Guild Wars 2 Community Event – Blaugust Day 9

GW2 Community Event 2015As you may already know, on Thursday, we went to gamescom and then went to the Wildstar Community Event in the evening. I already told you about the Wildstar event. My write-up of our visit to gamescom is taking a bit more time to get finished, though. So I figured I could show you the pictures I took at the Guild Wars 2 community event. Keep in mind that I am not a professional photographer and I only had my mobile phone to take pictures. I actually like the quality of the pictures the phone produces. Hey, I’m a kid of the 80s/90s, I have seen SO much worse quality in pictures. You young ones out there have no idea what a luxury it is to produce this amount of pictures with such a good quality at no cost! Ahem, I digress, don’t I? And I made myself feel old. Well done… What I want to say is that the restaurant we were at was apparently too dark for my camera. But the light wasn’t an issue for me throughout the event. What was really bad was that the whole room was packed (although, apparently, we were not as many people as we were at the Wildstar event) and it felt crowded and there was only one fan at the ceiling and no air conditioning. But outside, it had been really hot, too, so there was no cool wind coming in.

We had not been back at gamescom on Friday. Thursday was enough for us. Cologne is about a 1,5 hours drive from where we live, so we drove there again on Friday afternoon for the Guild Wars 2 community event. For the last three years, it has now taken place at the same location. Thankfully, this year we had a bit more variety with food. I certainly don’t want to complain about free food! However, the food they serve there is that typical German kind of food. Lots of meat, actually, meat everywhere even in your baked potatoes and your sauerkraut (yes, there has to be sauerkraut – typical German food, remember?) and greasy fatty meat. But this year, we also had some salad consisting of lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes as well as some vegetarian dish. I am not sure what exactly it was. It looked a bit like pieces of a wrap with a vegetable filling. It was super tasty! After we had all finished our dinner, ArenaNet handed the teams that competed in the World Tournament Series their jerseys and used this opportunity to introduce the players to us. Afterwards, the famous “raffle” began. Everybody present had gotten a raffle ticket and they gave several prizes away. We did not win anything, but that’s not too bad considering everybody who came to the event got a little goodie bag. Let me show you one thing from this bag.

GW2_Rytlock shirt

It’s pretty, isn’t it? It shows a huge Rytlock and the Heart of Thorns logo. The back of the t-shirt is plain black. And yes, I just like bragging that I have something that you cannot have! Or… actually no. You probably know me better by now, right? :) I am only showing you this little gem because we will soon(ish) have another giveaway and this t-shirt (size “L” – the one shown in the picture is size “S”, but that one is actually mine :p) will be one of the prizes you can win! I wish we had many many more of those for you guys. The colours are so fantastic! If you look closely, or not so closely even, you may see the green colours on the left and the right of the picture. That’s our living-room sofa. I am a great fan of light green. :)

The giveaway is still some time away, though. I just thought I would put a little teaser in here.

But even though we got free food, free drinks and a loot bag, we would have also gone there if it had only been to meet everybody. Not even necessarily the guys from ArenaNet and NCsoft. Don’t get me wrong, they’re great! But it’s always a great opportunity to meet others from the community and talk about games – or even about what you’re up to in your offline life. So there is actually not that much I can tell you about. Just as with Wildstar, we were also not told anything exclusive here either. No, still no release date for Heart of Thorns. :p But we could meet the famous Gaile Gray – and she is as awesome and friendly as I thought she was! And with this, I will leave you to have a look at the picture gallery below. Now there is only one more gamescom-related post coming and that one, yes, will actually be about gamescom! ;)

This post is part of Blaugust 2015.

Wildstar Community Event – Blaugust Day 8

Cologne

We had originally planned to go to the Trion party on Thursday evening and I was looking forward to it, especially as they announced the new Primalist calling there. However, then we had received invitations for the Wildstar and Blade & Soul Event. Since we did not know anybody who went to the Trion party, but knew several who were also going to the Wildstar one (Tasha, for example), we decided to head there instead. Also, the food sounded too promising: Korean BBQ – and it lived up to its promise! I definitely need  to find a recipe for that glass noodle salad!

I don’t know how good the Trion party was. I assume it went very well, because they had this great announcement, after all, and what seemed to look like a great location for the party as well (and vintage shuttle busses!). But what I do know is that we had a great time with the guys from NCsoft. The event location was also closer to the gamescom convention center. So, on Thursday morning we drove to a parking deck close to where the community event took place and walked to the gamescom convention center. In my gamescom-post I will show you a picture of the amazing view from the huge bridge that leads to the area where the koelnmesse is located which is where gamescom takes place every year. For now, enjoy the image on the left which shows a church and old colourful tiny houses. As you can probably guess, there are lots of pubs and restaurants in that area. It is also right at the Rhine which makes it even more beautiful!

