Blaugust Day 31: What Next?

And so we reach the end of August, after attempting 31 posts in 31 days.

We sort of cheated a little at the end, but well, producing walls of text has never really been a problem of mine.

(Producing wall of texts someone else might want to read, now, that’s a little trickier.)

Finding the time to sit down and devote an hour or two to  production of said wall of text, plus a picture or two, that’s harder.

I’d call the Blaugust challenge a success, as it managed to kickstart my blogging habit after a lazy July, and produced a number of blogs that I’ll be keeping track of, even after the month ends.

It’s been a pleasure jumping onto the madness train with a whole bunch of the blogging community.

To-do list wise, we got through about half of the items, and most of the important ones, which I’m quite happy about.

Trove has found itself a handy niche for the moment. I’m quite content to log on daily, fill the star bar for cubits, catch a challenge if I happen to be online for it.

The Tomb Raiser is level 32 or thereabouts. He can juuust about solo U5 dungeons if I’m willing to fight a little harder (ie. wait for energy to recharge and keep holding down the spam AoE button, rinse and repeat 4-5 times.) If I’m feeling lazy, then I’ll stroll through something a little easier in difficulty.

The remaining Trove goals are rather medium-term in nature. I’m working on a Sky Portal, solo, which means accumulating a fairly insane amount of resources that would be much easier to get if I had.. say, 5 or 10 members contributing a portion of the resources each. It mostly means I collect a little each day, stuff it in the bank and try to do more on the bonus days, and basically wait until the magic number is reached.

There’s always fishing for more ancient scales. Which usually means it’s TV show watching time in the other screen first, and fishing second.

Leveling up the Tomb Raiser’s gear any further would mean requiring a lot more flux currency than I can easily get my hands on, which usually means just wait for the hourly challenges and do those for some flux. Very.. time-limited. Working on it, but not in any hurry.

And there’s faffing about on other alts trying to level them up to 20, if I get bored of the above.

I still haven’t quite resolved where I stand on Guild Wars 2 at the moment.

Readers may have noticed that I haven’t bothered to make any mention of the front-page news announcement that GW2 is now… erm, what’s the correct phrase… “play for free” or whatever.

To me, it’s a total non-issue.

It’s too late complaining about the quality of the community. GW2 was going for 10 bucks for a long period, and I’ve noticed mapchat take a turn for the less-polite or patient, in comparison with the quality of the launch day chats.

Basically, politeness is a victim of popular success. The more popular GW2 becomes, the more people jump into the game, the higher proportion of people you will find that have been accustomed to certain speech patterns in WoW or LoL or other similar games and will act in a similar fashion in GW2, having never been fully immersed into the culture yet.

Add on a good dose of veteran impatience and the tendency of people to ape common frames of thought and a certain meta/elitist segregation that seems to have been occurring dungeon-wise (I watched with some bemusement today as someone gave a ranger a lame excuse for a fractals 10 and kicked him from the party – ranger had 3k AP, not exactly a noob – I did not join the vote kick, but I said nothing either, because I just wanted the damn daily done and didn’t want to get kicked before or during the event), and you will find some deterioration of friendliness, free or no free.

I see a great deal of players being all welcoming and social on Reddit, and I presume, in the game as well. Which is great for both them and the newbies – they get “new content” in the sense of having new people to play with / teach / help, and the newbies get that helping hand as well, and may both purchase the game and stick with it.

Which works for me, I’m not really “mentor” material most of the time, being all grouchy hermit and stuff, but hey, increasing game population means increase in all types of players and hopefully, increased participation in all the game modes I enjoy.

On a more personal level, I spent most of the day trying to work out what I was feeling and thinking about the whole “raids” bruhaha.

One thing I do know is that I’m getting increasingly tired of essentially being a martyr on someone else’s behalf, especially when they don’t seem to appreciate it anyway. Of being told I’m making much ado about nothing.

In other words, here I am, trying to be concerned about the really casual GW2 players who almost never see things like organized WvW or organized Teq or organized Triple Trouble or even organized guild missions, and keep obsessing about keeping barriers of entry low and for them to be on a relatively equal playing field so that they -can- join in, when they want to, and I generally find that most of the bloggers who profess this way of playing just seem to have “accepted” that they’ll never do it, period, so the whole activity just doesn’t exist for them, full stop.

