GW2: Lost Shores – Part 2

If in doubt, climb on it... everything's a jumping puzzle these days...

It’s a good thing I waited until I’ve gained some perspective before writing this recap. (Not to mention, some shiny exotics after phase 3.)

Had I gone with my initial urge to make a post just after phase 2 “one-off event” completed, it would be full of the most vulgar expletives and cursewords ever to plague this blog. Every other word would probably be the f-bomb, and your eyes would likely sear after reading it. What happened, you asked?

Well, it started out promising.

I got to Lion’s Arch. An overflow, anyway. (Take note, this will be important later.)

No one knew where to go. There was discussions in map chat. Nothing over Twitter as yet.

Being the inveterate explorer that I am, I took the initiative to revisit the old locale of phase 1 to see if anything changed. That, after all, is what Guild Wars 2 prides itself on, that stuff can keep changing in their world.

Sure enough, I halted in my tracks and blinked. Was this trebuchet here before? I don’t think so…

No one else was around the area in my overflow at the time, so I am quite happy to say I was probably the first guy to find it on that particular server. (It’s the little things that make us explorers happy, y’know.)

I was chatting up the NPCs, getting more and more sure I was on to something here, as the event state finally switched at around 12.06pm server time and reported the Lionguard and their alchemical weapon thing.

Oooooooh…

Three minutes later, more people started noticing the treb and it was reported in map chat. (I was admiring the workers going for their beer break at the time, hoping something would start.)

Which led to a vast crowd of people around the treb, climbing on the treb, jumping around, all manner of spell effects as we waited, and waited, and Waited, and WAITED and WAITED some more, in perfect befuddlement as the workers cycled between banging on the treb and having so much beer that their bladders ought to have burst.

At 12.27pm, nearly half an hour later than the event was scheduled to start, the trebuchet FINALLY completed itself on our overflow server.

Cue more perplexed stares as absolutely nothing happened for another three minutes.

When the only thing that happened (aside from a bored someone growing a pine tree on the treb) was a tiny event state change (blink and you’ll miss it) that said the Lionguard had moved on from their alchemical weapon thing and were now launching an assault on the karka colony.

Huh?

One minute after that, the “coat your weapons with solvent” event finally began…. wherein I made the largest mistake of my virtual GW2 life.

While wading through the combat lagfest that had just hit, the ubiquitous overflow queue thing popped, where it asked if I wanted to travel back to my home server. I didn’t think, just went with the vague feeling that hey, this might be more fun if I did it with my home community with recognizable folks, and hit the “Travel” to get to Lion’s Arch back home.

Wherein I popped up in utterly quiet surroundings, no event around me, and a mail in my inbox pointing me to Southsun Cove.

What the-?

Oh shit, all the servers are on different timers… I should not have done that! I missed that part of the one-off event!

Apparently, as I gathered in mapchat later, the event for them popped for only a couple minutes, they got to the big boss, which bugged out, and then shoved them the mail that shoved us all to Southsun Cove.

And if you bothered to read my guildchat, apparently for some of my other guildies, the workers on their overflow server were still enjoying their beer, half an hour later into the event.

Immensely pissed off at this point at ArenaNet, myself, the world in general, I decided to close my eyes and pretend that the trebuchet fired their alchemical weapon, we coated our weapons in the solvent and killed all the karka in Lion’s Arch, purely in my imagination (which probably was better than the real thing) and board the ship to Southsun Cove – because no doubt, MORE one-off events would be firing there that I didn’t want to miss either.

The Southsun Cove fights went a little better. We ran with Inspector Ellen Kiel through several DEs, capturing control points and what not. I think there were a little less people around than in the Lion’s Arch fights, so all our framerates were better.

Being able to hit the big karka for real damage (my weapon is coated, really, just PRETEND with me here, okay?) was quite a refreshing change. I admired the armor knocking off thing that Anet was so proud of before. I vaguely reflected it would probably look better to me if my graphic settings could go up any higher, but y’know, crowds and all that. Still, it was pretty cool.

There was a sinister growing speck of unease that this effectively gave the big karka multiple very big health bars and locked us all in place attacking and attacking for quite a long time, but for now, it was all still rather new and exciting.

We set up outposts, built roads, smashed through trees for a little bit, running in a big zerg that was vaguely reminiscent of launch day crowds.

Then we hit the fork in the path.

I honestly don’t know how many people realized how “momentous” this was. I spotted it for what it was, a way to separate people and get them following different DEs, dividing the crowd, and also making sure that each experienced a slightly different story.

