• MMOs

    Guild Wars 2: First Beta Weekend Part 2

    Some additional thoughts about the first beta weekend for Guild Wars 2: there are going to sound like criticisms, but they’re not. I love the game – it’s going to be my game of choice for a long time to come. Everything is stunning, the world is immersive, storylines are awesome (Clown College! Going undercover with the circus, oh my!). But there are a lot of things to work out, and some choices that the devs have made that I just don’t understand.

    1. I had fun. I really, really enjoyed this game. I had gone into the beta with some specific things that I wanted to do, and yesterday I ended up exploring just for the pure joy of it and in appreciation of the gorgeous environments.

    2. Overflow servers. Well, I agree with Keen and Graev on this one, they really do need to be implemented better. When first reading about this system, I had thought that it was a way to avoid long queues, and it seemed like a brilliant system. It didn’t work at all for that (perhaps it wasn’t supposed to) but where it did come into play was when you were changing zones once you were in game. Quite a few games place players in duplicated instances of a server or zone. There is no need to inform the player that this has happened, because it should always feel as though you were playing on your server; if you are in a party, you get the option to switch to the channel that they are in. A party leader can gather all party members in the same shard or channel. It’s been done before, and it’s not something new. In GW2, however, you get a message that you can either wait for your server or switch to an overflow server…when you are going to different zones on the map. This breaks immersion and makes it feel like the original instanced game, which is one of the main things that I thought we were getting away from. To make things worse, this breaks up parties. Phil and I were trying to get together to do some quests, and even though we were in a party and in the same place, we couldn’t see each other.

    I think the original idea of overflow servers (or the original impression I had about how they would work) would be wonderful and ground-breaking. Rather than queueing, tell us that we were going to be placed on an overflow server and then moved to our server of choice once there was room. That is a great idea. Once we’re on that server, though, you shouldn’t see any immersion-breaking messages about being moved to a different server as soon as you set foot outside the city. Just invisibly place us in whatever channel has room for us, and then allow us to easily move between channels to play with friends.

    I spent a lot of time this weekend trying to get online after crashes, etc., failing and then getting one of several error messages which basically just meant that the server was full. Since there was no queue system, it meant that we had to keep trying to relog in blind faith that the servers were still up. It took me over four hours on Friday. This is where the overflow system should have come into play.

    2. Not being able to trade anything is very weird. Mailed items appeared hours later, or not at all – I am assuming that this was a beta bug. We should be able to trade, though.

    3. Was the auction house working for anyone? I tried to buy items, but nothing would happen. On other occasions I think I managed to buy, but never got the item. I don’t know if it mails the item to you, or it appears in your bags or what. Again, this is a beta issue.

    4. Being able to send mail, buy from the auction house, and deposit crafting mats in the bank while out questing is a very nice feature. Even nicer would be full bank access. Another nice feature to implement would be the SWTOR feature of being able to craft by using mats in your bank, without having to carry them in your bags. Again, that would be a “nice to have” feature, and it is not gamebreaking at all.

    5. I did a lot of playing with the character creation tool. I still think that Norn have the nicest hair and face options, damn it. Also, the face options seem to have differences based on the class that you are creating. If I did a necromancer, I got a certain set of face options. If I went to build an elementalist or mesmer, the faces were changed slightly, as though they were distorted somehow. They all looked a bit more anime-esque, more childish. Strange – but I haven’t heard anyone else mention that. There is one older female face for human, and it’s not a very nice one. All others are extremely young-looking. I’d love a better range of starting heads, or a range of complexions to choose such as SWTOR had. In the meantime, I can play with a teenage-looking character and just imagine her having the correct age and look.

    6. WvW is an amazing amount of fun, even though big fights turn into slideshows. I’m not a big pvp fan, but I love this. What isn’t as nice is the lack of waystations once you die. In my experience, they usually showed as contested, so I only had one spawn point which was on the far corner of the map. Once ressed, there was a very long trek to get back to where the fighting actually was.

