Archive for the ‘Guild Wars 2’ Tag

As a Gamer, Do You Really Want Difficulty?   7 comments

Skyrim, Difficulty

This thought has come to mind a little too often for me, lately. Do we enjoy difficulty? If we claim a game we are playing to be difficult, is this a good thing, or a bad thing? On the surface, I would say my individual answer is yes. I know I personally enjoy a game that is more challenging, one that takes a bit of thought process or learned skill to get through. But are the games we are playing really difficult, do we just convince ourselves that they are, and do gamers today really want difficulty?

This topic is a lot more complex than the surface belies. As so happens, one of the myriad podcasts that I listen to, How To Murder Time (which I highly suggest you listen to as well), recently delved into the topic of difficulty, covered it pretty extensively, and led me to this post.

Super Meat Boy, Difficulty in Games

Huh? Wha?!

MMO Skill is an Illusion

What is difficulty, anyway? I think this is where the root of the issue lies. Difficulty can have a whole plethora of different meanings. The first one that jumps to mind, and the first one the podcast brings up, is “twitch” skill. It’s found in it’s purest form in games that don’t offer many character development options and has level design that keeps getting more and more challenging, like Super Meat Boy. The Super Mario games are a great example, too. Sure, Mario can get larger by ingesting fungus but overall it’s the levels that increase in difficulty. Completing the game becomes the accomplishment. It pits a specific level of skill that, if yours is too low, you’ll never beat the game.

But what game nowadays has that kind of challenge? Even FPS multiplayer shooter games like Titanfall, which just released, has leveling progression in which you gain experience to attain access to better weapons and a bigger toolset to use against your foes. If you’re then faced against a new, lower level player, sure, the lower level has a chance to use their skill to beat you, but the higher level players still have a decided edge. In this sense, are we leveling just to make content easier? Do we even want difficulty at all, if we work hard to nullify it?

You’ve seen the roosters strutting around in whatever MMO you’re playing these days. Those peacocks of the gaming world, strutting around in all the best and shiniest gear. And good for them, it shows their dedication to the game that they were able to get their hands on said loot. But was it really difficult to do so?

Guild Wars 2, Halloween, Difficulty in Games

I call this place… Pain in the Ass Tower.

In the grand scheme of things, here is the defacto MMO progression:

  • Do content, get loot, level up.
  • Use levels and loot to do higher level content, get better loot, level up.
  • Repeat until max level.
  • Continue to run content and get more loot (or just take the shortcut and buy it from other players on the auction house), which makes top level content easier.
  • Keep running content until maximum loot power is achieved and game becomes too easy.
  • Leave game out of boredom/complain about not having enough content on forums.

At that point, even the most difficult content becomes a cakewalk, but we’ve earned that through the time we put in to get that loot. Reward is good. But the entire time during this progression, the difficulty really hasn’t changed. We level up, our gear levels up, and the content matches difficulty stride for stride. It’s a linear progression. We do normal dungeons until they get too easy, then we do elite dungeons until they get too easy, then we do nightmare dungeons until we gear up to maximum and stop running them as they become too easy.

Our reward for running content is just to make content easier.

I’ve even heard content in The Elder Scrolls Online becomes trivial if you come back to it overleveled. A boss that gave you a hard time in the past suddenly is not so tough when you’re 10 levels higher, are they? The difficulty in TESO, then, just comes in rushing forward too fast. I am starting to hear more and more good things about the “exploration” aspect of TESO, but have yet to be convinced that it’s more than an illusion buried in the willing suspension (which relates to the next section).

The Walking Dead, Difficulty in Gaming

The Walking Dead isn’t a difficult game to play, it’s a difficult game to *watch*.

Puzzle Solving is Entirely Optional

But difficulty through skill is not the only level of difficulty. As Jon and Tim go on to discuss, it could also be about puzzle-solving. This is my favorite, by far, and one of the reasons I love The Secret World. As a content filler gap they recently just added four new investigation missions to the game, which I consider to be the real meat and potatoes of TSW. I’ve already completed one, and without giving away any details, I had to pull some real mind-bending out-of-game stuff to figure it out (keep a smartphone handy).

But this kind of difficulty is only challenging to the player that wants to do it in the first place. Puzzle difficulty is entirely by choice if the player wants to challenge themselves or not. I’m not one to cheat, but sites like Youtube, Dulfy.net, TSWDB.com, Star Trek Online wiki, and a plethora of others just hand out the answers to anyone willing to search. I even had a search term today that led someone to this site where they were looking for the answers to one of the new TSW missions! They just came out on Tuesday! They didn’t find it here, of course, but that they even were looking in the first place means something.

This isn’t a recent issue, though. I remember buying games at Gamestop and part of the salesperson’s spiel was to try to sell the guide to go along with it. Nothing has really changed, except it now costs a lot less effort and money to find the answers to these puzzles and quest guides.

Gabriel Knight, Difficulty in Games

Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations

/rant start

And find those answers gamers do in droves. So much that it’s even demanded by the community in some situations:

Oh, going into a dungeon you’ve never been in before and you haven’t researched it? What a scrub. What, do you just want to be carried by everyone else? You want to waste everyone else’s time? How lazy and selfish!

