The Prime Strikes Back: A (literal) discussion on PAX Prime 2011

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Guest article written by Guido Sarducci

Guild Wars is over six years old. Wow! Has it been that long? Has it really been that long since I first answered Adelbern’s call? I joined 2 months after the game was released, but early enough to remember refund points that were needed when changing stats. After joining/leaving/being kicked from a few guilds, I joined DRGN, a guild that included my sons and my wife, and I dragged along a co-worker as well. I made online friends and watched as they graduated high school, attended college, and graduated from there as well. I have been part of the same guild that lost an officer to a tragic ‘real-world’ accident in 2008. I was involved with the first “Pink Day in LA” in support of breast cancer awareness, where DRGN gave out red and silver dyes (trying to approximate pink dye) and we filled 3 international districts.

Pink Day was started by a couple of officers in our guild, one of whom writes for TalkTyria; my son, Connor, The Lazy Geek. Yep, I’m proud to say we are related. This idea, where, if only for a brief moment, gaming stops and as a community we focus on something larger than the virtual world where we play, is pretty unique in the gaming world. Pink Day has grown to something utterly amazing, especially when the never ending ball of energy, M A L I B U Barbie and GW-EN, together with TalkTyria and many other guilds and alliances, raised over $10,000 in 2010. And, for the first time, ANET did something unheard of in support of a community event; they produced a Pink Dye for Breast Cancer awareness. It was the entire Guild Wars community that made last year’s Pink Day such a success; I am very honored to be a small part of this active and interesting community!

PAX 2011

PAX Prime 2011 has come and gone. What a whirlwind of activity; unplanned stays at a gracious host’s home, an ANET Party held at their HQ, the playable GW2 demo, a sheep named ‘Sheila,’ and many interesting panels. So, what was learned about GW2?
What follows will be a, “conversation,” between father (Guido) and son The Lazy Geek.

Guido: Of course it begins with “Do you have a job yet?”

The Lazy Geek: “No, my dear and loving father, I do not have a job yet.” And we had a chuckle, but please continue.

Guido: One of the joys of attending PAX is actually meeting people in real life that you have only known over the internet. I’ve listened to radio DJ’s while doing many a Guild Wars mission or vanquish. This trip I got to meet a few of them. Of course this was after spending 5 hours in the baggage claim, finding out that our reserved condo for the weekend was unavailable and the graciousness of an individual named Dave, who opened his house to about 10 of us for the weekend.

The Lazy Geek: I believe the end count was 11. Also, if the trip taught me anything it was how well the GW-EN crew communicated.

Guido: PAX day one, aka Friday, The Lazy Geek and I found ourselves waiting in line. Through a series of fortuitous circumstances, we got in with the media people, and quickly rushed over to the NCSoft booth to obtain a t-shirt, the rare ANET party golden ticket, and to play the demo. I chose to play a sylvari ranger—

The Lazy Geek: And I a sylvari engineer, to which I was very much a credit to the team – the team of me.

Guido: Had it not been for the 40-minute limit, I would have spent the entire time creating my character, and even then, all the options were not available for the demo! I had an ANET programmer watching me over my shoulder, and somehow managed to find, lose, and find again The Lazy Geek while exploring the world. I even found a glob of gobbleygook! (The name will be changed when GW2 is released, I’m told). I spent some time underwater, and actually found a green harpoon weapon! (I’ve also been told that green items will not be the highest or best of great drops in GW2). While playing a Sylvari ranger, I was happy to experience the new pet system in GW2. If they die, they follow you as a ‘ghost’ and you won’t have to try and remember where in the heck your animal companion died. You just bring him back as they are right there next to you. No, they don’t follow you underwater, but one of the rewards from the Hall of Monuments is a Rainbow Jellyfish, so who knows? All too soon, the 40 minutes had elapsed, and long lines had formed, and so no more demos were played on Friday.

The Lazy Geek: 40 minutes is never enough and it’s really just a taunt and tease. Regardless, I can’t give ArenaNet my money fast enough.

Guido: Afterwards, we ventured out to other exhibitors on the convention floor along with 20,000 other folks. Early afternoon saw the Guild Wars Live crew panel complete with Ministry of Purity cookies and later, early evening actually, another panel held by the GW community managers, Regina, Stephan and Martin.

The Lazy Geek: And before that, there were other NCSoft panels. But, back after the live panel, I finally found out who was responsible for the most heinous of crimes that have been committed in Guild Wars. I finally have names of those responsible for the death of Aura of the Lich. Sadly, no retribution, or vengeance, will be had (hehe), but I have hopes for Guild Wars 2 and the addition of the PROPER AotL.
Oh, right, Friday night…

Guido: The quote from Friday night: “Beer is so cheap here, and you can buy it at Safeway – On sale!!”

Saturday was the main GW2 panel at the Pegasus Theater (the one with a Rainbow Dash picture). Although it started at 1 pm, The Lazy Geek was in line before 10 am.

The Lazy Geek: It was earlier. I was in line for the line. The best part is, I was not the only one with the idea. I had a few folks in front of me; a few brave and dedicated, like-minded Guild Wars players.

Guido: Meanwhile, I wandered in and out of the GW2 booth, and ended up in the same line for what was to be a full GW2 panel. I had a very interesting conversation with another attendee about Diablo3, and why I thought it sanctioned gold farmers. I can’t remember her name, but we discussed the pros and cons of virtual gold, and she maintained that it is self-limiting. A “rich” player can buy all the best goods, but will still suck at the game. I’m not sure I agree with that, but it did get me thinking.

The Lazy Geek: I’m not even going to get into that and I’m glad I wasn’t there for that discussion.