    7. Give roleplayers some love! I hate it when games won’t allow you to sit on furniture.

    8. We need to be able to view armour and weapons when looking at them at a merchant, or in the auction house. Being able to link something and view it would be nice as well.

    9. Lots of explanations. I couldn’t figure out how to get into WvW for ages. I saw rangers with named pets, and didn’t see a way of naming my own by right-clicking it and looking at pet management. Explain things a bit more.

    Those are my main points about things that need to be fixed. That said, I am going to suggest the following:

    They need to launch the game.

    Yep. Even with the problems, which mainly seem to be involved with their server infrastructure (judging by the fact that they fixed so many connection problems on their end, and there were no client updates). Fix those issues, and then launch.

    Arenanet have stated something to the effect that these beta events would be going on roughly one a month for an unspecified time, and if that goes on too long it’s really going to affect them negatively. We’ve had a massive wall of hype on this game for a couple of years now, and I’ve always been worried that they would oversaturate everyone with their marketing and all of the information that was released. Surely they can’t continue on like this over the summer and launch in fall? Even given the massive amount of goodwill that this game has, and that Arenanet has in general, I think the tide may turn for them and that would be a shame.

    A real beta (when it is not used as a marketing tool) is basically an exchange. In return for players testing the game and providing feedback, they are allowed an early sneak peek at an anticipated game. But we have already paid for this game. I would hope to see perhaps one more beta weekend to make sure that they have worked out all connection issues, and then a launch. No, it won’t be perfect…but give us what we’ve paid for. Goodwill is a fragile and immensely valuable thing, a lesson that Blizzard has hopefully learned recently. I always felt much love for Blizzard and for Warcraft, and I would have forgiven them a lot. The MoP beta and the Annual Pass bait-and-switch changed my feelings for the company forever.

    QQers will always cry, but most players will forgive a few glitches in a game. (Not to the level of this weekend, to be sure – but most of the stuff above? Not such big issues.) Fix the connection issues, do what you can to allow players to party up, and then launch. Everything else can be forgiven.

  • MMOs

    Guild Wars 2: First Beta Weekend

    Well, there were problems, as you would expect from one of the most hotly-anticipated betas that I can remember. I think I spent 4 1/2 hours trying to log in on Friday night, and finally got in. Much better today, a few crashes, but not as bad. Some people were saying that the server overflow system wasn’t working, and since they had no queue system in place, you just got errors if your server was full. I haven’t seen any explanations yet for the initial problems.

    I haven’t been able to get into WvW yet – I don’t know if there are problems, or if it’s just really popular. I did do some instance pvp which wasn’t bad while I was trying to figure out how the hell one actually got into a WvW map. Won one and lost one. Killed some people, died a bunch, but so far no obnoxious stunlock abilities, which is the main thing that I hate about pvp.

    I’ve been trying various professions. Necromancer had been my choice for main prior to the beta starting, and I do still enjoy it. Ranger is great as well, much better than in the original game. I’ve dipped my toes into Elementalist, Mesmer, etc., and will take those a bit further.

    Norn have better hair choices than humans do, damn it. And all female characters look like underage girls. I’d like to see some badass armour, rather than the frilly maids-0utfit stuff that looks very Asian. Sexy, long, black robes, that’s what I want!

    Divinity’s Reach and Lion’s Gate are stunning, so gorgeously designed! It’s difficult to take screenshots, though, because you are limited in your camera view (you can’t swing it into a first person view so your character’s ass isn’t in centre stage, which is a shame).

    All in all, I’m having a lot of fun this weekend. In fact, I’m jumping right back in now (if I can get back on after a crash which seems to have kicked a lot of people out of game). Having fun – wish you were here? :)

  • MMOs

    Pre-Launch Toys: Character Creation

    One thing that I really wish more MMOs would do is offer players who have pre-ordered the ability to play with a character creation tool prior to headstart. Aion offered players the ability to log into the game client and create and name two characters during a “pre-selection” period a couple of days prior to headstart, which was lovely. There was none of the pressure to hurriedly create your character and log in to grab the names you wanted, and instead you could create the perfect character at your leisure. It was wonderful.

