Turning Back to Tyria #GW2

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.


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.


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

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…

Improving MMO Dungeons #GW2

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]

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

Is the Honeymoon Over Already? [GW2]

I just realized something: I haven’t played Guild Wars 2 since the 23rd of September. That’s well over a week now, and I haven’t felt that drastic need to log-in. Am I sick or something? Busy, yes, I had a very busy weekend, but I mostly have been playing other games. Now, it’s not because I’m already tired of the game… in fact, quite the opposite. I love it, and it’s sitting there on top of my “Games You Should Play RIGHT NOW” list. But, the draw right now isn’t all that strong. In fact, I think tonight I’m going to try my hand at seeing if I can make progress with Natasha in Rusty Hearts (an MMO quite under appreciated, by the way…). But I will say this: the last time I played Guild Wars 2, the shine of the community showed a lot of tarnish.

All of the following happened within a span of about 20 minutes.

It was nearing 8 PM here on the East Coast, and I was one measly event away from completing the daily. The zone I was in, Gendarren Fields, was seriously lacking on events. The overarcing zone meta-event was busted and stuck on one part, and there was a dearth of other events going on. So, to make sure I completed that one last needed event, I zoned over to someplace I knew many events were going on, Kessex Hills. Last time I was there, there was an event every 10 steps, and if you didn’t immediately run away when one completed, you ran the risk of it starting over again within the minute! So, anyway, with only a few minutes remaining, I quickly asked in Map chat “Hey everyone! Any events going on? I just need one more.” to which I was pointed to the one at the bridge near the western side of the zone, where I was told “It starts once every few minutes”. Awesome. I jumped over there, and helped to handily fend off the legion of centaurs that tried to repair the bridge. I completed the daily with just 5 minutes to spare. Excellent.

Then I looked around me… and noticed that a nice portion of those others “defending” the bridge were still attacking long after the event had concluded. Bots. Characters on autopilot just firing their auto attack or AOEs like clockwork, whether there were enemies there or not. Well, that’s disheartening. Nice to know that others can just keep farming those points without ever needing to be at the keyboard (really, botters, shame on you). So I did what every person should do if they see bots or spammers. Report them. Gold selling and botting go hand-in-hand with account thievery, and I will not stand by and let these farmers taint the game we paid for.

This left a sour taste in my mouth, though, almost like I was tattling. In the end, killing a bot is a good thing. It makes our gaming experiences more fun and safe, but I still couldn’t help feeling like that kid on the playground who was inadvertently knocked down by an errant foursquare ball and squealing to the aide.

So, getting over my reverie, I happily announced in map chat “Hey Thanks for the help guys! Just finished my daily right under the 8 PM wire!” thanking those who had informed me of the maybe-a-little-too-generous event and at the same time, letting those who hadn’t realized it yet, that the daily resets at midnight universal time, not at midnight server time. To which, this was met with a resounding “lol whatever noob. dear diary, nobody cares.” and led into flames of how I was apparently playing the game wrong.

Sigh. What a great community, huh? Bots, elitists, and trolls (oh my!). Maybe Syp and Rowan are right… though having them around is great, the actual talking with nearby players is very overrated. You take the chance of having what others have to say being much WORSE than saying nothing at all.

As Mark Twain said “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.

Why does it sometimes feel like every other gamer around you is just a fool that can’t wait to prove it to the world? I know great gamers are out there, I’ve met hundreds. Still, though, great and helpful gamers seem to be quickly moving to the edge of the bell-curve.

\\ Ocho

Jump Around! Guild Wars 2 Jumping Puzzles Debate [GW2]

On Friday night I did something I hadn’t done in a long time. I hung out with my fellow gamers in a guild event. As I’ve mentioned, I’m not the sort of gamer who schedules his time to play. Essentially, anything and everything could come up and I consider anything in real life to be above gaming, from going to see a friend’s show to an impromptu bottle of wine with the wife. This makes me a terrible raider and a terrible guildmate, but it makes me a great casual player. I can’t wait to have kids to see how they impact my gaming habits.