Guido: On to the Panel:

After a few missteps, the demo video, which I swear was much longer than any other I’ve seen, brought the crowd into a frenzy. Then two answers were given. The first answer was “when it’s ready,” and the second answer was “Commando is the eighth profession.”

The Lazy Geek: I think they were trolling with that last answer, as we all know the eighth profession to be Aura of the Lich the fan dancer.

Guido: They touched on multiple guilds. I know others from TT have covered this in greater detail, but to me, it is a welcome change. I can take it easy with one guild, change over to a PvP guild, and go onto yet a third guild for PvE or just plain fun (Izari, I suggest a TalkTyria guild).

The Lazy Geek: And I suggest an Aura of the Lich guild. Also, a Pony guild. And a few others, but I digress.

Guido: The dye system of 400 different dyes had been completed—

The Lazy Geek: One set of 400, you mean, because it’s 400 colors to be used on one type of material. Kristen Perry still has two other materials to rework the 400 colors for. The three materials being, I think, cloth, leather and metal. So really, it’s 1200 colors.

Guido: Jeff Grubb then offered an interesting idea; Have an asuran pop up, when trying out dye combos that are particularly hideous (there will be 3 separate areas of each piece of armor that could be dyed), saying you are about to commit a fashion faux pas. They will not be vials of dye, but unlocks of dye colors. Thank you for not making me buy an account just to store dyes.
One person asked about the airships and was told they will play a major part in GW2.

The ANET Party was Saturday night, and we were taken over to the new HQ. Izari covered this in her media VIP visit, but it is really spiffy. I no sooner sat down with a plate of 4 wings, and a mini BBQ sandwich—

The Lazy Geek: I’m convinced all of the food there was laced with memory-wiping drugs that made you forget about the release date for Guild Wars 2—

Guido: As I was saying, I was sitting next to my eldest son when none other than Mike O’Brien, president of ArenaNet, sits down next to us. He asked how we play the game, and what we liked about Guild Wars. Are you freaking kidding me? Once he learned of my numerous accounts (12), he stated that it must be great for birthday gifts, but I told him I still don’t have all the green minis! Then Mike dropped this on us, “So do you want a tour?” Let’s go! Dinner gets tossed in to the trash, and away we go.

The walls are covered in fantastic art work, while the working environment has nice cooperative desk arrangement and walls that move, a computerized lighting system that recognizes when walls have been moved. I was looking but did not see any secrets.

The Lazy Geek: The secret is the modular workspace. That stuff is smart.

Guido: Then we were shown the game room (which was sadly lacking in an air-hockey table), and before we knew it, the tour was over. A tour from the president? Priceless. But lo, silly us with smart phones, and no pictures of the three of us. After that tour, I decided to play the demo, while actually sitting down. Standing in a short line, I found myself not playing the demo but entering the battle of Khylo. PvP; Holy cow! After seeing the red team lose by the hundreds of points while waiting, of course I found myself on the red team, but made a good show of it, losing by a mere 15 points.

Sunday, the last day, found our intrepid crew sleeping in. Hey, you can do that when you are dead! So we arrived late. Thank goodness for Cheesecake Factory where I bought some friends breakfast. Afterwards, I wandered around trying to find Tirzah Bauer, a very talented environmental artist and managed to catch up with her as she was waiting to enter the final Devs vs. the winners of the Alienware PvP tournament. I remembered her being really good at playing the Guardian, and she said, “I’ll play that in just a minute.” Now, here is where a wrench was thrown at the Devs. The opposing team got to choose what 5 professions the Devs played. After 2 minutes:

2 Rangers and 3 Thieves. What were they thinking?! Yep, that will surely hobble them.

The Lazy Geek: “Oh, hey, they have no defense, what could POSSIBLY go wrong?” The answer? Everything. This is Guild Wars 2 not Guild Wars. At the first mention of what they chose, I could only /facepalm

Guido: The Devs won 500 to 120 or something like that. Who could have seen that coming? And before we knew it, we were headed back to the East Coast after a fantastic time at PAX Prime 2011, except:

It’s all smoke and mirrors! The unlimited soda, fruit drinks and candy offered at ANET HQ. Like the Sirens of old, their songs will beguile you, and make you forget, “HEY, where’s the game already?” We know there are many changes coming, after all another profession is to be released (fan dancer). Various game play scenarios need testing and bugs worked out. But, where’s the beef? It’s time to take a stand. So we shall make one. Guido and The Lazy Geek will fast (OK, maybe a modified fast)—

The Lazy Geek: More like a depravation of bacon. And alcohol. And jelly beans.

Guido: …until the release of Guild Wars 2. That’s correct, probably, and literally, two of the biggest Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 fans are going to refrain from sustenance until the game is released or we succumb from the lack of proper nutrition. ArenaNet, get busy, our lives are in your hands…

The Lazy Geek: Also, revert Aura of the Lich to its proper skill. That being, of course, the one prior to the December 11th 2008 skill “update.”

Remember, remember the 11th of December. The Lich, nerf, and plot. I see no reason why the Lich nerf should ever be forgot.

About the author: Guido is a Guild Wars veteran and father of two who also play Guild Wars and one of which is The Lazy Geek. You can find and follow his older-minded ramblings on twitter @GW2_Guido.

Further reading:

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About The Lazy Geek

My name is Connor, and I am THE Lazy Geek, and have been since I was burst-ed from the chest of my mother, just like in Alien. I spend my day gaming and sometimes blogging about the things I am passionate about and enjoy very much. In between that, I find time to design websites, play games, partake in a number of other hobbies.