The SAD Project – Day 6 – Slumdog Puglord

ensolyss

It’s Saturday, the start of the Oceanic/Asian weekend, and today’s screenshot story is about facing one’s fears… head on… only to realize with some head-scratching befuddlement that I seem to have developed thicker skin than I thought.

I basically went through the entire gamut of PUGs today – successful run, failed run, achievement run, many many wipes run, normal mode, challenge mode, watched people get kicked, got kicked twice (or at least the vote kick opened and I didn’t stick around.)

All on fractal 100.

It all started when I was idly browsing through the fractal LFGs wondering which fractal I dared to PUG today.

100lfg

The first thing I saw was an offer by a guild to sell the Nightmare fractal – level 100 challenge mode for 40g, and that you could pretty much just afk at the final boss.

You know what I thought?

I thought, DAMN, that’s cheap! Just 10g to each guy. I was pretty darned tempted to just pay and get it over with. If it was a scam, welp, 40g is not very much in the larger scheme of things to lose and you could always report them as a minor consolation prize.

The fear of being scammed and the uncertainty of not actually knowing how to pay/trade for things like this was about 25% of the reason for why I finally didn’t bite. The other 75% was mainly me checking out my achievements panel and going, “ah crap…”

nightmarechievo

I got 5/7 of the standard achievements wandering into a lvl 25 Nightmare fractal by myself on the day it launched, and went “meh, I’ll wait until the PUGs know how to do a smooth run and all the video tactics and guides are out,” and never bothered to go back in again.

Ironically, I ignored fractals so long, the PUGs passed me by in skill level, so to speak.

I basically wasn’t sure if you could even earn the challenge mode achievement if you didn’t have the standard nightmare fractal achievement fully done and unlocked.

Seemed unlikely, given prior historical examples of Anet achievement coding.

Turns out that one of the T4 dailies was the Nightmare fractal, and lots of groups were starting up for it. Most of them at the time I first looked all said, “100cm food/pots/exp” though.

Bleh. Food was no problem, I carry food for raids all the time. Fractal potions are more of a pain, being an infrequent fractal flyer, but I could just take the time to prep and buy a few from the vendor.

Exp… well, ha, I watched Deroir’s nightmare cm fractal guide of a coordinated group run, and I solo’ed most of a level 25 nightmare fractal once upon a time…so… that would be a bald faced lie.

But what the hell, the new post-raids GW2 PUG atmosphere is really simple, right? Fake it till you make it.

If you can lie about legendary insights and be encouraged to do so, because you’re going to get kicked by puglords otherwise, if the veterans don’t feel like teaching or communicating because “go watch a video, go train, go make your own group to die horribly until you learn how to do it our way without error,” (hang on, how are they going to learn how to do it your way if they don’t interact with you?)  if the newbies don’t feel like communicating because the veterans are pricks anyway, what the hell, what’s the worse that can happen?

People say or think nasty things about you, and you get kicked. Oh, is that all?

So I hit the join button with the only 150 AR character I had, the necro, with the sneaky thought that I could cheat a lil and switch to parasitic contagion in an emergency to be even tankier and at least not the first guy to die.

Well, that emergency came pretty soon. There were quite a number of downs, quite a number of deaths. Still, I was holding my own on about 80% of the fractal.

Fortunately, accompanying me in terms of needing scraping off the floor was the group starter himself/herself, aka the person who made the “exp” request to begin with.

The rest of the PUG were surprisingly tolerant of much of the shambles we made, for a time. I got some invaluable firsthand experience of what the mechanics of the challenge mode consisted of, and was busy analyzing and figuring out solutions mid-combat.

The first death knell arrived during a phase when a boss split up into adds at 66% health  that had to be taken down within a time limit. It got blatantly obvious that two of us didn’t have a clue, when three people had put down personal waypoints on the minimap (which I didn’t even see) and the two of us didn’t. My little sheepdog act of following along got semi-exposed. We wiped.

In short curt sentences, the one guy I followed badly explained that the two of us needed to go east, at which point I looked at the minimap and realized there were personal waypoints set and quietly put mine on east, while the rest were busy being grumpy with the slightly more frequently dead and missing mechanics group starter (a warrior).

“at 33 clockwise” was the final cryptic phrase given before combat resumed. I dutifully went east and wailed away at my designated mob. (The warrior died.)

At 33% health, I did a best guess scenario and beelined east and “clockwise” to southeast-ish, managed to find the mob, which no one was attacking, so I guess I got it right. The four of us more or less managed to kill that boss, though two more of us died and had to be sloowly rezzed back to health (hey, at least it wasn’t just me) before it died. (The warrior was left dead and rezzed after the fight.)

The second death knell was the bullet hell rooms. Look, I’m on 250ms ping. I was pugging in NA time. NA folks consider 75ms to be “laggy.” Bullets in GW2’s bullet hell simulation are very rarely where they appear when you’re on 250ms ping. You have to be very very predictive to manage. To be very very predictive, you need the experience which I still didn’t have at that point in time. Things went as well as you might expect, which is to say, not terribly well at all. The one or two remaining guys soloed it, no doubt getting even grumpier.

We went through a number of repeated attempts on the final boss Ensolyss. I got an immense amount of practice in through that pressure cooker experience. Most of the mechanics I was getting the hang of and coping with… except for the third and final death knell.

One of Ensolyss’ attacks is him rearing up and slamming his fist into the ground to create an orange AOE circle that does damage, swiftly followed up by an expanding shockwave that knocks you back. What seems like half a second or less later, a nightmare hallucination forms above you (and each player, apparently) and slams down for massive damage in another orange circle.

I simply could not work out the PUG strategy for this. The organized group video guide said to dodge -into- the shockwave, so that you didn’t get knocked back. I did so, and was usually standing in the middle of a few orange circles for the hallucinations to wreck.

Half the time, my ping was such that I couldn’t hit the dodge key in time to dodge out and away from the hallucinations after dodging in, and the other half of the time, I ain’t had no endurance left. The cm mode damage went right -through- death shroud.

If I dodged out or tried to jump the shockwave, I’d hit the tip of the shockwave and get knocked down anyway, and being knocked down is bad news when death is about to fall on your head at any moment.

It was obvious that other classes were getting by using blocks and invulnerabilities. A necro has no blocks and invulnerabilities. It was a PUG, you can’t rely on a mesmer to distort for you or get group aegis from someone. A necro apparently had to fall back on picture perfect timing with evades and excellent endurance management (or, like in a nightmare 100cm necro solo video I watched after the fact, you do it alone and just dodge out of the -one- predictable hallucination circle, as opposed to the chaotic mess of 5 circles in a group of 5.)

