Missing the “Micro” in Microtransaction in Guild Wars 2

After reading the ArenaNet response regarding Build and Equipment templates, and the resulting furor over Reddit, I was briefly inspired to blog a response.

I wanted to tell a story about how I regularly am ‘encouraged’ (sometimes over-excessively) to buy stuff in Path of Exile and Warframe because each small item values to less than $5 usd.

Oh, a lockbox where I am guaranteed to get at least the equivalent points worth of a digital item, and possibly 5x the value? 30 points, or 3usd? Oh… maybe one this login. Just for fun, and the cheap thrill. Ooh, look at what I got. “…” Maybe two more. $10 is my cap. I walk away happy.

The next log-in, that is hopefully separated by a few days of real time, I might do it all over again.

Stash tab for 30-40 points? I need space. It’s less than a Starbucks drink. Fine. Clicks “Buy.” Several months later, I’m left staring at 40 tabs and realizing the bottleneck is now my incapable inventory management, and not actual storage space or pricing. The company meanwhile has walked off with $120 from me over time and I don’t begrudge them any of it, for the freedom and flexibility and convenience it offers. (If only I had the self-discipline for organization too.)

Affinity booster for Warframe? I have a few things I want to level up. I’m not playing this game for an uninterrupted month. I don’t want to pay 200 platinum x 6 cents for this. But a three day booster for 40 platinum? Yes, it’s overall less value, but I can see myself grinding for 3 days and not for 30 days. 40 plat x 6 cents is $2.40 usd, cheaper if the plat is bought discounted… less than a Starbucks drink. Ok!

And the more you get used to the speed and pace of it, the more you’ll pick it up again when it is time to grind for more things.

Conversely, if I am looking at >$5 (~$8-10+) for a single purchase, that’s a mental barrier that is going to severely limit my spending – both the initial purchase and the frequency thereof.

But you know, this user kinda summarized all my sentiments for me with much fewer words:

https://www.reddit.com/r/Guildwars2/comments/dlo68g/about_guild_wars_2_templates/f4sjhrb/

And I realized it was pointless to spend so many hours writing blog text on a topic that is patently going to get ignored anyway.

So instead, I have farmed out the job to some neural net AI instead.

Missing the ‘micro’ in microtransaction in Guild Wars 2 – How to fix it?

I’m really not happy with this game and I think that some of these issues need to be addressed.

In this blog I will cover issues that I face when attempting to play the game properly in the early game and how I can hopefully fix them.

If you want to know more about the issues and my troubles with this game I have a separate article on my blog with a lot of more specific info.

For a few things to help improve your gameplay I highly recommend the following games: Borderlands 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Dead Island, Star Wars Battlefront 2, Skyrim, Star Citizen, and The Division.

What I mean is that I will focus on the things that will impact your play time. You will notice that there are no micropayments in these games. As this is a free to play game you will not miss your “microtransactions”.

However, I will explain below which of the micropayments I’m struggling with and if there’s another

From <https://talktotransformer.com/>

Missing the ‘micro’ in microtransaction in Guild Wars 2 is a big mistake? Here’s how to fix it…

Guild Wars 2 is still on the brink, and I’m sure many gamers are in despair as they see game’s progression to being slow, buggy and even broken and I, too, can’t help but feel it could go one way or the other, so how do I stop this game from going downhill like the rest of them?

We could start by getting rid of microtransactions. I’m not one to preach about a change, but I can see why fans wouldn’t want to sacrifice the fun of the game and the money that comes in when you use it. I could also go with a free to play model where the player can buy one ability from a list of abilities that already exist and have more in the game.

There are ways to fix the microtransactions and I’m sure GW2 fans will find them. The main one being to stop the “trade” that is implemented in the game that changes the available options on your character.

The problem with that

From <https://talktotransformer.com/>

I think the AI did a great job. Maybe not quite the game examples I would have used, if I had been the real author, but in terms of time-saving and demonstrating the equivalent amount of tone-deafness, I think it is spot on.

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Playing Catch-up

Where did September go?!