Seriously, this is why I don’t PUG or have any want to run group content at all. The communal expectation to be professionally knowledgeable about dungeons you’ve never set foot in are too high. There is no such thing as a noob the second those guides hit the internet, only “selfish” gamers.

Then it comes back to the skill to perform the guides steps, but “skill” in MMOs is really intrinsically linked to one’s Gearscore (read: random loot tables over time). That’s why the demands you see from the community for running PUGs keeps getting more and more ridiculous. These elitists don’t want a challenge! They don’t want to enjoy content with strangers! They’re lazy and want the most reward given for the least amount of effort, and so demand that from others, unceremoniously booting those who don’t live up to their demanding standards. Only those on the right side of the bell-curve may apply.

Can you tell I’m a little burnt out and jaded?

/rant end

The Secret World, Difficulty in Gaming

Still one of my favorite moments all-time from MMO gaming.

Wrangling Herds of Cats, Though

Finally, there is, arguably, the only real true form of challenge left posed by MMOs today: dealing with each other. Kind of the point of MMOs right? Playing with others? But the highest level raid content, or just content made too difficult to solo is in these games for a reason. And that is the challenge of working with and coordinating a group of people who are all only looking out for their own self interests. The content itself may not even really be that difficult (of course it’s not, “correctly” geared players mitigate the risk of failure), but organizing a group of 10-15 people to all do the same thing at the same time, with no real guarantee of reward, is impressive as hell!

The amount of time and energy driven to herding players to a single goal is outstanding. I know. Not from gaming, mind you, but I was a higher-up in a student run theatre company, and the experience is very similar. In the professional world, at least employees are being paid, but getting people to be dedicated to a common goal when it won’t put food on their table is not exactly easy. It’s why I put my time in theatre on my CV. It shows the skill of leadership when your charges are only present of their own whims. Having formal education in human psychology and group dynamics, though, doesn’t hurt.

However, I’d still caution against putting “Raid Leader” on a resume, if only because the social stigma against gamers is still heavily present in society. The skill, though, the pure skill of human wrangling, is universal and still quite impressive.

Guild Wars 2, Difficulty in Gaming

I’ve never wanted to punch a cloud in the face so much.

More Than A Struggle

Aside from having to deal with each other, we’ve gone from the days of a game’s content becoming easier with actual time, practice, and mental gymnastics, to becoming easier through in-game power ups and cheats. Do we get the same amount of accomplishment, though? I think what we gain is a lot more tangible.

We get great stories, we get great visuals, we get a sense of accomplishment not only at the end, but all the way through. We get lost in a great world. We get shared achievement. We get a thriving community that we can gladly raise our hand and claim to be a part of. We get a sense of belonging.

We get everything but difficulty.

// Ocho

 

 

Turning Back to Tyria #GW2   1 comment

Guild Wars 2

The other day I had a really rough day at work. I needed to unwind a bit but I was so mentally exhausted that I needed an easy game. A game that wasn’t a huge challenge, that I could play mindlessly but still get those nice, reassuring pings of accomplishment.

So I started playing Guild Wars 2 again.

I know, not exactly a glowing compliment but then this is the design they chose, they made their bed and now they have to lie in it.

I returned with the intent of exploration and gaining experience. Also, the complete avoidance of the living story. I still don’t have a  character at level cap, and I feel I can’t really participate in the living story without one. Last time I tried, lets just say it didn’t go that well. So my goal this time around is to take my highest level character, a Charr Elementalist named Mabsy Mabs, and get her through the rest of the storyline and up to the level cap so as to be in prime position for when the story for Season 2 starts. Plus, it was one of my gaming resolutions.

Guild Wars 2

So far the game has been very accommodating about gaining levels. I’ve only been back for a week, and I’ve gone from level 60 to level 75 in no time. Has it always been this fast or did they make it faster? I know leveling isn’t at exponential rates like in other games, and you do get experience for practically everything. But then it also doesn’t mean much either. In one zone, I went from level 65 to 70, and was still down-leveled to 60 the entire time. Nothing wrong with that, though, I still like the whole concept of capping the level of different zones, but it does just turn your level into only a number, and then I again wonder why there are levels in the first place.

I also take back some of my previous sentiments about down-leveling. Going from higher level to higher level zone following the story, I’ve found that the zones themselves are what are bringing the difficulty and not your overall level. Sure, I could go back to Plains of Ashford and roflstomp my way through it, but that’s a starting zone. I roflstomped my way through it at level 10, too. In what I initially felt was a very flat difficulty curve, I’m finding the higher level zones to be trickier than the ones before it so the curve does have an upward trend. This is good. Up-leveling, though, still leaves a lot to be desired.

Guild Wars 2

Still, though, I’m really enjoying Guild Wars 2 again. The overall storyline of following mister big-time plant Trahearn around not so much, but it’s the little storylines and the small details that GW2 does so remarkably well that make the world feel very much alive. For example: the jumping puzzle for the Timberline Falls zone is in a quaggan nursery (so damn cute), so one would expect tiny quaggans running around. However, there was one adult quaggan singing cute songs to the kids. So adorable I *had* to stop and listen to them for a while.