So about 75% of the time, like clockwork, every time Ensolyss did that attack, I’d go down like a ton of green poison bricks.

Still, we lost the warrior first. One of the veterans was pointing out that he/she needed to -dodge- the mechanics (as we were spending half the time trying to scrape said warrior off the floor, and this tended to compound my error rate when I was trying to be too kind and get locked in a rez).

The warrior started to lag behind when restarting the fight, seeming reluctant to try again (or maybe was trying to adjust build, who knows.)

This eventually got on the nerves of another supposed veteran, who initiated a vote kick, and that was the final straw for the warrior, who then quit.

Shortly after, I succumbed to yet another one of those falling hallucinations of death, and that I saw the vote kick pop up for me as well.

I hit leave party without bothering to wait.

In retrospect, what surprises me is more of the silence and overall rudeness of the encounter. After I left without a word, I felt that I couldn’t let that be the last step of the interaction, so to speak, and sent a whisper to the person who initiated the vote kick.

It said, “no worries, I’ll leave, good luck.”

I just wanted to end on a civil note.

At any time, if any of them had said anything along the lines of, “look, this isn’t working, you’re not experienced, could you leave?” I would have.

Of course, no one is in the right on this. Should I have joined a group that said “food/pot/exp?” Probably not. I still did, though. It was one of the fastest ways to get some experience with 100cm.

Should the group starter who patently wasn’t experienced advertise for “exp?” Lol, obviously not. They still did though.

Should the other party member have initiated a vote kick on the group starter and essentially thrown a mini-coup? They still did, though.

Meh, it’s a PUG. “Ideally not supposed to happen, but still does” is like the definition of a PUG.

At some other point in time, mostly in the past, I might have been a bit upset – over how some people are treating others, over my perceived competency/reputation or lack of -, but today, I feel strangely mellow about the whole thing.

The logic goes like this: 100cm is like a mini-raid. It’s made for coordinated groups. Coordinated groups have things like communication, strategy, meta classes that synergize together.

It was a PUG. There was no communication, there was evidently some secret PUG strategy of which I at least saw how the personal waypoint system worked, and meta classes, don’t make me laugh, no chrono, no druid, no warrior (yes, we had no might worth speaking of through the multiple runs.)

And still, some guy who I will probably never see or group with again wants to be picky.

You’re a dime a dozen, buddy. We all are, when we’re slumming PUGlord style.

I will never see you again.

If we see each other again, you will probably not remember me. (-I- don’t remember your name now, just your attitude.)

If you do remember me and refuse to play with me ever again, it’s your choice to narrow down your overall options for people to play with. We all have fun in our own ways. If that pickiness involves 30 minutes of wait time while you sift through people for a specific criteria, I don’t got the patience for that anyway. Hence, I should care zero about your opinion of my competency and actually work on my own competency as evaluated by myself.

And so it goes, this new design of GW2 that makes everyone treat each other like strangers.

After I left, I pulled up the LFG, saw another three fractal 100 advertisements, and jumped into another 100cm at the last boss.

I watched someone even more rabid dog than the first veteran JUMP on a mesmer who had all signets out (not the right build, I assume) and demand kill proof by showing The Unclean title… which the mesmer actually had, hrm.

Surprisingly, they didn’t quite demand any kill proof from me – which I would not have passed – until alas, the falling hallucination of death got me.

At which point, Mr Rabid Dog started to ask, and I got out of there in a hurry with a quick “Leave Party” and nary a word. No civil ending note for this guy. I noticed that basically, incivility breeds incivility.

Mr Rabid Dog would say that I started it, by being one of those inconsiderate silent bastards who ignores “exp” demands on LFG (I don’t actually recall that particular advertisement specifically asking for kill proof until I got in, though, and I certainly had -lots- of fresh -if semi-successful- experience with Ensolyss.)

By this time, the LFG adverts had shuffled around, and I actually saw a 100 normal chievo run pop up. Oooh, this would be handy to round out my 5/7.

You know what? After cutting my teeth on challenge mode, I looked like a complete veteran in normal mode, helping to scrape 2-3 people off the floor here and there, and helping to succeed at a couple of the bullet hell phases. The falling hallucinations of death? Still got hit now and then by them, but they didn’t insta-kill me in normal mode.

That’s where the screenshot at the top of this post comes from. A successful normal mode run, in which everybody got a bunch of achievements and everyone got T4 Nightmare done.

After which, I jumped into yet another normal 100, thinking to get more practice. This one did not go well at all, and after struggling with several total party wipes at the bullet hell stage, I found my patience at PUGing finally evaporating for the day and decided to gracefully bow out with a, “don’t think this is working, thanks all” and a voluntary quit.

Meh, there’re all PUGs. PUGs are unpredictable and unreliable, it’s in the nature of a PUG. I act more selfishly when I PUG. Other people act selfishly when they PUG. You PUG. I PUG. Everybody PUGs. If you PUG, you take the bad PUGs with the good PUGs. If you hate PUGs, then well, don’t PUG.

If I really wanted 100cm done, there are ways. I could pay to be carried through. I could try my luck begging my raiding group for help. I could join an internal guild fractals group. I could start my own PUG over and over until I got lucky. I could try to solo 100cm – there are videos of it being done.

The goal today though was just to join some fractal PUGs and I went for the Nightmare fractal on a whim.

To my surprise, I learn that the rudeness of strangers doesn’t bother me as much as I thought it would, that I’m capable of acting in ways that others might perceive as rude and annoying and that I don’t care as much anymore, and also that the Nightmare fractal is both interesting and relatively manageable (meaning mechanics-wise, NOT “doable-in-a-PUG-wise.”)

New goals that have now formed from this random exploration: watch more nightmare fractal videos and analyze the encounter with the benefit of some experience, give soloing it a shot some day, get a warrior to 150AR (I’m so triggered by the lack of might in PUGs -and- a warrior has blocks to deal with the falling hallucinations) and test if that’s any better for 100cm than a necro.

Not bad for a couple hour’s worth of play.

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The SAD Project – Day 4 – Random Panda Bravely Dungeon

randompanda

First off, here is your nifty screenshot of the day.

I haven’t been visiting the guild hall to harvest random materials in a bit, but today, while idly looking for stuff to do, I hit the “visit Guild Hall” button.

Our guild recently (and when I say recently, I mean maybe 1-3 months ago, I live in geologic time when it comes to GW2) swapped over to the Lost Precipice guild hall area.

This is generally a very rocky, arid, barren, cliffside landscape, so I was rather surprised to see some decorator had gone plant-happy across the entire guild hall, presumably cleverly making use of strategically placed trees all over to act like bushes and hedges.