You know it’s a busy month when you sit down and can’t even remember half of the things you were doing then. Either that, or I’m getting older and my brain cells are depleting even further.

Part of it has been real life – peak periods at work, visiting relatives, trying to cultivate more of an actual book reading habit back into my life, and part of it is too many games releasing content at around the same time.

poe-elder

The primary game has been Path of Exile this season.

Blight League has a tower defense schtick going, which mostly means hordes of enemies coming in waves for you (and some towers) to kill before they reach a central point you’re guarding. The loot for succeeding is plentiful, incorporating both drops from the mobs you kill, as well as special treasure chests to open once victory is attained.

The build focus for buffing this time around are minion summoners.

This is a match made in heaven because I’ve always enjoyed the PoE summoner – a wave of plentiful minions that engulf enemies, tangling them up and giving them the death of a thousand paper cuts from multiple sources.

Except now the minions can be buffed to be faster and attack more quickly, and those paper cuts are now significant sword slashes in their own right. Plus more seems to scale based on the gems themselves, skill traits or more craftable gear, instead of requiring specific unique drops.

All in all, it makes my staunchly SSF playstyle a little more viable, pushing up the power potential of such builds, while possibly capping the more traditional “trade for perfect gear to reach insane heights” type of build. Those folks might have something to complain about, but the beauty of being SSF is that I don’t have to care – there is no competition, economic or otherwise, between them and me.

My game becomes simply about progressing further than myself in the past, as well as enjoying myself in the present.

The former is a definite. I hit level 90 the other day. This unlocked an account achievement for doing so. Progress milestone for sure.

Between spectres, zombies, vaal skeletons and carrion golems in an adapted Speaker for the Dead build, the power potential is quite off the charts in my limited experience. I did a normal Atziri at a super fast pace with no deaths – something I used to struggle with, often dying several times to flameblasts. I did a low level Shaper stronghold, I did a low level Elder fight, taking out the Elder Guardians for the first time ever. (More achievement unlocks.)

I don’t know if I’ll ever reach the Uber boss levels. The necessity of unlocking so many maps may be a stopping point, given my time constraints. We’ll see. From a build standpoint, it doesn’t seem like the limiting factor right now.

I’ve been enjoying the latest iteration on Master missions as well. It’s become less random, storing up the dailies into a sort of “banked storage” system, so that you can miss days and then crank through a bunch of them at once. You can also choose to concentrate focus on one type.

So if you feel like romping about the Omnitect’s temple, you can bank up a bunch of Alva missions and then feed maps into it, guaranteeing you Alva encounters per map, and quick progress towards a temple visit.

Or if, like me, you feel like exploring the depths of Delve, then you’re running Niko missions non-stop in between mine explorations, in order to get sufficient voltaic sulphite to go even deeper.

Presumably, if you’re an 18 hour a day streamer, you might actually run dry on all the master missions and have to go back to the randomness of whatever a map decides to offer.

As someone who can only play PoE for 1-2 hours a night, that is absolutely not a problem I’m running into – quite the opposite, the specter of “wasted” potential when a to-be-banked daily hits the storage limit is far more possible for me.

Fortunately, I’ve developed an immunity to this sort of perceived “loss” already. One has to. I play GW2 (have you seen its dailies tab these days?) I play Warframe. I play Harry Potter: Wizards Unite and Pokemon Go. All of them have dailies for their more engaged, hardcore players to chase. If I attempted faithful completion of all of the dailies -daily-, I’d probably have to be a student, a streamer or unemployed. Not to mention, go nuts in short order because I’m not that innately obsessive-compulsive or to-do-list-manic.

So I’m good. I’m just chugging along, doing a couple maps nightly, aiming for short master mission goals on a whim, enjoying the present and the churn of hundreds and thousands of mobs meeting -my- personal tens of mobs and dying.

metallegion

At nigh unto the same time, GW2 released the Prologue of its newly renamed Living World Season Icebrood Saga.

