The GW2 Beta: A WvW Weekend with a Wild-Eyed Dolyak


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 I gave the dolyak a hearty slap on the hind quarters. The keep wouldn’t stand against another attack without these supplies. Time was of the essence: there was only so long the warriors of Kodash could nip at the heels of the invaders before they over extended and had to retreat. The castle defences need repairing before the invaders can gain the upper hand and push us back behind the walls.  

I spent the entire weekend gallivanting around the Eternal Battlegrounds. A whole weekend laying siege to keeps, escorting lonely pack animals, defending ogre tribes and mercilessly hunting down the opposing team – all in the name of journalism, of course. It’s a lot to cram into one blog-post, so, without further ado:
Step one to getting to WvW was creating my character (well, step 0.1 was getting into the game – something I didn’t achieve until the early hours of Saturday morning). I thought: who is the baddest cat in the entire world?  Clint. So I made Clint.


I asked myself, do I feel lucky? The answer being a resounding yes, I jumped into Tyria and swiftly scurried through the starter quest (a necessary PvE distraction – I wanted to get as little exp from PvE as possible before jumping to WvW). Once out of the tutorial I hit H, selected the PvP option at the bottom and whisked myself away to the Mists.

I climbed to the top of the rise, a little ahead of my shaggy companion, and scanned the horizon. Not much further, I hoped. We’d held out as long as we could – charr alongside human and norn, but eventually we’d used the last of our supply and the gate began to creak. Fireball after fireball rained down on the bolted steel and wood. If the detachment from Stonemist hadn’t arrived when it did, we’d have been overrun. Shouting slurs from the battlements is all very well and good, but once the gate falls and the flood of steel, lightning bolts and arrow heads washes through the breach, even the most stalwart warrior’s bowels turn to water.

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EuFanDay: The interview


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As I said in my last entry here on Talk Tyria, Nerdy Bookahs had been invited to the EUFanDay that took place this Monday and Tuesday in Brighton. I was the one representing our blog there (a first post about this went up on our blog. It includes a growing link collection for write-ups etc. from the EUFanDay). As part of this event, we got to talk with some of the developers about Guild Wars 2. Or rather, each of us (the invited fan sites) were allowed to ask one question. I’d collected a few more than just that, so that was a bit sad. Fortunately, I didn’t have as many questions as some others, so the disappointment from those who sent in their questions wasn’t that big on my site. 😉

Tasha Darke and Dutch Sunshine have just posted the transcription of the interview. You can find the first part on her blog and the second one on GuildMag.

As those two already transcribed the interview, I will refrain from doing the same. It’s a lot of work and time, after all (thank you for doing that, by the way!). Time which I rather want to spend on ranting and musing about which we got to know from the interview. 😉

I’ll assume that you’ve read the interview now. But I’ll try to write in a way that you know what I’m talking about even if you haven’t. 😉 As I said, we had about 25 people (give or take 3) who all asked one question. So the questions were very mixed. We had a few about PvP and what we now know is that ArenaNet want to have structured PvP as an esport. We don’t know anything new about the observer mode but it’s probably a safe bet that they’ll do everything they can to include this as fast as possible post-launch because it’s needed if they want it to succeed as esport. Other than the observer mode, I don’t see a reason why they shouldn’t succeed here. Every character in structured PvP is the same level, has the same quality gear, access to all skills, etc. They also want their structured PvP (and WvW) to be easy to understand and get into. Overflow shards will also allow you to join structured PvP matches (but not WvW), so even if your server is crowded, you can still join those PvP matches. From the interview, I take it that we can expect some kind of announcement about additional PvP maps before release. They mentioned one that has lots of underwater combat and a pirate ship! Another one is supposedly going to make GW1 players feel nostalgic.

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EU Fan Day in Brighton


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As you may have already heard, ArenaNet will be hosting a EU FanDay in Brighton (that’s where the European NCSoft office is located) on April 2 – 3. My blog, Nerdy Bookahs was invited there and I will be attending this event! I’m very excited! I’ve recently joined Talk Tyria as well and this is why I’ll be writing over at Nerdy Bookahs as well as here on Talk Tyria about this event (if you follow both, I already apologize for any double-posts you’ll read ^^).

We will get to talk with a few of the game’s developers: Eric Flannum (Lead Game Designer), Colin Johanson (Lead Content Designer), Ree Soesbee (Writer and Lore & Continuity Designer), Kristen Perry (Character Artist) and Josh Petrie (Tools Developer). And we were asked to prepare questions. Now, whenever somebody tells me to ask questions, my mind goes blank. I never know what to say or ask! Which is good for you because that means that I’ll be collecting questions until Sunday evening (EU time… maybe Monday morning – depends on how much time I’ll have for writing down the questions before the flight).

If you’re on Twitter, follow #eufanday for updates about the event (or just to see us attendees spamming on there). Or follow my personal Twitter account (Paeroka) for updates from me.

And, as I said, I’ll collect questions here and on my own blog. So leave a comment with any questions you might have about the game and I will try to ask them!

Diversity in Sexuality


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Yeah, I'm gay and amazing! Check me out!