It makes the whole hall look great. But my favorite is this lil panda in the bushes, seemingly assembled from snowballs and chak gerent eyes.

ar-rip

I start with that, because the alternative is screenshots that look like this.

I’ve been spending the last two days mostly staring at various characters’ equipment screens, wondering if I can consolidate agony resistance into some characters’ up to the point of T4 fractals and wondering -which- characters and also wondering if I can stand making the effort.

The first point: consolidating agony resistance.

Previously, I had a 150+ AR necromancer, cobbled together with some mix of the +5 versatile infusions and +8 to +10 agony infusions. I’d also been working on bringing a PS warrior up to 150, but ran aground somewhere around the 87s.

Some patches later, necromancers are see-sawing in status, no longer quite masters of the epidemic bomb and undisputed sole rulers (except for one druid) of T4 fractals. Power PS warriors have also taken a massive hit in perceived popularity, and at T4, condi is king, anyway.

Since I run a condi PS warrior for raids, you’d think it’d be easy to just transfer AR over to him, but a) staring at my old characters, I realize that half of their infusions are the old type of +5 infusions and probably don’t work anymore / have to be traded for the new type or something, and b) I really want to min-max this guy and work on upgrading him slowly with infusions with +5 condi damage stats – which cost a bomb, compared to the normal type.

Then comes the second point: -which- characters should I consolidate them on.

I’m regularly terrified of and/or loathe fractals and most group content.

This reaction is mildly amusing to me, considering one of the recent topics in the MMO blogosphere seems to be a general nostalgia towards running dungeons and missing the feeling of contributing in some role (healers, mostly).

I figured it out though. There are a couple things I really really -hate- about group content.

One is the unpredictability of PUGs.

I like my group content runs smooth. Now that my raid group full clears regularly, I find I am actually enjoying my weekly raids in GW2. I like the predictability of the encounter. I know my teammates, I know -this- healer will regularly save my bacon when I run out of health doing a mechanic, I know to expect certain things at certain times, I know when I am supposed to do my part pulling other peoples’ bacon out of the fire with a well placed rez banner and so on.

Try -that- in a PUG.

O. M. G.

Seguing into this is the disparity of skill levels in a PUG. I hate it.

I am not super keen on having to carry some helpless barely contributing folk through an instance, though I can tolerate it if the overall run is smooth and easy.

At the same time, I am also keenly aware that I have zero skill level when it comes to higher level fractals and the mechanics therein, particularly the newer ones, so to others at a much higher skill level, they are no doubt keenly aware that they are carrying ME and the embarrassment is unpleasant.

(It is a catch 22 that you will gain no skill if you do not even make the attempt though, so the only alternative is to suffer embarrassment, risk being kicked or singled out/be carried, and try to suck less with each go at it.)

Then also, if you lack the critical mass of competent people to carry the less competent, the whole encounter turns into a roiling, time-wasting mess of wipes, silent leavers, and waiting for more.

Which brings me to point 3: waiting to play a game.

Maybe I’m old or something,  but it has been blowing my mind lately when I watch Twitch streamers play various games like Player Unknown Battlegrounds or Friday the 13th or pretty much -any- multiplayer game.

They sit in a lobby for an amazing amount of time, waiting for sufficient players to fill up the team.

Thereafter, there is like a 45 second countdown before the match even begins.

During the match, there seem to be interminable amounts of waiting or quiet periods where absolutely nothing happens, interspersed with a couple life or death seconds of combat.

If you’re on the losing end, welp, you can now watch other people play the game until the match ends, or you can join another lobby to wait for another match to begin.

The common rejoinder of the hardcore fractaler is to say, “welp, make your own group to do X” and you know, I gave it a try, starting a few groups with an easy daily recommended fractal.

Almost immediately, I realized that I was going out of my mind WAITING for someone to join.

It got so bad that after a couple minutes, I dashed into the fractal myself – Urban Battlegrounds, comes with NPCs – and started soloing, because what the hell, right? At least I was doing something.

The NPCs and me had pretty much taken down Dulfy when finally, a second person joined.

I changed the LFG to “31 already in” and we finally had a full complement by the time we were breaking through to the final room.

This is all very well on easier difficulties, but on higher levels, where soloing would be slightly less easy, it becomes a really difficult decision between waiting in the lobby slowly going gibbering mad or slogging through like molasses and/or wiping in the attempt.

It also seems somehow less polite to start first at high levels, when one should -theoretically- begin and work as a team.

So there’s the choice of characters. My condi warrior does -not- solo well. At least, not in the condi PS raid spec, which is built to provide lots of helpful offensive TEAM buffs. It is also pretty darned squishy when the TEAM isn’t quite a team… like one might encounter in a PUG. You know how to look like the weakest link in a PUG? Being the first one to die and/or keep dying.

The necro can solo, but it’s not very group-oriented, and it tends to be slow as molasses, slowing down teams that might actually want to work as a team.

What kind of character might be able to carry a PUG team to victory in fractals? (Remember, I want to -smooth- out my runs as much as possible.)

Caveat: I am not -that- skilled at individual fractals AT ALL. That rather eliminates clever things like mesmer portals and blinks, thief stealth and shadowsteps, and truth to tell, the thought of running low hp reservoir guardians or elementalists in a PUG gives me the screaming heebie jeebies. (Besides, I can only operate a guardian blindfolded.)

So it came to pass that I actually *heave, deep breath* entertained the thought of healing, as a druid.

A bit more research suggested that going full magi would be extremely counterproductive, fractals expects damage output from 5 players, not 4 players of possibly questionable skill and 1 dumb druid trying to spam heals.

A condi druid, though… I already have full viper’s for a condi ranger. It was just a matter of switching some traits and skills…

Oh, and actually knowing how to USE those skills and a druid’s celestial avatar.

I’m still working on that part.

I gave it a spin in a level 7 Cliffside, and only managed to go into CA twice (how the fuck is astral force built again, maybe things died too fast), only managed to put spirits down for the last fight, and all the while, my juvenile lynx was possibly causing absolute havoc with the chanter run because I left it on guard mode until some long suffering soul targeted it, and it occurred to me that “huh, where did my lynx go? errrr, spamming my “follow me” key doesn’t seem to be working so well… hemm…*quietly switches it to passive mode in lieu of any better ideas*”

Somehow, I don’t think I should try to druid in a T4 fractal just yet.

Incredibly, there are even players attempting fractals that are far more worse off than me.

This was the transcript of a level 54 Chaos fractal chat. One player was having some difficulty making the multiple jumps to the first fight.

In a previous run of the fractal, when I was busy fucking up the jump myself, I’d learned that as long as one player makes it there, everyone else can just type “/gg”, kill themselves and respawn at the new checkpoint set. Hoorah, pain avoided.

