GW2: Oh Happy Day


T’was a very fruitful weekend for me in Guild Wars 2.

The last carapace chest finally deigned to drop for me during a Vinewrath on Sunday.

I’ve pretty much lost count of how many I’ve done prior to this. You know those lucky bastards that get 3 carapace chests in like, 4 Vinewraths? I’m their polar opposite. Someone’s got to draw the short end of the RNG stick, I guess.

While banging my head on the wall of innumerable Vinewraths, I ended up with about 6000 crests in total across weeks of Silverwastes, minus a thousand or so for one of the Ascended accessories that needed to be bought for the collection, and not including the ton of Mordrem parts I haven’t got around to exchanging for crests taking up room in my bags.

It worked out quite nicely, as I decided to be lazy and buy my last carapace headgear instead of running a third character through the storyline.

Minus another 1000 for the last Ascended accessory that needed to be bought, and I had 4000 left over to pick up all the buyable Mordrem tonics and minis.

Turns out both the Mordrem husk and troll tonics are pretty good for screenshots, as you can scroll directly into first person view with them. The husk camera is set a little higher than the troll’s. I think I prefer the troll overall, but I’m sure there will be times I might find the husk one handy.

The most delightful thing for me about finishing the Luminescent collection is the title. I’m madly in love with it ever since I saw it, and ever since playing its namesake in the Personal Story. Happily wearing it now.

I’m really not sure what to do with the Ascended armor chest that was its final reward. I already own a Zojja’s chestpiece that was a lucky drop from a Wurm kill. If I continue decking that warrior out, each piece only increments by such a minute amount I feel almost sorry selecting a wear location other than the chest.

Or I could pick another Zojja’s breastplate and give it to my guardian main… except that would make all the colors not match and feel a little weird. It’s not like he -needs- Ascended, since he doesn’t WvW or do fractals.

Or maybe one of my many other alts could use it? What stats? Who? *brain shuts down at this point and I just throw it in the bank to think about later*


And the last four Ambrite weapons that were still pending three weeks ago?

Yep, finally managed to pull enough fossilized insects after some weekly patient attendance at DTOP’s regular Fri/Sat ‘one hour after reset’ runs. (Or Sat/Sun morning for me.)

I almost didn’t think I’d get it done this week.

I lucked into an insect during Saturday’s two hours, and then promptly failed miserably to get one on Sunday, despite opening some two dozen chests over the two hours.

I bought my final sets of keys (about 12 of them all told) and logged out, intending to catch another sandstorm some other time and just run around opening chests, and never got back to it on Sunday.

I also start on about 14% of the Maguuma Wastes PvP reward track. Eventually, I’ll get the last fossilized insect that way, worse case scenario.

Monday morning, I wake pretty early before work, intending to get a blog post about the Luminescent collection done, and see that the clock says :57 minutes. Hmm, there’s three minutes left of a sandstorm! What if…

So I log on (thank you SSD for quick load times) and run around like a mad charr with CTRL held down, hoping to spy at least one chest before the sandstorm’s up.

I see one! It’s on a cliff! I grab the blue crystal and fail the jump several times, cursing under my breath, watching the sandstorm time tick down.

I get up there at last! I open it!

No insect.

Some random recipe that actually overloads me.

Baaaaaah. Much deflated, I look around for another chest. There’s under a minute of time left.

Encumbered, kinda half blind while walking around and scanning through my open bags settling on something to throw away to make room, I toss out some grey junk, and then another piece of grey junk to make one extra slot… just in case.

There’s another chest! Under half a minute left!

I run over and with 15 seconds on the clock, I throw it open and BAM, a golden fossilized insect slides into that slot I just opened up, while 8 bits of sand overload me.


I fling 16 copper more of grey junk out my inventory to let the equally worthless sand slide in, then cradling the last insect, dash over to Divinity’s Reach to pull out the other three I’d been hoarding in the bank.

One quick waypoint to trade all the insects into the appropriate form, another waypoint back, and the celebratory crafting began.

Blog post? Err… Nevermind, I’ll write it in the night.

Besides those little bouts of satisfaction, I also got in a bit of leveling time during double xp weekend.

There was a spot of time the servers were being rather dodgy and the Silverwastes map was pretty much unplayable, so being neatly stymied in my attempt to get the last carapace chest, or do anything (like kill Tequatl or Wurm) that required a stable connection without dc’ing, I decided to power level my charr mesmer instead.

Boy, was that a little insane.

I’d never eaten so many boosters in my life.

Usually I settle for an experience booster and a killstreak booster at most, and food and a wrench consumable.

Since double xp was going on, I threw on a celebration booster from the log-in rewards too, for another 100% xp. I made some candy corn cake that gave 15% xp rather than the usual 10%.

I’m still too cheap to waste 5 experience boosters for a single improved experience booster, so I held off on that, and just nommed my usual stuff. Plus a speed booster, because what the heck, I was starting to accumulate too many of those.

Then I ran off to find yellow untouched mobs and hit one.

That 64xp mob? Coughed out some 500+ xp in bonus experience, and steadily rising from the killstreak booster.

Man, did that experience bar jump.

I calculated that 3 moas would move the bar by one tenth of the total experience bar. So 30 fully xp laden mobs equated to one level.

In one hour I jumped around 7-8 levels, and that was while wasting time chatting to a friend.

Said friend wanted to come along in the next hour, so that was what we did, scoring another 8 levels.

Level 25 to 33 to 41. Craaazy.

What eventually screwed up the streak was a whole spate of maps that we were in crashing and restarting, resetting all that sweet sweet bonus xp back to essentially zero (or the same amount as the mob’s usual xp.) Fields of Ruin? Crashed. Lornar’s Pass? Crashed. Harathi Hinterlands? Crashed.

WELL. That’s pretty much all the maps that are good for that level range. (Yes, we could downlevel, but you don’t get the maximum amount of potential xp that way, you get a lil less. And we were already spoiled from the crazy numbers we were scoring with each mob.)

So we ended up taking a break and it turned out that was all the time I could spare during the weekend for leveling because I got distracted by the Vinewrath once the servers stabilized.

Oh well, plenty of time to level at leisure now that my crazy collection obsession is sated, and I can slowly make a little progress on my Great Screenshot Project. (No mention of mass carnage and destruction for the expansion, so I guess I don’t have to hurry on this. Phew.)

I’m kinda looking forward to seeing what the whole horde of newbies who grabbed GW2 during the $10 weekend sale are making of the game.