Quaggan

That’s what I’ve heard about the living story, too. Sure, beating up on leafy Ms. Scarlet is the main point, but overall the consensus of her character is a resounding “meh”. The real gold of the living story is found in all of the supporting characters and all of their interactions with each other.

Scarlet was just the vessel for creating all of these side stories, for adding more depth to characters that were already there, and now I’m a little disappointed I didn’t figure that out sooner.

// Ocho

P.S. – Hey ArenaNet, I was thrilled when I saw a lockbox key fall as loot, but why can’t I sell it on the auction house? I can sell the boxes just fine, but not the keys? What gives? And what is up with new builds every hour? Bug fixes I’m sure, which maybe a little QA might help, but it’s a little disjointed to see that I need to restart my client every 5 minutes.

Gaming Resolutions for 2014   4 comments

Neverwinter, Foundry

Can we somehow make this a drinking game? Alright, for every one of these resolutions I actually make, we take a drink. Deal? I like this idea.

But, seriously, although I missed a day or two of Murf’s Listmas Extravaganza, it looks to have been a wild success. I mean, really, look at all of those lists. 67! I count 67 lists. I may, in the near future, take a look and highlight a few of them. But, seriously, good on Murf for taking the ball and running with it and good on the folks over at United We Game for keeping score.

But, if you’re not tired of lists, I have one more list for you all, and it is simply my list of gaming resolutions for the new year. Yes, despite rumors to the contrary, I will be keeping up this gaming hobby for the foreseeable future, so why not resolve to make it as awesome as possible. Here are my goals, in no particular order, and the probability I give myself of actually completing them.

The Walking Dead

Finish The Walking Dead, 400 Days, and Walking Dead: Season 2

I haven’t finished Walking Dead yet and I’m really not sure why as it is quite an awesome and compelling story they’ve penned. I plan to finish up the first season, play the interim game, and then catch Season 2 on a good sale and finish that. Really, this should take that long. Probability of completion: 90%

Achieve Max Level in Neverwinter

I play Neverwinter in spurts. Awesome features like the Gateway, Foundry, the storyline, and wanting to see the latest modules all make me want to jump in and play to cap. But there is always something that seems a *little* more worthwhile to play. However, I want to get to max level so I can play these modules, which I’m sure will keep coming, along with new classes. Being around level 30, I may have a ways to go. What even IS the max level these days? Probability of completion: 70%

Play More Older / Indie Games

If 2013 had something awesome going for it, it was the crop of Indie games that came out of the woodwork. I mean, really, a metric ton of them, and I just want to play them all. I still have yet to pick up Gone Home, but I have picked up games like UnEpic, To the Moon, Dust, Braid, and Dear Esther, and I need to give them a solid shake. Also, as are many others, I’m a big fan of older games and need to play a few of them as well. I think I’ll develop a random system to do this. Set up a list of games I really should play, and then run it through a number generator or something. Keep me on my toes. Probability of completion: 50%

Finish the Bioshock Series

I played the original Bioshock and it blew my mind. Yes, it was a shooter on rails, but the world you railed through was tremendously well crafted. For a cheap game I picked up at Target, I was ridiculously impressed. So, I own Bioshock 2 and Bioshock Infinite, but I feel I have to play them in order.  Probability of completion: 80%

Shroud of the Avatar

Don’t Buy As Many Games and Play What I Already Own

This goes hand-in-hand with with “Play More Older / Indie Games” because I already own a metric ton of older and indie games… I just need to give them more priority. This past Steam Winter sale (which I know isn’t completely finished), I’ve maybe spent a grand total of $12 on 4 games. I’m slowing down on buying, but I think that is because the sheer mass of owned games is becoming a force of reckoning on my mind. Now let’s see if I can focus…. maybe. Probability: 30%

Guild Wars 2

Achieve Max Level in Guild Wars 2 

All the fun stuff seems to occur at max level, and if they spread it out a bit, it’s not exactly optimal. I like the concept of the living story, though I haven’t really liked how they’ve rolled it out. However, since it looks like Guild Wars 2 is going to be bringing the rosy story of Scarlet to a close, now is as good a time to get in there and jump to max so I can join in on all the Season 2 fun. Probability: 70%

Play Through Guild Wars 1

It’s still kicking. ANet hasn’t cut the cord to the server just yet, and I keep comparing Guild Wars 2 to Guild Wars 1. You see, I REALLY want to like Guild Wars 2 more than I do, and I think a way to do that is to complete all the storyline in Guild Wars 1. This may backfire, though, and show me the missed potential that Guild Wars 2 has, but either way Guild Wars 1 is still a beautiful game that is still running. But let’s be honest: Probability: 25%

Secret World, End of Days, Shadowy Forest, Vestige

So that’s it. As you notice, nothing about any of the new MMO’s coming out, although I can’t seem to gather a real interest in them. This may change. I am a sucker and do like the new shiny as much as others. My wallet does not usually agree with latest shiny, though. Tokyo and Shroud of the Avatar may end up taking up a huge chunk of my time, too. We shall see, I guess.

