GW2: What Would You Do, Before the Last Day?

“The last day dawns on the Kingdom of Ascalon. It arrives with no fanfare, no tolling of alarms. Those who will remember, will speak fondly of the warm morning breeze. People carry on with their daily lives, unaware that in a short while… everything they have ever known will come to an end.”

All of Tyria is threatened.

There is no turning back.

You will face a decisive moment.

The point of no return.

gw2-noturningback

All this messaging has set off an interesting Reddit speculation thread, choice snippets of which I include below:

reddit1reddit2reddit3

Nah… there’s no way… they couldn’t…. could they?

Our desire for static unchanging persistence, for “permanent” content, for lack of change, screams “NO.”

Apparently, the promise of an MMO for the bulk of its players is not that it is “living” or simulates the real world with changes that ensure you can never step in the same river twice, the attraction is more the promise of permanent persistence, that it is always there and constant and piling on more and more stuff, a hefty elephant getting bigger and bigger and clunkier as it gets older.

But this is a company though that has proven willing to kill its babies, its already-built content. Stuff gets removed, replaced, new art assets come in to take the place of the old. Changes and iterations, in search of the next optimal or best.

The sylvari didn’t start out looking like how they do now.

Kessex Hills and Lion’s Arch are forever changed.

And you know what, as much as we might hope for rebuilding to occur, for some of that old beauty to return, truth is, we really can’t step in the same river twice.

I don’t think Anet will ever be so lazy as to just patch back in the original art assets and go, hooray, rebuilt!

If Lion’s Arch does get rebuilt again, one day… it might harken back to the old, but I bet it’s going to look different… hopefully better.

But you know, just like that Reddit user said, “I still have this pre-searing feeling…”

Let’s think about it.

Anet wouldn’t want to split the playerbase. Chucking in an expansion’s worth of zone content into a normal expansion box pretty much means that everyone who wants the new stuff will have bought a box and gallivanted off to the new lands. What about the slower players who haven’t played through Tyria, do we make them go through it before they join us in… say, Elona or Cantha?

Well, if open world Tyria isn’t habitable anymore, that kinda solves that problem, doesn’t it?

New players might just start as new Canthans, or new Elonans, or new visitors to the new land. If the content is still spread out on a 1-80 scale, they can pretty much level up in Elona or Cantha without ever knowing Tyria, with completely new personal stories that our Tyrian-origin characters won’t have.

Lore-wise, the waking up and movement of an Elder Dragon means a swathe of destruction on a scale that we as players have never witnessed in person before.

It may not happen abruptly in real time. Anet appears to have learned that a two week/four week pacing seems to keep most players on track as far as story beats are concerned. For something of this scale, they may let it stretch out to months (which also gives them time to polish up the next dribble of content.)

How better to create demand than to also artificially create scarcity?

What if we knew that Tyria as we knew it was going to be no more… come… oh, I don’t know, Q3 2015 or something.

Six more months to do whatever you want to do in Tyria, before we say goodbye.

Wouldn’t it be enough time? A new player could buy GW2 and pretty much play up all the Tyrian content in that time, if they wanted.

If they wanted to come in, like, one month to world’s end, there is also always the possibility of saying, “hang on, wait a month and then you can buy GW2: the Elonian edition, the standalone expansion and come play with the rest of us in the Crystal Desert” or something along those lines.

Well, all this is still hypothetical, until we hear what news they choose to share with us at PAX.

But even if it never happens and they’ve got some completely different ideas on the table, perhaps, just perhaps, it wouldn’t hurt to play the game as if we were never going to see Tyria again.

If each zone as you knew it was going to blow up the next day and be wrecked, or even just change and be lost in some other way, what would you have wanted to see or save or preserve in your memories?

gw2-spiral

This weekend, I’m entertaining thoughts of and trying to formulate a plan to carry out The Great Screenshot Pilgrimage.

The scope of it, I’m still trying to nail down, given the supremely limited time I have available and all the other more achiever-oriented things I also want to do.

