GW2: Heart of Thorns Beta Sneak Peek / Test Thingmajig Thoughts

beta_wyvern

Brought down a wyvern out of the sky with about 8 people or so.

Felt pretty good.

Oh yeah, we killed it too, but that was only a matter of time. (S’ good no time limit.)

The defiance break bar felt quite good. Seemed like it would take about 5-6 people’s coordinated cc within a fairly short (5 seconds?) period of time to successfully land.

At first there was only me and another person landing cc at most.

Then I decided that everyone else hadn’t read the skill bar for their revenants (understandable, my eyes were glazing trying to make sense of their utilities and I told myself, meh, will learn it as I level the real one when the expansion hits) and outright announced which skill to use.

It took about 5 more break bars of practice, with one or two more people catching on each time, but as the wyvern dropped to about 1/4 health, we finally managed ONE coordinated cc spike. Just the one, but it was rather satisfying to see it crash out of the sky instead of flying off and coating the platform with flame.

I figure it’ll only be a matter of time before people learn. Seems learnable. And if it doesn’t work, it’ll just take slightly longer to succeed, is all. (For this encounter, anyway.)

Pretty small test area for the beta, but what was there felt overall good and tight.

beta_masteries

Masteries were there with readable tooltips.

It -did- take me a while to figure out where they put it, since I kinda skipped over the first popup tip.

Went through the hero panel with no success, becoming more and more perplexed until I finally spied the unfamiliar symbol in the lower right hand corner of my screen. Clicking on it pulled it up.

Revenant was on show with limited traits and weapons and stances (looks like the heavy armor equivalent of engineer and elementalist complexity, if you ask me, and I think it’s a class I will probably be more inclined to learn over the other two.)

Pretty wild skills overall. A ranged hammer and a mace/axe that felt melee-ish. A lot of rectangular line-shaped skills. Some kind of stored up energy system for utility skills and elites rather than the usual cooldown times. A ‘resistance’ buff that makes them ignore conditions for the duration (“Nooooo,” scream my condi PvP builds) and a lot of condition/boon manipulation possibilities, I think.

One ‘Adventure’ was on show, where you run around with a flamethrower and torch vine tendrils and try to reach bronze, silver, gold target numbers for doing it good, better, best. I managed bronze and unlocked a mastery point, so that’s one option for masteries. Seemed like a solo style scoring affair at first glance, not 100% sure. Might be a minor social issue of “you took my mob spawns!” if so.

beta_gliding

The only thing that I wasn’t 100% impressed with was gliding.

I didn’t like the delay between leaping off something, falling screaming a certain distance before the option to “Press Space to Glide” came up. I’m not sure if it’s a ping issue (~230ms, for the record) but I fell for like several character lengths (heights) before I could press space to trigger the gliding. That feels very awkward, compared with my memory of how smooth it was in Aion.

The glider also looked remarkably lame. Like I grabbed a pink flower to fly or something – too curvy, I kinda had the expectation that gliders would be more aerodynamically streamlined with straight lines…

Once the glider had taken hold though, the actual gliding experience felt ok.

Caught an updraft once during the wyvern fight (had to get out of combat to switch weapons) and that worked as expected. Fly into it with glider, thing lifts you like an elevator (or one of those aetherblade bounce pads, but slightly slower and more controlled) and you can glide out of it as desired.

Besides that, everything else felt decent. The one event chain that was on display worked. Fight a bunch of mordrem vines and stuff. Fight a bunch more mordrem while carrying bombs to blow up something. Lazy people who refuse to carry bombs can hang way back in a separate event to snipe mobs with a seriously overpowered sniper rifle, assisting in the otherwise highly tedious killing of Mordrem husks that get in the way of the bomb carriers. Succeeding let you board choppers to take out ze wyvern.

beta_crash

Very little need to comment about the scenery. All well done, aesthetically spot on in the usual ArenaNet style. Jungle definitely looking to be quite vertical, did quite a bit of accidental (then purposeful) falling and getting out of the beta testing area via gravity and getting forcibly zapped back to starting point as a result. Presumably will be even MORE vertical when the real thing hits.