It makes me just a little bit mad, this attitude of what-seems-to-me to be “learned helplessness.” The “I could never do it, so therefore I won’t even try” sort of acceptance.

On the other hand, I find the dismissive attitude of the self-proclaimed elitists annoying as well.

It’s really tempting and easy to segregate yourself into groups of people who think like you and play like you. It seems that -both- extremes are quite happy to indulge in this separation, as shown in a little Reddit flowchart that has been making the rounds lately – “In zerk? Go hang with zerk groups. Non-zerk? Go hang with non-zerk groups. Conclusion: everybody happy.”

Supposedly. Except that I note that the non-zerk groups have a tendency to not form, or take hours to complete, be comprised of more unsure players, etc.

To quote another Redditor, I feel like I’m basically undergoing a certain amount of “cognitive dissonance” here, because… let me fess up:

I’m generally lazy. I like my groups smooth and efficient and optimal. I like getting what I’m aiming for, when I group up, fast and painless. Unless it’s the weekend and I’m in a really good benevolent mood, I don’t have time to spend 3 hours teaching a bunch of people I’ll probably never see again how not to suck, in order for me to get what I want.

Given very little push, I am quite happy to fall back into old obsessive hardcore patterns and think elitist thoughts. With the right motivation, I’ll do whatever is needed to fall within the 10% who can do whatever it is I want to do, and who gives a fuck about the 90% who can’t, right? It’s not like most of them even -want- to. If they’re not even willing to help themselves, why should -I- care?

(You will note, all the “them” speech. Segregation. Division. Not community.)

Then I stop and I wonder if I should really let myself go down that road of thought. I’m not sure if I’d like the person that comes out the other end.

I suppose there is a certain amount of real world correlation and history at work. Singapore’s education system has always been “meritocracy”-based – which, during the time I grew up – mostly meant doing well at academic grades at an early age. If you scored top marks, you got shoved into the through-trains, labeled with really positive labels, and woe betide those that didn’t. They got the opposite treatment, pretty much.

It hasn’t been till the last decade or two that the very slow oil tanker has been steering in other directions, realizing that “merit” could be defined very differently (including musical, artistic and athletic merit, besides academic) and doing their best to recognize those with different strengths, as well as giving those who didn’t do well academically other possible and potential pathways to progress their education and careers (giving them the opportunity to possibly even overtake the supposed ‘elite’ once in the working world.)

The other thing the education system has been slowly attempting to do, through thick layers of bureaucracy, is to tweak policy for those who have somehow “fallen through the cracks” and don’t quite fit into neatly labeled categories.

The latest governmental propaganda is basically an exhortation to keep social consciousness in view, to have a heart, and contribute to the community, “No Singaporean left behind,” and so on.

I’m basically caught between being a pragmatic bastard and an ideal of someone better than that.

And I honestly don’t know which way I’ll go.

Is it at all possible to be an egalitarian hardcore raider?

Or do elitist thoughts and segregation away from the hoi polloi come as part of the territory?

(I’ll be frank, I won’t do a PUG Teq, when a TTS Teq is so much more enjoyable and efficient and equally available.

And there was a time when I just couldn’t be bothered rezzing anyone in the Silverwastes because they jolly well ought to waypoint back instead of just laying there dead and expecting someone to risk dying to peel them off the floor… especially when they die again in the next ten seconds that follow.

I’m feeling a bit more bleeding heart after a month away from GW2 and go for a rez, though it’s mostly to test myself and build quick reactions for future “challenging group content” than harboring any actual concern for the person or any expectation that the person will stay upright. Elitist? Probably.)

If I keep playing GW2, I will mostly likely do my best to get into and stay in a successful, regular, organized raid team.

(Unless it so happens that timezones and schedules are really restrictive and there’s no way I can wrangle something that fits.)

There’s no way I can ignore a mountain that is plonked down in front of me.