So what did we do? Jumping puzzles! I love Guild Wars 2 jumping puzzles, personally. I love scaling the highest heights and untying the trickiest puzzles they can throw at me. Although it looks like the inclusion of them is a hot debate among some people. To them I say… Really? There’s even a debate? I think this goes to show exactly how much people just love to complain. I mean, really…

“I’m OK with them, but at the same time despise them since they’re just catering to those damn Nintendo kids with their jumpy marios and mushrooms game.” – Massively Commenter

… Come on now. 1) this person is posting on a gaming website. 2) Despite including themselves as a gamer, they are lambasting those gamers they deem lesser than they are. “Jumpy Mario and Mushrooms Game”? You mean, oh, I don’t know, THE GREATEST SELLING VIDEO GAME IP OF ALL TIME?!  Seriously, I haven’t played all the Mario games, and I’m not the best at platformers, but even I respect the history of the hobby. This statement is the equivalent of “Damn kids! Get off my lawn!!!”. If it’s not a game specifically built for you, that means that it shouldn’t be enjoyed by anybody. Gotcha. No, that’s not a really jerk thing to think. That’s totally normal.

I want to ask these people what went wrong in their lives somewhere that they need to feel such jealousy or such hatred towards something so small as an optional jumping puzzle.

Another common thread of a “problem” with them is just how difficult they are. So, wait, sometimes these games we play have a difficulty attached to them and need a little skill or hand-eye coordination to complete? Welcome to the gaming world! There are a lot of games out there that don’t just hand over a virtual prize so easily. But really, these games aren’t as hard as, say, BattleToads. On the grand scale of difficulty, where Final Fantasy end-game bosses end up taking over an hour of perfect play to defeat, these jumping puzzles don’t even register. If one person, by himself, can complete these jumping puzzles, then anybody can. It doesn’t take Superman-like reflexes. It just takes time and the ability to learn from your mistakes.

For those who complain of the difficulty of the vistas I say again… really? Where the jumping puzzles have a modicum of difficulty to them, the vistas are even less. For the vistas, just find the path and make the one or two jumps to get there. You can always cheat using Youtube, too, if you really can’t figure it out yourself… but I haven’t found one yet that was so tricky it needed cheating. Does this seem to speak of a gaming community that, more and more, want their games handed to them on a plate? Haven’t I talked about this before?!

But, overall, they are awesome. It’s like ArenaNet listened to all of the complaints of how you weren’t able to jump in Guild Wars 1 and said “Fine. You want to jump? WE’LL GIVE YOU A REASON TO JUMP!” Content that anyone of any level can do that doesn’t involve combat and rewards for exploration… I just don’t see how anyone can really complain about getting MORE content, about having MORE stuff to do. Now, looking back at other MMOs, sure, they have jumping… but now what good is it if there’s nothing to jump for.

They’re fun. They’re tricky. They’re cooperative. They’re a welcome addition to the gameplay and yet another jewel to put in the crown of what makes Guild Wars 2 such a great game.

\\ Ocho

Really, Why Are There Levels in Guild Wars 2? [GW2]

So, when it seems like everyone else is hitting the level cap or close to it in Guild Wars 2, last night I hit the half-way mark, level 40. The odd part: I haven’t even ventured outside of a level 15-25 zone! Slow? Well… that’s just how I roll. I really do stop to smell the roses. I’ll delve into that unknown cave, I’ll try to beat that random mob that says “group” but I know I can do it solo if I just keep trying. I’ll fiddle with my build over and over until I get it just the way I want it. So, this takes time.

But level 40, without even touching a zone above 15-25. This made me look at how my gaming choice of checking out and completing the starter areas, and maybe the next higher ups, are affecting my character growth. Well, from completing 4 full zones, I have a decent amount of skill points, so my skill choices are fairly nice for my level. However, my gear? All the basic stuff. Since my main upgrades are coming from drops (as drops appear to be tuned to your character’s level, not the level of the area), they just aren’t coming fast enough to beat out what the vendors sell at each 5 level increment. So, my gear is to my level, but it’s bland.