The only thing that frightens me is the quality of mapchat in the low level zones. Prior to the newbie influx, they’ve tended to make my brain rot from the inanity and barrens-chat worthy phrases (I figure that many of the people still leveling lowbies during this time are not…hmm, shall we say very devoted GW2 players or veterans – vets are likely to have so many tomes of knowledge they have to use up or are perfectly fine crafting or EoTMing their way to 80 – and thus carry a bit of their usual MMO culture with them back into this game.)

I’m not sure I want to find out if it’s got worse or better or stayed the same.

I -am- having quite a bit of fun with the influx of newbie posts on Reddit though. I’m a little too hermit-y to consider helping random people in-game, but y’know, give me a soapbox and a comment space to write in and I can’t resist giving my twenty cents of advice.

Guess we all do our part to try and live up to that “fun, welcoming, inclusive community” moniker.

State of the… Bleh…

It’s been a miserable few days in the Wolfy household, mostly because everyone’s down with some variant of the flu.

Yours truly hit a high of 38.9 degrees Celcius (or 102F) on Day 1 and while it has gone down since then, one has still been marveling at the capacity of the human body to sustain a fever temperature in spite of liberal doses of paracetamol.


The only good news is that one had a bit more gaming time in between naps, even if it was mostly woozy gaming time.

Without much capacity for thought, it’s been a bout of maintenance mode on Guild Wars 2.

I finally managed to collect all the Ambrite weapon recipes, courtesy of a 6 hour DTOP-organized event on the weekend. So it was a matter of digging through my stash to see how many fossilized insects I had, and using up a ton of orichalcum and ancient wood to make all the shiny skins.


Oh, I guess I also have nearly an entire collection of Nomad stat weapons too – though I haven’t any clue how I might ever use them. It’s not like I command in WvW and need to be unkillable. I need me my Power or Condition Damage stats. Perhaps I’ll make a troll ninja medic thief one day or something, but that’ll only use up a few weapons at most, heh.

Just four more to go.

That mostly means running around in Dry Top opening chests, but it’ll probably take a few more weeks since I can only usually attend one of DTOP’s regular weekend runs.

I also did a bit of bank cleaning, though it mostly meant taking advantage of the character slot sale to buy a couple more slots, and make a new mule character to carry all the account-bound souvenirs and skins I’m reluctant to trash.

Some day soon, I need to make another one to carry all the Ascended and exotic junk of various stats that I hardly ever use, but who knows, maybe one day they’ll be useful… how can one bear to throw away an Ascended chest anyway…

…but I wussed out for now because that’s a big mess to sort through and I already have sufficient free bank slots again.

My recent PvP craze has also been useful, in that I’m planning for the mule characters to do double duty as PvP characters. Kinda sick and tired of seeing all those delicious class dailies go by and me with no ready character to just hop in and score a daily with.

I’ve also been hurling myself into a ton of matches… which is interesting when you’re running a fever, I might add, but I just feel remarkably free on the ranger. Imo, no one really expects anything from a ranger. Chances are likely they’re all pewpew power rangers anyway, right?

By the time someone realizes I’m condi, they probably already have 20 bleeds on them and have vines around their ankles and are on fire too, so yay.

I do my best to help teamfights go our way and win/survive 1 vs 1s and the rest is up to the team to figure out if they can coordinate and actually win fights elsewhere.

On the list of other classes I need to try/learn in PvP soon-ish are the warrior (god, I hate hambows, I need to be one of them at least -some- of the time), the ele (good eles are pretty annoying) and the engi (ditto turret engis, though since I play two condi characters, I know I can usually attrition them down with condi eventually.)

Oh, and for the first time, I actually pleveled a character in GW2 the other day.

I noticed my Tomes of Knowledge were piling up, and I had the thought that maybe I procrastinated on dungeons because my dungeon running warrior is a) not quite meta, and b) has always a nearly full inventory from also being my TTS Teq/Wurm character.

So enter new warrior, 100% meta compliant.


It was surprisingly easy.

A Scroll of Experience took him to level 20.

I had 53 Tomes of Knowledge at the time, so I just piled on 50 levels and kept back three.

Then since there were ten levels left to go and I didn’t feel like even doing a bit of open world or EOTM, I quick-crafted cooking.

With just a few levels shy of 80, I rummaged around and found some hoarded writs of experience, which I ate a bunch of, then just did a bit of low-level artificing until he hit 80.

Gearing was mildly more problematic because I didn’t want to use WvW or karma armor on someone I was planning to be all meta-compliant and putting expensive stuff like Strength or Scholar runes on. So it was a matter of running from one dungeon vendor to another, trying to find enough tokens for things. Mostly it all came from CoF, with a few spare Arah boxes from PvPing.

Alas, the truth is that I’m STILL procrastinating on dungeoning, mostly because I still have to run him to the zones that the dungeons are in. *wry chuckle*

Also, I feel terribly naked in PUGs without a way to constantly clear conditions. I’m beginning to suspect there was a very good reason why I adapted my old warrior to use warhorn and quick breathing…

We’ll see. Perhaps I might end up switching to a Phalanx Strength build at some point, and that will give me a good excuse to slot in a warhorn again. PUGs don’t really need that extra mace vulnerability if the whole team is gonna drop dead from bleeds before that, right?

The other game that I more or less had the mental capacity for was Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes.


Since I’m still too miserly to pick up Endless Legends until it drops further in price, experimenting with this game was the next best thing and they had a free weekend.

It’s not too bad.

The detail is quite fun, all your building constructions are actually depicted. Up north/top is my Onyx Throne.
The detail is quite fun, all your building constructions are actually depicted. Up north/top is my Onyx Throne, which reduces unrest in all my cities. Yes, worship and despair! Mwahaha!

It’s an interesting mix of Civilization / Masters of Magic meets tactical RPG. And I stress the RPG pretty heavily.

The ruler of your civilization is not just a pretty portrait, but an actual champion hero that you get to move around as the head of an army.

He even gets an origin story. It's a nice touch, makes it more Alpha-Centauri-esque, in a way.
He even gets an origin story. It’s a nice touch, makes it more Alpha-Centauri-esque, in a way. More story in one’s Civ game.

Alpha Centauri players might recall that the game had a bunch of crashed drop pods to which you could move units to ‘explore the tile’ and get bonuses.

Fallen Enchantress takes this further with many different sites that only your champion can visit – sometimes you’ll find loot and equipment for your champions to use, sometimes you’ll have to fight off neutral mobs / monsters before you get the treasure, and sometimes you’ll even get extended quests, RPG-style, where a little story pops up wherein you talk to a NPC, they ask for help and point you to another tile to go defeat ‘teh evil monstah’ and so on.