Ideally, I would want to preserve each zone in my memories doing a walking tour like what I did for Orr, just ambling around and taking screenshot photos of pretty much anything that catches my eye. There’s a lot of unpredictable beauty in GW2’s zones and it’s simply the best way I know to stumble across a scene composition that just sends chills of awe down your spine. But jeez, it takes time and can use up 2-3 hours in one zone. There’s like 28 zones in Tyria. I can do that over a period of months, not this weekend before next Tuesday’s update.

So I started brainstorming a whole list of options for a screenshot project, that might be completed in differing spans of time:

gw2-thaumanova

  • Take the -one- defining picture of the area or zone. Or take a picture of the first thing you think of when you hear the zone’s name. (Those may not be the same thing.)
  • Take 3-5 representative pictures of the zone, covering the major landmarks and scenery.
  • Do it encyclopedia or wiki-style, a picture for each point of interest or vista or named landmark.
  • Do a walking tour of the zone to capture pretty much whatever catches your eye.

gw2-oakheart

Basically, I think my primary desire is to take sufficient “photographs” to recreate my memory of the place, with the secondary desire of wanting to capture unexpected moments of perfect beauty to share with others.

I -was- hoping to kill a few birds with one stone and use a character that needed to a) map explore and b) travel to all the dungeons, but I found out to my dismay that the camera height for an asura is set so low to the point that /sleeping doesn’t really hide one’s body from the image.

Grrr. It’s still possible, but very annoying to try and find workable angles on the asura, whereas I can pretty much just hide interface and /sleep on a charr anywhere and not have to worry about it, beyond the odd shoulder or arm spike getting in the way *hides everything.*

So it looks like I will have to do my screenshots with my tallbies, one of whom has completed map exploration – which would at least make waypointing convenient, but not get me anywhere in terms of map completion, or with the rest at some 40-50% completion, the partial fog of war making it a bit hard to figure out just where I’ve been or not that particular session… bleh, still deciding.

One thing’s for sure.

I tried experimentally doing Metrica Province and Caledon Forest today to get an idea of the time it might take for each zone, and I noticed that I was absolutely playing the game in a different manner, with my goal to look for beauty, rather than the next thing on the to-be-completed list.

gw2-caledon

The act of photography really prompts a lot more in-the-moment mindfulness and a new way of seeing, making you more aware of things you would previously not have seen, being so focused on doing your other mundane things.

Perhaps we should all try playing (or even living) as if we might never see the zone we’re standing in again, rather than assuming it’ll be around for forever.

GW2: Sandy Dune Caves and Drydock Scratch

gw2-jp-sand1

To call it merely a jumping puzzle does it a serious injustice.

Even if I feel like I should be in a jungle outfit to be Indiana Charr in this section.

Even if I feel like I should be in a jungle outfit to be Indiana Charr in this section.

What it is, is an entire cavern system that only happens to contain a jumping puzzle.

gw2-jp-sand2

GW2 does not shy away from the vertical. You know those deep and varied underwater places that are so awesome? This is the caves version.

I spent far more time squeeing over the vast variety of cave environments depicted so adeptly than worrying about jumping.

gw2-jp-cave3

gw2-jp-plants

gw2-jp-start

gw2-jp-down

I also spent an equally long time on the outdoor aboveground portions, taking grand panoramic screenshots of the Silverwastes from angles to die for.

gw2-jp-vine

That vine!

gw2-jp-temple

That view!

gw2-jp-airship

That airship!

gw2-jp-vista

That view and that airship!

(Yes, there were also plenty of impact craters.)

I’m glad that feedback from Not So Secret appears to have been taken to heart. Near the later stages, a skritt will helpfully rez you so that frustrated raging and having to restart right from the beginning due to one unlucky slip is not necessary.

gw2-jp-cave1

The gigantic thing is broken up into milestones, that essentially can save your progress over gameplay sessions, if you remain in the map. My first exploration took me through 3 milestones before I ran out of time and had to quit. I’d assumed I’d have to rerun the thing from the beginning, but no, when I logged back on, I still had the 3 milestone stacks, along with my coin buff.