    I know that there are people who hit “random” a few times to get an acceptable look and maybe move the boob slider up, and then they’re good to go. I am not one of those players. I spend ages over character creation and am not satisfied until it clicks and a unique person is born. I would love a game that either had an online character creation tool on the site, or allowed you to access one via the game and save it. Once the game launches and you finally log in, then you would be given the option to load your saved character, tweak if if necessary, and accept it – or start all over again if you wished. It would give people something to do while waiting for headstart and it would also give the perfectionists the ability to get every cheekbone and eye rotated just so.

    I think it’s a great idea.

    If Guild Wars 2 had a working character creation tool on their site, I probably would have logged approximately fifteen hours on it by now. :)

     

  • MMOs

    *muppet arms*

    The Guild Wars 2 beta client is downloading. *AAAAAHHHHHHH* I’ve spent the morning looking at server choices and reading forums. It’s like…the best Christmas ever.

    Yeah, I’m a dork, I admit it.

  • MMOs

    Becoming a Person – Roleplay in MMOs

    I’ve been anxiously awaiting the first open beta weekend for Guild Wars 2. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I’m like a little kid waiting for Christmas or their birthday; that “first love” period is part of what I love about gaming. I’ve decided to roll a Necromancer as main, as I’d played that class in GW1 and very much enjoyed it. She’s beginning to come together in my head as her own person, which is a necessary step for me in order to play a character on a longterm basis. Kitsune, my hunter in Warcraft, was a person to me as soon as I created her. My Sith Inquisitor Ravven was another – I know who she is, how she speaks, what she thinks.

    My Necromancer probably be another Ravven – I tend to always play versions of the same names. Human, as their city is amazing and the elite skill Hounds of Balthazar would be awesome – concept art to the right. (‘ll do a Charr ranger as well, and then Asura and Sylvari, professions undecided, at a later point.)

    As in the first Guild Wars, it is almost impossible to build anything other than a very pretty, very young character, so the physical choices are going to need a lot of time. Hey, it’s my favourite part of character creation! Give me face sliders and tons of hairstyles, and I can spend hours on it. But I’m thinking medium build, short, with pale eyes and either black or red long hair. Normally I quite like dark-skinned characters, but for this one I’m thinking pale. Something that would be ethereal if she didn’t like playing with dead things so much. I love white hair, but it needs dark skin to set it off unless you’re going for an albino look.

    As you know, during the character creation process there are a number of questions to answer which will provide the foundation for the character’s personal storyline. This is what I am thinking about choosing for Ravven.

    1. I was raised:

    • Commoner (“by common folk”) – I was raised among the common folk of Divinity’s Reach. We’re the working class, the cogs that keep the city running. I help out at tavern owned by my friends, Andrew and his daughter Petra.
    • Nobility (“among the nobility”) – I grew up among the nobles, including my friend Lord Faren, who can trace their ancestry back to ancient kings. I received an excellent education, am well versed in courtly graces, and understand the responsibility that comes with privilege.
    • Street Rat (“in the streets”) – I grew up poor, on the streets, living hand to mouth. Every day was a challenge, but like I tell my ol’ buddy Quinn, “If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger.” I’ve worked hard to change my luck, but I’ve still got a long way to go.

    I was thinking Street Rat for her. I like the idea of her coming from nowhere and using her unique talents to make her way in the world. My only consideration is that your home instance reflects this choice, and although a slum would fit in the beginning, she will rise above her humble beginnings.