Except, I’m really not sure how appropriate this is for one-off events. I really don’t like missing out on anything. Call me entitled, but that’s just how my feelings roll.

Eventually, with a heavy heart, as I watched the majority of the zerg, 98% of them, race off after Inspector Ellen Kiel on her bulldozing road steamroll of justice, I decided I would rather see the path not taken, and followed the Asura to find the mysterious lost expedition’s camp.

We (and there were only 5-7 of us at this point) fought more karka and escorted the advisors to the lost camp. The reduction in player numbers did make the events more enjoyable and playable, not to mention a little less auto-attacky, we actually used other skills.

We took over the abandoned camp and set up the outpost or whatever…

It eventually segued into a retrieve consortium crates DE which I was beginning to suspect would run on even after the one-off event. That left me feeling a bit empty, like maybe I might have just missed out on whatever Inspector Ellen Kiel was doing, god knows where.

I did however enjoy being possibly one of the first to spot a splendid chest on top of the lost camp’s roof, and made my jumpy way up to get it and a jumping puzzle achievement.

Booyah.

In retrospect, examining the screenshot, it is ironic that Ellen Kiel’s chain also completed around the same time and I got a bronze medal for it. I don’t know what happened with her, and never shall, unless I check out a youtube video.

Feeling a little sad, and lost and empty, which are very strange feelings for a new zone with new content just being opened… I stared at the rest of the island on my map, unsure of where to go next, whether there was any other one-off dynamic events that I was probably missing out on…

Sighed, and gave up.

The island would be here for good. I could take more time later to explore it at leisure. Running about lost and aimless trying in vain to catch another one-off event or another, while being uncertain whether this one DE would be here all the time or which other DE was a one-off…

…it was just too depressing to fathom.

So I logged off, feeling oddly disappointed and feeling like I missed out on very crucial bits of the story.

My entire misadventure with phase 2 gives me a lot more sympathy for those who couldn’t attend the event, could only attend bits of it due to real life, who may have inadvertently crashed or disconnected, who had bad luck and ran into event-stopping bugs, and basically everyone who might have missed out on a specially advertised¬† “one-off event.”

It doesn’t feel very inclusive or community-building at all.

And if the attitude of those who did catch it is “lol, too bad, I saw it, you didn’t, and that makes it all the sweeter and more special,” I’m not sure that kind of elitist schadenfreude is the kind of attitude we want to be encouraging with Guild Wars 2 either.

GW2: Lost Shores From Yet One More Perspective – Part 1

I was there... not sure if worth it....

As mentioned, I’m crazy enough to attend these events when I can, simply because I HATE the thought of missing out, even if they ARE scheduled at 4am local time for me.

It so happens that I was able to arrange my real life schedule to accommodate being up at 4am on MONDAY morning -this- time around, but I admit to this sense of impending dread that I won’t be able to manage it for all subsequent Mondays where ArenaNet has the “bright” idea of scheduling their goddamn one-off events at such an hour.

I really HATE the thought of missing out. And yet, fear of missing out becomes an obligation, rather than fun. So fer heavens sake, ArenaNet, these one-off events are NOT FUN to me.

So I have thusly conveyed in the survey they have just sent out to ask their players.

What was the whole experience like for me?

Let’s begin.

Phase 1:

It started with some promise as eagerness and anticipation overtook everybody.

Attracted by Blingg’s incessant voice-overs (normally I don’t stay in LA long enough to be annoyed,) I was running about checking the new Consortium location and admiring the soon-to-be Fractal portal and talking with the NPCs and screenshotting everything as I suspected these might change once the event was over.

As you can see, at this point, I was still open to the idea of a one-off event for the whole ‘impact’ after, permanent-consequence sort of thing as I was running around trying to capture memories of the “before” event state.

Some person kindly announced in map chat that ArenaNet had just twittered a hint to hang around the lighthouse.

Being the explorer I am, I knew where the LA lighthouse was and made an immediate beeline towards it, while groping for my iPad to check out the Guild Wars 2 Twitter feed for myself (couldn’t find it, settled for grabbing my phone.) Sure enough, that report was a real one, so I joined the couple of others who had made it to the lighthouse at this point.

Meanwhile in map chat, you had the expected “where is the lighthouse?” questions and some griping about ArenaNet and their propensity for using social media to convey this sort of information.

I’m kinda neutral about this. I see their points, and they are valid ones, but Twitter, Facebook or Reddit is a convenient fast way to make announcements too, if the forums can’t cope for whatever mysterious reason. And I’m obviously a hardcore enough player to be able to check them as needed.