The coin buff is an interesting exercise in self-chosen player difficulty mixed with a goldsink.

If you pay the NPC 1 gold, you get a buff that lasts for an hour that lets you use any handy skritt tunnels (conveniently placed near post-plummeting locations) to go back to the last milestone.

If you’re a more miserly individual, you can pay 1 silver to get a teleport to the second last milestone and 1 copper to the third last.

I started out paying a silver because I’m cheap, but near the end, because I was so captivated with exploring and iterating my way through the new stuff of each checkpoint, I coughed up the gold so as not to waste my own time.

gw2-jp-shiny

And yes, I did the entire thing sans Dulfy guide, because content like this is chicken soup for my mapping and exploration soul, with the reward of wonderous vistas and the satisfaction of forging your own path through.

gw2-jp-cave2

Even if it’s dark as hell.

(Though the last part was indeed slightly hair-pullingly frustrating from the many false trails/choices that landed you at the beginning of that checkpoint.)

What I didn’t really like was the randomness of the choice, with little indication of what the “right” tunnel to hop into was.

I got past that frustrating portion by calling on my infinite patience when it comes to being more bullheadedly stubborn a mapper than the designer. There’s only a finite number of paths they can create, right? Well, we are brute-forcing EVERY path to figure out where each leads!

So I hunkered down, resigned myself to restarting from the bottom many times, and systematically went down every damn skritt tunnel to see where it would go.

Maybe I was being stupid and missed an obvious clue, but I don’t believe there was any real indication of the ‘right’ path.

gw2-jp-shinier

Much shiny, though.

The good news was that I didn’t have to pull out the pencil and graph paper.

After being essentially forced to iterate from the start a dozen times over, simple visual memory was taking over and locking in landmarks to differentiate one section of the puzzle from another.

“Oh yeah, with these two ramps here, the correct tunnel is X. And the one over here with the bright yellow sand area and the two planks, do NOT go to Y or there will be a great gnashing of the teeth. Instead run over to Z, which is way over there, yes.”

gw2-jp-above

All in all, this seems to be the biggest slice of content that arrived in the Seeds of Truth patch, assuming one doesn’t cheapen it by just blindly following a guide. (Of course, if you hate stuff like this and just want the shiny at the end, then guide away to waste your time less.)

I forsee figuring out how to get all the Gold Lost Badges (a few of which I passed while doing the jumping puzzle, tauntingly placed out of reach) will take another hefty chunk of time, along with a hefty chunk of gold from waypoint fees from failed assumptions on where to climb, and simple failures to balance appropriately on the tip of a pin.

All good though. Finishing the jumping puzzle netted me 16 already. I expect another trip through the puzzle keeping the ctrl key down and eyes open might net a few more.

If one is really stuck, there is always googling for the solutions of other people. But until then, I’m enjoying the satisfaction of figuring it out on my own.

gw2-jp-light

(After all, this isn’t vanishing in two weeks, right?

What in the world are these skritt up to again? There's a lot of them... doesn't that mean they're alarmingly smart?

What in the world are these skritt up to again? There’s a lot of them… doesn’t that mean they’re alarmingly smart?

Right?

Has anyone noticed the little baby skritt doing a rain dance? And the upside down boats that are somehow still staying afloat? Do skritt get -magical- if there's enough of them?

Has anyone noticed the little baby skritt doing a rain dance? And the upside down boats that are somehow still staying afloat? Do skritt get -magical- if there’s enough of them? Or is it proximity to something else giving them magic?

Or maybe it might significantly change visually after a month… the whole structure should still be there, though.

Right? That whole byline about “Points of No Return” is just marketing speak… I hope.

Or maybe Mordremoth will wake, and we all know what happens when Elder Dragons move.)

