Community Communication

Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time, the Guild Wars 2 community was a large and varied place. Fansites, bloggers, artists, writers, podcasters, video makers, musicians, and any mixture of the above. The amount of content coming out of the community was as large and varied as the community itself. ArenaNet openly supported all of these avenues of creativity. All matter of creation was acknowledged and shared by official channels. Fansites and blogs were allowed to preview content before it came out, and were used to give away awesome things to the rest of the community at large. And for a time, it was good.

That all changed when Twitch attacked.

…okay, so that was a silly introduction to a topic that has rubbed me wrong for a very, very long time now, and resulted in a several-hundred-tweet long conversation between over a dozen people yesterday. Several conversations, actually. I’m still sorting through all of it myself, but the crux of it is that the current approach to community engagement is not a very good one.

Before I go any further, I want to bring up a post from three years ago about how ANet wants to build the GW2 community. Some select quotes:

“We will continue to work with fansites as we have done in the past, but in addition to “traditional” fansites, we will also provide a platform to support smaller, specialized communities/projects that would never have had a place in a traditional program, like blogs, machinima, etc.”

“One thing that is very important to keep in mind: there is no single “community.” It’s not a monolithic, unified demographic, but a many-faceted, living, breathing ecosystem. You will find communities on Fansites, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, YouTube, guild sites, and lots of other places.”

“By working together, with you bringing amazing and great community projects to our attention and us highlighting them for the broader community, we will be able to build something great and lasting that will benefit each and every one of you.”

“Our ultimate goal is to create an environment that is respectful, welcoming, inclusive and friendly. We want to create a global community where people will feel at home, and an environment that will foster both creativity and collaboration…the main goal is to be inclusive, not exclusive, to encourage collaboration between communities, and to generate an atmosphere that is helpful, friendly, and above all, respectful.”

For quite a long time – from several years before the game launched until about a year and a half ago – this was the case. This is how things were done. ArenaNet did a great job for years of reaching out to and promoting all of the varying aspects of their community. They actively and openly supported all of the content creators within the GW2 community. And you know what, I’m not going to deny that I’ve got a horse in this race. I’ve been running this blog for just shy of four years, worked with GuildMag for some time before that, and was active on twitter and forums before that even. This blog is the definitely of a smaller, more specialized project that they mention above – I essentially run this thing by myself, with the occasional post from my husband. I did it because I enjoyed doing it, and was always thrilled when one of my posts got retweeted by the GW2 twitter account, or posted on their facebook. I thought it was great that I was included in things such as beta key giveaways, the big Collector’s Edition giveaway. That I was able to do two different interviews with ANet staff, and that I was included on the fansite previews of season one living story stuff.

Basically, for a long time, ArenaNet was awesome at taking care of and supporting their community and the content creators within it, and it flourished for years. And because ANet supported both small and large sites alike, it created a rather tight-knit community amongst bloggers and artists and other fansite owners, as well – instead of seeing each other as competition, as could well be the case, many of us saw each other as friends. There were so many different sites that no two people put out the same content, and so there was no need to compete for attention. We all talked, regularly linked to each others’ works, worked together on projects, became friends. Because that’s what happens in a good community.

And it all pretty much came to a halt overnight. The fansite preview project came to a halt after a couple of press sites broke embargo. There was essentially nothing but radio silence for several months. Once things started to come to life again, it became clear that the scope of what ANet wanted to promote for the community had changed, and changed drastically. And, quite frankly, it was not a change for the positive.

Earlier this week, emails went out for a stress test of Heart of Thorns. The wording of the email, mentioning “most loyal players”, created a certain amount of ill-feeling. Yesterday, this was tweeted from another GW2 player:

…and off it went.

As of right now, there are only a select few GW2 community members that get any support or promotion from ANet, and they all do the exact same things – stream the game on twitch and post videos on youtube. There is no variety, and there is little actual content being showcased (the sole exception to this being the GW2 tumblr, where some fanart and screenshots get reblogged). It’s pretty damn frustrating.

I’ve had this feeling for a long time. It’s been bothering me for well over a year now. I don’t like the idea that if you do any sort of work for the community other than stream on twitch, you are not deserving of recognition and support. And as that conversation was kicked off yesterday, and more and more people who are long-time community members (either as content creators or those who liked the massive amount of content that used to come out of the community) jumped in to voice their opinions – that after so long, it really sucks to suddenly be left in the cold as though all of the work you’d done for years no longer matters.

