Try as I might, I can’t bring myself to be perturbed by the GW2 mount skin furor.

A pall of deeper games nihilism has draped itself around me like a languid cat that is having far too comfortable a time.


In essence, I’m playing too many games.

Something happens in one of them.

I could get worked up…

… or I could spin up another game and play that instead.

GW2 has been seriously lagging me out for the past few weeks.

My dps was sub-par in last week’s raid. (Or was it the week before?) I was probably the only one slightly bothered by my self-monitoring – PS warriors don’t have to do -that- much to be passable as long as they were giving 25 stacks of might.

Come this week, and the new patch knocked PS warrior support out of the meta (welp, it was a good run) in favor of double duty might-stacking and heal/boon druid. Now the least onerous thing I can play is a DPS role, and I have to learn a new set of rotations.

Firebrand sounded like a fun idea, with lots of FIRE to sate my pyromaniacal urges.

Last Friday’s lag meant hopeless performance in terms of benchmarking dps. RIP hopes and dreams.

This Tuesday, I tried again and things were fine for the first two raid wings. Middle of the line, with room for improvement, which is good because a) things can only get better as I get more practice at the rotation, and b) even at my unskilled skill level, I’m not the shittiest.

Third wing and latency got bad. 700ms – 2394ms lag spike bad, for a couple seconds before dropping back down to the more usual 270 odd ms. It is not fun to play any kind of game when you press a button and nothing happens and you just see the skill bar flash. My dps practically halved. Yeah, well. That will happen when nothing fires and you have to wait for stuff to happen before pressing the next button.

Xera was the last straw. I had the misfortune of getting selected as the player to fire the shield to protect the party, and I “very cleverly” continued to count off as per normal timing, only to discover with less than two seconds to spare that repeatedly pounding the special action key = zero effect and skill button flashing.

Oh crap.

The raid team had just enough time to panic, before we wiped to her mechanic. Cue lots of ‘splaining to do.

Fortunately, if aggravatingly, lag-related shenanigans produce a lot of visible side effects in Xera. I had a narrow miss with a ley line glide just before the faux pas with the shield. Right after, the client disconnected me, I zoned back in, only to rubber band around while I struggled to fire one single effing mantra skill. Then I promptly fell right through the first ley line on the next try.

I dunno about my raid team compatriots, but that was about all -I- could stand.

There’s nothing to improve or indeed, even do, when the server and client just aren’t talking to each other and are busy producing highly unpredictable results. So I bowed out.

I’ll give Anet’s increasingly shit servers another try on our second raid day, and if I’m still lagging, that’s that for the week. There’ll be another week. In the meantime, I could be playing Warframe, or Path of Exile, or one of two idle clickers, or the thousands of Steam games that are yet unplayed.

There was a point a while back when I would have been a lot more upset about this state of affairs. I would have worried about what others thought of me and my performance. I would have fretted that I would eventually get kicked out of a static team, and thus be unable to achieve my goals of legendary armor. I might have ranted and raved and been generally more noisy about it all.

Now, I still feel a little bad for the team’s inconvenience, but eh, what can you do about lag? Absolutely nothing. Especially when you’re not lagging on Teamspeak, or any other fragging game – like Warframe or Path of Exile.

Presumably, someone will get around to figuring the root cause at some point and the lag will clear up some day.

If the lag doesn’t ever let up, like how I can no longer play Trove, then I might eventually get replaced by the raid team, and I might eventually find GW2 no longer fun to play when it takes the game 3 seconds to realize I’m trying to harvest a node, and 5 seconds to realize I want to mount.

This is not as terrifying a sequence of events as it might have once been. Still a bit scary, as in scary leap-into-the-unknown “I’d really rather not” scary, but not “it’s the end of the world and life is no longer worth living” despair.

I guess the thing is, when you play too many games, you gradually come to realize that all the numbers climbing, all the promise of progression… it is all, in the end, arbitrary.

I am voluntarily hamster-wheeling.

I pick a goal in GW2, I go do it, the days pass. (And they pass faster when I’m lagging, because I log right out again.)

I pick a goal in Warframe, I try to learn more about and do it, the hours pass.

A race is on in Path of Exile, and I think, what the heck, let me try and climb some levels with a new build to reach the designated level range where I might earn a chance at some prizes.

I have no time to play even a minimal interaction mobile game like Dragonvale or Pokemon Go, so I crank up Crusaders of the Lost Idols and/or Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms to click a few buttons and then let the games climb their own levels by themselves.

Then I go and read a digital library book instead, because why not? I’m learning interesting stuff by reading too. It’s just as arbitrary a goal. It’s whatever happens to be more entertaining/relaxing/enjoyable at that present moment.

It’s somewhat ironic that the more games nihilism envelopes me, the more positively zen I get.

There are an amazing amount of people out there who are devastatingly attached to Fashion Wars, to their collection of bits and bobs and shiny digital thingmajigs in their game of choice.

Or to the promise of greater and better and ever higher numbers on their virtual avatars.

Try as I might, I’m just not in the right frame of mindset to attach that deeply right now. It just doesn’t feel as searingly important as it might have been once upon a time.

To me, we have this HUGE hoo-ha about mount skins because many people WANT to own them, but not at the price that is being offered. It’s the $70 monocle with a side helping of RNG and gambling indignation thrown in.

I wonder, if the total cost of each mount license were 70 cents, whether the crowd would roar as loudly.

That is not to dismiss ethical concerns. Anet still has a long way to go in terms of improving its microtransaction strategy to become something more players would willingly and happily pay for. (My two cents, check out Grinding Gear Games and Path of Exile for ideas.)

Regardless, no one owns these things forever. It doesn’t seem sensible to get /that/ attached. Ask Gazillion and the players of Marvel Heroes, or for that matter, NCsoft and the players of City of Heroes.


2 thoughts on “Arbitrary

  1. Bhagpuss says:

    MMOs that close are still the exception, though. At some point time will change that but at present it’s far more likely your MMO of choice will continue to exist than that it will close down.

    I wonder if the mount controversy and your lag problems really are unrelated? Every time any major MMO draws this amount of negative attention, especially for supposed sharp business practice, some bright spark sets a botnet on the servers. Apparently FFXIV has been under attack for weeks now…presumably in revenge for the housing debacle there. Have they said the current GW2 problems are a DDoS attack?

  2. Isey says:

    I am with you on the caring-not-caring bit. I love the games that I am playing. Some, like Battlefront 2 – I was really looking forward to trying. Once I read about what is going on there I was fine not buying, and even maybe better off for it – since I already have so much to do.

    The worst thing video games could do right now is make people not care about them in this world that is competing for our distraction/down time. And they are doing a great job of just that.

    Warframe is super fun for me (still!) and its not abnormal while reading reddit to meet people who have spent 600 – 1000 hours in it. I also owe the Secret World a run through the story. I have more games to play than I have time to play them, so patience with things I disagree with is at an all time low. Add to that, my gaming time also competes with my Netflix time, and cigar smoking time, and anything that constitutes “unwinding”. Much like your book example.

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