10 Things ArenaNet has Learned from Guild Wars

Would you take advice from a warthog? I know I wouldn’t. Put your past behind you? Codswallop! Hakuna Matata? Poppycock! Problem free philosophy? Fat chance! If you don’t learn from your mistakes then you never get anywhere! So, with this in mind, what has Arena Net learned from Guild Wars 1?

I'm guessing no.

They don't allow wild animals to take night classes.

1. Instances are lonely

Koss isn’t much of a talker, and the look in Livia’s eye when she reconnects the bones and sinew of your fallen comrades is no comfort to the weary adventurer. The instanced world is a barren land full of red-named nasties just itching to eat your skin or roast you over a campfire. There is little in the way of emergent interaction – if you venture out into the world unprepared there is no one there to come to your aid.

With Guild Wars 2 ANet has flip flopped on the instanced world and given us a persistent one to play in instead. Now, if you find yourself alone on a road surrounded by angry and lecherous bandits, maybe you can catch the eye of that passing band of Norn Guardians and they will come to your aid!

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Guild Wars, Winds of Change, and the Live Team from #GW2fanday

Sometimes things happen unexpectedly. When invited to visit the Arenanet office and partake in Guild Wars 2 Fanday, we all knew the event would be focused on Guild Wars 2. Certainly, it’s this much-anticipated sequel that has everybody captivated, with press and fans alike more than happy to test, explore, and report on their experiences this past weekend.

What I was pleasantly surprised to find, though, was the fact that at every turn the spirit of the original Guild Wars was there, right from the first moment we sat in the press room at the start of the day. We watched the Play symphony cinematic which was powerful and stunning; and while the visuals were from Guild Wars 2, the music was none other than a medley of the four original themes for Prophecies, Factions, Nightfall, and Eye of the North. There was something hauntingly beautiful about hearing them like this; it was as though they were able to capture the magic of the first time I had ever heard each. It was an extremely nostalgic moment for me, and I believe several of my fellow fans felt the same (::coughPLEASEreleasecough::).

It was appropriate that we’d be treated to a preview of Winds of Change, the next content installment pushing forward the lore of Tyria and Cantha and set the stage for the future. Cantha holds a special place in my heart; Factions has always been my favorite installment of Guild Wars, with 4 out of my 6 PvE 20′s being bred there and the one campaign that I have beaten on every single one of them. As such, I’ve been eagerly awaiting Winds of Change to hit the game.

Despite Shiro’s defeat, the conclusion of Factions did leave a few open-ends. Cantha still needs to recover from its devastation. The afflicted still run amok, and pesky street gangs like the Am Fah and Jade Brotherhood continue to cause trouble and capitalize on the post-affliction recovery.

Guild Wars Winds of Change

Gotta look good savin’ the world. Just sayin’.

That’s where Winds of Change comes in. Although I only got to dabble in the first few sets of quests, we were given some solid back story from the live team. The Ministry of Purity is an organization that aims to clean up Cantha after the chaos that was Shiro’s temporary reign. They insist that the citizens also take-up responsibility to do much of the work.

In a tip of the hat to Guild Wars 2, the events and impact you have during this event will have a lasting effect. For instance, when you first come upon members of the Ministry, you’re greeted (finally) as the hero you are; they are shocked that it’s you, great defender of Tyria, defeater of fallen god, a legend among your people (got the point?) coming back to continue your oh-so-generous work as a savior. As you progress through the campaign, permanent changes will be made. You vanquish the afflicted? Great. Next time you go on, they’ll be gone and replaced by some other hostile enemy (as of yet unspecified).

This will be the trend for this latest bit of Guild Wars Beyond. In total, Winds of Change will come out in 3 installments; each will have it’s own conclusion to avoid the “cliff-hanger” affect from War in Kryta that left some fans frustrated. The first part will have 42 quests including hard-mode versions. No official release date of yet, but I expect it should be out sometime this summer (not-official).