The lost ones who needed guidance to find the lighthouse, I feel a little bit more for, but you gotta admit, this sort of “I know and you don’t” makes a certain subset of Explorer types very happy/smug, and too few MMOs these days allow for these guys to have their day in the sun.

Eventually the news, linked waypoints, map directions and so on filtered down to the rest and we were soon joined by a throng of people.

Halp! Can’t breathe….

I eventually found a seat with a much better vantage point. Pretty much lucked into it by accidentally falling off the edge of the throng *ahem*

There was plenty of time to do this, as we waited… and waited… and waited some more for the appointed hour to arrive…

…and were finally treated to a presentable cutscene of the Ancient Karka’s arrival.

Keen eyed observers (or those who don’t mind risking bleeding from your eye sockets) may note that my graphics level has been cranked down to the lowest setting of shitty as I harbor no illusions about my 32-bit Windows GW2 client not crashing out of memory during such crowded events otherwise.

Even so, as the Dynamic Event began and the hordes of veteran karka and young karka and hatchlings began spawning at all the orange fist areas, amidst the throngs of people in varied armors, lag hit. Quite badly.

My framerate went down to about 6.

Which was about 4 better than what some reported, 1-2 FPS.

Skills took a couple seconds to fire off, around 1-3 seconds (this would be still better than what hit during one part of phase 3, which we will get to later.)

And I was sure the karka no doubt looked quite impressive, if only I could see them.

Thank you, invisible culling.

Fortunately, I am clever enough to equip a staff on my guardian for such events. The wide cone means I can just keep spamming 1 and point in the general direction and probably hit something even without actually SEEing it.

Here I am surrounded by young karka corpses, which I can see, and a veteran young karka whom I actually can’t, but at least there’s an arrow and a nameplate, so what the hell, point and spam.

Sheer fear and self-preservation in the face of an enemy that didn’t render got me retreating to the edge of the battle for safety and fighting the miniature-sized ones at first, which worked out for the best, as I lucked into popping two karka samples quite early on.

I scrambled my way through chaos, trying to head for the sample collector NPC icon, stopping to hit one of the veteran karka egg layers which finally appeared on screen for me.

Long enough to register pretty much zero damage, and a check on his buff yielded an “armored” buff which said it was apparently immune to damage. The sheer weight of players and conditions and what-not eventually nickle and dimed this one to death… at which point, another popped up in its place.

Being fairly immune to the Look-Straight-And-Shoot-Everything-In-Front-Of-You syndrome that plagues most players (be it in DEs or WvW), that was the point I said “screw it, I’m booking it out of here” and backed off to get my samples to the NPC.

Whom I couldn’t see either.

But I assume he is there from that helpful icon. In between trying to talk to him and actually, I dunno, READ some of the story, some young karka decided to get extra-friendly with me. From the icons, I think I got face hugged, leg chomped and god knows what else.

If I weren’t on my guardian with heals and heavy armor and toughness and some vitality out the wazoo, I do not even want to begin imagining how many more times I would have gotten downed.

A lot more chaotic fighting later, the collect karka samples DE was completed, through very little effort on my part.

 

I managed to get the 2 samples I popped early on in, and one more later, that was about it. It had turned mostly into a fight for keeping myself alive, rather than attacking anything on purpose.

Alas, after that, we were supposed to get rid of all the karka plaguing Lion’s Arch. Armored immune-to-everything egg layers and what not. Urgh?

Cue more banging away at seemingly invincible health bars. One take away from this that I hope all designers will pick up, it’s not really fun for players to just keep repeating the same actions with decimal point progress at best, it just becomes boring and tedious (see karka reinforcement stages in phase 3 later too.)

Eventually, after a few more of these so-attractively-big-but-cheating karka, a greater number of immensely bored players decided to shift focus and just clean out the young ones which we could hit. Which was probably the designed intent to begin with, but you know, the more people and chaos you add to a situation, the harder it is to form any kinda of plan, tactic or strategy besides hit the first thing in front of you, preferably the biggest most obvious ones. Cat herding and all that.

Suddenly, while we were still a third of the way through on the progress bar, three mails popped up.

Whuh?

Because I am immensely curious, and can multi-task, and hell, it’s not like I’m actually making much progress or a significant dent on these crabs anyway, let’s let the 23094714 other people do it, I engaged in social loafing and took time out in combat to skim read the mails.

