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!

 

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.

Girls Night In

As two of the three leaders of [TWIT], AJ and I have been kicking around an idea for a while of something we’d like to do as an in-game event, and we’re finally kicking it off this week.

This event is a girls night, where we group up with any women that are interested in coming along, and do stuff in-game together with no men involved.

We have quite a few reasons for wanting to do something like this, and I’m simply going to quote what I wrote elsewhere on this subject.

Girls Night events are for women only. This is not to be exclusive – rather this is to try and build a space for women to play. Gaming is an industry that is very hostile to women, despite the fact that we make up half of all gamers. Games are rarely marketed for us, and the ones that are aimed towards women tend to just fall on tired-out stereotypes.

The vast majority of gaming communities are extremely male-oriented, and most tend to not be kind to women “invading”…when really all we want to do is play a damn game. And thus, we have to turn to creating our own spaces to play in, until the rest of the gaming community wakes up and realizes that yes, we’re going to be playing these games, we have just as much right to be here as anyone else, and we aren’t leaving, so get used to it.

And we also know that not all women are comfortable enough in the face of such constant sexism to stand up like that. And that’s okay. Everyone handles things differently.

There are also times where we just want to escape and be on our own. To be able to talk about things we wouldn’t feel comfortable with when guys are around. To have fun on our own. This is not a bad thing.

AJ and I have high hopes for these events. We’re starting small, but we’re hoping to build this into something big. But it all revolves around creating a space where women feel safe and welcome while gaming, and it would fall apart immediately if we did not hold to that core.

Guys, 99% of gaming is yours. Let us have our spaces as well. It won’t hurt you, we promise.

So far, the response has been almost entirely positive. Lots of women have expressed an interest in coming, with a few that I didn’t even know played GW2! That, I think, makes this something of a success before the first event has even stated. These events are things we hope to do monthly – just once a month, pick an evening where we all meet up together in-game and hang out and play and create our own part of the community.

Our first event will be this Thursday evening; we’ll be meeting in Caledon Forest, at Astorea Waypoint, on Jade Quarry at 6pm CST (4pm PST/7pm EST). That’s right when the daily reset hits, so we can work on doing our dailies before deciding if we want to branch out and do other things as well. This event isn’t just for members of our guild; it is open to any women that want to attend. AJ and I both have characters with commander icons so we shall be easy to find. More info can be found in this thread on our guild’s forums.

Ladies, hope to see you this Thursday!

Art Contest Winners!

Guys, I really love art contests. I love seeing all of the creativity that people create, all of the different styles that they use…

Basically, I love art.

And so here I have my winner for the signed CE contest! I didn’t get many entries, but the ones I did get were all very varied and I really enjoyed seeing all of them. First, before posting the winner, though, I want to show off the two entries I selected as runners-up! I do not have prizes for you guys (sorry!), but I still want to share your entries!

The first is a simple pencil sketch of a sylvari by Jo X. I am a sucker for pencil sketches, I won’t even deny it. The majority of my drawing is just scribbles and sketches. Also, it’s a sylvari…enough said.

nessa-sylvari

The second one is The 35 Slot Shopping Cart, by Jeff. This one made me laugh. I think most engineers would like something like this.

Engineer Poster Sm

The winner, though, is Christopher’s entry, the Crafting Conundrum. The explanation behind the piece that he included made me laugh. As he put it:

The hours I’ve spent crafting in GW2 has always led my mind to wander to certain silly thoughts – particularly, what’s going through a character’s mind when they need to use several venom sacs or totems in creating an item. While we as the players simply see a progress bar, how do our characters react when faced with an Asura instruction manual that calls for a pile of totems in order to build a rifle or sword? And how does that even work?

I have definitely wondered such things myself, and I’m sure many people have as well. That, combined with the quality of the piece, made it an easy choice for me.

gw2artcontest_craftingconundrum_2013

Congratulations, Christopher!

And congratulations and thank you to everyone who entered this contest, and again a big thank you to ArenaNet for giving me the chance to do this!

(Also, a special shout-out to Vivian, the winner of Syp’s photo contest – she had entered mine as well, and I absolutely love the cosplay. Great job and congrats!)

Welcome and a Giveaway!