Can’t wait.

(In the meantime, I need to get around to a post or series of posts about what I’ve been up to the past week or so, but bah, busy busy busy.)

GW2: Recent PvP Resources

It seems like the updates to GW2 PvP to put in reward tracks and ranked/unranked matches has been overall quite healthy for the state of sPvP. Especially with the new dailies that tempt me to get a game in nearly every day, just playing on a super casual and carefree level.

I’m probably not the only one.

And with this influx of new blood, there seems to be a larger appreciative audience of people interested in learning more about GW2 PvP and how it all works, which encourages skilled players to share advice and teach others.

I haven’t watched all the videos yet on the QQmore.net website but they all look very helpful.

I was especially fond of the Mindset and Avoiding Frustration text guide because it touches on something I’m still trying to work out and get right, how to react better when one is frustrated.

I used to get frustrated very easily and become very avoidant of things that frustrate me as a result.

I’d have very high expectations (of myself or of the result that I desired) and when I didn’t get it, man, anger, frustration, bottled up tantrums, all the bad feelings I’d try not to spew out onto other people (cos I did that in my early years a couple of times and that’s not nice or mature to take it out on others), and hey, I didn’t want to be the sole target of those bad feelings either, so… easy solution: don’t do the things that cause the frustration, right?

Well… avoiding works if you don’t care enough about the activity or result either way to get worked up about it, which works for unimportant stuff but not for stuff you actually wanna do.

Turns out that reframing one’s perspective and looking for constructive solutions/goals and small improvements to cheer about can be another way to deal with frustration – that’s still a work in progress for me, but I seem to be getting better at it via the Marionette, Tequatl, Boss Blitz, Lion’s Arch sequence.

Dabbling around in sPvP has been another way for me to work on this. I generally care very little about sPvP, or my reputation, what other people think of me, or how I look or perform (self-image-wise), which makes it easier to distance myself from whether I win or lose a particular match.

All I really care about is whether I’m performing to the best of my ability on a particular chosen character, and if I can keep learning or improving and getting a smidgen better or more familiar or more comfortable with that class.

Which ironically does frustrate me from time to time when I’m not doing well, but the guide’s right, if something’s frustrating you, that’s probably because it’s a learning opportunity, because someone is playing much much better than you and can be learned from, if one can just take away one’s ego from the equation. (Frickin’ super-ping sword/dagger thieves that just zip around and pwn. *coughs*)

Another fun resource that I enjoyed watching was Phantaram teaching Sodapoppin GW2 sPvP:

I gather that these two are streamers of some importance or other. The S guy being some WoW hotshot and Phantaram being a really good GW2 sPvP tournament player of some kind, who also turns out to have the patience of a saint when coaching. Mad respect.

This is very much worth watching for anyone interested in GW2 PvP – it’s very introductory, goes through some of the most common builds of all the classes and what they’re liable to do, and really shows off to an inexperienced player the potential -depth- of GW2’s PvP – which at first feels like a whole bunch of explosive lights and colors and someone’s dead, wut, but that there’s really some sophisticated stuff going on under the hood to pull that kind of thing off.

Buttons to chain in sequence to set up some spike damage or a kill (often assisted with some crowd control) and how to counter or escape someone that’s setting up to do that to you, and so on.

How one class can counter another and vice versa, and more besides.

It’s very much a taster, but it’s a very tempting taste, and even I’m tempted to start watching more of Phantaram’s and other streamers’ videos now… except for the whole need-time-to-do-so thing. Gah.

Minecraft: Wanderlust Reloaded – Magical Castaway

I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts...

As sheer serendipity would have it, an idly rolled up world to argue the merits of procedural generation yielded a seed that sent my imagination into overdrive.

One turned up on the edge of what appeared to be a modestly sized island continent surrounded by ocean, beach/desert in the vicinity and what appeared to be a jungle or tropical rainforest in the distance to explore.

Surely, this place is tailor made for a survivor-castaway scenario.

But how could I make it different from the ongoing Wanderlust Reloaded game I was playing in a relaxing learn-all-the-mods-slowly fashion?