So, let me show you some more pictures of the view as well as the community event and tell you what happened there. Just a heads-up: No, we were not told when Wildstar will go free to play and we did not receive any other insider information. ;)

Wildstar Community Event

People came in slowly. The event had started at 7.30 pm, but gamescom was open until 8 and I know that at least the guys from Guildnews came a bit later because they still had some appointments late afternoon at gamescom. While the pubs and restaurants aren’t that far away, when you walk, it’s about a 30 minutes walk – which bookahnerk and I had made, because the weather was so good and we just love walking through that part of Cologne. As I said above, the view is amazing! Anyway, on the right you can see a tiny part of the roof terrace of the event. You can also see the barbecue being prepared on the left of that picture, right inside the pavilion.

What we both really liked was seeing how the guys from NCsoft interacted with their guests and that they actually approached us and started conversations. We had quite a nice conversation with Omeed Dariani, the Director of Community and Social at NCsoft West. Of course, one of the topics was Wildstar, but the conversation soon switched to a more general “what is important to make people seriously try out a game and not leave within the first minute”. It was quite interesting to hear about his insights and experiences.

On the pictures, it actually looks like there weren’t that many people present, but the location was so big with the space inside and then the roof terrace, that this is misleading apparently. I had actually thought we had been fewer people than at the GW2 community event on the following day, but was told that there were more at the Wildstar one. I always find it difficult to judge numbers. I am more the “crowded / not-crowded” kind of person. :p So, it was not-crowded at the Wildstar event, but we were quite a lot of people there.

Wildstar Community EventThey had also set up PCs to try out Wildstar and Blade & Soul. We did not try Wildstar because we both own the game anyway. However, we tried out Blade & Soul. For those who don’t know: Blade & Soul is an MMORPG developed by NCsoft which originally released in South Korea in 2012 already. Other Asian countries followed, but no Western version had been released so far. Now they are working on the localization and we will get to play it at some point in Q4 2015. My main problem with the game was that we were thrown into it with premade characters that had a certain level already. I had no idea what to do. The combat seemed fast and action-oriented. The controls were easy and “fluid”, for lack of a better word. I am not sure Blade & Soul is my kind of game, but at least, I wasn’t terribly bored either. :p We both only played for a few minutes, because after all, we don’t go to such an event to play games. It is much more interesting to talk to others, especially those that you usually cannot talk to (like developers) or people who you know from online, but don’t have the chance to meet often.

A quite funny moment was when we realized that we knew Jan, the German community manager for Wildstar, from waaaay back when Warhammer Online was still up and running. He had been writing news about the game at that point and had generally been a very active part of the German Warhammer Online community. The (gaming) world is such a small one sometimes. Too bad we didn’t have the time to get all nostalgic about WAR with him – although at the same time, we did meet another guy who had been actively playing the game a few years ago and we talked to him for a bit.

I actually thought I had taken more pictures of the people there, but it turns out, I didn’t. I do have a few pictures of the view, though, so let me show you those first.

As I said, the food was also really great. We had a buffet and there were lots of really good things on there. My favourite was the Korean glass noodle salad. As I said above, I really wish I had that recipe! We will try to make it ourselves. Bookahnerk is actually quite amazing when it comes to figuring out which spices were used in preparing a dish. I can’t do that, so I just rely on his senses here. I did not think of taking a picture of the food. I was too focused on consuming it instead. ;) But I saw that Guildnews released a short video from that event. It’s in German, but the scenes you can see don’t really need words.

The video starts showing the masses arrive at gamescom on Thursday. Then Alex (the guy you can hear) introduces some people from Guildnews and shows the GW2 Twitch booth. At 3:15, they are on their way to the community event. At 3:50, you can finally see the location. Well, both the food and the location. It is probably much better to imagine what it was like with the video than with my few lousy pictures above.

But hey, even though I always intend to take more pictures, if, at the end of the day, I don’t have that many, it means that I had a great time and enjoyed myself or else I wouldn’t have forgotten to take all those pictures. :p I have said it before, but I will say it once again: Thank you, NCsoft and most of all, Jan, for inviting us! We had an amazing time at the community event and hope to see you again soon!

This post is part of Blaugust 2015.

GW2 T-shirts giveaway!

GW2 shirts size L and XL

Update June 1, 2014: This giveaway is closed now! Congratulations to Aurora and tankitout. You have won the L and the XL t-shirts!