First of all, before I go into main reason for this post, Under the Pale Tree has expanded again! I would like everyone to give a warm welcome to AJ Wolf (@ajwolf84 on twitter), who has joined as a writer. Previously she had blogged for The Tyrian Order before the site had closed down, and along with Opt of Malefic Incantations, is my co-leader of I Can Outtweet a Centaur [TWIT]. So keep an eye out for her posts, and her take on the Guild Wars lore and the state of the game!

And now, we come to the main event! I have right now, sitting in my room, this lovely item:

gw2ce

Yes, that is a Guild Wars 2 Collector’s Edition. Yes, it is signed by the team. This thing is covered in signatures. It is amazing.

And it can be yours!

How? Simple. We are going to be holding an art contest. I have always loved the art contests held by ArenaNet, and I was sad that there wasn’t a Wintersday Guild Wars 2 contest this year. I also was a winner of one of the previous GW art contests. So in that spirit, that’s how I shall rehome this CE!

Any type of artwork is welcome – whether it’s a traditional drawing, digital painting, or crafted item. It must be Guild Wars 2 related. Entries should be emailed to verene@thepaletree.net. You have until 11pm CST on February 9th to send in your entry. And because of the fact that it will be an NA game key, and I have to ship this sucker, I will have to limit entries to the US and Canada only (sorry!).

Good luck, and get creating!

Finally, a huge thank you to the lovely folks at ANet that made this possible!

Wintersday Reflections

Originally today I was planning on writing something up about the Wintersday event in Guild Wars 2, but there will be a large number of people doing that already, and I don’t see myself being able to add anything new that, especially when I haven’t yet tried everything. I have some lore stuff I want to ponder through, but not right now.

I did realize, though, that the game has been out for just under four months now. Crazy, right? It’s been that long. It feels, to me, like it’s been out forever…and yet there are times where it still feels brand new, like it released last week. It is also the end of the year, and that’s always a good time to look back and reflect on things. So today I am going to look back over my time in-game over the past few months, and talk about my favorite parts of it so far. There are flaws to the game, of course – a great number of them. But those will be left aside for now. It’s time to talk about the good.

So, what do I like best about Guild Wars 2 so far?

The game makes me enjoy playing things I normally dislike.

The fact that I’m even playing Guild Wars 2 at all is testament to that. I am not an MMO gamer. I do not like MMOs. I have tried pretty much every major one that’s released over the past decade, with none keeping me interested for more than a month. The original Guild Wars I fell in love with, but that was because it was so different than the standard MMO – so much so that it could barely be called one. I was very apprehensive about Guild Wars 2 for a good, long time, because of the fact that it was taking on so many parts of standard MMOs that I dislike – part of why I loved GW1 so much was because everything was instanced. I’m not generally a social gamer, and usually, I don’t want to see other people around when I’m playing.

And yet…in GW2, it’s completely different. I’ve gone from not liking other people being around, to being indifferent, to actively wanting to play with others. Whether I’m partied up with some friends/guildies, or just running around and finding another person or group doing the same things I’m doing and going along with them for a while…I enjoy there being other players around me. The game doesn’t punish you for playing with others, like so many MMOs do. It’s truly cooperative in a way that most MMOs will never manage, and I love it.

So, I like playing a game that’s a genre I dislike, and I like playing it socially, which normally I do not. I also find that I enjoy playing roles that normally I am not fond of. Ordinarily, I hate support and healing types. I can’t stand it, because in other games you spend so much time just watching the UI instead of actually participating in the fight. And yet, my second character that I got to level 80 was a Guardian. A Guardian that is, in fact, specced fully for healing and support. And I love it. I love playing her. I can’t do huge amounts of damage in a fight, but I love that a well-timed virtue can protect people from potentially being one-shotted if they don’t dodge in time. I love that so many of my skills are fields that combo to remove conditions, as condition removal is not nearly common enough in the game. I love that I can pile on pretty much every boon in the game. I love that almost everything I do will grant healing in some manner. I love that I’m still capable of fighting and doing a good amount of damage if support isn’t needed at the moment.

And more than anything else, I love that sitting there and watching the party UI is not something I can do, but instead I have to pay attention to the fight and move around as much as if I was playing my Mesmer.

The game can be utterly ridiculous sometimes.