From all of us here at the Casual Aggro household, I wish unto thee the greatest of New Years! May it bring you health, wealth, happiness, and as much gaming as you can handle! As always, thank you for reading.

Game on, my friends.

// Ocho

The MMO Winner of Halloween 2013: The Secret World #TSW   1 comment

The Secret World, Halloween, Stores of Soloman Island

When I was a kid, I was totally into Halloween. I’d dress up in some costume, and my parents would take me and my sister out trick or treating, and, like any other kids, we’d go from door to door and collect a big haul of bite-sized candy. And life was good. But then I grew up…

In college, Halloween took on a whole new meaning, it went from being about dressing up and candy, to getting hammered and hooking up with cuties in costume. There was one time, the student house I was living in, which was affectionately called the Love Shack, had a Halloween party so big that it not only encompassed our house, but our neighbors house as well and although we weren’t in any fraternities, we had many offers to join some that night. We turned them down, of course. Our parties at the Shack were more legendary than anything they could muster up. But then I grew up again…

These days I spend my days working, and my nights in hobbies and hanging out with my wife. When Halloween comes around, we generally grab a drink, have some traditional White Castle, put on a movie, and kick back and wait for trick-or-treaters to come to the door. Our tastes have changed over the years.

Super Jack, Secret World, Halloween

So what does this have to do with MMO’s? Well, you see, my gaming tastes have also changed since I was a kid, too. Now, I could be playing World of Warcraft, and go trick or treating. Or I could go play Guild Wars 2 and get dressed up in costume and brawl. And this is fun! It takes me back to those times when I was a kid, and dressed up, and went from house to house trick-or-treating.

But as an adult, I want more. I want something that doesn’t feel like it’s aimed at a much younger demographic. I mean, these are MMO’s, they not only take a time investment, but they also take a significant monetary investment, too, and so MMOs naturally have more adults playing them. According to this site, and this doesn’t sound that off, the average age of MMO players is 26 with a third of players married, and half working full-time. We’re not kids anymore.

Blue Mountain, Secret World, Halloween

I played the Guild Wars 2 Halloween content. I zerged and attacked giant monsters made from candycorn, because that made sense. I climbed the clocktower, and helped smack down the whiny Prince Edrick. I even opened trick-or-treat bag after trick-or-treat bag. I carved pumpkins. It was pretty much everything one would expect for Halloween… and yet it didn’t really scratch that Halloween itch.

Then I played The Secret World, and my Halloween itch has been thoroughly scratched. Finally, here is a game that doesn’t just treat us like kids. The Cat God mission, the main event of the holiday, is a tough investigative mission involving possessed cats, family crypts, creating pungent incense, performing ancient rituals, and defeating none other than Baron Samedi himself at the home of Halloween, Stonehenge, as he attempts to rend the veil between worlds.

Then this year, they topped it by adding the amazing Stories of Soloman Island, a collection of horror short stories, penned by Joel Bylos and Joshua Doetsch, that are pretty amazing reads. Here’s a quick sample:

Stories of Soloman Island, Secret World

So, the winner of Halloween 2013, in my own humble opinion, of course, is easily The Secret World. Instead of playing with the commercial versions of Halloween, of costumes, candy, and decorations, it shows the more mature meaning behind Halloween: that we enjoy exploring our disturbing side. We like the macabre, we enjoy the chills down our spine. We celebrate the unknown and embrace the supernatural. But you can already tell that Funcom gets this, the supernatural runs through the very blood and fabric of The Secret World.

So, MMOs take note: the bar has been raised.  We’ll see what they come out with to top themselves next year.

// Ocho

Secret World, Cat God, Stonehenge

Up-Leveling, Down-Leveling and How They Are Broken #GW2   14 comments

Guild Wars 2, Mad King's Clocktower

I get it, Guild Wars 2, you want me to be max level before participating in any events. But then why did you give your game a really high max level? Something happened between Guild Wars 1 and Guild Wars 2 that changed, and I’m not talking about mechanics. I’m talking about the overall philosophy. In Guild Wars 1, max level was truly the beginning of the game, and getting there was really just an extended introduction. 90% of the content happened at level 20, which was reached in a few days. Progression was based on acquiring new abilities, finding item synergies with your playstyle, learning tactics, and just becoming a better player. In Guild Wars 2, levels actually mean something. However, the grind to get there is long, and the gear is significantly more important. Up-Leveling to max doesn’t make you strong enough to do the content, and Down-Leveling makes you still overpowered. In a game that feels like it doesn’t need levels AT ALL, why is max level the only acceptable place to be? And why is it such a grind to get there?!

Pumpkins, Guild Wars 2, Halloween

I thought I was wrong, I thought not all content had to be at max level, and sure, the Super Adventure Box is a good example of GW2 content that doesn’t need to have levels attached, but that’s the only one I’ve seen so far, including the Halloween content. “But, Ocho”, I hear you say, “When you’re in the Halloween instances, you’re up-leveled to max level, you noob!” Up-Leveling, however, did nothing to make the content anything more than an exercise in futility. I did finally finish off Bloody Prince Edrick, but not before downing him on my fifth attempt, which took about 25 minutes each, with all my armor broken.