The Tough Love Critic managed to go through and create a timeline of all of the tweets from the varying branching conversations kicked off by that first tweet – it’s kind of disorganized, and sometimes you have to click to read more of a conversation, but it’s all there. And there are a lot of good points being made there, too. Such as this one from Ollanach, the creator of GuildMag:

Celeste of Guild Wars Reporter also said:

A comment from Tough Love Critic:

And then this one, from Tylluan, who isn’t a fansite owner but has been a member of the community for a long time and noticed the massive shift that happened, which rather hits the nail on the head:

I kept my opinions quiet on this matter for a very long time, because I wasn’t sure if me being annoyed about it was just feeling bitter about suddenly being left out, or if it were a more widespread thing. As it turns out, it seems like most people who felt like this have for some time but stayed quiet for similar reasons:

So, here’s the base of the issue – the sudden change to focusing on Youtubers and Twitch streamers to the exclusion of all other parts of the community not only goes directly against the original community philosophy espoused by ArenaNet three years ago, but it also served to suddenly cut out members of the community who had been supporting the game and creating content for and about it for many years – most of us long before the game even came out. It’s a slap in the face to all of us that have done so much work for so long. And, to be completely frank, it is a poor way to foster a good community.

What solutions are there? Personally, I would be happy with going back to at least some of what we had before. I’m not even asking for big things like being flown to conventions and ArenaNet’s offices, as awesome as that would be. But, please, just recognize that we are still an important and vital part of the GW2 community. Recognize and promote the work we do. Acknowledge that many of us have been at this for closing in on half a decade or more. We had a hand in helping to shape this community – give us back the ability to continue to do so. Many fansites have closed down or slowed in the intervening year and a half – and I’m sure the culture of neglect has had a hand in that – but many of us are still around. Allow all aspects of the fanbase to flourish, all type of content to be created and promoted and supported – not just one very narrow section of it. Just…stop ignoring us. Please. That’s all it takes.

 

PAX South and Heart of Thorns

Okay. It’s not a secret anymore. The world now knows about it. Guild Wars 2 is getting an expansion at some point in the semi-near future, as was announced this past weekend at PAX South.

I would have written about it sooner, but I was at PAX, and I couldn’t even try and make a post from my phone due to terrible cell reception. And at this point, there’s more writeups of the info that was shared and what we now know than I could count. The speculation is through the roof. But just being there was such a special, amazing experience, which began on Friday upon arrival.

paxhotcards

These nifty little cards were being handed out at the entrance to the convention center, and I must say, they are nice. The GW2 HoT logo is in a beautiful shiny green, which is why the picture looks rather strange, and it’s a lovely heavy and nicely sized card. Mine is going to be hung up on the wall with the rest of my GW2 artwork. And really, it was just really neat to immediately see these upon arriving at the convention. This is big. Companies are not going to go through the expense of printing something like this unless it was for something big and important, and I also thought it was just a nice little thing to have and collect.

Saturday was the big day, though. Saturday morning was the panel and the announcement. We were lucky; we got to get in this line.

IMG_20150124_092309_027

Thanks to this, we were seated right up in front – fifth or sixth row, and almost dead-center in the theater. I could not have asked for a better spot to be; it was amazing. We also had the luck of being in a spot where we were clearly visible on the stream when they showed the audience; my phone was blowing up with texts and tweets from people saying that they could see us. It was great. ArenaNet had put small inflatable bats at each seat for everyone; when inflated they made a ridiculous amount of sound when hit together. Noisemakers so we don’t destroy our throats screaming? I can go with this.

Now, I just have to say this much. The atmosphere in that theater was insane. Everyone was so excited, so hyped up for whatever we were about to be shown. The room was just full of this really intense feeling that can only come from having so many people who are so eager to find out about something in a small-ish area.

And then Jennifer Hale walked out on stage to start things off, and everything blew up. In a good way.

My cell phone doesn't have the best camera. Oh well.

My cell phone doesn’t have the best camera. Oh well.

Okay. So before I started writing this post up, I sat at my computer for a good half hour just staring blankly at it, because I had absolutely no idea where to start with this. I still don’t know. But there was so much cool stuff talked about. Revenant, the new profession (I need at least two). New maps, with a heavy emphasis on verticality, which will greatly increase the amount of new stuff we can get in a zone. Masteries, which give us neat things like the ability to hang-glide, read ancient languages, and even new collections which will allow crafting precursors (FINALLY). Specializations, which let professions play with new weapons, skills, and traits. Staff ranger – the Druid – was specifically mentioned, as was necromancers getting to use greatswords. There’s new content, obviously, GUILD HALLS, a new SPvP mode, a new WvW map…

And here’s the thing. They barely scratched the surface on what we’ll be getting. We know two specializations, and the trailer showed two others (a mesmer with a shield and an engineer with a hammer). We know that the Revenant profession is a heavy armor profession and channels powers from legendary heroes of the past – it holds a striking similarity to the Ritualists of GW1, complete with the blindfold – but nothing else. We know only a little bit about what kind of Masteries will be available. There’s so much more info about this that they are going to be gradually revealing to us.