So then, am I hurting myself by being slow? I very well could be, since my gear is so basic for my level. This then begs the question: Why are there even levels in the first place? I’ve mentioned previously how I think that levels in GW2 are a very useless stat. With the majority of zones and dungeons just down-leveling you, and levels coming at such a fast and furious pace that most people don’t even notice them, the fact that the game puts a number to your development seems counter-productive. Guild Wars 1 had levels, true, but you hit “max level” before you were even out of the introductory area. This feels the same, but at the same time, it’s not.

So what do levels prevent us from doing? From what I can see, all the levels are doing is holding us back from getting into the high level areas. That’s it. Maybe, since higher level crafting materials are located in those higher areas, also forcing a level component to crafting, too, but there are plenty of ways around that.

So why even have them in the first place? They’re a time-block, and that’s all. Guild Wars 1, for example, is supposed to be played at max level, with power coming from different skills attained, builds, and player skill. Difficulty is decided by the area that you’re in, which is mostly determined by how far you are along in the story. Guild Wars 2 seems to be following the same pattern, with down-leveling of content to make the areas themselves far from trivial. But now, if I were to attack, say, Ascalon Catacombs, I’d be at a disadvantage because my gear sucks compared to my level. I’d be down-leveled, and all the white gear I have is down-leveled, too.

If those levels weren’t there, it wouldn’t be so much the gear that I have, but what attachments I put onto said gear, and how I use it. The gear would be an extension of my playstyle, not just something to replace every screamingly-quick 5 levels. I’m hoping once I finally hit max level, I’ll be able to really start replacing my gear with something nice that won’t be outdated by leveling. But until then, I guess I’ll just be underpowered.

Even if you stop to smell the roses, sometimes you’re left behind in the dust.

\\ Ocho

Getting Back on the Guild Wars 2 Track. Note: Still Fun As All Get Out [GW2] [Screenshots]

Well, if you didn’t see, my Guild Wars 2 (or as my wife calls it: Guildawars 2… she’s really cute like that) account has been fully restored and everything is back to the way things were.

It did take 4 days, which as I said in previous posts, is a long time to wait, and I’m surprised that in all the testing leading up to release, being heavily attacked by gold sellers and bots wasn’t considered a major issue. However, it seems that they are coming back up to speed. Check out their September 2nd status update to see all the headway they’ve made in the good fight against the hackers.  Here are some of the more notable entries:

– “Over the past three days we’ve received approximately 8,500 new support tickets related to hacked accounts and other blocking login issues, and we’ve resolved issues to get approximately 9,500 players back into the game (most from tickets submitted prior to Friday, August 31).”

– “We’re aggressively ramping up our customer support team, with 28 new support representatives starting today and more coming online in the next few days, to provide the fast response times our customers expect.”

– “We had the Trading Post down for maintenance earlier today but currently it’s online and available to all players.”

– “To play with a friend on a different overflow server, form a party together, then right-click on the friend’s portrait in the party list and click “join”.” (I had problems with this last night. I tried playing with a friend on a different server… but it seems that isn’t exactly possible just yet or maybe it was just really not intuitive. I hope that does become possible soon. Being able to chat with friends on other servers is nice, but playing with them is the primary goal.)

– “If you discover an emergency game-breaking or economy-breaking bug, do not exploit it, but please notify us immediately at this email address: exploits (at) arena (dot) net.”

As I said before: “Mistakes will happen. It’s how you fix them that count.” Although I still don’t see ArenaNet in a spectacular light, you have to admit they are doing their best attempts to fix it. Losing your account is VERY frustrating for any period of time, especially if it was for something somebody else did. My account name has been changed, my password has been made very secure, and I suggest you all reading to do the same. The best defense against these hacks is to make the information that they have on their stolen lists incorrect. For example, creating an alias e-mail address in Hotmail. G-mail, I believe, also has security methods like this, too. Use them.

As far as password strength, use this site to check it’s strength: HowSecureIsMyPassword.net. Simple enough, it’ll tell you how long it’ll take a desktop PC to crack it. I don’t think the website includes the strength of graphic processing units into it’s calculations, which would make it much quicker, but it’s a good judge for password strength. For example, the password I had notes that it would take 7 hours to crack. That’s terrible, and you can see why it was so easy. Now, it says my new password will take 178 quadrillion years. See the difference? Make your password stronger, folks. If you think you’ll have trouble coming up with something more secure, check out this Xkcd comic:

From xkcd.com, a great comic. The password “correcthorsebatterystaple” would take a quintillion years to crack, according to the link I posted.