Faced 1-on-1 with a level 80 mob, with myself up-leveled from level 60, with decent level 60 gear, caused every single mob to be a crap-shoot at survival. 1 mob, no problem, depending on it’s strength. 2? Almost certain death. With Edrick, the battle was just futile. If he got within arms reach, I’d be dead. The mobs he spawned at different stages, spawning 4 or 5 at a time, where a fight with more than 1 was certain death, caused me to become very familiar with the corpse run. His healing to full in between each stage? Ridiculous. My only real attack, since Elementalists can’t switch weapons mid-fight, was an earth spell that reflected projectiles. By essentially hitting him with his own attack, once every 30 seconds, and running away, I was finally able to defeat him.

Guild Wars 2, Halloween, Labyrinth

I’ve heard the fight is NOT supposed to be this tough, though. So what did up-leveling do? It certainly didn’t level the playing field. In fact, it made the fight about the most un-fun it could be. It wasn’t a challenge, it was a chore of throwing myself up against a wall. Up-leveling essentially did not do what it was intended to.

Down-leveling, though, doesn’t work as intended, either. At level 60, if I head to the beginning zones, I’m able to faceroll content and make dynamic events trivial. There is no challenge. Why do you think these champion farming events are going on in the starting areas? The ability to completely wipe-out low level content is ridiculously easy at max-level, even with down-leveling.

Mad King's Clocktower, Guild Wars 2, Halloween

Not all of the Halloween content is bad, though. The Mad King’s Clocktower? Awesome. Tough, doable, and everyone can do it with enough practice. Costume brawl and Mad Inquisition? Also awesome! These are fantastic diversions, but they’re not the Halloween main courses on offer.

So, again, Guild Wars 2, why even bother with levels? Why put in this level-gate at all when artificially moving up and down is pointless? Sorry, ANet, your Halloween events in the past even made WoW’s look weak, but this is not the quality I remember from Guild Wars 1. I completed it, but it gets a solid “meh”.

And because of this, next time you have an event in a week or so, I’ll be less likely to join in.

// Ocho

P.S. – But now I’m off to see what The Secret World has to offer, and my expectations are really high. I hope it can deliver…

Events Everywhere! #STO #GW2 #TSW   1 comment

Star Trek Online, Crystalline Entity

This is why Free-To-Play is my model of choice. It’s not because I can’t afford to pay a subscription, it’s simply because, when not confined by a subscription, the onus of quality and pulling players in falls onto the developers. This leads to events, and lots of them.

For the past month I’ve been ping-ponging between The Secret World, Guild Wars 2, and Star Trek Online because of these events. Guild Wars 2, of course, has it’s content flowing continuously with something new every 2 weeks. However, not being max level, most of the new content is not aimed at me. So Guild Wars 2 has fallen by the wayside to make way for the following:

- The Secret World’s Whispering Tide – The path to Issue #8, The Venetian Agenda, and the prelude to the opening of the new Tokyo region. It looks like Phase 3 is ramping up TODAY as per tweets from Richard Sonnac seem to imply.

- Star Trek Online’s Crystalline Cataclysm Event – Our favorite giant, destructive snowflake is back and asking for a beating. In this 10-man instance, the Tholians have suddenly showed an interest in the Crystalline Entity, possibly being due to their species being of similar composition. The Tholians, though, are bad news, and as such, they all need a good whooping. Until October 21st (according to the game launcher), a daily beating of the entity gives a metric ton of Tholian marks, and a 50,000 dilithium pot.

- StarbaseUGC’s Purity Foundry Series – Part Two of the Purity Series, Purity: Of Thought by Bazag, has already been released, and it adds a decent amount of back-story to the Obani, Federation, and Sajan people.

The Secret World, Filth, Whispering Tide

And then you know what’s coming up, don’t you? The Superbowl of MMO Events: Halloween.

Guild Wars 2 is looking like it’s kicking it’s usual Halloween event up a notch, which seems impossible as it was already at 11. This year, instead of the event simply focused around the Mad King, instead we will be seeing Prince Edrick take center stage in the “Blood and Madness” event. I’m seriously excited to try the Clocktower jumping puzzle, and even if you’re not max level, it sounds like there will still be plenty to do.

The Secret World is also kicking their Halloween celebration up a notch by bringing back the Cat God event from last year, which is going to be new to me, but then adding on something that sounds amazing: Stories from Soloman Island. Soloman Island is one of my favorite MMO locations ever, competing with LotRO’s The Shire for top spot, so I CAN NOT WAIT to check this out.

I like to try new games, but I don’t think I’ll be able to leave the grasp of these events for quite a while.

// Ocho

Some MMO Poetry, Because Why Not? #NBI   9 comments

Star Trek Online, Space

This is for you, Syl… and you as well, Jeromai.