Oh look, a shiny!
Oh look, a shiny!

And yes, there’s even a shop with which you can buy more stuff to gear up your champions with. Where do you get the gold? Well, your cities are earning it for you. (Kinda hilarious, really. Do you spend the gold on rushing upgrades or training units for your cities, or upgrading your army units… or buying shiny gear for your champions? All valid choices.)

Yes, they also level up and have a skill tree.
Yes, they also level up and have a skill tree.

The nice result of this RPG intrusion into a Civilization game is that you can still actively move around units and be engaged in fruitful combat, without necessarily being at war with any other faction. You’re basically interacting with the world, and I believe there’s actually a quest victory where you have to complete a string of epic quests to win the game.


Combat also has tactical turn-based aspects, as each encounter brings you down to an isometric map, unless you choose to auto-resolve it (safe enough if your army massively overpowers the other, but you’re usually better off manually controlling things when fighting against even or higher odds, unless you -like- taking a huge amount of casualties.)


Surrounding a unit with your own units appears to give some sort of attack bonus, so there can be quite an intricate dance to choke point or swarm the enemy for a better outcome.

It’s set in a fantasy world, so there’s also plenty of magic infused into the game too.

I’ll have to admit that I haven’t fully tried this aspect out, as I went straight for the warlike warrior/fighter faction *cough* (which turned out to have the weakness of not being able to build -any- ranged units at all, jeez) and decided to prioritize the War and Civilization parts of the tech tree over the Magic portions.

Your champions can cast magic, from strategic spells that affect the map or your cities, and tactical spells in battle, a la any standard RPG where you get things like fireball or shadow bolt or drain life, etc.

You can research up the Magic side of the tech tree, which appears to unlock various magic-related buildings from your cities, and presumably gives you more and better spells and enchanted weapons/armor/gear, along with eventually enabling a Magic victory of some sort, where you harness the elemental forces of magic itself.

Finally, you can also design your own units. They can carry various weapons that give various bonuses and changes their style of attack. Axes, for example, enable a unit to cleave up to 3 units. Swords give a unit a counter attack ability, where they will strike back at any units attacking them. Shields give a shield bash ability that knocks another unit back, and so on.

They can wear various types of armor, leather, chain, etc. and put on cloaks that give elemental resistance and hold various accessories that give variious stat bonuses. You can even put them on mounts, like horses and wargs, if you have the right resources and research.

All this, of course, adds up in production cost, so… balancing it out becomes an optimization puzzle for those interested in it. Else, there is always using the default units or making a couple of super units when your cities can manage to produce ’em.

All in all, it has the addictive “one more turn” nature of a Civ game, mixed with a hefty helping of fantasy and RPG. Not too shabby. Worth picking up if you see it on 75% off.


GW2: There May Be No Spoon, But One Sure Will Try Collecting Them All Anyway

Going down the rabbit hole here...

I wonder if the disconnect comes from semantics, or merely wishful thinking.

When your average player hears the word “feature,” they think of content. They want their new dungeon, their new zone, their new shiny reward that usually comes in the form of better stats or better looks. They want what’s labeled on the box as “features” – new class, new race, new skills!

They don’t give much thought on just how much this new stuff might imbalance or invalidate the old  stuff. They don’t care, the designers better have figured it all out beforehand, because players will be players and will optimize towards the most efficient path, and WoW has already shown that the way ahead is to just say ‘fuck the old stuff’ and pile on the new shiny on the next rung of the ladder to keep climbing forward. New players? I guess we better just fast-forward them past all the old bad stuff so they can catch up. Instant level 90, here we come.


Me, I play GW2 precisely because it isn’t WoW.

When I hear the words “feature patch,” and I’m probably in a minority of players to do so, I think of it in the way the Anet devs are using it – to reference things that aren’t content. Systems. Tweaks and improvements and little balance nudges.

Things that probably take a heck of a lot of coding work and behind-the-scenes stuff to make it more invisibly smooth-flowing on the front end.

The irony of it is, if the work is done well, no one will notice when the UI just got that much less clunky or when new players move on from level to level without a hitch and without quitting in disgust. (It’s only when it bugs or creates some kind of stopping or frustration point, that the bulk of the bitching starts.)

And there’s actually some good stuff coming down the line this 9th of September, despite the never-satisfied cries of increasingly bored players looking for new content (not new systems, per se) and new stuff to do, and despite the meat of it being spread so thinly across three weeks in some sort of weird marketing attempt to keep interest/hype going for the length of time it’ll take to deploy the patch.

The Collection Achievements system is one of those things.

You see, there’s this perennial complaint from players that such-and-such piece of content isn’t ‘rewarding’ enough. That there’s no reason or motivation to do this slightly more difficult thing over another, the devs better give us some external reward to get us to do it…or else.

Never mind the deplorable fact that many players won’t do anything without an external carrot.

(I dunno, I sometimes do content just because it’s there. I give up 2-3 hours of my time to PUG a TA Aetherpath when I get the sudden whim to, because I think it’ll be interesting and somewhat entertaining and internally rewarding to gently coax a group of players who don’t really know what they’re in for, but are desperate to get it done for their Dungeon Master achievement, through it.

The last few days, while on my platinum ore harvesting rounds, I’ve been throwing myself at the Champion Risen Spider near Flamefrog Waypoint in Sparkfly Fen, trying to figure out how to solo it – and mostly repeatedly dying. It’s turned into an almost Liadri-like compulsion by now. Eventually 2-3 other players turn up and we kill it, but dammit, I’ll get it one day. My best efforts have only reduced it to half hp so far.

It’s really infuriating because it immobilizes so much, and has an annoying egg spit attack that spawns additional spider mobs if not dodged/blocked/gotten out of the way of. That spawning can get runaway uncontrollable very quickly, so my best guess is that it -must- be -always- dodged/avoided/prevented from spawning. This is much much easier said than done, because you can’t dodge when immobilized, and I still end up confusing its egg spit attack animation with its other attacks, all of which involve twitching and lifting of its abdomen.

Reward? None but eventually satisfaction, I suppose. And a screenshot of me over its dead body… ONE DAY. SOME DAY.)

Thing is, what kinds of rewards can be given?