This brings me on the topic of the live-team, and what I meant about things being unexpected. Friday night after dinner it was mix-and mingle time. I wound up a table with Neo Nugget of Guru and a bunch of the guys from Live Team; specifically Joe Kimmes, Robert Gee and eventually Mike Zadorojny and others.

For about three hours or so we all sat around the table sharing our memories of Guild Wars, with other devs coming and going to chime in, and it was wonderful to hear them talk about the game. From the origins of the commando idea to their favorite moments & bugs, to wacky AI and someone who really, really loved paragons (I’m sorry I forgot his name), it was really something to see where the passion for Guild Wars comes from, and see that, like us, they do enjoy playing it, too. They continue to push the original game as far as they possibly go; there are many things that they thought impossible that they’ve managed to add to the game and much more that they’re more than willing to test.

It was great understanding the why’s and why not’s of the game, as well. There are lots of features and changes fans ask for that, while the devs would love to implement, they simply cannot because of the limitations of the engine that they have. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t tried their hardest to make as much happen as possible.

Eventually I asked what they planned on doing once Guild Wars 2 came out, and if they expected to still work on Guild Wars and the answer was sincere; as long as there’s still a demand for it, they will continue to support Guild Wars, but ultimately it’s up to the fans. That’s both empowering and scary!

All-in-all, the entire experience left me feeling really assured and revitalized. I couldn’t wait to get home and get a chance to play the original; not quite the reaction I was expecting. Not that I wasn’t thrilled to play and preview Guild Wars 2, but it’s good to be reminded this great game to come was built on the foundation of an amazing predecessor which is still being treated well by its developers.

Guild Wars Winds of Change

Check out Ravious of Kill Ten Rat’s review of Winds of Change.

As originally seen on GuildMag.com

About the author: Izari’s one of those obsessive fan types who’s been playing Guild Wars since the first beta weekend in 2004. She’s been blogging about video games for almost six years and is thrilled to have fellow fans to write for and with about the game. She can be found on twitter and really likes coconuts.

Guild Wars 1 & 2 Profession Playstyles: Standard vs Advanced

Guild Wars offers a total of ten carefully fashioned professions that cover just about all your standard MMO needs, and then some. One thing you’ll notice when reading descriptions in the original manual is that some of these offer what ANet considers more advanced play-styles, a factor that attracted me to make a mesmer as my first character. What does that mean, though? Exactly how do you define standard and advanced, and how would such concepts fit, if at all, in Guild Wars 2? Let’s explore.

First off, we need to get rid of the notion that standard classes in Guild Wars are “ez mode”. What I consider standard is something that is accessible to new players, straight forward in their play, and flexible. This isn’t to say they take no skill to learn or that they don’t offer something for those with experience; the use of four sometimes very different attributes and the ability to combine your skills with a secondary profession are the bread and butter of what makes Guild Wars such a fantastic game to play. Generally speaking, the warrior and elementalist are most commonly referred to as standard.

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MS Toga Party 2011 Re-Cap

As per TT tradition, we’re coming in with this a little late. But better late than never!

We tweeted / spammed a few weeks back about the charity fundraiser run by Gamers Giving back for multiple sclerosis awareness. Although the turnout was smaller than expected, we were still pleased to meet and surpass our goal of $1337! In fact, we ended up totaling around $1700+ !

A HUGE thank you to everybody who attended, volunteered, and donated. You guys are awesome.
And of course, many props to Gaming World Entertainment Network for all the work you guys do to make the world a better place.

Here are some highlights from the event:

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Build Wars: Zaishen Elite Dream Team (Because 4 traps is *so* 2006)

Today we’re going to talk about the mysterious Zaishen Elite, what it’s about, what builds to use, and why more people ought to be doing it. I’m seriously surprised at how relatively unpopular the ZE farm is considering its rewards and being pretty easy to learn and do.