 

Okay fine, there’s not much diversity per se because we fall into one of three categories: Straight, bi or gay. Well, before I continue, I figured that another article about how diverse characters on Guild Wars 2 will be based on traits/races/professions/weapons/skills/play styles or any combination of the six will just be rehashing what everyone is saying and it doesn’t really contribute much for discussion. We’ve already established that very well, thank you very much, so let’s move on.

I decided on a topic that’s rather personal to me because being gay and a gamer, I was very pleasantly surprised with the way ArenaNet decided to handle this controversial issue. Drawing your attention to Ree’s interview with Wartower during Gamescom 2011, she was asked about the relationships between sylvari since everyone was making a mountain out of a molehill regarding the fact that the sylvari don’t have the ability to reproduce despite having the proper physical parts and the fact that Caithe and Faolain were hinted at being lovers.

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Playing the Race Card on Builds


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http://wiki.guildwars2.com/images/e/eb/Destiny%27s_Edge_03_concept_art.jpg

If each member of Destiny's Edge had their professions mixed up, would they fight the same?

With the recent Press Beta, and the bombardment of news that followed, we were presented with an influx of information fully revealing weapon skill sets and a large chunk (if not all) of each profession’s utility skills. We also saw the new Trait System that players have at their disposal to customize their chosen profession to suite their wanted play style. Now there have already been several websites that have used this information by creating helpful tools that many future players have begun to use to make their preferred builds. Although it’s great seeing these theorycrafters work with the information given to them, there is still one piece missing in this customization pie; Racial skills.

Remember, from the information ArenaNet developers have presented to us, we know that racial skills are more or less the flavor given to each individual race, making them distinct from each other in a mechanical sense. They also allow a person to tweak any given profession by giving them access to skills they normally wouldn’t have. Are you a guardian seeking a way to hinder an enemy’s movement without relying on a scepter or two signets’ activated abilities? Well, as a sylvari you can have roots magically grow from the ground to do just that, or as a charr you can place a few mines that can cripple, with the added benefit of bleeding, foes who step over them. Do you want to give your rifle wielding charr warrior some more gunpowder love? You’re in luck; charr can pull out a hidden pistol and shoot someone in the face with it! Let’s also not forget norn animal forms, asuran battle suits, and Hounds of Balthazar! Racial skills allow for a bit more diversity within any given profession, allowing for better customization to anyone’s play style. Continue reading

Asura: Cute and cuddly or heartless and selfish?


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Asura are the smallest of the playable races in Guild Wars 2. They’re the cute* race. Fuzzy, cuddly… wait – are those pointy teeth? And what’s with this maniac grin? Is… is that a golem running towards me? In other words: They are everything but cuddly and cute, that is for sure. I wonder what it will be like playing an asura…

 

“You give a new meaning to the term “counter-intelligence.”
(Vekk in Guild Wars)

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Cracks in the Patio: Where ANet might trip


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I love my metaphors. Bars and Guilds, Sex and Games etc. Well, here’s another: the Patio.

Ok, picture the scene: A swanky London garden party, the grass is immaculately trimmed to the millimetre. On the patio, erudite people wearing sunglasses in the early evening light drift between waiters carrying canapés and empty wine glasses. As the sun begins to drop below the horizon, a lone waiter steps out from the house through the sliding patio doors carrying a perfectly stacked tray of sparkling champagne, the crowd turns and applauds – the champagne cascades down the tower and the waiter grins with pride. No sooner has he stepped onto the expertly laid stones is the silver tray flying through the air, the grin turns to horror and the guests are showered with fizzy-pop and broken glass. With a screech, the violins from the band punctuate his landing in a pile of shattered flutes and broken pride. The patio stones are hewn to a fine and flat sheen; they are billiard-table flat – every single one. How on earth did he manage to trip?

In a complex system, often, even if every element is perfectly constructed and each works with its own immaculate internal logic it is the joins where you can trip up. You can look at a skill and see that it is built perfectly: not excessively powerful in its effect, a recharge time which is not too long, but not overly short to encourage spamming, a cast time which is proportionate. Great – send it out, this skill is ready! But the skill might be internally balanced, but it is where it rubs up against other skills that the imbalances begin to emerge. The same goes for every game element.

Guild Wars 2 is an extremely complex system. Skills, traits, crafting, armour, weapons, dynamic events, mini-games, dungeons, PvP and countless other elements we probably haven’t heard of yet. Thousands of elements pulling and pushing against each other, each one likely honed and iterated till it reaches the very high standards we have all come to expect from ArenaNet.  It is where these elements interact that there is the potential for unforeseen problems.

So, when we are lithely scurrying over the patio of Guild Wars 2, and our shoe (shined to military-standard sheen) gets trapped between one of the cracks, will we fall? Will the contents of our tray bounce or shatter? Will we pull ourselves up, laugh it off and head to the dance floor?

To the readers: Do you expect bugs in every new game release? Even after such a long testing period, would you be surprised to find glitches? Is imbalance an unavoidable part of MMO gaming?

About the author:  Distilled (Will) has been playing Guild Wars for almost 6 years, he works as a clinical researcher in the UK but has recently been accepted on a PhD place (starting in September, woo!). In his spare time he enjoys kicking ass, chewing bubblegun and restocking his bubblegum when he runs out. He writes regularly on Guild Wars and gaming over at Distilled Willpower. You can also follow him on Twitter at @Distilledwill!