I have been hinting about this on Twitter already. We’ve got two Guild Wars 2 t-shirts to give away! They are some “leftovers” from the German Foostival. Of course, they are fresh and new! I also did not even unwrap them for the picture of the t-shirt’s logo below. That shirt is ours. ;)

GW2 grey tshirtWith this giveaway, you get a chance of winning one of two t-shirts! When leaving a comment, please tell us if you want to get into the drawing for the size “L” or the size “XL” t-shirt. Unfortunately, there are no other sizes. I usually wear mine at home exclusively  since it’s a size XL men’s t-shirt and it looks just a tad silly on me. But it’s still very comfortable! As you can see on the right, the t-shirt is grey with the Guild Wars 2 logo on it. The back is simply grey with nothing on it, I think. So, it’s a very simple but cool shirt!

Please read the following rules carefully to see what you need to do in order to enter our giveaway and have a chance of winning one of the t-shirts!

1. We want you to comment and present us a scenery* screenshot of either Labyrinthine Cliffs or the Crown Pavilion – that you took yourself, of course.
*With “scenery” we mean that we do not want to see the UI or the chat.

2. Leave a valid email address when commenting. It will only be used by us for contacting the winner and nothing else! Enter said email address into the “email” field, do not add it to the comment field as that one is public!

3. From all screenshots, we will choose the ones we like the most. Those will be divided into “L” and “XL” groups. One winner per group and of course, as always, we will choose the winner randomly.

4. The winners will be contacted by email. Please reply within 10 days and give us your real life address, so we can send the t-shirt to you. Do NOT leave it in the comment field! If you do not reply within 10 days, we will choose another winner.

5. One entry (and one screenshot!) per person! We reserve the right to exclude entries when we think you’re trying to cheat by entering multiple times. Stay fair, please. :) What you may do is change your mind and upload a different screenshot as long as it is before the deadline. The newest screenshot you post is the one that will count!

6. No debating about the outcome! We will draw randomly and everybody who presents us a scenery screenshot has a chance of winning. :)

7. The giveaway is open for participants until Sunday, June 1, 2014, 22 pm Berlin Time (this should give you the time for your time zone).

8. Last but not least, a word of warning: We have probably all made our experiences with “snail mail” and lost parcels before. We really hope you will receive your t-shirt and the post behaves, but we can’t guarantee it. So far, each of the things we have sent because of our giveaways have reached their destination, though. *knocks on wood*

Last but not least, if you’re wondering where or how to upload the picture, read the following instruction (written by Tilion from DragonSeason):
1) Go to http://tinypic.com/ and select Browse.
2) Find your picture from your PC at the pop-up window. Once you select it, click Upload Now.
3) Fill in the CAPTCHA code that will appear on your screen and click once more Upload Now.
4) Once you’re through with that, copy the Direct Link for Layouts that has been given to you and come back here and leave a comment.

Foostival 2014: Interview with Ramon

Foostival_Interview with Ramon

Update: Check out the corresponding gem cards giveaway (EU-only). Open until March 31! This is the interview from Foostival with Ramon Domke, the German community manager of Guild Wars 2 (click this link for the Guildnews version and this link for the Wartower one – the videos are identical!). It was done completely in German and even though nothing spectacular was revealed, it is still fun to listen to it and we thought it may be a good idea to translate it and share it with the rest of the community!

On the left, you see Johannes (Lord Walek) from Wartower. The guy on the right is Alex (Sputti) from Guildnews. The one in the middle with the pretty pink shirt is Ramon. Prior to Foostival, they had asked their communities to give them questions they can ask Ramon Domke, who is the German community manager for Guild Wars 2. Alex asked his community for more personal questions, so most of those below are from him.

I decided not to translate everything they said literally. The video is more than one hour long, so I assume you can understand why I didn’t do that. ;) I tried to stay as close as possible to the answers Ramon gave while summarizing and translating them. Sometimes, they are closer to what was said literally. I’ve also added a few comments in ((brackets)) where necessary (like the changes of the reveal dates for the features pack or when I wasn’t sure I got the correct translation).

Ramon starts with the warning that there will be one sentence in three variations that you will be hearing in his replies pretty often (and he assures us, he hates it as much as we do):
1) I can’t say anything about that.
2) We’re not talking about this yet.
3) Nothing is ever off the table.

He tries to answer the questions as best as he can.

1. Loot and reward system: Will there be changes e.g. in dungeons and fractals? Champion runs get better rewards than other things in the game.

He can’t promise which direction the changes will take, but there will be changes. Different content should be rewarded similarly. There is a “loots and rewards” team looking at how different things are rewarded, so changes will definitely come. He can’t say if they’ll be viewed positively or negatively in the beginning.

2. Will there be changes in the skill system or how the enemies behave? So far, damage is more important than anything. Support is more of a burden to the group.

Ramon knows this feedback. They have just released the first information about the features pack and those are the first steps towards this direction where eventually different builds should be equal. On the other hand, with the open world content, they try to implement different game mechanics to make different builds strong.