I was, to say the least, incredibly excited.

We went to the GW2 party that evening, and it was just the same feeling all the way through. Excitement. Happiness. Wanting to know more. And, well, it reminded me a lot of something else, and I wasn’t the only one that had that thought:

It was just like the time leading up to the release of Guild Wars 2, all over again. Excitement. Happiness. Impatience to learn more. Not wanting to wait to play, but knowing it’ll be worth it. There was a very definite feel to the community during the pre-launch days, which has been gone for quite a long time. It’s returned. And I love it. I love seeing people come back to the game that haven’t played in a while. I love seeing everyone just so hyped up about things. This sort of thing, this is the community that I know and love. And this is the feel of it that I’ve missed so much.

So, well done, ArenaNet. Well done on keeping this such a closed secret for so long. Well done on such an amazing presentation. Well done on doing such an amazing job at revitalizing the community and so many people’s love of the game. Thank you, Rubi and Stephane, for letting me chatter excitedly at you at the party, and Lis for hanging out with us throughout the weekend and not cracking at all. Thank you to everyone who let that panel go off without a hitch. And thank you, to everyone at ArenaNet in general, for, well…this. There’s nothing else to be said there. Just, thank you.

Now, to wait impatiently for more info…

A Second Year by the Numbers!

Today it has been two years since Guild Wars 2 has officially launched. Yay! It kind of feels weird that it’s been that long already, doesn’t it?

Last year I did a “year by numbers” post where I went over various details of my account and things I have accomplished since launch. Since it was fun to write, I’m going to make a Year Two by the numbers!

Number of level 80s: Eleven

Yes, that number has grown since last year. It’s funny, because previous to launch my plans had been to make a mesmer, ranger, warrior, elementalist, and thief. Guardian was added after I played one extensively during BWE3. Last year by this time I had an 80 of each profession; in the year since, I’ve added a second warrior, thief, and necromancer. Of the three newcomers to my max level lineup, only one – Alianah – was a character I had at this time last year. The other two were ones I made in the intervening months and leveled right away. Last year I went through all of their playtime and stuff like that; I’m too lazy to math so I’m not doing that this time. :P

The Adults

The Adults

  • Liusaidh, sylvari mesmer, wielder of the Minstrel
  • Rosheen, sylvari guardian, wielder of Bifrost
  • Brynja Rabbitfoot, norn ranger, wielder of Kudzu
  • Janan Savitri, human thief
  • Ragna Blazefur, charr elementalist
  • Carella, human necromancer, my go-to for PvP
  • Glynha, sylvari warrior
  • Searlaith, sylvari engineer
  • Ylva Mardh, norn warrior, may one day get the Juggernaut
  • Rianna Xi, human thief, based on a roleplaying character of mine
  • Alianah, sylvari necromancer

Number of characters below level 80: Currently six.

Some of these are familiar faces from last year. A couple are new; and Suvi Liina, my norn mesmer I had at this time last year, was deleted recently.

The Babies

The Babies

  • Deirvhile, sylvari thief, level 21, crafting character
  • Haneul Nae, human mesmer, level 30
  • Katta, asura elementalist, level 56
  • Astrid Cheval, human guardian, level 45
  • Siobhanen, sylvari ranger, level 21
  • Yseuldhe, sylvari elementalist, level 42

Number of character slots I have open for keyfarming: Currently one.

I don’t keyfarm often; I get bored with it far too often. I do have one open slot I use for that, though, for the time being anyway. My throwaway keyfarming characters are nearly always named Lady Verene, but their appearances generally change.

The current inhabitant of the slot:

I kill bandits with style.

I kill bandits with style.

I take this game very seriously. Clearly.

Number of hours played: 2,759

This is only a thousand hours more than at this time last year. I have gone through a number of periods this past year where I’ve felt burnt out by the game and hadn’t played much for a long time. I’ve also had things going on in my personal life that have kept me out of game. Still, that averages to about 115 hours per month, 26.5 hours per week, or about 3.75 hours per day.

Number of legendaries crafted: Three

Kudzu I had already finished this time last year – I crafted it in March of 2013. At this point last year I was working on Bifrost, with the intention of giving it to my mesmer. I actually wound up shelving it out of frustration for a long while, since I was having zero luck on the precursor, and around November the Mystic Forge finally spat out the Legend. So I quickly finished that…and gave it to Rosheen.

