GW2: Define “Hard” More Specifically

8-Bit Eye of Sauron

Tribulation Mode – World 1 Zone 1

This zone was where I started meditating and musing on the definition of “hard” or “difficult” as I jumped, died, respawned x 100.

You may be surprised, but I rather liked it and was enjoying myself doing so.

Knew it was gonna happen. Had to try regardless.
Knew it was gonna happen. Had to try regardless.

With the ICC, of course. It is a must on Tribulation Mode IF you want to play it as intended, rather than just look up a guide and follow someone else’s route for the sake of efficiency and just getting to the end. In which case, some patient continue coin grind would probably get you through.

Part of it is mindset and expectation. I expect and accept that Tribulation Mode is built for life-squandering trial and error to find the safe path, having been forewarned about it.

In the same way that I -don’t- expect and accept that Normal Mode will nom lives like Super Meat Boy. Especially with a previous expectation set by prior zones of a certain difficulty.

The other thing you may not know about me is that I can get into a certain obsessive “mapping” frame of mind.

In my old MUD, I once bemused an immortal who had made a maze he thought was too large to be mapped by giving it a systematic go, knowing what I did of how MUD mazes were constructed.

A room is defined with a number, then exits in all cardinal directions are linked to other numbers. The maze could be made more difficult by having a room flagged to periodically randomize which room was linked with which direction, but the list of linked rooms generally did not change unless he had tweaked the code.

As long as each room could be marked in some way with something unique, it was just a matter of drawing little squares, numbering them, and lines pointing in all directions, ready to put numbers next to them as one went in each direction and checked the room.

A mage character could create free little balls of light. I made 200, stuck them in my bag, and began dropping them. Room 1, one ball. Room 2, two balls. Unsoweiter. Making more balls as necessary.

It was mostly data collection, as the dropped balls would be wiped when the MUD next reset and the maze would be featureless once again. But dammit, I had the time and the insane curiosity had taken hold of me to see JUST how many rooms he had made and linked together.

My count was 198 rooms, if you must know.


I never did get around to actually linking up the maze, though I did discover that some rooms appeared to be fixed and didn’t rotate directions over time.

Actual application? Zero.

But I was just really happy both systematically mapping in meditative fashion and increasing the sum total of my knowledge and understanding (and being considered nuts in the process.)

Tribulation Mode triggered that part of me with a vengeance.

The discovery, mapping and exploration part. It rarely gets its day in the sun.

I simply wasn’t satisfied following a single safe path and hitting the end ASAP. I had to know it all.

Must know the extent of this barrier...
Must know the full extent of this barrier…

My dream? Every single flower, every single trap and barrier all neatly demarcated. Once the danger zones are clearly indicated, by definition, all and any alternate routes would show up as well.

My artistic capability being fairly non-existent, I can’t quite draw a top down view of the zone and label stuff, though I wanted to, quite badly. I contented myself with taking loads of screenshots, constructing a mental map and promising myself I’d come back with video footage to collect more data.

I’ll probably run out of time before ever getting it done. And probably go into a panic in the last week and just consult guides to get the rest over with, but it was the thought that made me glad to keep minesweeping with my body, on purpose.

Ooh, there’s lava here? Where exactly does it start or stop? *flings self into the depths* *rotates camera eagerly*


Of course, the ICC and the checkpoints help. If there was longer iteration time or a punishing penalty per attempt, I’d leave it for someone else to do.

There was one section in zone 1 though that I DID NOT LIKE. As you might guess, this was a timing dependent section, with a sequence of jumping rocks that bounced up and down and caused knockback into bottomless abysses.

I was keenly aware of my latency yet again, as I would make it to the next platform, then get knocked off as the rock behind me came down and impacted, in a manner very similar to how knockback hit me when water spouts evaporated under me. Again and again.

I was desperately scrabbling to find as safe a spot to stop as possible so that the number of required jumps in tandem could be reduced and client and server could catch up. Even the safe spot was 50/50, sometimes I’d hit it and be safe, other times the knockback of the rock WAY behind me as it came down would kick me off regardless.

This is Tribulation Mode though, so you won’t find me on the forums criticizing it as long as one attempt in a hundred or so works. I was hitting slightly more success than that, and the checkpoint was just ahead, so I just barreled through 30 lives or so trying.

After that, it was back to peaceful trial-and-error mapping again.

And so it came to pass that as I was rezzing for the umpteen time, having missed a jump by a hair yet again, that I started to wonder just what other people got out of Tribulation Mode being “hard” and whether they were justified in feeling superior as a result.

Also, was it really hard? And in what way?