3. What does Ramon think about the professions’ balance?

He’s not too keen on speed runs or getting the most gold per hour played. He most often plays with friends and can play with less effective builds, but he can understand that there are issues, especially with PUGs where they say “You either have this build or you can’t come!”

4. Are they still working on a solution to limited condition stacks?

There are lots of developers and are trying to find a solution, but the last things they tried out resulted in the server infrastructure to go down. There was too much tracking of e.g. stacks of different lengths. It’s not off the table.

5. New profession/weapon combinations: Are they planning this?

He wouldn’t exclude the possibility of this, but nothing will come in the next weeks or months. There will be the features patch next and then they will continue the living story.

Or more skills per weapon? E.g. switching between/choosing skills?

That is an interesting idea. If they can implement this reasonably, then why not. Either through a different weapon or by giving one weapon more skills. It would maybe be easier to just put in a new weapon.

6. What was the reason for only now giving free retraiting?

They looked at different systems – not only about retraiting. And they thought: Who is disadvantaged the most? When retraiting, then it is the beginners, who don’t have that much gold yet. They need to travel to a city, then retrait and travel back. That’s 10 silvers which is a lot for a beginner. Or you want to try out something. You’re out in the world fighting a veteran, you die and think: What can I do? You can now try different things without having to travel. It’s a much more interesting game now. The answer is: because they want to make the game better and because they grow together with the community.
He gives the example of Guild Wars 1. On the back of the Prophecies box was an example build with a warrior. It was completely ineffective. Developers had put it there as an example build, but the players who brought in new build ideas every day developed the game along.

7. What does he think about the upcoming warrior trait where you get more attack speed with two one-handed weapons ((dual-wield agility)) and if he knows how it stacks with quickness?

He does not know if it stacks. But he is also “such a boring warrior” with two one-handed axes, so he doesn’t haven an issue with this new trait.

8. Is more group-content planned?

Definitely, but it depends on how you define “group-content”. 5-party instanced content? Or “raid-like” in instances with e.g. 20 people. GW2 tries to have lots of content in the open world. Yes, they try to put group content in there. They try not to have it “too zergy”, so that even with a huge group with 150, players can interact and fight together.

9. Will there be more world bosses like Tequatl?

He definitely does not want to exclude that possibility.

10. Are they thinking about putting the bigger bosses that need lots of coordination onto special maps? So that those who do this content don’t disturb those who want to level in that zone.

He refers to the last few bullet points on the April 2014 Feature Pack release and tells us to wait for those to be revealed ((Facilitating Friendly Play Parts 1, 2 and 3 which will be shown April 2 – April 4)). This question will be answered in detail in there.

11. What does Ramon think of the ending of Season 1?

He looks at it like it was a TV series. He doesn’t have a problem with the ending. It’s like a cliffhanger: Lots of the questions that appeared with Flame & Frost have been answered so far, but more and more loose parts appeared and not all of those have been answered. He saw a planning document for season 2 and there are answers to all open questions. In this document, you can also clearly read: “E. is… (name of a person)“. What they learned is that it is important that players can see there is a common thread throughout all parts.

12. In general, how did he like Scarlet?

Scarlet was a bit of a crazy kale. She fulfilled her purpose and even if she wasn’t liked, she still caused emotions.

13. What does ArenaNet think about dungeons with more than 5 players? Maybe making dungeons scalable?

Nothing is off the table, but they’re trying to bring big and interesting encounters to the open world. They want to design this content in a way that people who are just passing by can form a group and do it, but it should also be challenging enough, so players aren’t standing there hitting “1” repeatedly.

14. Will there be more content on Southsun Cove?

He can’t say anything about this ((I assume because he doesn’t know.))

15. There is one armor set ((“Rüstungsset der Genesung” in German which I believe are the Mending gauntlets, greaves, helm in English)) you get as rewards from the personal storyline, but the leggings are missing.

He has no idea!

16. Will there be more possibilities to get ascended armor? E.g. dungeon tokens, karma.

He doesn’t know exactly how, but they are looking at ways to make items available through different means, so players with different playstyles (like people who do WvW or dungeons, …) can also get them. He compares it to the changes in the trait system where new traits can be unlocked by doing specific content or by paying gold. He also refers to the design philosophy they had in mind for Guild Wars 2 that they do not want to force players to play a certain way.

17. Will there be new legendary weapons? And if so, will they be available in the same way than the current legendaries?

They’re thinking about how to handle legendary weapons. They had originally planned to implement the feature of crafting a precursor or doing a scavenger hunt with the feature release. But since they’re now rethinking the whole system with their “loots and rewards” team, they postponed it. But they are looking for ways to reasonably put them in and give players the feeling that they’re slowly but surely working towards their legendary weapon and aren’t dependant on the loot luck from the Mystic Forge. Of course, they are also thinking of possible new legendary weapons. This does not mean there will be new ones, but that they are of course thinking about them.