    2. One of my biggest regrets is that:

    • Unknown Parents (“I’ve never searched for my true parents”) – When I was an infant, I was abandoned at an orphanage. A kind couple adopted me and became my family. However, I’ve always wondered about my real parents.
    • Dead Sister (“I never recovered my sister’s body”) – My sister was a Seraph. Centaurs killed her while she was out on patrol. They never recovered her body, and it has always bothered me.
    • Missed Opportunity (“I passed up an opportunity to perform in the circus”) – When I was young, I had the opportunity to perform in the circus, but I turned it down. To this day, I’m sorry I didn’t leap at the chance.

    This is a no-brainer, even though the choice may bite me later on. The first two are cliche roleplaying backgrounds, and the third? Well, really – who wouldn’t want to join the circus? Not only was it my prime ambition as a child, if I had the chance to run away with the circus now, I’d jump at it.

    3. Everyone said I was blessed by _ when I was young.

    “Grenth is the god of darkness, ice and death. His acolytes know that the veil between the worlds is thin. Death does not frighten me. Even the darkest nights give me comfort because Grenth watches over me.” Not going to list the other choices, because she’s a frickin’ necromancer.

    4. A necromancer’s closest companion is death. In acknowledgement of this, I mark my face with the symbol of a _.

    • Trickster Demon – Trickster demons from the Mists find ways to enter our world to tear it apart. I, too, am a destructive force, and all shall fear me.
    • Skull – I respect the traditions of necromancers that have gone before me. I mark my face with the symbol of a skull to remind me that even the greatest die eventually.
    • Ghostly Wraith – A wraith is a creature of energy, and its cunning helps it elude its enemies. What you cannot see… can kill you.

    I wish I knew what the implication of each choice would be. Hopefully some stat changes, and not just a butt-ugly tattoo that you can’t see until you’ve made the choice. But I’m thinking Ghostly Wraith, as she is cunning and subtle.

    Many of my characters tend to be a certain type – say what you will about me personally, loner characters just resonate with me. One of my favourite World of Darkness characters was based on the baby “cleaner” Matilda from Leon/The Professional, all grown up. Kitsune was scarred from incarceration and torture during a war, and afterwards lived by herself in the woods of Azshara with her animal companion. Ravven the Inquisitor was amusing and sarcastic, but no one ever gets inside to see the real person. I suppose they’re all reflections of myself in some way.

    I am so very much looking forward to this. :)

     

  • MMOs

    Guild Wars 2 Pre-purchase

    Woke up this morning and (with trembling fingers) finally got the Guild Wars 2 pre-purchase to work. TAKE MY MONIEZ NAO!!! I’ve never been so absurdly excited about purchasing something with actual real money that doesn’t yet have a release date. What can I say? There is no logic in being a fangirl.

    I think my first post about this game was back in 2009. Ever since then I’ve been reading everything I could on it.

    I even tried to play through the original Guild Wars in order to fill up my Hall of Monuments, but recently gave up. I’m too late for any of the miniatures for the Devotion monument, and the game itself can be punishing. It was the harshness, or rather unfairness, that finally got me – doing quests with my carefully-picked group of heroes and henchmen, being smart and careful, when WHAM…a swarm of bugs erupts from the ground under my feet and wipes us out. It’s the same size group as the ones that we’ve been killing all along, so these must be elite bugs, as everyone is insta-dead. Another time, I was going through an area that I’d been through multiple times, and all of a sudden it was filled with what must be the entire Charr army. My screen was filled with pissed-off cats all excited about finding this little party of unprepared noobs, these tasty morsels of heroflesh and tears.

    Sod it. Here’s hoping that GW2 is a much better game. Help me, ArenaNet. You’re my only hope.

  • MMOs

    Guild Wars: Almost Level 20

    After a rough start, I’ve been enjoying a return to Guild Wars. I’d thought about trying to do some Hall of Monuments stuff in preparation for Guild Wars 2 (not knowing how long said acheivements were going to take) and found myself enjoying the game just for itself.