Player 1 (LFG Leader): ! / gg!

(a couple tens of seconds later, when it was obvious that the struggling blue dot on the minimap wasn’t)

Player 2: just /gg

(more tens of seconds later, the blue dot moving around, getting confusion debuffs, losing health, not quite dying, healing up again)

Player 3 (Me): type ‘/gg’ you will respawn here

(because I totally do not believe in issuing unclear commands without explanations)

(one minute later, with no attempt at communication or typing from the errant 5th blue dot)

Player 4: just die please

(a few more seconds of struggle later… Player 5 quits the team without a word)

Player 1: !!?

Player 4: ok

Player 4: that was nice

Player 4: lol

Player 2: xD

Yeah. I feel for you, unknown player 5. But you are not exactly helping yourself if you don’t communicate, follow well-meaning instructions, or at least ask a clarifying question either.

fractals-rip

Then there was this absolutely mind-screwing encounter where I somehow managed to attract a whole bunch of aggro and conditions, barely clinging to life as the boss dropped in hp, and finally gave up the ghost around 25% of the boss’ health…

…whereupon the other four party members danced around the boss for another thirty seconds or so, with his health bar barely moving, whereupon the last unlucky guardian taking the brunt of the damage that I’d been absorbing finally ran out of his self-heals and dropped dead…

…whereupon the other three party members did a bang up job evading all the mechanics, and slowly hand-rezzed the both of us…

and the dead guardian went: am i onl yperson with any kind of aegis or group heals lol

dead guardian: tf (sic, maybe he meant wtf)

dead guardian: answer yes all necros and a theif

and inside my head, I was like, “well, strictly speaking, I’m running transfusion, so that -is- a group heal” and “but but- there’s another dragonhunter with the same icon as yourself in the party, what the hell?” and “why are you obsessing over aegis and group heals, when we’re trying to break the bar?!”

But anyway, I eventually got hand-rezzed by the thief and the other dragonhunter, the dead guardian got picked up, and we got the rest of the health bar down and the boss died…

…though I still wonder why the other three didn’t just kill the boss, since they were evading all the mechanics perfectly anyway…

…unless they really really needed my dps or cc or something in order to successfully do so…

The more I think about it, the more my brain hurts.

Maybe I -should- install arcdps to get a better read of these various fractal encounters and how much my contribution is, compared to everyone else’s.

Maybe I’m better off not knowing.

But yeah, I really don’t know how to best deal with these fractals. There are randoms. There are people with far more skill than me that think I’m a deadweight. There are people with far less skill than me that I in turn think are deadweights. It is random. It is unpredictable.

I’m really really safe on a necro (which makes for relatively smooth runs), except when I’m not.

My condi PS buffs the whole team and generally provides a lot of offensive power and cc, except when I’m dead.

My condi druid might conceivably make life easier for a PUG fractals team, except I’d actually have to know how to play it well.

*sigh*

I suppose I’ll just have to keep dabbling away at it, dipping a toe in as much as I can stand, until I myself am familiar enough again to jump into a T4 without totally embarrassing myself.

GW2: Fractals of Silence and Skill (Or Lack Thereof)

FoOoooO, quaggan is gift-wrapped!

I’m hoping to mark the end of my fractal journey for the time being by this week or the next.

At the start of September, I was fractal level 25ish with 26 AR (after goodness knows how many years) and not terribly motivated to go any further.

Eh, some gold, some fractal relics, lots of blues and greens, the odd yellow or orange, pretty much everything to be salvaged since most of the stats that turn up in fractals – Magi, Cavalier, Soldier – are odd, to say the least. Plus Ascended rings that take up slot space (I am constitutionally incapable of throwing -anything- away in an MMO) and the rare rare chance that something pretty might drop.

Oh, and the same content ad nauseam, alongside questionable PUGs – since I lack that mythical beast known as a stable, organized group within my timezone who can deal with my schedule (or lack of it.)

For the hell of it, in a similar vein to my self-imposed “collect all the Scientific skins” challenge, I decided to try to get to fractals 50 before the expansion hit, with its vaunted fractals revamp that would both make the leveling curve easier and slope it upward ever higher to 100.

After all, it is both satisfying to be able to say “been there, done that” as well as be among that rare opposite breed of player who can play the so-called ‘most difficult’ content in GW2 and yet not be an eager raid fanatic.

We’re a few days away from the end of September now, and I’m officially at fractal level 45 tonight.

It’s a little bit trickier to rise further in levels via LFG PUG, given the number of highly aggravating mistlock instabilities that make it daunting to open an instance at one’s current level.

Essentially, I’m sitting around waiting on the largesse of someone else who has already reached fractal level 50 to start their group and jump in… assuming they haven’t already hit their quota of PS warriors and are busily demanding eles and guardians, or conversely, in a more haphazardly not-at-all meta compliant group, hoping that the party won’t give up and fragment from one or two players just up and quitting the group one fractal in, because they didn’t like the chaos/inexperience on display or took umbrage at the ranger or necro in the party or something.

In any case, it’s been an eye-opening experience.

If there’s two things I’ve learned from my fractal journey, it’s these:

  1. Other people are not super-skillful gods of competency. There’s no need to be deathly afraid of them, or conversely, looking like a right idiot in front of them.
  2. I am not a super-skillful god of competency. There is always more I can be learning and improving on incrementally, as long as I keep an open mind, stay observant as to what’s still lacking, and am patient with myself.

Where 1) is concerned, I’ve feel like I’ve seen it all at this point.

I’ve seen people fall off the Uncategorized fractal simply from mistimed jumps, not a harpy knockback; fail miserably at running wisps in the Swamp (guilty); get smashed by Jade Maw tentacles or fall over consistently from failing to pick up crystals; completely fail at either kiting Mai Trin or managing the cannon phase without panicking like a headless chicken; mess up on really idealistic plans to output sufficient dps to take down Molten Berserker, Grawl Shaman or Subject Six in one go; splatter all over the Thaumanova fractal trying to manage the heat room or shield room; totally screw up the dredge fractal buttons or kiting the last boss from lack of communication, unsoweiter.

What might rather surprise those who haven’t been there is the capacity of practically all of these groups to pick themselves up (even if they have to peel themselves off the floor multiple times after a total party wipe or log out to repair and return) and -eventually- complete the fractal.

The only kind of fractal group I’ve seen fail is the kind where one person gives up and leaves in silence, followed by one or two more… at which point I’m left staring at one or two more people left in my party and think “fuck it, I don’t want to organize this” and leave wordlessly as well.

That’s generally a failure to communicate, pretty much.

It seems to be the oddly damning sin of most PUGs – silence.