18. There was also the question if there will be more skins from Guild Wars 1?

He thinks this is possible, especially when it’s about very popular ones. But he doesn’t know if it’s being done.

19. What is Ramon’s favourite zone in Guild Wars 1 and which zone die he like in Guild Wars 1 which doesn’t exist in Guild Wars 2 yet.

He generally likes barren land in MMOs. In Guild Wars 1, he liked the desert areas. For example, the Crystal Desert which looked like a huge desert, even though it wasn’t. He talks about an abandoned temple there and that it looks like there is a statue, but the closer you get, the more it looks like a mirage. Also, the area before you go to Maguuma Jungle, that looks like a desert: He thinks this is beautiful. And in Eye of the North, he says “Longeye’s Ledge” was just great with the atmosphere, the autumny look, the warm sunlight.

20. What is going to happen with Lion’s Arch now?

Lion’s Arch is currently destroyed. It won’t be rebuilt within a day. He doesn’t say what or how it’s going to change.

21. Which update of the Living Story was his favourite?

When it comes to gameplay, Bazaar of the Four Winds. It was fun and he loves Sanctum Sprint. He is also sad that the Aspect Arena is not part of the daily activities. He would also love to see this one again.

22. How far developed is Season 2 of the Living Story?

It’s all planned.

23. Ellen Kiel or Evon Gnashblade?

Ellen Kiel. His bet was on her winning because while the hardcore and Guild Wars 1 players wanted to see the Abaddon fractal, he was sure that the bigger crowd would go with the reduced waypoint costs.

24. Would Scarlet have appeared in the Abaddon fractal as well?

He doesn’t reply to that question.

25. Will there also be something to vote on in Season 2 like the vote between Ellen and Evon?

He doesn’t know that.

26. Will Season 2 see content that is closer to an “expansion”? For example, new regions, new professions, new races.

He says that the question is what you call “something like expansion content”. He says yes, at least, it will go into that direction.

27. Are they working on a continuation of the personal story? And is it possible to combine the personal and the living story?

They are thinking about different possibilities of the personal character progression/story and revisions of current systems, but he can’t say what they are going to do.

28. Will there be more blending of story and game events? As in having more cut scenes in between.

They extended their cinematics department. So he won’t say “no” to this. The recent updates also showed some more cut scenes. They do not plan to use those cut scenes anymore where your character and one other character can be seen on the screen – like in the personal story – and will concentrate more on scenic cut scenes.

29. Are they working on a way to let the player repeat living story? E.g. through fractals?

He would not say “no” and they do hear this feedback very often: Why do you make temporary content that will be lost forever once it’s over? He thinks they are probably looking at how to make replaying it possible.

30. Will we see World 3 of the Super Adventure Box on April 1 and if so, will the story be continued?

Ramon’s reply: “And who would benefit from an April 1 spoiler?”

31. What does Ramon think of the SAB?

He thinks the idea is interesting. He shook his head when he first heard about this. But it’s such an ingenious idea that it works. In general, he is just too bad to do jumping puzzles.

32. What does Ramon think of the tribulation mode of the SAB?

He doesn’t like going from full life to zero without understanding why, so he doesn’t like this mode. But there are different players and everybody likes different content. He is happy that there are people who love the tribulation mode.

33. The next topic is datamining: What do they think about dataminers?

He personally hates dataminers. They destroy the fun for the players and the result is that developers have to think about how to deploy a build, so that hardly no datamining can be done. So, building something over a longer course of time is difficult.

34. There was an “alternative ending sequence” to season 1 of the living story which got revealed by dataminers. Does something like this happen more often at ArenaNet that there are different endings or that different endings are done and the “right” one will be chosen at a later time?

In general, if you look at filmmakers, game developers, authors, this happens frequently to test out different endings: How would this ending affect the rest of my story, etc.? This happens especially when you’re working with several authors. The ending they did is the ending they need.

35. Some complained that almost no new town clothes have been implemented. Will this change?

He refers to the announcements for the feature patch and that some questions will be answered there: Monday. ((Note: This was changed and the date on the website now says “March 25”, so today, the correct answer is “Tuesday”))

36. Could it be implemented that regular armor could be changed to town clothes?

He again refers to their website and the feature patch: Monday. ((Tuesday!))

37. How about a crafting profession that lets you create town clothes?

Monday! ((Tuesday!))

38. Will there be new emotes? Or animations for some existing emotes?

He doesn’t know the answer. It’s currently not talked about, but as usual, nothing is off the table.

39. Would he like more vistas to see more of the world?

He would love to see a “filmmakers kit” where he could basically dock the camera of his character and then make his own vista/film.

40. How many screenshots has he taken?

His screenshots usually tell a story, as he never deletes them. He has no idea how many he has.