I had been planning on making the Juggernaut for Ylva after she hit level 80, but between the precursor and silver doubloons, I decided that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. I had bombed through making Mystic Clovers in a day, though, so they were sitting there in my bank, waiting to be used for something. I decided after a while that there was no way I could make another legendary for an alt while my main still didn’t have one, so I decided on a whim to make the Minstrel for Liusaidh.

Achievement points: 12,432

I’m not going to lie – many of my points came from the Living World meta tracks. As those don’t exist anymore, and you don’t have to do the achievements to unlock some special thing…I kind of don’t do them anymore. I was never a big achievement person anyway, so I like that I no longer feel like I must do them.

Number of makeover kits used: Around fifteen?

I like to redo my characters’ looks frequently, and if I had more spare cash that number would be much higher. Liusaidh has had at least five makeovers by now. I’m just saying, if a Permanent Makeover Kit was ever made (and wasn’t an RNG item like the permanent hairstylist kit), I would spend good money on it, because I sure as hell would put it to good use.

Oldest character: Liusaidh

Youngest character: Yseuldhe

Liusaidh wasn’t strictly the first character I made right at headstart (since I made throwaway characters to lock in names right away), but she was the first one to be made properly. Yseudhle, on the other hand, is my newest character, having been made just last week.

liusaidhyseudhle

Number of things that Blink/Illusionary Leap has gotten me trapped in: ARGH TOO MANY TO COUNT.

Playing a mesmer can be dangerous and I have broken every map in the game at this point. Go. Me.

And I think that’s all for this edition of a Year by the Numbers! So here, have a Bobblehead screenshot from April Fool’s Day to wrap things up.

gw446

Communication

This past week has been a bit mad in terms of GW2; between interviews from gamescom bringing news many were unhappy with as well as a number of DDoS attacks since yesterday evening, tempers are running high.

Today, Mike O’Brien made a post about communication on the forums. Now, I’m not going to copy the whole post here, as it’s fairly long, though everyone should make sure to read it. I also know I’m not the only person to want to just talk about what was said there.

I understand a lot of the frustration that comes up when it feels like communication to us is lacking. I really do, and I’ve complained about it before. However, the things that O’Brien says, I do agree with and respect. I can definitely understand them not wanting to talk about something new until it’s in a near-complete stage, instead of announcing things far in advance of them being in any ready state. When you do that, you run the risk of things falling apart. A feature not working as intended. Other plans moving away from it.

Guys, I want precursor crafting to be a thing as much as anyone else does. And I feel like they made a huge mistake announcing it when clearly it was not in any way close to being ready. It may have been that they thought they were closer to having it ready than was actually the case. It may be that other things that were being worked on alongside it mucked things up.

And it seems to me like they learned their lesson, in announcing something that was guaranteed to be highly anticipated and then not being able to deliver on it like they wanted to. So I can appreciate them taking the stance of “We won’t discuss what may happen”.

A lot of the fuss this week was over an interview where it was said that Super Adventure Box is not currently being planned for. Many took that to mean that SAB was never coming back. Those statements about it not currently being in the plan make a lot more sense in light of today’s post. They don’t want to talk speculatively about things, in case something does work out or things go another way and they have to can it. They want to talk about the things that are for certain shipping.

I want more communication; I want to know more about what’s going on and what’s planned for the future. But this is a stance I can respect. Most everyone has been in a situation where they had to go back on something they said, and it’s never fun; it’s very understandable to see a game company take that stance. So, let’s not act like it’s because they don’t care. I can tell you from experience that they do, very much. And if you do disagree with something, please do so civilly instead of going on the attack, as can be so common.

And do remember that they do change things based on feedback. Just because something isn’t responded to, doesn’t mean it isn’t seen. It absolutely is.

Just a few things for people to think about and keep in mind.

A Year of Guild Wars 2!

So, Guild Wars 2 just turned a year old, and as that landmark passes, it’s neat to reflect on the game, how it’s changed, and how it’s changed me as I play it.

I started as, frankly, a very casual player of MMOs.  My interests lie more in the direction of action/adventure than… well… bothering with other people.  I’d dabbled in WoW and TOR with friends, but there were a great many issues with the very core of the gameplay that kept the genre from really grabbing me.  However, the very little bit (only a few days really) of Guild Wars that I had played felt different, different enough for me to take interest in the prospect of Guild Wars 2.

Dragons  The dragons helped.

As the game loomed closer, I planned out my characters.  My main would be an Elementalist asura named Zott who primarily used lightning, and I would try a norn Ranger.  A charr Warrior and a sylvari Necromancer would follow.  I decided to add a human, in the interest of rounding out the races, and figured this throwaway character without a planned name would be a Thief.