Everybody barely says anything and just kinda hopes that everyone knows what they’re doing. If carnage results, then a slightly better group will start to produce one sentence communication, and a bad group just ups and disappears right there.

On this front, the higher level fractal produces better odds that more people generally know what they’re doing, more or less, though there are a few difficult encounters that can start to reveal flaws in that assumption – most memorably in the Snowblind fractal, where certain groups end up throwing one’s bodies over and over at the elemental source while total party wiping the instant someone accidentally aggros one too many ice elementals while 40-60% of the group either doesn’t know what to do about them or decides they will keep pewpewing the elemental source instead.

Granted, the way that encounter is set up, it becomes almost quite impossible to have a lengthy discussion because you’re either getting chill debuffed, chased by really nasty Svanir, constantly knocked down by the elemental source once you run out of stability, struggling to light the fire before the debuff kills everybody, desperately trying to roll out of one-hit KO ice elemental shards, and so on.

(Yes, there are a few safe zones where one can stand in the fire’s warmth and not aggro anything and swap skills, but really, if your team lacks teamwork and communication to begin with, d’ya really think they can manage that?)

Compare and contrast this with the fractal level 10 I attempted one day, mostly in the hopes of getting a quick daily speedily done, where it became rather obvious that the somewhat cute and somewhat pathetic guardian in our party, who only had 740+ AP, was an inexperienced newbie with no AR worth speaking of.

Not merely because he kept falling off every last Cliffside obstacle – entirely likely that he’d never seen the wind blowing statues or the little exploding knockback thingmajigs before – but also due to his tendency to instantly melt in 4-5 ticks when an agony pulse hit while the other four people remained upright and untouched.

He said nothing about being new, or indeed, anything at all, possibly due to the fear of being kicked for his inexperience or noobness.

It did, however, leave me feeling somewhat uncomfortable and uncertain how best to help.

The group kind of just “selfishly” ran to each stage of the fractal and sat there waiting for the straggler(s) to catch up, though the two who seemed to have the most clue (ie. me and another person, probably the one who started the party) took care/charge of the hammer and we did, more or less, wait for the guy to finally catch up before progressing on to the next stage.

Everything in silence.

Granted, it is hard to know just -how- to help. It’s not like I could portal him past anything, he has to press keys in the proper sequence and timing in order to get past the obstacle, the only thing I could do is either give him swiftness or cure his conditions (not useful in this situation) and/or advise him to take his time getting the timing down and/or suggest swapping in a skill with stability.

As for the AR problem, well, it’s blatantly an artificial stat barrier meant to produce vertical progression grind (one reason why I never bothered much with fractals before this either.)

With something as ‘meta’ as this, it’s really hard to know just what to say or do. It ultimately boils down on each player to have done their research beforehand, figured out just exactly how much AR they need before stepping into the ‘correct’ level fractal, which is, objectively a -weird- expectation that a player would have scrutinized the wiki and/or stepped into the fractal portal to have this all explained to them via NPC beforehand… especially when you think the first way a player is likely to encounter the fractals is via a LFG party, especially when a daily tells them to do a level 1-10 fractal. (Granted, the guy was optimistic jumping straight away into level 10.)

Anyhow, the discomfort was mostly mitigated by the fact that fractals 10 is really quite easy, so we just brute forced our way through most of it and ‘carried’ the slightly more clueless individuals through. Only way they’ll learn in the end, via experiencing it, right?

Which segues me to point 2), in that as the fractal levels rise, the failure of others to ‘carry’ me, or cover for my own lack of mastery, has essentially forced me into getting better.

(Mostly through encountering a really disastrous situation, and post-fractal, asking myself what I could have done to not contribute to that.)

After sneaking by many many fractals without really learning the jumps in the Swamp by either not running the wisp. or helping only with the closest ones and brute-forcing most of them, somewhere in the 30s, I decided it was time to solo roll a Swamp fractal and practice some of the wisp runs under the tutelage of ample referencing of gw2dungeons.net.

I’m happy to report that I can actually take on the spider one now without triggering a million baby spiders (by virtue of *duh* jumping on the rocks without eggs nearby) and can deal with all the near ones with full confidence, having memorized a reliable jump path that will work even if the nearest gates are closed.

(Previously, one just used to run and pray that one got lucky.)

The far ones are still tricky, mostly due to my continual inability to distinguish traps from ground (bulky charr is bulky and clumsy) and tendency to run right into the mossman or fail the jumps, but well, there’s always room for more practice later.

I’ve at least memorized the far northwestern one, whose path seems somewhat easy and clear cut, even if my practical implementation leaves something to be desired in between trying to dodge one-hit-kill skelk, traps and getting tangled in-combat and failing jumps as a result.

The one real take-home from actually attempting some of these runs is that I’ve realized it behooves me – if not actually running – to amble on by to support the person running far with swiftness and condition clears and so on, rather than sit like a lump of lard at the logs and hope for others to magically reach the stumps with the wisps without my help.

Ditto the heat room in the Thaumanova fractal. Most of the time, someone much better practiced at it volunteers to take it on and I see neither sight nor sound of the encounter.

In one particularly memorable fractal group, it turned out that -none- of us knew how to do the heat room very well at all. Since it was an over-40s group, doing it was compulsory.

Rather fortunately, I had previously scanned through that fractal on gw2dungeons.net to learn a few tips for just how it might be possible for my class to manage it (not to mention, what the hell it was all about and how the mechanisms worked) and suggested to the group that we may as well collect and use all the cooling rods first, before attempting it as the final thing.

This was done, and all of us had ample time and opportunity to actually -practice- the room (for once) since the whole group decided to throw themselves at it in the hopes that -somebody- would make it.

After my share of failed theory and implementation, I eventually hit on a personal working combination of stacking swiftness through warhorn and banner, Bull’s Rush (thank you, gw2dungeons.net), Rampage’s number 3 rush, falling over and hitting 4 to regain a bit of health while waiting for vengeance 3, hitting that and powering through the rest of the way, amidst double dodging, spamming 1 and generally cursing Asian latency when it comes to needing to physically spam a button.

While I’m still not going to be the first to volunteer to solo that darned room, I no longer feel completely helpless regarding it. If no one else can do it better, I can at least give it a shot and probably get by.

If anything, I think my fractals journey has suggested that it’s unrealistic to get uptight about ‘the perfect run.’

Is it nice if it happens? Yes. I’ve had super-smooth runs where everyone knows how to use ice bows and strips defiance for near absolutely frozen statues, the dps is phenomenal, and the whole fractals sequence is over in 40 minutes or thereabouts. Countable on one hand though.

I’ve had just as many runs or more where mistakes happen, people screw up somewhere, and no one says anything, just picks people up or peels themselves off the floor, and the team completes regardless.