A few ideas struck me.

I tend to be attracted to tech/modern mods and make a beeline to Tinker’s Construct and Minefactory Reloaded as a comfort zone, since those were the first few I learned in Agrarian Skies. However, setting up a factory goes rather completely against the theme and idea of a sailor or person castaway on a desert island. How would they even make a modern machine?

So, rule 1: Minimal to no tech/modern mods to be used in this particular game world.

It so happened that some initial scouting revealed the presence of some magical NPCs on the island. Perfect. The rationale then would be to use nature and magic-based mods to progress, with the explanation that the NPCs had ‘taught’ these to my castaway character.

I was also somewhat sick of the constant nightly attacks of zombies and skeletons. Wouldn’t it feel a lot more immersive and like I was really cast away on an island if the night stayed peaceful and quiet as well, rather than recapitulate the zombie apocalypse every single time the moon rose?

Setting it to peaceful mode seemed a little like cheating though.

But then really, as I thought further, maybe it would actually make progress -harder- in that I wouldn’t have an easily renewable source of string from spiders, gunpowder from creepers, rotten flesh from zombies and bones from skeletons. In fact, I wouldn’t even be able to make a mob grinder… and that started to worry me a bit.

So I concocted a little trapdoor for myself. The -island- would stay peaceful, but I’d switch it back to normal mode if I changed dimensions. Yep, Nether, Twilight Forest, a Mystcraft age, whatever.

It made a certain kind of immersive sense that I’d crash onto a deserted island, save for a few peaceful natives, learn magic in an attempt to get away, and then eventually cross over into other dimensions that would be more hazardous and filled with hostiles.

Rule 2: Play in peaceful mode on the island. Switch back to normal mode once one crosses dimensions.

I was also a little sick of the common Minecraft tactic to dig a big mineshaft or stairway to bedrock or y = 12, and then dig a whole bunch of straight line criss-crossing tunnels pulling out diamonds, redstone and other valuable bits of ore.

It’s efficient, yes, but didn’t seem terribly immersive to me.

So I came up with another crazy idea, one I’m not sure how far or long it’ll last, as I really don’t know the layout and if it’ll yield enough resources…

Rule 3: There will be minimal manual mining through stone.

The idea is that I’ll go into already exposed caves and ravines and mine the ore that’s actually visible and a block or two around those visible veins. I won’t start hand carving massive dwarf mines through perfectly solid rock with a handful of stone or iron pickaxes.

The little loophole there is ‘manual’ so that later, if I like, create a golem or something that will mine straight tunnels for me, or create some sort of super-efficient magical pickaxe, then it’ll seem a bit more consistent to the ‘realism’ of this particular world that I could then create vast caverns if I wanted to.

Rule 4: We will try to build aesthetically thematic structures consistent with a ‘magical castaway’ theme.

Cheating in decorative blocks to paint textures on say, carpenter’s blocks, is permissible, to both make life easier and make it more aesthetically-pleasing, but cheated in blocks will not be used in functional ways. The carpenter’s blocks themselves would have been made with uncheated wood resources.

Sadly, I haven’t had a lot of real life time to play this particular world, or any Minecraft, to be honest, since I’ve also been distracted by buying the remastered Grim Fandango lately, but here’s the beginning of the adventure:

mc3

Cast away on the shores of a strange island, I try to make my way inland to gather some wood. Shelter, and a signal fire is primarily on my mind. Oh, and food, and a fresh water source.

mc2

I nearly perish when unawares, I stumble into a patch of quicksand. Some frantic digging and scrabbling away at the edge of the pit saves me.

There are a number of these differently colored patches of sand around, hazards that I constantly have to keep in mind.

mc4

With some relief, early on, I find a small stream that can serve as a source of fresh water.

After chopping down some nearby trees and chipping away at a rock wall to make some primitive stone tools, I manage to put together a modest survival shelter.

mc5

It is a quiet but peaceful night on this desert island.

I cobble together a small furnace made out of rocks and begin making some charcoal out of the logs I’d chopped earlier.

mc6

Daybreak heralds the start of exploration of this island.