There’s a limit to vertically progressing rewards, since GW2 is not that kind of game. And if it tried, I’d be the first one to quit in disgust. I don’t want to be “forced” or “motivated” aka “pushed” into doing a particular dungeon simply because it gives +5 more Power stat on its gear than any other dungeons so far… and then the next new dungeon will have +10 Power to chase. *FAUGH* *spits*

Shiny new skins may have a certain temptation, but there’s always going to be a manpower limit on how many the artists can crank out at any one time, without eliciting howls of distress over lack of hair, lack of tails and oh god, that clipping. And what if the player doesn’t like the skin on offer? Then it’s back to the forums and more whining on how this and that skin is ugly as sin and not “rewarding” enough to make him suffer through that new dungeon or piece of content, I guess.

Increasing the amount of gold reward is just going to end up a tail-chasing fly-swatting game of players gravitating to the ‘best’ gold-giving dungeon for the time spent, and all the other dungeons ignored…until the next patch which increases gold rewards of some other dungeon. Not to mention, making inflation worse with every ‘fix.’

So enter a Hall of Monuments variant.

A structured system of multiple lateral options for -personal- progression, all of which will count towards accruing some points total at the end, and presumably offer direction and signposting for grabbing lower-hanging fruit before working one’s way up to harder and longer to obtain stuff.

That’s the potential I’m seeing in this new Collection Achievements system.

Players will have an external ‘reason’ to do X new content over Y old content because it will have its own ‘reward track’ where doing X related stuff will yield X-based rewards. And when content Z pops up, Z will have its own reward track too. It’ll be like trying to go for the Dungeon Master achievement, you’ve got to visit every dungeon if you want it.

(If you don’t care about it, then proceed on your merry way, of course. Like how life in GW2 has always been. All these systems are just for the Achievers who need things spelled out for them, or they quit. There’s just -so- many Achievers, though, so it’s worth creating systems for them.)

On a personal level, the collector and pack rat in me is super-thrilled.

These things have always been in GW2, but never really celebrated or made very clear.

I’ve never finished collecting all the cultural armor available… mostly because I can’t figure out which pieces I have left, and it would be a pain to have to log every single character and check what they’re wearing. (The only good news is I don’t throw away anything… Oh hey, I guess I could also use the wardrobe function now that I think about it. But that would still be a little annoying to sift through.)

I just visited a slew of Heart vendors in Fireheart Rise the other day and picked up the light, medium and heavy armor cosmetic sets that were being sold there. I never got around to it for a long time because I never needed it. Until I decided that my sylvari necro could use one piece of that look (via the Wardrobe) and so may as well since one is going there, pick up all the other sets and complete those too.

If there was some ArenaNet Points and a final shiny reward at the end for doing that, that would certainly be a little more of a motivating push in the butt to go do that kind of thing. It’s really easy low hanging fruit at that. I was sitting on 5 million karma and just never got around to using any of it on karma armor.

It’s quite a kick in the butt for the economy too, as I suspect this is going to add some new value for previously ignored shiny skins that more people will be motivated to collect.

And of course, *sinister chuckle* there’s nothing like creating account-bound stuff (like binding skins for personal use in the wardrobe) to reduce supply or “dedicated” miniatures to take these things out of circulation and sink them, so there’s always going to be demand, rather than a round-robin exchange of swap-the-same-minis so that everybody gets AP.

I can see some people thinking they’d cheated the system being a little upset by that.

To which, I can only indulge in a little Dark Side collector laugh. Seriously, did you think that you could spend hundreds of gold buying minis, get that little AP ‘ding’ and then sell them all away again to recoup most of your gold… would be valued as equivalent to someone who spent those same hundreds of gold to KEEP every last collectible shiny?




True collectors hoard shit and take them out of circulation.

It’s going to be slightly painful when it comes time to take them all out of these collections and account-bind them. That’s a LOT of gold I’m going to be throwing away. (Or spending on myself, rather.)

I’m half-considering just leaving them in the collections tab to sit for a while, but I have a feeling all it’ll take is seeing the new achievements and AP and titles for me to cave.

And it’ll be nice to be able to swap between a whole bunch of them without having to juggle stuff in my inventory. That’s at least 2-4 bag slots freed for all my characters.

To reiterate, coming down the line for the feature patch:

  • WvW – new month-long Fall Tournament with weekly match-up rewards and supposedly more unique worlds matched up with each other (I’ll believe it when I see it, BG and JQ and TC have been seeing each other since the last league), Siege Golem mastery, new Siege Disabler trick.
  • Commander tags – will now be account-bound, cost 300 gold, and have 4 shiny colors to choose from.
  • PvP – some new world tournament thing with shiny rewards for pro-PvPers, standard enemy models for Team Arenas, new PvP armor cosmetic reward (one presumably super-shiny variant for the top-tier, and one less shiny variant for the hoi polloi to earn via PvP reward track)
  • Balance changes – Elementalists weep as FGS and Tornado-Meteor combo get nerfed, mesmer scepter gets torment added, necromancer dagger gets a two-target cleave, warrior adrenaline gets played around with, and a whole bunch of less used and less popular skills and traits from all classes get some kind of adjusted boosts to try and make ’em more attractive (guess we’ll see how the new meta shakes out)
  • Guilds – will now be global, and all those leftover influence and upgrades and other things abandoned on server transfer will now come back home to roost. Guild mission experiences on the megaserver system -may- be further improved, by letting the first guildie joining a map to do a (presumably-active) guild mission reserve spots on the map for other guildies zoning in, so that half the guild isn’t spread out across several maps. May. Caveats for guilds of a very large size, which will probably still get smeared across various map instances and have to taxi in on each other. To be improved further (TM).
  • Megaserver – still getting plenty of tweaks to increase good experiences over bad ones, will attempt to sort EU players by language a little better, language chat filter back to being disabled by default so that EU players aren’t mysteriously plagued by a horde of seemingly deaf individuals in maps that keep requiring communication and coordination, fingers are crossed as to how much toxicity and harassment will result versus community-forming and a reminder to frickin’ use the report function on the worse of the toxic xenophobic lot so that the mapchat can improve.

Also, when megaserver maps drop below a certain number and need to be emptied out and closed, leftovers will be asked to volunteer to move maps back to more crowded ones and get a little bonus buff for doing so. What this will imply for organized groups trying to move to and fill new Teq and Wurm maps with people that actually care to listen to instructions and cooperate remains to seen.