It seems to have been warmly welcomed all around. (I mean, if you can evoke a cautiously optimistic response from Endgame Viable, you gotta be doing something right.)

Mind you, the GW2 subreddit is still variously on fire from a subset of the raider subset, unhappy about ‘easy mode’ strike missions, their ‘challenging content’ preference being ignored, class balance being effected with a sledgehammer… on the wrong targets entirely, being potentially forced to pay for worse functionality on in-game build templates when they’re already used to a far better free third-party option, and so on.

(Not all of their unhappiness is off base – I am personally really pissed off about my already weak-in-raids Scourge being made even weaker and clunkier to use, to the point where I don’t think I dare risk teammate unhappiness any further, while the top of the line condi option remains an unaffected outlier – but there’s a definite echo chamber effect going on.)

Before October’s skill “balance” patch though, there was Grothmar Valley. And it was good. 

The Metal Legion concert has been a spectacular example of an open world meta event that harnesses the dynamic event system to superb effect, uniting everyone – hardcore, casual, mid-core alike – in one goal and giving everyone warm, fuzzy community feelings instead of “lol, your dps is 10x less that of mine.”

The golden fields of Ascalon has always been a sight near and dear to any GW1 fan. It’s the first thing you see in the tutorial. It’s what you promptly lose post-tutorial in the Searing. It is the Shire equivalent in Tyria. It is where you begin. It is where you’d love to come back to when your journey ends. It is home.

Grothmar Valley being right smack in Ascalon gives a massive nostalgia homecoming kick to those of us with enough history to remember it.

(As an aside, I was amused by a Redditor’s comment that GW2 officially now has players with a longer tenure than the developers. Maybe not quite yet, I assume GW1 had -some- amount of development time, possibly years, before opening up beta weekends to players. But I do remember playing those beta weekends. We’re getting there.)

At the same time, Grothmar Valley being populated with charr, and a very dangerous sort of discontented charr and a Hitler-esque leader to follow (this from a charr main player) pushes us into the future, hinting at the direction of the saga’s story.

It’s…promising. (Alas, given prior track record in executing, that’s about all we can say for the moment. We’ll believe it when we next see it.)

In the meantime, I was content to mess around doing all the things in Grothmar Valley. Catching up on crowd-necessary achievements while events were still populated. Playing around with races. Wandering the open world like how GW2 used to be from lvl 1-80. Jumping in on a whim for quick and painless public strike missions. Getting caught up with Ascended cooking to 500, which I’d neglected in the off-cycle.

wf-nightwave2

As is usual, something in the games line-up had to give and the loser for the month was Warframe.

Though frankly, they’re laughing all the way to the bank.

I’d finished Nightwave series 2 early, getting the outfit I wanted, so I felt happy enough to drop it for a binge in Path of Exile.

I’d heard about Saryn Prime and Valkyr Prime unsealing from the Prime Vault, but having just come off a relic grind for Wukong Prime and wanting -both- unvaulted Primes really badly with none of the time investment, I took a hard look at what was offered in the joint package.

Nothing was a repeat. I kinda needed to restock some platinum. The whole deal was “only” $60 USD, as opposed to the more premium $80 or $140 Prime Access packages for new Prime warframes.

The ending of this story is predictable.

Some rationalization later, some clever brain trickery promising myself to work hard on real life matters I’d been procrastinating on for a reward, I gave Digital Extremes $60 to not play their game for September.

Maybe in October I’ll enjoy the fruits of this. Atlas Prime is out and I’ll probably relic grind for that. But I’ll have to finish up a bunch of other things first to make time for Warframe again.

factorio-twisted

Then there’s single-player games. I’m racking up an alarming number of “want-to-plays.” My computer is nearly out of disk space on three hard drives. I need to make myself sit down and sort through installed games and so on, but seriously, who has time for that?!

I can’t even sort through my Path of Exile stash, my GW2 inventories and my Pokemon Go critter collection.

I took a few days “vacation” in Factorio beginner land. The learning curve was prohibitive. Eventually I gave up any hope of potentially making something resemble anything close to efficiency and embraced a train of thought that ran ‘if it actually connects and makes a circuit and -runs-, it’s good enough.’