41. ((The question if Ramon plays GW2 in his free time is obsolete: Yes, he does!)). So on to the next one: How often/regularly does he play?

He has almost 6000 achievement points. It’s not that much, but not bad either.

42. What is Ramon’s favourite profession and what is his favourite profession/race combination?

He plays sylvari. He would love to play asura, but there is no “change sylvari to asura kit” and he doesn’t want to do everything again. But he really likes asura. He plays all 8 professions. His favourite is engineer. He hasn’t played it that often recently, as he’s playing his necromancer in PvP and WvW more often.

43. Is there a general trend towards one race or profession at ArenaNet?

No. It’s mixed. Everybody has their own favourites.

44. What is his favourite in-game dye for armor?

Thanks to having sylvari, he has a lot of choices when it comes to skin colours and he tries to choose dyes that support that colour. His guardian has an armor that has metal colours (gold, silver, dark bronze). His necro has a very dark green and around the dark green, he has light golden borders and a white shirt below.

45. Are they working on solving some cosmetic issues, especially the warrior shouting of gaining adrenaline when it’s slowly decaying?

He can’t say that. Since it’s not a critical bug, it’s probably low on the list of priorities. More critical things are worked on first.

46. Will there be an expansion of the API that can be used?

They are currently reworking a lot of systems which will render the API useless in some areas at first. Then they will definitely need to rework things to keep the API useable.

47. Has ArenaNet thought about implementing a region lock because people from different time zones could get an advantage over night on EU servers?

They discussed this, but decided against it, because there are players who travel a lot, etc. Or when players from Oceania are on European data centers, etc. They would not want to dictate players where and when to play the game.

48. How did Ramon get to ArenaNet?

He applied. They did not want him back then. 1,5 years later, they called him and asked if he was still interested. And obviously, he was.

49. What is a typical day of a community manager?

A normal day doesn’t exist. As community manager, he is talking to different departments and sits in between everything and tries to coordinate everything. He has to know what’s going on inside the studio and what’s happening outside of the studio. Then he tries to combine this. He gave an example of how they wanted to name something which, unfortunately, was a nazi parole when translated to German. So it is his job to know what will and won’t work in his community.

50. When Ramon sees a suggestion on the forum, does he have to tell the lead community manager about this first or can he tell that to the developers? What’s the hierarchy like?

He is the highest rank for the German-speaking area. He decides what to report to the developers. He also has people who report to him. But he is the one representing the German community. He can forward feedback directly, but they are communicating between the teams and if there is an issue in one region, it’s very often an issue in other regions as well. He gives the example of the Zodiak armor and that in the UK, it was a big issue that it was seen as too sexualized on female characters whereas in other regions, it was mainly seen as too similar to a smurf with the blue colours. ((Also notable in this aspect is that he knows what was being discussed on the Wartower forums – a German fansite)). A lot of his time is spent looking for feedback and reporting about this. He also tries to figure out if, for example, negative feedback comes from a lot of different people or maybe there are a lot of negative postings, but they are from just a handful of people. In the latter case, he still doesn’t disregard the feedback and it is still being added to the list of feedback. Additionally, the communities (on fansites, etc.) differ. Something that’s being discussed in the Wartower forums may not be an issue elsewhere or discussed differently (e.g. the other German fansites, Twitter, Facebook, …). His job is to find out what the whole of the German community thinks and not just parts of it.

51. Do community managers get unlimited gems?

Ramon would love that. They get a certain amount of gems every month, though. He’s saving them currently. But he has also bought gems and says he spent about 80 – 90€ for gems since the game’s release. He tries to stay in the range of what he would pay for a subscription game… around 5 to 10€ for the game.

52. Which Elder Dragon is the most interesting for him?

He doesn’t think he has a ranking. Kralkatorrik is funny, because of his dragon breath and how he corrupted everything with it. Mordremoth and how he influences nature and everything… he generally likes the idea that each Elder Dragon is more or less able to manipulate different elements.

53. Does the Deep Sea dragon, lovingly called Bubbles by the community, have a real name internally?

He thinks he saw the name “Bubbles” on a document. He doesn’t know anything about an official name.

54. If you could tell a part of the Living Story yourself, what would happen in it and which characters would definitely make an appearance?

His reply: “Children are watching.” He mentions Caithe… and adds a “maybe”. Then he stops, laughs and the next question is asked.

55. Somebody said that in the last 1,5 years, there wasn’t much lasting content and an expansion hasn’t been announced yet. What is your position about that?

He would also wish for more content that stays in the world, but he also understands the idea behind the progressing story. He believes that ArenaNet can do it a lot better in season 2. Players should also understand that this is the first time ArenaNet has developed a real open world MMORPG and they are experimenting a lot. Some things don’t work, sometimes they learn a lot and he thinks that they are on a good path and that season 2 will be better.