  • Dungeons – will now have no instance owner. As long as someone stays in the instance, it stays open, so gone are the days of getting booted out when the opener leaves. What this might end up enabling remains to be seen: there are a few unscrupulous toxic people frequenting dungeons who might get extra-kick happy and may get some jollies out of kicking PUGs and inviting guildmates (though why they wouldn’t just run with the guildies, I dunno) or selling the path after using PUGs to do their dirty work (which I suspect is far more likely, and will no doubt keep Anet’s GMs occupied for some time.) Three-person kick is apparently in the works, but will not be in time for the feature patch.
  • Performance tweaks – More improvements to back-end stuff that will -hopefully- improve performance and frame rates at crowded events like world bosses and WvW.
  • Crafting – Crafting UI will allow for opening and viewing recipes to subcomponents at the same time as the main recipe. New cosmetic crafting backpack skins as a little mini-reward as you go up in crafting tiers. New recipes for leveling items (aka twink items) that will go up to an exotic-equivalent for low levels.
  • Profession loot – will make it more likely to get drops that are usable for one’s class. Makes it more exciting and logical for low levels to get drops that they can actually use, may sneakily tweak supply and demand of materials based on the population of classes actually being played on a regular basis.
  • Fresh Start – New player experience will be given more clear direction and guidance as to where to go. Experienced players can ignore this and turn it off, and wander Tyria as before. Leveling up will be made more shiny and WHEEEEEE, YOU LEVELED to make it feel more rewarding per level. Various existing GW2 systems will be drip-feed introduced to newbies using this guiding/unlock system, such as downed state at level 5, “hey, WvW exists, come try it out” at lvl 18, “you can PvP too, it’s not just all hearts” at lvl 22, etc. (Experienced folks who don’t need this will still be able to access WvW and PvP at lvl 2 on alts by jumping into a portal or using a hotkey, once unlocked on one character, all future characters will have the button unlocked.) More shiny item rewards for leveling up. Personal story will come in chunks using this system as well, so they can be played through at one go, instead of getting spaced out by really weird level gaps. Stats may come in chunks to also make it feel like one is getting stronger – everything will end up the same by level 80.
  • Collections – Miniatures and finishers will now end up in the account wardrobe. Both minis and finishers will be previewable in the wardrobe, minis will also be previewable via TP and chat links. Wardrobe has had some UI tweaks to make searching through it easier. Minis can be turned into an account unlock, available to all your characters to equip, simultaneously if desired, and will follow you from zone to zone with no more work needed to display them. Doing so essentially “dedicates” the mini, making it no longer sellable/tradeable as the mini item will vanish and exist as an “account skin” instead.

An entire Item Collections systems will be introduced via Achievements to reward the whole compulsion to collect everything under the sun. Shiny weapons or armor skins, food consumed, loot bags opened, spoons, you name it, it goes in it. There will be rewards attached to collecting various um, collections – equipment, functional unlocks, recipes, AP, stuff like that. Naturally, if you collect it, you can’t sell it and profit from it. More sinks, more demand, more money-making or money-sinking opportunities, gems-to-gold and gold-to-gems, more motivation to do one or the other, TP tax and economy churnchurnchurn, here we come!

The last announcement, due tomorrow, is titled Trading 2.0.

If it doesn’t contain Trading Post improvements, like *cough* certain filters that have been missing since the beginning of time, I’ll be very very surprised.

All in all, I think this feature patch definitely offers some very promising foundations for proceeding forward on. It’s good to have some rock solid bases to build that ‘new content’ on, after all.

GW2: Wintersday 2012

I’m pretty much thoroughly enjoying this Wintersday event. It’s a massive improvement over Lost Shores. (With just one teeny tiny niggling exception, but we’ll get to that later.)

Shall I count the ways?


I logged in from my extended break in the Heart of the Mists and was immediately taken with the festive snowy decorations of the PvP lobby.

Zoning into Lion’s Arch from there led to paroxysms of delight and immediate /sleeping fits of impulsive screenshot-taking. Anet completely nailed that wintry wonderland atmosphere.

Winter Wonderland Jumping Puzzle

Speaking of which, the difficulty level of the jumping puzzle was dialed back a notch. For which I am extremely grateful.

Awesomely amazing look too
Awesomely amazing Wintery look

The wider platform and three different random starting points did help to reduce some of the initial crowd chaos. I also liked the possibility of different paths to get to the same place, just in case a particular jump is just defeating you. (I was developing superstitious dread of the snowman path’s candy canes for a while there.)

The overall time limit was also less soulcrushingly pressurizing than the Mad King’s Clock Tower. There was enough time for a half-second breathing room between jumps, or a second or two of recovery should one almost screw up a jump.

The drawback of extending the time limit, of course, is the additional wait time should one flub a jump near the very beginning. But I personally think the two design decisions made there quite helped to ease the pain of the wait.

The snowballs give the easily bored and frustrated something to remain active doing. Even if it’s just flinging ineffective snow at large Charr wearing spiky armor. I attracted a few of those at the start. Much preferable and more in-game immersive somehow than a player spewing vitriol over chat at you. I also like that it’s opt-in. I rarely do. So very quickly their attention is distracted by other people who have chosen to pick up the snowballs and thus enter into the game. And they are thus promptly diverted into a mini snowball knockdown duel of effectively consenting parties.

As for those who don’t choose the aggressively competitive route? Well, you can watch other people’s progress on the jump puzzle. It can be a good learning opportunity as you watch how other people handle jumps, and help you plan your next attempt. It gives you a sense of what to expect next from a more big picture view than clinging with your claws to the next platform. And depending on your personality, you can either feel cooperative success at people making their jumps, or cackle with schadenfreude delight when they miss one, fall and end up appearing next to you.

Somewhere between 5-10 tries at the puzzle, I made it to the end. Which seems more reasonable a difficulty setting than the previous one which took 3 solid hours of plugging away at it.

Returning later to repeat it led to finding a lot more ways to fall than before, but I was also able to get there in the end for the reset daily. I’m probably never going to be good enough to nail it on repeat runs, but I don’t at all begrudge those who can and find it a profitable way to farm up giant wintersday gifts. I like the idea of skill-based rewards, as long as the lower rungs still remain accessible to most/all.

Gingerbread celebrations are more sinister amidst a roasting Charr in a firepit (or a Khornate demon summoning)
Gingerbread celebrations are more sinister amidst a roasting Charr in a firepit (or a Khornate demon summoning)

Bell Choir

Instead, I’ve been spending a heck of a lot of time in this activity. And I foresee a good many more profitable hours of 4 personalized gifts per 8-10 minutes in here.