I have come to the conclusion that my brain works in convoluted ways and what one sees on the screen is a reflection of this. I am not an innately ordered or orderly sort of person.

Other assorted September snippets:

Still watching Critical Role faithfully and enjoying an additional game from a vicarious standpoint.

Re-discovered (one year late, again) a stunning Portal inspired song from Youtuber Harry101UK and TheStupendium – The Android Hell Blues. Did wonders for the couple of days I was in a blue mood to have it on repeat loop and wallow in jazzy, dark humourous, clever wordplay while nose to the grindstone.

Re-reading the Blades in the Dark tabletop RPG and pondering in sporadic intervals over interrupted days if I can actually get some solo RP gameplay going, to actually enjoy story-based gaming that video games can’t seem to get quite right yet.

Bought a bunch of Dave Graffam papercraft models at $1 each, on DriveThruRPG sale, in the hope of getting crafty again and making a mini-medieval city. Maybe in November. It’s a really hectic time at work this season.

Also recently watching CohhCarnage play through AI: Somnium Files, a visual novel-esque detective anime game with more interaction than a standard VN, and being somewhat drawn to it. The current price is a definite not-now though, so the craving has been displaced to “How about actually playing through some of the other older games of the same developer that you -actually- own but just haven’t gotten around to?”

Aka Spike Chunsoft’s Zero Escape series, Danganronpa, Steins;Gate, 428 Shibuya Scramble, et. al.

If wishes were fishes…

Bleh. Back to squeezing in productive “survive life” to-dos for a little longer and playing catch-up on everything else.

GW2: Ok…So They Went There…

So the Aug 30 announcement of the Living World: Icebrood Saga contained:

  • Next episodes of Living World/Story announced / Lore drops / Hints at map direction / showing off some environments and level design
  • An assurance that an expansion’s worth of content will be bundled into the staggered release format
  • Some shiny mount/weapon/armor skins
  • Some ridiculously grindy long term Legendary sort of item to construct
  • Jewelcrafting to 500?
  • Some brief allusion to fractal/raid to keep the difficult group content subset dangling
  • Build templates
  • Something to help WvW or PvP (vaguely)
  • New elite specs
  • Variant difficulties to raids (easier to repeatable CMs)
  • New weapon types?
  • Cantha
  • Ships (ie. above water and underwater mounts)
  • Improved Guild Halls and Guild Missions
  • Personal Housing (or improved decorating / player placed features for home instances, etc.)
  • Underwater combat

On the bright side, I guess one can say that one nailed it essentially 100%.

Though if anyone was trying to play GW2 announcement bingo, I’m not sure there’s enough to fill up a complete row. Reddit is going to be a bloodbath for a while.

I am cheered by one thing – we do now have official confirmation (not just speculation) that we’ll be checking out the northernmost Frozen Shiverpeaks and the charr homelands, and that Jormag is next.

Though it is predictable, it looks fairly lore rich, lets us hang out with and learn more about the charr and norn (and kodan) cultures – which are some of the more uniquely GW2 racial offerings – and hints at a tiny bit more worldbuilding than we’ve seen of late.

The art is still good, but the actual gameplay stuff looks sketchy, like they’ve been working pretty darned hard to pull off this much to show after the layoffs. It’s going to take some time to ramp up, I hope they can pull it off.

Build templates confirmed. Which is probably the best news there is. Only took 7 years, but better late than never, right? As mentioned in the previous post, that actually demonstrates that the current team can pull off a long term, ‘new feature’ project/improvement, even if they had to tweak/invent/change a million things to get there.

Vague allusions to PvP and WvW were had. Swiss style tournaments for PvP and concept art of new armor sets for it, allowing me to cross off two rows based on something that took 30 seconds to say. And they are still trying to work out how to automate WvW restructuring, which might be months away, and I guess one can read between the lines of that item fairly obviously.