There are so, so, so many silly things you can do in this game. And if it can be done, we’ve probably done it.

Take Feedback, for example. It’s a skill that I think should be stapled to every Mesmer’s bar, because it’s just so useful…it also lets you do some pretty ridiculous things. Such as creating yourself a small army of graveling babies to fight with you in the Ascalonian Catacombs dungeon. Or giving the Defiler in one of the Twilight Arbor explorable paths the status effect of “Bees”. Or knocking off half the health of the Dredge Mining Suit in one of the Fractals if you time it right.

There’s also the fact that it’s an Ethereal combo field, so if you use it with pistol off-hand and also have a Thief in the group that’s dual-wielding pistols, it’s very possible to build up 25 stacks of confusion on an enemy…

Outside of playing with skills, there’s a ton of other bizarre and hilarious things you can do. Not long after Halloween, we decided to do the pirate jumping puzzle in Lion’s Arch all in our Halloween costumes…which mean riding our brooms throughout the puzzle. Last night we decided to take things one step sillier, after having all managed to craft Wintersday endless tonics…and did the LA jump puzzles like this:

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Why yes, that is a plush griffon, princess doll, and toy soldier, with minipets.

And then, there’s the fact that occasionally the game bugs out. And sometimes, these bugs are hilarious and awesome. Such as having a hovering shark running through Lion’s Arch.

Why hello there, Nom Nom, nice to see you out of the water.

Why hello there, Nom Nom, nice to see you out of the water.

So yeah, the game is definitely big on silly sometimes.

I love my guild.

I am the leader of I Can Outtweet a Centaur! [TWIT], and…honestly, my guild is great. It started out in BWE3 as something silly for the GW2 twitter users, and while the core of the guild is still that it’s the unofficial twitter community guild…it’s grown so much beyond that. We’re open for anyone to join that wants to, and as a result we’re a mix of tweeples, offline friends and family of members, and guildless players we’ve run into and played with out in the world.

It’s also grown in size far beyond where I ever thought we’d be, which is amazing.

There is also a real sense of community within the guild, that I enjoy and I’m so happy exists. Very often I see people offer up items in guild chat that they got and think would possibly go to better use being given to someone else than being sold. We have a packed guild bank. A large number of us exchanged in-game Wintersday gifts. One of my favorite recent things was Optimus saying in vent that he was a few gold short of…something, I don’t remember what, and the rest of us in vent/the party proceeding to bird-bomb him with a couple of gold each. At the exact same time, without planning it at all.

There’s also the fact that we are quite silly, as was shown in the point above this one. Those screenshots? Things we did last night. We tend to do things like turn everything in the world we can jump on into a jumping puzzle, including dungeons. And that includes dragging NPCs with us in the process.

And guild chat can be extremely entertaining as well…as this screenshot shows…

I was trying to map WvW when this happened...

I was trying to map WvW when this happened…

Yup. That’s my guild.

The game is absolutely beautiful, and they put a ton of work into it.

People point this out all the time, but it’s worth saying again. The game is gorgeous. Wintersday just proved that over again, with Lion’s Arch covered in snow and decorations, as well as the maps and art for Tixx’s Infinirarium, the Winter Wonderland jumping puzzle, Bell Choir, Snowball Mayhem…it’s just lovely.

There’s also the fact that ArenaNet isn’t going to just sit back and rest on what they have already, but still work like mad to add new things to the game. I can’t remember who it was, but someone said on twitter that they put more work into their holidays events than many games do a full expansion…and really, I agree. I had high hopes for holidays in Guild Wars 2, being as I loved them in GW1. Halloween raised the bar for Wintersday even higher. And when the update arrived? Shattered right through that bar.

Also, did I mention the game is amazingly pretty? I’m pretty sure I did. But to be sure I made the point clear, I’ll just leave this screenshot of the scene you see when entering Winter Wonderland.

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ArenaNet cares about the playerbase and community.

I can’t talk about the things I like about Guild Wars 2 without mentioning the dev teams behind the game. They really do care about and love their game, and care about the playerbase. They care about the community that the game has. They listen to us when we have things to say. They own up when they make mistakes, and take steps to try and fix them. They participate in the community themselves.

