create Flummi and can recreate her later on if I wanted to make a change.

GW2_First picture Flummi

This is the first screenshot I took of Flummi in the game. As you can see by the target I have focused, I obviously really loved little Shrieksy. Why can’t we have that one as a mini, by the way? Also, please note the little armor icon. Yeah, I was a n00b and apparently died in the very beginning already. :p

I was very impressed with how the world looked but had not yet figured out how to get around having your character shown in the screenshot. Back then, there was no first person view (when was it that they implemented it? Not too long ago actually, right?). But I think it actually works pretty well with this screenshot!

GW2_Aug 26_2012

After that, I mostly used /sleep and then moved the camera around to take scenery screenshots without having my character visible. But I am still so happy that they gave us the 1st person view, so I don’t have to use that workaround anymore!

GW2_Character Screen Aug 2012

This character doesn’t even exist anymore. Paeroka is now an asura engineer who has yet to hit level 80 (she will get there through Tomes of Knowledge). I have a male charr engineer, so there has been no need to play her so far. The screenshot also shows the bug where parts of the faces of the characters were missing in the preview pictures below. Third from the left shows Paerjja, my asura warrior, back when she still had hair. I switched to a mohawk and the stripes on her skin later. The next one on her right is my male sylvari thief, then my male asura elementalist. Both are alive and well! The other two aren’t around anymore either. I switched a lot in the beginning until I was really happy with the race/class combinations and the looks of my characters.

GW2_Maguuma Jungle_Aug 2012

This screenshot is from August 27, 2012. As you can see, it apparently did not take me long to figure out ways to hide my character! :p

Last but not least, the first world boss that I defeated. I deliberately did not look for locations of these bosses as I instead wanted to randomly stumble upon them in the world.

GW2_Jungle Worm_Aug 2012

Okay, I lied. I just have to throw this picture in as well, representative of the ton of pictures showing the Black Citadel and the charr areas that followed as even to this day, these are my favourite parts of Tyria! It was taken on August 28, 2012.

GW2_Black Citadel_Aug 2012

Having fun with naming pets (Blaugust Post 8)

GW2_Pet InterfaceWith the recent patch, Guild Wars 2 finally allows its players to choose names for their pets that stick. Previously, you could name your pets, but only your two active ones (only counting the terrestrial ones now as I really don’t care for the underwater ones) had  kept their names. As soon as you switched one of those two with another pet from your arsenal, the one getting “deactivated” lost its name. When you next decided to activate and use it again, the name would be gone.

Since I hardly ever play ranger, I just kept my two Moas and they had their names, but it wasn’t that much fun. I need my pets to have names so I can properly get attached to them just like a good little ranger player should! I fondly remember Grifo, my hunter’s raptor back in World of Warcraft. It had felt like such an accomplishment to get him at that young level – only to find that there are tons of raptors later on in the game that I could have tamed if I had only waited a bit more. In World of Warcraft, pets also grow when they level with you – or they used to do that. I am not sure that feature is still in. I was very attached to him and hardly ever switched my raptor with anything else! Sadly, there are no raptors to play with in Guild Wars 2.

WoW_Hunter Raptor Pet and Mount

The level of attachment is very different in Guild Wars 2, but as soon as I chose a name for one, the attachment grows.  I went for my usual names so far: Bjarni for my cat, Abraxas for my raven and Foxi for my wolf. Abraxas is the name of the raven in one of my childhood’s favourite books “Die Kleine Hexe“. “Bjarni” is a character from Cultures (a PC game), but the name actually means “bear“. I found it funny at some point to call a feline “bear” and it’s sticked with me ever since. Then I figured I could go with “Foxi” for the wolf.

GW2_Raven Abraxas

What I really wish now would be the possibility to see the names of the pets instead of having “juvenile raven” as its name when it’s not active. It makes finding those who still need a name much more difficult! So far, eight of my 40 (terrestrial) pets (I still need to catch the newest ones) have names. I just really don’t know why my spider is called “Debbie”. The thing is that it always takes me time to come up with good and fitting names that I like. So there is always a reason and I just have no idea about “Debbie”… This will haunt me into my dreams tonight. :p

The Daily Post: Carefree (in MMOs)

WordPress.com has a daily prompt consisting of one word to give you an idea what to blog about. I will definitely not do this daily, but I do take a look at the prompts regularly. Today’s daily prompt word is “Carefree“. When I hear this word, I immediately get some mental images and I thought it’s a good thing to try to find appropriate game screenshots to show you what kinds of images this word triggers.