For your reading pleasure, here is a collection of MMO haiku, made up on the spot. Random, creative, MMO-based poetry goodness. If you’re feeling creative as well, how about starting up your own site, or joining up with other writers? It’s not as hard as you might think. Enjoy.

Guild Wars 2, Puzzle

Fiction or Real Life?

Friends we meet in game are real.

Reality blurs.

—————————————–

I level crafting,

but can’t make good leveled gear!

Why is this useless?!

Elite Polaris, Draugh, dungeon

Knights, Templars, Castles.

The sword was overpowered.

Still true to this day.

—————————————

“Hey! Big bad boss guy!

Look at my big armored butt!

… Whoops… I lost aggro.”

Star Trek Online, U.S.S. Split Aces, Foundry

“Captain, it’s the Borg!”

“My tribble is in the bank.”

“GTFO, Noob!”

————————————–

The Bad-Ass Templars,

Sneaky Illuminati,

Confusing Dragon.

Guild Wars 2, Lion's Arch, Environment

I love Guild Wars 2.

It’s like walking through fine art,

with mass violence.

————————————-

One more special mark,

until I’m finally done!

Wait… there is more grind?!

Newbie Blogger Initiative, Poetry Slam

Fin.

// Ocho

Improving MMO Dungeons #GW2   12 comments

Guild Wars 2, GW2, The Searing

Over the weekend, the skies opened up and the gods of casual MMO players smiled down upon me.

In Guild Wars 2, I have recently joined a new guild called Fight Together, Die Alone on Fort Aspenwood that is significantly more active than my own. Thanks to the GW2 mechanic of allowing players to join multiple guilds, and thus still retaining guilds with friends, joining a second guild that had more than 1 person on at a time was easy and no mental strain. Killer feature.

Anyway, one of my new guildmates piped up to see if anyone wanted to join in on an Ascalon Catacombs run. Being as how I’m now level 50, technically my second level 50 in the game, and still have not run a single dungeon once, I said sure. Once grouped and near the entrance, I did as any good group member would and revealed that this was my first time, that I had not read up on anything ahead of time, and it was all new to me. To my astonishment, every other person in the group said the exact same thing.

Could this be? Was this real? I had to pinch myself. I thought I was the only one at this point! How is it, more than a year after the game’s release, that there isn’t only 1, but 5 people, randomly together, that have all never stepped foot into the game’s first dungeon?! The odds must be staggeringly high. Long story short, we wiped once, but for all intents and purposes we cleared it no problem, and had a blast doing so.

Ascalon, Guild Wars 2, Ghosts

But it made me think of how rare a situation this was. Was it really rare? Was this just random happenstance or are there many many players who have just skipped over Guild Wars 2 dungeons? If that’s the case, a mere half-assed Looking For Group tool isn’t going to cut it, ArenaNet. Here is a simple suggestion to making dungeons a lot better, not just for Guild Wars 2, but for any game that has them:

Offer a Solo Version of Every Instance.

Now, straight up, this is the “casual gamer” in me talking. But I am truly sick and tired of having mob mentality dictate who should and shouldn’t be allowed to run group dungeons. Deny it if you want, but I’ve been deemed not worthy to run instances by a great number of other gamers. Why? Inexperience. It has happened in every single MMO that I’ve ever played. Every. Single. One.

It’s a Catch-22 if ever I’ve heard one. Haven’t run a dungeon? Then we don’t want you running it. I don’t always have the time to run instances, and the way I play MMO’s, it’s to experience the content first, then possibly look up if I’ve missed anything later. It’s this part, the experiencing it first part, that seems to be the trouble. The truth is, other players don’t want to waste their time in an instance with someone who hasn’t run it already, doesn’t know the dance moves, and doesn’t know the puzzles. They don’t want to hold their hand. And you know what? I fully understand that.

After the first couple of times, hand-holding others in every single instance I enter would get frustrating quick. Also, players want to maximize their gaming time, and failure in a dungeon, even once, is cutting into that efficiency. Suddenly, someone like me, who likes to experience the content first, someone who considers videos, build sites, wikis, etc. just a form of cheating and really taking away from the overall experience, is considered rude.

Ascalon, Guild Wars 2, Charr

So here’s the solution: Offer every instance as a solo instance. Now, of course, rewards shouldn’t be offered in solo versions. None. The story and practice would be it’s own reward. It would give players that crucial experience that is demanded by the playing-majority and give those who want it the ability to see the storyline that is otherwise blocked by a grouping gate.

After running it solo a time or two, grouping up to achieve the phat lootz and rewards would be much easier. Gaining experience could be done on one’s own, without bothering anyone else. Now if someone says “Hey, I’ve never played this before, what does this boss do?”, they are the truly lazy ones, and have no excuse as to why they don’t know the dungeons already. I feel like this would make everyone more comfortable in running group content and the amount of people who would run dungeon content would increase dramatically.

Rytlock, Eir, Guild Wars 2, Ascalon Catacombs

After successfully running Ascalon Catacombs with members of FTDA, and everyone else having to log, I decided to give the new Looking For Group tool a try and joined a group for the next instance, Caudecus’s Manor. Once in a group, I was once more the good group member and told them that I had not run the instance before and it was my first time.