    The game shows its age in a lack of nicety in UI and game mechanics (Phil calls it handholding, and he could be right), but visually it is still stunning. Although I do have an interest in MMO history, I have a difficult time playing the forefathers of our current crop of games solely due to the game visuals – they’re just so ugly in comparison to modern games. Guild Wars, however, is gorgeous, which really gives me hope for the system-friendliness of Guild Wars 2. If they were able to pack this much visual candy into a game that ran on 2005-era machines, then surely the stunning visuals of the upcoming title should run well on most machines. Or perhaps I’m talking out of my butt and haven’t the faintest idea how it all works – I’m open to that possibility, as well. ;)

    Click-to-move irritates both me and my RSI something fierce. The lack of help in accomplishing game objectives is also irritating. I dropped one ranger in Nightfall (or was it Factions?) when I reached level 10 and had no more quests. I ran around in the jungle and trotted through the desert looking for new quests, to no avail. The current one, in a different expansion, had no problem with quests. I have to do a lot of googling and wiki-ing (is that really a verb?) in order to figure out how everything works. I am attributing that to the age of the game as well – I think we’re all used to a lot more polish now. Handholding, as Phil says.

    Armour is gorgeous, even the low-level stuff. Characters are pretty, even without a lot of customisation. Ranger pets are few and far between (where the hell are all the animals?). Map travel is awesome and lovely. Heros and henchmen are wonderful, expecially for antisocial buggers like myself – I’ll miss them in Guild Wars 2.

    Difficulty varies wildly, sometimes with no warning whatsoever. (The lack of indicated levels for quests doesn’t help in this regard.) You can be happily slaughtering mobs with ease when all of a sudden you get wiped out by wave upon wave of what I am assuming are more elite mobs. There doesn’t seem to be any “elite” portrait frames, etc., to warn you that you are about to have more trouble than you can handle. Strange.

    All in all, a lovely, very playable game despite its age. And I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to Guild Wars 2.

     

  • MMOs

    Guild Wars 2: EU vs. US

    We’ve all seen the announcement about the Guild Wars 2 pre-purchase options. Like everyone else, I squeed when I saw it, but something about the pricing was off: players in the EU will be charged approximately $50 more for the CE than players in the US. The EU CE is $129.99, which at today’s exchange rate means that we would be paying approximately $204.27 rather than the $149.99 that US players will be playing. Offensive, yes. Am I going to take a stand and NOT buy this game? Absofrickinlutely not. I’m not buying the CE edition, of course, but I am going to be all over that standard edition and headstart. :)

    It feels as though we’ve all been waiting for this for years. Hell, we have been waiting for this for years.

     

  • MMOs

    GW2 Home Instances

    How did I totally miss this? This video and Bio Break post There’s no place like home (instances) give a good overview. As I watched the video, the main thought that I had was “this feels like Fable 3”. Fable was a game that I loved for reasons that totally surprised me…I actually loved riding into town and having my kids run up to me squealing in excitement that their Big Damned Hero mother was back. Then my hardworking husband (or wife, depending on which town it was) would fall into my arms. The villagers hailed me and cheered me. (Yeah, I have trouble being a bad guy – my characters were always well-loved.) The GW2 home instance will be quite similar to this.

    In the video, the dev team gave an example of a choice that you have to make, which was to save either a hospital or an orphanage, but not both. In your home neighborhood, both are represented; if you saved the orphanage, the kids are happy but the hospital is burnt out. If you make the other choice, you have a working hospital, but hungry orphan kids have no place to live. The people in your hometown react to you according to choices that you have made in your life story.

    I totally love this idea. It is the perfect balace between having your actions change the world around  you, and also being able to share a world environment with others.The problem with MMOs, of course, being that we are all heroes, every single one of us is The Chosen. On a realistic level, that just doesn’t work. I want to come home and have people clap my back and buy me drinks in the pub. I want a buxom wench to give me a sly look when she serves my ale, and I want my best friend to live next door. Yeah, I want to be a Big Damned Hero, you bet.

    Now, if the game would finally come out! Every video makes me feel like a small child who knows that Christmas is just too far away.