Minecraft: Agrarian Skies – Blood Wood Trees, Water-Like Stuff of Many Colors and Cats (#UpGoerFive)

It has come to my attention that I might be using too hard words for someone not playing the same game as me.

If someone can explain “how to go to space” like we’re 5, or ask “what are you all playing” with simple words, I am sure I can do the same.

So this next part will use pictures and easy words.

as3_kitten1

First of all, here is my baby cat being a cat. Of all the places to stand, the bed is always the first pick.

as3_kitten2

Push it off the bed, and you guessed it, it will sit on somewhere else and block that. I can’t open the chest now. *sigh*

I had a way too exciting time the other day.

It starts with me thinking that it would be a good idea to get around to growing the tree that grows the other way around – a blood wood tree.

Breaking its leaves gives tiny pieces of a red-colored rock, which can carry power, and which I need to make more things that run by themselves.

as3_bloodwood1

So I climbed up to a tall place, which just happened to be outside, near the rest of my growing trees and placed the baby tree.

I made it grow fast with fine pieces of the hard things that are inside a person’s body.

Then I stared and could not believe my eyes. (Totally forgetting to take a picture at this point.)

The tree was huge. The middle part was 2 by 2 blocks. It had grown probably 30 blocks straight down, right THROUGH rock and wood and god knows what else.

as3_bloodwood2

This is me, nervous, carefully looking down at the tree, when I finally came back to my senses. Boy, it sure is dark down there.

On the bright side, this was maybe not a bad way to move down from the ground floor, so to speak, and get to build lower than usual. (Building stairs going up are easy. Stairs going down when you can fall into nothing and die are a lot harder to manage.)

Being really scared of falling and losing everything, I took care to put all my stuff in a chest first and only brought not important stuff with me. Like lots of rocks. To build with.

as3_bloodwood3

Then I tied some sticks together and went down down down ever so carefully, onto the blood wood leaves.

as3_bloodwood4

Under the world as we know it…

This sight is both amazing and makes me want to wet my pants.

Tearing my eyes away, I began placing rock after rock, building from the leaves out to form the beginning of a floor.

as3_bloodwood5

It turned out that this ended up quite near the back area where my animals were, so I made some rock stairs up to lead to it too.

(Also, always having to climb straight up and down some easily broken sticks scares me to death. Give me normal stairs any time of day.)

Now more or less safe, I started the slow work of carefully knocking to pieces the big old tree.

as3_bloodwood6

In a way, this part almost felt like the normal game, where you always go under the ground and meet “fun” in dark places. It had that step-by-step feeling of being in a strange world and looking carefully around each corner, watching where you walked.

as3_bloodwood7

Man, this could be any other world, in any old mine under the ground.

I also kept telling myself I couldn’t keep doing this and had to eventually make something that could deal with this for me.

as3_bloodwood8

Seriously dark at night. Almost done with the tree at last.

Of course, I didn’t learn from just doing it once. I just HAD to try it again. In the same place, which I already had the feeling wasn’t the best of places to decide to grow it.

This time, chance wasn’t with me.

It only grew 20 blocks down, and went wide, knocking out a big part of the wood floor where other trees were growing, and just missing the places I kept water.

as3_bloodwood9

It also took out one of the blocks that was holding very hot rock, which, thank god, didn’t come out and burn everything.

I was still not pleased since that piece took quite a bit of time and trouble to make. And there’s that whole breaking of already-built things that I have to come back later and fix? No, just no. That’s just wrong.

Well, that’s definitely the last time I’m growing this here.

as3_bloodwood10

Me. The second tree. Staring. Sick of working. Cleaning up everything that went wrong. Much sad.

Long story short, there was a lot of rock floor building. And taking breaks. And more rock floor building.

At some point, I made a box that could make 16 blocks of rock floor at a time. But it was still hard to place and turn on and then move it to the next bit and so on.

Then I broke it by trying to make it better. Instead of holding 64 pieces of rock and growing them out 16 at a time, the new box could hold 1 piece of any block in 16 different places, which meant WAY too much time putting rock in the box.