Love does not begin to describe how much I enjoy this. It’s fun. It’s low-stress and not pressurizingly important, per se. It allows individual players to jump in and out at leisure and work on improving themselves. And it addresses an often ignored part of MMOs – music systems. (I’ve written about that before.)

I see the choir bells and the ability to play notes and I keep flashing back to LOTRO, their musical instruments and glory of glories, Weatherstock.

It would be mind blowingly fantastic if Guild Wars 2 manages to smooth out the kinks and introduce more portable musical instruments throughout next year, because it’s tools and toys like this that lead to some amazing player-created content and events.

Of course the first attempts at Guitar Hero Guild Wars 2 style led to some personal hilarity. One cannot coordinate at all when your 6-9 keys are bound to Z, X, C, V and attempting to play all 8 notes with one hand. 🙂 Several flailing attempts later, with mistimed mouse-controlled hail marys of frenzied clicking at the 6-9 buttons, I retreated out of the ring to rebind and put back 6-9 as secondary alternate keys.

From there, it was just a matter of some patience, some experimentation and rereading of instructions to determine the appropriate timing to press keys (when the notes hit the blue circle, ie. about to cross the white line), and muscle memory learning.

I found the melody (middle part) was my favorite part to play. I just do a little better when I’m controlling how the main tune of the song is supposed to go, rather than risk listening to someone else possibly do it badly and unrhythmically, while attempting to ‘harmonize’ with what the game expects the music to be. To me, it’s just slightly more tricky than the lower part / lower harmony, which I find is possibly the easiest of the three to play and score well. I screw up the most notes with the upper harmony, though it’s a good change when one is bored but still wants to repeat the activity.

Nitpicks are that the game does arbitrarily lag in spurts sometimes, and the notes seem to disappear off the board and you have to give it your best estimate of when they’ll hit the blue circle. Those tend to lead to missed notes and shattered scores across all the players. But on the whole, the game generally behaves.

I also appreciate that the maximum reward of 4 personalized gifts is not that impossibly hard to reach. I think by the time I crossed the 400s mark or thereabouts, I was getting those, and the festival achievements were also attained quite easily. By now, I tend to play at the 550+ range, and my highest score so far was 592. But I think it would go against the fun spirit of the event to put something insanely desirable as the top prize and ‘force’ people to go through an activity they don’t like. Pressuring people to play music seems…wrong, somehow.

Still, it’s not easy getting 600, and I probably will still try for the intrinsic sake of it. Nor would I mind the unbreakable bell as a perfect score 600 prize. 😛 It seems fitting. The only people who’d care for the toy are those who consider themselves musically-inclined in the first place. (As contrasted with say, a piece of exotic gear or a desirable mini as a top prize.)

Snowball Mayhem

Interesting minigame. I mainly joined it to get the achievements done. I like the idea of being able to select unique classes that are just relevant to that game. The lack of mobility of the heavy class seems to make that particular choice a little weaker, though I’ll grant that I have seen occasional effective play by heavies who help with middle position control by tying up the opposing team at the foot of their base or shielding a flag runner from frenzied opposition with their big bubble. The control options for support are quite hilarious, and effective.

But ultimately, I ended up going as scout to work on the achievements. Which can sometimes lead to play that’s counter to what would be sensible if one was playing capture the flag with the primary objective of team score.  Still, if you consider that in most team-based objective games, there’s a hefty part of players who are busy playing team deathmatch instead, one more bit of erratic achievement-seeking behavior doesn’t really matter.

The standard Reddit suggestion for running the flag is to go scout, use 5 for swiftness, grab swiftness boosts and try to be the first one at the flag to run it back. Or run with the flag bearer and hope he dies so you can pick up the flag and continue on.

I also found flag trading as an acceptable secondary option. *ahem* Basically, when the opposing team gets the flag, they run off to protect it on its way back, and your own team’s frenzied marauding hordes are also rushing headlong into snowball carnage. Which may or may not succeed in making them drop the flag. Instead, hover around the middle point for the next flag spawn. Either they score, in which case the flag returns. Or they drop the flag and the flag also resets in the middle. If you’re already there and grab the flag, you can be halfway to your spawn before the zerg at the other base can get to you.

Flag stopping was slightly more tricky, but after realizing the close-range shotgun effect of the scout skill 3 (great for finishing downed players too) and that scouts get bonus damage hitting people from behind, it was mostly a lot of 1 spamming, opportunistic sniping with 4, going invisible with 5 and speeding right up to a wounded flag carrier to shotgun him down with 3. And praying he doesn’t drop the flag before you down him. (While jumping back with number 2 is not exceedingly productive for catching up with a flag carrier, it does add a brief cripple, which isn’t stated in the tooltip help. That can be situationally useful.)

The downed skills are quite enjoyable. Between the ice that slips up anyone trying to get near you to finish you off, and the number 3 skill that freezes someone in place if you’re close enough (great for disrupting flag carriers for your teammates), one still feels effective from a control (as opposed to damage or support) standpoint.

Tixx’s Infiniarium

I like.

So far, I’ve managed to verify that it’s possible to solo both the Sylvari and Divinity’s Reach dungeons as a level 80. Just like the Mad King’s dungeon, it’s possible, but it will take you longer than going as a group of 5, which I think is a GREAT balance point between those who would prefer to do these things alone or in a small duo or trio, so as to go at their own pace and admire the scenery and talk to the NPCs and even smite every last tree in a diorama without making others impatient or having mobs trained onto you, and those who prefer the madcap speedrun chaos of a 5-man PUG who can also buffer some upleveled lowbies to successfully complete the event.

Aiieee, it's the Stay Puff Marshmallow Golem!
Aiieee, it’s the Stay Puff Marshmallow Golem!

For a moment in the Sylvari dungeon, I was worried that filling the tanks with balls of ooze from tar elementals had to be done simultaneously, as the ooze seemed to keep leaking out over time. (Or a skritt was stealing it, I dunno.) Fortunately, a bit of lateral thinking solved that problem, as I realized what a solo’er actually had to do was to pull and kill enough elementals in AoE fashion to load up the machines before giving it time to leak out.

I also had a heart-stopping moment in the Divinity’s Reach one as the golem Toxx kept healing to full as I tried to use my prior successful strategy (keep at range and plink away and wall of reflect.) Eventually, through a bit of guesswork and trial and error, I hypothesized that maybe someone had to be inside the reflect bubble rather than stay beyond range of getting hit. That meant me, since I was alone. Rolling into the bubble when it was put up worked fine and stopped it from healing.