… I was quickly booted from the group.

So it goes.

// Ocho

Tequila the Sunrise, or a Lack Thereof [GW2]   5 comments

GW2, Priory, Mabsy Mabs, Charr

I have quickly realized that, if you’re not a high level in Guild Wars 2, all this Living World stuff just does not relate to you. At all. Right now, that’s where I stand. I created my current character not that long ago and I’ve made it to the Level 42 mark in, for me, record time, but I’m still a long ways off from actually participating in the current incarnation of the Living World, Tequatl Rising.

So, even at the half-way mark of the leveling curve, I have so far done every Tequatl Rising event at my level I could to earn credit towards the event and this is where I stand:

Boss Week, Tequatl Rising, Achievements, Guild Wars 2

Impressive, right? No? Hmmm.

Guild Wars 2′s content creators seem to have seen fit to stay along the Guild Wars 1 course of content development. That is, develop the content for high-level characters. In Guild Wars 1, this made a lot of sense, as achieving level 20 took you the equivalent of a couple play sessions. In Guild Wars 2, where levels are a real thing (kinda), the Living World is nothing more than a giant impetus to push you to level cap, and to get there as fast as humanly possible.

It just sits there, on the right-hand side of the screen, informing you of events going on in areas of the game you’re too low level to enter and that you’re too low level to participate in. A beacon of “Look what you could be doing”, but knowing you won’t be able to really join in this time. Next Living Story, maybe, if you can get there in time.

Metrica Province, Asura, Fire Elemental, Guild Wars 2, Thaumanova

Now, true, not EVERY incarnation I’ve experienced has been like this. The Super Adventure Box is designed for characters of all levels, and if they didn’t add stuff for max level characters to do, boredom would drive them elsewhere (and I’m sure the majority of players are sitting on cap, too). So, I get it, I just need to put my nose to the grindstone and grind away.

Still, though, this is where the Living World concept comes up a little short. I wasn’t able to participate in the Clockwork Chaos event, and I’m not able to participate in Tequatl Rising, either. Compare it to, say, The Secret World’s Issues. The Issues are mission packs and extra story tacked on for a nominal price, that are designed for the level cap. When they released Issue #6, The Last Train to Cairo, I was far from the end-game and still in the Soloman Islands. However, it was still there, waiting for me when I finally did reach level cap. And LTTC? That is some amazing gameplay right there.

To again be fair, though, Tequatl Rising is not something that I would deem really important. It’s not a new storyline, they just buffed up the world boss fights to make them more of a challenge. All I’m missing out on is a pair of wings. I can live with that.

So, fine. I’ll get there. And get there faster thanks to that ever-pushing Living World reminder. Maybe the addition of the pseudo Looking-For-Group tool will speed me up, too. With the LFG tool in place, maybe I’ll actually run some group content for once! Shocking, right? It’s about time GW2 added this, and I’m not going to lie, the LFG tool is one of the main reasons I decided to give GW2 another shot.

So, Tequila the Sunrise, I’m coming for you and I will down you yet! Just not this time.

// Ocho

P.S. – So what are all of you fine folks playing? I like this whole Friday, letting you know what I’m playing posts, but what is keeping YOU occupied?

Tequila, Sunrise, Tequila Sunrise, Wikipedia

Gilded Rage: Hunting Blingzilla [TSW]   4 comments

Golem, Secret World, Gilded Rage

Alright, it’s my turn.

Guild Wars 2, Mini Moto, Super Adventure BoxSince my last update, I have switched off between two games, Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World. Guild Wars 2 has the ultra tricky Super Adventure Box going on for it, but since acquiring the mini-Moto pet, my goal for the event, my want to log-in has waned in favor of the equivalent of a Secret World Gold Rush.

Now, let’s be clear about this event. It looks very similar to the previous anniversary event, and that is because, well, it is. During the anniversary event, some problems occurred that Funcom simply weren’t able to solve. Namely, one of the rare pets, the Shem of the Lunar Metal, was completely unreachable by at least one of Secret World’s servers (note: my server). No matter how I tried during the anniversary event, I simply could not enter the necessary zone. This isn’t the first time Funcom has fumbled a Secret World event.

Shem of the Lunar Metal, The Secret World

So the Gilded Rage event is essentially a make up for the previous Guardians of Gaia Anniversary Event. Hence why it is very similar. The golden Samsu Nasiru is just a gold colored reskin of Kaspu Nasiru, and appears in the same locations as the anniversary Golems. And because the Shem of Lunar Metal was impossible for some to get during the previous event, it was included on the drop list of this event. So high on the list, even, that I picked it up after taking down my very first Golem.

So, cheers to Funcom! They may have fumbled the ball during the Guardians of Gaia Anniversary Event, but have once more picked it up and scored.  I remember last time I was very pleased with how they recovered from the End of Days Event fumble, and this looks like a good make-up as well. The only thing missing is that Guardians of Gaia Fusang lore piece… but I was informed that it may still be there. I haven’t been inside Fusang to see if that is true, so maybe I will attempt that tomorrow night and report back.