Not sure it’s worth it, really. But beyond the temptation of Legendary armor, there will be the basic fact that it is content I haven’t seen or played, and therefore must attempt until it is conquered (or I fall screaming off the mountain.)

I have no idea what’s going to come out at the other end. Burnout, drama, frustration, or just a bad case of elitist prick-ism?

Well. *deep breath* I guess we’ll find out.

Blaugust Day 26: A Birthday to Dye For (GW2)

A couple days before the “challenging group content” (unofficially now shortened by Reddit to “CGC”) announcement that I’m anticipating with equal parts excitement and dread, our first-born head start characters in Guild Wars 2 officially turn three years of age.

And receive something special.

And receive a little something from the GW2 Team.

ArenaNet have definitely trumped themselves on this one.

The first birthday gift yielded our first encounters with an experience scroll to level 20, a celebratory birthday booster that gave a character all sorts of bonuses for 24 online hours, and a nifty little Queen Jennah mini.

The birthday booster was always welcome.

The experience scroll was relatively convenient and useful to those who didn’t like the slow leveing start. Though speaking as someone who actually enjoys the leveling process, I mostly sat on the scrolls and banked them… until I realized I was accumulating so many that it was in my best interests to just use up some of them for my bank mules anyway.

The mini Queen Jennah was nice the first time, but shortly overstayed her welcome as more and more characters turned one year of age and one accumulated an uncountable number of mini human female mesmer clones. Especially when account-bound minis became a thing.

Why, yes, I am still taking advantage of the materials storage slots to hold extra minis.

Why, yes, I am still taking advantage of the old materials storage slots to hold extra minis, by not ever bothering to remove them. NINE JENNAHS, not inclusive of the one I used to account-bind the mini, plus any extra alt’s Jennahs that will no longer fit neatly into this and get tossed away.

The second birthday gift gave us mostly more of the same – celebratory birthday booster, experience scroll to 20 (that didn’t stack, prompting an “Uh oh, I think I should start using those” reaction), a skill point scroll awarding 5 SP (now retconned into a bag of 5 spirit shards), plus the Birthday Blaster (aka the cake gun.)

cakegun

That was a fairly entertaining toy that each character could use, providing short term buffs to self and others, and was something distinctive to show off that your account was at least two years old. (Also a great way to see the Scarlet’s Kiss skin, because very few people are ever going to lay their hands/eyes on the actual thing.)

This time around, we get -2- birthday boosters, an experience scroll that goes up to level 30, five teleport-to-friend items, a permanent birthday finisher and a celebratory dye pack.

birthdaystuff

Definitely outdoing themselves here, making each item better than the previous gifts.

(The teleport-to-friend is somewhat questionable, but possibly may see some use once Heart of Thorns hits and one needs a port to some Mastery-locked area, and/or be handy for really infuriating jumping puzzles. I would bank that, personally.)

The boosters are always welcome.

I’m really tempted to use the experience scroll on the asura elementalist who is still level 5, and start leveling from there.

I LOVE the birthday finisher. It’s supremely gorgeous, elegant and showy, and even includes the signature red dragon motif of ArenaNet. Someone (or someones) did a lovely job on its animation.

The majority of players though are absolutely head over heels with the celebratory dye pack, which offers a free (but account-bound) choice of around 60 rare and mind-blowingly expensive dye colors.

I have to say, ArenaNet really hit a bulls-eye with this one with regards to the majority of their target audience. Choice, not RNG. Cosmetic customisation, allowing for vanity and prestige factor and to show off something previously thought unaffordable or too spendthrift to save up for.

You might note I’m speaking in a general sense, and yeah, I guess I personally fall into the minority that is slightly… bemused over the reaction.

Not that I don’t welcome the concept. It’s great. I get a free expensive dye. I get an extra color. Dye prices plunge, making traders groan, while buyers benefit from the lowered prices.

It’s just that for whatever reason (and it’s something I’m very thankful about, because it saves me a fortune) I just don’t feel personally compelled to go ga-ga about completing a dye collection or -needing- to have a color that is just fractionally slightly different from another cheaper color.

A while ago, I bought up all the cheap common dyes and got about halfway through the uncommon ones, before wondering if I really needed any more, given the already spectacular array of colors I had to choose from.