That’s not to say there weren’t a few deaths from angry Ventari toys or damnable confuses from the Princess toys. But I’m okay with solo difficulty being higher, involving more skill and being more time-consuming. As long as it’s POSSIBLE.

I admit to a certain sense of dread that the impending Toy Apocalypse will probably not be soloable. Or how achievable surviving 50 waves of toys in a group is going to be. Possibly, that 50 wave one may not be too easy. The overall Wintersday achievement after all just needs 12 of 14 total, which suggests that there may have been some built in leeway for difficult achievements they don’t expect everyone to get. Guess we’ll see.

There’s been some unhappiness that we will only be able to make 2 of 5 miniatures from attending all the activities in-game and the rest will have to be supplemented with gems if one is a completionist.

I dunno. Honestly of all the monetization strategies, I think this is one of the least harmful while still being fairly effective at milking people of money. It’s a miniature. It’s a PRETTY miniature, yes. But it doesn’t have any in-game effect or unlevel the playing field between the haves and the have-nots. You will not be shoved out of parties or play more poorly if you don’t have all five miniatures.

All it does is leverage on the “gotta have it now, gotta complete my collection, or gotta show off” urge. If one cannot resist that temptation or cannot stand holes in a collection, they will pull out their wallets and be parted with their cash. Or their in-game gold buying gems. The most dedicated fanatics end up spending the most money to support the company. If you can resist the urge, or tell yourself that you can wait another year (assuming the event repeats, which we won’t know for sure) and generally deal with uncertainty and the prospect of not-having-everything in a game, then you don’t have to spend that money.

Collectors Screwed This Wintersday

Yeah. This was the niggling thing I said I’d mention earlier.

Crushed hopes and a stuffed quaggan plushie
Crushed hopes and a stuffed quaggan plushie

This month’s monetization experiment seems to be testing how many ways they can get rich collectors to spend untold amounts of money.

Gambling, lockboxes and lotteries for a small chance at winning something good is something Guild Wars designers have known how to do since their first game, if you really think about it. All their events have dropped bags which roll on random reward tables to give you stuff.

I still remember the year I decided I wanted a gold miniature for my Hall of Monuments points and decided to grind out as many Lunar Fortune bags as possible for a low chance at a celestial rabbit. I did eventually get one, but I played a heck of a lot more than I usually would have.

This Wintersday in GW2, the in-game grind looks to be for a chance at an Endless Tonic or the Unbreakable Bell or the Festivoo mini, with some decent toy skins and rare/exotic insignia recipes popping out as a consolation prize.

The gem store isn’t immune to this either, with the Wintersday chests providing a -chance- at other miniatures, which in turn, will let you forge Festivoo if you get three of the right kind.

This is a different approach from Halloween, which allowed one to buy a three pack of spooky miniatures straight off, and then another three pack if you wanted to forge the special mini.

Yes, the quaggan mini is the cutest thing yet. Yes, even I look at it and -want- it and feel an urge to possess it and have it running around next to me. But it’s just a mini and I find I resisted the urge for the spooky minis and I won’t be spending real money on these either. (I will, however, be playing the game quite intently to open as many Wintersday gifts as possible in the hope I get lucky.)

What would be interesting to compare, though the public will probably never get that data, would be how much money the truly dedicated crazies spend on their quest for Festivoo, as opposed to the number of people who just bought the pack and forged the Halloween ghost. It may be that there’s more money to be made milking the whales than expecting the bulk of the population to care.

(Then again, Steam and things like the Humble Bundle make a lot of money milking the long tail by letting a lot of people spend a small amount to get a good bargain. Perhaps Guild Wars 2 might do this later, years or months later, after the must-have-it-now-and-will-pay-a-premium craze has run its course?)

Mysterious Presents

I wonder how many people realize this part of Wintersday exists?

This seems to be an interesting way to get level 80s out roaming that part of the countryside that ISN’T Orr again.

I haven’t checked every zone, but it seems from Mount Maelstrom and lower, there are Mysterious Presents dotted around the landscape and respawning at a good clip. Opening these as a level 80 gives a decent chance at a Giant Wintersday gift, and maybe one or two other varying level-appropriate sizes from extra presents or dropped by the mobs that spawn.

While I haven’t accumulated 250 Giant gifts, I’ve opened enough to get the monthly done, and score the two exotic Giver’s recipes, which saves me from needing to buy those off the vendor. (Good that there’s an alternate option for those chronically unlucky though.)

I’ll probably keep at it in the hope of getting lucky with the odds and having something truly rare pop out of the bags. Along the way, there’s stuff to harvest and mobs to kill and pop stuff too.

GW2: Fixing the Fractures

I still can’t stop thinking about fractals.

But rather, it’s nagging me at a deeper theoretical level.

Design is so important to a game. It’s so easy to nudge players into behaving one way or another, and inadvertently, I fear Guild Wars 2 has let players slip back into some of their older, negative gaming habits with how effectively current day fractals are -fracturing- the community.

Everyone knows the gathering node example by now. If two players are set up in competition for that one resource, very quickly, people start cursing that other bastard for ‘stealing’ ‘their’ node.

If it’s a shared node, then there’s less of a rush and time pressure, and opens out the option for the two players to cooperate on their way to the node, and harvest it together, both benefitting.

Of course, in practice even in Guild Wars 2, we see a certain subset of players having created their own personal version of rush and time pressure (get as many nodes as possible in a short period of time) and acting selfishly as a result. These would be the ones that ignore the mobs on the way, either using you to fight for them or assuming everyone is equally in a hurry and will run past, grab their nodes and go.

Depending on your expectations of their behavior, you might either get upset by their actions, or just aim a muttered curse in your thoughts in their direction, or shrug and ignore them because you like killing the mobs anyway. Or you may quickly change and adapt and follow their example, snatch the node and head off yourself. Or maybe you and they were on the same page from the beginning and both snatched and went without a moment’s thought that other players might play differently.

Complete unity is impossible. A well-populated MMO naturally contains different groupings of players with differing priorities. It’s quite natural that they will gravitate to those that share their own interests. What is important in the game’s design though is to try not to shove them at each other and force them to accept one group or the other’s playstyle because that’s just asking for a headlong confrontation complete with screaming, yelling and kicking in-game and across all manner of internet channels and bad blood across both divides. (Unless that result is what is desirable for the game for whatever reason.)

Ideally, you might want the different players to still come in contact with each other from time to time and find reason to work together or tolerate each other if the sum contribution is still valuable. GW2 was striving towards this in its world events, where pretty much any body is welcome, an extra hand, to do damage or rez or support, even if some levels are better than others, some builds are better than others and so on.