Anyway, I’m back in Guild Wars 2! Awesome! And it is back to being everything I expected and more. Freeform exploration and grouping with only your whim pushing you ahead is just… relaxing. As I noted, I had a little difficulty grouping with a friend of mine last night, but I’m sure this will be addressed. Or maybe I’m an idiot and just didn’t do it right. Either way, hopefully it’ll be figured out soon.

I don’t have too many thoughts on any real negatives about Guild Wars 2 right now, but that’s because I’m simply having too much fun to even think about the negatives. The weapon skills could be more diverse? So what?! Guild stuff is still a little tricky? Who cares?! End game? Eff end game! Tutorials don’t explain much? Don’t rely on guides! Explore! Spreadsheets can be consulted later. For right now, Guild Wars 2 has what it promised: Fun. And lots of it.

I know I’m not exactly like other gamers out there, though, and it shows. I love the new dye system, for example. You grab a dye as a drop and suddenly it’s added to the palette of colors you can make your armor, for free, at any time you want. Right now I’m rolling with a color scheme that is mostly Pottery and Ebony with Autumn highlights. The other night, I spent about 15 minutes working on this scheme, which has a sort of wild-west flavor to it that is badass, especially for my gunslinging engineer.

When I was done, I continued on my way and saw this in chat:

“Player1: What are these dyes for?

Player2: To dye your armor.

Player1: That’s really lame.”

Lame? The ability to give your character style and customization at any point in the game for free is lame?! See? Different strokes. But at least you don’t have to look silly for half the game…

From another great comic, Nerf NOW!!

Interested in more Guild Wars 2 screenshots?! If you’re anything like me (most likely not), I know you are. Here you go… a few more for you screenshot-aholics.

\\ Ocho

P.S. – If you’re still locked out for a hack, just try to be patient, despite the anger. My time was 4 days, and I would expect that or sooner. Just know that if you’re innocent, you will almost guaranteed be getting your account back.

Hacking, Customer Service, and Guild Wars 2 [Warning: Angry Rant Ahead] [Update: I got my account back]

It is now Day 3 after I was hacked and had a permanent ban placed on my Guild Wars 2 account. Still no resolution…

Not even a response back after the last time I sent them information at 2 PM yesterday. It’s now 7 PM, so that makes it 30 hours since their last e-mail sent to me. Unacceptable.

As a frugal gamer, it takes a LOT of thinking for me to drop $60 on a new game or anything, for that matter. $60 on entertainment is a significant amount, and I spent the full $60 for Guild Wars 2 because I thought I would be getting a true quality product for it. I, like all my fellow gamers, have waited 5 years for this game. So what do I have to show for it? I played for… what… 2 days? Now, it’s the start of a nice 3 day weekend, a great time to put in some gaming time… and I’m still up in the air, having been blocked out of it for reasons that OBVIOUSLY WEREN’T MY OWN and also receiving NO REAL RESPONSES FROM MY REQUESTS.


Listen… I’m not callous. I see and understand that they are swamped. However, I’ve also worked in e-contact for a major international corporation before and have been swamped myself. We also replied to EVERY e-mail, personally, no automated responses, within 24 hours with only a team of 6 people. If it was an issue that involved some more research, we made sure to check in daily with our customers to let them know we didn’t forget about them. I know that seems more like the exception than the rule, but I lived it from a CS perspective, our customers loved us for it, and I have come to expect that high level of quality from businesses I contact.

Here is a quick rundown of the Laurel and Hardy type communications I’ve had with ArenaNet’s Support so far:


Initial hacking and permanent ban complaint lodged by myself at 08/29/2012 03:33 PM via the Support website. No e-mail had been received noting of hack or of the ban before this time.

Reply back from Customer Service individual #1 at 08/29/2012 07:22 PM, ~4 hours later, requesting information to prove I am the owner of the account.

I reply at 08/29/2012 07:51 PM, ~30 minutes later, giving them all the information I can requested through their customer service site.