Overview | History | Current Technique
Builds
Trappers | Finisher Elementalist | Spirit Spammer

Overview of the Zaishen missions
Zaishen Elite is an un-lockable faux PvP mission available on Battle Isles. It’s accessible to PvP and PvE characters alike after completing the Zaishen Challenge. A successful full run of the mission will net you 6000 Balthazar faction, which is why it’s popular among Z-Key farmers. The run is also handy for unlocking skills for PvP and/or heroes. After you’ve reached 6k, you will stop earning faction from the ZE missions for the next 24 hours. You can, however, continue to gain faction from other PvP zones like alliance battles and random arenas.

Both missions are styled to mimic the Random / Team Arena environment, accept you’re fighting against set teams of AI. In Z-Challenge, you and your team faces off against AI Teams on a one-on-one basis that you choose. There are five NPC teams to beat: Iway Warriors, Trap Rangers, Illusionary Weaponry Mesmers, Obsidian Flame spike Eles, and the mixed degen / hex team. To unlock Zaishen Elite, you need to defeat each team at least once.

Z-elite works similarly, except you keep going (like Random Arena) until you lose. Each game increases the number of opponents until it caps at some point, although I’m not entirely sure when. Runs usually take 15-20 minutes. With no deaths (all flawless victories), 15 consecutive wins will cap you out on faction. Most teams will go for the 16 just to be sure.

History
Traditionally, the favored team build was four trappers. At least 2 usually brought Frozen Soil, a spirit that prevents res since all AI bring res signet. The execution was simple; stack the traps at the door with one ranger putting down Frozen Soil in the back and wait for the AI to inevitably  run into them. 90% of the time this was flawless. The issue, though, is with ranged groups or groups that unstack, you end up with a pretty difficult fight on your hands. Because of this, over the years the teams have evolved to vary a bit more. Another popular build includes 3 traps and either a spirit spammer or “finisher” elementalist with meteor shower.

95 wins = leetsauce?

Back in the days of yore when the 4 trap team was -it-, a friend of mine and I ran an experiment to mix it up. At the time, using a Spirit Spammer was still fairly rare but it was gaining popularity. The two of us took up the mission; he ran as a trap ranger, myself as a spirit spammer, and we hero’d a monk healer and a meteor shower ele.

After getting flawless victory after flawless victory, we decided to keep going to see how far we could go. We ended at 95 wins. I can’t remember how long that took, but I know we were so tired and delusional we lost on purpose.

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In-Game MS Fundraiser by Gamers Giving Back!

The lovely folks over at Gaming World Entertainment Network / Gamers Giving Back are holding another large charity fundraiser this month on April 16th for multiple sclerosis awareness.

It’s less than two weeks away, so it’s time to spread the word.  These are the same guys and gals that brought us the Pink Day in LA fundraiser back in the fall, collectively raising over $10,000 for breast cancer research! GW-EN and friends are hoping to repeat another great success this spring.

The in-game festivities will be held in Chabek “Alex Trebeck” Village, international districts staring at 10am PST / 1pm EST / 5pm GMT for six hours! But you don’t have to be in-game or even play Guild Wars to donate and still enter to win great prizes: so definitely get your friends and families involved to join a wonderful cause.

Events
There are tons of events happening at the party; costume contests, on-air givaways, and trivia with some amazing in-game prizes like entire elite / obsidian armors, zkeys, weapons, tonics, and more! Even better: those who donate will be eligible for some amazing real life prizes. Be sure to listen-in on GW-EN’s live stream all day for your chance to win.

Getting There
Requires the Nightfall campaign. All newbie Nightfall characters after going through or skipping the tutorial will be in Chabek Village! Any characters from other campaigns need to do the Nightfall quest (from Lion’s Arch or Kaineng Center). Once completed and in Kamadan, you can simply talk to Second Spear Binah, enter the tutorial area, and head over to Chabek Village to join in.