I -was- pleasantly surprised with the revelation of strike missions, aka probably easier mode pickup raids in the vein of what we’ve seen in Dragon Bash. That is, a stepping stone to getting more people familiar with some version of instanced content, and allowing for repeatable group content that doesn’t require a formal LFG or more intense style of group formation. We’ll see how that one works out?

Things that weren’t on my list:

Masteries linked with the Norn spirits. I’d kinda assumed masteries would come with Living World drops. Sounds like a more lore-based take on masteries, though I’m not sure if there will be any story that comes with that, or just an excuse for some extra lateral skills with long cooldowns after a bunch of running around pressing F on things.

Charr rock bands. Ice elemental construct mini-boss fight in either the Prologue or Episode 1, can’t quite recall the details. Drakkar Lake monster might be a little less frozen in Episode 2.

A sudden realization as to why the marketing of GW2 is so terribly off tune most of the time. Let’s just say you need to watch the stream/video up to a certain point where you CRINGE and then the revelation unfolds.

Several surprisingly decent marketing items, including a 20th anniversary GW1/GW2 art book collaboration with Dark Horse comics (aka desperate cash grab via recycling assets, but their art has always been their major value product and it works a lot better than oh… cringy clothing or drinks only obtainable in one country. As in, I kinda want it. I have a weakness for art books. Even if the game goes to shit, I’ll always have the awesome concept art to remember the world by) and Funko pop collectibles of Aurene, Rytlock and Palawa Joko.

Major bundling of Heart of Thorns (aka now free) to Path of Fire, as in, please buy one box and join us in game now. We really need new blood. Or returning blood that was scared or scarred by Heart of Thorns reviews.

(They were also clever enough to promise HoT owners some special goodies to stave off the “I paid good money for something that’s now free?!” complaints. No doubt some of those complaints are still coming, but at least it’s an extra thank-you-for-your-support bonus, alongside the “you’ve had plenty of time to utilize HoT value” argument.)

And I guess that’s it.

Ohh, this is going to be tricky to figure out how I feel about this one.

I can predict the hardcore fanbase reaction already. Bad. Really really bad.

From a more story-oriented casual like I used to be, once upon a time, it feels like they are trying to steer the slow boat around back to another -hopefully better- attempt at something along the story season veins.

I do kinda want to see where they’re going with the world and the story.

I just fear the speed and quality with which they can tell it.

Time will tell if the fear is founded or unfounded. Two more weeks, Sep 17, before we get a Prologue. In the meantime, Path of Exile’s Blight Legion launches Sep 6. Warframe’s Prime Vault opens Sep 3, releasing Saryn Prime and Valkyr Prime. Harry Potter Wizards Unite will be having some Day of the Dragon related events Sep 7.

I’ll have things to do.

GW2: Wild, Baseless Suppositions for Aug 30 Announcement

Quick post to lock in some random guesses for GW2’s scheduled Aug 30 announcement… in roughly 12 hours from this post… just to see how wildly off-base and out of touch I might be from the current pulse of things.

Like undoubtedly many, learning more about the future of GW2 from what ArenaNet is able to show of its current plans is going to play a big part in whether I think I want to participate in that future.

Realistic Expectations

  • Next episodes of Living World/Story announced / Lore drops / Hints at map direction / showing off some environments and level design
  • An assurance that an expansion’s worth of content will be bundled into the staggered release format
  • Some shiny mount/weapon/armor skins
  • Some ridiculously grindy long term Legendary sort of item to construct
  • Jewelcrafting to 500?
  • Some brief allusion to fractal/raid to keep the difficult group content subset dangling

Possible But Moving Towards Uncalled For Hope

  • Build templates
  • Something to help WvW or PvP
  • New elite specs
  • Variant difficulties to raids (easier to repeatable CMs)
  • New weapon types?

Hopeful Ideals / Wild Dreams

  • Cantha
  • Ships (ie. above water and underwater mounts)
  • Improved Guild Halls and Guild Missions
  • Personal Housing (or improved decorating / player placed features for home instances, etc.)
  • Underwater combat

Not all of the above are going to be things I personally like, but these are just guesses into what might be conceivably achievable and a possible priority for Anet.