Part of the fun, I felt, was finding a color scheme that worked and looked fantastic with the so-called “cheap” colors I had available, instead of desperately hoping for a color just a shade lighter or darker and sifting through a hundred dyes on the TP to realize that they hadn’t quite gotten around to including it as a dye color option yet.

Still, given the number of people who buy the seasonal dye packs, open and trade its contents, there’s a market out there ready to go as crazy over colors as I personally do over minis.

So, hurrah, glad that there’s a bonus alternative way for folks to get their hands on colors they really really like.

I’ll definitely be picking up mine as well… just not really looking forward to figuring out which one to pick, given the lavish spread of options and no actual character or gear that presently needs a recoloring to drive my decision.

This post was brought to you by the letters B for Birthday, Belghast and Blaugust, and the number 26.

Blaugust Day 25: Asura Alt Collection – The Rest (GW2)

The other asura in my alt stable are nowhere near as formed as the first three.

I just made them to have them, and start them on the whole birthday gifts process, while filing them on the “to someday level” list.

rest-shoodele

Shood is literally the youngest of the lot.

I made him fairly recently, when I realized I was probably never going to get anywhere further on my human female elementalist (seeing that she is both conveniently at a really good level for opening champion bags for cloth items, and also rapidly running out of clothes options that isn’t just bare skin and boobs.)

Some day I’ll get around to leveling him over level 5.

I could use an experience scroll, but then I’ll have to have level 20 gear prepped for him to get started and all that. So, meh. Another time.

I see him as a bit of a young prodigy, probably the equivalent of a nobleman’s son of some kind. Other than that, backstory is still pretty much open for now.

(And yes, this time the naming is very much on purpose to sound very close to Shodd, and Shud, and Shudd… What? Sue me.)

rest-shuddiengi

Shuddi is probably the first purposefully cute and snub-nosed asura I’ve tried to make.

I’m oldschool and belong to the “ugly-ass Vekk is how most asura ought to look” school of thought, but well, I’m running out of ugly asura styles and need a bit of contrast.

So we get cute, but serious, Shuddi.

I really wanted to name her Shoddi, to play on “shoddy” since she’s an engineer, but someone else has cleverly already thought of that and sniped the name first. So I got the next best thing, and continue my chain of asura names that sound/look all fairly similar.

Right now, she’s mostly just a bank mule. I’m likely going to level and max out my charr engineer first, so her fate is pretty much to sit in Rata Sum and hold my junk for now.

rest-shayddi

Shayddi is the oldest of the spare asura alts, not counting Kujl or Shudd.

I made her very early on when I realized that my norn thief just wasn’t really doing it for me. Despite the fun contrast and backstory of a thug-like runty norn thief, the fact of the matter is that however runty a norn gets, he’s still a goddamn big norn.

That means super-readable combat animations, which means I get pwned on a thief, whose schtick is that they’re supposed to be all stealthy and stuff. So he goes into stealth for a couple seconds… when he comes out, people go “Ah, look, the fat fellow is still over there! Pewpewpew” instead of “dammit, where did the tiny squirt run off to?”

So I said, well, maybe I ought to try it on another race and see if it gets any better, or if it’s just my lack of thiefly skills/mentality or my latency to blame.

Sadly, I never got around to that experiment either. Discovering other classes seemed more fun, after I’d already tried out most of the thief skills and traits on the norn. Maybe someday.

I went for something almost anorexic scrawny on this character. I have the vague idea that she has more of a street rat background. Not so much academically smart, but very very cunning. Probably even murderous, given those eyes. I steered away from Minnie Mouse-cute, and tried to do something almost tomboy-ish, in a vein similar to all the female street rats out there who dress like boys (warning: TV Tropes link!) and are absolutely mistaken as male by 95% of the populace who evidently aren’t using their eyes.

(And yes, her name is a play on “Shady.”)

And that’s all of them for the moment. I am still missing asura necro and asura mesmer. (And revenant, eventually.)

Only a matter of time, I’m sure.

This post was brought to you by the letters B for Belghast and Blaugust, and the number 25.