Reply back from Customer Service individual #2 at 08/29/2012 08:10 PM, ~20 minutes later,  requesting the same information that CS #1 requested.

I reply back at 08/29/2012 08:26 PM, ~15 minutes later, with more information, copying the information from the initial request. I notice that two tickets are open for the same request and I close one of them. The other one is still open and active.

Having not received another response, I add to the open ticket at 08/30/2012 07:51 AM the next morning with more information, hoping that there wasn’t a confusion from having multiple tickets.

I receive a reply from CS individual #3 at 08/30/2012 01:05 PM, ~3 hours later, asking for the same exact information I gave CS#1 and #2.

Third time’s a charm, I think, and I reply back at  08/30/2012 02:21 PM, ~80 minutes later, with the same information I gave CS#1 and CS#2. The worst part is that I can see the entire chain of information I’ve given already, and am copying/pasting the information. It’s obvious I’m repeating myself.

As I write this post, it is 8/31/2012 07:24 PM, ~30 hours after the last communication I have received from them and ~29 hours after my last reply, and I haven’t received a response to my last inquiry.


UNACCEPTABLE! I mean, I can see the responses I’ve given and received, why can’t they? I’ve repeated myself multiple times and am almost at my breaking point. Every response I’ve given to them has been polite and direct to the point.

The worst part is, what’s my course of action? I’m not even sure where I stand! Do I demand my money back? Do I just write it off as a loss and to never give them money again? In this situation, I feel helpless. I feel like I’m being screwed over by a company and a community that I liked and respected with no course of action I can take beside just voicing my opinions and warning others.

So that is what I am doing.

If this is solved tomorrow, will I still play? Yes, and I’ll probably still enjoy it. However, the shining admiration I have had for ArenaNet as a company is fading fast, and so in the future, I’ll be less likely to give them more of my hard earned money, and warn you all against it, too. If you need support from them, I wouldn’t expect it to be quick or efficient.

“Mistakes will happen, but it’s how you fix them that count.”

\\ Ocho

P.S. – If only they had a phone number to contact. I’d sit on hold for an hour to get this fixed no problem, and I’d do it with a smile. This lack of communication and being left up in the air is driving me nuts. Day 3… and still nothing.

P.P.S. – I do realize that this can definitely be chalked up as a #FirstWorldProblem, and there are lots of other things in the world that are much worse problems. However, this is a gaming blog, I KNOW I’m not the only person going through this problem, and I feel like I am the little guy fighting against a much bigger opponent. I will not be giving up this fight until it is won or lost.  This is also very frustrating and this is a nice cathartic release. If this suddenly gets fixed in the next 5 minutes, I’ll feel very foolish, but as of right now, I’m a very angry customer who just wants to get his money’s worth, and doesn’t have many options left to do so.

[Update 9/1/12 – Everything has finally been cleared up and my account has been returned. As off 11:22 AM, my password was changed to something GM derived and I was told by e-mail that I could log into my account again. The e-mail indicated to “Please be aware that the Support Team is unable to restore any missing characters or items.” Since my character is level 13, I’m sure anything I lost could be easily gained again, so this wasn’t a problem for me. I signed in, and… nothing was different. I still had all my items, my measly 6 silver which the hackers apparently didn’t show any interest in, and I was in the same exact location I last signed out at. Nothing changed.

As a recourse, and because it seems Guild Wars 2 players are being heavily targeted, I changed my password to one of the strongest I’ve ever created and I changed my account name. Hopefully this doesn’t happen again.

So, to recap. My account was brute-force hacked from a location in China as my password wasn’t the strongest. I was given a permanent ban with the explanation that it was based on RMT transactions. I was contacted by 4 different members of the Support staff, after giving the same information to 3 of them. Finally, on the 4th day after the hack occurred and ArenaNet was notified, my account was fully restored.

4 days after the event is by far not the best, as this was a pretty open-and-shut case. To ArenaNet’s credit, though, and this is a definite nice point: I was not once, during this process, berated by ArenaNet for having my account attacked.]