Most of the stuff listed under Realistic Expectations is the standard bread and butter for both Anet and their game audience, in my opinion, anyway. Stuff they should be able to do. If they can’t, then there really is an issue with how their company is doing things and we should all be running for the hills.

The biggest puzzle is what max jewelcrafting might do if Legendary sigils can already be made without it. Infusions? Craftable Ascended trinkets (as if there weren’t enough sources for those)?

New fractal is personally not going to thrill me. I shut myself off from PUGing long ago and horror stories of the new Siren’s Reef do not help in that respect. The only way I’ll see that content is if some attention is given to helping soloability of dungeons/fractals, be it through henchman/hero AI or even more power creep. (And note, that feature didn’t even make the Wild Dreams list, it’s that far off the table, even in my guesses.)

New raid would make me sigh. I dunno. Still conflicted about that whole issue. Yes, I acknowledge a decent (and controversially debatable) amount of people like raids. Yes, I begged, borrowed, stole my way into a static that tolerates my shenanigans long enough for mutual goals to be achieved and things to eventually die (which is probably the diametric opposite of elitist behavior.) They also take up a lot of time every week. They have undoubtedly changed the social community feel of GW2, with the introduction of different people with different values, which then changes some social mores.

One has never been a truly ideal fit for raids, and many times, I end up feeling like I’m shoving a hexagonal peg into a round hole just to deal with its introduction to the game. (It’ll get in there eventually, after some of the rough edges are worn off, but with imperfect fit and a lot of swearing involved.)

The big question has always been, is that struggle worth it? If GW2 has a future, and a future I can see myself interested in and taking part of, then okay, the pain is worth it, for the rewards and the maintaining of that social network. If not, then I might do better rethinking my relationship to MMOs altogether, because I’m kinda reaching a plateau point regarding social persistent world games and my interest level in them.

Anyway, moving on from those maudlin thoughts until we know more of what’s actually coming, and back to wild guesses of what dreams may come.

Build templates would be big. If they can actually announce and successfully introduce that (as some changes in UI and tweaks to Legendary functionality seem to hint at), then the current GW2 team demonstrates that they can actually pull off a long term, ‘new feature’ project.

If they can’t, then it’s another layer of glum depression of getting nothing substantial on a systems front.

WvW and/or PvP. Heh. Yeah, I think they exist? Does Anet? Is the group of interested players on those fronts large enough for them to devote resources to? I dunno, I just include it as a mention, just in case.

Elite specs are probably a thing. That should come with expansions. And if the Living World is the next expansion per se, they should endeavor to throw those in sporadically, like one or two per episode or something. Should. There seems to be a lot of repetitions of that word “should.” I wonder if I can name an asura Should.

On an even more hopeful level, if some of those elite specs can move on from using the established weapons, perhaps we’ll actually see new weapon types like greataxes and polearms (land spears?) Does Anet even have animators anymore, post layoffs? If new combat skills can be introduced and chairs/rocks with player poses… maybe?

Saving the best for last, can raids actually be salvaged for a larger percentage of the population?

On a mechanical and technical level, they are basically just another sort of combat/boss fight – as long as you disregard the closed instances, social necessities and difficulty level pitched at time investments of 2-3+ uninterrupted hours from ~10 people meeting the arbitary thresholds of performance required for success.

Except that said performance thresholds in GW2 vary significantly with game knowledge, time investment and willingness to practice (aka skill/learning factors) and cannot be modified like other games through time and grinding for gear with bigger and bigger stat numbers.

Ideally, a progression would be to filter a bunch of players like a pyramid from a large pool of middling competence players into a smaller group of more competence until the ridiculously refined levels at the peak.

Yes, the downside would be this forever push by the more competitive to clamber ever higher and increased social drama, but the alternative is what we are already seeing now, a large bunch of players never hit the thresholds and are excluded, the players over that threshold dropping like flies from boredom at repeating already mastered content and nobody happy and blaming the other group. I am sure I said this divide would happen years ago when Heart of Thorns came out. No shit, Sherlock.