And I’ve had the odd completely baffling run when there are 3 elementalists and myself in the party and we can only reach about 15 might stacks maximum because not a single elementalist even lays out a fire field for me to blast or use a banner in, let alone appears to know how to stack blasts for might… or conjures an ice bow, and I’m *cough* guiltily not strictly 100% meta compliant either because *cough* have you SEEN the price of those runes of Strength, and was using the then-cheap Pack runes as a not-great substitute… except now they’re not exactly cheap either, leaving me at an impasse where runes are concerned. To leave in or replace? (WHEN OH WHEN CAN WE SWAP RUNES LIKE IN PVP, SHEESH.)

Still completed, despite me being disturbed to the point of re-scrutinizing my runes to figure out what was going on, and having a serious rethink re: whether I really should put in Strength runes some day and/or reviewing my food choices to see if something else can make up for that. The thought of using up food worth 40-100+ silver per PUG run is somewhat cringe-worthy though. (I think, where I’m concerned, there are practical limits beyond the holy grail of theoretical optimisation some folks say we should be seeking.)

I think I’ve learned that the unpredictability of a fractals run can be fairly interesting and enjoyable, if looked upon with an open mindset, and preferably more staggered out to every few days or once a week after this mad rush to 50 ends.

I’ve come to the realization that many many people running fractals are absolutely where I am – still in the process of learning to get better – and so there is very little reason to feel inferior or afraid – what’s the worst that can happen, really? The party disintegrates or you get kicked by some strangers whom you’ll never see again. A bit of time wasted. Group up with the next band of strangers that comes along and have a fresh start. Try not to repeat the same mistakes of the past.

Eventually, progress gets made.

I don’t know, I find it quite hard to wrap my mind around this associated concept of “prestige” and “showing off one’s skill in an arrogant manner” that some people relate to ‘difficult content.’

My interpretation of most skillful performances tends to be that heaps of patience and lots of practice went on behind the scenes, and what we see on display is persistence finally paying off.

If anything, I should think going through the difficult learning and mastery process would make one more humble.

Imo, the loudest braggarts, quick to find fault with others, are often not the most skilled.

“Challenging” Dungeon Redux

I joined a Guild Wars 2 Twilight Arbor Aetherpath LFG that said “new to path, need a leader” for the pure masochistic fun of it.

It was as Wildstar Stormtalon Lair as you might expect.

Two below 700 AP newbies, two 3k-4k AP, half an hour trying to coordinate the ooze kiting together with only three people communicating, the last one being Taiwanese and having language issues, so he was forgiven even if he didn’t say so, and the other just not a talkative sort, I guess. One person was nearly frustrated to the point of giving up, but he held on and we somehow managed it in the end.

Slick and Sparki surprisingly died on the first go, Foreman Spur took two goes.

There were many many repeated wipes on the Aetherblade trash spawns, likely due to lack of DPS to burn ’em down quickly and lack of experience of the newbies with that particular faction’s annoying schticks since they probably weren’t around for the Living Story Season 1.

Instance holder’s fortitude finally gave out at Clockheart after further repeated wipes and the team’s best attempts not being able to bring down its hp beyond half.

Kudos to the team for holding together until then and managing a whole sequence of mass rezzes during various encounters though.

Not to mention, being ridiculously patient through multiple lapses of memory on my part as I walked right through various Aetherblade ambushes (I kept overestimating the team’s DPS capability to the standard 3+ melee zerk one and rushing in way too much) and running afoul of sneaky mechanics while trying to explain the part I did remember.

Do we consider this a challenge?

Or merely inexperience that is bound to get better with practice and preparation.

In before prepared groups cakewalk through Stormtalon’s Lair with interrupt spam and stacked AoEs in Wildstar. Calling it now.

Wildstar: Odds and Ends and Approaching the End of the Road

End of the line?

It gets better the further up in levels you go, they say.

Well, here’s the stuff I found neat on my journey from 15-21.

ws_grinder

Mah bike looks cool.

I hear it is possible to upgrade the look of mounts later with rear and front flairs, which I think is a great system for further customization along the self-expression and showing off prestige front, and of course, the endless collection of mounts is a captivating system for collectors.

ws_2handers

Mah sword looks cool.

The teen levels appear to be the home of some really neat two-handed sword designs. WTB similar stuff appearing in GW2, just less cartoony and more fantastical.

I also discovered that the warrior sword skills count as a spell cast and were only being performed on button up by default, rather than button down.

Which was probably inducing further delay into the stately swings, between my latency and tendency to press down on keys rather than release quickly.

ws_combatoptions

I heartily recommend going into Combat Options and selecting “Use Button Down instead of Press Twice” and “Hold to Continue Casting” (which should select all three options.)

This allows you to still see the telegraph indicators for range, but also simulates a kind of auto-casting by holding down the relevant key.

(When you’re 200-250ms behind, any kind of automatic casting that allows you to sneak in more attacks is welcome for maintaining dps so that you don’t look like you totally suck on damage charts.)

ws_shiphand

The Shiphand solo instances demonstrate yet again why storytelling is best conveyed via a solo one which you can traverse at your own pace, and not be spoiled by some other guy in your party having done it already rushing you through it.

I tried the Hycrest Insurrection Adventure at lvl 15, a 5 man instance which is apparently set at a more lax difficulty level for casual PUGing.

They were… okay, I guess.

It was hard for me to discern story once again in a group setting, since one is always more concerned with not falling behind from the group than being able to take the time to read stuff.

There was a vote option of multiple paths to pick and choose, similar to GW2 explorables, except the option came up three times in that one Adventure, leading to presumably more branching possibilities and ostensibly more variation.

I say ostensibly because while my first group was probably entirely new to it and the majority just ended up picking the first option every time, my subsequent group had someone who had been presumably playing since Closed Beta, because that someone matter of factly announced, “2-2-3 is the best xp” and guess what path we ended up doing, by unanimous vote.

There was a fair amount of varied mechanics in that one Adventure, from snipers that shot at you from range and you had to dodge *ahem* dash to avoid being knocked down, NPC citizens which you stayed near to put on a disguise and thus ‘stealth’ through certain parts without drawing aggro, a timed portion to stop a moving convoy by defeating all its guards (bit of a vertical fight, one had to jump up on two platforms of a slow moving vehicle, have one person pull a lever which opened a door for others to go through and plant a bomb, etc.)

Bosses were usually two-phase or more, with varied shapes of AoEs to dodge and could move around quite a bit.

ws_firerocks

And of course, the odd room full of fire and falling rocks to sprint and dodge your way through.