I urgently want to build a signal fire, in case any passing ships draw near, but I realize that I don’t have any flint-and-steel to rapidly start a fire with. So after desultorily piling some wood together, the gnawing of my stomach suggests I need to pay attention to something a little more urgent than a rescue fire.

mc7

Following the edge of the island leads me into a tropical rainforest proper.

mc9

I find a melon patch with some relief – food! – but worry about how long these wild melons would last me. I save some seeds and hastily sow them. Only the gods know how long it’ll take them to grow though.

Merry giggling catches my attention, and I discover that there are others on this island… if these strange nature spirits could be called so. A number of dryads are taking a bath in a cavern fed by seawater.

mc8

For the most part, they say nothing to me, but I notice them paying a great deal of attention to certain flowers, which seem to glow with an almost-mystical light. Surely, these flowers hold some manner of arcane secret. I begin collecting them as I travel.

mc12

As night falls near the dryads, my breath catches in my throat as I realize that these sea nymphs appear to have also been tending a magnificent reef garden filled with glowing coral, like so many ocean-flowers. The constellation-filled sky is a wondrous accompaniment.

But I cannot linger, and I turn away, heading further inland.

mc10

I come across an eerie stone circle, even spookier at night, but nothing seems to stir from it.

mc11

Nearby, I encounter my first sentient being, a human, I suppose, who dresses like a witch. She introduces herself as Shannon Spellman, but refuses to speak of anything of more substance to me, telling me that I am not yet skilled in the Art.

It seems that I may just have to learn, somehow, if I am to find a way off this island.

mc13

And then I find it. A settlement! There are beds of crops – potato and cotton and some manner of berry.

mc14

There are even grapevines strung up in trellises, an old disused smelter of some kind, and a herd of sheep wandering unfettered through it all.

mc15

To my surprise, there is only one human dwelling within this place. A man dressed in what appears to be priestly or mage-like robes. He declines to give his name, but seems open to sharing some of his crops and making small converse.

A hobgoblin is the only other creature keeping him company, wandering about crooning to itself in its hob-like manner, keeping its own counsel. I am not sure if it is merely a friend or the mage’s familiar, but I think it a question best unasked for now.

I will likely have to return to this strange pair later and see if I can befriend them further, but for now, parting as an acquaintance rather than an enemy seems wise.

mc16

I pass by caves and deep ravines, some with exposed veins of metals, which I mark for later exploration, and even a blasted wasteland which I give a wide berth to, for now.

mc17

The forest has given way to some kind of scrubland, filled with acacia trees, and red rocky soil.

mc18

And then, near dawn, a curious sight on the horizon. Is it… could it be… a castle?

mc19

As the sky brightens, I draw nearer. It seems only to be a lone tower of some kind?

mc20

It is fully daytime by the time I get up close, and its skull-like demeanor puts me off from venturing within. Perhaps another time, when I actually have armor and a weapon, and am not starving.

The scrubland dries up, becoming a desert once more, and I realize that I have almost circumnavigated the entire island.

I stumble over one noteworthy feature, a large pool of oil that has bubbled to the surface.

mc21

And am almost frozen in my tracks when I notice an alien sight, some kind of meteor that has cratered onto the boundary between shore and ocean, and whose sky stone is somehow…repelling? the seawater from itself.

mc22

I give that a wide berth for now too.

For now, it is back to my humble shelter, to figure out semi-reliable sources of food so as not to go hungry, and to prepare my signal fire.

And then, I suppose, I should attempt to learn the Art.

To be honest, I think this is a great seed.

mc23

I actually preliminary scouted the whole place out to get an idea of whether the rules I was planning would actually work, or no, and I think there are enough resources and interesting features on this pretty big island to manage it, more or less.

Yet, importantly, it does appear to be largely an island, rather than a continuous neverending landmass.

It’s probably a great place to have all kinds of Minecraft adventures, not just a strictly nature/magic one, so if you’re interested in playing in the same surroundings, this is Minecraft, with the Wanderlust Reloaded modpack and Biomes of Plenty world type, with the seed “Why I Explore” (without the quotes.)