56. XBox One, PS4, Wii U or PC?

PC and PS4. And Oculus Rift – he really wants one!

57. Are you a fan of Game of Thrones?

Yes.

58. What did you think about “Red Wedding”?

It was not very surprising for him. He is one of the people who read the books. He really liked the atmosphere created by the music, though!

59. ((Here was a spoilery question about Game of Thrones – I deleted it, just to be safe. Also, be careful when watching the video!))

((Here was the spoilery answer to the spoilery question above.))

60. What happened with the Guild Wars 2 ComChat ((it was a chat between people from fansites and Ramon to talk about the game))?

He did not have enough time to do those. He did them when he had time left. They restructured and he has more time now and in fact, after this very interview, they had planned to do another ComChat. He will also try to do it regularly again. Maybe once a month.

61. How does he get his bald head to shine this nicely?

Bloom effect! Go to your graphic cards settings, click on “bloom effect” and you can have such a shiny bald head, too!

62. Last question: The VIP feature in the Chinese version and our Western version.

There are usually content differences between the Western and the Eastern versions (or one being behind in versions). When they said that we would have the same “version”, they meant the content. Content updates will be simultaneously. The builds will not be identical! The Western version has the “buy to play” model where you buy the game and can play it as much as you like. This is the Western version and this will stay the Western version. The version in Asia is different. He ends his reply with: In the history of MMOs there hasn’t been an MMO that started as a free to play or buy to play and then added a subscription. It has always been the other way around.

Housing in MMOs: Aion

This is part 2 of the “Housing in MMOs” series. Part 1 was looking at Lord of the Rings Online. Today’s MMO is Aion.

This blog post was largely written by thevalliant and edited by me in some parts. While I did play around with my free studio in Aion, I really don’t know that much more about housing in the game, so I asked somebody who does.

When reading this article, please keep in mind that we both play on the European servers which are handled by Gameforge while the US servers are still handled by NCsoft. There may be differences in details like item shops, etc. between those two versions.

Aion housing neighborhoodThere are 5 types of residences in Aion: studios, houses, mansions, estates and palaces, in order of grandeur. These can be found in three areas for each race (Elyos and Asmodians): two ‘contested’ areas (where PvP may occur) and one ‘neutral’ area, that is the main ‘residential area’ for each race, Oriel (Elyos) and Pernon (Asmodians). Note that the residences located in the ‘contested’ areas are surrounded by an aetheric veil which does not permit players of the foreign faction to enter, hence no PvP is possible behind it. Mobs can enter if aggroed and can also be killed right at your doorstep. :)

Quick FAQ

Is there a minimum level required to get a house?
Each character gets their own studio once they hit level 21.

Is there a fee/a recurring fee to keep the house?
Your first ‘house’ (a studio) is given to you as a reward for a series of minor quests, so you pay nothing for it. It is also free of any maintenance fees, plus you can get a 4kk refund should you decide to sell it (in order to buy a bigger house). All the other types of ‘houses’, i.e. palaces, estates, mansions and houses, are only available via auction and they come bundled (or burdened) with weekly maintenance fees. These go up pretty steeply depending on the type of residence: house – 400k/w, mansion – 2,24kk/w, estate – 6,7kk/w and palace – 20kk/w! If you fail to pay your weekly dues, you get two warnings (once per weekly expire) after which your house is flagged as available in the Auction Market. You are refunded with 90% of its buying value, but I do not know what happens to all the items you had installed inside it. :(

Which choices do I have when it comes to my house?
Differences between them are many and varied. Obviously and primarily they differ in appearance: a studio is like an apartment in a block of residences, quite indistinguishable from one another, while a mansion or an estate really stand out and come with a (small) selection of looks for you to pick from. Secondly, they differ on the number of objects you can install on them. More on that in the section “Is there an item limit?”. Another big difference is the buff your character receives depending on the type of ‘house’ he owns (more on that in the paragraph about advantages you get when owning a house).

When it comes to appearances, there are nice – thus expensive! – neighborhoods and others that are, let’s say, less popular ones. Popularity, hence starting bid at auctions, depends on the area’s surroundings (town or swamp, for example) and also how easily accessible the house is (if there’s a teleporter nearby for example or if you have to walk to it through hostile/contested grounds).

Is there an item limit? What about item placing?
I already mentioned about interior and exterior items’ limits being different for each type. Studios allow for 20 interior and 0 exterior items, ranging up to 70 interior and 20 exterior items for a palace! An additional note: Free players who did not have the game before it went f2p only get “1/3 functional items” in the studio.