At the end of the Adventure, a little scoreboard screen comes up to show you how you did.

ws_advbronze

It’s a bit odd, I suppose, in that it’s neither here nor there. You can’t compare how other people in your party did, though I suppose add-ons for that will pop up like a bad penny later.

I’m not sure what staying alive means, beyond extreme cowardice and maybe the least damage taken, which seems a bit unfair to tanks. Certainly -I- wasn’t tanking, I was safe and sound DPS with high armor and an itchy trigger finger on the dodge key.

The first was a group that didn’t really have a clue what we were doing, the following was being shepherded by someone competent doing the tanking. Albeit, a ranged engineer tank, which added some variety to the well-established holy trinity.

ws_gold

A scoreboard does set up a bit of an inferiority complex though. You keep wondering, maybe my warrior isn’t an optimal choice to bring versus say a stalker with much faster rate of attacks or some ranged dps which can spray and pray more sustained damage while dodging.

No doubt, the speedruns will come in due time, and groups who can’t finish in like 15 minutes or less will be considered lousy.

Finally, at level 20, the first dungeon. Stormtalon’s Lair.

Shades of grawl shaman fractal all over again...
Shades of grawl shaman fractal all over again…

People keep singing the praises of Wildstar’s dungeons, for some reason. Oh yay, it’s hard, it’s challenging, the trash mobs are actually scary and a threat!

I feel like I must have missed some super easy dungeons in the interim. Maybe because I don’t play WoW.

It felt like a normal oldschool dungeon where you are expected in a hardcore fashion to spend hours in, in order to complete.

The group finder suggested to bracket 75min for the dungeon, and horror stories talk of 3+ hours and PUGs disintegrating on the first boss, with folks cheering on this level of ‘challenge’ as refreshing.

There were trash mobs. There appeared to be two main varieties of spawns. One spellcaster with two melee animal mobs that could generally be tanked-and-spanked.

ws_normaltrash

Group up, AoE ’em down. The Storm Watcher appeared to have some spells that caused AoE that needed to be either dodged, or a good group could use interrupts to stop this.

The other main type of trash mob spawn was a melee and spellcaster healer duo, a sentinel and shaman of some sort, linked together.

Naturally, PUGs will beeline for the nearest target, ie. the melee one, especially if you have a ranged tank engaging and backing away reflexively. Which then sets up the unending chain of letting the shaman freecast heals and keep Mr Melee up for an indefinite period of time until sheer force of dps burns through it – assuming your own healer hasn’t run out of mana *ahem* focus to support the tank first.

The trick, as some people explained, was to go for the shaman first and synchronize interrupts when it tries to heal. This is, of course, much easier said than done in a PUG without voice comms, but my first not-so-coordinated but seemingly fairly experienced PUG managed to pull it off maybe 75% of the time, while the second fail PUG did not. I was probably the only person with interrupts on that one, whereas the first PUG had two warriors (so 2 interrupts each, plus one more dps with one interrupt. Land 3 at any one time to get stuff done.)

Really -competent- tanks will manage to pull the melee to the spellcaster so that both are grouped up and can be burned down together. (Which I thought was basic competency for a tank, but apparently the people who queue up in a tank position in a group finder are extremely luck-of-the-draw.)

Our first PUG by the way struggled with a middling engineer tank with bruiser bot, who left after three wipes on the first boss, and was replaced by yet another engineer tank without bot who was plainly geared properly for his role and very very competent. The healer remarked on how much more easy it was to heal him, and this veteran of the dungeon explained all the mechanics and brought our newbie group through with only minimal wiping.

The first boss also had a reputation of being a PUG destroyer. (Sorta like Kholer, I guess. Except this one is unskippable.)

He involved three phases. First one was basic tank-and-spank, but he did a plus shaped AoE that needed to be dodged out of. (Or interrupts coordinated, I’m guessing.)

The second one involved him going invulnerable while the four adds that surrounded him went vulnerable. Pick the right one that the tank is also focusing on to burn down. Random people get marked with a bomb AoE that is centered on them. Dodge out of AoE, but pros apparently -move- the AoE to the mob first before dodging out so that it gets caught by the AoE and damaged. A randomly moving static discharge AoE that caused stun would start to plague people as more adds went down.

Last phase was tank-and-spank again, except this time there were a lot more randomly moving static discharge AoEs to avoid or be stunned, plus the boss would do a BIG AoE that covered most of the room except a few defined safe spots. Except since the AoE pattern is -probably- based on the tank’s position, the safe spots may not necessarily be in the same place if the tank wiggles around too much, and the tank does have to move to avoid the static discharge stuns, so it’s fairly reflex based in a PUG that hasn’t coordinated any set way to make his AoE predictable.

Combined with my latency, this generally meant that I got caught if I was a split second too slow, but fortunately it only hits for around 3k damage with knockdown, around 1/4 to 1/3 my health bar, and eventually healable by a healer when they get around to it.

However, it -is- possible to coordinate interrupts and disrupt his AoE entirely, as we discovered by sheer chance one AoE pattern. (Or rather, someone had spammed an interrupt and I saw the interrupt armor indicator at 1 and -hadn’t- spammed my interrupts prior to this, so I banged down on my keys and got the knockdown through. Which was fairly satisfying.

Though I admit that I wasn’t a god of interrupts at any other time as muscle memory hadn’t set in, nor was one used to reading all the cues necessary while trying to avoid AoEs in a fight one was seeing for the first time. I’m sure it’s learnable though.)

ws_secondboss

Ironically, one member in my second fail PUG said that the second boss was, he felt, the hardest boss. Well, my first PUG would beg to differ.

Our patient tank explained the mechanics to us. Phase 1: Tank-and-spank. Phase 2, he splits into three adds, burn ’em down. Then he knocks everyone back and we have to run through a gauntlet of tornadoes, reach him ASAP and interrupt.

Perhaps, as I said, we lucked out with two warriors in this PUG. Our leveling bar tends to have two interrupts and we’re very used to spamming kick to knockdown so that we can actually get some decent damage in with our one spammable power attack. We simply cannot level at a passable pace without having learned to use what Wildstar calls a Moment of Opportunity, which is extra damage when the mob is interrupted during a telegraph and goes purple for a time.

While the gauntlet was indeed somewhat annoying – I kinda felt I spent most of my time in the air while running forward at a snail’s pace, we could at least fling our ranged interrupt once we got semi-close and then spam our kick when finally in melee range. Thump, went the boss. Repeat this twice more, and then done.

More trash mobs of the same ilk. One miniboss with some more shaped AoE to dodge and interrupt.

ws_stormtalon

And finally, the last boss. Stormtalon. Who turns out to be sorta shaped like a dragon.