Tips and Tricks on Hunting Blingzilla

The Gilded Rage event will only be available until… well, they said two weeks after it started. Two weeks would be Friday, September 20th, but ending an event on a Friday (unless they have something BETTER planned for that day) is highly unlikely. Most likely, it will continue until Sunday, September 22nd to cover the weekend crowd. However, attaining all the loot our golden pinata drops is not difficult at all. For one, the coveted prizes, pets, pet pieces, and costume pieces will only drop one time per character and will not be duplicated on that character. So you don’t have to worry about getting repeat pieces of the Gold Pet puzzle.

Kirsten Geary, The Secret World, Blingzilla

Join The Illuminati, if for no other reason than the awesome mission text.

- First and foremost: Join the chat channel!

Like the previous event, which showed an outstanding level of community involvement, this event is no different. Once more, unofficial chat channels have been set up, spotters have been sent around TSW’s zones, and when a golem is spotted, the information is relayed back to the channel.

type: /chat join gildedevent

- Friend and Meet Up

Next, when a call-out is made, right click on the callers name and add them as a Friend. Hit Shift-F to bring up the Friends list, right-click on their name and select ‘Meet Up’. Once accepted, this will take you directly to the same zone, dimension, and server as the caller.

Shem of Solar Metal, The Secret World

- Look For the Giant Walking Hood Ornament

Kinda hard to miss, really. Old Goldy should be hanging out somewhere near the well you zone-in at. Just look around. It sticks out like a sore thumb.

- Beat Up On Goldzilla

He only has two tactics to watch out for:

1) He puts out a self-targeted AoE that, if it hits, will send you skyward and knock you out of the fight for 10 seconds. Run away when he does this as there isn’t any way to interrupt it. It may APPEAR to be interrupted, but that’s most likely just a graphical glitch and it will still hit. If you are susceptible, with no way to block it, just run or stay outside the blast zone.

2) A second AoE that will sap you of health and heal the golem. The health he steals isn’t really enough to keep up with the damage he’s receiving, but it still doesn’t feel nice. To avoid, either run outside the blast zone or “hug” him by getting within melee range. Also, this attack IS interruptible, so if it looks like it’s stopped, it most likely has.

- Profit

After whittling down his 17-18 MILLION hit points, you will receive a Side-Quest (Make sure you have a side-quest spot open before the fight!) to win the Genizah of the Solar Metal prize bag. To form the Shem of Solar Metal pet, however, it will take 6 different body parts, combined together. A list of all possible loot can be found here.

TenTentacles, Rowan, MMOGC, Twitter

It does sound suspicious if it’s phrased like that, doesn’t it?

- Cut Down on Lag

There are two ways to cut down on lag during the fight:

1) Kill your Spell Effects. To achieve this, just type this exactly into chat:

/setoption SpellEffect_DisplayLevel 4

This will kill Spell Effects and will give you a respectable 10-15 FPS on a decent system. To reverse it, just type a 0 where the 4 is.

2) Install Better Buffs, an official fix mod from Funcom’s GUI programmer. It may be included in a future patch, but why not get it now? It will cause your buff lists to not reorder so frequently, and help with interface lag. However, it hasn’t been fully tested, so if it conflicts with another mod or with the game itself, just delete it as per the linked forum post.

- Simple Ground Targeting

I’m placing this here so I have a location to remember it as well. Do you have any Ground Targeted Area of Effects and want to change them to Targeted Area of Effects?

Just hit ‘Shift-Ctrl‘.

That’s it. Now in the heat of combat (or, in this case, the worst Powerpoint presentation ever), you won’t have to worry about targeting your mouse on the right area, it’ll just focus the center of the AoE on your target and you’re good to go.

But Wait! There’s More!

My brothers and sisters in arms have also been in on the Gold Rush! TenTentacles has his writeup on Goldie Brawn (I see what you did there), Rowan is jumping for joy over attaining his faithful golden follower, Syp is seeing the extended middle-finger that are the Flares, and Mogsy is happy to be hanging with her Nugget. Did I miss anyone? I most likely did. Well, if I did, just yell at me and I’ll correct the error.

I can’t help but think, though, that this is just whetting the appetites for the upcoming main event, the prelude to Tokyo. After pushing Lilith back into the Tokyo portal in the last story arc, the siege of Agartha has begun and the Filth has begun to seep into the world’s core.

The question is: When will we be able to fight it?

// Ocho

The Secret World, Agartha, Tokyo, Bird

P.S. – Alright, but I can’t let Funcom off the hook for this one: A $100 Gold Tuxedo?! $100?! Since when is $100 considered a MICRO-transaction?! Look, I’m all for status symbols and understand that people can spend their money however they wish… but $100?! Come on!

P.P.S. – Notice how terms like Genizah, Shem, and Golem all appear in the lore for these Guardians of Gaia? Do they sound familiar? Well, Rowan, the loremaster for the Beyond the Veil podcast, has a great explanation of the history behind the lore and explains why the golems have a Hebrew origin. I highly suggest you check it out.

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