Headstart opened, I furiously created all my characters to secure their names, and that unassuming Thief got an old standby, Rhys, and a spur-of-the-moment surname, Elmbrier.  He’d be something to turn to when I wanted a break from the ones I actually cared about.  Just to play around and relax.

Long story short, 12 months later Rhys is my only level 80, and that first asura, norn, and sylvari are no more.

RhysProgressIt’s been a long road, Rhys.

My girlfriend told me to join her guild, which I was fine with being a part of as long as I didn’t have to interact with the other guild members.  I’m not very social, and with my prior MMO experiences I had no intention of dealing with a bunch of jerkish, game-obsessed twits.

TWITsLittle did I know…

Yeah, that changed too.  She coaxed me onto Vent with them, and after my initial shyness, I consider my guildmates some of my best friends.  Meeting up with a bunch of them at PAX East this year was an amazing experience, and it sounds really sappy when I say it like this, but Guild Wars 2 did in fact change my life.

For the game itself, I wasn’t sure what to expect at the outset, but previous experience suggested a massive world with things of interest stretched out a great distance from each other.  GW2 quickly showed me I was wrong on that count: It was in fact a massive world with things of interest so densely packed that it’s a wonder the zones weren’t bursting at the seams.  Every crossroad, every hill, every half-hidden cave entrance promised – and delivered – something new, interesting, and rewarding to find.  I fell in love with exploring Tyria, and even with my dedication to discovery, I only achieved map completion a couple weeks ago.

Of course, map completion was part of the greatest lunacy I’ve committed in this game: The forging of a Legendary weapon.  Me, a casual player who despised grind, slowly but surely working toward creating an item that takes hours and hours of dedicated effort and so many hundreds of bits of defeated animals.  I’ve got a long way to go – apparently I’m about 27% done – but I will have my Quip eventually.

And how has the game itself fared?  In my opinion, it’s only gotten better and better.  Southsun was a good idea with imperfect execution, but now that the living story updates are chugging along reliably, Clockwork Chaos is my favorite event to date.  The world really does feel alive, and it really does feel like we players are affecting it.  Tyria is huge, but I only want more.  I’m looking at you, Deldrimor Front…

As someone who didn’t know what to expect a year ago, and was blown away by what I found, I can only say that I’m eagerly looking forward to what will come from the second year of Guild Wars 2.

A year by numbers

So, I’m not going to lie, this post idea was blatantly “borrowed” from Lis, who recently made a very similar post. But really, it’s kind of a neat idea – seeing just how much you’ve done and how much time has been spent on various characters throughout the game.

I spent some time going through all of my characters and doing a bit of number crunching this morning, and here are my results.

Number of level 80s: 8

Yup. I have one of each profession. I hadn’t originally set out to do this (I wasn’t too into necromancer at first, having disliked the profession in GW1, and I had utterly no interest in engineer at all), but it wound up happening after all. Surprisingly, necro has become one of the professions I like the best.

The grown-ups.

The grown-ups.

In order of hitting level 80:

  • Liusaidh, sylvari mesmer. Played for 781 hours and 22 minutes, 12 months old, 45% of my playtime. Will soon be the wielder of Bifrost.
  • Rosheen, sylvari guardian. Played for 203 hours and 45 minutes, 12 months old, 12% of my playtime.
  • Janan Savitri, human thief. Played for 119 hours and 42 minutes, 12 months old, 7% of my playtime.
  • Ragna Blazefur, charr elementalist. Played for 64 hours and 9 minutes, 12 months old, 4% of my playtime.
  • Brynja Rabbitfoot, norn ranger. Played for 191 hours and 55 minutes, 12 months old. 11% of my playtime. Wielder of Kudzu.
  • Carella, human necromancer. Played for 141 hours and 27 minutes, 11 months old. 8% of my playtime.
  • Glynha, sylvari warrior. Played for 77 hours and 35 minutes, 5 months old. 4% of my playtime.
  • Searlaith, sylvari engineer. Played for 71 hours and 36 minutes, 9 months old. 4% of my playtime.

Number of sub 80 characters: 6.

I like making characters, what can I say. A few of these have been deleted and remade a few times – Katta started out as a warrior and one of my original characters made during headstart, but I couldn’t stand playing an asura warrior. Alianah was originally a ranger, but I wanted to remake her to look different and decided that hey, new necro! Deirvhile exists solely for crafting purposes. And Astrid got to use a scroll of experience which is why her playtime does not match her levels at all.

The babies.

The babies.