So. The most positive way(s) out of this mess that I can possibly conceive…

1) Raids are salvageable, enough of our population likes them = Variant difficulty raids

Have a raid variant that is equivalent to the pick-up-and-play experiments we saw for Wintersday Frosty and Dragon Bash. People go in, people come out, or just play for 15-30mins. People see mechanics and learn mechanics. Mechanics are not punitively punishing and other players can save shitty players by forcibly rezzing them repeatedly. Good players can carry others. Lower performance numbers required. Low stakes. Low or different rewards.

Continue with standard raid difficulty.

Add repeatable Challenge Modes and increased Challenge Mode variety for the statics that have finished with standard raid difficulty. Different rewards, more prestige based, aka achievements/titles and the occasional shiny skin or sexy stool.

The hopeful results would be casuals try out easy pickup raid and get carried, decide “oh, this is fun or not too bad” and mostly stick to that, with some ambitious or inspired enough to move to the standard that is in effect now, aka some new blood that has at least taken dips in the baby pool and not shoved off a diving board to figure it out as they are falling.

Meanwhile, your old and burnt out blood that is now busy making derisive attacking posts on Reddit and ranting on Twitch/Youtube would be kept busy running a hamster wheel of their own making (except that the hamster wheel is cat-sized, full of hamster-sized holes to jump across aka fall through, and has actual cats draped around it for added difficulty… I mean, that’s what they want, right? It’s great stream material.)

OR

2) Raids are not salvageable, too little people like it or will play it, regardless of what we do. Let’s ignore it and say nothing and eventually they will go away and leave us alone.

Some people would be deeply unhappy and have huge vocal histrionic fits about this for a while. But ehhh, I’m good. Practically every other MMO is a haven for the raider subset already. (Have you heard of our Lord and Saviour WoW Classic? Or the New Book of Final Fantasy XIV? If you’re not a devout MMO traditionalist, I hear there is this other upcoming sect called Monster Hunter World: Iceborne.)

We’ll see. There may be other more boring alternatives that Anet might take, like play it safe and promise a raid Soon(TM) and we’ll see it 9 months from now, assuming anyone’s still left to be interested in running it.

Let’s move on to the “If this happens, I think I’ll buy their Black Lion Package Deal of Miscellaneous Goodies (or whatever it’s really called) to show my support” items:

Cantha.

No shit. We got Elona. Seeing Cantha would be fucking cool. Will we actually get it when a Living World expansion will probably take us to Jormag or Charr homelands or whatever? Probably not. But we can dream. The Warclaw was kinda Chinese Lion looking, right?

Ships. Naval combat. Two or multiple seater mounts. We already have the skimmer. Underwater mount would be neat. (Octopus? Shark?) I just want something new, different, systems/feature-based and cool. Not more reskinned content in the same vein and a new layer coat of story veneered on.

Guild halls and guild missions were a great idea. In 2013. Or was it 2015. You get the picture. It’s been ignored since forever. It was a great way to socialize in a no stress environment and actually have an excuse for a mini-community gathering. Was. No variation to the content will do that after some time. As for guild hall costs, tweak them to accomodate guilds of different sizes and not only the megaguild, eh? Even Warframe and Path of Exile have better guild/housing options than a full on MMO. That’s a shame. The promise of achievable, personal housing to decorate and self-express might pull back a bunch of casuals that fled from raids.

As for underwater combat, I’ll grant that this one might be extremely controversial to do. But as a sort of stretch goal for ArenaNet, to do for underwater combat/content what they did for mounts, to lead and innovate where no other MMO has, to do it differently and make it appealing and have it be big time news like how praises for the raptor mount’s feel were splashed all over various sites…

… yeah, this would resoundingly demonstrate that the ArenaNet of today is still right up there with the big boys.

But um, I’m not exactly holding my breath for it (pun fully intended.)

We’ll see.