And if you’re on any social media channels, you quickly realize that they are not a faceless company, but made up of people who are just as down to earth and fun as anyone else. They are a great bunch of people talk to, as well as to play with in-game.

They also acknowledge their fans, which is great, and not something many companies do. There was the Fan Day event, where they invited fans to visit the offices. There were the giveaways over the summer, where a number of fansites and blogs (this one included!) were given keys for the BWEs to give away. There’s the fact that fansite interviews with members of ArenaNet are fairly common.

And I can’t forget what a number of fans, myself included, received in the mail this week:

anetcard

Best card ever? Why, I do think so.

The game isn’t perfect. There’s a lot of things with it that can be fixed, or that should be in but are missing. But there’s far more good to it than there is bad. And what is good about Guild Wars 2, is absolutely amazing. I could write all day on what I enjoy about it.

Happy Wintersday and a lovely New Year to all!

Two weeks past launch – how are things going?

So, this blog has been pretty quiet the past couple weeks. The reason is fairly obvious, though – Dak and I have both been busy playing Guild Wars 2!

The game has officially been out for two weeks now. It did not have the smoothest launch, but compared to many others, it went very well indeed. ANet’s been working hard to clear up issues as they appear, and it shows.

Liusaidh in her current armor set – dragonfly! <3

As of writing, I have seven characters (one more than I had originally planned on). Liusaidh, my mesmer sylvari, is my main, but I also have Janan Savitri (human thief, descendant of my GW1 Dervish), Ragna Blazefur (charr elementalist), Brynja Rabbitfoot (norn ranger), Katta (asura warrior), Rosheen (sylvari guardian), and Carella (human necromancer). Liusaidh is currently level 72. Did I expect to level as quickly as I have? Oh my god, not even close. I’m actually really amazed that I’m as far with her as I am. My short attention span is to thanked for that, I think.

And yes, you heard that right. Me having a short attention span is the reason I’ve progressed so much further in this game than I had figured I would have in this time period.

Let me put it this way – this game is ridiculous for short attention spans. And I mean that in a good way. Nearly every time I set out to do something, I spot another thing going on, and then another, and so on and so forth. Suddenly it’s three hours later, I’ve leveled up several times, and I realize I never got to what I was going to do in the first place! A very good example of this was a few days ago. I’ve been running around with Opt from Malefic Incantations a lot in-game, and while wandering Lornar’s Pass after finishing a story quest, I ran into him. And then revived him as he decided to test if Death Shroud helps against falling damage (hint – it does not. But it was funny!). We went exploring across Lornar’s, found a portal to Dredgehaunt Cliffs, went “sure, why not”…and proceeded to spend the next three or four hours exploring in there.

And that seems to be the case whenever we go to do anything. I love it.

I also got addicted to crafting. I’d say that as a guild we’re all pretty big on crafting, but damn did the “must make things!” bug bite me hard. I don’t even want to think about the amount of money I’ve probably thrown at fine materials at this point. I’m just shy of 350 on tailoring, and my jewelcrafting is in the 330s. The character that is my jewelcrafter, Janan, has gotten to level 14 almost entirely through crafting. I foresee maxing out both of these disciplines fairly soon. I also got artificing up in the 100s but I haven’t really concentrated on that one too much. I also made Katta a weaponsmith because I don’t believe our guild really has one.

Oh yes, the guild. I am the leader of I Can Outtweet a Centaur! [TWIT], which started out as an unofficial twitter community guild and has grown well beyond that. Right now we’ve got about 75 members, and exactly the sort of atmosphere I’d want from a guild I’m a part of. I’m going to be plain – I love my guild. There is such a sense of companionship, and it’s great. We’re such a sharing, giving group – I like the idea of giving it forward, and we do that very well. Help is always given where it’s needed, people are always offering up stuff they get that they think someone else could use, and we’ve got a guild bank stuffed full of goodies because people put stuff in more than they take stuff out. Not to mention the silly, ridiculous things we do – like Orr runs at low level, creating a cult of the boulder while doing Ascalon Catacombs, and spontaneous dance parties any and everywhere. It’s so much fun, and I’m so glad and honored to be a part of such a group.

Boulder!