Other people are, no doubt, better at jumping than I am. Now, they could have better, faster reflexes. I passed the twenties quite some time ago, and I hear competitive Starcraft players retire by 25+. They could have better ping. (They probably do.) They might have better computers offering them faster framerates. (They definitely do.) Maybe they play a character with more accurate feet placement. Perhaps they just have an instinctual knack for judging where invisible hitboxes will come down.

On the other hand, I feel confident in saying that a lot more people would consult someone else’s guide and content themselves with precise execution, than would willingly throw themselves into the task of mapping for full understanding. My failing at instinctive jumps leads to a lot of analysis – it’s become almost second nature to look from corner to corner of each jump, eyeballing the closest distance and using that line to make the jump, my charr jumps are probably a lot better than someone playing a human who doesn’t jump on a regular basis, and so on. I probably have superhuman levels of patience and persistence at times.

What makes one superior to another? Whose measuring stick are we using? What is this obsession with measurement, anyhow?

The process of discovery in Tribulation Mode is time-consuming. I happen to be able to spare the time. Does that make me superior to someone who cannot spare that time? Does it make Tribulation Mode “hard?”

Tribulation Mode requires precision jumping, sometimes with near-pixel perfect accuracy, and sometimes it has to be done in a time-critical fashion. If someone can pull that off more consistently than another, does it make them superior? Even if the advantage is only via geographic location, rather than actual reflexes?

Tribulation Mode is costly (in terms of lives) when you are trial-and-erroring for the first time or make a mistake. You are required to either prepare for this via grinding baubles in other modes (spending time) or put down the equivalent of US$7.50 in either real money or in-game currency. Is any method to be considered superior to another?

People who can put up with Tribulation Mode are demonstrating high levels of patience and persistence. Does it make them better than someone else who chooses not to, or can’t be bothered to do the same?

Honestly, I don’t think so.

And I really don’t get those people who think that achieving this somehow makes them feel special or more prestigious to wave a shiny green or yellow sword around.

How in the world is your self-worth predicated on restricting what other people can or can’t achieve?

Oh, and when you say you want “harder” or “more difficult” content, kindly specify if you want it time-consuming, reflex-based, latency-reliant, stat-dependent, group-required or some other way of excluding a group of people from said content.

P.S. Here, before the inevitable retort of “Sure, you say all that because you can’t do it. Nyah nyah!”

And what does this prove?
And what does this prove?

P.P.S. Now I’ll grant you one thing. If you just say you want an option available, because you enjoy the process of defeating a challenge in some manner, while the alternative of easy mode leaves you bored. I support adjustable, variable difficulty to reach the optimum state of flow.

But hard in what manner? Something that takes multiple repeated tries before success? Something that takes a group or social media to puzzle out together? Dependent on what, luck? The mystic forge does that. Skill? What does that comprise of, exactly? How many hours spent striving for it is reasonable?

And I will still make fun of you if you ask for a more special reward for doing it “the hard way” because you deserve it.

GW2: Reflection on World 2 “Difficulty” With Lag, Cheats and Guides

For whom the bell tolls...

So in my slow and steady way over the past few days, I finished tackling World 2-2 and World 2-3 on normal mode.

Normal Mode – World 2 Zone 2

World 2-2 was done with Dulfy’s secrets and full baubles guide in hand, mostly because I hate assassins and wanted the level done and over with in one fell swoop.

My latency or my reflexes simply -cannot- sidestep those red ones around 50% of the time, so I just eat the damage if necessary and flail away – sometimes I sneak up on ’em and use scenery or bombs or slingshots to help.

Of course, because I am a maniac who likes to discover things on my own at the same time, I did it on normal mode instead of infantile mode as recommended – Dulfy’s clientele being mostly people who just want direction to the end ASAP – using my own judgment to find jumps to the next checkpoint when Dulfy discussed moving back and forth on rainbows.

I had the time set aside, though I was a little terrified that my router would overheat and disconnect like it sometimes has a tendency of doing. It behaved this time around, but you never know.

I found the majority of the level surprisingly tolerable, though it is simply a freaking HUGE level and still way too lengthy for the average player to take in, if you ask my opinion. This was after the patch, so I guess things got tweaked to a decent difficulty.

I rather liked the piranha and octopus feeding mechanic. I found it both entertaining to figure out and accomplish. The in-game cues were sufficient for me to solve it without need to refer to any external guide.

I didn’t have problems with the bell like some apparently did – maybe coordinating one person is easier than trying to get five people properly situated where they’re supposed to be.