Tomorrow or the day after, we’ll look at how many things I nailed (if any) and how many more things I got wrong, and that should probably help us figure out a bit more of our very conflicted feelings about this game and about this company.

Warframe: Monkeying Around

Wukong Prime was the warframe that kept me busy for most of last month, earning relics and then cracking them open painstakingly, only to find the wrong parts and begin all over again.

One has the option to skip most of the grind by paying a semi-exorbitant sum of real money – I did that for my first love Rhino Prime and have never regretted it; I was at a point in the game where I needed a good tanky awesome-looking frame to push my progress further.

In this case, I didn’t need Wukong Prime, but I thought he looked really cool and wanted him pretty badly. Going the relic route basically meant an excuse for gameplay… though bad luck ended up really extending the length of that gameplay this time around.

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Worth it. Playing around with the frame after earning the parts over said month, spending 12 hours building the parts, and then waiting another 3 days for the parts to be assembled into the warframe was immensely rewarding.

The frame’s abilities were apparently reworked fairly recently and the results are something I really dig as a soloist.

Ability 1 creates a celestial twin – basically a computer-controlled version of your warframe, presumably using the specter/pet AI. It uses melee if you pull out your ranged weapon to shoot something, and switches to range if you go melee.

Fortunately, the pet AI in Warframe is good enough to do a decent amount of damage, especially when it uses my Ignis Wraith flamethrower. It is childishly delightful to just watch your very own computer-controlled ally just clear all the enemies for you, while you stand around, swinging your melee weapon around in the air while admiring yourself.

Once you tire of that, ability 2 is Cloud Walker. He disappears into a cloud, going invulnerable (temporary tankiness, awesome!) and while in the cloud, you gain a massive speed boost and flight abilities, so you can literally pilot yourself up floors and across gaps without needing anything so crass as a bullet jump or a double jump like all those other ground-dwelling warframes.

In case that wasn’t enough, Cloud Walker also restores your health.

Oh, and it stuns any enemies you waft pass.

Is there anything it can’t do?!

I haven’t found the limits yet. I even managed a Maroo’s Ayatan sculpture mission with it, something I previously had to resort to Titania’s Razorwing flight mode. Cloud Walker is more brief, lasting only seconds, but I kinda like the active feel and the design implication that a little bit of skill in timing is needed to do cool things with it.

Ability 3 is Defy. Another sort of invulnerable skill which absorbs damage enemies do to you briefly, then reflects it back in a giant staff swipe of multiplied AoE damage. Oh, and he gains a brief armor bonus based on how much damage was absorbed, capped at 1500 armor.

I like it. It brings shades of Rhino or GW2 guardian blocks to mind, in that there is tankiness to be had, but it should be timed well, or at least used actively, when you anticipate huge bursts of incoming damage.

Ability 4 is the classic Iron Staff the Monkey King is always seen with. Like Excalibur, he can pull out an Exalted melee weapon and then go to town on enemies.

Honestly, I haven’t even tried out ability 4 while ranking up Wukong Prime. I just couldn’t be bothered to slot it with mods yet.

I had a Zaw, Warframe’s custom modular melee weapon earnable from the Plains of Eidolon, and it happened to be an already modded two-handed bladed staff I’m pretty fond of. So that’s my melee weapon for the time being.

I presume with proper slotting Iron Staff might be pretty good, or more ideally, pretty darned awesome, or less ideally, just only okay. Whatever. I’m good with Celestial Twin and Cloud Walker already.

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It’s odd. I never really was attracted to the persistent Monkey King-alikes that “mysteriously” get inserted into various games (aka thinly veiled attempt to appeal to the China market – see Who is Sun Wukong and Why is He in Every MOBA?) despite being Asian and yes, growing up with Journey to the West as one of my favorite book series/mythological stories.

But something about Warframe’s Wukong Prime – and it has to be the Prime look – really does it for me.

Superhero musculature, robot monkey, and all ninja – yep, checks all the boxes except zombie and pirate.

Definitely one of my favorite warframes, just a hair shy behind Nidus and Rhino Prime.

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