Sponsors
GW-EN is officially sponsoring the first 10 districts, with Guild Wars Guru hosting D9, GuildMag hosting D7, Elixabeth and TalkTyria in D11 (and live streaming on GuildWars2Live), and the YaWn Guild in D12. Other sponsors include Yugs, Ct Pound and Fire Reignz, Crossing Tyria, Nox Audio, and more! Sponsored districts will have bartenders and trivia, so don’t forget to brush-up on your knowledge. Also keep an eye on twitter and the forums in case Districts get last minute changes.

Don’t forget to listen in on GW-EN Radio for chances to win prizes, musics, and heartfelt messages about the fund-raising effort. Hope to see you guys there! (Feel free to post any questions and I’ll relay them to the organizers).

Futher Reading:
Official GW-EN Page | Guild Wars Guru Thread | Crossing Tyria “The Hunt for the Cure” Storyline

The VQ Blues: Creating a Hero Team

Over the past few months I’ve been very casually working towards my Vanquisher titles, focusing on Cantha first since I know the continent quite well. With the recent update allowing for seven hero teams and mercenaries, I revived my efforts and have been doing one or two clears a night on the weekend (well, until minecraft stole my soul). I’ve been streaming the VQs over on GuildWars2Live.com more often than not. While in chat, I’ve been asked to share my team build. I promised a video but since time and my lack of editing skills haven’t allowed it, we’ll start with ye ol’ text.

Now, I do run a personalized discordway, but not a full 7 hero team of it. I inquired on twitter as I’m ought to do and Hunter suggested that more than 3 discord heroes was a bit of a waste. After a few runs with 5 discords I was apt to agree. After thinking on skills and synergy, I came up with a build that worked nicely for me.

As a disclaimer, though, this is deviation from the usual builds you’ll find online (I’m not a fan of just copy pasta without thought, so 90% of the time I tweak builds that are suggested by friends or on pvx wiki). So it may not entirely work for you. I’ve had gleaming success with it, though, so here goes.

Overview:

I run as an SoS ranger. If you’re a rit, even better. Most professions can run a decent SoS easy if you’ve got good energy management: necros, mesmers, eles, and rangers are your best bet. Dervs and Monks can pull it off with some major tweaking. You’ll struggle as a warrior, sin, or paragon, however.

If you’re not an SoS, no worries. The team build I use allots for one.

So the core damage comes from the 3 discord necros; one curses, one prot, one mm. My forth necro runs SS and has extra hexes / conditions for Discord. I bring a support rit for heals and blood ritual (for me, mostly) and an interrupt mesmer with condition spreading. The final slot is wild-card. If I’m alone I’ll throw in a 3rd healer or 4th discord. Sometimes I’ll bring a friend.
Otherwise, take a hero to fill a void based on your area. A dervish makes a great AoE tank for VQs. A hammer warrior works here just as well. If you’re in an area with lots of AoE damage, a wards ele or prot monk can also be a good choice.

If you wanna see the team build in action, check out GW2Live’s on-demand video of my Unwaking Waters VQ.

The Custom Builds:

• Player: Ranger SoS | OggicxiMdN5D2JWOBNVNRDexA

This is what I run 99% of the time as a ranger SoS. The spirit choices are pretty typical: vampirism heals, agony does some serious degen, bloodsong has a nice life span. Painful bond is great for extra damage / hex req for discord. Armor of Unfeeling is typical for later in campaigns, but in certain early and easier areas can be replaced with a damage skill (I like spirit boon strike, or lamentation).
If you’re Rit primary, it’s business as usual. The issue of being a ranger is the energy management. Spirits will cost next to nothing, but PB will drain you fast in longer fights. I counter this by bringing a Blood Ritual hero. Ele SoS stock up on the energy storage, mesmers can trade in PB or Agony for their energy regen of choice. Necros should be ok with soul reaping, but you can bring Signet of Lost Souls / Necrosis if you feel it will be an issue.
Fill resto with whatever leftover points you have.

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