GW2_Carefree gliding Rata Sum

In reality, I am afraid of heights and would never ever do something as gliding. But in games – and in theory, when I imagine doing something like this – it’s just an amazing feeling. Oh, and the view is great most of the time as well. Well, unless you’re gliding through the Maguuma jungle with all the fights going on. Rata Sum, however, is perfect!

Rift_Carefree on a mountainI seem to have a thing for heights here, apparently. :p But what I really love doing in Rift is just climbing on mountains! The best part is that each continent is one map of its own meaning that I can go from one zone to another with no loading screen. Here I am standing between Moonshade Highlands and Silverwood.

Paeroka’s Ponderings: Bored-out instead of Burnout?

Paeroka's Ponderings featured image for columnExcuse the bad pun up there, but something got me thinking… In a conversation about GW2’s content drought, somebody wrote (I don’t have a link, so I’ll paraphrase here out of my memory): MMOs aren’t meant to be played exclusively. They are made to play with breaks in between.

But when I started my first MMO, World of Warcraft, I don’t think anybody would have said that. In fact, it was the contrary. When you left for a month or two and then came back, you certainly had to find either a different raid group or try to catch up somehow as the others were ahead of you in the fights and working on the next raid boss or bosses and you had to learn the mechanics of the fight or even worse, they outgeared you. I heard a lot of people say “I would love to try World of Warcraft, but I don’t have that much time to play.” To be honest, I don’t think I heard people say that about Rift or Guild Wars 2 lately.

Saying “I need to take a break from WoW, I’m burned out” was also something I regularly saw back in those days. Even I felt like that, although I never was in any big raiding group. I was part of a Saturday evening raid which consisted mostly of people with their alts and a handful of people with their mains (me included). It was a rather casual laid-back raid. Then I joined a Sunday Karazhan raid group which was originally made to “just enjoy the content”, but we soon noticed that the raid leader had actually wanted to speed-run through the raid. Which wasn’t possible, because the tank and the healer (yours truly) were neither experienced nor geared for it and he had known that in advance as we had asked if that would be okay with him and he had been happy to take us (as usual, the lack of tanks and healers probably left him with no choice). It started to feel like work and having your weekend evenings booked with raids was just too much for me.

But maybe this mentality has shifted in the meantime. I cannot speak for World of Warcraft as I haven’t actively followed this game in a long time. So I will take Rift as my example instead. I left Rift for a couple of weeks as I had lost interest in the game and returned when I felt like picking it up again. I stay far away from raids in all my MMOs, so that part is out of the equation for me anyway. I know that Trion is adding new raid content every now and then and I know that my guild is doing raids. But it just doesn’t seem to be as it was back in WoW. I hardly ever see them talk in guild chat about needing this or that piece of equipment. It also doesn’t seem to be a problem if somebody disappears for a month and then returns. Maybe it’s because they are even more laid back than my Saturday WoW raid was, but maybe Rift is also just “slower” and you don’t feel left behind that fast.

Looking at Guild Wars 2 and at the original statement, it seems to back this up. True, Guild Wars 2 has been adding raid content. So if you do like raids, your content drought isn’t as strong as everybody else’s. But even with raids, it doesn’t feel like you need to catch up. One big reason for this is that Guild Wars 2 is not gear-dependent. So you do not get outgeared by others if you take a break.

GW2 Shrug emote

Maybe MMOs in general have changed to not require you to play all of the time. Or it is related to the game’s payment model. After all, with no mandatory monthly fee attached to GW2 or Rift, there is no need to get you to keep playing and paying. I guess it just becomes a problem if you get too bored with it and then never return, no matter what gets added to the game. In my case, I got too bored with Rift, but I did return, because as much as I dislike the world and its lore sometimes, I just love too much about this game (mostly the way the world looks – other than the Nightmare region – and the dimensions, of course). The same goes with Guild Wars 2. Even though I am currently very bored and don’t care about the content I haven’t experienced (like the raids), I know I will return to the game and actively play it again.

I guess this is much better – and healthier – than playing too much and getting “burned out”. And maybe, in the long run, it’s even better for the developers. Because if you leave burned out and stressed, there is a negative feeling towards the game. Leaving because you are bored is a more “indifferent” state and as soon as they add something that sounds interesting, you may want to jump back in with enthusiasm and fun!

