Blaugust Day 22: Asura Alt Collection – The Guardian (GW2)

Yep, a second guardian.

From very early on, I knew a charr guardian was going to be my main in Guild Wars 2, but coming a very close second was the idea of an asura guardian.

I was in love with the amusing contrast of really tiny yet really tanky, plus the fantastic asura combat animations, spinning around on a staff to empower, leaping and spinning everywhere like little dervishes with weapons way too large for them that pull them every which way with inertia.

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Shudd was my answer to that desire. (And we have seen him before, showing off various armor styles nearer the beginning of his career.)

Funny story about his naming – I knew he needed a proper asura name. One syllable, short and sweet, with two double letters in there somewhere.

You know, it’s a lot easier said than done.

I sat there for a good fifteen minutes, stuck at the naming portion of character creation, typing in any short, nonsensical but asura-sounding words I could think of, and coming to the conclusion that with the number of people playing GW2 that also care about naming conventions, a LOT of the possible one syllable word combinations were getting taken up… there are only so many vowels to go around and possible consonants to be arranged around them, right?

Somehow, the word “should” popped into my mind. (Maybe because the sequence of events went something like “There -should- be SOME names left, dammit.”)

There aren’t any repeated letters in that though…

So I tried, “Shodd.”

Nope. No go.

Erm, “Shadd?” Nothing.

“Shedd?” (Though it sounds silly) Nada.

Let us not try Shidd. (‘Tis a silly name.)

Eventually I went down the vowel chain, and badabing, Shudd got through. And hrm, sounds presentable to my ear. Works.

The great irony was when I played through the asura infinity ball personal story arc and realized that I had an NPC assistant named Shodd. Totally unintentional, but I suddenly had a pairing worthy of a law firm: Shudd & Shodd, World Domination Inc.

Then I got to Lion’s Arch, and realized there was another asura NPC, Captain Shud, in charge of the portals and on the captain’s council.

This was a perfect, if completely unintentional, demonstration of additional lore – aka how confusing asura names are to humans, yet utterly distinctive to the diminutive asura.

In my head, I could just hear it being patiently explained to a bookah, “No, no, you’ve got it wrong. It’s Shudd, as opposed to Shud… or Shodd,” each word carefully pronounced and articulated…

A giant question mark appearing over said bookah’s head…

…and the lil asura throwing up his hands and going, “Oh, forget it. Why am I even bothering?”

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Why -two- guardians, some would ask, when the one guardian could switch traits any time to be any build whatsoever?

Well, the idea was that my charr guardian was going to be built for solo wandering, to be mostly a one-handed weapon user, to be all hard-hitting berserker and stuff. The asura, on the other hand, was going to cleave a bit more towards meta, to do my group dungeons, to be a little tankier, to be used in WvW and we could achieve gear and build differentiation that way.

Best laid plans and all that.

It worked for a time. The meta of the day was the anchor guardian, so I faithfully picked up Knight’s gear, a hammer, a two-handed sword and so on. I did a considerable amount of dungeoning with Shudd, and couldn’t help but notice that I was picking up 95%-100% of the aggro of every fight and struggling to stay alive through self-healing, altruistic healing, renewed focus and pretty much every other trick in the book, while my group compatriots did nothing but dps (probably poorly too) and after that go, “Jeez, that was super easy. Piece of cake. Need harder difficulties!”

What? I was barely clinging on to life and it was so touch and go at certain points… And you want it, harder?!

Some time around the point between the Molten facility and the Aetherblade one, I realized I had finally had it with attempting to tank (or rather, anchor) for groups that couldn’t appreciate or see what was happening. Far better to split the aggro, let the ungrateful ones take a few hits of their own, and -feel- it, and all the stupid remarks about “easy peasy, need it harder” went away. I swapped to warrior for dungeoneering then, and retired the guardian.

He did, however, still see me through lots and lots of WvW. I swapped around cleric, soldier, zerker, zealot stats every which way, trying to figure out the best combinations, changing between tanky/bunker healbots, tanky frontline spearheads, not-so-tanky midline staff (lootstick) spam and basically played a ton of melee frontline in a zerg, during the best of times with superb commanders.

These days, I’ve been changing it up and playing more ranged backline (it’s also lazier and less stressful and easier to drop in and out unmissed) so poor old Shudd is sitting around unused, with bags still mostly bursting and untended to. Probably just a matter of time before things change again, I suppose.

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Personality-wise, Shudd is a lot more gregarious than Kujl.

His oddity, I suppose, is his adventuresome nature. He’s also off exploring the wilderness and interacting with all races of Tyria in a manner similar to the old GW1 hero, Vekk.

Yes, he is snide and snarky, like nearly all asura out there; he’ll cheerfully call you a bookah without thinking twice, but he’s not xenophobic about it. He’s in fact quite happy traveling and communicating with all races because to him, everything’s part of one giant lab experiment – his lab experiment.

Graduating from the College of Synergistics, he studies relationships and connections. You might call him a sort of sociologist or anthropologist, practising observational science. He studies various cultures, how they get along, relate to and interact with one another. He’s interested in psychology, history, economics and basically anything and everything that might suggest how it all synergizes into the Eternal Alchemy.

Because well, if he can understand that, then that’s it right there. The secret to life, universe and everything. Godhood, world domination, your heart’s desire, the fount of eternal life, the source of all magic, whatever, it all pales in comparison to the origin of knowledge, to understanding how it all ties together.

If the network of the Eternal Alchemy can be determined, mapped and understood, everything else would naturally fall into place like dominos following a chain reaction.

It’s going to take a life’s work. It’ll be a magnum opus, and possibly a swan song. It may mean slaying the Elder Dragons, if need be. So Shudd’s out there, observing, cataloging, fighting, searching for true facts and truth itself.