Let’s take the example of a house, as the most popular and also cheaper alternative to the poor studio. You may install 7 exterior items, 30 interior ones and 4 ‘blooms’ (more on these later). All items may be freely placed in their respective ‘domain’ (inside or outside) and there are no restrictions (i.e. hooks) except those one may expect. For example, you may not place a picture frame on the floor or a carpet on top of a table! Rotation is available along the Z-axis only, i.e. counter-/clockwise. You cannot tip an item. There’s a House Butler, a warm and cute little shugo who doesn’t ask for a salary and who may be ‘programmed’ to welcome friends or shoo away visitors! Adorning your house isn’t really expensive, especially if you craft the furniture yourself. Plus the 400k weekly maintenance fee is not worth mentioning as a common (white quality) drop, typically once every hour of playing/killing/farming, can be sold to the general merchant for anywhere between 300k and 650k!

Additionally, Aion allows you to write scripts that do certain things. E.g. making a couch bounce, making furniture glow or other fun stuff. Here is a guide that explains how to write scripts.

Can you expand the house?
You cannot expand the house, either in area or in storeys (floors) it occupies. You need to sell your house and buy a bigger one. What you can do is add more storage space by installing ‘containers’ (cabinets).

Are there any advantages when you own a house?
You get a skill that teleports you to your house; it practically opens up a portal to your residence which remains open for 5 minutes, allowing you to return to where you were before. Your ‘Energy of Repose’ (this is a counter of how long you’ve been offline. The higher it is, the bigger the XP boost will be when you get back online) regenerates 5% faster if you own a studio, 10% for a house or a mansion, with the mansion additionally removing all death penalties, etc. Additionally, if your friends – or any guest actually – visiting your house decide to water and fertilize your plants you may get valuable items, like crafting materials or even Godstones! Finally, you can hire special NPCs which provide specialized services to you (or your guests; all customizable through rights and permissions) like selling items, etc.

What’s the maximum amount of houses per characters / per account?
Each character can have one house only. Characters on the same account don’t share either their houses or any items therein.

Are there guild houses?
Guild houses? What guild houses? :(

Are there any limitations unless you pay real money?
Big topic this… If you already had an Aion account before the game switched to f2p, your account is considered a veteran one. If you start to play the game now, you can only have a free account with lots of restrictions or pay a monthly fee to get rid of them. See this overview for more information.

There are a lot of items one can use to place in their home and these come from all sorts of sources: quest rewards, ‘chest’ loot (yellow bags), crafting (they introduced a brand new discipline, Construction), trade broker (the auction house), events, etc. A “starter”, i.e. a player who’s not a Veteran and has not purchased a “Gold Pack” (which removes all restrictions for one month) cannot sell stuff at the broker or mail stuff to other players, or trade with them – so I would say that’s a significant restriction. They can buy a ‘Gold Pack’ either with real money (at the NCsoft shop) or from the broker. By the way, it seems that the US version, which is offered by NCsoft, does not give any restrictions to f2p players. So you may consider going checking out their business model and decide which one you prefer. European – and US – players are free to play with either version.

Additional information
One thing worth noting is that once you register an acquired item with your home (you enter ‘Decoration Mode’ and press the ‘+’ button) you can either have it sitting there or place it in your home. Should you place it there though, there is no way to take it back. Say you wanted to stash it away to some imaginary warehouse, to be used later or in another house, etc. You may only destroy it!

As mentioned above, there are three zones in the game where you can find houses. Oriel and Pernon each consist of several villages. Walking between those would take quite some time. Each Village has its own little square, typically at the middle of their name tag on the map. Among the NPCs found in each such square, there is one called ‘Village Teleporter’. There’s a fee for teleporting, but at least you can travel much faster that way.

Each race on a server has access to 242 houses, 157 mansions, 127 estates and 4 palaces. That means there for each race, there is a total of 530 ‘houses’, excluding studios. This means that once those 4 palaces are owned by players, there is no way for you to get one. Studios are unlimited, so you can always get one of those, at least.

Taking the mic – or pen rather – back from thevalliant, I want to add a few thoughts on housing in Aion. When I first saw the Aion vision trailer, which showed that they wanted to add housing down the road (and obviously did at some point), I was so excited that I went and got the game. Up till then, I had only watched bookahnerk play, but then and there, I wanted to play as well! By now, I have almost completely abandoned Aion and even after looking at the housing, it’s just not enough to draw me back in. It’s pretty, I’ll give you that. It has more freedom than housing in Lord of the Rings Online. But it’s still not enough for me. Unless you buy a palace – and as mentioned above, there is a very limited amount of those per server – you only get one rather small room and a bit of space outside. A house or a mansion – imagine a mansion… look at the pictures below, look at the size of those buildings! And then you get one measly room. No, thank you. And when coupled with Gameforge’s version of “free to play” (even though I do have a veteran account), I’m even less inclined to play this game.