NBI 2016: Blogging can be life-changing

Yes, I admit, the headline is probably a bit too dramatic. ;) So before you get too excited: Blogging will not make you rich and it is very unlikely that you will become famous. However, looking back at the past five years with this blog, a few things happened that did influence our lives in positive ways.

Even though writing, and thus blogging, per se is a solitary pastime, having a blog ultimately leads to being read. If you allow comments on your blog, then the interaction with your readers can be a very direct one, obviously. In case you are wondering: Should I allow comments? – I can recommend this post by Contains Moderate Peril. If you opt for a wordpress.com blog, I would suggest enabling the feature that when somebody comments for the first time, this comment will be put in “moderation” and you manually allow it (or not). This way, you can catch trolls and delete their comment without it being public. No harm done. As soon as you allow somebody’s comment, future comments will not be put in the moderation queue and will appear immediately. So far in the five years, this setting has helped us a lot – not that we actually did get troll comments. We only sometimes get spam comments that the automatic spam filter doesn’t catch. This is still a very good feature for these situations.

But back to the topic of this blog post: If you allow comments, then you will sooner or later get a few people who will comment on your blog. It will very likely not be a huge amount as the vast majority belongs to the “quiet readers”. What I personally really like is when people comment and add their thoughts that a post of mine provoked.

On top of that, blogging about specific games also means that you are part of a gaming community. This is also where comments come into play. Reach out to other bloggers that you like reading. Comment in their blogs, add them to your blogroll or reply to a post they made with a post of your own (always remember to link to them and use trackbacks as that is a good way to notify them of your post).

In my case, some other person (Marc, the founder of GuildMag) had noticed our blog and when ArenaNet was wondering who to invite to their European community gathering before Guild Wars 2 launched, the UK community manager at the time reached out to us and invited us to come to Brighton. Now this was probably a lot of luck for us! This trip was back in 2012 when I was still relatively new to the blogging world, but without this blog, I obviously wouldn’t have been able to go because all of us were bloggers or writers for Guild Wars 2 fansites. I accepted the invitation (gladly, of course!) and then found myself on a plane to the UK. I had never been to the UK before (and still haven’t returned which is quite sad, because I really want to visit that country), so I was even more excited. Finally! Even if it was only for a bit more than 24 hours. And I’ll be eternally grateful to Tasha for pulling me back when I had forgotten that cars drive on the left side over there.

Group picture EUFanDay

While there, I got to know some Greek dude who had mentioned his Guild Wars 2 guild. Once back here at home when we were trying to find a good guild for us, I sent him a message and asked if we could join. And that’s how we got accepted to Dragon Season. This guy (those who know Dragon Season probably know by now that it’s Tilion that I am talking about) has become a very close friend of mine and if nothing goes wrong, we will finally get to meet again this summer!

Another example is the Foostival. Foostival is a real life event from fans for fans of Guild Wars 2 which has taken place in several European countries for a couple of years already. It is mostly organized by those of us with Guild Wars 2 fansites. Since we are German but blog in English, we did not actually have any connections to the existing German fansites. But when GuildNews joined Foostival back in 2014, I was invited to help organize this event (by Tilion, actually) and I happily accepted. Through the Foostival, we have met several more great people and hope to stay in touch even outside of Guild Wars 2. Since they are all German, meeting in “real life” is also a lot easier since there is less distance to travel!

Last but not least, being one little blogger with one little blog can also lead to something more “professional”: Justin from Massively mentions that a lot of them started off as individual bloggers. And some of the Massively staff actually ended up working for game companies (like Rubi who now works for ArenaNet and Celestrata who joined Turbine and later switched to TrionWorlds).

GW2 Pink Day Plaza - Aurora Glade

I guess what this post aims at is that blogging is actually not so much a solitary pastime, but a very social one with lots of opportunities to reach out to others, connect and find friends who share your interests. Thanks to the internet – and if you use a widespread language like English – even all over the world. But even if you decide to blog in your native tongue, you can still reach out to a lot of people you would probably not meet otherwise. And I personally just really enjoy participating in something bigger, something community-driven (“Pink Day in LA” should also be mentioned here which I once helped organize on our server Aurora Glade).

(Side note: I had originally wanted to be a lot more active during NBI, but due to health issues concerning my fingers and a strict “NO TYPING!” from my doctor, I tried to restrict typing to my day job. :p)