In order of age:

  • Deirvhile, sylvari thief. Level 20. Played for 9 hours and 35 minutes, 9 months old. .5% of my playtime.
  • Haneul Nae, human mesmer. Level 22. Played for 19 hours and 25 minutes, 6 months old. 1% of my playtime.
  • Alianah, sylvari necromancer. Level 10. Played for 6 hours and 37 minutes, 3 months old. .4% of my playtime.
  • Suvi Liina, norn mesmer. Level 5. Played for 3 hours and 19 minutes, 3 months old. .2% of my playtime.
  • Katta, asura elementalist. Level 19. Played for 12 hours and 9 minutes, 3 months old. .7% of my playtime.
  • Astrid Cheval, human guardian. Level 26. Played for 6 hours and 43 minutes, 2 months old. .4% of my playtime.

Total time played: 1736 hours over the past 12 months.

That averages out to about 144.67 hours per month, or 33.4 hours per week, or about 4.73 hours per day. Which…well, I’ve definitely had my marathon days where I had nothing else to do so I spent all of my time in-game. I’ve also had my ups and downs though, and in particular had a patch recently where I’d log in long enough to do my dailies, or not log in at all. What can I say, life can be busy.

Number of legendaries created: 1.

I made Kudzu back in March, and have written all about it previously. I am currently working on Bifrost and have reached a point where I just need to save up massive amounts of money or hope I get lucky; all that is remaining is some t6 mats, the icy runestones, and of course the precursor. I’m just really hoping that precursor crafting comes in sooner rather than later, especially as the mystic forge is proving to not be my friend here.

(sidenote about that: I’ve spent about 150g on exotic staves to throw in there in hopes that it’ll spit out the Legend. It’s given me Imryldyeen twice now. Yeah, you know, that staff that has the same skin as the Legend. The game is actively taunting me now.)

Achievement points: 7942

If I actually get some time to play in the next couple of days, I should be getting that 8000 point chest very soon. I’ve been working on finishing up the Explorer category recently, finding the little mini-dungeons and such scattered around. I’ve also got almost all of the jump puzzles completed…but the ones I haven’t done I think will likely stay that way. Jump puzzles aren’t my thing.

Titles: 21

Many of those are from the Hall of Monuments, which I have 45 points in, making me a Legend of the Mists. The title I wear the most is Dungeon Master. At least one character is currently a Respected Achiever. I do not have all of the Living Story titles, as they either required a level of grind I was not interested in (Super Adventure Box), or luck that I do not have (Sanctum Sprint).

Number of characters descended from Guild Wars 1 characters: Three. Janan Savitri is the descendent of Farai Savitri, my dervish (who was also my main in GW1). Haneul Nae is the descendent of Iseul Nae, my ritualist. Astrid Cheval is the descendent of Lucia Cheval, my mesmer (well, one of them).

And Liusaidh is…unintentionally named after Lucia (Liusaidh being the Scottish form of Lucia). Both are mesmers. Both are redheads. None of that was planned out…but while Liusaidh and Lucia are obviously not related to each other in any way…there’s some similarities there.

Favorite race: GEE I WONDER.

Favorite profession: …again. I wonder what that could be.

Amount of money spent on armor: Holy crap I don’t even want to think about it. I’ve bought two full sets of t3 armor (sylvari light and sylvari medium), another set worth of various pieces of t3 scattered around three characters (includes human medium and sylvari heavy), and more sets of t1 and t2 armor than I could keep track of.

Amount of fun I’ve had: …can you really measure that?

And to finish off, because it cracks me up every time I look at it, have a screenshot of a sylvari with a giant chicken.

"So, um...what do I do with this thing?"

“So, um…what do I do with this thing?”

Birthday

Sometimes, it’s kind of hard to believe that it’s already the end of August, nearly a full year after Guild Wars 2 came out. On one hand, it’s a case of “has it really been a year already?” and on the other…”has it really only been a year?”

I remember how, at this time last year, the excitement for launch was through the roof. Headstart was only a couple of days away, with the official launch only a couple more after that. The night of headstart, I remember sitting on ventrilo with several other members of my guild, everyone hammering on the “log in” button for the game client, since it had been teased that the game would possibly go live a few hours early. The flurry of excitement and cheering when we finally got in. And then the dead silence as everyone hurriedly made their characters and locked in their names.

Those are fond memories, and that initial rush of “OHMYGODTHEGAMEISLIVE” is something that we’ll never see again.

Liusaidh, my main, having just been created.

Liusaidh, my main, having just been created.