Spoiler: The lighthouse bites it.

Also, I was somewhat tickled, amused and pleased that ArenaNet took the previous feedback about being able to donate construction materials to the lion fountain which was lost on Halloween and applied it to the lighthouse.

Which was still conveniently there on my overflow server, so I took advantage of the foreknowledge to catch one or two last shots of it.

Though to be honest, it’s not much of a lighthouse at these graphic settings. But there was no way I could adjust it up any higher while in the middle of such crowded combat.

Shittons more karka later (are you tired yet? I’m getting exhausted simply recounting this to you,) we finally completed the event, and were treated to the expected cutscene of the Ancient Karka taking out the lighthouse.

Thus blissfully ended the lag-ridden somewhat buggy (mail mid combat, really?) chaos that was the phase 1 one-off karka event.

Subsequently, as the servers (or my computer anyway) stopped choking on the immense amount of people in one place, I eagerly rushed the marked NPCs to talk to them and see what had changed after the event.

Again, I was full of anticipation and hope. The one-off event didn’t really do much for me, but ok, all that lag and stuff was understandable, a bit buggy but we did see the story progress some… now that we were back to something that can be done at leisure during a time convenient to you, surely things would be much better, more sedately paced and more immersive.

Discovering the scavenger hunt was quite fun and thrilling. Most achiever players were still milling around the lighthouse, or looking for a reward chest, or complaining bitterly about lag and you could tell only a small subset of curious explorers were chatting up the NPCs and getting led to the wreckage along the Lion’s Arch beach to continue the plot.

Some clue hunting later, a little Googling of certain named areas as my map isn’t world complete yet, I was having quite a bit of fun racing around my as yet fully unexplored Caledon Forest trying to look for the relevant parties.

Alas, all that delay in finding the next guy led to this scene by the time I got there.

Not only is the amount of people offputting and unimmersive, I got there barely in time to catch the end of his little event with very little knowledge of what happened before that. It was quite impossible to chat and try start the event again for the story as everyone and his mother were also trying to do the same thing, and all it takes is one guy who doesn’t care to read the quest text to beat you to it.

I eventually gave up after a few more beat-em-up scenarios and went on to the next clue in the chain, thinking to maybe come back later when it was less crowded for the story. I suppose I should consider myself lucky, as I hear this NPC may have also broke some time later.

It was at Garenhoff where our luck ran out. Canach was broken, and broken good.

Some aimless running about later, I decided to check out the other bit of the story that involved Zommoros. I was quite pleased where I saw that the mails included the “show me” option, so that there was at least some in-game direction as to the location to head in, as compared to either knowing it straight off or having to resort to Google.

I was LESS than pleased where I got to Pastkeeper Saballa to find her foot stuck on one corner of an underwater cage, the escort event stalled and bugged out beyond all reckoning. Nor was the lagos responding by the time I swum up to him and his chest didn’t trigger at all.

Pissed off by the bugs, and no doubt, the hour I was attempting it at (hello, 5.30am), I didn’t bother to check on the hylek alchemist and logged off to snatch some sleep.

In all honesty, I think I would have stressed out less had I known there was more time to attempt this chain in. Knowing that phase 2 began less than 24 hours later, there was a very short window in which to experience the continuation of the story.

Seriously, ArenaNet, just how unreasonably hardcore do you expect your players to be?

And then to find it bugged, was even more infuriating.

I was quite confident that Anet would eventually get the bugs fixed. And if it were a week long scavenger hunt thing, no worries, plenty of time. But this was hurryhurryhurry all the way and keep watching Twitter to see if and when fixes were made. Not very fun.

Which was a shame, because I do rather like these scavenger hunts. Mad Memoires was very nice.

Eventually, 12 hours later, I logged back on at 5pm local time to get all three NPCs done, they were functional by that time. It took a while longer for Canach, but somehow, I lucked into him being responsive at about 7pm.

That’s wee morning hours for the North Americans, so I dunno how many managed to get them done in that short interval before phase 2.

No doubt, the story must have been quite intriguing, but to be honest, I barely remember it now. I’ll have to read the screenshots I took. All I remember is the bugs and the sense of needing to crank it out and complete each DE before the impending time limit, preferably before it breaks AGAIN.

Later I would breathe a sigh of relief that I got it done, before the miscommunication of when and whether you could continue with the chain while the event was in phase 2 or later. I honestly don’t know if the chain still worked later on. Lots of complaints on Reddit said it didn’t. I dunno. I stopped caring about it.