ArenaNet Seems to Have a Security Issue on it’s Hands [GW2] (Updated August 30th)

Isn’t that a scary thing to see when first logging into anything? “Permanent Ban”. Yikes. What the heck did I do?! I’m not one to use profanity or any insulting language to other players. Being offensive to others is not exactly the best way to build in-game (or out of game) relationships. I’m assuming there is nothing wrong with my character name either… Checking my e-mail resulted in this….

Well damn. I did not institute that, so since this might still be spam, there’s NO WAY I’m clicking on that. I was then able to log into my Guild Wars account and on checking my account security settings, I encountered this quite large anomaly…

AHA! Hacked from China. Well, that solves that mystery.

So… that was quick. Looking into it, though, this appears to not just be an isolated incident, but appears to already be a big problem. Right now, I’m patiently waiting my turn in the Support Ticket line, hoping for this to be resolved quickly.

But this speaks to a deeper issue. World of Warcraft and Battle.net have a physical or app authenticator. Google has a two-step authentication in place. Rift has, among other things, a Coin Lock that is based on the region of signing in. Even Guild Wars 1, you needed to enter one of your character names as well as the password to get in. For such a large game, which was obviously going to be heavily targeted by hackers and gold sellers (which is a legitimate job in parts of the world), where was the focus on account security? It’s nice that they have systems of getting these things righted. But shouldn’t the age-old addage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” have been given a little thought?

I’m all for banning or suspending players for insulting/bullying/offensive names and acts, which I think is awesome, and at least I haven’t received any mention from ArenaNet how this was my own fault and I was so negligent that I deserved it (which is the attitude I find from a lot of people who simply haven’t been hacked yet, and the attitude I received from Blizzard after my World of Warcraft account was hacked). The reality is that accounts will be hacked! Even if you avoid phishing attempts, even if you have the best security on your system ever, even if your passwords require you to have 20 fingers, with today’s technology brute force attacks are ridiculously easy.

It’s not a question of “if” a password will be cracked, but just a question of “when”.  That’s why two-step authenticators like Blizzard’s are almost seen as a necessity now. (I hate to keep using them as an example, as Blizzard does like to blame the victims of an attack which is simply reprehensible, but they at least do offer more than others)

So, ArenaNet, in the game of security it is your move. Riding high on the current success an “ounce of prevention” may not be on your shopping list, but you might want to pick some up when you’re at the store.

\\ Ocho

P.S. – Now, just in case you’re wondering, after I discovered this, I went to town on my system with Microsoft Security Essentials, Malwarebytes, and Norton Anti-Virus and my system came back with a full bill of health, and it has periodically come back clean since my last reformat a month or two ago. Also, I’m not one to easily fall for phishing scams, and am diligent about account security, making sure all my passwords are different. To be fair, my password for GW2 up until now had not been a very secure password (not stupidly easy, but not exactly hardcore cryptography either), and most likely didn’t take them that long to brute force it at all.

P.P.S. – Here are a few links from Reddit to peruse:

This person agrees. Something needs to be done immediately to help with account security.

This guy is awesome, as hacked account money has been arriving in his in-game mail, and he has been returning it back to the affected players. Great community!

A few tips for account security from another Reddit user.

And as always, if you have questions about account security, please contact your local tech person, check out tech blogs like Technical Fowl, or search around for security tips. Browse safe, folks.

[8/29/12 Update: It looks like ArenaNet is taking this situation seriously. Already, through both Reddit and on the Guild Wars 2 site, they have announced that rolling out August 30th, 2012, they will be instituting an E-mail verification for any new location you sign into. Just have to make sure that your e-mail address is secure. Take that, China!]

[8/30/12 Update: Day 2… still no resolution. I replied to three different people from ANet all asking for information to verify my account… still nothing. The launcher for me did change, though… now, it’s saying it’s for engaging in RMT. For the record, I have never purchased gold from a gold seller. I know upwards of around 30% of the gaming population has, but I have not. I refuse to assist any organizations that achieve their income from the theft of others.

*Sigh* Hopefully, this will be settled soon. Reading updates of everyone playing, while I’m still “banned”, I find myself just seeing ArenaNet in a worse and worse light. Just reinstate my account people! I already changed my password and have given you the information you need multiple times.]

[Update 8/31/12: Day 3… still no resolution. Check out my new post on this issue here.]