Of course, there were issues that night (and the first few days of release). The lag was so bad that I crashed multiple times just trying to get my baby mesmer (my main) through the sylvari starting instance. Guilds wound up breaking so that leaders would show that they weren’t in a guild, and could not receive invites. It took weeks for the trading post to finally be up and running full-time. Parties broke frequently and trying to get everyone in the same overflow (yes, this was when all of the starter zones always had overflows and you could cheat the lack of guesting with this) could be dicey.

But no game launches perfectly, and all things considered…the problems were ironed out quickly.

The very first night of headstart, a few of us decided to take a trip to Orr. We were all low-level – as in, under level 5. But hey, why not! It was a completely ridiculous and, to be fully honest, rather terrifying thing to do. Things could one-shot us with a glance. I know that those of us that did it amused everyone else on vent with our panicking at enemies seeing us. We didn’t quite make it – I got lost somewhere in Sparkfly Fen and was eaten by the champion risen megalodon. But it was a lot of fun.

Liusaidh, level 3, in Sparkfly Fen.

Liusaidh, level 3, in Sparkfly Fen.

We tried it again a bit later, when we were all a bit higher in level. We made it all the way to Lone Post Waypoint in Straits of Devastation before we simply could not get any further. We were slightly disappointed at this fact…as we did not realize at the time that Straits was part of Orr. Now, because of this, low-level Orr runs has become something of a guild tradition.

I have a lot of screenshots from that excursion, but this is one of my favorites. Running like hell with broken armor sums up things well.

I have a lot of screenshots from that excursion, but this is one of my favorites. Running like hell with broken armor sums up things well.

Within those first few weeks, we did a lot. Leveling our characters. Exploring zones. Testing out different things (one of my favorites was meeting up with Opt in a zone and him asking me to stand at the bottom of a cliff so he could see if Death Shroud would let him survive the fall. It didn’t). Starting the story mode dungeons. Doing jump puzzles. Dabbling in crafting. Dancing anywhere and everywhere.

After completing Griffonrook Run...THIS WILL ALWAYS BE ONE OF MY FAVORITE SCREENSHOTS.

After completing Griffonrook Run…THIS WILL ALWAYS BE ONE OF MY FAVORITE SCREENSHOTS.

You’ll notice that in most of these screenshots, I’m with other people. This game has done something that no game has ever done before – make me actually enjoy and want to play with others. I’m not a social person by any means. I am a very quiet, shy, reserved introvert most of the time. But through a combination of chance and luck, I’ve made an amazing group of friends because of this game. My guild is amazing, and several of the members – my co-leaders and several of the officers – have become such good friends that not having them in my life is a bleak thought, and I am so very grateful that I have met them.

Time went on in the game. New content was added – Halloween, the Lost Shores (good in theory, fell short in execution), Wintersday, and then we reached 2013. With the new patch in January, Flame and Frost, we began to see a new story take shape, and to see what ArenaNet was planning on doing. The Living Story has gradually picked up speed over the months, now going to a biweekly update, and the quality has only increased as time has gone on.

Guesting was finally added, though imperfectly – it is limited to servers on the same data center, which means no NA-EU guesting. I keep up hope that one day that will be added in. Fractals were added, similar to dungeons, and with it came Ascended gear. Guild missions became a thing. Several updates have been made to dungeons themselves. A good number of quality of life changes have gone in (first dungeon tokens becoming account bound rather than character bound, and then the removal of physical tokens in favor of the account wallet, rotations for dailies, rewarding of karma for dailies, guaranteed rewards for meta events, champion kills, and dungeons), each making things just a bit better.

In the past year, I’ve leveled up 8 characters to 80 – one of each profession. I’ve crafted the legendary longbow Kudzu for my ranger. I am currently in the process of crafting the staff, Bifrost, for my mesmer. I’ve completed Master Crafter and Dungeon Master. I’ve spent far too much money on armor (I have two full sets of T3 cultural, and a third worth of pieces scattered across various characters). I enjoy theory-crafting various builds and then seeing how well they work in practice (my favorite was being told my engineer build was “just so crazy it might work”…it works quite well!).

Back in March I was able to attend PAX East, which was an amazing time for so many reasons. It was the first out of state convention I was able to attend. It was a nice vacation. Several members of [TWIT] also went and we all got to meet up and spend the weekend hanging out in person. And we also managed to spend time with two ANet devs, Jonathon Sharp and Jon Peters.

:D

:D

Needless to say, this past year has been great, both in-game and out of it, and I can only look forward to what the next year(s) will bring!

 

Super Adventure Earworm

There have been dozens of posts about the most recent addition to Guild Wars 2, the Super Adventure Box. Put short, it’s great, and if you haven’t tried it yet, go do so. Yes, it’s basically one huge jumping puzzle. However, if you suck at jump puzzles (like I usually d0), Infantile Mode is adorable and lots of fun. There’s also a chance for the Super Weapons to drop out of the boss chests when you’re playing on normal mode – Optimus got two Super Sword Skins the other day, and I got my Super Shield Skin I’ve been coveting last night.