I got by with the dart and block puzzles. The first set I’d solved in infantile before, the second set was exasperating and sneaky but I basically brute forced it by trying to push every single block until it couldn’t be pushed any further, while trying (but not often succeeding) to minimize deaths.

I LOATHED the dart pagoda. I understood the theory fine. Check every pillar for those dart traps, map out a safe route (be it in your head or on paper,) do your best to navigate it and curse and swear if you moved a pixel into the line of fire or didn’t see that one trap WAY across the room.


My major issue was how it slowed down the pace of the game mode to a crawl. Part of the fun of the SAB for me is hopping around like Super Mario at a good clip. This turned into a nervous tiptoe around every corner, checking every possible surface for protrusions. The instant I sped up, an accident was bound to happen.

There were so many fucking floors, for another. All looking identical on the surface, but some floors you run on the outside, some you run inside and what have you. I was also fretting about how I was going to remember the run down after I hit that gong at the top, given that UP was so annoying.

Between my crappy memory and unwillingness to physically map every single dart trap at the time (my main goal then was finish the level, not MAP the level,) my lives were dropping off like gassed flies and I was in severe danger of running out of lives, continue coins AND baubles to buy more coins.

And above all, I didn’t want to have to quit halfway and fully complete this goddamn level one more time.

You might be able to guess that I caved in to convenience at this point and bought the Infinite Continue Coin to ensure that didn’t have to happen. (At least I held out till -after- patch fix.)

It was good I did, because as suspected, the gong run down was sensitive to latency and it took quite a number of attempts.

Eventually, each part got done, I got the full experience (and then some – repeated backtracking to Shortcut Eagle without rainbows is interesting, to say the least) and I suppose I can now join the rest of the cohort happy to skip past most of the huge level with the shortcut.

Do we forgive its design simply because there’s an approved way to skip past most of it though?

Normal Mode – World 2 Zone 3

World 2-3 is still incomplete in terms of full secrets and baubles, mostly because I was hoping to tackle both at once as the information came out. But I couldn’t wait any longer for normal mode completion, so I jumped into it headfirst.


Again, not too bad mostly, if really really long.

Mind you, my judgment at this point is colored by ownership of the ICC.

I would have hated the backtracking from accidentally falling off cliffs and icy slopes if doing it without the equivalent of a convenience cheat code. To save myself climbing time, I threw myself off into the abyss at points after falling too far, preferring to consume a life and wind up at the checkpoint, rather than navigate the entire course again.

I did do most of it without the cheat code that everyone has the potential to own though. Ie. the flute.

As I hadn’t actually earned the Ice Song, I didn’t feel good using it. (Not sure if it would even work without having visited the secret first.)

I didn’t use Gatekeeper’s Lullaby because I felt like daring the timing for most of the way until the last set of icy bridges which looked way too intimidating and it suddenly occurred to me that I should give that a try to see if the opposite of opening closed mouths worked on open mouths.

And I did stop to check a section of guide when I encountered the area I suspected would yield Moto’s Finger by accidentally reading one too many threads on Reddit, on the not-goddamn-coming-back-again-for-it principle.

As usual, latency made this part REALLY interesting, mitigated only by the ICC and a near-ish checkpoint.

They weren't kidding about poor visibility. Valid challenge or no?
They weren’t kidding about poor visibility. Valid challenge or no?

That whole nonsense about playing one note first before jumping, then another note on the first cloud, and then two on the second, and the last two on the third? Out the fucking window. -My- flute holds the first note for an extremely long time. It lasts for the cloud before, the first cloud, and if I’m lucky, I might get the next note on the second cloud.

Play another note on the second cloud? Poof, it’s gone and I’m falling. Play two notes on ONE cloud? If you like to gamble, maybe.

But since we Oceanics and Asians are so fucking hardcore playing with the latency we have, as long as there’s a doable workaround to hit upon, we will figure it out. Eventually.

Alternate strategy tip for those still trying: I ended up bouncing from cloud to cloud in a continuous cycle. Use the cloud before as well. Those four clouds will keep you afloat as long as you get the timing down as they respawn. Then toot a note as and when you can. That mouth will open at some point.

I suppose I’ll revisit both zones a few times more. I’m sure I’m doing something wrong when the Storm Wizard goes into his charging phase because I get constantly hit, even keeping at a long distance and dodging. His second charge will get me. I have an ICC, may as well practice.

I also love digging in every suspicious nook and cranny. While I did take my time in both zones exploring and found a few chests and things, I’m sure there’s more. I’m just not sure how viable it would be to run these for diggable baubles, given how long and annoying they can be on normal.