Not everything about the game has been perfect so far, though. The very first night was littered with severe lag and disconnects…though that did clear up pretty quickly and is unsurprising, considering the number of people logging in at once. The morning after headstart guilds broke entirely – guild creators would show as not being in a guild, were unable to be invited to any or start any, but would show up on their guild roster as a member but not representing. Invites in general also were not going through. Thankfully this was fixed, but it took a few days.

The trading post being down for so long definitely sucked. I won’t say it was a game-breaking thing, but…there’s no denying that it not being available for about a week and a half rather screwed up the economy. Certain materials have so flooded the market that it will be ages before they ever sell and the prices raise above rock-bottom. Crafted items simply do not sell unless you get lucky. People will list stuff for one copper above merchant value…either not realizing there’s a listing fee, or not caring. Things will eventually balance out, but it will take a long while, I think.

Parties mostly work, but can still bug out and break on occasion. Quite frequently we’ve had issues where someone on an overflow can’t join their party on another overflow or the main shard. There’s an issue that crops up every so often where if a party member moves out of minimap range of the rest of the party they simply vanish off the map entirely and show in the party window as being in another overflow. The window doesn’t always accurately reflect where people are. Yesterday it would show people as being level 0 and having no profession. And getting into a dungeon with your group can sometimes be a gamble.

Still no guesting. No guesting makes quaggans sad. In all seriousness, though, I really hope guesting gets added in soon. Free server transfers is all well and good and all, but…if you play on a popular server, you’re going to be hesitant to transfer to play with someone else because you may not be able to get back into your original one, and they may not be able to join you. If you’re on servers on the same data center (NA or EU), there’s a way to work around that using overflows, but as the number of times I see myself in an overflow is diminishing, it’s not a good solution.

The one thing that really bothers me the most is that influence and guild upgrades are server-limited. [TWIT] is an international guild, and our members are all over the place. Many people are in other guilds as well, so they go where their main guild is. However, even if they’re representing us and they’re on another server…it doesn’t help our influence at all. On the flip side, stuff like our guild bank and our other upgrades? They can’t use! I’ve seen people say that it’s probably to keep guilds from dominating WvW on multiple servers, as well as the argument of “well why would your guildies be on multiple servers?”. As someone who doesn’t have much interest in WvW and isn’t going to tell her members to transfer to Jade Quarry or leave, I don’t care for either of those arguments. All that restriction does is harm cross-server guilds. Of course, were guesting in, it may not be a concern at all, but with the lack of guesting…well. It’s a big problem.

Story quest difficulty. I don’t know what happened there, but it feels like they go all over the place. Some of them are just brutally hard. I’m saying that as someone who did a quest while 25 levels higher (with armor and weapons at my current level, traits all set up, elite skills, and so on) and I still got wrecked several times. It’s also sometimes extremely vague as to what you’re supposed to be doing.

It’s also very obvious that the higher level stuff was not tested thoroughly. It’s rather frustrating, too, because I’d say about a tenth of the events I run into in the 50+ level zones are bugged in some manner – enemies don’t spawn, escortees don’t move, they get stuck somewhere, etc. Several personal story quests have been bugged, though thankfully none I did. I’ve been diligently reporting bugged events as I find them, and they’ve done a lot of personal story fixes, so here’s hoping that they’re also working on the DEs as well.

[TWIT] loves sync-dancing.

All things said, though? I’m happy. I’m more than happy. I’m having a ridiculously good time in this game. I’m enjoying playing with other people (a rarity for me), I’ve got a great guild, I’m enjoying the story, crafting is stealing my life, dungeons are fun, and just…I’m having tons of fun. There is so much to do in this game – enough to keep me going for ages.

So two weeks into the game, I’d say it’s not perfect, but nothing ever will be. That’s not stopping me from having the most fun I’ve had in a game in ages, though.

What do you think of how Guild Wars 2 is going so far?

Guild Wars 2 Launch Event – September 1st!

Just a real quick note – ArenaNet is holding several launch events in five cities across the US on September 1st, with employees present to sign all your GW2 memorabilia, giveaways for both physical and in-game items, and a raffle at each event for a Collector’s Edition!
Since no event was hosted near Verene (very sadly, I might add) I’ll be headed to the Austin event myself!  Expect pictures, and if any readers are going to the same event it would be awesome to meet and chat.