In the words of our esteemed tank. “Tank and spank to start, don’t stand in front of him, has a cleave. He’ll knock us back and stun, gotta break out and rush to him to interrupt. Lastly he’ll target a random member, making a safe zone around them. Rest of the room will be red, we gotta follow that person as they circle the boss. Lightning bolts will constantly target them.”

Which actually went pretty well and was downed in the first go, though two DPS bit it at the last phase, me included.

ws_whoops

Oh look, almost exactly 75 minutes.

Since the tank and healer survived, along with one melee dps, they got the other quarter or so of its health down and dead.

As for what killed me: the safe zone in phase 3 was centered around me and I was perhaps a little too anxious about keeping still enough to not accidentally kill -everyone- by running around like a headless chicken, and I must have inhaled some lightning circles by staying too still.

Would I be keen to repeat the fight and get better at dodging all that crazy AoE?

Yeah, I would.

Would I be keen to repeat the whole Group Finder experience and gamble on random PUGs on the offchance that I might eventually reach Stormtalon again to practice the fight?

Ummmm…

No.

I’m afraid not.

If I were someone with a regular North American time schedule, had a guild full of friendly regulars to play with, and often ran together with voice chat, such group dungeons would be PERFECT experiences for an established regular party of five.

But since my times are more of an irregular sort, I’m left PUGing it in various games.

My second Wildstar PUG ended up with another engineer tank who was plainly in pure assault gear as the healer simply couldn’t keep him up. He was as fragile as toilet paper.

When he died, I stayed up for just about as long by mere virtue of having heavy armor, a health bar and being able to dodge, although I was no tank at all either, due to not having any tank statted gear, nor any APM or skills slotted for tanking or threat holding. Basically, it was four DPS dying in sync with the healer also biting it somewhere in the middle.

And no, despite my pleading for -someone- to use and slot one interrupt so that I could use my two interrupts to apply knockdown (something I wanted to practice at getting better at), at no time whatsoever did the interrupt armor on any boss drop from 2, leaving my interrupts ineffectual.

Naturally, we wiped three times on the first boss and ended up standing around looking at each other, while the healer tried to explain to the tank that he needed the right gear to step into the tank role.

One DPS ran out of patience and dropped out of the party. We re-queued, and guess what, the engineer wordlessly insisted on the tank role again. With the same healer. When he actually could have taken the open DPS slot.

We stood around looking at each other again, while one more random DPS joined. Then the tank opened a vote kick on the healer.

“…”

Since this was the epitome of stupidity, I was driven to sufficient trolliness to reject the vote kick on the poor healer, and then I subsequently opened a vote kick on the tank.

(It’s not like I have a reputation to maintain in Wildstar. This is cross-server Open Beta and I don’t intend to be here for long.)

The tank quit the instance before the vote kick ran its course.

Of course, we then opened up the queue again, but since we were running in off-peak non-NA times, 10-15+ minutes passed with no tank stepping into the role and the party broke up shortly after.

The healer maintained that this state of affairs was NOT a result of the holy trinity but more due to “tanking being hard to learn” and thus no one wanting to be tanks.

Whereas I’m sitting in my chair thinking that if this is the usual state of PUGs in traditional holy trinity MMOs, it’s no wonder that tanks hide, take refuge and tank only in their guilds, and that there is really no need to put up with all the inherent pains of finding the ideal holy trinity group when I could LFG and get a PUG in under five minutes in GW2 because no perfect trinity is required.

You might ask, why didn’t I swap specs and try tanking?

No tank gear, for one.

Nor had I looked at that portion of the warrior tree and skills that involved holding threat yet. But mostly no tank gear in my bags.

(I do note that Wildstar loot looked interesting in that Adventure and Dungeon loot seemed to contain a lot of supportive stats – which makes a certain kind of sense, people who like to group should run their group content and get gear that is relevant and useful for their needs.)

People say that Wildstar dungeons are fun. And challenging.

It really makes me wonder about how and what they define a challenge.

Mechanics-wise, yeah, they’re complex and interesting. But learning how to perform them well seems to be much less of a challenge than assembling a properly prepared (read: gear and build) group together in the first place.

If one considers the random nature of the PUG as part of the challenge in a difficult dungeon, then I could also say that getting a precursor in GW2 is so fun-and-challenging because one is battling a most cruel RNG in the form of Zommoros’ Mystic Forge.

Personally, I’m left feeling less ‘challenged’ per se, and more helpless.

It’s the same sort of challenge as the Marionette. You could teach until your tongue turns blue and ultimately, your progress is still at the mercy of someone else not screwing up. It is RNG.

RNG you could skew in your favor by joining an organized community – a hardcore dungeon guild, or TTS marionette-running instances, fer example, but still RNG, rather than a challenge that one can defeat through one’s efforts.

Maybe I simply over-analyze these things too much.

I’d love to hear from someone who found Wildstar dungeons fun and exactly why they found it fun, for them.

Are they running with a regular group of friends, for one?

Which would imply they could learn and improve together over time, whereas PUGs are forever luck of the draw – you cannot count on running into the same people again.

Or perhaps this is just a foundational mindset difference in perspective.

I enjoy GW2 dungeons because my deaths are my fault. It’s always in my locus of control to not die or to break off and run and prevent a death by letting the mobs leash if the rest of my party has wiped. I might even be able to save the day and rez three dead people with my warbanner and turn the tides or solo the thing if I can perform the mechanics well.

In some cases in Wildstar, my deaths are my fault. I stuck around in the AoE and failed to perform the mechanic correctly. Looking forward to doing better on the next try and the prospect of improving is exciting, yes.

However, needing to rely on a tank or a healer to not suck, or dps to be actually competent, and waiting for the stars to align in the correct position so that one gets a good group are things that are not within my personal locus of control and are a complete buzzkill.

Nor can I turn any tides if I’m set up to be DPS, I traded off aggro generation or survivability. So if the tank screws up, or the healer screws up, I’m paste. I suppose eventually one could have a damage set of gear and a support set of gear in one’s bags, plus two sorts of specs, but that’s going to be way ahead in the future, rather than in the first dungeon.

In the meantime, we end up with a blame game where everyone points fingers and blames another party for not pulling their weight, causing the death of the group.

How this is fun and enjoyable, I”m not really sure.

It’s these sorts of foundational underpinnings that lead me to suspect that I’ll be done with Wildstar by the end of the week, if not sooner.

I don’t really need to play a game that breeds hostility and competitiveness and elitism, and that’s simply what the traditional MMO model does.

I do enjoy the combat system that Wildstar has chanced into creating though.

Maybe one day someone will make a subscription-free single-player or cooperative multiplayer game with the same underlying combat mechanics – fast frequently recharging dodge rolls and sprints and lots of telegraphs to dodge – I’ll be happy to play that.