Put short, this is a really great update.

My personal favorite part of it, though?

The music.

So, I have been gaming pretty much my entire life. I’m 27 years old, born in 1986. My parents got an NES for Christmas in 1988, and I would watch – and then play – games like Mario, Zelda, Dragon Warrior, and Final Fantasy with my parents. These are the games I grew up on, and have heavily influenced my taste in games ever since – I still vastly prefer JRPGs over WRPGs, and I love action adventure games. Everything about the Super Adventure Box is a throwback to these games, from the hilariously bad NPC “translations” (“This water tastes improper” when you first encounter the poison pools is a favorite of mine), to the hidden rooms with secret items, to the screen you get when you die…and of course, the music itself.

The songs you hear while playing Super Adventure Box will get stuck in your head. And they will heavily remind you of games from 20-25 years ago

Yup, prepare to be humming that all day.

Or better yet, just listen to all of it! ArenaNet was kind enough to upload all of the SAB music to their SoundCloud, for all to hear.

Now if you’ll excuse me…have these songs stuck in my head again…

 

Guilds and the (de)merit system

So, I run a guild. A decently sizable one, though it’s not massive. We’re generally a pretty casual group.

And the more time goes on, the more frustrated I get with the guild system in Guild Wars 2.

[TWIT] was created as a cross-server, international social guild. However, the way the game handles guilds has caused us to not be able to fully meet what we intended ourselves to be. The guild was formed in BWE3, when we were still all under the assumption that guesting would be in at launch, and that it would be fully universal.

The lack of guesting at launch was the first big blow we were dealt. People on other servers could not play with us, outside of the very first weeks when there were overflows in explorable zones, or in dungeons. There is also the fact that influence and guild upgrades are server-tied; the combination of these two things made it so there was very little reason for our members not on Jade Quarry to represent the guild.

I do understand why influence is server-tied, to an extent. You can’t designate one server to be the guild’s home world. However, surely there were better ways of handling it. Make it so that all influence earned is a universal pool, collected by and usable from all servers. Same with the upgrades. If you are repping a guild, you should be able to access them, no matter what server you’re on. Not to mention the various boosts you can build and use!

Oh, and when you guest, influence you earn? Still goes back to your home server, as opposed to the one you’re guesting to.

For all that the game likes to say it’s about building communities, there are a lot of things it does that fly in the face of that claim. Guesting taking so long to be implemented and then being data center restricted is part of it. The restrictions on guilds, however, are another large part of it.

Last time I checked the [TWIT] roster, we were up around 160 members. That isn’t small. However, if even a quarter of those members have repped the guild, I’d say it’s a high estimate. The fact of the matter is, there’s absolutely no reason for members outside of JQ and certain other servers where we have a good number of active members to rep the guild, and there’s nothing that myself and my co-leaders can do about that.

I mean, I suppose we could. We could make being on JQ or repping a certain amount of time a requirement…but that’s not something we want to do. That goes directly against why this guild was created and what it’s meant to be. Guesting has helped some (I guest over to Sanctum of Rall or Anvil Rock for events at times), but it still doesn’t help a lot of the problems inherent in making everything tied to servers so tightly.

Guild missions are going to be here on Tuesday. Yay! We were looking forward to these – they’d make it easier to get guildies involved!

Except that merits, earned by completing guild missions and used to unlock more upgrades, are…wait for it…server-tied! Oh, and if you want to do Guild Bounties? Better have your Art of War at level 5.

Luckily, we have everything upgraded in full, but that’s still very frustrating. A lot of smaller guilds will not necessarily have Art of War to that level, or the influence to get it there any time soon. And don’t forget build times for those upgrades! This essentially makes guilds that do not normally have any interest in PvP or WvW burn influence to kick off PvE content, which I think is wrong.

There’s also the communication side of things, which is difficult People not repping your guild cannot read your guild chat, which makes it easy to miss out on things. There’s the message of the day, but unless someone is 1) repping and 2) checks the guild pane, they won’t see it.

Remember in Guild Wars 1 when you’d see your guild’s current message in your chat window when you logged in? I miss that. A lot. I also wish that guild leaders had a way to send a message to all members, even those not repping, similar to how maintenance messages are displayed in the chat window in-game. Things like that would be a great help to all guild leaders.

I love this game. I love my guild. But I really feel like the guild sytem leaves a lot to be desired, and splits the community more than it brings it together.