WvW also still relies on a sizeable militia body as well as organised groups, (if only because no one server can field sufficient organized group numbers 24/7 and maintain that for long),  even if differing values and strategies and opinions and the flood of adrenaline and competition can occasionally lead to some dramatic implosions or fractures in a community.  This generally results in fairly controlled, mostly mature behavior even through numerous disagreements from a majority of players, if only because overall unity is still the only way to get somewhere. But you can see some of the hidden, negative behaviors shine through when the situation breaks down – griefers, forum trolling, exploiters, back seat commanders, commanders turning on each other, individuals fleeing to save themselves, the works.

Failing which, another alternative is to separate out and leave the different players with differing priorities hobnobbing in their separate circles, achieving success in their own way and having little reason to quarrel with each other.

In retrospect, it seems Guild Wars 1 used this route quite considerably. PvPers did their own thing – make a PvP character, get all the skills already unlocked for your meta building contentment and eventually the devs did separate out PvE and PvP skills from affecting each other (there may have been some screaming in the meantime, I’m not sure, I wasn’t paying attention back then.)

For PvE, they included heroes and henchmen, and a very shallow level and stat cap. You know what this did? It immediately allowed all the soloists to segregate themselves and -still- feel like they were making successful progress in their own staggered time. You might race through all the missions in a week or two, I might take a month or more to get there. Doesn’t matter, we all got there in the end, and me being slower does not have to affect you because I would never join your group, my heroes would do just fine.

Of course, the drawback was that this left out the sociable groupers to quite an extent, who complained that it felt too lonely, the lobby instancing made it less ‘world-like’ and couldn’t find groups easily. However, the partial solution for them matched their nature – they could find a good guild, whom they might socialize with, group and play with and progress that way with others. No one’s solved the guild matching problem just yet, though.

World of Warcraft is perhaps another interesting study. There’s the obvious achievement focused hardcore raiders, whom are all found at the max level plateau, happily chugging through their vertical progression ladder of tiered raids and item levels. And, though I’m lumping them very generally here, there are more casual-oriented players who spend most of their time in the leveling game, socializing and what not. What is their unique focus? Chris Whiteside mentioned it in the GW2 AMA and I thought it very intriguing. Collection. They collect stables of alts of various races and classes, god-knows-how many cute pets, mounts, achievements, costumes, etc.

The real fanatics, of course, do both.

All kidding aside, to me, it seems they generally do operate in their own little spheres, content to ignore each others’ playstyles. However, it is contingent on the WoW casuals having cheerfully accepted that they will never ever reach the level of perceived ‘progress’ as the raiders. Any discontentment along that front and you can get quite the war.

And it does seem these days that Blizzard has had to stagger things out along a casual to hardcore spectrum or continuum in order to try and make everyone happy, rather than carry on with the bait and switch leveling/raid divide. The drawback in their system? People getting tired or jaded and burning out from running an endless treadmill of vertical progression.

Guild Wars 2 has an exceptionally tricky puzzle in their hands now. Both the Clock Tower and the fractals have demonstrated just how violent the uproar can become when one inadvertently forms and highlights divides in the playerbase (even along arbitrary lines, hello, character SIZE as a discriminating factor? Wow), and how reflexively negative behavior aimed at others can result.

Which is completely counter to the overall goal of having players cooperating and working with each other in relative unity, even if they do have to segregate out now and then into their little ghettos to hang with others of their kind.

We’ll have to leave it in the devs’ hands to see what they will do next.

If it were up to me though?

The first thing that comes to mind is to try and diminish the immediate divides. Fractal levels are way too fractured, and players are only receiving progression benefit from players of their specific level tier (or higher, if they would deign to come down to join the hoi polloi, which rarely occurs.)

The pool of players that can offer each other benefits has to expand a lot more rapidly, including making it easier for cross-server groups or guildmates of currently different fractal levels to play with each other, and indeed, for players to find and draw from the totality of the pool (aka LFG spam is not the most ideal of group finding methods.)

They’ve already said they will be including opportunities to obtain Ascended gear through other activities. Which should help to keep the separate groups happy doing their own thing.

What now concerns me is that the divides have already happened. This will leave scars in the psyche of the playerbase. We might already have gotten meaner, more elitist, less trusting, more selfish.

We’ve already seen most of the world abandoned, except for Cursed Shore and Frostgorge Sound, little comfort zone areas of the farmers – despite tweaks that have made other zones decently viable to run level 80s about in. The profusion of things to do at any one time also separates people – harvest nodes, chase world completion, WvW, PvP, jumping puzzle, umpteen dungeons including an infinite one now, farm DEs for loot, farm DEs for karma, farm mobs for crafting items, I’m sure there’s more I’ve missed in my casual run-on sentence list.

What I’d really like to see ArenaNet focus on in the next few months, or even in the long-term (because realistically, companies can’t react that fast) is to try and reiterate a sense of unity in the playerbase. Make us value cooperation and coming together again, if only for a little while.

I know it sounds very cheesy-Treahearne heal-the-scars-of-the-land at the moment. And lord knows I don’t want another one-off lagfest of epic proportions.

But I’d like to be able to run with a group of 10-20 out in the world again, taking down world bosses, running through mini-dungeons, falling and being helped through jumping puzzles, loling and laughing in a friendly manner with each other, cracking jokes and bonding with each other.

Hell, even a costume brawl. Or revive an interest in Keg Brawl. New mini-game activities of a nonserious non-end-of-the-world omg-the-dragons-are-here nature.

Get a guild, you say? I got one, thanks. And we -do- do this sort of thing in WvW, which has helped quite a bit with my recent morale problems.

But why dump the sole load and responsibility on individual guild leaders and officers and players? Design for the feature and give us players a hand here. Throw us already premade into random groups of 10 or 20 into not-too-difficult fun instances. Help us laugh and have fun with each other, not resort to blamethrowing and shit slinging for whatever twisted behaviorial reason. The dragons are always fun to take down together, but it’s notable that players have had to resort to an out-of-game dragon timer in order to congregate en masse. Guilds might benefit from more tools and features to get their members working together and hanging out together in one place. Hell, if you can solve the age-old problem of player matching with suitable guilds, that would be a design miracle and be ripped off by all future MMOs just like the uber-customizable character creator.

Here’s hoping to good things coming for Wintersday. Toys. Toys equate to casual fun, right? How could they possibly screw this one up?