I didn’t have enough red-colored rock to make another. (I mean, that was WHY I started this whole stupid blood wood tree business to begin with. Mood: Annoyed.)

Back went the box into the chests in the house. Back I went to building by hand.

Eventually, I had a rock floor just a few blocks lower than the wood floor where my normal trees were growing. This was going to be the next place I would try growing the crazy blood wood tree. Far out and away into the nothing, where nothing important could be broken.

as3_bloodwood11

Looks better. Sort of.

Still not pretty. But hey, if it works, it works. Pretty can come later.

as3_bloodwood12

This is one of my new favorite things.

The grey box, given power, can cut down an entire tree on its own.

The lit thing under it gives it power through hot water, so hot that it turns into the air-like state.

Which means it, in turn, needs something to burn and water.

The water is already in place from the other grey box in the back, joined to the lit thing.

When I want it to work, I come down and bring stuff to burn and place it in by hand.

Power rushes through everything, I grow the baby tree and the grey box gets to cutting. Fast. Very very fast.

So fast I can’t take a picture of it, I can only show you the remains of the tree getting smaller and smaller down there.

as3_bloodwood13

You can even ask the box to keep or break the leaves.

as3_bloodwood14

Oh yeah, give me more of that red stuff.

In other news, I finally finished making the job of getting water-like stuff of different colors into a hard block form less annoying.

as3_oreprocess0

We begin with many pieces of rock of different colors.

They start as big pieces, and need to be broken into small pieces, and then finally, into even tinier pieces.

(You could just go without and throw the big pieces into the fire, but you get less stuff in the end. Me, I like more stuff.)

After each part, they have to be put back together into blocks, to be broken again. Usually, this is done by hand, 4 pieces at a time.

as3_oreprocess2

This little box can do it for you, given power, which yet again is being given to it from behind.

as3_oreprocess3

Things to be put together are placed in the chest on the left.

as3_oreprocess4

Out they come, from the chest on the right.

The cat in the back has no part to play. Except thinking they’re helping and getting in the way. Like all cats.

as3_oreprocess1

The colored blocks are brought to my other favorite thing in the whole world.

as3_oreprocess5

This simple yet beautiful group of boxes.

One places all the colored blocks into the chest up high. They fall into the blue box at the back.

This blue box in the back does the work of placing a colored block on the ground.

The other blue box in front has the job of breaking it into pieces.

as3_oreprocess6

I even gave it added power with a very strong breaking thing.

The small black box sucks in all the broken pieces and puts it in the final chest in front for me to pick up.

Repeat a couple times until we get this:

as3_oreprocess7

The final colored block form.

These are then brought over to the tall brown building that makes them all water-like with a very hot fire, as mentioned earlier.

as3_oreprocess8

Note the new glass building next to it.

All the colored water-like stuff runs into it and fills it up.

as3_oreprocess9

Like so.

as3_oreprocess10

One can read how much of each colored water-like stuff is inside from the block on the left here.

as3_oreprocess11

It took quite a bit of doing and trying different things, but I finally decided the least problems happened with each colored water-like stuff having its own form-making black box.

It’s all been set up so that each color runs in by themselves.

Once the form-making black boxes fill up, they cool down into a hard block form.

This then falls out the bottom and runs along the light blue lines until they wind up in the chest on the right.

Any remaining water-like stuff can be sent by hand into the glass boxes at the very bottom. These can be used again later when enough has been stored up.

The one added glass box, third from the right, is my attempt at handling water-like glass. That part handles two colors instead of just one.

There is the problem of the two colors sometimes backing up and not being able to fill the black form-making box right, so I needed somewhere for the other color to go first, just in case.

Truth is, it’s yet to be tried out to a serious breaking point. Worse case situation, I make another black form-making box for it down the road.

as3_oreprocess12

At the end of the whole thing, is so very many pretty colored hard blocks.

Final mood: Happy.

(As for the cats and what they’re up to, that’s for them to know and the rest of us are left to only guess.)