(And occasionally looking cute, in a gremlin-sort of way.)
(And occasionally looking cute, in a gremlin-sort of way.)

Everything else, well, it’s just stuff made in passing, inventions to kill time or serve a purpose.

The infinity ball? A toy.

The alchemagical devices that generate holograms like shattered dragon wings and his sword? Just utility tools.

His powered armor? #normalgeniusasurathings. Doesn’t everybody do that?

Whatever. The answer is out there. Somewhere.

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This post was brought to you by the letters B for Belghast and Blaugust, and the number 22, and 42.

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Blaugust Day 21: Sleep is for the Weak, and They’re All Ok By Me (On Gaming Priorities and Balance)

Yesterday, I managed to discover one thing I prioritized over writing a blog post and meeting the Blaugust deadline: SLEEP.

It was 9pm on a Friday night, all the time in the world to scratch out a blog post really, but since I’ve been nursing a mild cold that only fills up half a trash can full of tissues (as opposed to nastier ones that devours boxes of tissues and fills a trash can to overflowing) and feeling moderately woozy (which could also have been caffeine withdrawal from two Starbucks lattes downed mid-week to speed up the work day…)

…I looked from computer to bed, and bed to computer, and then said, “Forget it. Tomorrow’s Saturday. I’ll knock out two posts.”

The extra 2-3 hours feels really good this morning though. I suspect I’d been shaving off an hour or two the last few days and accumulating sleep deprivation that way.

Funnily enough, before I crashed, I managed to make time to knock out GW2 dailies and attend guild missions (and Trove dailies while feeling grumpy about how long weekly guild missions were taking this Friday.)

And dinner, of course. And a shower. Before game. Then sleep. Because health.

In my roundabout way, I’m trying to figure out how to segue into a topic that part of the blogosphere’s been talking about lately: Gaming priorities.

  • Apparently Izlain and Eri started it, with a Couch Potatoes AMA, where they talk about regrets from their gaming habits. (Which I will admit I have not prioritized any time to listen to, so am quoting off someone else’s summary. I’m a poor audio learner, ok?)
  • Braxwolf picks up the thread, where he wonders about the impact of having too many sources of short-term gratification tempting our younger generations and if this stands in the way of them being able to endure hardship for long term benefits.
  • Rowan Blaze adds on to it, pointing out that gaming is just one of a myriad other activities that it is possible to become obsessed with or addicted to, at the expense of other things. He goes on to cover gaming and its possible effects on relationships.

Then there are other posts that aren’t explicitly about gaming priorities, but seem to me to be related:

  • James over at Goobbue Crossing is feeling the grind in GW2, flooded with currencies he has little present use for and can’t figure out, and feeling under-motivated (and not really rewarded) to get past the learning hump.

Plus pretty much any and every other post that laments the fact that there are too many games out there (including those on one’s Steam list) and/or the need to focus playing only a few of those at any one time, and/or the challenge of finding enough hours in the day to knock out a blog post in addition to the above.

I find myself in total agreement with Syl’s comment over at Braxwolf’s:

There’s always something to learn in nature and it so happens that in nature too, substances that can heal you very often can harm/kill you too (aka ‘the dose makes the poison’). Games or rather escapism through games, has the potential to do a lot of good in a person’s life; it can get them through a time of hardship and tragedy, it can cure them of loneliness and insecurity. For a time. Until it stops doing these things and becomes the opposite.

The keyword is balance. Sometimes you know when to stop and re-balance, sometimes you’ll learn the hard way… It’s never too late to look at your life and change things if you really want to, especially if you’re still young and capable.

Moderation and balance, and becoming clearer in what you value, and thus should prioritize.

It’s easy to see that in Braxwolf’s case, one of his values is long-term benefits/greater good over immediate hedonistic happiness, and Rowan strongly values his relationship with Scooter, for example.

I can totally relate with James’ currency flood feeling, every time I try to get back to LOTRO, my bags overflow with things I’m sure I don’t need to bother with right yet, but have no idea where to put them in the meantime, and it feels like a hurdle I’m not willing to cross because some things about LOTRO just don’t appeal to me as much as other MMOs.

I try to play Eve Online, and while the learning hump there feels like a fun challenge to get over, I usually end up asking myself, but why would I do it? I would be paying a subscription (or grinding isk for one) to basically be someone else’s content, because I’m not really motivated by socializer or killer preferences. I’d be better off playing an MMO that hits my more favored Explorer or Achiever tendencies, and does so in a less directly competitive manner.

Different people may value different things more highly, and prioritize them differently as a result. It’s really all about balancing what we value first, and not let any of them take the upper hand and overwhelm everything else that we also value.

And if that does happen, well, it’s a learning experience… learned the hard way.

I dunno, but I rarely frame these things as a regret. Regret to me, kind of says that you wished they hadn’t happened. But in my opinion, I needed them to happen in order that I could learn valuable lessons and readjust my life as a result. One doesn’t learn by coasting through life. One only learns when one stumbles, or rams facefirst into a wall, or falls flat on one’s bum. Hurts, but learning to get up again is also another one of those important life lessons.

Incidentally, the longest continuous gaming session I ever experienced was in my foolhardy youth, where winning was everything, and my team raced two other teams on a MUD quest marathon to kill 30 raid-like bosses. It took us 9 hours. We won. One other team called it after that, and the last team gamely plodded on and finished at the 11th hour.

After that, I said “My god. That was crazy. Never again. Worth the experience once. But never, never again.”

No regrets. But I definitely learned the boundaries of one of my priorities that day.

This post was brought to you by the letters B for Belghast and Blaugust, and the number 21.